Goodbye China and hello Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur to be exact. I took China Southern airlines direct to KL. – The flight was approximately 5 hours direct. Luckily for me I a bulk head seat so it went by uneventful.

Here we are staying at the Westin Kuala Lumpur which is across the street from the nicest shopping mall in the city and next door to the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. This Westin is considered to be one of the top hotels in Malaysia and is quite busy. Since Malaysia is Muslim there are a lot of Indian influences on the menu. The General Manager actually came down to greet me and told me that their chef is a restaurant background chef and that the food here is quite good. I rolled my eyes at this because all GM’s say this about their chef’s and how good they are and most of the time it just doesn’t hold true. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning and sat down for a snack in the restaurant as soon as I arrived. I had a couple of Indian items from the menu and much to my surprise they were pretty tasty. Irene came to KL on another flight and was supposed to have plans that night. I was surprised to get a phone call from her hearing that her plans were cancelled and do I want to go with her to dinner. Having just eaten I told her I would go with her but was not going to eat. She and I walked about 10 minutes out of the hotel to an outdoor marketing stall area that had a wide selection of foods to choose from. They all had their little indoor seating areas behind their little makeshift kitchens. Irene found a place she was familiar with and settled into ordering. All the food items had pictures of what was being offered. She ordered me a BBQed chicken wing which is very different than what we get in the States…but equally as tasty. This wing was very much right off the chicken. I can’t remember all of what Irene had but it was an eggplant dish, noodle dish and I think she had something else. I just had a fresh cut up mango and some fresh squeezed mango juice. Afterwards I called it an evening because I had some work to do back in the states.

Friday morning arrived and I met Irene downstairs for breakfast. The hotel brags that their breakfast which is included in the room rate is a breakfast experience. Spending about 200 nights in hotels I once again rolled my eyes at this. All chef’s and hotels feel their breakfast is the best or their brunch is the best. This is the part where I need everyone to listen closely to this. THEY WERE RIGHT! THEY DO OFFER A BREAKFAST EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER. This was unbelievable and no other hotel that I have stayed at comes close to matching what they do. Folks, I don’t even know where to begin with this – Virgin Bloody Mary station, 4 types of fresh squeezed juice right before your eyes in addition to a juice station, a station that offers meats being cooked fresh in addition to any variety of egg you desire. After that there is an action station doing fresh Indian food along with several types of Indian food, next there is a big noodle soup bar in addition to more Indian/Muslim food, Chinese foods and Japanese food…am I done yet…not even close as this is a breakfast experience….walk further back into the bar area and there is a natural food station area – this selections here are a bit ackward but there are some clever moments. Part of the toast station has a real live honeycomb that they buy from a honeymaker in the mountain area of Malaysia. It is so elegant – once thing I have noticed since being here is that honey is a big thing and is sold everywhere…not done yet – then you walk into another section a whole other room and there are over THIRTY – count them THIRTY different types of breads, rolls, Danish, donuts etc all displayed beautifully, in this area there are 12 different types of cereal, cheeses, hard meats, crackers, fruit smoothie bar being made fresh, fresh cut fruit, someone making fresh waffles, French croissant being baked in front of your eyes and finally a display case of several savory goodies that are warmed up right in front of – oh an various small jars of fruit compote for you to try. THIS MY FRIENDS IS A TRUE BREAKFAST EXPERIENCE – once again – is part of the room rate…Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Marriot, other Starwoods you all don’t even in your wildest dreams hold a candle to this – read it and weep.

