Friday, December 21, 2007

Around the City in Hotels

Ron looked at the map and found an area with a high concentration of hotels. We took the monorail to that area and to our delight; there was a Starbucks at the bottom of that station. Sitting at the bottom was a San Francisco Coffee Company. We had an Americano breakfast. Ron had scrambled eggs with sausages and I had a bagel. From here we went from hotel to hotel to find there was no room at the inn or the inn or the inn. All of the places with credit card stickers in the windows and a bit more upscale than our last two places were booked solid for the next two nights. With each refusal we asked for a recommendation and were sent further down the street. We happened on the Comfort Inn, not to be confused with the American chain, it is a small and independent hotel, but the lobby was clean and attractive. We asked if they had a room and gave us keys to look at two rooms. Eureka! They were clean and suitable. We booked our two nights here.

Relieving our backs of our luggage one more time, which they seem to be getting heavier even without any purchases, we went in search of some culture. We heard we should see the Malaysian Handicraft Center where handicraft artisans are weaving, making pottery, and batiking in the traditional ways. Going from here to there and then over yonder, we found yet another mall with a gigantic Christmas tree in the center courtyard. Christmas carols playing throughout made this white monstrous tree seem a bit Christmasy after all. This upper scale mall was enhanced by a Jaguar car dealership and a concierge desk with uniformed employees. By walking through the mall, we were able to find the road to lead us to the Handicraft Center even when everyone said it was too far to walk, we did it. It really was not far from this mall.

As we neared the Center, it seemed it was closed; there were no tour buses or cars in the parking lot. Fearing that we walked all this way for no good reason, we were delighted to find it was indeed open. This is really a series of little independent shops strung together in a Malay style building, each selling their own line of products. The first was the clothing store with Malay woven clothes for men and women. As hard as I looked, I was only able to find one shirt that I would be caught dead in and then only if I had died in Hawaii or Miami Beach. Other than those two places, this shirt would live it entire life span in the closet, not making for a good investment, I left it behind.

Batik artists, weavers, and potters must be in short supply. There was no craftsperson crafting, not even crafting spaces were obvious with the exception of one two harness loom that was set up, but not a single pass through had been made. In all of the other stores, I had repeated déjà vu experiences and then realized that thanks to Pier One Imports and similar stores in the States, where “We shop the world so you don’t have to” we have been privy to these decorative items for years and the novelty has worn off years ago.

Back in our hotel area, we walked the neighborhood making this a fortunate part of this move. We would never have known this neighborhood was here otherwise missing out on dozens of new stores and restaurants. On one side street near our hotel, there is a dim sum restaurant that spreads out over the sidewalk to the edge of traffic. We lunched there. Four varieties of dim sum and a large beer was only $6.00. I am in constant conflict over whether travel is about seeing museums or just witnessing the people, but I settled on a combination of the two so far. It seems unconscionable that we have spent so much time viewing hotels and not museums, but then again, they have tons of motels and few museums, so it seems to work out.

Near the hotel we are currently staying at, there is a shop that does foot massage, regular massage, cupping, and ear candling. I suggested to Ron that he have ear candling done to rid what may be some waxy build up so he would have no excuse for not hearing me. He surprised me by readily agreeing to it. For the uninitiated, ear candling is when a specially made hollow wickless candle with a tapered bottom is placed in the ear and allowed to burn. There is no candle wax drip. While burning, the candle is drawing out wax and other impurities from you ear canal. It is also claimed it helps headaches, migraines, sinus problems, and stress. I had seen it done in California many times at different fairs, but never experienced it myself. Before they start, they show you the candle held up to the light so you see it is empty and hollow. For 60 RM (Malaysian Ringgets or about $14.00) Ron spread on his side on a massage table with the young lady massaging the back of his ear, with one hand while holding the candle with another. She kept a towel wrapped around the candle during this process to keep a seal around the ear. For fifteen minutes on each ear, the candle burns and the back of the ear is massaged. By the time the candle is burned down to about one inch, they throw it in a bowl of water. When you are completely done, they open the candle to show you the ash like content of what was drawn out and burned by the flame. So far, I have not had to repeat myself once.

Cupping is something different, which I may try at some point. They take wooden type drinking cups and heat the rims. The cups are then placed up and down you leg with the heat forming a seal. This is supposed to stimulate the circulation.

Streets blossom with restaurants once evening arrives. Cars cannot get through without playing dodge ball with people as the ball. Tables and chairs appear from nowhere with portable kitchens suddenly spewing steam from pots in your face. We had dinner at such a restaurant this evening. We were hungry for a coconut curry. As you walk down the street everyone is trying to get your business, so they shove menus at you. We found seats at a table in the street, ordered red chicken curry with coconut milk, pork ribs in a lemon sauce, fried rice, a green vegetable that is really stringy, and a large beer we shared. This was by far our most extensive and expensive meal yet. The bill came to 75 Ringgets about 25 Euros. It was also enough food for three. The lemon sauce on the pork ribs was outstanding.

Foot massages are ultra popular here. At 10:00 pm, we were walking off some of our dinner in the neighborhood. There were chaise lounge chairs lined up on the sidewalk and people from twenty-somethings to those that are septo or octo-genarians, were getting massages done.

Pin It Now!


Post a Comment