RELATED BLOG ENTRIES: SINGAPORE 2008, MALAYSIA 2008

 

KUALA LUMPUR
Dec 9 - Mostly Working

Kaula Lumpur was pretty uneventful this time around. I was really just working the entire time. I had dinner one night along Asian Heritage Row with Mary and her kids. It was fun chatting with them over satay and chicken rice.

I'm still going to include Malaysia in this part of the blog because I'll be going back to Malaysia around Chinese New Year with Mom and my sister. Until then, see ya KL!

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NUMBERS 09.12.09
Sheraton Hotel, 1 night: C$137

REVIEW: SHERATON IMPERIAL
I seriously can't believe how cheap hotels are in KL. I got a club room at the Sheraton at a buy 2 nights get 3. The club was great--they have free food and drinks from 5pm to 8pm. And it was a big room. Any extras were pretty expensive though--for example, about 70 RMB per day for wired internet. 12 RMB for a local call. They have a good gym with a full complement of equipment.

SINGAPORE
Dec 12 - Being Entertained in Singapore

So I finally finished my last training session on the road. Yay! I met up with Dante, one of the guys I was with the night I fell and tore my knee. I told him that I can't party too hard tonight because I'm still recovering from our last outing together! Really!

He wanted to go to a party called ZoukOut. It looked crazy with 30,000 people packing into Sentosa Island for a huge dance party with international DJs. I didn't want to go--30,000 people on a beach is actually a scary thought for me at the moment. Actually, just walking on a beach is a scary thought for me at the moment! Haha! Damn, I wish my knee was better!

And it wasn't the Zoukout party that surprised me the most about Singapore. It's the two HUGE casinos they're building in the city. I drove past the massive construction site for the Sands casino on the way from the airport. It looks like it's going to be amazing! They're building another on Sentosa. I am definitely coming back when they're done to play some Singaporean craps. But I can't believe that they are embracing gambling in such a huge way. Next thing you know, they'll legalize homosexuality...Soon they will be living up to their airport code!

But I'm still a bit groggy from partying last night. Tiger Beer is deceptively intoxicating...it tastes like water, but then suddenly you're drunk! Dante took me to the clubs, I've never been before. My hotel ended up being right beside the gay bars--very convenient. One was called Tantric and the other Taboo. Tantric was a bit too crowded--but it had a good feel to it, lots of energy. And Taboo was a fun dance club.

I was hoping to find a lot of hot Indian boys here, but haven't seen many Indians in the club. Weird. I started talking to a Japanese guy, but he had a boyfriend. I talked to an Aussie, and he had a boyfriend. I talked to an Indian guy, and he was there with his Singaporean boyfriend celebrating their 8th anniversary! Man, why does everyone have boyfriends all of a sudden when I'm single?!

After the club we went back to a hawkers centre which was still open at 3:30am! There was even a bit of cruising going on around the stalls, but all I wanted to do at that point was eat--I got some biryani chicken rice. Mmmm--Singapore has some of the best food in Asia.

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NUMBERS 09.12.12
cover, Taboo: $15 - $20
1 beer, Taboo: $14
bottle water, Taboo: $10 (!!)
vodka & red bull, Tantric: $10

SINGAPORE - CHINATOWN
Dec 13 - Chinatown is My New Favourite Area

So this is the first time I've been to Chinatown in Singapore. I'm staying at the funky hotel Scarlet Hotel--there's something good to be said about being greeted by disco music playing in the lobby. The area is full of old style chop houses--my hotel is actually just a series of chophouses. The nearby Club Street is also home to many lounges and restaurants. It was pretty chill and didn't seem very busy though. And there are 3 hawker centres within a 2 minute walking distance. So much choice. So little time.

I feel a bit like Goldilocks--because previously I stayed on Orchard Road and it was boring and sanitized, I also stayed in Little India and that was too noisy and....unsanitized. But Chinatown is JUUUUUUUST RIGHT! Chinatown has really taken over as my favourite area. Orchard Road is overpriced, boring and just full of big box stores. Nowhere to eat. Little India seems to be the ghetto of Singapore--there's not a lot of entertainment value here and the area is mostly full of hostels for the backpackers. But Chinatown is a great mix with a great vibe, and the ease of eating at the bazillion hawker stalls is fantastic. I will definitely stay in this area next time I'm in town.

