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Since we didn't really do much yesterday we had to fit quite a bit in to today. Yesterday we made reservations to go up the Petronas Towers at 6pm tonight so that was our one major deadline. After waking up we went out to a street food market and got some food then walked over to visit the Thean Hou temple that was pretty close to our hotel. Unfortunately it had started to rain a little bit while we were walking over but it wasn't coming down hard enough to soak us.
The temple was pretty cool but the one by the Big Buddah on Lantau Island in Hong Kong was a lot bigger. We took some photos and checked out the gift shop then headed back into town to catch the train up to Batu Caves. Batu Caves is at the end of one of the rail lines so it's very easy to get to.
Once we stepped off the train we were thrown into a mix of hawkers, beggars and trash. The signage was nonexistent to the caves and we almost got sucked into some fake caves that a guy was trying to sell entry to. The whole area was filled with angry monkeys who would attack people for food or drinks and the actual entrance to the cave was up a huge flight of stairs filled with said monkeys.
The caves were a pretty big letdown. The sheer amount of trash and monkeys around was too much. The "caves" were also filled with a bunch of rundown shrines and people trying to sell mini hindu god figurines. They were more along the lines of some large open caverns than actual caves. We didn't spend much time there and got back on the train to make our way to Petronas Towers.
There wasn't really a good way to get over there so we had to take the train about half way and then walk for a while to catch the monorail line for a few stops to get closer to the towers. We checked in and got in line to go up the towers.
The tour was about an hour long and took us up to the skybridge on the 40-something'th floor and then up to the 89th floor for the top level observation deck. Unfortunately Kuala Lumpur doesn't have a super spectacular skyline but it was still cool to see the city from so far up. The elevator runs inside the building so they put some flatscreen monitors on the walls and had a video running that imitates seeing the outside. Unfortunately the screens were old and the video wasn't very good so it almost caused some motion sickness since it was so choppy.
When we got out it was the perfect time to see the towers from below. They had just lit up the towers so we hung out there for a while taking pictures before heading over to the Jalan Alor food street for our last Malaysian food experience.
I got a bunch of skewers of meat and Mike got several plus a giant prawn. People watching while drinking some beers and eating good street food was a really good way to end our last night in Kuala Lumpur. Once we were done we hopped back on the monorail and came back to the hotel to get ready for heading to Singapore in the morning.
Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur
Batu Caves entrance in Kuala Lumpur
Outside the Petronas Towers
Grilled prawn and tiger beer on Jalan Alor food street
I'm a little behind in writing these posts so some of the specifics might be a little lost. Today was pretty much a lazy / do nothing day. We went out for lunch at one of the local street markets down the street. For starters we had some fried bananas which were really good. In the market we got some pork and chicken buns, some chicken and rice as well as some stir fried noodles. When we were leaving mike got a milk coffee and they served it in a takeaway bag which was pretty funny.
We took the rest of the afternoon easy lounging by the pool and getting a little work done. We researched some areas to visit at night where we could get some more local food and one that kept popping up was Chow Kit. It's the Muslim area but was supposed to have really good street food.
Since there wasn't really a good way to get there via public transport we just hopped in a coffee and got straight there. The guy dropped us off on a street that he said was full food. It was a little late so everything seemed pretty dead. We found one market that was pretty full and got in line. It was a buffet where you get everything you want and then sit down and eat with your hands. The rice base they used was some kind of traditional blue rice that they coat with fried and crushed anchovies.
The meal was pretty sketchy. It wasn't bad but it wasn't really good either plus the hygiene factor was pretty bad and we referred to it as the food safety danger zone. After eating we walked around a little more and went back to the Bukit Butang area where there was more normal street food. Mike got a couple meat skewers and we had a beer before heading back to the hotel.
Mike with a bag of coffee
Dinner to eat with your hands
We got up at 5:30am in order to get packed up and head to the airport. The streets were completely empty that early in the morning so we got to the Hong Kong MTR station really fast. It was pretty cool that Cathay Pacific had a check in counter at the train station. Mike was able to check his bag and everything even though we were an hour from the airport.
We got to the airport and went up and hung out at one of the executive lounges where we had some pretty good food. We were in the premium economy class which meant we got to board before most people and also had a lot more room on the plane. We were served some pretty good food and slept for most of the 3.5 hour trip.
We could tell as soon as we stepped off the plane that the humidity and temperature were a lot higher. We got a ticket to the KL Sentral train station on the KLIA express train. It's an express train that goes back and forth between the airport and train station which is where our hotel is. The train station was packed with people and it took us a little while to find our hotel.
Once we found the hotel we checked in and relaxed for a little bit. The hotel is the Aloft and it's a pretty modern style hotel with a free minibar and snacks. We did some researching on things to see and places to eat while we're here. We found some really good reviews for a restaurant called Songket over near the Petronas towers.
