26 April – Friday
It is still raining heavily when we get up, that is going to make for a nice drive to Johor, not. We meet Shelley for breakfast, and again we are feeling spoilt. There are a few others in the dining room, but none have a table set like we do – a white linen cloth, cloth napkins, crockery and cutlery all set out, two waiters standing by to take away dishes the instant they are finished with, to keep our water and coffee topped up, and to bring our plates of food from the buffet. We even have a large plate of pastries, and another of fresh fruit. Both of us went to the buffet to help ourselves and were intercepted on the way back, and plates taken from us to be placed on the table. It was something we didn’t get used to, and doubt we ever could. Tony made mention to Shelly that we are happy to do things for ourselves, but she brushed it off. She had to leave before us as she had a meeting to go to, but the two waiters stayed behind to make sure we didn’t do anything for ourselves.
After we finished packing we met Shelly in reception and she took us across the road to the new five-star hotel, Ames. The place is all gold and black glass, and bloody mirrors everywhere again, you walk around a corner into a lift hall, and there is a full floor to ceiling mirror to startle you. Even the lift doors are mirrored. We check out the main dining room and the Grand Ballroom, wow… impressive, much. The lack of proper finishing that Bala was complaining of last night at dinner was obvious, cracked and missing tiles, rough grouting, and a host of other things that are driving the management team mad. The building crew even forgot to arrange a very important part of the build… it had been on the plans, but was missed. We can’t for the life of us remember what it was, but it was either lifts at reception or air conditioning for the hotel.
Shelly then takes us to see a couple of bedrooms, and we are blown away by the long hallway. Tony remarks it would be good for a bowling alley. The rooms are stunning, with the black mirror and gold finish throughout.
It is time to go, so we don’t have time to see the other development they are working on. We head up to our room and bring the bags down ourselves, and get told off for not asking for a porter. Tony goes to pay the bill (meals from the first night, and some items from the mini bar) and is told the boss has taken care of it. Stunned. Shelly has arranged packed a lunch for us, sandwiches, water and fruit for the trip to Johor.
The 200km trip to Johur Bahru is good, nothing holding us up, taking around two hours to get here, even the rain dials it back a notch so we can see where we are going. It is still pretty miserable in Johur when we get there, and Arun tells us that it will be nicer to visit the Sultan’s Palace tomorrow.
We are dropped off at the hotel, and is it ever MASSIVE. There are three blocks that rise 20 stories above the first nine levels (two underground). The lower levels house car parking, restaurants and a huge mall (over four levels). We are stunned to see a sign stating that the mall is exclusively for hotels residents, their guests, and resort members. Shops of every description (many tech type stalls) and includes a large Tesco supermarket. There are salons and a massive real estate expo. There is even a cinema, eight screens, and Avengers Endgame is on – 42 sessions a day! Tony checks out te prices, MYR9 ($3) for old farts. Think we will be going here, instead of Singapore.
On the seventh floor are conference rooms, a couple of bars, swimming pools, a kids dinosaur water park, gym and sauna. Our large room is on the 13th floor of tower 1, we have a view out over to the harbour. It is really busy down there, lots of traffic. Arun says they drive faster here, so we have to be extra careful, especially as there are no footpaths (like elsewhere in this country). A lot of the locals live here and work in Singapore, double the pay there, and half the cost of living here. In the weekends it can be madness on the roads, because visitors come from Singapore for the weekend for cheap shopping.
We are disappointed that like everywhere else we have been in Malaysia that there is no effort to use a rubbish bin, and even they are few and far between. Rubbish is careless tossed into the street, even from passing cars. They cannot be bothered even taking their rubbish home and disposing of it there. We wonder what it will take to get these people to care about their surroundings, and the pollution that they are causing by their carelessness. We have even seen our driver drop rubbish in the street, and Tony questioned him about it to be told it is ok. No it isn’t… When we first saw this we made sure we took all rubbish from the car, and disposed of it in our hotel rooms.
