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Traveling

Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur Jan 21, 2015

Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur

GPS waypoint: 3°09'28.4"N 101°42'41.8"E
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I'm Back
It initially felt strange being on the road alone without Tuyen (my Vietnamese traveling partner of 4 months). But after the first day, I was back into my old groove. Once again, I am TheLoneRider. I miss Tuyen, but it's good to be back.

Pit Stop
As tempting as Kuala Lumpur is, it has to be my pit stop in the meantime. No tours, no exploration for now. I have to catch up on my work, my blogs, things to do, promises to keep, etc. I haven't had time to do those things in the last 4 months I was traveling with Tuyen. Now, being alone again with a comfortable hotel to do my work, it's whistle-while-I-work time. Once I cover my bases, I can devote my undivided attention to everything Kuala Lumpur has to offer.

The Big Fear
My biggest apprehension about Kuala Lumpur is the cost of living. It's more expensive than Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. I haven't made 2 cents since Laos and my cash was running low - very low. As a nomadic renunciate with a pathological indifference to money, I seem to have this love/hate relationship with money. Just how do I survive in this metropolis with no friends, little money and being a complete stranger? I kept reminding myself that I am a devotee of Dhamma and that only good things can happen in the most unexpected ways. Even that thinking wasn't working. I was still worried.

The New Mandate
I had been traveling for the last 10 years that going to a place has sometimes become perfunctory, like another day at the office. But Kuala Lumpur is my new testing ground to exercise a new mandate that changes the way I do things. Tuyen was sharp enough to point out my blind spots. With 2015, I would call it a New Year's Resolution:

  • upon arrival to a new place, I would prioritize on hotel accommodation
  • talk to the local tourism office if they are receptive to have me develop a travel portal for the place
  • touch base with the local yoga studios and teach yoga
  • develop fewer but bigger clients, even if on retainership
  • increase my readership through the social networks, live newsfeed, etc.
  • teach English either on a one-on-one or through a language school
  • offer comprehensive English web services to English-challenged websites particularly to countries where English is not the second language - Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia
  • study more on Google Maps, Google Analytics, smart resolution, and Google Webmaster

Beautiful Traveler from Da Nang
Upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur airport, a fellow plane passenger from Da Nang who overheard me say I was going to Bukit Bintang, approached me and said in broken English, "share taxi!". I was surprised. She was beautiful, about 30 years old, in high heels and dressed like she was going to the prom. I said taxi was still expensive even if we share and I insisted that I travel alone by bus and train. She persisted and followed me. She seemed apprehensive at commuting alone. After inquiring from the tourism booth in the airport, I was told that it would be cheaper to share the cab - MYR 75 for two instead of MYR 45 alone by bus/train (later on though, I found out it's only MYR 10 by bus and MYR 1.20 to MYR 2.50 by monorail). So we took the cab together. Inside, she was finding difficulty placing her head for a comfy sleep. I offered my lap as a pillow. She smiled and curled up with her head on my lap, her dress pulled slightly up revealing her white milky smooth thigh. I was just looking down on her thinking, "This complete stranger is sleeping on my lap inside a cab. This is so weird...but pleasantly weird." She alighted from the cab at Bukit Bintang and said goodbye. I didn't bother to get her contacts. To me, it was just one of the many pleasant morsels life throws my way. Thank you, Universe! It was a good omen for other wonderful things to come.

Lodging
After a 1-night stint at a backpacker hostel, I started talking to hotel owners on how I could increase their online bookings in exchange for a few nights stay. Big 5-star hotels could not be bothered as they have their own web machinery in place, or decisions are layered through a thick bureaucracy. Smaller hotels don't seem to fully understand what I offer - a fully integrated online marketing campaign redirecting my site traffic to their booking page. The mid-priced hotels and the boutique hotels seem to be the right choice having the same target demographics as my site readers. Their managers or the owners themselves appreciate the power of the internet and are tech savvy - I didn't have to explain what SEO mean.

Alpha Genesis Hotel, Kuala Lumpur Alpha Genesis Hotel
One such hotel was Alpha Genesis Hotel. After my presentation, they were quick to appreciate what was on the table and agreed to my full package. Good for them, better for me. I got a comfortable room with a glass-wall having the Petronas Twin Towers in the backdrop. I can't ask for a better location. More than ever, I am challenged to push the boundaries and see how far I can effectively boost their online bookings through creative and innovative ways using my web machinery.

Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur Honest People at Hotel Istana
My biggest nightmare happened when I realized I left my little bag at the lobby of Hotel Istana after meeting with the marketing people. Everything valuable to me was on that bag - my passport, my money, credit cards, etc. Losing that would have entailed a horrific predicament. To my exalted relief, the people of Hotel Istana kept it for safekeeping. I checked inside and found everything intact. Whoa! There is a God! Episodes like that remind me that the human spirit is alive and well. Thank you Hotel Istana and thank you Malaysia for the honest people you keep!