We wanted to go up the towers but it started raining and was a little gross out so we decided to hold that off until later. The towers themselves are pretty neat looking though. After snapping some pics we found our way to the restaurant for dinner.
Being a Sunday night, the restaurant was pretty empty but they seated us outside where it was pretty humid. The food itself was really good though. We started off with an appetizer sampler that had four different items and some spicy sauce. We ordered a sweet and spicy chicken and a coconut curry chicken that both came with rice. The coconut curry chicken was really good. Afterwards we got some dessert. I opted for the coconut ice cream and Mike got some kind of classic Malaysian dish called Sago Gula Melaka.
We came back to the hotel where we got to bed early since we had a couple long days back to back.
Downtown from our rooftop pool
Petronas Towers at night
Appetizer sampler at Songket
Dinner at Songket
Last night ended up being quite the night. After getting back from Lantau Island we took a little nap before heading out for dinner. We originally wanted to hit up a wonton place that was recommended to us but didn't realize what time it closed and we didn't get there in time. Instead, I tried something at McDonalds called the Green Lantern burger. It's basically a hamburger with a hashbrown and some weird sauce on top. I wouldn't get it again but it's interesting to see the different variations of food they have at the global chains.
After that we took the MTR to the mainland part of Hong Kong and were planning on checking out some of the nightlife. Instead, when we got out of the MTR station we saw that we were dead in the middle of some of the Occupy Hong Kong protests. We hung around there for a while taking photos and seeing what was going on.
By the time we wanted to head back to the hotel we realized that the MTR had shut down and we were on the wrong side of Hong Kong (aka, the hotel was on the island and we were on the mainland). None of the taxis wanted to take us across so after about 45 minutes of wandering around we finally found a bus that would get us to our island. After that we had to catch a taxi to get us closer to the hotel and still had a 10 minute walk afterward. We didn't end up getting back to the hotel until around 3am.
Today however, we wanted to head to Macau and check out their version of Vegas. We slept in a little bit since we got to bed so late last night. For an early lunch/late breakfast we went to the wonton place that we missed last night. The food was good and also really cheap.
The process of getting a ferry ticket was really easy and once we were on it, it only took about an hour to get to Macau. Macau itself was actually really disappointing. The entire place was under construction and crowded. None of the casinos were really that impressive. The nice thing about Vegas is how it's built around entertainment whereas Macau is strictly built around hardcore gambling.
Macau used to be controlled by the Portuguese so we were excited to find some legitimate Portuguese food. We did some searching and found a few places. When we got to the one called O Santo we sat down and started looking through the menu. It was a joke how expensive everything was as well as how lame all the food was. It would have been $22+USD just for some pork fried rice. None of the food was authentic Portuguese (we saw some people eating and it was mostly frozen style french fries and chicken or pork).
We left without ordering and found a sitdown fast food place called Curry Monster. Mike and I were able to each get a milk tea and full meal and combined it was less than the average food price for one dish at O Santo.
We walked around a little more and decided to see some of the casinos and then head back to our hotel. We used the free hotel buses to get us to the ferry terminal and booked our ferry back. I think we both passed out for the ride home and got back around 1:30am.
Portuguese square in Macau
Venetian hotel/casino in Macau
Day 1 in Hong Kong went really well. Mike and I got a full night of sleep and started the day with breakfast at the hotel. After eating we headed to the Ocean Park amusement park on the south side of the island. It took us a little while to figure out how to catch the bus down to the park. We were misreading the instructions Google gave us which mean we spent quite a bit of time wandering around before we found the bus. We didn't realize we had to catch a subway trail for a few stops before we were supposed to get on the bus.
We finally got to the park and it was extremely empty. We were able to get on every rollercoaster without having to wait in a single line the entire day. After riding every coaster and ride in the park we went and toured the aquariums and various other exhibits. The park actually wasn't that bad but a lot of it was under construction.
Once we finished up at the park we went over to Aberdeen to check out all the fishing boats. We were planning on eating there but we got there too early and didn't feel like sticking around for a few hours to wait for all the boat restaurants to open. Instead, we walked around through some of the city and got to see some local markets that had a lot of fresh vegetables and seafood.
We headed into the Tsim Shai Tsui area and Temple Street and walked around for a while. Open container laws don't exist in Hong Kong so we had a few beers while exploring the city. We did that for a couple hours until the light show on the Tsim Shai Tsui Promenade at 8. It was pretty cool except for how foggy it still was.
Once the show ended we headed back to our side of the island and started searching for food. We found a local place near our hotel that was a little like a dim sum restaurant except you ordered it like sushi. The food was good and extremely cheap. For both Mike and I to have 4 dishes and tea the total was only $10USD.
Tomorrow we're planning on heading out to visit some beaches although the weather is calling for a 60% chance of rain. We're hoping it holds off long enough for us to get a little beach time in.
Pandas at Ocean Park in Hong Kong
Ocean Park in Hong Kong
Laser show on Hong Kong