Food, fares and fun

I’m back from Kuala Lumpur after a 6 hour coach ride, through the 2nd Link. I heard that some friends in another coach had their chewing gum confiscated! Overall we had a lot of fun. I enjoyed the food but was careful not to overeat, and looked at a lot of shops, but as usual did not buy much.
I picked up a few tops and 3 Jazz CDs (Miles Davis and Gil Evan’s Porgy and Bess, Bill Evans’ Paris Concert, and a compilation of his works in the ‘Quiet Now’ series). They were about 35 ringgit only at Tower Records. Apart from that, almost everything was as expensive as in Singapore!
We painted the town red on the first night, going on a Hawker food crawl to eat the famous Hokkien noodles fried with absolutely sinful pork lard and black sauce, oyster omelette, fried mee hoon and fish noodle soup. At Suria KLCC we had a great lunch at Madam Kwan’s, where you have to try the assam fish head curry. If you like Penang Laksa, you’ll like the taste of this dish.
We did however experience two near-incidents of cheating. We foolishly lined up for taxis at Suria KLCC, not knowing that only bodoh tourists do that, singling us out to be ‘ketoked’ (cheated) with exorbitant fares.
Our first mistake was getting into the taxi before checking that 1) the driver was using his meter, and 2) that his meter was working in the first place. As he drove off, we noticed the meter wasn’t activated, and asked about it. The driver said it was broken and it would cost 20 ringgit for a ride that, according to our tour guide, should only cost 3 ringgit.
We demanded him to send us back to the mall so we could take another taxi. So he did. But as he reached the taxi stand, he changed his mind and offered to take us to our hotel for 15 ringgit instead. We eventually settled at 10.
The next time we went to Suria KLCC we skipped the taxi stand, stood on the main road and caught a taxi using a meter. The price? Only 2.70 ringgit. And to the folks reading this in the States or UK or Japan, yes that’s much less than the flag-down rate you probably pay back home. And you don’t usually tip drivers in Malaysia. No surprise that some of them try to make more money by ‘ketok’ing gullible tourists.
The next incident occurred when one of our travelling companions wanted to get a spare battery for her Casio Exilim camera. It’s a squarish battery and she said it only costs S$10 back home. One shop in Suria KLCC offered to sell it to her for – get this – 300 ringgit! When we expressed our shock, the explanation was that it was a long-life battery. We walked out.
No, I did not spend all my shopping time at one mall (though I did have fun at the Petronas Exhibition, which has given me some ideas for my work). It was great as fathers got in free that weekend! We also took the Monorail to Sungei Wang and Lot 10. The trip was cheap, clean and efficient.
We also made a day trip to Bukit Tinggi, which is a total waste of time, because if you really want to see a French castle in a French town, you go to France, and if you want to see a nice Japanese garden with Koi fish, you go to Japan. If you want to see swans, go to Perth or some other nice temperate area where there are lots more of them. If you want to go to a nice part of Malaysia where the air is cooler, then just stick with Frasier’s Hill or Genting Highlands!
At the mid point “French town” zone, where our coaches deposited us, we also got annoyed as nobody seemed to care about queueing up for the ‘buggies’ which would take us further up to the gardens. After missing a few buggies because hordes of people dashed in front of us, with officials standing by not doing a thing to regulate the crowds, we decided to do the same.
Overall, the trip was fun because the travelling companions were sporting, and our KL hosts were most gracious and knowledgeable. I’m simply logging down the less satisfying parts for your reference, so you know what to do.