First Impressions
Kuala Lumpur seems like a city of contrasts. On one corner, you see the world-famous once-tallest building in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers clustered with other skyscrapers. Just a few blocks away, you see the back alleys of low cost tenement housing. The streets seem sedate in the morning, but in the evening, the bars open open up and the city lights up. Exotic cars seem to come out at night - Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin. At 1am, it feels like 7pm - the streets are alive, the clubs are packed and music carries to the next block. Jalan Alor is close to traffic and people are packed for outdoor dining. Jalan Changkat is lined-up with bars and clubs. This section is animated at night.

More to Come
Already, I'm stoked about Kuala Lumpur but I have to hold back until I finish some work. Yes, a few more keyboard strokes and I'll be climbing the Petronas Twin Tower and then some more!

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: more of Kuala Lumpur

location markers

at the airport in Da Nang, Vietnam outdoor resto scene along Jalan Alor sidewalk portrait sketching these guys specialize in the jade gemstone and gave me some basics about jade. Those big rocks look like rocks, but to the jade experts, they know it's jade by the looks of it and by lifting it. I lifted one rock and it was almost twice as heavy as a normal rock of the  same size. Jade Legend Trading: patrick_wkc@hotmail.com
the KL Tower looms in the background a glimpse of the Petronas Twin Towers from my hotel room at Alpha Genesis Hotel a comfortable bed, a quiet room and a fantastic view at the Alpha Genesis Hotel Daniel joining me for breakfast. He is a German backpacker I met in Koh Rong, then bumped into again in Kampot, then Phnom Penh and now, in Kuala Lumper...small world!
my shire, Alpha Genesis Hotel, right in the heart of the bustling Bukit Bintang even though Kuala Lumpur is expensive, it's still easy to find good cheap eats I eat where locals eat...it's cheaper and the food is done the local way took a leisurely stroll around 2am at the Petronas Twin Towers and took this shot. It's only 1.7 km from my hotel, Alpha Genesis Hotel
photo op at the main door of the Petronas Twin Towers  

Google Map Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

tourist attractions in Bali tourist attractions
  • KL Tower in Bali KL Tower - dine at the revolving restaurant (3°09'10.3"N 101°42'13.7"E)
  • Petronas Twin Towers Petronas Twin Towers - once the world's tallest building (3°09'28.4"N 101°42'41.8"E)
  • Batu Caves Batu Caves -Hindus take pilgrimage to this cave
  • Kuala Lumpur Bird Park Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - world largest free-flight walk-in bird park, 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, 21 acres (8 ha), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, phone: +60 3-2272 1010, adult admission CurrencyCurrencyABBR 48, http://www.klbirdpark.com
  • Aquaria KLCC Aquaria KLCC - ocean aquarium under the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Jalang Pinang, open daily from 10:30am - 8:00pm, check schedule for Piranha feeding, adult admission RM50, +603 2333 1975 / 1976 / 1977 or email at marketing@aquawalk.com
  • China Town China Town - for authentic Chinese cuisine, night market, bustling activities, history and culture
cafes in Kuala Lumpur cafe
  • Yum Cha Cafe Yum Cha Cafe - coffee, food, desserts
    143 Jalan Petaling, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur | 012-639 8222 | 08:30 - 18:30 | 3°08'29.7"N 101°41'52.4"E
restaurant in Kuala Lumpur restaurant
  • Arabesque Arabesque - middle Eastern cuisine
    92, Jalan Petaling, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur - 3°08'34.4"N 101°41'52.5"E

    How to Get to Bukit Bintang from the KL Airport

    1. take a the red AirBus to the KL Sentral train station, 48 kms, MYR 10/pax
    2. from KL Sentral train station, take the purple Monorail (it's actually a 5-min walk outside the station) to Bukit Bintang, 5 stops, MYR 35/pax

    Kuala Lumpur FYI / Tips

    • the tourist area where most of the night outdoor hawker-style eateries and bars are located along the Jalan Alor Street area and Jalan Changkat (one of many)

    Tranport Modes (map)

