The rest of our week with my mother over, in what I normally consider that awkward period between Christmas and New Year, when you never really know for sure if anything’s open or not or what to do, flew by – we had many important sights to show off. Next up on our own personal tour of Kuala Lumpur was a trip to one of our favourite, and incidentally cheapest, eateries. SK Corner is a food stall place very near our house that serves a variety of food – there are menu’s, although to be perfectly honest I’ve never looked in one properly, generally always preferring to go and eat straight from the buffet, which normally comes to around RM3.50 (slightly less than a euro) for a meal of more than adequate proportions. They also make some of the most delicious naan bread I’ve tasted yet, and at such ‘agreeable’ prices, it’d be safe to say that the food there constitutes a staple part of our diets. So it was only right that we also made a visit there. Later on in the week, we also decided to hit another place we’d heard great things about, even though we’d never personally been – Trader’s Hotel Sky Bar. In many ways, it seems to be this sort of high-society hangout for the KL expats, rich and famous. And anywhere that high-society likes to hang out is usually not exactly cost-effective so myself and Anna had sort of shied away from going there, in spite of the supposedly outstanding views of the KL skyline, for fear of the price of just stepping inside. But, eventually, we decided if the views really were that good, maybe we should take a look.
First things first, the hotel is extremely plush – it screams ‘rich and famous’ from the moment you enter, and the lift to the 30-something’th floor rocketed so fast that my ears were popping. Getting to the top, the place is no doubt an exclusive affair, with everyone dressed to the nines and sitting there like they all own the place. As you might have expected from such a classy place, reservations are sort of the order of the day and we ended up being put in a corner for a short time, while a table was found for us. And a bar as classy as this simply can’t just be a bar – instead, the swimming pool for the hotel runs down the middle of the bar providing something of a potential centrepiece, if not a liability after a few too many drinks. Indeed, some tables require you to walk along a narrow wooden deck precariously positioned just over the water to get to them, which I don’t like to think too much about. That said, and as you can see from the picture, the view when you do get a table and get settled, is truly amazing. Spectacular views right out over Kuala Lumpur are afforded to one and all and although we only stayed for one or two drinks, we left more than content.
Besides, we had become almost ‘regular’ at Swiss Garden’s Blue Chip Lounge, where the two performers, Tony & Clare (according to the poster in the lift) were coming to know our faces.
Just a day or two later, and it was finally time for our New Years’ excursion to Langkawi. Langkawi, for anyone unfamiliar, is a small island so close to the border with Thailand that the entire island is, thrillingly, duty-free. That means that a can of Tiger that sets me back around RM6 downtown, cost around RM3 or less – wonderful. Not only that, but the whole island is something of a ‘tropical paradise’ with lovely beaches, a slightly terrifying cable car ride to the peaks and good food. The downside to seeing this tropical paradise was that the only Air Asia ‘super saver’ fare available to us, was for a flight at the crack of dawn, so we were up at 4am on New Year’s Eve for the short taxi ride to KL Sentral, and then the bus to KL’s LCCT airport. All that, and the flight was still delayed until later in the morning anyway. Soon enough though, we were on our way and the flight to Langkawi took maybe an hour at a push – I’d hardly drank my tasteless cup of coffee before we were on our way back to terra firma. Langkawi, surprisingly, has an extremely well laid-out prepaid taxi system where everything is organised with an almost unusual level of efficiency; you pay, get a ticket with a car registration number on it, go outside and spot the right car, hop in and that’s the end of it.
When I went to book our stay about a month or so earlier, nearly all the resorts were trying to scam us out of large amounts of money for their ‘compulsory gala dinner’, which seemed overly expensive even by Irish standards. So in the end, we settled for a place out on Burau Bay, despite knowing not very much about it other than that it had decent TripAdvisor reviews and looked good. As it turned out, although there was a slightly irritating delay to getting our cabanas (mostly due to us being there prior to check-out time itself), the place was just what we wanted – little cabanas were the accommodation for the stay, which were scattered all over the property, which itself extended from the road we drove in on, right down onto a beach. Thrown in the middle, there was also a pool and, given the day that was in it, hordes of workmen setting up what would be our very own ‘gala dinner’, which was also compulsory. To be honest, the afternoon we arrived was less than tropical – the sky was grey overhead, it seemed to rain exactly every time I opened my book to have a quick read, but as the evening wore on, we repaired to our cabanas in preparation for the ‘gala dinner’, mafia-themed, which came as a surprise. Finally, it was time to ring in the New Year, 2011…