Our driver from Genting to KL hotel, who was very chatty and helpful, provided us with information of the area and pointed out several aboriginal (BhoomiPutra) dwellings. Upon learning Taman Nagara and Kota Kinabalu were our initial destination choices for the Malaysia trip, he recommended FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) located on the outskirts of KL. It is a 486-ha site located 16 KM northwest of KL surrounded by the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve and popular with campers, bird watchers, jungle trekkers, and nature photographers (commercial photography involves charges). The area features a canopy walkway, picnic area, botanical gardens and arboreta, wetland area, Malay traditional houses, camping site, nature trails, and silicified wood displays. Accommodation other than camping is not available and so day-trips are the best option, for those not into camping. Batu caves did not happen during this transfer either as we were well past closing times.
Mandarin Court Hotel check-in went smoothly although the facility itself was nothing special. We relied on room service for dinner. The food though comforting did not justify the price – three basic conji’s and one satay chicken for around 70 ringgits. The breakfast at the hotel the next morning had limited selection – one kind of pastry, one variety of juice, noodles, fried rice, bread, sausage, eggs, etc.
Our itinerary for the day included the half-day city tour with pickup scheduled for 8:45 AM. First stop was at the National Craft Center – a meeting point. After a half hour wait amid some confusion about the three tour buses and who is going where in which bus, the tour started around 10 AM. The tour stops were at: Petronas twin-tower photo stop, visits to the national museum and the national monument, and a photo stop at the national palace. The national museum (Muzium Negara) is a huge structure that features traditional Malay and modern features. It is three-storied and houses four main galleries along with a central hall with intricate carved panels on the ceiling. The ground floor has the geographic and natural history of Malay Peninsula from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. The second floor features colonial history up to independence. The central hall houses temporary exhibitions and it had exhibits in the transportation theme during our visit. The museum grounds feature a couple of additional galleries: National Sports Gallery and the Natural History Gallery. Other attractions on the museum grounds include several transportation themed historic items such as the Melaka Bullock Cart, Kitson & Co Steam Locomotive, and a Tin Dredge along with Istana Satu, an original-size old Terengganu timber palace. The national monument is a stunning sculpture representing those who died in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom and is the world’s tallest bronze freestanding sculpture grouping. The monument replaced the original national monument, which was a cenotaph, in 1966. Currently, the cenotaph is located at the entrance to the national monument. The tour finished around 12:30 PM and we were dropped off near the national monument.
We did a walking tour of Little India and Chinatown in the afternoon. Little India, which has nothing in common with the present-day India, is a huge let-down while Chinatown is definitely worth a visit. Little India has on offer very poor quality Indian restaurants and street vendors representative of 60s India. Our plan for lunch was to try an Indian restaurant in Little India but instead we chose an Indonesian place in the Chinatown area. Food and pricing was OK – Nasi Goreng Ayam, Nasi Uduk Komplit, Mie Ayam, Mie Goreng, and The Muk. A friend invited us to a Chinese restaurant at the Hilton for the evening dinner – excellent food and selections. Desserts were especially yummy – Ice Kachi Air-Batu-Campur – condensed milk, palm sugar syrup, roasted peanuts, red beans, corn, cubes of cincau, jelly made from black grass herb, mixed with shaved ice.
The next morning was free for us to explore as the scheduled pickup was only at 11:30 AM. We walked to Chinatown and shopped for some Malaysian themed T-shirts (kids’ sizes under 10 Ringgits each). We returned to the hotel and walked in the opposite direction to Time Square – about 20 minutes on foot from our hotel. The kids cooled off with Slurpee at the 7-11 nearby. The driver for the transfer to airport was again half hour late – had to call the emergency contact number one last time. We were dropped off at the airport (about an hour drive) by around 12:30 PM for the 3PM flight. Lunch was at the local pizzeria just outside the entrance to the terminal – very average pizza. The departure lounge at the LCCT terminal is pretty good and has several shopping options. We did minor chocolate shopping at the lounge – American and other foreign branded chocolates appeared pricey compared to local brands.
Air Asia food options were again very limited. But, they were very good with on time departure and arrival of their flights. We had opted for carry-on baggage only which was a blessing as we were spared the waiting for the baggage to arrive – amazingly, we were out of the airport in less than half hour once we arrived in Nedumbassery International airport. Air Asia flights brought back memories of our trips in the USA on Southwest Airlines – no frills but very efficient operation with economical pricing – just the way we like it.
Last Updated: 10/2012.
Last Updated: 10/2012.