Bands, cars and sweaty bars
Posted by Sam Thompson
After leaving Melaka we headed back to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend for the Future Music Festival. The site for the festival was the Sepang F1 circuit which is about 40 minutes outside of KL. The festival gates opened at 13:00, so we decided to get there on time to take a look around whilst having a few beers. On arriving we were told that the gates wouldn’t open until about 14:30 as they were running late.
So instead of being able to get in a festive mood, we were left waiting with no shade from the 40 degree heat, nothing to drink (water or beer), and getting more frustrated by the minute. While we were waiting we bumped into a couple we had met the previous night; Laurence and Rosa. When we eventually got into the site and heading straight to the bar, we were told that they didn’t open until 16:00, including for soft drinks. At this point we were feeling slightly weary after standing in the mid-day sun for two and a half hours.
But the bar eventually opened (£3 for a small can of Heineken…ouch), and it was great to be back watching live music after such a long time. There were three stages spread across the site, with mainly dance acts playing. I was subjected to some utter dross (namely Flo Rida), but it was good to see some acts we’ve never heard of. The highlight of the day was Grandmaster Flash, who played some old classics and got everyone going. Chase and Status, Pendulum and The Chemical Brothers followed, and all-in-all it was a great day.
We had to leave slightly early due to a combination of too many extortionate drinks, too much sun and a slightly dodgy tummy for Katy. Not ideal in pitch black porter-loos. Thankfully as we made our way to the taxis, a group of Australians offered us a lift back into town. It saved us a huge taxi bill, and got us back much quicker than we would have (much to Katy’s delight).
The following day we took a walk around Bukit Bintang, which is the shopping district of the city. As much as I hate shopping, this is definitely the place to do it. Cheaper than almost everywhere we have been, and the choice of shopping malls to look in is endless. The air-conditioning is also a welcome relief.
Port Dickson was a place a few people had mentioned, so the next day we took a bus there via Seremban. When we arrived we were a bit disappointed. It’s made up of dilapidated buildings and fairly average beaches. During the week there is almost nothing open, so we ended up spending the evening watching films on the laptop eating pot noodles. One night was enough, so after spending a day there doing very little, we headed back to KL.
There is a lot to do in KL, but it is an expensive place to be. Food can be cheap if you stay to the local street food restaurants, but drinks and accommodation are expensive. We took a visit to a bird park, which has the biggest free-flying aviary in the world. Normally I wouldn’t be excited about going to look at birds (no pun intended), but it was actually quite a nice place to walk around. Katy had her picture taken with a hornbill and a parrot sat on her, and she was enjoying it until one of them pooed on her. She did have the option to have an owl or an eagle, but for some reason chose not to.
After a few hours walking around the huge park in the centre of town, visiting the national monument and an orchid garden, we headed to China Town for some dumplings. We also took a walk around Little India, but compared to Penang there wasn’t really too much to see.
One of the things to see in KL is the Batu Caves. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. To reach it you have to climb a steep flight of 272 steps, and inside a huge cave 100m high there are various Hindu shrines. While we were there we also had a tour around some bat caves, which had over 250,000 bats in there. It didn’t smell particularly nice, and most of it was pitch black, but it was quite an interesting thing to do.
Since then we have spent some time in the city centre to see the twin towers. We visited on the Friday before the Grand Prix, and there were various things going on there. The headline act was a Korean pop band called Girls’ Generation. It was absolutely packed and a really good atmosphere, despite the music. As we headed to Jalan Alor to get some of the famous street food, Katy decided that she knew a short cut. Instead of walking back ten minutes the way we had walked earlier, we ended up on a two-hour trek, mainly down dual carriageways, back to our hostel. On the way back we bought some pot-noodles from a 7Eleven. Not exactly what I had envisaged for my dinner.
The next day we went for breakfast in a Nasi Kandar restaurant just around the corner from our hostel. After finishing our chicken curry with vegetables (which was lovely), we got chatting to a crazy man called M S Tamby. I say we got chatting, but it actually involved him speaking at us non-stop for about 30 minutes. After telling us various stories, including one about when he met Winston Churchill in Canada, he then drew us a picture on a napkin. Some of his abstract art apparently, which is very bizarre. Apparently we should insure it for £5M. He then started telling us what kind of people we are, and what we should do with our lives. It took us a while, but we finally managed to say our goodbyes and get away from him. Nice guy, but very scary.
After a heavy night watching Arsenal and Bolton win in the expensive bar district of KL, yesterday we headed back to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix. When we got there it was so hot, that the thought of sitting there for three hours or so wasn’t good. The atmosphere on the hill was great, and with two Brits at the front of the grid we were looking forward to the race.
About five minutes before the race started, the rain came. Thankfully it also brought a huge drop in temperature to a more acceptable 26 degrees. We were prepared for the rain as it had been forecast for the weekend, so we sat there in our attractive ponchos looking like idiots, but dry. The race started without any huge incident, but it was clear that the rain may cause problems as it was really coming down now. Eight laps into the race it was stopped as it was deemed dangerous for the drivers. There was a break of about 50 minutes while waiting for the rain to ease, and then the race was back underway.
At first it was fairly easy to follow who was leading and the general race order, but as the race went on it got more difficult. As people were lapped and the cars got more spread out, we didn’t really have a clue what was going on. Every now and then we saw the race standings on the big screen which brought us up to date. It is definitely better when watching on TV. Yes you don’t get the atmosphere of the crowd, or the deafening sound of the cars, but at least you know what’s going on. Alonso ended up winning the race, with Lewis Hamilton in third and Jensen Button back in 14th.
Tomorrow we’re heading to Kuching in Borneo, and after almost a week in KL we’re looking forward to it. The one thing that has really stood out here is how hot and humid it is. Most of the time temperatures have been in the late 30s with humidity at about 90%. It makes walking down the street hard work. But this is a great city, and one that we would definitely come back to.
As always, in case you’re interested, there are more images available via the RSS feed on the blog, or via the following link:
Until the next time…
About Sam ThompsonCurrently taking a break from everything and travelling around the world. For how long, who knows.
Posted on 26/03/2012, in Malaysia and tagged Accommodation, Back-packer, Backpacker, Batu Caves, Bukit Bintang, Bus, Butterflies, Chase and Status, Chemical Brothers, Chinatown, Dumplings, F1 Grand Prix, Food, Future Music Festival, Hostel, Jalan Alor, Jensen Button, KL, KL Bird Park, Lewis Hamilton, Little India, Malaysia, Malaysian Grand Prix, Pendulum, Rain, Round the world trip, RTW, Travelling, Twin Towers, Weather. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.