Posts Tagged With: Lonely Planet

A Walking Trek of Kuala Lumpur

I actually think I walked ten clicks today, or more! There is a certain satisfaction to navigating yourself around a new city, especially one as confusing as Kuala Lumpur!  I had some walking tours outlined in my trusty Lonely Planet, but decided to save them till later and check out the landmark that is the Petronas Towers, once the tallest twin towers in Asia.  I figured out I could walk there, and decided to make the 20 minute trek over to see them myself.  As I walked, I stumbled upon the Tourist Center, and decided to go in to change the 200 or so Philippine Pesos I had in my wallet (about 17 rinngit worth but hey I didn’t want to hit another Malaysian ATM before heading to Aus!) Luckily I stumbled upon a chocolate shop and was treated to 6 or 7 samples along with all the other Asian tourists on the bus tour that I wasn’t on 😉 Nobody needed to know that!

My next stop was the twin towers.  They were pretty impressive as I walked up, and after a few minutes of figuring out where to buy tickets, I found out that they were sold out for the day and NOT free as my two-year old guidebook had said. Grrr! Oh well. I saw them from the ground!  They were cool!  After feeling like a schmo in walking in the fancy mall for a while, I hit the streets again and found myself on Bukit Bintang, the shopping and tourist district of KL. I wandered in and out of shops, feeling harassed by massage ladies, taxi drivers and salespeople alike, and took refuge in a giant mall with about a thousand kiosks selling every single imagineable item know to man.  I found a cheap meal in there, Black pepper beef and rice, along with a scalding hot coffee.  As I moved back out onto the street, I managed to get myself a bit lost and as I wandered, I just took in this big noisy dirty city with its walls of traffic and construction, and luckily got spit out only a few blocks from my current place of residence, Reggae Mansion.  I went inside to escape the heat and after a mid-afternoon shower and nap, I was ready to spend my evening in Chinatown, where I took in the covered Central Market and uncovered Petaling Street, where counterfeit bags were the order of the day.  I couldn’t help myself, I joined in and bought a fake Tory Burch clutch.  Oops! Dinner was soup noodles (surprise, surprise) and as night was rapidly approaching, I hurried back to my hostel as I didn’t feel safe on the streets of KL, having been followed last night.
The next day was my last full day in Asia, and I spent most of it planning for the adventures ahead!  I found a comfy spot in the hostel with good wifi, and booked my bus trips for the next two weeks in Australia, along with some of the sightseeing attractions that were booked in along with my pass.  I soon figured out that these places were a lot farther than I thought from each other, and groaned when I realized I had to take an eighteen hour bus ride at one point in order to fit it all in and make my flight to Sydney from Cairns at the end of the month.  Ugh!
To clear my hear, I headed out to the hustle and bustle of KL one more time, this time to Little India to peruse the night market that was just getting started and find some rice and chicken dish to celebrate my last evening in Asia.  I was feeling nostalgic and actually enjoyed the crush of people, smells and tastes for once, as it would be the last time in a long while I would experience the uniqueness of SE Asia’s flavors.  That night was tough to sleep as I was worried/excited for the next morning’s trip.  I was leaving the continent for a completely new place, filled with people I love and tons of new adventures!! Bring it!
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Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manic, Muggy Manila

Wahoo!  I am finally out of Palawan!! To be fair, the place did grow on me after a few days, it’s a super cute if not smelly place, and its very cultural for someone who wants to experience the real Filipino way of life, I met some great locals and made new friends, so I can’t say it was all bad.  I was just ready to leave and am soooo excited for Malaysia + Singapore, having bought a Lonely Planet and started reading all about the places I’m going!!

I flew out of Palawan around 1pm and got to Manila without a hitch.  I’m staying with some mutual friends here, who turned out to be excellent hosts and great company as well 🙂  I got to their gorgeous penthouse condo, and there just happened to be a birthday in the house, so we went out to celebrate my new friend Marshalls Bday!  After the first decent shower I’ve had in weeks, we went out to the Sofitel, a very fancy hotel on the bay, doesn’t look like much from the outside, but man was it ever nice inside!  We played some pool while waiting for our table, and had a great ( if not expensive) dinner while swapping travel stories.
The next day I was on my own as my new friends had to work, so I ventured out into the sprawling big city by myself in search of adventure.  Instead of adventure I found a pancake house for breakfast and settled for that, lol.  Everything is so Americanized here! There is TONS of fast food, A Mcdonalds on every corner, and I even found a Starbucks to satisfy my caffeine craving!  Not quite the authentic experience I was looking for, but the Philippines was an american colony for 50 years and before that belonged to spain for 400 years, so it truly is woven into the culture here.  A hybrid mix of old and new which struck me as strange but, hey, its part of their legacy here!
I ignored the shouts and catcalls of the many touts and guys and duders and security guards and walked along the big, dirty, dangerous, smelly streets.  Seriously everyone shouts hello at you, whats your name, where are you from, where are you going….you get the picture.  I just smile and pretend not to speak english. I`ve got nothing against meeting the locals, in fact i love it but they way they approach me makes me feel threatened so i just play dumb.  I found myself at Rizal park, the place where Filipino independence was declared, and although its majestic, its basically just a big fancy park.  i got lost after that trying to find the historic district, and luckily got approached by a sweet lady tout, Mary Jane, who told me I was going the wrong way and offered to give me a tour of Intramuros, the `city within the walls` which is the oldest area in Manila.  I got into the sidecar and had a really enjoyable few hours in the old city, checking out all the old buildings, forts, and museums that I could handle, and talked to MJ about her life in Manila, which is hard but she was super cheery about it and assured me that it was way better here than her life of poverty in the country. She overcharged me for the tour but at that point I really didn’t care, so I gave her 700 pesos (about $18) and decided to check out some of the newer parts of Manila.  I swear I could have walked faster than the taxi that took me to Robinson’s Place, the traffic in this city is actually the WORST.  Add the smog and the heat to that, and , about ten million people, and you have one big dirty mess on your hands.  Still, it is an interesting city and I`m glad I made the effort to stop here.  I even saw my first prostitute deal go down!  A tiny Filipino girl and a big American dude – go figure.
At the mall, I experienced a new kind of culture shock – i felt like I was in America again!  Everywhere I looked were american brands, stores, and chains.  But it all came with some distinctly Filipino touches, lots of kiosks selling Filipino food and drinks, the strangest assortment of foods, and pretty much anything you can dream of was available in this mall.  I ate some delicious Pho (Vietnamese, Not Filipino, so sue me) and successfully maneuvered my way back to Bayview towers, a small accomplishment but I was still proud of myself!!
As I walked back, I noticed two more things – one is the huge population of transgendered men and women in Manila – the concept of gender is very fluid here and nobody seems to blink or care as lipsticked men and butchy women mingle and go about their business.  Its awesome!  The second thing that I saw was absolute poverty everywhere – people living on the streets, sifting through the garbage and living hand to mouth. It was hard to see, and while i was busy feeling sorry for them a whole family noticed me, broke into huge smiles, waving, saying hi and being super friendly and polite.  Wow.  To have such a happy, upbeat attitude for what they had, it really gave me a new perspective.  i waved and smiled back, gave the littlest one some change I had, and continued my way to my penthouse, feeling infinitely luckier than before.
My lovely hosts made me dinner that night, thank you Duncan and Marshall for taking such good care of me in Manila!  i went to bed early and was up at 4:30 am to grab a cab to the airport and flew to Kuala Lumpur without a hitch. My Malaysian and Singapore adventure was just beginning!!
Categories: Phillipines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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