We have lunch in our room, and then hit the mall, so big we get lost in it. Tony finds a stall with a waterproof pouch for the phones, and says he will come back later (if he cannot find them cheaper elsewhere). We go for a swim in the outdoor pool on the 7th floor, and Tony has a sauna. It is starting to get late and Tony decides to go back to the mall for the waterproof phone pouches (for tropical thunderstorms, and for when we are swimming and don’t want to leave our phones behind, it is amazing how much we rely on them these days). He gets two types, MYR77 ($29), one is a bit better and can be used with the phone in the pouch, you know, in case you want to text under water, but might be useful for photos too. Meanwhile Cynthea goes to order tea in the main restaurant, not too bad a price at MYR42 ($15), and even better when we use the MYR20 meal vouchers we got at check in.
27 April – Saturday
Arun picks us up after breakfast, slightly delayed because of a traffic accident on the way that blocked the road, and there was no alternative route. We get a quick tour of Johur Bahru, and stop outside the sultan’s palace to check out the main gates. Across from the palace is a massive development where land is being reclaimed from the sea (using sand mined from an Indonesian island). It looks like they are trying to rival Dubai with the scale of building going on here, and to think that these massive skyscrapers are being built on reclaimed land… shudder at the thought.
Today we are going to Legoland, not by choice, it is part of the tour package. Arun gives us the voucher codes and says to call him when we are ready to return to the hotel. We get to the entrance and see that there are two parks, the second is a water park, but we haven’t got our togs and towels. Bugger, not that we could have gone there anyway, as we are going to the main park. We get our tickets, and find that the combo ticket we are picking up covers both parks, BUGGER! We are more than a little annoyed that the company didn’t clarify this, not even Arun knew that was what we were being issued. We don’t know what the company paid (or rather charged us) for these tickets, but the price at the gate is over NZ$100, so we are highly pissed off. We go in feeling that this really isn’t the place for a couple of old buggers without a couple of kids to drag along, and are only here because it was part of the deal. We take a photo of the Legoland sign and Legoland Hotel to send to Sascha back in Sydney (she reckons her area should be called Legoland).
What they have done is bloody impressive, even if some of the finishing is a bit shoddy. We decide to take the train around the park to check things out, a chance to sit down in the heat. Waiting in the queue for the next train is a bloody nightmare… there is an audio loop saying that the next train is precisely 12 seconds late, and he is going to have a word with the controller because he cannot have a late train. Then shouts all aboard… the f***ing train isn’t even here. To make matters worse this plays on a loop, with hardly a break between messages, and by the time the train arrives we are ready to rip the loud speakers out. We enjoy the brief ride, and pick out a couple of must sees. On the way out of the station Cynthea tells the staff how annoying the constant audio message is…
There are several themed areas to visit, one of the more amazing ones being miniature Lego versions of several world cities and famous sites (interesting to note that the USA did not feature at all!). There is a huge model of downtown Kuala Lumpur, KL International airport, shipyards, Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal, Singapore, and many others. The disappointing bit here was that it was obvious it was built to include moving parts, but everything was static (except for the pirate ship that squirted water from its’ canons as Cynthea walked past). She blamed Tony for doing it on purpose, but he didn’t realise that was what would happen, (true), he just thought he was making the cannon go boom (which it did when it squirted water).
Next stop was Star Wars, Tony’s happy place. We had a funny mini movie and then through a number of displays made from Lego. We had a ride to the top of the viewing tower, a revolving viewing platform took us about 30 metres up and slowly turned a couple of laps before coming back down again. Then we spotted the Lego 4D movie theatre, and lined up to see whatever was on next. It was a blast, a funny cop chase movie in 3D with extra effects, lots of water sprayed, wind, and some soap bubbles thrown in for good measure. The first time we got wet was when a slobbering dog was on the screen, ewwww, hahaha.
Arun messaged to say he had arrived to collect us – we were sure he said to give him an hours notice. Tony had sent a message saying we were ready now, and see you in an hour, so hopefully he didn’t take that to mean come now. We drove back to the hotel and that was the end of our time with him here in Malaysia. Tomorrow we make our own way to Singapore.
