Friday, August 03, 2012

Trip to Malaysia

On 15-Jun-2012, I saw an ad in newspaper that its Rs. 24k for 2 persons to and fro air fare for Malaysia. That made us interested and we booked ticket for Rs. 28500. It includes 2 persons to and fro ticket from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur + tax + food + bus + luggage + travel insurance. A month later, we got visa stamped for both of us for Rs. 3000. After that we bought a travel book for Malaysia and decided where we want to go. We decided to go to Kuala Lumpur, George Town (Penang) and Ipoh. Then we decided how many days we will stay in each place plus the travel time. After everything was planned, we booked hotels in each place and then booked train ticket in ktmb. Initially I had faced few problems because my HDFC card was not getting approved. Later I used SBI card and all went smooth.
On 16-July-2012, I got cash converted for Rs. 60000 for which I got ~ 3200 ringgit. The conversion was around MYR 1 = RS 18.10. With this we were ready to go for our trip to Malaysia.
Its 03-Nov-2012 9:00 PM, Runai and me were waiting in K.R. Puram Railway Station, Bangalore, India for tarin to Chennai. Train reached at 11:30 PM and as we were about to board the train, thats when I remember that I forgot to carry my credit card with which I have booked hotels and I am suppose to present at the time of Check-In. I was thinking what to do, but Runai made me understand the situation. Anyway lets forgot that and we slept.
Next day 04-Nov-2012, we reached Chennai Central at 05:00 AM. It was still dark and we went to nearby hotel and checked-in. We slept till morning 10:00 AM and then went for breakfast. After freshening ourselves we left the hotel at 12 o'clock and took a taxi to airport. We reached and had to kill time till 3:30 PM. We entered inside the airport and completed all formalities like check-in baggage and immigration check. We went up stare and had to wait till 6:00 PM to board the flight. It was raining very heavily around 5:00 PM and hence an hour delay. The flight was maintained well and we were served food. We thought of sleep for sometime but we couldn't because we were very excited. The flight travel time is around 4 hours and time difference is 2.5 hours i.e. if IST is 6:00 PM, then MY is 8:30 PM.
Next day 05-Nov-2012, we reached Kuala Lumpur at 12:30 AM MY time. We completed all formalities inside the airport. The immigrant officer didn't ask much. Her question was why we came in Malaysia, who is with me and had to show my return flight ticket. We were not sure what to do outside the airport, so decided to stay inside the airport till early morning. At 5:00 AM, we decided to go outside and the lady checked our bags and we were outside. It was still dark. Near the exit gate, there were mini booklets for tourist with maps and locations. We took which was of our interest. Once we came out, we saw it was a busy place and there were lots of restaurants. We went straight to food court and got our first plate of Malaysian cuisine (quay teow and malaysian noodles). Then we came out and waited for the bus which will drop us in KL Sentral. The fare was already paid along with air fare. After waiting for 15 min, a bus came and we boarded. The entire bus was empty except the bus driver and us. Anyway the bus dropped us at KL Sentral around 7:00 AM and it was still dark. The journey took us around 1 hour. KL Sentral is just like Bangalore Majestic Junction.
I will rate it this way. If India stands at 10 in terms of accessibility, modernization, cleanliness, living standard and similar stuff and USA at 100, then Malaysia stands at 50.
KL Sentral is a junction for all commute. It is a huge building with stations at various levels for different types of train. It also has bus stops and market place. It was well organized and it was easy for us to understand where was what. We wanted to keep our bag in clock room, but it was closed, so had to carry it. We wanted to go to Batu Caves, so got ticket for Komuter train costing RM 2 for each ticket and straight to respective station. There we are inside the train and hardly anybody was there. We were reached the place which was the last stop. Just beside the station, was the entrance for Batu Cave. We reached here at 8:30 AM and we say day light.