With Friends: Part 1
On July 27, I met my high school friends, Candice and Michelle, and their friend, Elmer in Changi Airport, Singapore to catch a flight on Jetstar Airline bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a 2 full day trip.
Since I will always be in tight budget during travels, budget airlines is the only way to go, unless the flight is more than 8 hours. A bit careful though: when booking Jetstar, you may need to wait for 24 hours after your payment before you get your confirmed tickets via email. Its a bit worrisome if ever you are paying for 4 person. A benefit is that is that you can reserve your tickets online and then pay to any 7-11 shops or Singapore Post office if you don’t have credit card.
The airline seats were alright and there was no delay in departure time so I was happy. One way flight is 1 hour tops and the round trip costs SGD51 inclusive of tax so its not so bad.
There were bus services lined up after Immigration section. They offer drop off around the city to major hotel and hostels. Luckily, our hostel is somewhat along the route so we took the service that was heading off in less than a minute. Interestingly, we were initially in a large van, then we had to transfer to 2 diff vans along the way. It must be a way for saving cost by combining those heading to the same direction. Not ideal if you just want to sit down for the whole trip.
Our hostel, 88 Inn, is located in Changkat Thambi Dollah, at the back of Times Square. Its a bit farther off the busy central market street of Bukit Bintang and can be very quiet at night. Not ideal, if you are walking alone or if you are just a pair of ladies. There was 1 guy who kept on staring at us while we were finding massage parlors nearby, even to the point of moving slowly at our direction. Btw, there were no massage parlor nearby so it was a wasted scary trip.
The receptionist/owner was helpful to book our taxi reservation for our last day for 6am trip. The room had bunk beds and fit all 4 of us for the price of RM108 (Ringgit Malaysia) for 3 nights, thats equivalent to SGD10 per person. The only angst I had was the toilet is outside the room (shared for all in that floor) and it was in squatting position. So in conclusion for this:
Bad location + Bad toilet = Not recommended. Our next trip with my family, we took a different hotel which I would recommend (more on that later)
Next day, we took the HoponHopoff bus tour that goes to various tourist attractions. The main ticket counter is near Lot 10 at Bukit Bintang. Basically, you have the free rein if you want to check an attraction out by hopping out of the bus and then catch the next bus when you are done, hence the name. An audio record will be played as the bus heads to the next attraction. Of course, the attraction entrance fee is separately purchased. This bus service also have diff types of services aside from the day tour. The 1 day tour costs RM38.
SGD 1 was equivalent to RM 2.33 at that time.
Since we didn’t had enough time to check out all the places, we just watched them on top of the bus. It had a portion of the bus offering an open area for sitting, good for nice breeze and picture taking. We managed take a glimpse of Istana Negara, the President’s Palace and their version of Orchid Garden. After that, a quick shopping trip to Petaling Street in Chinatown. Items priced around RM15 for cheap souvenirs like shirts and lockets up to RM40 for bigger items such as paintings and table statues. After that we took a public bus heading back to Bukit Bintang. You need to pay the conductor while the bus is moving (similar to Cebu)
Finally, we had break in Secret Receipe, recommended by my good friend, Leoni, for their good cheesecake. They have amazing cheesecakes, and top that with good coffee, the combination is wonderful. I would recommend trying 1st the Marble Cheesecake before trying out the rest of the delicious sweets. The price is definitely cheaper than Singapore, RM75 for the whole cake.
After a good tea break, we then walked towards Petronas Towers. The towers are on top of the KLCC Suria Mall. The tickets counter was closed so we were a bit disappointed we didn’t get to check this in the bucket list. We settled for night shot outside with the towers as the background setting. It looks amazing with its white brilliance.
Bukit Bintang, I would say, is the center of what’s happening. Streets are busy with people and street entertainers. Malls and street food everywhere. Most food choices is mixture of Malay and Chinese dishes similar to Singapore ranging from RM5 to 15. I managed to have a massage but the place was the typical Chinese massage place where there was no privacy or spa aura. It was still better than nothing as Singapore massage are quite expensive.
