The flights, tours and hotels are booked and the books are bought! Despite having visited Kuala Lumpur twice before and travelling there with former residents I felt naked without a Lonely Planet. So I bought the Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei edition along with a copy of the Lonely Planet Bangkok Cityguide.
After looking at maps of Kuala Lumpur I discovered that my sense of direction was 180 degrees out of kilter on those previous trips. That happens when I am north of the equator, being, as I am, from a Southern Hemisphere land. It doesn’t help when your mode of transport is mainly the private car and taxi. I’m hoping that the Lonely Planet will give me a better perspective on where I am and what lies outside the window of the transport.
We booked our own hotels in Kuala Lumpur through AsiaRooms.com. The hotel prices in KL are astounding ly cheap, so we decided to treat ourselves on the final night with a stay at the 5 star Hilton for less than the price of many 3 star rooms in Sydney. I’ve never stayed in a 5 star hotel before. Not only is it adjacent to Stesen Sentral, the terminus of the Airport Express, but the Lonely Planet describes the suite we booked as “boy-toy heaven!”
In addition to the Bangkok hotel and River Kwai tour we also booked a transfer from the airport to the hotel and a half-day tour of the Royal Palace through Flight Centre and Creative Holidays. I wanted to get a historical perspective on the palace and adjacent temple. The other half of that day we can spend walking around the Ko Ratanakosin area, visiting Wat Arun and taking a cruise up the Chao Phraya river.
Thanks to a suggestion in the Lonely Planet I hope that we can strike out and do our own thing on the first Sunday of our stay. The book mentions the Mahachai Shortline to Samut Sakhon and onwards to Samut Songkhran. The opportunity to travel to seaside market towns on a local train sounds like a lot of fun to me. It was only later that I discovered that this was the same railway line featured in a astounding YouTube video of the disappearing market.
There’s an interesting photo gallery of the route as well.
Our hotel in Bangkok is also close to Jim Thompson’s house and a number of shopping centres so hopefully we can fit them in during our brief stay. I can already forsee us returning to Thailand in future!