Friday, February 17, 2017

Trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (January 2017)...

Visa run... was foreign to me until it became a reality for me. We had to make a visa run to get a new visa from a country outside Thailand. We arrived in Thailand on a 2-month tourist visa on November 30. So before the visa expired, we had to travel outside Thailand to apply for and obtain a new visa. We chose Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, primarily because we have never traveled over there.

It was the first thing we did to submit the documents to the Royal Thai Embassy. We were able to pick up the visa in the afternoon on the following day. Now the rest of the stay was for pleasure.

We stayed in Kuala Lumpur for a week and we did some sightseeing to experience Malaysia.

Housing... When we travel, we use Airbnb quite well unless we can use timeshare, hotel within Marriott network. This was not an exception. We used Airbnb and stayed at a one-bed room in a high rise condominium building near Central Station. It was spacious and access to transportation was not bad at all. For a week stay, we paid less than $200. Not bad at all.

Jalan Alor... is a street packed with restaurants and street vendors selling all kinds of Asian foods. We  went into a Myanmar restaurant and all dishes we ordered were excellent! We ended up going back to the same restaurant. We did not experience the night life of the street, but it must be quite noise and crazy at night. We had a lot of fun visiting this unique street.

Melaka... We hired a driver and took a day excursion to Melaka or Malacca in English. It turned out to be a small port city now, but used to be an important town that monitored and collected tax from all ships that passed through the Malay Strait. An Indian arrived there as a Hindo, but was influenced by Indonesian Muslims and established a Sultanate. After this Sultanate, Portuguese  conquered the land and introduced Roman Catholic without success. Then the Dutches came and brought Protestantism but without success. Later the English came to introduce Anglican Church again without success until the country was liberated from the colonies. The city stands firm as an Islamic city along with the Islamic nation Malaysia.

The port was a critical part of the sea trade route for missional businesses linking Europe and Asia. So it was obviously important to the world Christianity and missions. We saw the maritime museum and stopped by Baba and Nanyano Museum, a place that exhibits the hybrid culture of Chinese and Potuguese.

We visited Church of Christ that the Dutches built as well as St. Paul's Church that was built by the Portunuese but is now in ruins. We also stopped by St. Peter's Church that is still in active use as a Roman Catholic church.

City Tour on the hop-on hop-off bus is always the best way to look around a new city. We visited several places including the Twin Tower, Aquaria, Central Market, Orchid Garden, Independence Square, KL Tower and Upside Down House.

Orchid Garden... was not big but was cute. The city view from the garden was spectacular. Very serene.

Aquaria was located at the KL Convention Center. It was a pleasant surprise. It was quite nice and had a lot of creatures living in the sea. Passing through the underwater tunnel was a new experience of seeing a lot of sea creatures including sharks passing above your head. We by accident arrived at one of the feeding stations in the water tank and watched so many beautiful fish gathering around the divers. A couple of sea turtles stood out for us.

Central Market was established in 1888. It has since played a pivotal role in the commerce in Kuala Lumpur. It was very clean and well organized. We stopped by to look but ended up buying Birkenstock sandals plus some others. I am sure the Birkenstock sandals are not real.

Batu Caves... Batu Caves used to be a ammunition depot for Japanese troops. Now it is Hinduism all over the places including the giant and gloden Lord Murugan Statue standing in front of the caves. This Lord Murugan is a Hindu deity and it is the tallest Hindu statue in Malaysia and the second tallest Hindu statue in the world. There were 272 steps to the Bantu Caves and the slope was quite steep. But we made it to the top.

Metro System was quite complicated. There were several lines but none was exchangeable. We had to buy tokens or tickets for each line. It was an onerous system. Nonetheless, we were able to adapt to the system.

People... Malays account for 50% and they are born as Muslims by law. How could a religion be forced upon people...? But anyway it is the system. Chinese accounts for 22% and Indians 6%. The balance is for everything else. People are nice and friendly. This interesting people mix makes Malaysia cosmopolitan.

We stopped over at a Korean restaurant and ate Chicken Stir-fried Dish with Fish Cake Broth. It was fabulous on a rainy day. All over the places, the Lunar New Year celebration was taking place.

It was an interesting and joyous trip. I am grateful and content. - Jeffrey

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