On the second day, we went to Genting Highlands. To get to the place, we took the KL Monorail 1st. KL transports are RapidKL (bus and train) and taxi cabs. RapidKL train is a mixture of the Monorail (single track) and LRT (light rail transport – dual track) trains. Its a bit complicated if you need to move from different colored stations as you have to exit current rail and enter the other station then pay every time you change trains. Thank goodness we didn’t have to do that as the Monorail heads to KL Sentral (similar to City Hall MRT in Singapore – the center station where all the trains intersect). Once you pay for the trip, they give you a ticket and the ticket is deposited when you need to exit the train. I had to quickly take a picture of it as a souvenir. Train fare cost around RM2
After dropping off in KL Sentral, we were suppose to take the bus going to Genting but we missed it. The next time slot is an hour from now and we didn’t have much time to waste so we haggled for a reasonable taxi rate. Here, taxis sometimes do not use meter. The travel time was 1 hour and RM30 each person. Genting is located outside KL city area and the road going up is very steep. The driver had to pause once in a while to reach at the destination.
Genting is like Baguio City in Manila, cold wind and fog, since it’s located on top of the mountain. Unfortunately, we didn’t had coats or proper clothing but we soon adapted to the weather. The attraction here would be Resort World Casino and Theme Park.
We bought the outdoor adventure/thriller theme park at RM62 for unlimited rides. The indoor park was for kids’ play. We were lucky to have no queue and managed to go all rides before the rain started pouring. We finally got a bus ride to the city at RM7 (that’s bloody good savings for a taxi ride). The bus had good comfy seats similar to a coach transportation. Finally we reached back to the Inn and packed up for the early rush to the airport for the flight back to Singapore.
With Family: Part 2
On December 18, I booked my family a trip back to KL for 1 whole day as a side trip from Singapore. They were visiting me for Christmas and my dad wanted to see the Petronas towers. Fingers crossed that the 2nd trip will be better.
This time we took AirAsia as it had a good promo during that time, SGD75.7 per person. Wrong choice. The seats were fairly ok but we landed in their own airport located far from the city, called LCC Terminal. Although this airline has more international destinations at good budget, the airport terminal is dusty, noisy and small. We had to drag our carry on luggage for 15 mins to get to the actual airport building. Maybe if you are travelling in small group of friends, this is bearable, but I wanted this to be a relaxing and enjoyable trip for my family. I did a prebook bus service bound to the city while I was purchasing my flight tickets so I got that covered.
The hotel I chose was Hotel Fortuna. This one is quite near to Bukit Bintang, but the location is hidden in a small road. You may need to take a cab if you are with a group of people going there for the 1st time.
The 2 rooms I reserved were very spacious. I specifically requested king size bed and its massive. The private toilet is Western version (I made sure I did a check 1st). The price for the 2 rooms good for 6 people in total is RM327 per night.
Pavilion is the upper class Mall where high end brands are sold. We came in just in time for the countdown of Christmas Eve. As the crowd yell 3-2-1, bubbles suds were sprinkled above that looked like it was snowing. Pretty cool. Times Square Mall looked nice as well. It has mixture of shops and we spotted Krispy Kreme doughnut shop for some sweet cravings. Dinner was in Papa Johns, good pizza.
Even if my dad specifically requested to go up the Petronas Towers as the reason to visit KL, we were too tired to wake up early in the morning to take the tickets. Yes, you need to queue extra early to get the limited free tickets to go up the viewdesk at the middle of the towers. So we settled at window shopping in KLCC Suria Mall and group pictures of the towers in day and night mode.
A little bit of souvenirs shopping in Bukit Bintang street shops while munching on food bought along the way. We didn’t had time to visit Batu Cave or Sunway Lagoon as they wanted to just rest after the whole day of walking. Next day we race back to the KL Sentral to take the bus heading to LCC airport for the noon flight back to Singapore. Made it by few seconds before the check in counter closed.