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Cave is a limestone cave with a standing hindu god at 42.7 m (140 ft) high, the world's tallest statue of Murugan. One had to climb around 200 to 300 stairs to reach the top. Many does that as an exercise. We also did so along with our luggage on our back. One person came near us and told me that I am doing a very good exercise because I had the luggage with me. After some photographic session, we came down and got a bottle of water which cost us RM 4 (It was costly and actually cheated us. All other place, I paid RM 2). Anyway we spent some time and went to same station and back to KL Sentral. We searched for clock room and promptly got one inside KL Sentral. We kept our heavy luggage and the person informed us to take back our luggage before 9:00 PM. Then we came out of KL Sentral and wanted to see how it looks like outside. There were big apartments and looked very very posh. We wanted to taste some Malaysian food, so went to a local restaurant nearby. You won't believe there were lift and overhead bridge to cross road. We had fish and fish and fish with rice with local varieties. After lunch we came back to KL Sentral and took another train to go to Petronas Towers.
Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers
It is one of the tallest building in the world. The train station is in the basement and once we are inside, it is a huge shopping complex. Its a paradise for shopping enthusiastic people because name a international brand and it is there. After good photo session, we came out and could see the Kuala Lumpur Tower. We did not go there and was little tired too. So took another train and came back to same old KL Sentral. Next we went to search for our hotel which we would be staying on our last day. We went all the way from backside and found our hotel. It was hardly 10 min walk. The place was Brickfield and it was no greater than any street in Chennai. Anyway we had some evening snacks like vada and other south Indian stuff (It was just Malaysian south Indian vs Indian south Indian taste) and concluded with Sarvana Bhavan coffee. If I have to judge, both taste same except price if converted to INR, Malaysian vada was way too high :-) Anyway later part of the evening we did not do much and was too tired and was little sleep deprived. We went back to KL Sentral and wanted to take rest. Runai and I could not keep our eyes open for even 5 min. From last Friday evening, we did not have proper sleep. At 9:00 PM, we took our baggage from clock room, finished our dinner from KFC and then went and confirmed which station will be our train. Our train to Butterworth was at 11:00 PM. We have a Indian mentality, where we are suppose to go to station early and confirm PNR and then wait and wait near the appropriate coach until the train arrives. But here it was very different. The train arrived at 10:57 PM which we can't see because it was underground station but came to know because passenger started coming out of station and then the gate was opened for us to go to station and board the train. Our coach was right in front of the stairs and we went in. It was sleeper coach and well spaced and arranged. There were no rush and handful of people were there. Train started sharp at 11:00 PM, we settled ourself and TT came to check ticket. TT does not check this paper and that paper and sign and mark all over the place like our TT do, rather he had a punching machine with which he made a hole in our printout. In our coach if there were 30 berth, hardly 8-10 passenger were there. I am not used to see something like this in our Indian Railway. Another thing people over here buy train ticket just before they board the train and not like Indian Railway here people get ticket 4 months ahead :-) Anyway I don't know anything after this as I was snooring and as per my guide I know that Butterworth will come next day morning 7:00 AM and it is going to be the last stop.
Its 06-Nov-2012 7:00 AM and still dark, we reached Butterworth station. As per my guide (Malaysia Travel book, Google map printout), we came out of station, which is a small room with hardly few people around. We went straight to the ferry which is 5 min walk in a fly over bridge. There was a small queue and after paying the ticket we went in the ferry and we were the last one to get in and they closed the gate. We are on our way to a small, beautiful, quite and foodie place George Town island.

