Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jet Lagged Still

My internal alarm went off long before the mechanical one. By 3:00 am, I was awake and could not fall asleep again. I refused to sit in the bathroom to read; my only other option was relaxing and trying to coax sleep back for a few more hours. My last peek at the clock was at 5:00 am, then the next thing I knew there was an annoying noise grating on my nerves. It was the alarm clock. Ron woke long enough to ask for another hour, so I shut off the alarm not to wake again until 10:00 am.

Out the door in search of breakfast, the hotel does not provide it and doesn’t have a restaurant, we combed the streets. There are no ‘breakfast’ restaurants and all that were open were offering the same menu that services the lunch and dinner crowds. Noodles with chili are not our idea of breakfast food. Ready for the hissing session? We went to Starbucks. Yes, Malaysia has what Hungary does not, Starbucks. To top it off, they have free WiFi too in all of their locations. This will be a favorite resting place for checking e-mails and uploading the blog. We have not seen any signs for WiFi anywhere, though there are numerous Internet places. A medium latté is only $2.00 as opposed to double that in the States or even in Vienna. What a bargain.

The traffic here is incredibly congested. Walking across the street is hazardous to your survival. They do have that little green man sign that signifies it is your life opportunity to go from one corner to the next, but the vehicle drivers see this as another opportunity to pay “Hit or Miss”, completely ignoring the red light that is supposed to keep them in place. We decided we needed to explore the ‘extensive network of transportation options available. Buses are out. They are prone to the traffic jams that the cars are stuck in and movement is negligible. The doors are kept open and they are so full, passengers are straddling the steps holding on while the bus inches along in the myriad of the motoring nightmare. Motorcycles are the only modes of transport that are not inconvenience by the flow, but they weave in and out. If one attached yarn to them, they would create a most dazzling tapestry within a few blocks.

There are no subways, but they do have a subway like train that for the most part is above ground. With an insufficient number of cars, it is quickly full to capacity and the ‘beware of pickpockets’ announcement is continually repeated. We bought a day ticket for unlimited usage, but it is for this light rail train only. To use the monorail that roams parts of the city, we would have to buy another ticket or full day pass. Our day pass cost us $1.50, so we intended to get our monies worth, but first things first, we need to find a place to stay come Thursday. Ron only booked us for two nights where we are at and he refused to stay longer. The lack of a window is more than he can handle. I rather like the darkness, finding it easier to sleep.

We made our way to the tourism office at the ‘great market’, but it was closed. The sign redirected us to the main office. The great market is a huge building built in the late 1800s. today is houses crafts people and merchants to sell their wares. It is two stories with few food options upstairs. With tons of things on display, there is nothing that catches our eye as a must have item. All of the colors of the fabrics are color combinations or patterns that our Western tastes curl our noses up at.

Ron had his list of questions for the tourism people, so we headed in that direction. The central station is ultra modern, but is not for regular trains, but for the light rail and the monorail. Planning our great escape from the city, Ron asked where to spend a couple of days outside of KL, so we will leave here for two nights. We also have a 7:00 am flight coming up, so we had to find a hotel closer to good transportation. We are taking an Air Asia flight and they do not fly out of the major airport. Getting there is going to be tricky at that hour of the morning, with 2 hours ahead check-in time. He made a suggestion of a hotel across the street, so we will check it out.

On the tourism’s list of 10 top festivals in KL is one called YES Year End Sale. Apparently, this is a big event. After peppering the tourism guy with questions, we went to the KL City Center, located in the twin towers of the city. The twin towers until very recently held the distinction of being the tallest buildings in the world. This was just outdone by Taiwan. The buildings are really beautifully designed and it holds a humungous shopping center with all of the best names. Prada and Louis Viutton are there as well as every other designer name you can mention. Along side of them, there is the mandatory McDonalds, KFC, Chilis, San Francisco Coffee Company, California Pizza Company, Kenny Rogers Roasters, and the likes of every other bit of Americana imaginable. In the center courtyard is a skyscraping tree decorated for Christmas and all of the halls are decked with holly. It is seemingly incongruent to see woman strolling around with burkas or just hajib head scarves. This is not just a browsing mall; everyone is loaded down with bags. This community is affluent.

Outside the back of the mall in the twin towers courtyard, there is a large pond with a fountain reminiscent of Las Vegas. The water sprays, dances, and performs, but not as elaborately as in LV.

We looked at the hotel recommendation. The only thing it has going for it is that it has windows in the rooms. The rooms are small, but at $15.00 a night, you cannot ask for much more. I would have opted for something better, but that would only increase the transport issues for flights.

Searching for some cultural events, we had been informed by the tourism office to go to the Malaysia Cultural Center to find out what was being offered. The grounds are well appointed, but interestingly, they only offer events a few times a week. They suggested we attend the dinner show next door since it was daily there.

For dinner, we ventured back to our hotel territory and thought we were going to the restaurant where the man had been so nice to us the day before. However, we undershot his place by one outdoor restaurant and did not realize it until we had ordered. We shared satay of chicken and beef, fried rice, and vegetables in garlic sauce. The satay was not very peanuty, so this was disappointing. Sitting behind us was a real blow-heart full of himself older man who started carrying on with the Australian couple sitting next to us. I was so relieved when he said he was Canadian and not American.

Across from the restaurant is a shop that is nothing but Christmas décor. It seems so out of place is this city of primarily Muslim people. I cannot say for a fact, but I don’t think they have a Christmas tree and Santa Claus. As I was walking to the curb to walk to the door of the shop, I felt something knock into my ankle, which caused me to jump. When I looked down, I caught the last glimpse of something small and black flit under the cartons of the knock off designer watch street vendor. He looked at me and said what I think was “RAT”. I am hoping he said “CAT”. I did not see a tail, so I am not certain.

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