CHRONICLES OF MY ASIAN ODYSSEY- CHAPTER 6
Kuala Lumpur -The City
We checked into our hotel suite at The Renaissance Marriott Hotel at around 2 am in the morning. Emy was the gatekeeper in our hotel accomodations for a week and it is an understatement when I say she made a very excellent choice.The hotel is a very plush 5 star hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur close to the high end financial district where the movers and shakers of Malaysia's financial elite rub noses and mingle together. My first impression upon checking in was "WOW" .They did not call this hotel "THE RENAISSANCE" for nothing. This is one of the more impressive hotels that I have ever stayed on- not that I have been always a 5 star kind of gal when I travel.Heavens ,NO! not by a long shot .I am more like a motel 6 escapee (lol) especially when I travel in Europe.It was quite intimidating checking in with its gilded grand lobby and equally intimidating , well heeled front desk and concierge staff. I was in shorts,a San Francisco t-shirt , my gymn shoes and a trekking backpack and so were the rest of my gang.No doubt, we all look like the Beverly Hillbillies trio at first glance and I can see the front desk clerks rolling their eyes and probably thinking we were supposed to be checking in somewhere else. Hey, I was not expecting to coop up in my hotel room only to be seen by the hotel staff.I was going to rough it up in Malaysia for a week and immerse myself in its well documented jungles among its leeches,snakes and all the tropical indigenous fauna and flora that call the Malaysian jungles home.Glamour clothes in the jungle are as foreign as the jungle inhabitants themselves.But with this plush sorroundings, I would not mind living here the rest of my life. It sure beats The Ritz in Paris of which I have only been once in its lobby for coffee and dessert - the only treat I could afford. This was a long time ago when I honeymooned in Europe when my husband and I decided we should try the Ritz for coffee as we have heard about it and we happened to be sighseeing around Place Vendome that time. Surely,Emy did not skimp on our accomodations. I just wished she had advised us to dress accordingly upon our arrival and bring more suitable clothes for dining at the hotel's restaurant.
As we approached the front desk, we were attended by a clerk who seemed to be of Indian origin and did not seem to embody the trait of friendliness expected from a grand hotel like this..On top of that , he is struggling with his English which made the situation a little bit more challenging.I am not someone who passes judgement quickly so I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt. Ok , maybe he had a hard day and working at 4 o'clock in the morning is not exactly the ideal working condition.I can relate to that, having worked in laboratories on graveyard shifts.That is a killer shift to work especially when you are understaffed.So, Mr Congeniality 's first words to us, after looking at his computer screen were: Our check in time is at 2'oclock in the afternoon and that is our rule and he said it in a very condescending tone of voice.I could not believe my ears. I said to myself , yes we understand that .That is a normal check in time to most hotels anywhere in the world. What are we supposed to do? Our flight got in early and that was disclosed when Emy made the reservations. Right then and there, I began to feel animosity on this man. I felt slighted with his conduct and this is supposed to be the Marriot that prides itself on being top notch in hospitality and comfort? Even Motel 6 has a better mannered reception desk compared to this fool.This man definitely needs retraining in hospitality and etiquette. He quickly assumed that we did not understand we need to pay an extra day.I don't think Mr Congeniality had travelled much because he looked at my passport which is filled with entries and exits immigration and customs stamps from different countries all over the world and so therefore familiar with hotel check in times even in Kuala Lumpur.Still ,he had the audacity to treat us like it was our first time to stay in a hotel.Finally, he said, point blank to us, you need to pay one extra day before you can get your room.Just like that. No finesse at all.Finally, my sister Tina could not take it anymore, she came to intercede.Mr Congeniality , once more repeated to her that we need to pay an extra day or we cannot have our room not until 2 o'clock pm. That is almost 12 hours of waiting.Tina pulled out her American Express Premier Gold card to pay for the extra day room.Lo and behold ,after seeing Tina's American Express card , Mr Congeniality, timidly and instantly changed his demeanor.Not only did he upgrade our room into a suite but he also ordered a bottle of wine to be brought up. Ole! I guess $175 annual membership fee for an American Express gold card has its rewards and preferential treatment is one of them.I have to give credit to Mr Congeniality though. At least, he was smart enough to decipher what an American express premier gold card means and what is expected to be part of the perks associated with owning the card."Looks are decieving "once more proved its point.For a split second , we were treated like a nobody to an instant somebody with all the frills.I better enjoy this while I can because it is not everyday, I get to stay in a hotel like this and be treated like a celebrity(whatever that means,LOL)
It was almost 3 AM when we finally settled to our suite which is needless to say more than comfortable .We had a 180 degree view of the Petronas Twin Towers -the third tallest building in the world at 453 meters high.It used to be the tallest building in the world until recently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was completed and dethroned the Twin Towers with its 830 meters height in 2010. The lights of both towers were enough to light my bedroom at night .The view is unbelievably magnificent especially when both towers were fully lighted.Laying down at night in my plush soft bed , downs bed covers and pillows in beige tones and the lighted twin towers as my front view was surreal.I was inspired to write a poem about it which I published in Hubpages.Besides the luxurious bedroom ,our suite had also a well appointed kitchen,dining table for four,fully stocked fridge,separate living room and little nook for an office.Internet is lightning fast which I was really excited about . Fast internet connection is always my personal requirement when I travel. I can't live without it. It is one luxury I can never let go whenever I go anywhere away from home.Ah, the suite and sweet life of Kuala Lumpur.This is living la vida loca - a complete contrast from my typical life in California.