    • Train - KL Sentral is the center for the city's urban rail-commmute system although they are not integrated. Tickets are required separately for each system and interchanges are not conveniently connected. The rechargeable Touch & Go stored value card (MYR10 deposit) which are available at all LRT stations, can be used at the electronic gates to the LRT, train and monorail systems. Trains are more practical than buses when commuting within city limits.
      • Monorail systems
      • KLIA Transit
      • KLIA Ekspres
      • KTM Komuter
      • LRT
    • Bus - At the Jalan Sultan Mohammed bus stop in Chinatown, there is a booth where you can pick up info on routes, schedules, stops and buy season tickets. Maximun single fare is MYR1.
      • Hop-on Hop-off - city tour, MYR 45/24 hours and MYR 79/48 hours, 2.5 hours loop, bus frequency every 20-30 mins, kids below 5 years are free
      • Metro Bus -
      • KL Go City - free shuttle bus around KL. Purple Line ends at KLCC, Green Line ends at China Town (Petaling Street)
      • Rapid KL - convenient to use as their destinations are clearly displayed (1 800 388 228 / www.rapidkl.com.my)
    • Taxi - meter starts at RM2 for the first kilometre, and 10 sen for each additional 200m or 45 seconds. They are all over the place and relatively cheap. There are designated taxi stops within the city but some empty taxis can be flagged down on the street. rom 12 midnight to 6am, 50% surcharge is levied on the metered fare, and extra passengers over two, are charged 20 sen each. Luggage placed in the boot is an extra RM1 and there's an RM12 surcharge for taxis to KLIA. The airport has a coupon system where you pay in advance.

    Kuala Lumpur FYI / Tips

    • the tourist area where most of the night outdoor hawker-style eateries and bars are located along the Jalan Alor Street area and Jalan Changkat in Bukit Bintang, and along Jalan Petaling in China Town
    • transit map of Kuala Lumpur

    Things to do, Places to go in Kuala Lumpur

    1. Petronas Twin Towers - once the world's tallest building (3°09'28.4"N 101°42'41.8"E)
    2. KL Tower - dine at the revolving restaurant (3°09'10.3"N 101°42'13.7"E)
    3. Batu Caves - Hindus take pilgrimage to this cave
    4. Kuala Lumpur City Tour - lose yourself in KL's old neighborhoods and be amazed at the new neighborhoods. Visit Chinatown and the oldest Hindu Temple
    5. Putrajaya at Night - this well-planned city illuminates at night...perfect for dining by Putrajaya Lake
    6. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - world largest free-flight walk-in bird park, 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, 21 acres (8 ha), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, phone: +60 3-2272 1010, adult admission MYR 48, http://www.klbirdpark.com
    7. Aquaria KLCC - ocean aquarium under the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Jalang Pinang, open daily from 10:30am - 8:00pm, check schedule for Piranha feeding, adult admission RM50, +603 2333 1975 / 1976 / 1977 or email at marketing@aquawalk.com
    8. Bukit Bintang - aka Bintang Walk or Starhill, a district in Kuala Lumpur known for shopping, entertainment, hawker-type eateries, al-fresco cafés, swanky bars and night market

    Petronas Twin Towers FYI

    Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    • Ticket Price - adult MYR80, adult (MyKad) MYR25, child MYR30 and child (MyKid) MYR12
    • Operations - Tuesday to Sunday (closed every Monday), open on all public holidays with the exception of Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji
    • Hours - 9am - 9pm (closed from 1pm - 2.30pm on Fridays)
    • Ticketing Counter - Concourse level, PETRONAS Twin Towers. Issuing of tickets will start from 8:30am (tickets are limited and issued on a first come, first served basis). Advance purchase is available.

    FREE Stuff in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur rivals Hong Kong as one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia. Wherever you go in KL, you see a free tourist map with guided walking tours, transit info, etc. People have a better command of English than Thailand, Vietnam, laos or Cambodia. But to just to make things even better for the traveler, here are a few FREE stuff you'll find in KL to make your visit more comfortable, more memorable and more engaging.

