Monday, January 25, 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

After the overnight train ride was over we pulled into the main train station in Malaysia: KL Sentral. Yes, they spell "central" with a S. There are quite a few words where they use the sounds of English as their spelling in different ways than I'm used to.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I made it! This was my first view of the city.

This was my second.... Now I believe POS Malaysia is their Postal Service. Do they know POS is an acronym for something else? Well, at least it is in my mind....

After disembarking from the over night train at KL Sentral I was greeted with this sign. That's kinda f-ed up.

I bought my ticket from KL Sentral to Masjid Jamek where my hostel was at.

Map to my Hotel: Serrai Inn

I made it to my stop Masjid Jamek without any problems. However, finding my hostel: Serrai Inn was not easy. The hostel provided me with this map, however I had the damnest time finding it. In other words I couldn't. I was quite lost. By this point I considered myself a veteran traveler and being lost wasn't a problem. Generally I could figure my way around with maps or ask for directions. however this map... well, it sucked. It wasn't to scale and I couldn't find the streets. I ended up wandering around the edges of the Chinatown there before heading in the right direction. People I asked kinda pointed me in the direction but didn't seem to know where it was. I was lost, hungry, and I just wanted to relax. I gave up and hailed a cab. I negotiated the rate before hand, which was a total ripoff because the cab driver drove like 1 block and I was there. Oh well, go figure.

So anyway Serrai Inn was a nice place. I opted for the shared rooms as it was pretty cheap. I don't remember the price anymore but I wanna say it was from 5-8 US Dollars a day. I met some really nice people there. I'll get to that later or just update this post. Right now I'm lazy.

Serrai Inn was run by a nice Chinese Malaysia Couple, as in both of them are ethnically Chinese but citizens of Malaysia. The Malay people are the majority in the country, but after that there are quite a few Chinese people that migrated to and now live in Malaysia. Most are from either the Fuken or Canton Province I believe. Unlike most Asian Americans I know, the Chinese Malaysians can still read, write, and speak Chinese.

The bunks in my room.

Computers in the lounge area. There was also wifi.

TV area and Dinning table. Everyone used their computer on the table when it wasn't meal time.

Our little breakfast area.

Outside the hostel the streets looked like that.

Yep, Malaysia is a Muslim country. Look at the mom with her kids. See how she's dress? All covered up and with a shawl to cover her head and hair. Notice that she dresses more colorful than the traditional image we're used to seeing of Muslim women in America: as in she's not in all black.

Next up.... I visit my first mosque.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Train to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore

I took the overnight train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in their top of the line seat. Overnight trains are awesome. You can save a night's worth of fees by sleeping while you travel! You have to travel anyway right? Might as well kill 2 birds with one stone.

There's a trick which lets you get a discounted Premier seat (a bed in a first class sleeper car with your own bathroom/shower) from Singapore to KL. Basically fares paid for in Singapore are charged in Singapore Dollars where as fares bought in Malaysia are in Ringgit. So if a fare is 30 in Singapore it costs 30 Singapore Dollars while in Malaysia it costs 30 Ringgit. A Singapore Dollar are worth more than a Ringgit so it's much cheaper to buy in Malaysia.

The trick then is to buy a round trip ticket from KL to Singapore and back to KL. You will waste the ticket from KL to Singapore since I am assuming you are in Singapore already like I was. Then you get the discounted Premier seat to take you to KL. Go to this website and buy your ticket there: I can't take credit for this trick, it was detailed on; do a Control+F and paste in this without quotes "A strange (you might say unfair) quirk of the system". All the details are there.

The Premiere seat is nice. The bed is comfy, there's a small bathroom and shower for you to use. There was a television inside as well, but it didn't turn on. I don't know if mine was broken or it they just weren't allowed to be turned on. The Premiere seat puts you in a room which you share with one other person. I shared mine with a Malaysia Chinese named David. He was a nice guy and I asked him whatever I could about KL. Turns out he works in Singapore but was going back home to visit his parents.

My gear on my bed in the train. I shared this room with one other person.

My own bathroom, well, shared with 1 other person.

Shower, it worked but I didn't use it.
TV that didn't work

They also served us some food. Here's what we got. I can't remember which one was mine anymore, but I assume it was the noodles since I'm not a fan of fried rice. When the issue of drinks came up I heard the drink Milo for the first time. Milo? What's Milo? I was intrigued! Well of course I'm going to try some! I asked David, what's Milo? He said it was a chocolate drink that was very popular in Malaysia. I said I never heard of Milo. I must try some! I was excited of course, waiting to have this Malaysian drink. Then I got it. Turns out Milo is what they call Nestle Quick in Malaysia. LAAAAME! I don't know why it's so popular. It's served everywhere, like in all the fast food restaurants and what not. Crazy. Nestle Quick...... Nobody drinks that stuff in restaurants State side. Oh well.
Train Food

Train Food

So I took the 11:15 PM Train which then arrived at KL Sentral at 6:30 AM. I'd like to say I had a good night's rest but I can't. The train made several stops before getting to KL Sentral including one security stop when I assume they crossed the border into Malaysia. When we crossed the border they made everyone get out of the trains and wait in a building while the police and their dogs searched for illegal stuff. I found that kind of annoying. I also locked up my backpack in my pacsafe cuz I had to leave my things behind. When I returned it seemed untouched.

My Backpack safe with my PacSafe when I was forced to leave my stuff during the border inspection.

Dinner car

The regular sleeper... the train car is just filled with these bunks. You don't get your own room or bathroom. Everyone is in the same room and you just get curtains for privacy.

There was an incident that happened on the train just before we left Singapore. A man in another Premiere seat started shouting and complaining to the workers there, saying things like 'I can't do this. Do you know what kind of things will be said about me?' or something to that effect. Anyway point is he was having a huge fit and I couldn't understand why. He was demanding a new room. I asked David, the guy sharing my room what was going on. David told me that man shouting is Muslim and he's complaining because they booked a female in his room. He is not allowed to share a room with a member of the opposite sex due to his religion. Well he got it eventually. For me, I wouldn't have cared. It just sucks for whomever is sharing the room with me cuz I snore. ha.