After examining our well appointed suite, we were all ready to jump to bed and take a good night's sleep which we have been denied for the past several days.I did not have any trouble sleeping at all. .A few minutes was all it took before I was gone and dead to the world. We have a big day in a few hours for a city tour of Kuala Lumpur and an appointment for a spa treatment at night. Kuala Lumpur, like the rest of Asian countries are teeming with endless massage parlors ,some are shady establishments doubling as a bordello on top of the massage services as a front.Some are open 24 hours a day and never a day closed.I never understood why the profession of the flesh proliferate in a predominantly Muslim country.What I failed to realize is that this profession dates back to the Biblical times and Kuala Lumpur is no different.Chastity is a cliche among Muslim women.
We opted for room service for breakfast as the 4 of us were in no mood to change clothes in preparation to invade the breakfast buffet served at the hotel.I preferred to have breakfast in my room ,in my Pj's and gaze at the Twin towers in amazement in peace and quiet before I get summoned by our tour bus in a few hours.I had coffee and croissants with jam and Nutella in cubes. It is a treat to see Nutella in cubes as the Nutella I know is always in big jars.American food is never known to be packaged in mini sizes.I am not surprised by that.One look at the obesity crisis in America is due to the public's inability to use portion control.
At 9 am , our tour bus picked us at the hotel for a scheduled city tour.It is a 5 hour city tour of Kuala Lumpur. We road in a coaster mini bus that will take us around the city of of Kuala Lumpur with an in Indian tour guide who had a knack for dry humour. As we were driven to the sites and landmarks in Kuala Lumpur, I was impressed with its infrastructure.Kuala Lumpur is a compact city with about 1.6 million inhabitants in a 94 square mile land area.The traffic is civilized even with numerous vehicles plying off its roads.We were toured to Bukit Bintang the main shopping and eating district-Malaysians love to shop and they love their malls, The Twin Towers, Single Tower,Chinatown,The Indian town and the Arab town which are all in different quarters of the city but not too far from each other.We visited the national museum that showcases the Malay tradition, saw the King's Palace called Istana Negra which was supposedly built for 800 million ringgit (about 350 million dollars )and nobody but 2 people live there= THE KING AND THE QUEEN who are only ceremonial in position and does not partake in the affairs of the state.The Malaysians must love their king to build his house at the taxpayers' expense and don't do anything but cut ribbons and show off their ceremonial garb. .LOL! My overall impression of Kuala Lumpur is favorable and I am quite impressed with its relatively crime free environment inspite of it, being a cosmopolitan and modern city.The only grave crime that is committed in Kuala Lumpur is traffic violations. I can tell you ,Kuala Lumpur is my kind of town when it comes to traffic violations. LOL! I will be a big hit around here with the traffic police as my driving record will definitely be put into a test. With almost 1.6 million people in Kuala Lumpur, there are only few instances when you see a policeman and if you do see one,he is busy directing and controlling traffic. No police sirens going off to catch a felon. If there is a negative that I can comment in Malaysia,it is the rudeness of the Malaysians.They don't seem to have the civility in human interaction that is a trademark in western culture.I tried to figure out the indigenous rudeness of the Malaysians- be it the street food vendor, the food servers in the restaurants ,even our tour guide, the vendor at the malls, I am amazed at their lack of civility in their conversational manners . This is a country formerly colonized by the British. The British are known for their appropriate behaviour and impeccable manners.Obviously, they failed to instill these characteristics among the Malaysians which is a shame since the Malay culture is a rich and vibrant culture and definitely worth assimilating to our very own culture.But the rudeness blocks all that.
We had dinner at Bukit Bintang after the tour.Malaysian cuisine is traditionally spicy and has a lot of Indian and Chinese influences.Chili paste is a staple along with rice. Not a lot of meat but mostly fish and poultry with a lot of vegetables and rice. The restaurant we ate was a cross between street food cuisine and your a little hole off the wall Chinese restaurant. Typically , it is where your average Malaysian go for a quick meal to bypass cooking at home.The fast food culture-Malaysian Style has caught on also in Malaysia.Kuala Lumpur in its hurried fast paced life has embraced the benefits of fast food convenience thus the proliferation of small fast food restaurants and food carts in the streets.The difference between an American fast food and a Malaysian fast food is: no chicken mc nuggets served in Malaysian fastfood.It is fish balls on a stick or a bowl of spicy soup with chili paste.
Next Chapter.... under construction.