We flew MAS to Kuala Lumpur from Denpasar on the last day of the Grand Prix. The flight from Denpasar to KL was only 2 1/2 hours but it seemed to take all day to finally arrive at the hotel with all the hanging around at both airports with long queues at security and immigration.We intended to leave most of our luggage at the left luggage counter but this was overflowing so we had to wait until someone had picked up their baggage and we had to pay $40 for 2 bags, two carry on bags and a pillow to be left for 24hours. I thought that this was a bit steep especially as Malaysia is trying to attract tourists for their “Visit Malaysia 2014″.
The train trip into the city was very efficient costing about $25 each return and it only took 25minutes to the “Nu Sentral” station and shopping complex which was celebrating it’s “soft” opening. Some of the shops had several layers of floral wreaths on large stands given by their customers to welcome the new shops. This was a common sight in India also. We had been in Kuala Lumpur about 5years previously and were not really impressed by the city and lack of infrastructure apart from the monorail but that has all changed with many new walkways, shopping centres, cafes and a much tidied up Bukit Bintang area. It seemed as though KL was now quickly catching up to Singapore with an enormous amount of contruction work everywhere. We were extremely lucky to arrive at the “Royal Hotel” just as the afternoon torrential monsoon rain started. Malaysia had experienced a drought recently but the rain had now started in the previous couple of weeks. I remember that years ago in Bali you could almost set your watch for when the downpours started in the afternoons but now that had changed with rain overnight or in the morning or afternoon. There seemed to be no set pattern. The hotel was right next to the monorail station at Bukit Bintang and which was very well located in the main shopping/eating area of the city.
The next day we walked to the Australian High Commision to vote for the third time since we had been away. First was the state election when we voted in Bali, then the Federal election when in London and then the Senate election in KL. The security in both Bali and KL was very tight but London was a breeze by comparison. We hoped that this was the last time that we needed to vote for anything for a while.
We went by train in the afternoon back to the airport to collect our bags and catch the shuttle bus to the “Concorde Inn” a very handy 5minutes from the airport for the last night before our early morning departure to Chennai.
This MAS flight was very light with onlyabout 60 passengers on board for the 3 1/2 hour flight. We stayed one night in Chennai at the “GRT Grand hotel”about 20minutes from the airport which was in the process of being renovated and we ate another wonderful Indian meal at their “Copper Pot” restaurant.
The Emirates flight from Chennai to Dubai was full with a lot of passengers going to Mecca. This was a four hour flight and Alan was kindly there to pick us up at Dubai airport. He departed 36hours later for India so we had a brief but nice couple of days with him and his daughter Samantha. I had picked up a sore throat (seemed to happen every time I flew anywhere where there were large crowds of people) so it was nice to just relax, do a bit of walking and swimming and visit the vast “Mall of the Emirates” one of hundreds of malls in the city. We couldn’t believe the amount of construction in Dubai in the six months since we had been there. I managed to meet briefly with Salim (my emirati university friend from Hangzhou) at a local coffee shop before he flew for work to London the next day. He very sweetly had brought a coffee pot full of coffee flavoured with cardamom and two lots of dates which were delicious. He had got a good job based in Abu Dhabi (an hour and a half away from Dubai) working for the political advisor to the Crown Prince of the UAE. He wanted us to have his car and leave it somewhere for his return but as the licence had expired a couple of days before and everyone drives like a maniac here in Dubai, we declined the offer. A few days before we arrived Dubai had had a torrential day of rain and there were over 500 accidents on that one day. We also read of an Canadian who allegedly gave the finger to an Emirati driver (who was trying to get past him and was becoming irate) and he was surprisingly let off the charge as the Emiraties usually won every case. He avoided 6months jail!
The alcohol laws are different too. If you drink in your own house or anyone else’s house you have to apply for an alcohol licence. If you have an accident or the police find alcohol in your car, you must have this licence or be prosecuted.
Maurice and I walked one evening to a very popular eatery near the beach which served only marinated whole fish and peeled prawns. We had been warned to get there early 5.45pm and we were glad we did. At first there is nothing set up and as more people arrive, out come the plastic tables and small stools on the dirt at the front of the small kitchen. The meal was simple and wonderful.
The next night we walked for an hour and a half to the Dubai Sailing club to find it was only for private members so we went around the corner to the “Seaview” restaurant in front of the marina and had fresh sea bream, a fish called “Sheri” and one called “Hamour” which were all delicious. We caught a taxi home as our feet had had enough and they are very resonably priced here in Dubai.
On two days it was unusually cool even during the day with strong onshore winds blowing and cool enough for a cardigan at night.
It is hard to get used to the weekend here being Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a normal working day. We headed off for Rome on Qatar Airways on the 7th April.