George Town Penang Island
Combining the mainland and island, it is popularly known as Pennang. Ferry talk approx. 15 min to reach either side. Upper deck of ferry is meant for people and lower deck is meant for cars and bikes. It is nothing fancy and provides basic necessity with a small food counter and a restroom. On your way to George Town, you will see spectacular view of one of the longest bridge in the world on sea which will be on your left.

Penang Bridge
As we reached the island, sun was about to raise and it started to drizzle. We took our umbrella out and started searching for lebuh chulia which is the street name. We asked for direction to a old person and he told he does not know, may be because he did not understand us. Anyway as we turned around, we found that the road on our right is the street we are looking for.
George Town Penang Street

We went straight and crossed a crossing marked as Little India. Basically every city, town has a place known as Little India in Malaysia. We went to a restaurant and had an awesome breakfast. I still miss it. Further down we found our hotel. We went an inquired and the receptionist told us that check in time is 12 noon but we can keep our luggage there. After we were free with bags, we went to tour nearby place. Its a Chinese dominate place and it had n numbers of Chinese temples and each was beautiful in its way. On our way we found Kapitan Keling Mosque but it was closed.
Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque
So we went further and found Han Jiang Ancestral Temple. It was a beautiful place and we met a lady who was offering her prayer there. She told us all nearby temple and places to visit. We came out and went to the crossing and that lady came behind us to show the direction and we went ahead and she went back. We went to Tong Kheng Seah and it was very well decorated temple. Then we headed toward Cheng Hoe Seah which was little smaller than previous one but again very colorful and then Hock Tek Cheng Sin Temple and later Khoo Kongsi which had a entrance fee where as others did not. The last one was really colorful and beautiful. The best part is all are in same street on your left hand side and at the end of the street it was Masjid Melayu. We started walking back and on the other side which is now our left hand we went into Yap Kongsi
Yap Kongsi

which is small compared to others but again well maintained and decorated and beautiful on its own way. Then we went to Kuan Im Temple. It was a Chinese festival and hundreds of people were offering there prayer. We went in but decided to come next day as it was very busy. One different thing we noticed was incense sticks. Ours are small thin but there it was tall as us and thick as our hand. Then we walked in different direction and went to Lebuh Victoria where we found all government buildings. By now we were hungry and it was 1:00 PM and we wanted to try Chinese food. So went back to same Kuan Im Temple street and there we found a small old Chinese tea shop. In India we drink cup of tea but here people drink small jug of tea by pouring each time in a small cup which is made of just tea leaves and water and nothing else. Anyway after trying it we wanted to try food and our stomach is half full with that tea. We ordered for noodles with meat and each glass of juice and side dish made of fish. The taste was very different compare to our Indian Chinese food but very tasty and yummy. Later we went to our hotel and checked in. We freshened ourselves and came out of the hotel to see other part of the town which is near Komtar building.

People here closes mostly everything by 4:00 PM. Only shops opened are food stalls and food stalls on street and few evening food shops and bakeries. We went inside the Komtar building which is the main bus stop and also shopping complex. We bought few souvenirs for ourselves and then went to Ong Si Thye Guan Tong.

Ong Si Thye Guan Tong

Its again very richly decorated temple. It was closed and we could not go inside the temple. Then we walked back near the jetty and started walking along the shore. It was the place for all old official and memorial buildings. First we went to Clock Tower and then Fort Cornwallis, Light House, Khoo Kongsi,

Khoo Kongsi
Khoo Kongsi Wall
Mahkamah Tinggi (which is the court),

George Town Penang High Court

George Town Penang Town Hall

then few churches (which were already closed because it was 5:00 PM) and then finally St. George's Church. By evening 7:00 PM, we were back in our hotel. We came out at 7:30 PM and walking in lebuh chulia, where every corner there were food stalls. Few stalls we could not try because we don't know what it is, but rather than that, the main difficulty was language problem. We saw that people were telling something to the shop owner and making there own food in front of the stall and the owner is just standing there watching. So we went to other stalls and tried mein ton. It was very tasty. Later we tried in another stall with other variation of noodles. This is the only stall where we found it was Indian guy's (by face), and we could communicate in English. I will say it was not so good type. By now our stomach was full and it was 9:30 PM and streets were empty and back to hotel.
Its 07-Nov-2012, and as usual we went straight to the restaurant for breakfast (which we went yesterday) at 8:00 AM. This time we tried some soupy noodles. It was nice and healty but I am not used to so clear boiled food, so according to me, it was ok. Then we went to Kuan Im Temple (which we could not visit yesterday). We went in though it was bit crowded, but people gave us way to come in and one lady showed us inside. We came out and there we saw a small Banyan tree near the temple gate, were few Indian were sitting with a picture of Hindu god. May be because that area is Little India. Later we went to St. George's Church and went in. We sat there for sometime and people were busy decorating and preparing for some function. A lady came to us and gave us papers and gave us knowledge about the church. Next we went in Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinana. Its a very well maintained, well informative museum and there was entrance fee. Here we came to know lot about Malaysia, specially George Town and about its people. Later we went to another Chinese Temple. I could not get the name because it was marked in Chinese. Next we walked back to Jetty Bus Stand and inquired about bus timing to go to Batu Ferringhi.

