The Reluctant Tourist

The trouble with being a tourist most of the time especially in the tropics is that you have to get out and about during the heat of the day. Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun and all that.

I am probably more a beach tourist than a city tourist. A bed chair and a beach to explore is my idea of heaven . Pounding around hot city pavements is certainly not how I  like to spend my days. So writing this blog is actually good for me because I am forced to head out and see what is on offer when often I would just be looking for the closest happy hour deal to my hotel.

We flew on Malaysian Airlines yesterday from Saigon to Kuala Lumpur. I have a few air miles on British Airways and found when they changed them to Avios points that the airline had decided to close out Italy as a destination  which meant until this trip they were almost useless. However I hadn’t realised that Malaysian had joined One World nor that it is now dead easy to book other airlines on the BA site. So for 9,000 miles and £12 in taxes each we got Business Class tickets. Of course having just sat down and about to enjoy a large glass of wine  the curtain into Economy flew open and a lad of about 13 carried in a bawling 3 year old and dropped it on his parents lap who , as always just happened to be sitting in the seats just in front of us. He shouted a few choice words in Hindi which I took to mean the brats all yours and left. Clearly the parents had booked the 5 children in economy and they had revolted. The crew not seemingly wishing to make a scene allowed the wretched thing to stay and it cried all the way to Kuala Lumpur. Thank god I hadn’t paid the US$ 610 normal fare.

The fast train from the airport to downtown takes 28 minutes and costs about £7 each. Then a taxi to the G Tower Hotel was another £8 but looking at the map he took us around the loop motorway rather than the far quicker downtown route. Taxis the world over ……

The room at the G Tower is huge and the hotel also boasts a Bridge Bar on the 28th floor that links the two towers. Not a good place to have a beer for the agoraphobics  clearly. I plugged in the Apple and noticed a letter from the Management on the desk. It wasn’t one of those hello type letters. It was the one you dread the most and makes you realise why they were discounting the place. ” We regret to inform you …….. renovation works underway…. drilling and banging sounds………apologise for inconvenience…..don’t think you are getting a refund or discount….. ” etc etc.

Sure enough at 8 a.m. even though  it is Chinese New Year and there is little or no construction taking place in the entire city what sounded like a single workman hit a pipe every 3 seconds for an hour and then went home. Better than a breakfast gong I guess.

So at 10 a.m. we were ready for some sight seeing . First stop those pesky towers that featured in the Sean Connery film Entrapment. I got a shot

Petronas Towers K.L.

But they are so tall at 452 metres above the street they are very difficult to snap. The Towers are taller than our house is above sea level in the hills near Martina Franca . We are just 390 metres above sea level.

It costs £15 quid each to go up and so we gave it a miss. Why ? Well a pint of beer here is an head spinning £8 most of which is made up of tax. Welcome to another soon to be dry, Saudi backed, muslim country. So the choice was a ride up to see what we saw from the aircraft yesterday or 4 pints of beer tonight. No brainer of course.

The base of the towers boast a Marks and Spencer and this

Harrods in K.L.

Harrods cafe no less. I didn’t even stop to ask what their champagne price must be.

In the book I’m reading on Vietnam the author makes the point about the divergence of wants between the local people and the tourist. The locals, he says, are  desperate to move away from the very things the tourist comes to look at. It is true for Malaysia as well. The locals want a modern vibrant city with huge motorways and plush buildings like the Twin Towers. Not so the tourist. The number one tour in K.L. is The Heritage Tour which takes them around all the old colonial buildings that have survived for now the developers sledge hammers. So I went in search of it in the midday sun.

Driverless Tube

The local metro trains are driverless, the station concourse has no ticket offices just change machines and ticket points . The stations have no staff on them , no “mind the doors” nor “mind the gap” people and no guards on the train. So those of you reading this in London where there is a 48 hour strike by underground staff rejoice that sometime soon Bob Crow and his bunch of overpaid members will be gone, toast, history. I have seen the future and I hope Boris has too.

It is amazingly cheap as well (unlike beer) clearly the Saudis don’t mind trains. 25P for four stops. That’s what you get when you are not paying drivers and guards £60,000 a year each to do nothing. Mind you it probably helps to have the Saudis as your favourite uncle I guess. It is a really easy system and with most signs in English and automatic voice announcements for each up coming station, it almost impossible to go wrong.

I know what you’re thinking but no I didn’t go wrong and nor were there any screaming kids either. They luckily are all on holiday this week and spend their entire time at the huge amusement parks that dot the outskirts of this very modern city.

Did I find any colonial relics ? Well building wise yes I certainly did . However one of the few benefits of high booze prices and strict laws on prostitution is there are no old relics from Europe staggering around with desperately young girls on their arms and that has to be a good thing

More tomorrow on those relics ( buildings that is ) when we get to Penang.

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