Kuala Lumpur long weekend – Sunday

We had a nice, relaxing end to our weekend getaway. We had breakfast in the hotel, and then just chillaxed in our hotel room until check-out at noon. I read more of Andre Agassi’s autobiography; he’s now with Steffi Graf. I’m nearing the end of the book, which is a little sad actually, coz I’m really enjoying the book and I don’t want it to end. He was a bit of a jerk at some of his tournaments, and he knows it, but he wrote about those incidents in a way that they have come across as amusing in the book more than anything else ๐Ÿ˜‚

We grabbed some lunch and then did a bit of shopping at 1 Utama Shooping Centre before making our way to the airport.

Flight was uneventful – which is not a bad thing! I read for most of the flight, and slept the rest of the time. We had to do a few circles in the air, as there was a bit of a back-up at Changi, apparently. My friend tracked my flight, and here is his screenshot of the loop-de-loop:

Yes, we’re trackers! ๐Ÿ˜‚

And then we finished the evening with a few more episodes of Game of Thrones. We’re nearing the end of season four!

Ahhh… Always nice to go away. Now, back to reality…

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Kuala Lumpur long weekend – Saturday

We didn’t really do much in the morning but eat ๐Ÿ˜‚ We had a coffee at Brasserie Fritz, their coffee was actually quite nice. I’m always surprised when Asia makes a good coffee, since it’s not quite their specialty. Much like if an Italian makes a good wonton noodle, I’d be just as impressed ๐Ÿ˜‚

After our coffee, we went and had a two-part lunch: a yong tau foo of sorts, and then afterwards a stall renowned for its roast pork belly. Now for someone who is so far from a foodie it’s not funny, even I noticed the superior quality of the food at these two places.

Yap Hup Kee ๅถๅˆ่ฎฐ for the yong tau foo

Wong Mei Kee ็Ž‹็พŽ่ฎฐ for the roast pork belly

We then made our way to our second hotel in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. We did a bit of shopping in the afternoon before having dinner at Auntie Sim.

And then after dinner, we headed up to Stratosphere, a rooftop bar, for a quick drink, before heading back to our room and calling it quits for the day.

Come to think of it, we didn’t do much at all today but eat and drink ๐Ÿ˜‚ But hey, we’re on a weekend holiday for some R&R, so we’re doing exactly as planned ๐Ÿ˜Š

Kuala Lumpur long weekend – Friday

I’ve been up since 6am. By 8am, I had my first cup of coffee and I was only just starting to feel normal. Sighhh… Mornings and night owls do not mix ๐Ÿ˜” We are flying with some friends, a husband and wife, and their baby, and we’re going by the baby’s schedule, hence the ridiculously early morning flight. Well, a 9am flight is ridiculously early for me ๐Ÿ˜†

The flight is just as long as a flight from Sydney to Canberra. And the plane required to travel such a distance is also domestic-size. I was just settling into my seat and enjoying my second cup of coffee for the day (I seriously need the caffeine if I have to be up so damn early!) when the second officer announces over the PA system that we will be landing shortly ๐Ÿคฃ ๐Ÿคฃ We had pretty much just taken off and now we were landing already! It’s like the plane will only have time to make a triangle in the air ๐Ÿ›ซ ๐Ÿ”ผ ๐Ÿ›ฌ

After the very short plane ride, we then caught the train to KL Sentral, and from there, a cab to the hotel. The express train was pretty quick, actually, and quite a comfortable ride. The scenery out the window was basically palm trees galore. Very green.

๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด

Our room wasn’t ready yet when we arrived at the hotel, so we made our way to Petronas Towers before checking in. That was a nice view up there. The Palace of Culture was one of my favourite architectural marvels that I could see from up there. This is the best shot I could take given the distance and the quality of my camera – ie from my phone!

Palace of Culture

I would’ve liked to have had more time up there, as somehow it got away from me. I just got to wander around and look at the different buildings all around KL, but I barely got to look at any of the displays on the viewing floor itself, or even muck around with the virtual reality display. I think each group is allotted 20-30 mins, but it felt like half that to me. Oh well. Nonetheless, it was fun while we were there.

Then we got to experience the joy of KL traffic on a Friday afternoon during peak hour, travelling back to our hotel. Still not as bad as Manila, but definitely not that great. It took us maybe close to 40mins to travel 1.5km. And that doesn’t even include the waiting time for the Grab car to reach us (probably an additional 20mins on top of that!). We could’ve walked that in less time! ๐Ÿ˜”

Once we settled in to our hotel rooms, we then headed down to Jalan Alor for dinner. It’s a street food night market, with a bajillion stalls to choose from. If you wanted to, I reckon you could spend weeks (months?!) here, trying out each and every stall.