Batu Ferringhi
We boarded the bus which was waiting for passenger. In the entire bus, along with us there were 3 more people including driver. The bus over here works a bit like USA, where passenger had to pay in full in the box and will not get any change amount if you pay extra and ticket will be issued by driver. Anyway after an hour, we came to Batu Ferringhi. The road was superb and like some filmy style. On your left is sea and you are in the hill road going in the bus. Its a sea beach with lots of water sports and lot of fancy hotels around. It is purely for tourist. The moment we got down, plenty of local people surrounded us to take us on a ride :-). All were South Indian people who were talking in Tamil among themselves and English with us. I could understand that they are fighting among themselves that who caught us first. We did not entertain them and frankly ride cost was way to high compare to our budget. We went all by our self along the beach and promptly fond a food stall which is of our interest. As I mentioned earlier, George Town is food heaven, we had duck roast, prawn in burnt butter and garlic sauce and noodle + rice. As we were eating, it started to rain very heavily thats when we ordered few more side dishes with fishes. There were few pet cats roaming around. There game was to play hide and sick around our legs and occasionally eat fish from us. After rain stopped, we came out and went to the bus stop, but we found a souvenir shop. We bought few things for our friends and relatives. Later we took another bus further up to reach Teluk Bahang. The bus stop was a small place with very few house around and was the last stop. We went inside and there were just 2 people inside. We saw a board which says local that way and foreigner this way. It was a trekking place, so we returned back. We walked back to the bus stop. One bus told us to get in and he will drop us to the junction and did not take any ticket fare. We got down and we wanted to go to Botanical Garden. After 45 min ride, the driver made us get down to a junction and asked us to take another bus for Botanical Garden. As we got down it started to rain heavily. We had to wait one and half hour for rain to stop. By the time we got up it was 4:30 PM and we know that all will be closed by now. So went back to Komtar building. We walked down to our hotel and after freshening ourselves, we went for a evening walk basically searching for popular local food. By evening most of the restaurants will be closed and street food stall will come up. We went inside a Chinese bakery and tried some of there sweet items. We liked few and ok rating for others. Then went to one shop and it was overly crowded and ad was momo. It was a different experience and delicious one. We sat in the table and the cooks are going round and round the place with moving cooktop. One person is steaming various momos in his trolley. Another person is going around with sweets and the other guy with noodles. If you want anything particular, then you can order separately. We asked for various momo and she gave a plate of momo filled with various items like chicken, fish, sea food and egg and kept a slip with the amount. It was awesome and never forget the taste. Then we tried sweets. Same way she gave various varieties from her trolley and wrote the amount in that same slip. After savoring them, we took the slip in the counter. She adds up all and showed us the calculator which means we are suppose to pay that amount. We came out and went toward the Hotel Malaysia. We went in random direction and later took a local rickshaw to drop us to our hotel. From there we went to another shop, where we tried soupy wanton noodles. Later we tried pork steaks served with sweet peanut sauce. With that we returned back to our hotel. As we were entering our hotel, we found a stall for bike on rent, but now it does not make any sense. With that our day was over.
Its 08-Nov-2012, we were up by 5:00 AM, we checked out from our hotel and straight to jetty. Went to the ferry and back to Butterworth and then waited for train to come. At 7:55 AM, one lady came inside and asked us to board the train. Train left sharp at 8:00 AM and we reached Ipoh at 12 noon. Its a small town and not a too tourist friendly place. The biggest problem was communicating in English and I don't know Chinese. Anyway I had the map, so we started walking toward the hotel. On our way we came across Masjid Sultan Idris Shah II
Pejabat Tabung Haji Negeri Perak

