Oct 18, 2012 - Pekanbaru, Sumatra, Indonesia
My brother and I finally get free to spend extended time with Phil and Ben in Pekanbaru. Unspeakable things occur. They find me topless in a parking garage.
Oct 21, 2012 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This visit feels like it happened ages ago. I barely remember anything from our two nights here. I do remember that we stayed in unusually fancy hotel that had an breakfast. A quality breakfast can make the crappiest hotel stay pleasant. We were right in the thick of things. We walked over to the Petronas Towers. It’s always cool when you get to see something you’ve only seen in pictures and movies.
We made our way over to an area called Bukit Bintang; a major shopping and entertainment district. There are two sides to Bukit Bintang. North of Jalan Sultan Ismail there is high-end shopping, fine dining, and just an overall classy vibe to the area. Once you cross over to the south side it immediately becomes the spot for clubs, hawker food stalls, bars, and prostitution. Let me say, prostitution is rampant in Kuala Lumpur. There’s probably more of it in other cities in the world, but of all the places I’ve been no where else is it so overtly available and promoted. This is a grimy, but fun area to spend a night.
The next day we take a cab to the Batu Caves. There’s a giant golden Hindu statue up front and the stairs up is a bit of climb. I guess it’s cool to visit if you’re into that sort of thing, but it wasn’t worth our time. That evening we head back to Bukit Bintang for more of the same. Shopping opportunities are everywhere and every merchant is hungry. My brother took a passive look at sunglasses at one street-side store. The gun running the shop quickly stopped him and immediately went into sell-mode. 80 Ringgits he offered. My brother wasn’t interested. 80 Ringgits quickly became 15 Ringgits without my brother saying a word. I don’t know who taught this guy how to negotiate, but eventually my brother caved. As aggressive as he was, that merchant doesn’t even crack the top 10 I’ve witnessed. While in Jakarta my uncle made the mistake of confusing a ticket scalper for a parking attendant. After he discovered his mistake and drove away the scalper actually ran along side the car for at least 100 meters trying to complete the sale. Hustling aint easy.
The next day we flew out to Singapore, but not before my brother lost his phone and we missed out flight. Awesome.
October 24, 2012 - Singapore
This post is running long and this I come back to Singapore 2 more times so I won’t go into much detail about this visit.
Our hotel room was a closet. Barely big enough for the bed. The only redeeming quality was that the balcony overlooked the main pedestrian road in Chinatown. Can’t complain.
Singapore is about two things: shopping and eating, so we ate. We ate anything we’d come across. The only thing that I targeted was Sup Tulang (bone marrow soup) and only because I remember seeing it a while ago on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Video here. Doesn’t it look amazing? I actually hunted down the exact spot he went to have it. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations, so I had to find another. It sadly wasn’t worth the effort.
I will begin doing quick recaps after leaving a city worth mentioning.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Currency: Ringgit. $1 USD = ~3 Ringgits.
Cost: If Papua New Guinea is 1, Toronto a 5, and Sydney a 10, then Kuala Lumpur is a 4.
Grime: 7/10. Would have been a 6, but the rampant prostitution pushes up a point. Safe, not exactly clean,
English? 8/10. English is one of the primary languages in addition to Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin.
Should I?Yes. Probably the best city I’ve visited that feels like an asian city without being unmanageable (Jakarta) or overly civilized (Singapore).