To sum up the trip, part 2
After a week by the pool we traveled to Kuala Lumpur, which was a contrast to the relaxed Dolphin Bay. As I wrote earlier the place seems to be under constant building and re-building boom. Despite the construction sites, almost two million inhabitants and traffic jams, Kuala Lumpur lacked some of the cliché type characteristics of big city: the pace of the city seemed relaxed, people were friendly and the distances to places worth of visiting weren’t that far from our hotel. And city is clean, at least compared to Bangkok or even to some European big cities.
The biggest surprise about KL was that it didn’t feel so badly polluted as it must be. This is how it felt, not how it really is. My guess is that the almost daily rains clear up the air, but I can only image how bad the smog was during the forest fires in Indonesia. It was advised in the hotel book not to go for jog outdoors because the air is so polluted, but KLCC park seemed nice place for a run and there were people going about the exercise (I did my exercise in the hotel’s so-called gym).
So, what did we do while in KL? We saw Butterfly Park and Bird Park in Lake Gardens, did short visit to Chinatown (walked down Petaling Street and had supper in reggae bar), did some shopping in Bukit Bintang area and Mid-Valley Mall, went to the Aquaria and walked in the KLCC park to see the Petronas Twin towers.
Bird Park was definitely worth of visit, though I wasn’t pleased when the staff of ice cream kiosk started feeding the birds. I like to have birds bit further away while enjoying icy delicacy. Aquaria was OK despite the fact that it was smaller than I had thought it would be. Mid-Valley Mall had more shops for my taste and budget, it would have been lovely to go there without the kids. Curly Girl and Experienced Asia Traveler dipped into the hotel pool one day, so that got tested too. So, we did and saw pretty much what we had planned to do and see.
Down to the river
Before coming back home we spent few days in Bangkok. To be honest, I don’t know what to write or think about the place. While we were there the riots were getting bigger and the whole situation started slowly escalate (the weekend after we left things got violent for first time since it all started). So, that made us bit careful when going around town, even though we hadn’t planned on any big museums and temples tour. We saw protesters around the town and policemen in their heavy gear from hotel window, but for example our cab rides weren’t slowed down because of them.
Also three days in a city like Bangkok is too little time to get some kind of general idea of the place. We took the river cruise down the Chao Phraya river and it was nice, even though it wasn’t what I had expected it to be, but then again I’m not sure what I had expected of it. We got off at station near Khao San Road and walked from there to see the famous street. That was our sightseeing part of the city. One day we popped into few malls located near our hotel and got some last chance shopping done.
What strike me most was that people in Bangkok didn’t seem so nice and friendly as otherwise in Thailand. They were polite, but still lacked the smiles and helpfulness you usually counter in the country of smiles. Of course the tension of the situation could have had something to do with that, but it was bit of a surprise.
In the mercy of cab drivers
The matter that most affected getting around in both Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok was the kids’ buggy. Getting into monorail or commuters trains in KL was still OK, even though not all stations had elevators. In both cities you must be prepared to lift the buggy every once in awhile to get over obstacles and sometimes carry them for few steps. But that didn’t slow us down. In fact in Kuala Lumpur many of the locals were pushing their kids in buggies too, but it doesn’t mean that malls or streets are designed for pedestrians with wheels.
Buggies put us in the mercy of cab drivers. First of all not all of them were willing to take us on and some of them didn’t have big enough trunk for the buggy. But the biggest thing was that the drivers were able to tell us the price, especially in Bangkok. Anyway you have to negotiate the price before hopping on, but if we wanted to get a ride, we really couldn’t be picky about the price or they just refused us. So, we ended up paying overprice for most of the cab rides, but really didn’t have a choice. In Kuala Lumpur, we used mostly blue cabs and they used the meter so the price was same as travelling without extra gear.
Tip for those travelling with small kids in Asia: the baby food selection in Kuala Lumpur is so much better than in Bangkok or in Thailand general. We shopped mainly for Smiley Boy’s foods in the supermarket located in level 1 of Pavilion, which had good selection of other baby supplies too.