    • FREE bus rides - free shuttle bus around KL's Central Business District with KL Go Buses. Purple Line ends at KLCC, Green Line ends at China Town (Petaling Street)
    • FREE wine tasting - at Cronier Wines, every Friday from 17:00 - 18:00, reservations are required, 5-6 The One Avenue, Pelangi Utama Condominium, PJU 6A, Jalan Masjid, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Tel: +603 7722 2252 or +6014 965 1037
    • FREE art gallery admission - at Petronas Art Gallery, 10:00 - 20:00 Tuesday - Sunday, Lot 341 - 343, Level 3, Suria KLCC, PETRONAS Twin Towers, +603 2051 7770
    • FREE bicycle rides - 07:00 - 10:00am Sundays at The Square, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, 1.2 km loop
    • FREE movie screenings
      • Palate Palette - classic films, documentaries, shorts and romantic comedies + free seaweed snack, select nights, 21, Jalan Mesui, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 03-2142 2148
      • Moontree House - discontinued until further notice!!! Sundays from 18:30 - 21:00 near Petaling Street, Chinatown, feminist-oriented big screen titles
      • Publika - call first as this may have been discontinued!!! at Publika every Monday night, Malaysian and regional films, in English or with English subtitles / Level U2, Block C5, Solaris Dutamas, No 1, Jalan Dutamas 1 / 03 6207 9426 or 03 7960 1235
    • FREE rock climbing - at Batu Caves, but bring your own gear. Over 160 climbing routes sprinkled on 150 meters of limestone hill face. Come early to get your spot for your level of expertise
    • FREE food tasting sessions - weekly at KL's best restaurants, with Open Rice's Makan Ventures. You need to go through a selection process though to qualify. First, be a member of Open Rice.
    • FREE walking tours
      • Kampong Bharu - the cradle of Malay culture in Kuala Lumpur, Tue/Thurs/Sunday, registration time 4:15pm - 4:30pm, walking tour 4:30pm to 7:00pm, 1 day advance booking recommended, 603 2698 0332, pelancongan@dbkl.gov.my
      • Brickfields Heritage Walk - Tourism Unit, KL at - 03 2698 0332 - email: pelancongan@dbkl.gov.my., Saturdays, meeting at Vivekananda Ashram at 9:00-11:30am, 2.5 hour walk
      • Dataran Merdeka Heritage Guided Walk - get the inside stories behind the independence of Malaysia through the historic buildings and monuments around Dataran Merdeka / Mondays-Wednesdays-Saturdays / 8:30-11:45am at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery / 603 2698 0332 / pelancongan@@dbkl.gov.my
    • FREE garden park admission - on weekdays (weekends are not free) at the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens, 230 acres including the Hibiscus Garden, Orchid Garden and Deer Park, bring snacks and water
    • FREE Kundalini Meditation - 6:30pm Tuesdays at Vivekananda Ashram on Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields (Little India) / 03 2722 5051, 53 012 379 1324

    Kuala Lumpur Cost Index at backpacker places

    (US$1 = MYR (Malaysian Ringgit) 3.59 = Php 44.23, as of Jan. 23, 2015)
    best place to change US dollars to MYR is at the local money changers, not in airports, specially not from the airport of your departure (e.g. US$1 = MYR 2.95 at Da Nang Airport, MYR 3.35 at KL Airport and 3.55 at the money changers in KL)

    • MYR 3.6 1.5 liter drinking water
    • MYR 80 one hour massage
    • MYR 8 noodle soup with meat
    • MYR 1.5 tea
    • MYR 6 rice meal
    • MYR 14 dorm bed
    • MYR 3 sugar cane juice
    • MYR 80 Petronas Twin Towers ticket
    • MYR 10/bus + MYR 1.20 to 2.50/monorail bus/monorail ride from airport to Bukit Bintang

    Malaysia Blogs by TheLoneRider

      Cameron Highlands

    1. Cool Climate of Cameron Highlands June 19-23, 2016
    2. Kluang

    3. Overnight in Kluang, Malaysia Aug 13-14, 2016
    4. Kuala Lumpur

    5. Funky Flow Yoga with Lora Lorenzo at YogaOneThatIWant Studios July 27, 2016
    6. Deja Vu Kuala Lumpur with Karine July 21-26, 2016
    7. Layover in Kuala Lumpur June 22, 2016
    8. The Kuala Lumpur Experience Jan 21 - Feb 20, 2015
    9. Police Harassment in Kuala Lumpur Feb 17, 2015
    10. Visiting Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur Feb 18, 2015
    11. Walking Tour of China Town Feb 5, 2015
    12. Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur Jan 21, 2015
    13. Malacca

    14. A First-Timer in Malacca July 28-Aug 8, 2016
    15. Art Scene of Malacca August 6, 2016
    16. The River Charm of Malacca August 5, 2016
    17. About Malacca July 28, 2016
    18. Penang

    19. Penang (Malaysia) Immersion May 27-Jun 19, 2016
    20. Exploring the Emergent Cafe Culture of Penang Jun 18, 2016
    21. Encounters with the Guru-Types of Penang Jun 17, 2016
    22. Overnight Camping at Turtle Beach Jun 10, 2016
    23. Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in Penang Jun 10, 2016
    24. Daytrip to Batu Ferringhi Jun 9, 2016
    25. Savouring the Food of Penang May 27 - Jun 6, 2016
    26. Surreal Glow-in-the-Dark 3D World at Dark Mansion June 3, 2016
    27. The Animated Street Art of Penang Jun 3, 2016
    28. Exploring the Lush Greenery of Botanic Gardens May 29, 2016
    29. Up up and Away to Penang Hill May 28, 2016
    30. About Penang May 27, 2016



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