and later went to Chinese restaurant. By now we are familiar with restaurant culture. One person came to us and we told that we want coffee. White Coffee is very famous here. Then we ordered for noodle with pork and chicken in broken English. Guess what, in India we get more of noodle and less of veggies and meat, but here in Malaysia they give more of meat and less of noodle. Anyway after a delightful lunch, we headed toward our hotel as per the map. We inquired a lady police officer and she showed us the direction. We checked in and later inquired about some possible day trip in Ipoh. He told us that car will be provided for us and charge will be 180 ringgit for day trip. We were ok with that, so he asked us to get ready by 8:00 AM tomorrow morning and Mr. Chang will be here with his Toyota Innova. Later we went walking around the city. We went to Masjid Sultan Idris Shah II but could not enter because of some restriction. Then we went to Deman Bandaran Ipoh which I guess is there government building. Then visited clock tower in the center of the city. Next was Mahkamah Tinggi Ipoh which I guess is the court.
Ipoh High Court

Ipoh High Court

Later Kelab Ipoh Diraja which is Royal Ipoh Club. Next was St. Michael's School

St Michael School
and opposite side of the road was Church of St. John The Divine. We were very thirsty by now, so went for some refreshment. Later went to Muzium Darul Ridzuan. This museum talks about Ipoh. Among all these place we could enter clock tower, church and museum, but all other buildings were very beautiful and worth visiting. We went everywhere by walk and these were very nearby buildings. by evening 4 PM all shops were closed and people started coming back home. We too reached our hotel by 4 PM and around 5:30 PM we came out again and saw everything closed, roads were empty. We found nowhere nobody. So while returning back, we saw a inside wide road getting busy with people and hackers were busy pulling there road side stall. It was Ramadan season, so it was something like our mela. Other roads were getting decorated by people who has night eat out stalls. People were slowly coming in. We wanted to try some of there food, but the biggest problem was communication. We understood that we cannot do anything, so went to a restaurant. The lady over here knows English. She asked us what we want and also asked how we want it. It was totally custom made but in Chinese style. It was awesome and mouth watering delicious food. We ordered for noodles, cabbage (size of small onion) with burned butter garlic sauce, prawn in spicy sauce. That was the end of the day and we were off to bed.
Its 09-Nov-2012, we woke up by 6:00 AM and was ready by 8:00 AM, Mr. Chang was there waiting for us downstairs. I tell you, if I every go to Malaysia again for anything, I will make sure that I meet Mr. Chang. He is such a nice, active and lovely person in his retirement age. He asked us, where we want to go for breakfast. Is it some Indian place that we would prefer, but we told that we want to try some local cuisine. Ipoh is dominated by Chinese population, so the culture over here is similar to Chinese stuff. Mr. Chang took us to restaurant which are famous among locals. Along with food we got to talk and interact with local Chinese people. He sat with them all in one table. Many of them were asking Mr. Chang who we are and then when they came to know that we were tourist, they were very eager to make us taste many of their many food. We could taste few and told them that we will try remaining stuff later. I paid bill for us and for him too. Then we started our sight seeing. We went first to Taman Rekreasi Gunung Lang.
Gunung Lang Lake

It is a fresh water lake which is meant for local water reservoir. It was a beautiful lake in between lime stone hills. Next was Perak Tong which is Perak Cave Temple.
Perak Tong

Perak Tong Buddha

Most of these temples are inside lime stone caves. Each one is beautiful in its own way. Next was Gua Kek Look Tong.

Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
Gua Kek Look Tong
It is a huge cave and very beautiful. There are no sun light inside the cave. Backside of the cave is well maintained and is made as a park. Then we went to Miaw Yuan Chan Lin

Miaw Yuan Chan Lin
Miaw Yuan Chan Lin

and here you can see huge rock carving of sleeping Buddha. Then we went to Association Of Pureland Amitabha Buddhist.
Pureland Amitabha Buddist

Its a beautiful temple. The entire temple floor is made of wood and it smells like our sandalwood but different smell. Next was Sam Poh Tong.

