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Ho ho ho from Kuala Lumpur...

Ho ho ho from Kuala Lumpur...

Well, it’s certainly been a while since the last time I wrote! Over here, whole shopping mall seasons can seem to come and go in the time it seems to take me just to write a blog entry – right now, for example, we’ve moved from living in a 30-degree plus tropical landscape to somewhere with Christmas trees, snow and Lapland-esque huts. Needless to say, in a place where the chance to draw a couple of extra shoppers into a shopping centre is a chance like no other, all the shopping centres, literally overnight, seem to have sprung rich spruce trees, edged in snow (albeit cotton balls or snow-coloured plastic), while in the Pavilion, one of the shopping centres we frequent the most, we walked outside one night into the tropical heat to be greeted by a haze of ‘snowfall’ flickering down from the heavens – or, as it turned out to be, some sort of foam cannon above us shooting out little snow-sized baubles of foam. While it was pleasant to see, the humour of a ‘fake snowfall’ while everyone was actually wiping the sweat off their brows wasn’t lost on me. Likewise, a collection of about 20 neon-lit Christmas trees literally cropped up one night through the Pavilion, acting in their fake neon brightness as some sort of landing beacon for me in the mornings as I trudge through the place on the way to work. But aside from the obscurity of fake Christmas trees, snow and elves all over the place, KL continues to impress, amaze and above all, give us some laughs.

Haircut Central...

Haircut Central...

One of our least favourite shopping centres – my only reason for it not being the complete least favourite is that I can still find an exit when I wish (not always a given in some places, which seem determined to trap you inside forever more after) and it houses my local barbers, 13 Ringgit and every seventh haircut’s free, which is leading to extremely regular haircuts on my part, especially since they also seemingly have a fear of cutting the top of one’s head – near our house has also decided to do the whole bottom floor of their place in a faux-Lapland style, complete with sweet shop, photo opportunity with ‘Santa’, Santa’s grotto and a whole host of other moneymaking ventures. All in all, while KL seems to willingly celebrate every festive holiday to the fullest, they also seem to recognise that not only do expats love nothing more than to buy everything in sight around Christmas time, but I suspect Malaysians also quite like the novelty factor of having some snow, even if it is less-than-real, since it’s the closest thing they’re likely to get to the real thing unless climate change really takes a turn for the worse. That said, our trip to the Genting Highlands – a sort of cheap-and-tacky (with emphasis firmly on both cheap AND tacky) amusement park up on top of a mountain – is coming up this week and the word on the street (and in their brochures, website, so on) is that the temperature is extremely cool on top of this mountain peak, so a weekend without air conditioning is more than beckoning at this stage, even if it comes at the expense of being in a cheaper version of Bray, in Malaysia.

My morning landing beacons guide me through...

So what have the last few weeks even brought me? Well in terms of work, things have been extremely busy as seemingly every deadline for anything I was doing fell in around the same time. But aside from that, I somehow got a cold (yes, I know, it’s Malaysia – but I firmly laid the blame for this on our air conditioner), then the following weekend, we both went to help out at the opening of Anna’s boss’ Kids Gym (which I’m working on the website for at the moment, so that’s all we’ll say about that), which was great fun but tiring. Then, last weekend, we had my good friends Chris and his girlfriend, Morgan, down in Kuala Lumpur, before they fly on to London. Strangely, we’ve been thinking about things to do with them for the last few weeks and we’d been consistently coming up with good ideas – like going up the KL Tower, bringing them to authentic restaurants, and so on. But the thing is, we never wrote a single idea down so when the time came around, we actually sort of stalled, and they ended up getting a very basic tour of KL, along with some trips to the local public houses, shopping centres and anything else we could think of off-hand. On Sunday though, we decided to bring them out to a place we’ve actually been meaning to visit ourselves for some time – the Lake Gardens. Seemingly, these gardens are nothing short of spectacular, originally the homes of only the richest English gentlemen during the Colonial era. And English gentlemen don’t like just anyone rocking up to their places, which seems fair enough – but even today, the place is actually quite difficult to get to.

Oh deer...sorry, I know it's been said before, many times...

But was it worth it? Absolutely – to begin with, it has a sort of Phoenix Park vibe to it, in so far as it’s gigantic, any houses you’ll see will be absolute mansions, and there’s plenty of deer just wandering around the place (although there is a specific ‘deer park’). The downside to it is the same as any trip to a park in Malaysia – for expats, even those with the strongest will to walk around the whole park in the world, it’s just so damn hot after a couple of minutes walking in completely unprotected steaming hot sunshine. By the time we got to the Deer Park, I was nearly ready to hop into their little enclosure and jump into their barrel of water and leave them with nothing! If you have the time, the sufficient water supplies and the inclination though, you can even walk right up as far as the Malaysian Parliament, and to a whole host of other interesting sights. For us though, everyone was more than flagging by the time we hit the birdhouse – so much so that once we reached the Islamic Arts Centre and went in, the air conditioning and the ability to sit down for a few minutes was more than worth the 12 Ringgit entry price. Afterwards, we went to get the KTM Komuter a whole one stop to KL Sentral (naturally missing it as it left the platform as we arrived into the station) and round the day off with some good food and a relax after the day’s sweating. But hopefully I’ll get back there again…

And hopefully, I’ll get round to another blog update even quicker…

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Based in Malaysia, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.