Malaysia

As planned we boarded the 1015 train to Malaysia last night. We weren’t sure what the form would be at the border but before we were allowed on the platform we had to show our passports and were issued with immigration cards.

The train is very clean and we have 4 bunks which are already made up with sheets and pillows .Unlike the Indian trains though there is no room underneath for us to store our gear. This means we have to have it all on our beds with us but is not too much of a problem. We have eaten earlier and the kids are tired so by 11pm I ask them to turn out their lights and try to get some sleep.

Half an hour later the train stops and we all have to get off at immigration and have our cards checked. Still it doesn’t take too long and we are soon back on the train
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What a difference to the trains of India. I find myself missing the noise of other people though, constant ringing of mobiles, kids chattering, the smell of spices and curries amongst other things, the heat, men hanging out of the door for a smoke and the vendors monotonous “chai chai chai”.

The train is far more comfortable, air conditioned and almost completely silent which I find weird considering its full .It is also very bright and unfortunately the lights stay on all night resulting in a sleepless night for everyone.

Still we arrive at 6.30am on time at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station; my first impression of KL is that it is a clean and modern looking city. It is quite cool here and doesn’t seem to be as humid as Singapore which is a relief. We get a taxi to our hotel; we are staying at The Mandarin Pacific Hotel in Chinatown and the kids are pleased when we arrive to see we are opposite a McDonalds. The hotel looks really nice and is costing us 138 ringitt per room a night. This is around 23 pounds a room and is quite expensive for our budget but we are hoping to pay less when we move on out of the city.

Our rooms are fantastic and it’s definitely one of the best places we have stayed in. We have two large suites with a connecting door and a fridge. Most important we have a bath, although I generally prefer showers and despite the water being yellow it’s great to have a long hot soak.

We sleep until 1230 and then go out in search of food, the first place we come across is a hawker centre and we sit down without much thought. The fellas must have seen us coming as they pile the food on, we end up with far too much and I guess I wouldn’t have asked for deep fried baby octopus for breakfast. But it’s all ok and does the job.

We decide to take a walking tour of KL to look at some of the architecture including early 20th century Chinese teahouses, a pretty mosque and an art deco building now used as a bank. It is very hot though and half way round we give up and head for the Chinese market.

This is really amazing and I think it is probably possible to buy almost anything here.
There are clothes, watches, shoes, handbags and DVD’s alongside fruit and vegetables and numerous food vendors .Its very noisy, hot and smelly and we have a great time picking our way through and chatting to the market traders. We buy James Bond, Casino Royale for the second time, hopefully it will be a better copy than the last one and I get some earrings. Ali also buys a game for his PSP. We pass a pet shop and in the window are two Alsatian puppies, the kids are completely enthralled and we go inside to see 10 or 12 big cages all containing little puppies. It is a strange sight for us but I’m pleased to say the pups all looked well cared for.

Before long the sky clouds over and it starts to rain, these tropical storms are quite different to storms at home and although it absolutely pours down it doesn’t last for long and the sun is soon out again. The temperature is fairly constant at around 30 degrees and the humidity about 80%.

We get back to the hotel and Simon does some maths with the kids for an hour. We’re all tired and decide to give dinner a miss and watch Casino Royale on the laptop. By 10 o’clock we’re all starving and give in to the temptation that is McDonalds. Shame on us!