Mobile phones
Getting around

Part 2: KL

25-26.6: Munich -> Dubai -> KL
27.6: KL
28.6: KL
29.6: KL -> Miri
30.6: Miri -> Mulu
1.7: Mulu -> Camp 5
2.7: Pinnacles
3.7: Camp 5 -> Miri -> Kuching
4.7: Kuching -> Singapore
5.7: Singapore
6.7: Singapore
7.7: Singapore -> KL
8.7: KL -> Merang
9.7: Merang -> Lang Tengah
10.7: Lang Tengah
11.7: Lang Tengah -> Kuala Terengganu -> Pulau Kapas
12.7: Pulau Kapas -> KL -> Teluk Intan

13.7: Teluk Intan
14.7: Teluk Intan, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping
15.7: Teluk Intan -> KL -> Kuching
16.7: Kuching, Kubah NP, Matang wildlife reserve
17.7: Semenggoh, Kuching wetlands NP, Kota Kinabalu
18.7: Kota Kinabalu -> Labuan
19.7: Labuan -> Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei)
20.7: Ulu Temburong NP -> BSB
21.7: BSB -> Seria -> Tasek Merimbun -> KL
22.7: KL
23.7: KL
24.7: KL -> Dubai
25.7: Dubai -> Munich

25-26.6: Munich -> Dubai -> Kuala Lumpur
Shaun's place
Weather: tropically hot in KL.

We arrive at the airport at 8:15pm, then proceed to check in at the Emirates counter in the C area of the airport. There is a  counter just for people who have checked in online with almost no queue. By 8:40pm we are checked in, but since the flight is delayed by 35 minutes we proceed to the fast food area of the airport. There we have some dinner. Big screen showing the football match Spain-Chile, cool atmosphere. We leave in a rush when it starts raining and proceed to the gate.

The flight leaves with over an hour of delay at 11:45pm. The plane is completely full. We land in Dubai at 7:30am, one hour later than planned. Then we walk around a bit. I'm unable to withdraw cash with my ATM card from two ATMs. Hopefully the problem does not persist in Malaysia, otherwise how can I get cash.

The flight leaves Dubai on time and lands in KL punctually at 9:35pm. By the time however we manage to retrieve all luggage and go through immigration it's almost 11pm. The flight was very full and there is lots of luggage to be discharged.

Shaun, Shirley's brother, has been waiting for us outside since 10pm. We drive in his car to his home, where Shirley's mother and sisters welcome us. Big family reunion scene, lots of talking. Shortly after midnight I go sleeping (only got one hour of sleep on the flight from Munich to Dubai).

27.6: Kuala Lumpur
Hotel Boulevard, KL
Weather: sunny in the morning, blue sky with clouds, gradual cloud buildup, some light rain in the afternoon. Hot and steamy.

I wake up at 9am, Shirley and Alissia a bit later. The small one (Natasha) will continue sleeping until 11am. Simple breakfast in an open air restaurant near Shaun's place around 10am. More family socialising. At 1pm we drive to a restaurant in Puchong where we have a dim sum lunch. After that Shaun brings Shirley and myself to the Boulevard hotel. Alissia and Natasha will spend the rest of the afternoon at Sara's place.

After checking in Shirley and I buy local SIM cards for our phones - Maxis, 10RM with 4RM of airtime on them. I top mine up with 30RM. Then Shirley and I split. Shirley will have a haircut and do some shopping, while I take a taxi into town.

It seems that taxi rates have sharply increased since last year. RM18 to get from Midvalley to Jalan Ampang (RM 10 last year). The starting fee is RM 3 (RM 2 last year), and the km fee seems to have gone up by 30-50%. Quite a sharp price increase, but it's also true that taxi rates have been very low and stable for so many years. There is now a big sticker on the taxis 'This is a metered taxi - price haggling is prohibited'. Prohibited my ass, as I find out later that in the Chinatown area taxi drivers still refuse to use the meter despite the sharp rate increase.

I withdraw cash from the Citibank ATM in Jalan Ampang, then slowly walk to KLCC, have a look inside, then walk towards Bukit Bintang and then on to Petaling street for some shopping.  Not much has changed since last year in KL, except that now the Puduraya bus station seems to be closed for renovation and there is lots of construction going on around KLCC.