But I must complain that there is so much Christmas music in Asia--Tokyo, KL, Singapore. If I have to hear what happens during the 12 days of Christmas one more time, I'm going to stick a pencil through my eardrum. It's also weird hearing about sleighbells and reindeers when it's 30 celsius in the shade.

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NUMBERS 09.12.13
Scarlet Hotel, 1 night: C$133

REVIEW: SCARLET HOTEL
The name of the hotel sounds a bit sketchy. Like a brothel. And I think they are trying to be that offbeat boutique hotel. The hotel is actually a series of chophouses, so as you walk down the hall you can tell you're moving from house to house. The location is great, right in the middle of Chinatown, a few minutes away from the MRT station. Around the hotel there are no less than 4 major hawker centres (Smith St, Temple St, Maxwell, and Amoy), so food is always available. The rooms are clean and nicely furnished. I loved the floor to ceiling curtains--when you pulled them open you see a tiny window near the ceiling. Haha! And they kept coming in every night to close the curtains, like they were real curtains or something. It can be a bit noisy in the mornings when the traffic rolls in. They have a gym called Flaunt. It's pretty small--and just has some basics. Ovverall, the hotel is pretty funky--you always come home to lounge or disco music playing at the front doors.

IN TRANSIT
Dec 14 - A Long Day with Air Asia

In one of the worst decisions of my trip, I decided to fly Air Asia back to Hong Kong. The first problem was that I booked it to transfer in Kuala Lumpur--to a different airline in a different terminal even! And then I also realized when my clients told me that Air Asia has a severe weight limit on baggage.

Too late I looked for another flight out, but everything that was left was outrageously expensive or fully booked. Ugh.

Well, first the transfer in KL was almost a big fail. I was going as fast as I could, out through customs and immigration, picking up my bags, taking a transfer over to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), finding my gate, and finally checking in. I literally checked into my flight a minute or two before they closed the check-in! I was sweating a bit, let me tell you. I felt like I was about to be eliminated at the next Pit Stop.

Then you get 15kg with your ticket--anything over they charge. If you wait until you get to the airport (like I did), it costs about C$7 per kg over 15. Who the hell packs less than 15kg of luggage?! Sigh...

Up to 15 kg - 10MYR
Up to 20 kg - 55MYR (100MYR for +5 kg at airport)
Up to 25 kg - 105MYR (200MYR for +10 kg)
Up to 30 kg - 155MYR (300MYR for +15 kg)

But finally after the very exciting day, I arrived in Hong Kong. I let out a sigh of relief and promised to myself never to take Air Asia again--unless I was on vacation and carrying a little luggage. Although, I must say that Air Asia is amazingly flexible for the extremely cheap prices. I really don't understand how they make money.

IN TRANSIT
Feb 21 - Update on My Air Asia Experience

I just finished up my trip around south Asia exclusively on Air Asia. I wasn't on business this time so I wasn't loaded down with extra bags. So this time it was great! Really inexpensive. Super efficient check in and loading. And they go everywhere if you're in KL or Bangkok. I don't see how other airlines can compete--Air Asia will definitely take over the air traffic around here.

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NUMBERS 09.12.14
KUL to LCCT:
- time landing in KUL: 1:45pm
- time by bus KUL to LCCT: 18 minutes
- price of bus: 2MYR
- price of taxi: 48MYR
- time arriving at LCCT checkin: 3:18pm
- time check-in closes: 3:20pm
- time flight leaves LCCT: 4:05pm
- total weight of luggage: 28kg
- overweight: 13kg
- total cost of extra weight: 260MYR

NUMBERS 10.02.21
Skybus, Sentral to LCCT: 8 MYR
- time: 75 minutes
ticket, Hong Kong - Bangkok: C$137
ticket, Bangkok - Phuket: C$116
ticket, Phuket - Kuala Lumpur:C$144
ticket, Kuala Lumpur to HK: C$338

KUALA LUMPUR
Feb 14 - Gong Hay Fat Choy

So it's Chinese New Year and I'm back in Kuala Lumpur. It's about 1:00am and the fireworks are still going all around the hotel. I got back from a night with some of the extended family. They were all giving me lucky red envelopes full of money. It's a bit embarassing because even though I'm older, I still get these things because I'm not married. And they come with the requisite--so when are you getting married? sort of comment.

We've also been hearing this song all over the place. It's really catchy and now I can't get it out of my head!! Happy New Year!

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KUALA LUMPUR
Feb 15 - No Paycheque

My sabbatical officially began 2 weeks ago which means today marks the first paycheque that I'm NOT receiving. Scary.

