Date I visited: 18-19th June 2010
We caught the bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur after a McDonald’s breakfast (somethings are just the same in any country). Our Aeroline coach had big seats with lots of leg room and some pretty good food. The in-bus movie was a bad quality copy of 2012, which was quickly replaced by The Blind Side, which mostly had no sound. This was still a step up from a lot of the buses I have frequented.
As we passed through the border check we looked at our documents and noticed the dates didn’t quite match up. We’d planned for a week in Malaysia, but somehow we’d booked 10 days into our itinerary- that was clever. My travel buddy had some family friends in Kuala Lumpur who had kindly agreed to put us up and thankfully they didn’t mind about the extended stay. We were picked up at the bus stop and taken to the house that we’d be staying in. We turned out to be luckier than we thought, not only did we have a place to stay but our hosts were lovely and treated us like part of the family. We chatted over tea and biscuits before going out for dinner at the golf club, before heading over to a coffee shop for dessert.
In the morning, we went into the city to meet up with the girls we’d now met in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. We weren’t meeting them until later but we took advantage of a day of shopping. Central Market was the place to go for all our Asian holiday souvenirs, with bags, jewellery, clothing (including lots of harem pants) and other trinkets. We even took the chance to take a break, whilst having our feet eaten by fish. After months of our feet, they needed some pampering- I’m sure they appreciated the experience. It tickled a little. I treated myself to a couple of bits from the stalls and bought some presents for home but planned to leave the majority of my shopping to Vietnam- our last stop in Southeast Asia. This turned out to be a mistake, the shopping in Ho Chi Minh City was not quite as good at this place and I missed out on lots of harem pants.
We then moved on to our next shopping destination of Chinatown (which I will tell you about in a bit- stay tuned) and then the giant shopping centre at Berjaya Times Square but this turned out to be far out of our price range and full of shops selling the kind of things we could find at home. After more McDonald’s- shamefully uncultural I know but in my defence, it is slightly different in every country- we were told about a night market by a woman in the Information Centre. Unsurprisingly, we got lost, despite being told by people that we were headed in the right direction. We soon realised our mistake as we ended up on what felt like the outskirts of the city. People were yelling at us, the two obviously lost tourists, from windows and bikes and, finally, realising our error, we traipsed back to find our friends.
We met them at Central Market, where I picked up some more bits, including a floral maxi dress and a scarf for an upcoming wedding we were going to with the family. We then went back to Chinatown for dinner but made the mistake of going to the first place we saw. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet which we were told was $4 but came to $7 in my case- I couldn’t really complain about the price but I’m not sure I got my money’s worth in terms of food. Still, it was a good place to get a beer and watch the footie- we’re going back a bit now, this was during the World Cup 2010!
Finally, we hit the Chinatown’s market again and boy had it changed. During the day, there was stalls lining the walkway, now there was no walkway. Instead there were stalls upon stalls, selling everything you could think of: bags, purses, sunglasses, there were probably clothes too but I forget the specifics. After watching my bargaining-whizz friend work, I attempted to try my haggling skills for some new sunglasses that I was in need of but, apparently, I did it wrong. The market seller got his wife over to bargain with me instead and she was slightly insulted by my offer and shouted at me as I ran away from the stall. It was my belief that they started high and you started low and then you met in the middle. Apparently not. I’ve been scared to try ever since.