Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Unplanned stopover in KL (Kuala Lumpur)

Have to blame a certain airline (CE) for cancelling our flight to Shanghai and not notifying us at all. Found out the hard way when we got to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) that morning after we had flown in from my hometown. Flight was moved 12 hours ahead of schedule and we were not notified. What the heck? No CE employees in sight at the airport. Phone lines were not answered. In the end, we had to secure a friend in Shanghai to help us rebook the next flight out which was 16 hours later (2am the following day).
                                                                 KL's Twin Tower
After a mediocre lunch at KLIA, we decided to venture out to KL city center and booked a half day city tour at the airport's tour counter. Bad idea. To start, the driver was an hour late. We agreed on KL Tower, KLCC, the Royal Palace, the old railway station and the Bijan Malay Restaurant then back to KLIA for 350myr (about US$120). We paid but told him we didn't want to visit any chocolate boutiques or handicraft places. All we wanted was to take pictures of the architectures. Not the first time in KL as I had lived in the suburbs around the city for a year more than 20 years ago.
First stop was the Royal Palace which was small and looked more like a mini mansion instead of a grandiose palace. Photography was not allowed. Took a quick tour and we were whiffed off to the chocolate boutique which we had said we were not interested.  Knowing that our driver gets paid a commission from these sales, we bought a large shopping bag of chocolates but he was nowhere to be found when we exited the chocolate boutique. Sent my son to look for him but to no avail. Thirty minutes went by before he finally showed up. The excuse was he had to use the bathroom. Very lame, indeed.
By this time, we've lost interest in the rest of the tours. Told him to drive past KLCC and the old railway station just so we could take pictures. During the drive, he kept convincing us to go to the handicraft place and we adamantly refused. The last straw was when he couldn't find the Bijan Restaurant. He said he knew where it was when we first got into his van. But, when the time came to go to the restaurant, he seemed lost. Not knowing the address of the restaurant, we suggested for him to ask directions from the other taxi drivers but he refused. After circling for an hour between Bukit Bintang and Jalan Ampang area, my husband and I looked at each other and we knew we had to get out of his van no matter what. When he finally decided to stop for directions, we grabbed all our stuff and jumped out of the van. He came running after us. No, we were not getting back in the van and we'd find our own way back to KLIA.
Finally, we got rid of the driver. Popped into a nearby hotel and the concierge was nice enough to print out an address for the restaurant and hailed a taxi for us. We arrived at the restaurant in lesss than 10 minutes. To think of all the time we've wasted with the tour driver. The restaurant was packed with locals breaking fast for Ramadan and it was booked for an event as well. We begged the manager for a table as we're half a globe away from home. She agreed to let us have a table if we can be out of there in less than an hour. Of course, we said. Had a lovely buffet spread of Malay dishes- masak lemak, rendang, curries, salads, rice, satays, acar, pulut, desserts, fruits, etc. Enjoyed the dinner very much. Unfortunately, I was too tired and sick with a cold that day. Did not take any pictures worthy for posting on this post. After dinner, the manager called a taxi take us back to KLIA. A much nicer aand honest taxi driver this time. What a day!

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