Sam Poh Tong
Sam Poh Tong
One of the best place with colorful Chinese temple in the middle of pond. Next was Nam Thean Tong. We had sugar cane juice and Mr. Chang had coconut water. Next was Kellas House.

Kellies Castle
Its a castle which was destroyed in 2nd World War. It is said that the spirit of William Kellie Smith is still wondering inside. With that our trip was over and we are back to the city. Mr. Chang dropped us to our hotel and told us to get ready by 7:00 PM. He will take us to night eat outs which are very popular here. At 7:15 PM we started and he took us to a place which in day time is open parking lot and night it turns into eating place. The place is surrounded by different food stalls and chairs and tables in the center. It was heavily crowded and I guess local people in Ipoh don't cook dinner at home. They prefer to eat outside and socialize. There are groups, like all dad of different family sit together, moms are separate, sons are in different table and daughters in different place. Getting a parking place is difficult. Anyway we 3 found a table and each table is marked with numbers. You can go to any stall and ask them to get food in your table. Here we saw Indian food made by Chinese just like in India we get Chinese food made by Indians. First we ordered for 2 bowls of broth, which was filled with rice and meat. Next we ordered for steaks and later it was cuttle fish in spicy sauce. We paid for each stall from where we got food and started again after an hour. We went round and round in the city. We went to the costliest hotel in Ipoh and parked our car which is just opposite to the river. There we started to walk around. Later we went to other night eating place but did not stop. Mr. Chang dropped us to our hotel around 11:30 PM and asked us to get ready by 7:00 AM tomorrow, so that he can take us to nearby village for great breakfast and later will drop us to railway station at 11:00 AM.
Its 10-Nov-2013, we were ready and checked out from hotel. Mr. Chang took us to a village and there was a small hut and in the open space there were lot of people eating breakfast. We ordered for various items, like noodles with fish balls, spicy curry noodles (and it was very spicy), pork in spicy sauce and fried dumplings. On our way back Mr. Chang asked us to carry Garam Chicken which is very famous in Ipoh and have it on our way to Kuala Lampur. Next we went to Old Town White Coffee shop which is similar to Cafe Coffee Day near the railway station. We had coffee there which was really different. I have learned that they roast the coffee beans in palm oil before grinding it and that gives a different taste. With that he dropped us to the station. We waited for for train to come. We boarded our train at 1:00 PM and saw that it was the same train and same seat in which we came to Ipoh from Butterworth. Anyway at 3:00 PM we reached Kuala Lampur and went to our hotel which was very near to railway station. He had the chicken in our room after freshening ourselves. I tell you, that was one of the best chicken I ever had which is just roasted with salt and just one herb. I don't know what that herb was. We took train for KL Tower. We had to walk for sometime to reach the base of KL Tower which is also known as Menara Kuala Lumpur.
Menara KL

Menara KL Aerial View

Menara KL Aerial View

You get free shuttle service to reach the tower. Once you reach there, you have to get ticket to go on top of the tower. The elevator goes supper fast and shows in meter and not in terms of floor. Within few seconds, we reached the top which is 421 meters and there you get to see entire Kuala Lampur city as birds eye view. Next we walked down to Petronas Twin Towers. We could not go on top because it was closed in the evening. Then we took another train to reach Old Town or China Town which is a shopping place. We bought souvenir for for friends, families and ourselves. It was quite late, so took another train to reach KL Sentral. We had our dinner from Old Town White Coffee. Coffee and noodles were really good but others like lemon tea and similar stuff was so-so. We packed ourselves for the night.
Its 11-Nov-2012, our flight back to Chennai was at 3:00 PM. So we checked out of hotel at 10:00 AM. Had breakfast in same Old Town White Coffee and took a direct bus which will drop us to airport. We reached there by noon and bought chocolate and then boarded our flight. Inside flight after having our lunch, we were still hungry, so we ordered again few other dishes and then Runai bought few items from flight like Passport holder. We reached Chennai, India in the evening. Took a pre paid taxi and back to Chennai Central. Had our dinner in near by place and boarded our train at 11:30 PM.
Its 12-Nov-2012, we are back to KR Puram, Bangalore and back to home.

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1 comment:

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