No, I’m not talking about how I laid petals at the feet of B in preparation for Valentine’s Day! But I did do a quite a bit of Petaling today.
After a hotel breakfast of nasi lemak (coconut rice with various side dishes), fruits and buns we meet one of B’s aunt’s in the hotel lobby. We then had to suffer through a far too detailed description of her various medical problems and procedures, along with a list of her doctors and their positions, qualifications and everything else related. Forget Vogon poetry, this was worse! Thankfully other relatives arrived to take the oldies away on for their day’s business.
B and I decided to go and visit her childhood home in the suburb of Petaling Jaya. To get down there we first caught a monorail down to Stesen Sentral. These toy-like vehicles give you a great view from their elevated tracks.
Next we caught the KTM Komuter train down to Petaling station. The train was 20 minutes late in leaving Sentral – I think that they cancelled one of their services. With the slow gates and non-integrated services Kuala Lumpur is one city that Sydney’s CityRail might be comparing itself with when it claims to be “world class”.
The KTM ride was quite unpleasant. The carriage was fairly full and stank of urine. Petaling station seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, a few rundown shops with languid attendants. I quite liked it actually!
The heat and humidity of KL has not been as unpleasant as we remembered from previous trips, although I was thirsty for most of the day. From a small roadside stall we bought a can of unchilled soft drink. After asking for ice the attendant pour the whole contents plus ice into a clear plastic bag, leaving us to drink it through a straw!
There were no taxis at the station and we walked for a while before managing to flag one down. It’s fortunate that we did because the part of Petaling Jaya that we wanted to visit was quite far away. I didn’t mind because it was a great opportunity to see the suburbs of KL, away from the tourist areas.
SS2 in Petaling Jaya is a fairly wealthy area, you could see it from the rows of fairly large two storey houses rather than the dirty multistory concrete apartments that dot the landscape.
B found a popular Bak Ku Teh restaurant that she used to frequent. Bak ku teh is a Chinese herbal soup served with mushrooms, pork and rice. I’m put off by the smell, let alone the flavour, so I just ordered a Coke while she ate.
For my sake we then stopped at a collection of hawker stalls, also dating back to B’s childhood, ordering popiah (a type of unfried spring roll) and char kuey teow (rice noodles with seafood). It was great, though the spiciness of the latter dish lead to us going through a couple of sweet and refreshing lime juices.
Very full now, we wandered around SS2, viewing B’s old house and the location of her parent’s old restaurant (replaced by a Seven-Eleven). It was wonderful to share in her childhood memories.
Rather than return to Petaling station I directed us to Taman Jaya station on the Putra light rail line. Last time I was in KL I had seen this elevated system and wanted to travel on it for the views of the city. I had my chance this time and greatly enjoyed the uninterrupted view of the poor kampungs, the moorish-inspired colonial architecture and the modern and attractive office buildings. It was a pity when the line ducked underground after Stesen Sentral.
We stopped at KLCC, under the Petronas Twin Towers. Lots of big brand shopping, but B was only really interested in her favourite Zara.
My legs were tired but with taxis trying to rip us off we decided to walk back to our hotel, passing yet more shopping centres on the way.
After a swim in the hotel pool (I swear I saw a dead rat at the bottom!) it was time to set out once more, having been excused from a threatened dinner with the relatives.
We again caught the monorail, this time to Maharajahela station. From there is was a short walk to Chinatown and the next Petaling: the famous Petaling Street markets.
The streets were again lit up for Chinese New Year with decorative red lanterns. Small stalls, primarily selling pirated copies of clothes, bags, watches and DVD’s divided the street into two aisles, each packed mainly with tourists.
I was rather underwhelmed. Markets like this are starting to look the same to me, whether they are in KL, Hong Kong or Paddy’s in Sydney. What we were really looking for was food. I found my favourite pancake-like kuey’s with coconut and peanuts. But the dining was not particularly impressive. We ended up eating dinner in a Muslim/Indian cafe: roti canai, roti pisang (delicious banana Indian flatbread), and fried chicken.
Finally, we returned to our hotel on the monorail again. I was exhausted but satisfied. Lots of public rail transport and sharing memories with B. I had fun!