09 October 2007

Kuala Lumpur - The KL in Knell

Knell /nel/ n (usu sing) the sound of a bell rung slowly after a death or at a funeral.

The acronym of Kuala Lumpur spelt and summed up the knell of a time I had during this most recent trip. Maybe it’s because I had been to KL too many times within the past 3 years and my last trip was only about 3 months ago. The shopping is still great, especially since it’s going to be Hari Raya Puasa soon and so the height of the sale frenzy. Food-wise, it is good value because of the exchange rate, but clubbing is a less than fun experience compared to Singapore.

We went to Farginnapi Bar, Onovu and Namiso and they charged an entrance fee of between RM$25 to RM$30 for one standard drink. Onovu serves the worst vodka orange I had ever tasted. The orange juice is diluted and there’s hardly any taste of vodka in it at all. The bar price is RM$20 for a bottle of Heineken Beer and RM$80 for a jug of vodka orange. Apparently, the KL dwellers only club on Saturday. I don’t know if that’s because of the month of Ramadhan, but Onovu was rather empty on Friday, full on Saturday, and closed on Sunday. Namiso was opened on Sunday but you can number the patronage easily.


Other than that, I still didn’t get to go on the Skybridge tour of the Petronas Twin Towers. I read that we have to queue for about 1 to 2 hours to get the free tickets for the tour and only 1,300 free tickets are issued daily. During the weekends, people start queuing as early as 7.30am for the first tour that starts at 8.30am. There’s an exhibition about the Twin Towers and Skybridge on the ground level but you’re allowed only 10 mins on the Skybridge itself. The Skybridge is on the 41st level of the towers and offers a vantage view of KL city. However, part of that view is blocked and a better way to view the city is to actually go to the KL Tower instead. A taxi driver told us that some 5-star hotels have tickets reserved and will release it to their guests, or you could pay someone RM$15 per ticket to queue for you. The queue is shorter during the weekdays, but the tour is closed on Mondays. So after considering the odds, we decided to give the Skybridge a miss and also because we didn’t wake up early enough.

KL Oct 2007


Transport : Transtar Premium 39-seater coach (S$47.00) / Transtar First Class 16-seater coach (S$41.00)

Travel Insurance : S$28.00

Departure (SGP) : 5 Oct 07, Friday, 8:30am, Golden Mile Complex (Arrived at KL 1:30pm)

Departure (KL) : 8 Aug 07, Monday, 6:00pm, Pasarakyat (Arrived SGP at 10:00pm.)

Accommodation : Capitol Hotel Deluxe Room, RM$230 per night (RM$70 per night for additional bed).

Sandwiched between Plaza Sungei Wang and Plaza Low Yat, the hotel is really right at the heart of the major shopping complexes. But, good location is the ONLY advantage this hotel has to offer. The hotel and room looks neat and spanky (as compared to some of the other worn-out mid-range hotels around Bukit Bintang area), but the room is really small and the hotel is skim on facilities. There is no swimming pool, no gym, no bathtub in the toilet, and does not include breakfast. And the service staffs have no smiles.

The safe deposit box in the room was jammed and I had to call the reception 3 times in over half an hour before someone finally came and fix it. And the receptionist sounded like she was either going to faint from her Ramadhan fasting or Marilyn Monroe drawing her dying breath. Then on our second night, the tap in the shower burst and we had to change room. The new room, which was just across from our old one, had a weird layout. The room door was just in front of the cupboard door and they open into each other. But that was all still acceptable.

What wasn’t acceptable was the fact that we booked a wake-up call, but that call never came! A morning call is probably the most basic service that a hotel needs to get right. We booked a call for 10am so that we could make it to the Skybridge by 11am to get a ticket for the tour. We weren’t woken up at 10am and by the time we roused from bed, it’s too late to get a ticket. Thankfully it wasn’t a life and death matter. Imagine if we were to miss a flight or business meeting just because the hotel cannot be relied on for a morning call? There’re 3 of us in the room so it can’t be all 3 not hearing it and I’ve known hotels to knock on your door if you fail to pick up the morning call. And one of my friends actually heard the reception staff bickering right in front of a customer. I didn’t see it personally, but if that was true, then I would’ve experienced the worst in hotel service.

Exchange Rate : S$1.00 to RM$2.29 (Travel Expenses : S$400, exclude transport, accommodation and insurance.)


1) That I can still dance like a caffeinated monkey who had too much sugar for more than 2 hours, non-stop, no drugs.

2) That I’m more impatient than I thought I am patient.

3) That I’m less forgiving than I believed myself to be.

4) That I can never be romantically attracted to someone too much younger than me.

5) That I cannot resist buying something that I don’t need just because it is cheap.

6) That I continue to eat, even though I’m already full, as long as there’s still food on the table.


We met this most charming waitress at Olio Dome located at Lot 10. The Indian girl is all smiles and chatty with a warmth that is sincere and very natural. So compelled were we by her personable service that we each wrote her a compliment on the feedback forms. I think her name is Kiruba. One smile can really soothe a bumpy mile…

07 August 2007

Bangkok - A Vacation That Never Leaves

It always feels so good to come to Singapore for holidays. The Whampoa Drive serviced apartment I’m staying in is so comfortable and it even provides a really cute dog to sleep with. I think I’ll sample some really good local food like chicken rice and laksa tonight at the open-air café, but before that, I should have a workout at the hotel’s gym first… aahhh… such is the good life… the life of a Singaporean in denial after six days in Bangkok.

