Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(From March 2011)

I left home towards the end of the month of March – which is kind of a bummer since I’ll miss four birthdays – to work on an offshore oil rig about a 3 hour helicopter flight off the east coast of Malaysia.  As much as I’d have liked to been home for two of my kid’s birthdays, my birthday, and my Dad’s, duty calls and I just had six weeks off.  Time to make that money again!

To get to Malaysia, I caught a flight from Raleigh, NC to New York’s LaGuardia.  From there, I caught an Emirates flight to Dubai, UAE followed by another to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  28 hours of flying in peasant class does wonders for preparing your mind and body to accept any form of bed, even one made of nails.  Fortunately, what costs were spared in flight-class were more than made up for in the hotel in KL.  The Intercontinental Hotel in KL is top-notch!  In all my travels, they still hold the title of  “Benchmark In Service”.  I’ve stayed in fancier hotels – not by much – but it’s really the staff that count if you plan to be there longer than a day.  The staff in the club house on the 26th floor all have an uncanny ability to remember names and preferences.  They are so friendly and willing to assist you with whatever you need but not to such a degree that it seems like pestering.  Hoteliers, if you want to know how 5 star service should be, pay these folks a visit and allow them to show you.

Now that is a proper cafe latte!  Breakfast in the Intercontinental Hotel’s Club was always delicious and the coffee was so good I could barely muster the motivation to walk out into the heat and humidity to go to Starbucks at the Petronas Towers.

It seems that no matter what a city looks like, there is some other influence on our senses that gives us a ‘feel’ for where we are.  Everything can look shiny and new but there can still be an unshakeable tension that won’t allow you to let down your guard.  When I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur I felt that way.  The people smiled, the streets were fairly clean, for a big city, and there was a strong western influence on everything from shops to marketing.  I just couldn’t quite put a finger on why I felt bothered.  I’m sure at some point I’ll go back.  I’m curious to see if I feel the same way twice.

The Petronas Twin Towers.  These used to be the tallest buildings in the world (1998-2004).  They’ve since lost that title to Taipei 101 which then lost it to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  The Petronas Towers do, however, remain the tallest twin towers in the world.  Photographs don’t do justice for their size. 1,482 feet tall!

This is the downtown area of KL.  Ahead is the 1,500,000 sqft Suria Mall which stands at the base of the Twin Towers.  Behind me, about 5 minutes walk, is the Intercontinental Hotel.  I got well accustomed to this walk as I am too cheap to pay for a taxi and I had some new boots I needed to get broken in before showing up to the rig.  Let me tell you a little known fact.  If you look up the word ‘Humidity’ in the dictionary, it just says, “hu·mid·i·ty | Noun | – Malaysia”.  I have been few other places on this planet that were as humid as Malaysia.  The mere act of breathing is enough physical exertion to cause torrents of sweat to gush from every square inch of your body.  Trying to look civilized while conducting business there is a joke.  I always looked like I had just dragged myself out of a bath in one of the city’s fountains.  Forget wet arm pits.  I’m talking full-body here.  Note to travellers:  Where clothing that is dark in color and thin so that it dries off quickly in air-conditioned spaces.

Stay tuned for more.  From Kuala Lumpur I take a taxi across the whole of Malaysia to get to a little beach called Cherating.

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