We decided that we had time to add another destination into the mix, so then ensued a lively discussion as to where we would like to go. Japan, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia???? We discussed this at length and decided that for a quick 2 hour jaunt from CM, Kuala Lumpur fits the bill. We had often thought about visiting Malaysia, so now is a good opportunity.
Mr Wombat booked us a couple of Air Asia fares, we stored our luggage at our guest house in Chiang Mai, extending our reservation for our return, packed a back pack each and off we went for a 10 day side trip. What is totally out of character, is not the spontaneity of this trip, but the total lack of planning. We arrived and checked into a new boutique hotel, on a very busy street, right in the city. We had chosen this place for its proximity to the countless mega malls and shopping precincts and also to enable us to catch public transport easily. I didn't like the immediate area, it appeared dingy and unwelcoming, I especially didn't like the huge number of Malaysian guys who appeared to just be loitering around the streets after dark, it was really off putting.
The plan was to have a few days in the city initially to check out the city sights, then check out and head to Melaka (Malacca) for a couple of days before returning and treating ourselves to some 5 star luxury for 3 days.
Mr Wombat was all a quiver as he dreamt of technology, so we cut each other loose and headed to our respective shopping precincts for some retail therapy. Of course, I lost interest in the first two hours, I think I have reached a stage of my life where I just don't need 'stuff'. I wandered around the most amazing malls, how many malls does one city need I asked myself?? An energised and informed Mr Wombat arrived back at the hotel, to be greeted by a wife who had bought a bracelet and nothing else. Mr Wombat was on a mission- possible new phone and tablet, providing the planets aligned with international warranties!
We headed into Jalan Alor, the food street, for the most amazing street food and went there a few times as the food and atmosphere was fantastic. Malaysia is a wonderful example of cultures combining thus the result being a vibrant and diverse city with an amazing food scene unlike anywhere we have been before.
We ensured we visited Chinatown but we were very disappointed, this Chinatown was nothing compared to the chaotic and all encompassing Chinatown of Bangkok. Central Market, also meant to be a 'must see', was a tourist driven affair that we found disappointing. We can absolutely recommend the 'hop on hop off' bus, it is cheap and we enjoyed riding around the city. It gave us the best view of the Petronis Towers, simply spectacular especially at night. We have used a similar bus tour in Sydney and loved the informative commentary, however, we felt this was lacking in the KL bus trip. Some more info on the city's history and buildings would have made this trip fantastic. KL has a wonderful free city bus network, with 4 routes serviced by buses every 5 minutes, truly impressive.
We caught these buses to other parts of the city, getting on and off to visit various places and it didn't cost us anything. Mr Wombat jumped off and visited the Telecom Museum which he really enjoyed, whilst I jumped on and off various buses to change routes and this enabled me to see other city areas at no cost. These buses are not just for tourists but for locals as well, reducing the congestion within the city limits, KL should be commended for their forward thinking, such a great service.
We stumbled upon a very good optical business and with single vision glasses coming in at less than $20AU a pair, with eye test, we had to give it a go. Mr Wombat was beyond delighted with his trendy Samsung frames and loved his glasses, so much so, he ordered a second pair with slightly different frames. My glasses are always a trying affair, progressive lenses, an astigmatism, blah blah.... What the hell. I will also give it a go, result was a pair of readers only, which is what I wanted with these amazing flexible frames. So happy, ordered progressive lenses for the second pair. Came in at less than a third of what I normally pay! Excellent service, great eye exam, amazing choice of frames. Really happy.
Once we returned from Melaka, we checked into the new Mecure Hotel where we were upgraded to an Executive Queen suite and the goodies that go with it. It was a well deserved splurge after our budget travels, we planned to enjoy every second! In fact this was our most favorite hotel on the whole trip, brand new, 16th floor, huge room, killer pool and delicious and plentiful breakfasts, really what's not to like?? The hotel had good local food nearby and we enjoyed a fantastic meal at an authentic Arabic restaurant, complete with water pipes. No, we didn't give them a go, but it was entertaining watching others. We did our last minute shopping, with Mr Wombat thrilled with some technology goodies and then spent an entire day relaxing around the pool. We may have pretended to be rich and famous thus ordering room service for dinner.
Time to leave, organised a GRAB car and headed to the airport, ready to wing our way back to Chiang Mai. We enjoyed Malaysia, it isn't the cheap shopping mecca that I had expected, very culturally diverse which is interesting, beautiful night skyline, great food and friendly and kind locals. Malacca was an interesting and pretty side trip, all in all so glad we visited.