Wednesday, April 10, 2013

KL- shoppers paradise

Day 15 - Thursday Sept 27.

Today we decided on a shopping day, at Chinatown, Central Market and Plaza GM, three great shopping precincts that we had read up about on tripadvisor. Our apartment owner, Peter had a great booklet with information about how to get around KL and places to go etc and so he had warned us that being westerners, the taxi drivers would try to rip us off and charge iinflated prices because we wouldn't know how much fares should be. 

We found this out today. Peter had told us what the fare should roughly be but the taxi drivers all colluded it seemed like. On the side of their taxis it says, "it is illegal to haggle, metered taxis only" but they all would charge us a huge fare to take us somewhere and so we would say no and move on to the next taxi and he would do the same. For example, it was about 12 MYR to go somewhere if they put the meter on but they would give us an overall price and say, " I take you for 30MYR". If they could get away with it, they will charge the earth hoping the tourists know no better. 

I didn't take many photos at Chinatown because we had heard that it is notorious for pick pocketers who love cameras and although I had a few SD cards that I was rotating, I was horrified to think someone could run off with all our holiday memories that we could never get back.


Simon was in heaven as he loves watches and there were just SO many to choose from.

In the end we found a taxi that would put the meter on and he fitted ALL of us, so 8 of us plus him is 9 people, in an old 1980s 5 door sedan with no air-con. We were racing around KL with no seat-belts all jammed in this taxi and I could do nothing but laugh because I was a little scared. We weren't driving too fast as it was very busy but I really didn't want to crash.

The taxi dropped us off at Plaza GM but then he did a strange thing after we all piled out. He came up to Simon and draped his arm around his shoulder and told him that the area was an area known for kidnapping children and he advised us not to stay in the area. We thought it was strange because we knew Peter would not have it in his info booklet if it was dangerous, nothing was said on any of the sites we looked at before we came and it was still in the city not too far from Chinatown. If it was that bad, surely he would have said something while we were in the car and offered to drop us somewhere else.We thought maybe putting his arm around Simon, he was going for the old pick pocket feel but just incase, it unnerved us and we all decided to get out of there.

My worst fear was that, one of the kids being so fair and looking like neon lights, would be too tempting for some kidnapping ring. Flynn was always on our backs but the others were always walking with us and even though they never ran off, in a busy city it was always in the back of my mind, that someone could get snatched.

In Korea, I felt really safe, more so than back home, but here in KL, I felt strangely paranoid. The difference between the two countries was like chalk and cheese. In Korea there was no graffiti, no "bogans", no swearing, people respected their elders and stallholders could leave things out and nothing would get stolen, everyone was honest and polite. On one day it was pouring with rain while we were standing at the lights ready to cross and one man put his umbrella over Mum and then once we crossed the street, told Mum to keep his umbrella. Apparently it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

In KL, however, I felt like instead of being stared at out of curiosity, we were being sized up to see how we could be taken advantage of. My paranoia was proved right a few days later when we were pickpocketed but that is a few posts down the track. KL was dirty and the infrastructure was very dodgy, footpaths were cracked and broken and non-existent alot and I found some of the people rude and belligerent, especially some food shop assistants who would get annoyed by our lack of understanding of things.

The traffic was crazy, the rule being there are no rules but I must admit that the smells and chaos is what made KL the vibrant multicultural city it is and I loved it for that once I got used to it. I'm not saying everyone would have this experience when they go there but for me it was a love/hate relationship and I still recommend it as a great city to visit. Just be prepared for anything. :)

I wish I had taken some photos of the traffic but in the moment I was just hell bent on keeping an eye on the kids, making sure we weren't being pickpocketed and making it safely across the street. Lol.

I found it so funny when we were at Central Market, that to use a toilet cost money. Jonty was busting to go here and couldn't understand that we had to line up and pay first.

So we decided to catch the bus home and it was so disorganized, it was laughable. The bus does not stop at the bus stop, as it can't really pull into the curb, because it can't get over the lanes of traffic because bikes, people, scooters, cars and taxis are moving in and out of the bustop. So when you see your bus you have to run half out onto the road and flag it down and it will stop in the middle of the road, just in the lane it is in and you have to cross over the first lane of traffic and hop on. It was very cheap, like 4 MYR for all of us and seemed to take less time than the taxi. (only about 10 mins to get home) For the 8 of us to dash across the road and make it on the bus safely was a feat in itself. I think we were laughing more because we were relieved at getting on the bus all in one piece.

After our day of shopping we decided to relax in the pools at the apartment complex. The weather never really moves from around 30 degrees so it was perfect for a nice refreshing swim after the hustle and bustle of the city.

pathway to the pool area

view out of the end of the pool

the toddler paddling pool

a third pool

I loved how pretty the grounds were around the complex. The people who lived in the apartments had everything at their fingertips. It had 3 pools, child's playground, gym, security guards with two checkpoints so you couldn't just wonder in off the street and only a 7 minute walk to the trains through the most beautiful gardens. It was like an oasis in the middle of the city.

At the end of the day it was fun to line up our purchases, Shoes are so cheap over here and the proper genuine  brands like Nike had the best deals and noone wanted to miss out.

And that night we watched a beautiful sunset from our apartment balcony.

This was the view from the master bedroom and loungeroom so you could lie on the bed and watch the sun go down and the city lights come to life at night.

The twin towers on the left of the photo where we were the day before.

I loved the apartment. We booked it here and the photos you see on the site are truly what the place was like. It helped that the owner, Peter is Australian and could understand us and the things we wanted to do while we were there. It had 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms and it was only $135AUD a night for the 8 of us and was very spacious and newish. Flynn loved having his own cot in our room and I loved the space and the fact he felt a little more like he was home and slept a bit better than in Korea.


The Kings said...

The hotel looks amazing!! What an adventure. I was cracking up laughing about the taxi and having to catch the bus in the middle of the road! You are braver than me! :)

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Wheeler Team said...

Dodgy taxi driver! Glad you got out of there safely even minus a phone. It is amazing how safe & peaceful S Korea is. Probably what the whole world was like not that long a go.