Trip Report by Gil March 2000
We just got back last week from our Malaysian adventure and as I suspect there may be a number of quiet Aussie readers out there, I thought I might direct a report to anyone planning a trip. We flew into KLIA on BA, boy what a great airport.We were efficiently led throught a very bright, alive arrival area to little trains that scoot you off to bagage collection areas. No problems and we exchanged some money and bought prepaid maxi-taxi to KL. The driver said the journey would be about an hour but made it in forty minutes, great expressway, fast car and no traffic
We stayed at th KL ParkRoyal which was in a SUPER location for shopping. We were right opposite three large shopping malls which linked together. The Sungei Wang Mall was the best of the centres with six or seven levels of shops, we spent a couple of hours on our first day completely lost in the mall slowly walking around in circles. KL was smaller than I had imagined and although you can easily walk around the city, the taxis are so cheap we found we saved a lot of time (as well as avoiding the heat) by cabbing it around town.
Mobile phones!!! Well I thought Aussies were phone mad, I dont think I have ever seen so many outlets selling mobiles, every man and his dog had a phone. Chinatown was a fun night market, but buyer beware, at night defects are harder to see than during the day, remember a little plastic cling wrap over watches will hide scratches. Did all the tourist sight seeing things and had a ball ,bird park, gardens, butterfly farm etc etc etc If you go to the KL Tower, make sure you grab a taxi because its a vey steep walk or wait for the shuttle which goes back and forth from top to bottom every half hour. Did the local buses and trains, no problems, clean and quick. Our next stop was at the Sunway Lagoon Resort. WOW!!! Massive hotel, big theme park attached with wave pool, fun rides, tigers on display, half mile long suspension bridge etc etc attached to a large shopping mall with a Sega centre, Bowling Alley and multiple picture theatres. If I could be a bit critical it would be that the place was so self contained that you became a bit "hotel bound" and didn't tend to get out and see other sights
Saved the best for last. Flew up to Penang and booked into the ParkRoyal. The hotel was great and the staff very pleasant and obliging. I hired a Proton and cruised around the island in an anti-clockwise direction, This way I figured that I would be able get a few kilometres practice in the quieter areas of the island before having to hold my own with the local drivers. Fantastic, we enjoyed the lovely west coast views around the fishing villages and I felt quite comfortable before we hit the busier areas. If I had any problem it was trying to get out of Georgetown, using the Komtar as a central landmark I would merryly make my way up Penang Rd, heading what seemed to be in a northwesterly direction and with the assistance of two not very helpful "back seat drivers" ( who were the world's worst navigators ), I was soon heading down a one way street back towards the Komtar again. It was funny, thank god nobody knew me. We nicked across to Butterworth, rode the ferry, did all the temples and caught the railway up Penang Hill. We had planned to play golf but frankly it was just TOO hot and I wouldn't play in that sort of heat in Australia so why be a dummy and do it on holidays. My son picked up a bike and did his own thing while we went back to the taxis. In contrast to KL where meters are compulsory, we couldn't convince any driver to turn it on, so we agreed that being ripped off a couple of bucks wasn't going to spoil our holiday and used the taxi if we couldn't bother waiting for the bus. The buses incidentally were clean and cheap and sort of "on time".
Food was FAB. We tried every thing and don't try to be smart and go too far down market because you get what you pay for and some times a cheap dish just means a lot of gravy or sauce on your plate. Had a fun night out at "The End of The World" seafood restaurant. A menu with NO prices and after much prompting we found that all dishes were 25RM. A bit expensive but great food. Now something for the shoppers Apart from good shopping in the Komtar and Midway malls a street market sets up every night along the Hotel strip Best buys can depend on how well you barter but below is a guide CDs 10-15 RM VCDs 7-10 RM