Of course this is no serviced apartment (unless I consider mum and dad picking up after me as being service), Whampoa Drive is home. There’s no café but the Whampoa Drive Hawker Centre, and the gym is none other than California Novena. But well, ain’t it nice to pretend like I’m a tourist back home? To limbo that vacation mentality a little longer before finally accepting the fact that I’d been dragged from heaven back down to earth. How does one treat an addiction like Bangkok? With another trip of course! Life should just be one long holiday…

Bangkok Aug 07 collage 1 Bangkok Aug 07 collage 2 Bangkok Aug 07 collage 3 Bangkok Aug 07 collage 4


Airfare : Tiger Airways, S$140 (Return ticket inclusive of SGP and BKK airport tax. Additional S$140 for Michael’s ticket.)

Travel Insurance : S$27.00

Departure (SGP) : 1 Aug 07, Wednesday, 12.10pm (Arrived at BKK local time 1:15pm.)

Departure (BKK) : 6 Aug 07, Monday, BKK local time 8:10pm (arrived SGP at 11:15pm.)

SGP to BKK Flight Duration : Approx. 2 hours

BKK Airport to City : It takes about 40 mins to travel from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the downtown city district of Sathorn using the highway. There’s a 40bht toll for the highway to be borne by the passenger. The airport taxi charges a flat rate of 450bht to city; travelling from city to airport by a metered taxi costs about 300bht.

Accommodation : Metropolitan Hotel, South Sathorn (Free for 2 nights as Michael won first prize in a lucky draw, else the Studio Room we stayed in should cost about S$260 per night). Bab Barr, Sathorn Soi (1,600bht, approx. S$74.42)

Exchange Rate : S$1.00 to 21.50bht (Travel Expenses : S$600, exclude airfare, accommodation and insurance.)

The highlight of this trip would be the stay at the Metropolitan Hotel. Other than that, there’s no where new that I went or did that’s exotic. And that’s a bummer because I can feel myself becoming me a ‘comfort’ traveler rather than a ‘sightseeing’ tourist, and I much prefer being the latter. But with the Met Hotel being a honeycomb, there’re no good reasons to go anywhere else. The hotel is much like a ‘new age’ living space for people buying into the yoga, spa, and holistic health sort of culture.

Almost everywhere I went within the lavender-scented air of the hotel, I’m cocooned in a state of relaxation that made me feel like a white feather floating on angels’ breath (except when the smell of Mic’s smokes plunged the room into a tobacco stink). Our room was pleasingly furnished and the bathroom comes with a set of aroma-oil formulated toiletries that smelt so good. There’re yoga mats everywhere and the Jacuzzi at the health centre was my favorite spot… soft natural daylight diffused into the zen-styled interior with a beige mosaic hot pool of water that bubbles over the pool’s edge. The centre also provided free yoga instructions and body conditioning classes.

I attended an evening’s yoga class and had one-on-one direction from the instructress. She’s very tanned and very pretty. Not beautiful, but pretty. And she really used her whole body when guiding me into the yoga poses. Me being about as flexible as a communist, I pity her for using so much strength to pull and lengthen my body. When doing a seated forward bend, she leaned her whole torso against my back and pushed me forward. For a moment, I forgot the stinging pain behind my knees but felt instead the flattening out of her bosoms, her breath and an icky feeling because I was perspiring like a hog but she was dry, and yet she had skin contact with my sweat like it’s no bother at all. But it was a really good session as she thought me variations to suit my level of flexibility and she pointed out the correct techniques in the stretches. I had never felt sorer from a yoga session the next day.

The other big thing that happened was a hostile confrontation with Mic. I can’t remember how it happened but it was a shouting match. But I think it is good to let out thoughts and feelings of unhappiness the moment it occurred rather than keep it all inside. Anyway, it has been resolved and hopefully this step back pushes our friendship forward by leaps.

Also made some new friends from Hong Kong and reinstated a few old acquaintances from Singapore. Six days flew past so quickly and I hope the months go by faster still so that I can be back in Bangkok again soon. And hopefully the immigration at the new airport would’ve picked up by then. For now, I’ll continue to be a tourist in my own home.

--- Spending List ---

Pork limb rice with additional intestine and egg at Siam Centre foodcourt - 50bht (S$2.32)

Chicken rice (breast meat) at roadside stall outside Station JD - 40bht (S$1.86)

Sharksfin soup, bird’s nest soup, spicy fried fish, 4 steamed big head prawns, oyster omelet, and stir-fry bittergroud leaves Mei Lung Restaurant in Chinatown - 1,700bht (S$79.10)

1 bottle whiskey at Station JD - 1,400bht (S$65.12)
1 bottle soda water - 20bht (S$0.93)

1 bottle Singha beer at go-go show - 200bht to 240bht (S$9.30 to S$11.16)

Traditional Thai massage 1 hour - 250bht (S$11.63)

Taxi starting fare - 35bht (S$1.63)
Per increment - 2bht (S$0.09)

GQ undershirts size L from Tokyu, MBK - round neck (179bht / S$8.33), V-neck (199bht / S$9.26)
Bikiner low-rise white cotton box-brief size S from Zen, WTC - 180bht (S$8.37)
Groovin low-rise yellow nylon box-brief size S from Zen, WTC - 250bht (S$11.63)

Pure Essential Oil (from Chatuchak), 10ml - 80bht (S$3.72)
Pure Essential Oil (from airport), 10ml - 120bht (S$5.58)
Cone-shaped scented incense - 50bht (S$2.33)

Puma shoulder-sling dark brown PVC leather sports bag from Chatuchak - 199bht (S$9.26)
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