Tuesday, December 31, 2013

China 2013 - A Stop in Kuala Lumpur

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY! IT'S 2014. We have been "At Home in Hyderabad" for 3-years and 7-months! I've got time to blog today. And maybe for the next several days. I came home from our yearly holiday trip (this year to China!) with a bit of a bug. I think I'm over the worst of it. It's no joke (I actually lost a dear friend to the bird-flu back in 2009)... but Amy and I kept saying "I hope I don't have the SARS!" Remember the SARS epidemic? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? Between November 2002 and July 2003, an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused an eventual 8,273 cases and 775 deaths reported in multiple countries with the majority of cases in Hong Kong...and it spread world-wide. Just yesterday, Saudi Arabia reported that the death-toll from a SARS-like virus has reached 57! New cases of the bird-flu are being reported in Hong Kong just this week. Scary stuff! 

Anyway... this year would conclude our holiday travels...and we juggled several possible destinations. Japan and Russia and Switzerland were all possibilities. But Amy said that she really wanted to see China...so that's the trip we booked. We cut back the duration and the cost of some of the hotels, added in a couple of days on the front-end to go to Kuala Lumpur to chill-out and decompress a little...and the trip was set!  As always...the best vacations are the ones booked by Eve Wertsch at Fugazi Travel in San Francisco!

The trip was almost over before it started...my bad hip was bothering me terribly... but thanks to some gentle counseling by Eve... I got talked into going and just doing what I could. I didn't have a clue how much I would be able to manage...but I decided to try. Amy agreed that I would try to do as much as I could possible do and I promised that I would not hold her back. We were just going to have to go and see how it played out! 

Amy Suzanne had taken some time to return to the U.S. at the end of November through the 8th of December to attend Deloitte University training... then take part in a variety of meetings in Los Angeles and San Francisco...and return to her first-love, riding her horses, in Santa Barbara... Unfortunately, this meant that she had her passport was with her...and we needed that in order to procure our tourist visas for China. This made our "window" to get the visas far-shorter than the experts said to allow to get them.... and the only place for us to go to get those visas was up in New Delhi. It was crunch-time up until the week before we left!

I won't go into all of the frustrating details about getting the visas... suffice it to say that it was a stressful time but all's well that ends well...we got our visas with one-day to spare. I was willing to catch another flight home to Hyderabad... but it turned out that it was not necessary. we got home from Delhi and immediately began to pack our bags!

Our journey began Thursday, the 19th of December, 2013... with a super-early morning flight (at 12:25 A.M.) on Malaysian Airlines from HYD to KUL ... we got stranded at the airport ... but we're seasoned-enough travelers now that we just got a cab...as it turned out ... when we got our refund for the pick-up-screw-up...we actually came out ahead. We stayed at the venerable Westin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur... a nice enough place... but beginning to show its age a little. The good part... it's right near some awesome shopping malls and they have the Westin Executive Club floors... no need to spend extra money for Diet Cokes and wine or snacks the whole time!

We slept most of the first day....I slept on the floor by choice....the westin may advertise their "Heavenly Beds" - but they are far-too soft for me and my bum-hip. Amy snuck out to walk around the HUGE Pavilion Mall....which was filled with the cheesiest Christmas decorations you ever saw! We caught a little dinner and called it a night...we're such party animals!!

The next day we had a lazy start (just what we intended.) On the way in to the hotel, the taxi (or "teksi" as they spell it in KL) driver told us that it had rained virtually the whole month of November. He didn't mention that it still rained every afternoon at about 2;00 P.M. We were going to catch the double-decker on/off bus tour...but we were no more than five-minutes into our walk to the bus-stop that the skies opened up.... we ducked into a hotel cafe that had no windows in the front...and just watched the rain POUR down for about an hour. Of course Amy went out in the rain (she loves to do that! - that's her in the photo above-left)...we had a couple of drinks and a little lunch...after the rain we both went and explored the Pavilion Mall.... it's huge.... but remember... even though Malaysia is a Muslim country...Christmas is still celebrated there with all of the pomp and circumstance one sees around the world. It's now the 20th of December and Christmas shopping had gotten to a frenzied state. 

Dinner in the hotel that night... and a peek at the Internet that told us that the KL Double-Decker Bus tour got less-than-five-star reviews.... we would pass and take a taxi the next day to this big Electronics Mall to get a memory-card for my camera. It never fails... I end up leaving the current card in my laptop when we leave on vacation!! We found a Starbucks attached to the mall...and a cool place for a light lunch. We had an afternoon flight out of KL to Beijing, China.... so we grabbed a teksi for 150 gringotts (that's what Amy calls the Malaysian Ringgits (MYR) - the national currency.

Not a bad wait in the Golden Lounge (the new Malaysian Airlines Business Class Lounge was under construction) .... and what turned-out to be my last chance to see Facebook for the next 11 days! There is no access to Facebook or any number of other websites that are blocked by the Chinese government. We would land in Beijing a little after midnight, China-time. Off we went to our next adventure.

Here are the links for our Facebook Photo Albums for our brief stay in Kuala Lumpur....

A Brief Stop in Kuala Lumpur

A Taste of Kuala Lumpur (Day Two)

Waiting Out The Rainstorm in KL 


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