My Hail Mary shot of Jalan Alor

The boys then went for a massage, while the girls had an early night. So here I am writing today’s post a littler earlier than usual ๐Ÿ˜Š

So our first day in KL:

  • We got to visit Petronas Towers;
  • We experienced KL peak hour traffic; and
  • We got to eat at Jalan Alor

Not bad ๐Ÿ‘

And despite the very early morning start, I am still somewhat ok at 10:30pm. I might read a bit more of Andre Agassi’s book tonight before bed ๐Ÿ˜Š

Second day trip to Malaysia

We went over to Malaysia for another day trip today. We’re becoming experts at this whole crossing over the bridge thing ๐Ÿ˜† Well, not quite. Read on. ๐Ÿ˜”

We had yet another productive day working on Ballroom. I feel like our waltz is much better now, even if I do say so myself ๐Ÿ˜Š The judges and our teacher may say otherwise, but I’m happy nonetheless. The other dances… well… They’re slowlyyy coming together too, I guess ๐Ÿ˜†

It started pouring just when we were about to head over to the immigration checkpoint to go back home, so we were concerned that the ridiculously long queues at immigration would be even worse. So we decided to hang out at one of the shopping malls near immigration and have dinner there, while we wait for the rain to subside. N decided to go and have a massage afterwards as well, while I just waited and wrote some of this post ๐Ÿ˜Š Why didn’t I get a massage too, you’re probably wondering. Good question! I guess they’re just not my thing, I’m not sure why. I’d much rather be spending that time reading or writing, which is exactly what I did.

Well waiting for the rain to subside didn’t seem to have helped. The trip home was a complete nightmare, and was definitely much longer than last week’s. The powers that be just wanted to give us a good experience the first time over, perhaps?! ๐Ÿค” There was queue after queue, and it took us over three hours to get home!! ๐Ÿ˜ฑEven with the special immigration pass (which we don’t have), although you skip the long queues at immigration, you would still have to queue up for a bus to get across the bridge. We actually considered walking across (which is probably a few kms) given the ridiculous queues for a bus. But we’d spent so much time in the snaking queue already that it felt it would be a waste to give up our spot after having already waited for about 45 minutes.

If the buses are in such short supply and you have to wait HOURS to get back home, I don’t understand why people would even bother to make this trip at all, unless it was out of sheer necessity. Or you’re on holidays. Yeah it’s cheaper over in Malaysia and all, but then you lose half your day/night just waiting in queues, so you pay for it with your time instead. Either way you pay. I guess it’s up to the individual how they want to pay.

At least it was a relatively cool day today, so we weren’t dying from the usual heat and humidity. Coz immigration isn’t very well air conditioned and the bus queues are OUTSIDE. At least the home stretch (SG immigration) is much cooler. And once on the SG side, the queue for our particular bus back home is considerably shorter than any of the other bus queues for some reason. And luckily we got the bus! Since everything took soooo long, we were concerned we’d miss the last bus for the day and we’d have to either wait yet again in one of the other queues or pay for a cab back home.

If we plan on doing this day trip more often in future, I’d have to do some more research on how to best get back to SG. Coz this ain’t cool. In all senses of the word.

Oh but on the upside, the public toilets at the shopping mall that we were at tonight weren’t too bad! Not great either, but not too bad ๐Ÿ˜† I was a bit hasty in generalising last time ๐Ÿ˜Š

Hermione and a trip to Bishan

It was a full house in Chinese class this morning. I think it was the first time this year that all of us were in the same room together ๐Ÿ˜ฒ I always wonder if the teacher gets frustrated with us. He asked if anyone had any questions with their homework, and the general response was “I didn’t do my homework” hahaha I was the only one who did my homework! I sometimes feel like a Hermione in that class ๐Ÿค“ So he quickly checked my homework, reading through in five seconds what took me probably at least an hour to do, omg. I guess it’d be the same if I was reading the equivalent in English so I shouldn’t be so surprised, but still! So I reckon we’re probably at primary school level, if that, so you can get a bit of an idea at what level we’re learning (ie pretty damn basic stuff! ๐Ÿ˜ณ)

We went to Bishan in the evening to go check out the karate national team selection, but apparently it was a closed door event (why?!), so that was a bit of a waste of a trip out there. So we had dinner in the area instead and just went home. That was a bit of a disappointing way to end the day. Hopefully our second trip back over the bridge to Malaysia tomorrow will be better ๐Ÿ˜Š

