KL to Pulau Perhentian

Up early, packed up — beach stuff & essentials like sunscreen and glasses in my day pack, everything else in the big bag to be checked. 
Missed the first (5am) airport train but did make the 5:20. Many lines at the airport, and no food options near my gate (alllll the way at the end of the concourse), but trekked back and picked up a sandwich with coconut cream. Just a little something to have with the anti-malaria medicine. 
Full but uneventful & on time flight to Kota Bharu. Asked at the information desk about how to get to Kuala Besut jetty. I’d been thinking of taking a bus, but she said it would take 3 hours and involve 2 transfers. Taxi was a fixed rate (78 ringgit). Still hungry, I stopped at an airport restaurant and had some noodles and Thai style tea. Carbilicious. By the time I attempted to find folks to share a taxi with, I was too late. Out of practice!
My driver was motivated, and after a hair-raising ride, dropped me at the right spot to pick up my boat ticket. 

Even though it was just 10am, and the reservation had been for an 11am boat, one was loading up, and after paying for the marine park entrance ticket, I was shepherded on. If I thought the car ride was exhilarating, the boat ride was more so. I was happy to have my dry bag with me, which I put my day pack (including iPhone) in, though we stayed remarkably dry, given the amount of air we caught, splashing across the waves. A group of young guys from KL were having great fun, taking lots of photos and videos. 

When I arrived at my hotel, my room wasn’t yet ready, but there was a bathroom where I could change (and hastily apply sunscreen through the sweat). Lunch, then snorkeling! 
They took us to 3 different spots, with beautiful reefs, clear water, and lots of colorful fish and giant clams. One fish I dubbed the ‘my little pony’ fish – it was light blue, purple, and pink, and had a big horsey mouth. 
When we got back, the Aussie helping out at the dive shop suggested a morning trip to a different spot. Sign me up!!
It wasn’t until after my post-snorkeling shower that I realized how burnt I was. Ouch. It hurt to sit down. Or wear pants. I called the front desk and told them that I was unfortunately going to have to bow out of the morning snorkeling trip. 
Liberal amounts of After Sun and Advil, and a/c in the room allowed me to sleep. That is, after I had to call the front desk to figure out how to turn off one of the bedside lamps. No, it wasn’t any of the 15 switches scattered around the room, which I had tried. Nor was there a switch hidden on the lamp itself. You just have to pull the bedside table away from the wall, like so, and then reach down and flip the switch on the plug down by the floor. Duh. 



Following a great nights sleep, I set out to explore Kuala Lumpur. But first: breakfast. And cash. The hotel concierge had suggested the nearby mall had better food options than the station, so I headed over to check it out. Although I’d been planning to get something more traditionally Malaysian, when I saw The Paddington House of Pancakes (and saw that they accepted credit cards), I decided it was fate, and stopped in. A savory pancake involving zucchini and onion and lamb, and a flat white later, I was back in search of an ATM. Found one in the station, and bought a train token to check out the Batu Caves. 

I wound up sitting in a “ladies only” car (why not?) and at one point asked the girl next to me if the guys sitting in the car were at risk of being fined. There were signs everywhere and frequent announcements, but the guys acted like they didn’t notice. I think they were European. The girl wasn’t sure – turned out she’s English, living in Singapore on an exchange program through her college, and just in KL for a couple of days, herself. 
The Batu caves were alright – plasticky dioramas in one, lots of monkeys outside another. Lots of steps to get up there, but there’s plenty of oxygen (as well as water) in the air, here. 
Back towards the city central – this time with even more men in the ladies-only car. Got out at the Kuala Lumpur station, and by the I got there it was pouring rain. After a couple of false starts, I found the (covered) walkway to the Pasar Seni station, and from there more covered walkways until I was very close to the National Textile Museum – and by then it had nearly stopped raining, so my little umbrella was enough. I poked around the museum for awhile – some interesting fabric techniques (including, of course, batik). 
Then I walked over to the Central Market (where I didn’t buy anything, but soaked up the a/c for a few minutes) and then over to Chinatown. While waiting to cross a major street to get to Petaling street, a young man asked me multiple times if he could take a selfie with me. 
Got out of Petaling street asap (super narrow walkways with stalls of counterfeit goods, not my thing). Then meandered over to Jalan Alor. Some of the sidewalks just disappeared mid-block and I found myself walking on the shoulder of a busy street with a fence between myself and the re-appearing sidewalk. Eventually I was able to cross over. 
Since it wasn’t yet 5, I stopped in at Coffee Box for a seat & cool-down (iced drink, and a fan, but not a/c) before eating. I wound up stopping at a place along Jalan Alor that served grilled stingray. The guy indicated that I should sit at one of the outdoor tables, but it was the only one without an umbrella, and being wary of another rainstorm, I asked if I could sit somewhere else. He wound up seating me inside, which was nearly empty. Not as good people watching, but a little more relaxing in terms of bag snatchers. 

The grilled stingray was very good!

I was getting pretty tired, so walked to a nearby monorail station and headed back to my hotel. Tried to check out the club lounge on one of the top floors to see if there was a cool view, but my room key didn’t give me access to that floor. The concierge let me go up to the top floor to see the views from there, but it wasn’t much different from my floor – a neighboring building blocked most of the view. So then I went next door to the Hilton and jumped into an elevator full of people and was able to press the top floor button. The elevator was full of people in kilts – there for the Highland Games, they said. Afterwards, I stopped by the (totally empty) poolside bar and had an overpriced watermelon juice, and then called it an early night. Big thunderstorm while I was tucked in. 
I like Kuala Lumpur. Developed, yet relaxed. And so green!

Malaysia arrival

Denver to Tokyo flight was long but uneventful. The flight included many US service men & women returning to their stations around Japan. In my row were an Air Force medical person and a marine f-18(?) mechanic. I watched a bunch of movies and napped a little. On the Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur flight, I had 3 seats to myself, so couldn’t resist lying down to sleep for a bit. Watched a couple more movies. Everything seems to be about outer space or jazz.  

Arrived in KL more or less on time, just before midnight, and breezed through immigration and customs. I spotted a cluster of ATMs, but all were down for maintenance. Someone suggested that there were more up on the 5th floor, but the person at the information desk said they would ALL be down until 1am for maintenance, and the last train into the city leaves at 1am. Fortunately, the KLIA express tickets could be purchased with a credit card!
Boarded the 12:30am express train. I smell like citronella due to my fashionable bracelet, but I hate mosquito bites so I’m taking every precaution. Even in the city. 

Announcements on the train about technical difficulties with the a/c, and also we would be a bit delayed, but got to KL Sentral just after 1am. Got pointed in the right direction and checked into my swanky hotel. Lovely shower, then sleep. Zzz.