Sunday, August 23, 2009

Malaysia Trip August 2009

We had a 4 day offsite, a trip to Malaysia sponsored by Google. The offsite started on Friday evening as some of us departed from Hyd to Chennai to KUL while others took HYD- KUL flight.

The Flights and arrival:
HYD-Chennai was Kingfisher red and Chennai - KUL was from Jet Airways. It turns out that the Jet Airways flight was the best among the flight including the return journey from KUL-HYD through Malaysian airlines. Malaysian airlines 4.5 hours flight didn't have on-demand video and it sucked bigtime, though the inflight service was not bad.

We arrive in KUL airport by around 7 AM and waited for the HYD flight to arrive. The immigration at the KUL airport was swift. On the airport we were able to buy cellone prepaid cards for (3.5 RM + min 5 RM talktime, withtalk time to india being .52 RM per miinute).

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


We then set off for the hotel in the volvo like AC bus which was the standard bus all over Kualalumpur. Its about a 1.5 hrs drive from the Airport to the city center, where we stayed at Imperial Sheraton hotel. Pretty tired we all decided to take rest after the breakfast and meet for lunch.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009




The lunch and dinner over the next three days turned out to be pretty much Indian food, something many of us disliked, I for one being a vegetarian couldn't complain much but thought we could have tried veg asian cuisines. It looked to me that food lovers can find any kind of food they wanted in the city with lots of cuisine specific restaurants around.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


The First Day: Batu Caves and Fireflies tour

After lunch we proceeded to Batu caves which hosts a famous Hindu temple along with a very tall gold plated idol of a hindu God. The caves were magnificent in size and beauty. They must have been like 100 ft high caves with quite a few stalactites and stalagmites formations around the corners. The actual temples aren't that big and you might forget to notice them as they occupy just small corners of the very big caves. Some ppl decided to take the tour of the smaller dark(er) caves nearby, I choose not to. People were mostly disappointed by the same.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


Post Batu caves we went to see the Firefly show at ........ this place was another long ride out of the city. The place didn't look anything special until it got dark and when we sat on boats to take the tour. Then it was plain beautiful, on both sides of the water body there were tons of fireflies blinking giving a twinkling yellow light formation as if like a christmas tree. I have seen these creatures earlier when I stayed in Sarni but their numbers here were just unimaginable. A trivia about Firefly is that the female firefly eats away the male after mating.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


In the evening a few of us went to the Hard Rock cafe and enjoyed the place quite a lot. There was live music for most of the time and they did play pretty popular pop songs instead of just Rock music all the time. The interesting thing I noticed was that the price of drinks was getting cheaper as time passed. At the end they had a offer of 10 RM for a tequila. Later our guide told us more details about the liquors in Malaysia. Seemingly they make quite a bit of drinks inhouse specially the Tequilas there by keeping the cost less. Wines and Whiskies are usually imported and therefore costly. Seemingly a 750 ml of Tequila could start from 30 RM while that of whisky and wine may start from 80 RMs. More interesting the liquors sell stops after 7 PM and is only available from selected store with licenses there is no concept of wine shops here in Malaysia.

The Second Day: Genting Highlands
The next day we headed to Genting Higlands. This place was about 2 hrs away from our hotel. I didn't know much about the place, turned out it was a theme park with rides. Pretty disappointing for those who have been to Six Flags, Universal Studio or Disneyland in Los Angeles. The rides weren't great to say the least. The most interesting according to me was the Swinger ride which was the first ride we all took, the flying coaster looked promising but ended too quickly. Quite a few rides have weight limits like the bumpy boats( a variation of bumpy cars). There is a also a casino, which is a decent sized one. The tables started from 25 RM for blackjack and 10 RM for Roulette.


From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


Some of us decided to use the time after lunch to visit a nearby resort which offered Trekking in the forest. The trek was a pretty simple one but pretty scenic. We didn't see a lot of animals or plans besides the bamboo plants and normal shrubs and few leeches but could hear sounds of a few birds/animals from nearby.
From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009



The Third Day: Port Dickson Beach
The Third day was planed to be at Sunway Lagoon but we decided on second days' evening that may be we should try the beach instead (I guess AH1N1 played some role). We therefore went to Port Dickson beach which was the closest (120KM) from KUL. It tooks us about 90 minutes to reach. Choosing the beach turned out to be a great idea. We enjoyed playing Football first, then Praveen and I went for Water Scootering which many decided to do afterwards, we also choose to do the bumpy boat ride on a 3 person bumpy boat which turned out to be the most thrilling ride I ever took. It was definitely more thrilling than water scootering even though I got off the scooter once and got by on myself. Everyone who took the ride enjoyed it thoroughly but no one would agree to do it again :) I would say, that was too much of adventure for a single day :D

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


This day we had lunch at Pizza hut which thankfully gave us one veggie pizza option. I loved it after all I have survived on Margarita pizza for couple of days in Europe this was better topped and was just one time affair :) After the meal we headed back we tried visiting KL tower that day but got delayed in traffic and decided to push it for next day. Though Sunset is supposedly the best time to be there on the tower (and with you loved one, or someone u want to be become your loved one as the Tower's audio guide suggested :)) Some ppl got down at the Central market. We realized next day that thats the place you should go for shopping instead of the Mid valley mall. The dinner was a Aryan hotel in downtown, pretty good.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


The Forth Day: City Tour of Kuala-lumpur
Next day was the City tour. We went to Patronas tower which we have already been visiting for past 2-3 days/nights for photos. You can't visit much of the tower other than the entrance in the Surya KLCC building which is at the bottom of the towers. The skybridge is actually open for tours but we couldn't get a tour as it was all full. Supposedly you should get the ticket at 8:30 AM if u want to be sure.

From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


From Malaysia Trip Aug 2009


Next we visiting the KL tower, we spent about 1/2 hr listening to audio tapes and gazing the city from this tower, they view is superb. The tower is about 1052 feet and the elevator takes about 50 seconds pretty good isn't it ? We also went to Kings Palace which we only watched from Outside the gate and couldn't really get a good view nor photos. At this point we were already lagging behind schedule to go to shopping. The guide dropped us the Mid Valley mall. As I mentioned earlier that isn't really a place to go for shopping as a tourist specially if you are looking for soveiniers/T-shirt. Luckily after asking a lot of ppl we found our "I <3 Malaysia" t-shirt on First floor at central court at Giordano shop.

That was about it. We left for the airport from the Mall.

Interesting facts:
1) South East Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia are famous for Water sports and beaches don't miss them.
2) Malaysia has a literacy rate of about 98.5% (up from about 40% at independence) and a democratic government which has been ruling continuously for 52 years since independence. The government is popular because of its policies in terms of education and medical facilities (almost everything is paid by the state when it comes to medical treatment).
3) Malaysia is quite a modern country but is conservative in some regards, please inquire local customs to avoid getting in trouble, PDA could get you in trouble for sure :)