We have a quick swim and try out Tony’s waterproof pouch, the phone stays dry (phew). You are supposed to put paper in it before you try it with a phone, to see if the paper gets wet, but the phone is supposed to be able to take a quick dunking and survive. The pouch is silicon, so when it is unlocked it does all sorts of crazy things. Using it out of the water to take a photo is ok, not a very sharp image but still acceptable. Underwater, the water on the cover activates the touch screen and it does silly things. Tony tries taking a photo underwater, but it won’t play the game. Afterwards it is bloody difficult toget the phone out, a real struggle because of the silicone pouch, but we get there, and the pouch has done its’ job. Tony has another sauna, and is grossed out while in the showers afterwards. All the toilets here have a water hose to use instead of paper (do they use paper to dry themselves after the water?, not something you can really discuss with someone). Anyway, there is a deep channel in front of the toilet bowl, or squat pit, to take the water away. This usually travels past a couple of other stalls to the drains. The guy using the stall next to Tony’s shower washed his bum when he finished, and it over flowed into Tony’s stall. Ewwwwww. And that is why he tries to avoid public loos over here, the floor are always wet, and definitely don’t go in there barefoot, haha.
We are keen to see Avengers Endgame, and at $3 each we decide that this is the place to go. Another battle with language barriers and lack of understanding technology… We try to get the last two seats at 6.30, go to pay and they want cash. Tony points to the sign that says paywave, and to the machine beside the till. She shakes her head and says cash only. Tony picks up the paywave machine and says “Visa” and she says “broke”. Sign. Tony says “no cash”, she says use kiosk (because the girl next to her also says her bloody machine is broke). By the time Tony gets his turn at the self serve kiosk, it is too late for the session, and the next one was also full (or at least it was when he tried to get tickets for it a few minutes ago). The 8pm session is full and we really don’t want to be any later than that, but Tony re-checks the next session, and there are two seats left (that weren’t there earlier). The assistant says they must have cancelled… at this late stage? Anyway, Tony grabs them, and because t is self serve (with an assistant), there are no hassles.
We decide that because we have 15 minutes to spare, there is time for a munch, so we go to the candy bar. Bit more than your usual candy bar, with nachos, hotdogs, and all sorts available. We settle on nachos (a bit of difficulty here again, because he asks if we want cheese or salsa, and even though Tony says cheese a couple of times, he keeps asking), large popcorn and a coffee. We are told we have to get coffee from the cafeteria, even though they have the prices for here, they cannot sell it here. Sigh. More fun when it comes to paying, he wants cash. FFS. Tony says Visa, and points to the paywave sign. He insists that there is no paywave, so Tony picks up the sign and says Visa again. Again we are asked for cash, so Tony says Visa a little louder, and hopes that someone who can bloody well understand will come to help. Time is getting on, and the movie is due to start…
The guy at the next till tries to also tell Tony it is cash, so Tony picks up the sign again, and says Visa, get boss. A supervisor comes over, finally, and asks what is wrong. We are not sure what is said, but when she looks at Tony he just shows her the sign and says Visa again. She shows the kid a couple of things on the till, Tony waves the card, and it goes through. But the kid is still asking for the card. Tony says it is paid, you don’t need the card any more. Cynthea shows him the print out from the machine, but they still don’t get it. We wave the tickets and say movie starting, if they tell us we have to get the nachos and popcorn from a different counter, look out! They are still wanting the card, and Tony refuses to hand it over again, they ask what the expiry date is, and Tony tells them. They hand over the food, and apologise for the delay. It is past start time for the movie, and we don’t know what the deal is here, does it start immediately, or are there adverts first. We join the queue to the cinema, and they are not letting anyone in yet, so that is good to know we won’t miss anything.
There are eight screens here, called “halls”. Hall 1 has around 144 seats, at a rough count up. Twelve seats (leather) across, two aisles, with a 2-8-2 configuration. We have two on the side, close to the front. Staff are patrolling and making sure patrons don’t have outside food. We thoroughly enjoy the movie, and sit right through the credits because the Marvel movies ALWAYS have a scene at the very end of the credits… except this time. Bastards. And to make matters worse we needed the loo after a three hour session, so it was an uncomfortable wait. Saw THE BIGGEST cockroach in the dunny, bloody hell it was massive.
It is 10pm by the time we finish, and most of the mall is closing down, even though the theatre will run all through the night, with the last session at 3am, it means a 6.15am finish. A few of the shops are open 24/7.