I’ve been traveling to the same place repeatedly for two years, so I was truly happy that Nuffnang Philippines tagged me along with other guest bloggers and the Philippine finalists to the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. It was an amazing and exciting four days traveling with some of the country’s most interesting bloggers (in my honest opinion)!
I’ll be writing more about the NAPBAS in my other blog KikayRunner.com, but I wanted to write separately about the traveling, sightseeing, and food tripping I did.
Traveling & Sightseeing
It took us half a day to get from Manila to Kuala Lumpur. There was the hour ride via shuttle bus to get to Clark. We checked in two hours before our three-and-a-half-hour flight to the KLIA Low Cost Carrier Terminal. After that it took us an hour to clear immigration and customs, collect our baggage, get money exchanged, and buy local sim cards. Then we had to walk a bit (actually, quite a bit) to get to our bus, which took us on a one-hour ride to our hotel.
We were all billeted at the IOI Marriott Putrajaya, which is in a district approximately 30 kilometers away from KL.
Since most of the activities we wanted to do centered in KL, we had to take a 45-minute bus ride going to the city. This was OK during our guided city tour that took us to the National Palace, the National Monument, the Petronas Towers, and the Cocoa Boutique. Very touristy things to do, but at least the bus was ours for the day.
The day after our city tour, though, we had a free day to spend however we liked. So most of the Pinoy bloggers headed back into KL to get some shopping done. My roommate Cami and I, Patty, Angel, Nikki, and Tita Noemi and her husband Tito Butch were lucky enough to get seats on the Marriott’s shuttle, which was a really small van. I felt bad for Hannah and Jane, who had called the reception desk from their room the night before, were assured that they had been listed for the shuttle, but were denied seats that morning.
Since shuttle services were that limited, our other blogger friends had to resort to pooling their resources together and shared taxis. It’s really unfortunate that the hotel couldn’t provide better transport service — at least, more seats going to KL — especially since it’s located so far from everything else.
The shuttle dropped us off at Suria KLCC, a mall right behind the Petronas Towers. However, we’d explored the shopping there during the city tour and realized we’d get better deals and more options at Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang which is the city’s shopping and commercial district.
Here’s where I had the most fun: Cami, Tita Noemi and Tito Butch, and I decided we’d take the trains from KLCC to Bukit Bintang. Locals told us the distance was walkable, but it was hot outside and would take valuable time away from shopping. So it was just a matter of figuring out the rail lines…
There was a Kelana Jaya subway line accessible right from inside Suria KLCC, so we hopped aboard one bound for Dang Wangi.
Once there, we climbed out of the subway, took a pedestrian overpass, walked up the street a bit, and climbed up to the monorail stop at Bukit Nanas. Then it was just two stops to Bukit Bintang!
Even though we were tourists and the only directions we knew were what we read on the automated token/ticketing system and what the guards at the mall and the subway said, we were able to get where we wanted to go, safely and quickly! Try doing that in Manila. Heh. (Check out how extensive the rail lines are in KL.)
At Bukit Bintang we all split up, but kept bumping into each other and the other Pinoy bloggers. I bought plenty of stuff at Forever 21 in Pavilion Mall since it came out cheaper than if I bought them here. But when Cami and I went to Sungei Wang Plaza, I had plenty of regret upon encountering clothes priced at 25 RM (around PHP 300)! I’d already spent most of my ringgit and was wary about getting more since our flight back to Manila was early the next day.
Anyway, we were all shopped out and wanted to head back to the Marriott early. I shared a taxi with Cami, Tracy, and Tin. The cab driver agreed to take us back for 60 RM. This seemed like a reasonable amount since metered cab charges could range from 60 to 90 RM (although kontrata is actually frowned upon).
The driver took a different route so we assumed he knew a shorter way than that used by the shuttles and buses. But then the landscape changed around us and we found ourselves inside Putrajaya’s business district.
At first, we thought he was just taking a scenic shortcut, but as the ride grew longer we realized our driver was lost. After three attempts at asking for directions, we finally got back on the right track. For his trouble, we gave him an extra 30 RM since it took us about an hour-and-a-half to find the Marriott. Considering I get lost like this or even worse in Manila, I kept my cool.
I guess, just like in Manila, you’ve got to know where you’re going so you can get there. Our taxi driver just heard the word “Putrajaya” and off he went. The IOI Marriott is actually not inside Putrajaya proper, LOL.
Like I’ve said in a previous Trippin’ entry, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food while traveling. And having been warned by my brother-in-law that Malaysians make food spicy (even when they say it’s not), I was wary about ordering things right off the menu.
Things from my college classes come back to me in the most useful of ways. I took a Comparative Literature class in Malaysian and Singaporean literature in English during a gap semester when I wasn’t decided on taking my master’s degree yet. Once I hit Malaysian soil it all came back to me. The food, especially.
So when we hit the food courts, I knew exactly what to order: chicken rice!
There are restaurants in Manila serving chicken rice (I was particularly tickled when I visited the Chicken Rice Shop by the Pancake House group a few months ago). The dish itself is Chinese/Singaporean in origin, but is very popular in Malaysia. Served plain, chicken rice is quite mild, which was perfect for my delicate taste buds.
I was a bit more adventurous after the chicken rice, so my next meal involved a bit more spice. The fusion dish pan mee with chicken curry mixes a soft flat Chinese noodle with Indian-style curry.
One food I really missed in Malaysia was: BACON! I didn’t realize how much I’d taken pork for granted in the Philippines until I discovered our hotel breakfast buffet had no bacon. Since Malaysia is a country with a large Muslim population, most establishments attempted to keep their food halal, which meant pork was verboten.
Too bad that we stuck closely to the malls and didn’t explore street markets and hawker stalls; everything is much cheaper there. Ü
Trippin’ on Traveling
Traveling out of the country for the first time in three years truly reawakened my desire to see new places. I realized during this trip that it’s only when you can see your country and people from a wider perspective (given by traveling with an open mind) that you can appreciate them all the more.
I think, for the upcoming year, you’ll see me going more places I’ve never been.
Once again I’d like to thank the wonderful Nuffnang Philippines people for taking me with them to Malaysia. This is one of the best Christmas gifts ever!