It's time for a big of city life before heading to the jungle.
15.07.2010 - 17.07.2010 80 °F
Stayed tuned was right, I was not about to go to bed anytime soon as I didn’t waste any time before the sight seeing began in Kuala Lumpur. Again, much thanks go out to Alex and his email that I clenched in my right hand and used as my travel guide for the next 24+ hours in the big city. Who needs a book like the Lonely Planet when I just gather information from fellow travelers that I personally meet. It’s makes for a much more out of the ordinary journey, and we all know that I am far from ordinary. The nice gentleman who allowed me to get a load off my back (literally) informed me that one must stand in some very long line in hopes to get tickets to come back and tour the Petrona Towers later that same day. I am one that loves a free tour as much as the next guy but when the word “free” comes to play, there are many trade offs. In this case, TIME. If time is what it took to get a ticket, well, time is what I had to waste so it was a win-win situation.
No map needed as the towers are rather tall and with the help of a man-made map, I was on my way to the Petronas. I’m sure I have all the facts written somewhere but just Google them if you want to learn more. Basically, they are very tall and a major KL attraction. Sounds good to me as I just want to get the most out of my little time in the city before trekking off to the Borneo side. As I got closer to the towers I asked for directions to the line. I was just in time really as the line opened at 8am and it was just 15 minutes past the hour. Was I first in line? Heck no but I had a very good chance of getting a ticket for the day. I passed the time by people watching and, you caught me, I borrowed a girl’s Lonely Planet book to check over some Pulau Tiga and Kota Kinabalu information. It gave me an idea of what I was in for, cost-wise and transportation and time. You only live once and anyone reading this would know my passion to hike and obsession to anything about the game Survivor so I must do both.
Okay, let’s stay focused. I waited a good 2 hours before I got a ticket for an 11:15am tour which gave me over an hour to kill and what should I do? Let’s hit the mall. I was stunned to see The Gap and had to take a photo. It has been ages since I was at a proper mall. Seeing so many familiar stores made me a bit homesick. Oddly enough, I couldn’t really see myself buying too much either as the prices were high and I felt there is more to life than the material things (easy to say now I suppose but wait until I get back to the US…yikes). Yes, I just said I passed up on massive shopping. Maybe not having a job and unsure of what lies ahead had a bit to do with it.
Time flies when you browse around and it was now my turn for the Petrona Towers tour. It started with your typical video and then we went up to the connecting “bridge” if you will to check out the view. I could see school children playing in the park that looked like ants and the city view was spectacular. Check that off my list and it was time to venture back to the guesthouse where my things were but I could not remember the name. No worries, I chatted with a guy who showed me the way back to the main street and within a few minutes I found my guesthouse. I felt terrible but the price was too high and at this time the Green Hut had a single open so I moved my things there and then it was on to KL Sentral to buy an ticket for the next day to Kuching. You would think I would learn by now to book 24 hrs in advance on line to refrain from this inconvenience of waiting in lines and such but I did it again. The number that I picked was over 100 away and this could be along wait. Good thing I made friends with a local that had a closer number and he let me go up to the counter with him. Still, we waited a good 2 hours practically. My ticket was issued and I was headed to Kuching in the morning to find this Hilton in the jungle.
Next up, Time Square for a bit of shopping, I know I couldn’t resist, and I had to get a new camera charger. I found my favorite Asian-inspired store where I made a few purchases. It was justifiable in that I could not buy those types of clothes back home. Next up, a night run in the city. It was then that I spotted the Outback Steakhouse. Again, a bit homesick. Bummer it was too late to eat there but I got some local food where Alex suggested then it was off to the internet café to arrange transport to the Hilton. Unfortunately, it didn’t go too well and I was left having to try and find my own transport as they were charging me for 2 people, something that I have come across far to often. Are they all trying to tell me something? I should have a boyfriend or husband or a friend with me? I’m smart, I will fly there and figure it out myself.
The morning came far too soon as I was up until 3am but it was a quick run and then the monorail to the bus station where I would catch a bus to the airport. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I was very impressed with my new found transportation skills. Remember, this is a girl who fears, or feared, public transportation. Once at the airport in the check-in line, I met a local guy Hudson. He really helped me and gave me the idea to take local transport myself to get to this remote Hilton. He even offered to let me stay in his family’s longhouse but I never saw him once we landed in Kuching. He was on the later flight and by that time I was dealing with phone calls to try and organized everything. Darn payphones kept eating my change and with the help of some fellow travelers and the counter personnel I was able to arrange a plan. I was not going to the Hilton in the jungle that night as I would not make the 5:15pm boat at the jetty. I had no idea that my free stay would turn into such a chaotic mess. Just another lesson to learn from in my traveling experiences.
The night was drawing near and the rain had begun to fall. Two hours later and I am still finalizing a plan in the airport. I picked up a random budget hotel pamphlet and saw Pinnacles. Good choice on my part as the woman at the counter informed me it was right next to the Hilton. She even allowed me to use her phone and within a few moments I was in a taxi and on my way to the accommodation. I also phoned the Hilton to inform them I would stop by to speak with management directly. I must say, it does pay to be a Gold Member at the Hilton as they treat you like royalty, even if you don’t stay there. My room was sorted, I had a 6 person dorm to myself and it was on to the Hilton where I thought I would sneak a workout and chat about transfers to the jungle. Turns out I did speak to them and found I could do local transport from the hotel manager. He knew I was traveling alone and admitted himself how ridiculous costly it was to go through them directly. He offered me wine and then it turned to happy hour in the executive lounge. Not much else to do in the rain so I took in the Kuching views from the lounge window and played on the internet while sipping wine after wine. The gym never happened but I slept like a baby after I walked back to my accommodation.
It’s morning already, really? The day is July 17th, 2010 and it is time for my transport adventure to Batang Ai Hilton Longhouse to begin already. Thanks to my dad’s Hilton points I was able to get free nights and with my Gold status I was given a 2 story deluxe longhouse all to myself. It all sounded fantastic but little did I know what was in store for me to get to this little piece of heaven. Life on the road. It’s not always easy but it sure keeps you on your toes.
The dish is out