Tuesday 16 May 2017
Landing at the Kuala Lumpur airport mid-afternoon I took a taxi to the Traders Hotel in the centre of town about 40k north of the airport while Sylvia went off with her colleagues.
Twice before I have been to KL and never made it up the towers as they have been booked out or closed. The hotel and the towers are only a short distance apart separated by a park. Soon after checking in strolled across the park to secure a ticket for the next morning.
Back at the hotel I visited the Sky Bar on the 33rd floor. With its open windows one gets a great view of the towers and across the city from here.
As the sun went down we enjoyed a drink or two. The Sky bar complete with pool is a great place to watch the sun go down. Sylvia and some of her colleagues joined me for a drink.
Wednesday 16 May 2017
We woke to a clear blue sky. After breakfast Sylvia headed off to more meetings and I strolled across to the Petronus Towers. The bottom few stories are all very well presented expensive retail.
Prior to going up in the lift we received a briefing with the image projected onto a vapour coming out of a column.
First stop was the Sky bridge on the 41st floor. It is two storeys – one for us tourists and the other for the office workers to cross between towers.
The bridge, which weighs several hundred tonnes, is not attached to the towers but on rollers that prevent it getting crushed in high winds. Two struts mounted some distance below help hold it in place.
Back in the lift we head up to the 84th floor. At around 375m above the ground the views here are fantastic.
At 451.9m back in the late 90s these were the tallest buildings in the world. Now there is one on Dubai at 825m.
Mid-afternoon it was time to head to the airport. A Hotel taxi was going to cost 150 locals; an ordinary taxi 80 locals. I took the ordinary but. Luckily I asked if he took a card prior to the trip as he didn’t so I changed some money at the hotel. Arriving at the airport I handed him a 100 local note. Taking it he said he didn’t have any change. I took the note back and said “no change no pay”. Bugger me he found the change!!
Landing in Jakarta around 1900 one of Sylvia’s French colleagues had a small issue with immigration. Eventually we got a hotel car to the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Just over thirty kms took just over an hour – apparently a quick trip. After checking in and settling into the room I realised I had left my new apple computer in the seat pocket on the plane. One phone call to Malaysian Airlines and to my surprise it had been found. Well done to them! They may have lost the odd plane but they had found my computer – bloody well done.
After a drink at the bar, which is not only flash but has outstanding service as well, we retired for the night.
Thursday 18 May
After breakfast Sylvia went off on a field trip to visit specialty stores and vet clinics supplied by Royal Canin. I headed to the concierge to organise getting back to the airport. While the concierge was trying to set me up with a ride in a Merc a guy wandered up and suggested a blue bird cab – “they use the meter and are the only ones that don’t rip you off”. 90 mins later I was at the airport although the wrong terminal. A free shuttle eventually got me to terminal 2. After a lot of questions I eventually made it through customs to the lost baggage area. Computer in hand I made my way out. Oops! No customs form! But after some sign language they gave up and let me go.
Another hour plus in a taxi got me the fifteen odd kms and 200,000 locals to Ancol City. On the coast, this is a beach resort. Don’t expect to see any bikini clad women or blokes with six packs in speedos, here they all swim fully clad.
I walked several kms before I finally found a place to have a beer.
Behind sea walls, they have spent lots of money here turning this area into a pretty nice sea resort.
Every few hundred meters I was approached by someone offering me a boat ride in one of the old looking boats with a straight drive motor mounted on the side gunnel towards the rear. A guy would lower the prop and shaft into the water, holding it down with his foot as he operated the big wooden rudder.
There is a gondola that runs over part of the resort, lots of stalls, and people picnicking on the pavement in the shade of the trees rather than on the sand.
A jet plane is parked in a kid’s playground. Three young blokes approached me each wanting their picture taken with me. I realised I was the only European in the park.
Tracing the west end I negotiated a 100,000 local cab fare to get me back to the Sheraton. The ride was to say the least interesting. Guys stood by the on ramp to the motorway; for a 500 local coin they stopped the traffic and let us in, innovation at its best. The traffic barley moves.
Hawkers rove the road selling their wares.
Eventually heading south, the traffic at a stand-still, the driver takes an off ramp and we cross a canal and head north again. Talking later to Brian at the bar we headed through the only really bad part of Jakarta, apparently controlled by gangs – even the police don’t go there. Unaware of this I found it a really interesting area, full of traders, lots of hand carts, tuk-tuks and motor bikes, I felt I was seeing the real Jakarta.
Eventually heading west then south, the driver was on a mission often driving down the shoulder of the road, hand on horn to push back into the traffic, then taking the empty bus lane to shorten the trip. On arriving back at the hotel the, on google maps, 24km trip had only taken just over an hour. He was pretty chuffed when I gave him 150,000 locals for his effort, about $15 kiwi. As I sit writing this there are six staff in the bar for the twenty odd customers.
Friday 18 May
Taking the advice of Brian, the barman, I headed to Kamal Muara, an area supposed to be renowned for its food outlets. The traffic was jammed as usual so I jumped out at the west end and walked from west to east. It looks like someone has tried to design a Vegas-type theme here with relatively new buildings built in an old style.
Not far down the road the new bit ran out. Footpaths are a bit hard to come by here. Even around the shops cars and people share the same space. In places there are covered storm water drains, which are good to walk on, but one has to be alert as the covers are often missing or broken.
I crossed the Cengkareng Drain (more like a river) and heading into more of an industrial area but with all the branded fast food outlets like Starbucks, McDonald’s etc. It is surprising in this not-exactly-clean city how clean people keep their cars.
Eventually the new buildings ran into ones that were partially finished but abandoned. I decided to take a different route back turning north into a tree lined street. Local (I presume) workers sat under the trees in groups eating their lunches, often supplied by people pushing handcarts or from the back of a vehicle.
According to the Ulmon Pro map app, the streets ran off this back to the east. However the west end had been fenced off. Behind the fence were nice houses on tidy streets.
The one entrance that was open was manned by security guards who wouldn’t let me in.
About a km down the road there was another security gate. This time the guard was in his box so I just waved and kept walking. This area was quite new with a range of mansions and attached apartments.
The local Eco Park seemed to be a good place for the local workers to take their afternoon nap.
Finding my way through another guard station got me back to the main road.
By this stage I had worked out that this place is really safe: one definitely is not going to get mugged by another pedestrian as there weren’t any.
Back on the Main Street it was getting rather hot. Bar Epigastro looked like a pretty good place to cool down and indeed it was. The local beer was nice and the staff friendly and helpful.
In what seemed like no time at all I was in a taxi heading for the airport to meet Sylvia for our flight back to Singapore.