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KUALA LUMPUR
Feb 16 - Fish Spa

I've seen this in a few different places in Asia and decided to try it out while I Kuala Lumpur. Beside the aquarium in KLCC is a spa where there are no masseurs. Instead, there is a pool of little skin-sucking fish. You stick your feet and legs in and first the bolder ones start nipping at your heels, and then a few minutes later your body becomes a feeding frenzy.

It was neat. It felt like when your foot falls asleep and you get pins and needles. The bigger fish felt like someone scratching your foot.

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NUMBERS 10.02.16
KLCC Aquarium entry fee: 38 MYR
Fish Spa entry fee: 35 MYR

KUALA LUMPUR
Feb 18 - Eating with the Family

Being with family in Kuala Lumpur is always a bit funny because I can't understand most of the conversation going on around me. It's like being locked for a week in a room of strangers who speak another language. Even my mom switched over to her incomprehensible Hakka dialect. I just smiled and avoided eye contact so they would know I have no clue what they are all saying. I find myself getting along with the younger family who speak English.

We gathered around food--eating at restaurants off the main road. Places I would have never found without living here for ages. The restaurants were packed with rowdy Chinese families celebrating the new year. Starting with a dish of Yee Sang--a hodgepodge of noodles and colourful odds and ends, and I think there was raw fish in there somewhere. But it's fun to eat because at the beginning, everyone helps to toss the ingredients all together, so it's a whirlwind of chopsticks and laughing.

I'd like to say that it's food that brings family together because then for sure I'd be a part of something huge. But it really takes more than that. For now, I'm not any closer to my grandfather, aunts, or uncles. But next time I come to KL though, I will have some cousins that I can call up and catch up over some roti tissue or fish head curry. So that's good.

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NUMBERS 10.02.18
dinner for 15, veggie resto: 300MYR

KUALA LUMPUR
Feb 20 - Party in the K.L.M.

We've been stuck out in Kepong for the last week, so I wanted to head downtown for my last night. And my sister joined me for a night on the town. We met up with one of our relatives (sort of...), Ereena, who was visiting from Langkawi. We also met a couple of cool Urdu guys from Dubai staying at our hotel.

After a couple of drinks at the hotel, we checked out the Starhill Gallery on Bukit Bintang. I've seen some great pictures of the food court in this mall and it definitely didn't disappoint. We knew we found a fun place when the bathroom attendent pumped water from a well to wash our hands.

After taking pictures around the food area, we settled for Lebanese. I miss the taste of middle eastern food after being in Asia so long. It was awesome!

We then headed to a popular dance club under the shadow of the twin towers called Zouk. The thumping house music here was great but it was LOUD! It was enough to cause ears to bleed. We couldn't even hear eachother and resorted to our own sign language. We left after about half an hour because our eardrums couldn't handle the beating.

After leaving the club we stumbled onto a Bollywood theatre--Emad and Hasan convinced us to take a peek. And it was pretty cool. Girls dance bollywood style on a stage while drunken Indian men sit around on couches and watch. It was like a strip club except the girls kept their clothes on. Does that make sense? Anyways it was pretty fun, although I think I pissed off the dancers with my meager tips. Oh well.

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NUMBERS 10.02.18
6 nights, Crystal Crown Kepong: C$300
1 night, Sheraton Imperial: C$100
dinner for 5, Tarbush: 300 MYR
cover, Zouk: 40 MYR

REVIEW: CRYSTAL CROWN KEPONG
I think the hotel rents rooms by the hour. 'Nuf said.

KUALA LUMPUR
Aug 5 - A Strange Brew

I'm back in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of weeks. I'm staying at a hotel in Bukit Bintang this time and I really like it. It's a super convenient area to work from because I can just run out to Pavilion mall next door and grab a quick bite to eat. It makes the headache of foraging for food every night a bit more bearable.

The hotel I'm staying at has lots of Arabs. And the most I've ever seen of the black "ghosts"--the middle eastern women in their full burkas. You know...I can be culturally sensitive and everything, but those things are too much. It's pretty disgusting the women in those countries are treated merely like the shadows of men.

But the people in Malaysia are a strange brew--Malays, Chinese, Indians and Arabs. I've never seen this anywhere else. As they say in their tv ads: Malaysia is truly Asia.

I must say that it creates a fantastic place to try different foods though!