After 6pm I call Shirley and ask what she would like to do. We'll meet in the hotel. Then I'm notified by SMS that I only have 79 cents of airtime left, which is quite surprising since I have made only one 20 cents call and the phone should have RM 34 left on it. Some checking and in the call log I find a GPRS data download for 3251KB. Mobile data with Maxis is around RM10/MB, and this explains why the phone balance is almost empty.

I then remember that I briefly tried out the GPS navigation and allowed the phone to connect to the Internet. This is needed to get the position faster through A-GPS, otherwise you have to wait for several minutes until the phone finds the satellites.

I also tried to enter a destination in Malaysia to see if the navigation works and the phone did a search online instead of using the maps stored on the memory card. It seems that this Nokia dumbphone initiated a data download which stopped when the card balance was close to empty. So I decide to always prevent the phone from going online while I'm in Malaysia.

When I try to get a taxi to the hotel all drivers refuse to use the meter. One guy even leans against the car in an effort to cover the 'This is a metered taxi' sticker. Incredible, the rates are increased by 50% and the drivers still refuse to use the meter. After some searching I find a honest driver willing to use the meter. I'm back in Midvalley after 7pm.

28.6: Kuala Lumpur
Hotel Boulevard, KL
Weather: same pattern as yesterday - sunny in the morning, blue sky with clouds, gradual clouds buildup, some rain after 6pm. Hot and steamy.

The alarm clock wakes us up at 9am. We have breakfast at 10am, then do some shopping. Around 1pm we have lunch in the Esquire kitchen restaurant. They also have increased sharply their prices - around 30-50% compared to last year.

Shortly after 2pm, while Shirley and Natasha are taking a nap in the hotel, Alissia and I go to the Butterfly park. RM 15 (adult) and RM 9 (child) entrance fee, RM 1 camera fee. Nice park full of butterflies but a bit pricey. We only spend 40 minutes in the butterfly park (Alissia is not too interested), then take a taxi (RM 5) to the Bird park. We could have walked if we had known the way, because it is a very short distance.

Steep entrance fee of RM 42 (adult) + RM 32 (child) at the bird park. Later Shirley tells me that local Malaysians pay less than that. This is really expensive (over 10 Euro at the current exchange rate) and not surprisingly most visitors to the park are foreigners (very few Malaysians).

The park is cool and breathtaking. Lots of tropical birds flying around. When you enter you pass through a cage with colourful parrots. Tons of photo opportunities with the telezoom lens. There is one booth where you can have a photo of yourself taken with birds on your arms and shoulders. Alissia enjoys feeding the parrots, with parrots climbing onto her. We also spend some time in a playground inside the park.

Very nice place, but heavily overpriced. The Munich zoo costs only 7 Euro and has more attractions than this bird park which is more expensive.

At 6pm we take a taxi and head back to the hotel. In the evening we all have a dinner in a Japanese restaurant in the Midvalley mall. Unimpressive food and very tiny portions.

29.6: Kuala Lumpur -> Miri
Park hotel, Miri. RM 80 for a large room with attached bathroom with shower, TV, fridge, phone, adjustable A/C, some furniture, comfortable bed with soft mattress. The hotel is very old, but is spotlessly clean. Quiet, you hear very little of the street noise. Breakfast included. Good value.
Weather: overcast in the morning, then starting at 1pm it starts raining for the whole day.

After breakfast Shirley does some shopping while I head back to the hotel room with Natasha. Shirley is back at 11:30am and after that we take a taxi to the Sunway Pyramid shopping mall in Subang Jaya.

There I meet Andy Lim at noon for some lunch. Andy is now working as a freelance wedding photographer and web designer in KL. We got to know each other years ago during a trip to Laos.

At 1:30pm we take a taxi back to the Midvalley mall. There Shirley tries to make Natasha sleep, then goes shopping with Alissia. Surprise, surprise, although it's sleeping time Natasha refuses to sleep and finds a lot of excuses why she won't sleep even if she is tired. In the meantime I browse a bit the Internet doing some research about Taiwan. Was thinking of perhaps visiting Taiwan, but after checking some potential places to visit I decide to skip Taiwan.

Shirley is back around 4pm. I pack my stuff and at 5pm take a taxi to the airport, arriving shortly before 6pm. The AirAsia LCCT terminal is now a bit more organised than it used to be before. Free Internet access with decent speed at the airport.

The flight to Miri leaves with approx. 20 minutes of delay. The plane is quite full.

Copyright 2010 Alfred Molon