Sunday, December 19, 2010

Overnight in Kuala Lumpur

A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend on the island of Penang and my first impressions of Malaysia were rather mixed and I returned to Thailand feeling a bit underwhelmed by the whole experience.

However, with my latest visa coming to an end and wanting to see if I had misjudged Malaysia, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to visit Kuala Lumpur or "KL", as it's affectionately known by the locals.

My return flight, that was booked online with Air Asia, cost 5200 baht (approximately £110). But, that price did not include any checked-in baggage!!!!

Air Asia get a lot of negative press for their poor customer service, but I've never had any serious problems flying with them.

The only complaint I had on this occassion was a rather snotty air stewardess on the return flight, who insisted on putting my bag in the overhead compartment, as she deemed it "a safety risk to other passengers". I advised her that the only safety risk to passengers comes from Jihadists, with explosive material in their underpants and not from my bag!!!!! They also do not sell any alcoholic drinks on the flights to and from Malaysia, but fortunately the flight was only 2 hours long.

An important snippet of information is that there are two terminals at KL airport. The main KLIA terminal, where the all the major international airlines arrive and depart and the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) which as the name suggests, is where the budget airlines fly too. The terminals are joined by a shuttles bus service which costs 1.50 Ringgits and takes 20 minutes.

Upon disembarking at the LCCT, there was quite a long walk (about 5 or 6 minutes) from the plane to immigration and passport control. For a lazy so-and-so like me anything more than 1 minute is considered a long walk!!!

As I mentioned in my last post about Malaysia, Brisitsh citizens don't need to obtain a visa prior to arrival, you will receive a stamp in your passport entitling you to stay for up to 90 days once you have completed the immigration form, that you should have received from the airline staff on your inbound flight.

I would like to commend the immigration staff at KL who were polite and friendly. I received my visa waiver stamp in less than 15 minutes. Thai immigration could learn from their Malaysian colleagues!!!!!

The airport is situated in an area called Sepang which is about an hours drive from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, known as the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) where you will find the petronas towers and plenty of other places of interest.

When doing my internet research prior to my trip, I discovered that the return taxi journey would cost about 120 ringgits (about £30) and not wanting the hassle of negoatiating public transport, I decided to stay close to the airport.

There were not many choices, so I eventually settled upon the Tune Hotel LCCT. I paid 147 ringgits for my online booking which is approximately £36.

Tunes hotels marketing slogan is "5 star beds a 1 star prices", but be warned that is a complete crock of sh*t!!!

The location of the hotel was good, only 8 minutes walk from the arrival hall. The exterior of the hotel seemed nice enough and there was a pleasant outside seating area, but things went downhill from check-in.



The staff seemed disinterested and didn't return my cordial greetings and there were adverts plastered all around the building and in the bedrooms which felt very intrusive. The rooms themselves...well..... I was lost for words....it was the smallest space, masquerading as a hotel room, that I have ever seen. I'm sure the average prison cell is bigger than the room I was given.







The level of cleanliness left a lot to be desired. I saw a rogue pubic hair in my bathroom sink (I did take a photo but the pube didn't show up very well!!!!), ants crawling out of the light switch and there was an old chewing gum wrapper stuck to the wall.


"5 Star" my arse.....more like "1 star beds a 5 star prices". For the same price, you can get a hotel in Thailand that is ten times better.

There was a cafe and a restaurant in the hotel complex. The restaurant was named "Decanter" and was actually pretty good, despite there being some less than genial members of staff. It served a mixture of Malaysian and international food and I reserve a special mention for their chicken pie which was delicious. A 2 course dinner with 2 bottles of tiger beer cost 45 ringgits, which is just over £11 and a large pizza cost 18 ringgits (about £4.50).

There isn't an awful lot to do in and around Sepang, but for fans of motor sports, the Sepang International Circuit is a must-see and was only 10 minutes by taxi from the hotel. Even for someone like me who doesn't really follow Formula 1, it's pretty spectacular.



The tour costs 50 ringgits (£12.50 at the current exchange rate) and you get to visit behind the scences and see how a grand prix is managed. The highlights include visiting the museum, grandstand and paddock area and on non-race days you can also step on to the track and see the start/finish line. They also offer driving experiences and go-karting.

All in all a fun few hours and well worth the entrance fee.

So to sum up my trip.......

Flight = ok
Accommodation = very poor
Food = reasonable
attractions = good
Malaysian people = a very queer bunch

My opinion of Malaysia hasn't changed significantly and I would give my trip a 6.5/10. The tourist board is going to have to work a lot harder to get me to visit again.

For more information about Kuala Lumpur the following links are very useful......

http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malaysia/kuala-lumpur

http://www.visionkl.com/

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