 

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NUMBERS 10.08.05 KUALA LUMPUR
1 night, Royale Chulan (w/bf): C$100
- internet / day: 45R

REVIEW: ROYALE CHULAN
This is a new hotel in the Bukit Bintang area, and it's just off the main drag. When I first got there, the room I got smelled like smoke. And I realized after sleeping there a night that it was being drawn from the ventilation in the bathroom. Not good, someone else told me they had to switch a few times. Anyways I changed rooms and the new one was much better. Nice wood floors and furniture. And a spiffy contemporary bathroom with lots of frosted glass and a rain shower. I also had a nice balcony overlooking the pool. The buffet breakfast had tons of choices although I wouldn't say the food was great. It has a great location across the street from Pavillion mall--the only problem with that is that entrances face the wrong direction. Maybe it's a feng shui thing?


KUALA LUMPUR
Aug 9 - Kuala Lumpur in 3 Days

I'm getting really lazy with my blog entries now. Just cut me some slack and enjoy this "photo blog" of the last 48 hours with some random sentences thrown in for good measure.

Sam flew in from Hong Kong to join me for the weekend. As usual, chaos ensued. Running around KL like fiends with various new friends and acquaintances. Fish cleaning my filthy feet. Batu Caves with JJ--an Indian experience. Learning about Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Eaten by mosquitos, I'll be surprised if I don't get dengue. Clubbing nightly at Marketplace (great!), Frangipani (stylish!), Maison (young!), and Blueboy (gross!). Shisha at 5am and Sam breaking taboos.

tooth guy at ramadan fair
me and sam
pulling teh tarik
largest bird in the world
snack at petaling street
twin petronas towers
eating at batu caves
merdeka square
me and jj
climbing 272 steps
glowing aura of god
canopy at frim
tall bamboo
no durian

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SINGAPORE
Aug 14 - The Vagina is Watching

I got back into Singapore last night and I think my inner diva let out a sigh of relief. For the next month, I'll be working in "calmer" cities and that's a good break. I love Singapore for the hawker stalls--it's amazing how happy I get from a plate of noodles served on the side of the road.

I took a trip to the Marina Bay Sands "integrated resort" that just got built. There is still construction going on all around it, but of course the first thing to finish is the casino. The people in Singapore are a bit shizophrenic though--they seem to dread vice, but somehow it flourishes in the city. They build this casino, but yet they make it difficult for the locals to go by charging a SGD$100 levy just to get in. Luckily for me, foreigners get in free with a passport.

The casino is definitely Vegas-worthy. It's all in a giant atrium so you can just spin around and watch all the people winning and losing their millions. The limits are high with most games starting at SGD$25 per hand. And they didn't even have a single craps table buried in the rows and rows of sic bo and baccarat....grrrr. So I plopped myself down in front of a 2 cent (1.57 cents Canadian) slot machine and cheered for the golden dragons on the wheels. It was a lucky night and I pocketed $125. Yay!

Now is it me, or does the centrepiece in the ceiling of the atrium look like one big vagina?

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NUMBERS 10.08.14 SINGAPORE
atm exchange rate: C$1 = SGD$1.27
Hawker Stall food:
- large chicken rice: $3
- fruit drink: $1.20
- fresh soy milk: $1
- fresh soy milk with fruit: $1.50
- 4 jackfruits: $1
- 1/2 red dragonfruit: $1.20
- 4 ha gow: $2.40
- 1 lo mai gai: $2
- 1 stick satay: $0.40
- seafood noodles: $5
- peanut soup: $2
- Xinjiang-style lamb kebab: $1 each
- curry puff: $1.50
restaurant, din tai fung:
6 shao long baos: $6.50
6 steamed vegetable dumplings: $7.50

SINGAPORE
Aug 18 - Luxuries in Life

A luxury right now would be having a laundry machine and a refrigerator where I can grab a quick snack! Oh and being able to wear different clothes, that would be fun. Being able to rent a movie to watch. Being able to leave cash and valuables on the desk. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Eating leftovers. Not needing to file all my expenses in triplicate. My cat sleeping on my feet at night.

I guess I shouldn't complain eh?

I also found my "one year piece" that I going to try to be able to play a year from now. I listened to this song so many times while I was in Buenos Aires and now on the road. I'm so going to get laid once I can play this song!

It's The Most Evolved by John H. Clarke--hopefully I'll get to see him busk when I stop over in San Francisco in November.

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