A couple of other things you will notice being in KL is that it has a heavy Arab community visiting. We asked Joanne the DOC who is handling our group about this and she said that actually their Arab guest count is off by about 25% from last year. Didn’t look it to me. It is always so interesting watching another culture. There are 2 types of Arab women that we see..and I don’t mean to sound disrespectful on this – but 1 type is dressed in all black gown to the ground and even their face is covered. Just a little slit for the eyes. These woman are always walking with their husbands holding their arm as I think at times it can be a bit tricky. Their face veils don’t have a space for their mouth so they have to eat their food under their veil. I am sure they are used to it but at first it has to be a bit ackward to do. The second is a woman in black and has her face exposed but her head is covered. Irene and I sat next to an Arab couple at breakfast the other day. This man and woman barely spoke at all. The girl looked bored out of her mind. Most of these marriages are arranged and all of these women walk around with the most stylish of pocketbooks. What we did notice is how much food they wasted. Both of them was sitting with HUGE and I mean HUGE plates of breakfast pastries that went untouched. When we asked a hotel person about this they told us that when the Arabs come and stay that they often really trash the rooms and they don’t clean up after themselves. It typical of them to be so wasteful. That is when we were told that many of them visit KL because it is cheaper. In the day you would see this traffic in London in the summer time. But even with the economy they are seeing a drop in traffic and we were told that the designer stores across the street are also seeing the same thing.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Irene and I had our hotel meeting to review all the specifics for the meeting. We did go to the huge mall to do a little shopping. We didn’t get anything just more looking around. This mall is really nice and huge with all the designer stores. We did go to the grocery store and I got some sour cherry juice. It is really quite good. In the evening time after dinner we went for what?? You guessed it to the spa. In KL they have what is called the fish spa. We paid $94 ringles which his equivalent to $22 – USD for 30 min. fish spa; 30 minute back rub and 45 min foot rub. This fish spa is a must do in KL but it is a bit on the freaky side. Anyone who watches the travel channel has probably seen this. There are 3 different fish tanks in the fish spa – 1 being small fish, second medium fish and 3rd larger fish. And when I say larger fish I mean this tank has fish that are about 3 to 4 inches long. You basically stick your feet in the tank and the fish eat the dead cells off your feet and calves. It is such a weird feeling having all these fish nibbling at your feet. We started off with the larger fish and I started girl screaming as it was weird and keep in mind you have about 20 fish on each foot and they were nibbling a little too hard for my liking – so Irene being the gracious gal that she is moved me to the medium size fish where I seemed to settle down a bit. She then got a phone call from her boyfriend and she is yapping away to him about she yells at me to look. There was a dead fish floating between our feet that wasn’t there a second ago. We were joking that our feet were so bad we were killing the fish. Gosh that got us giggling. The rest of the massage went by peaceful and relaxing. We plan on going back for more before we leave.

Saturday – yeah my first day off in a couple of weeks. Irene left to go visit with her family for the rest of the weekend. In enters Paul. Paul works for Honeywell and is a specialist in fuel systems on airliner airplanes. He was with us in China and now is in KL to present to airliners on his speciality. A lot of the other Honeywell folks are spending their weekend in Singapore – but Paul didn’t have a reason to go there prior and came on to KL. Paul is what I call a soft sole of a human being. Very kind, easy to be around and a very nice person to dangling with for a weekend. He has been with Honeywell for 32 years and is extremely well versed in the airplane industry. We grab a cab to go to the market place and then onto the Chinese market which is a couple of blocks apart. Both markets offer different things but at the end of the day it is all shopping for this and that. We have a really nice time walking around both markets and we both ended up buying things at the market place. It is a lot less crowded and people don’t hassle you. The one thing I bought a ton of are beautiful silk scarves. They make fabulous gifts and don’t take up any room in the suitcase. There was also this amazing pottery kiosk that has very kool- thoughtful pottery. We both end up buying some things from there along with other goodies along the way. The Chinese market is on the street, very crowded and people hassling the heck out of you. We didn’t get anything from there other than I bought some cut up mangos in a bag for the both of us. The cost of that was .28 cents per mango. Afterwards we pay a cab driver to take us to a couple of different destinations to take some pictures and we come back to the hotel. I talk Paul into having a snack with me in the restaurant where we try a couple more Indian foods. The one thing at the Westin is they all were a name tag that says what their passion is. Oddly enough a lot of the staff likes “to BOWL” how funny is that. Who knew bowling would be big in Malaysia. Paul then tells me quite a bit about what he does with the airlines and it is all very interesting. He is definitely your “go to” guy to find out what airlines keep their maintenance up and those who are a little lax on it. Unfortunately because I asked the question I found out the airline that I am taking back to the states could be a little more forthcoming in their maintenance.

That is my story for now and I am sticking to it.

Claire

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