Japanese groceries and an expensive membership fee

I went to Meidiya today, a Japanese grocery store here. In similar vein to the salt (see yesterday’s post ๐Ÿ˜†), we’d also run out of brown rice ๐Ÿ˜ณ and Meidiya stocks the brand that I like. Ironically though, I bought a completely different brand anyway ๐Ÿคช

I was also hoping that they stocked this matcha au lait instant coffee that I first tried in Japan when we were there last year. It’s like a latte but infused with matcha green tea flavour. I can’t remember if I mentioned it? But I absolutely loved it and I couldn’t get enough of it while we were there. So I told myself to go and check Meidiya when we return to SG to see if they stocked it there.

img_5327-1 And they do! I found it! I was so excited! But I’d already had two coffees today, which is already double what I normally have, so I have to leave the matcha au lait for another day. That is, tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜Š

I also decided to FINALLY become a library member today. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this decision. I think it was the relatively expensive annual fee levied on foreigners here. I’ve never had to pay for library membership before, so it was quite a mental obstacle for me to overcome. But one of my goals this year is to read more, and paying the annual fee will be much cheaper than buying all the books that I want to read. Further, I now feel compelled to read even more, just to make sure I get my money’s worth from this annual fee that I just paid.

So I borrowed this book on trading that I’ve been wanting to read for aaaages now. And based on the price on Amazon, I would almost have already paid for my library membership with this one book alone. So I’m not feeling too bad anymore ๐Ÿ˜Š But yes, the downside is that I can’t make notes like I would be able to in my own copy. Nor can I just go back to it for future reference. So borrowing these sorts of books may not be the best thing, but for now, making my own notes while I’m reading will have to suffice. It’s also making me finish the book as quickly as possible, as I have to return it in three weeks’ time. So hopefully as the year progresses, I’ll get through a whole heap of books (ideally more than what I thought would be possible for me to finish in a year ๐Ÿ˜‰), and eventually get a good return from this “investment” of mine ๐Ÿ˜Š

First trip to Johor Bahru!

We took our first trip over to Malaysia today. I was rather excited and a little nervous at the same time. I still find it quite amazing that simply going over a bridge lands you in a completely different country.

But it’s not like you can just wander back and forth willy nilly ๐Ÿ˜‚: there are immigration checkpoints on BOTH sides. And we got to experience both a quiet time (5-10min wait) and a busy time (at least half an hour ๐Ÿ˜ฒ). Apparently there’s a fast track immigration clearance system called MACS (Malaysian Automated Clearance System) for Singaporeans and us proxies, which allows you to go through a separate – and much faster – immigration line on the Malaysian side. A very good idea if you plan on going back and forth quite regularly; saves your passport from filling up really quickly too, as it is still stamped each and every time you head over. However, it costs S$35 at the time of writing this. I’m not sure if we’ll be heading over THAT often for this to be good value. And the application process is apparently a bit inconvenient: we’ve been told the in-person process takes four hours, and then another two day wait for the process to be completed. But if they’re open on the weekend, I guess we could live with a one-off inconvenience for a year’s worth of convenience at the Malaysian immigration checkpoint. So we have to figure out whether the time and money investment will be worth it…

We did have a very good day practising, though. The studio floor was huge (which is great for Ballroom), and we pretty much had the floor to ourselves all morning. But today was a one-off, and although we plan on doing the exact same thing again next Sunday, I don’t know how often we’d head over the water after that. Maybe if we went over for some more touristy stuff, I may change my mind ๐Ÿ˜Š

But the toilet situation, unfortunately, was a bit disappointing. For some reason, I was expecting similar standards as Singapore, but it’s not quite the same… ๐Ÿค” And the limited amount of research I did AFTER I visited the women’s toilets in the shopping mall that we were at, seemed to indicate that the toilets in this mall were actually quite GOOD ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I’ll let you do your own research if you plan on visiting so you can prepare accordingly, and allow you to set a bit more of an expectation. Just don’t do what I did, going in blindly, and where I pretty much walked in expecting SG standards / “processes” ๐Ÿ˜” Lesson for the day: don’t make assumptions!!

Notwithstanding the toilet situation, it was a good but very tiring day, and overall, I’m glad we went over. We’re going back again next Sunday, so hopefully we get to see a little bit more of Johor Bahru outside of the dance studio and the immigration checkpoint ๐Ÿ˜†