Malaysia: The Petronas Twin Towers

Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers

I’m bit tired right now to do a full featured detailed post so I hope this photo essay of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers would do for now. The Petronas Towers used to be the tallest structure in the world until 2004. I guess this is also one of the most photographed structure in Malaysia. So capturing another angle of this tower would be somewhat a challenge. This is also one of those times I wish I had a wider angle lens with me.

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Beguiling Angkor, multi-cultural Kuala Lumpur and back

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The week that was has been a very enriching cultural experience. To be finally able to walk the old stone steps of Angkor was a dream come true. And to visit one of the major cities of South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur and experience its multi-cultural environment was rewarding as well. Allow me to share my brief impressions of both cities.

Let me say this first, that for a third world country, Siem Reap in Cambodia, is a really expensive place to visit. The cheapest food ranges from $2-3 USD. Relatively expensive compared to say Vietnam. Just walking the streets, you’d be hoarded by a slew of vendors and Tuk-tuk drivers that after a few days can get really annoying. Soon you’ll be able to memorize the phrases like “1 dollar!”, “Tuk-tuk sir!”, “Want something cold to drink sir? Something to eat?” But getting used to these nuances and actually dig deeper into their culture and crafts, you’ll find them to be very interesting.

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KK Adventure Final: Succumb to the spice

Bak Kuh Teh

Bak Kuh Teh. I was so hungry that it took half of my meal before I could take a picture. hehehe

It’s one thing to experience adventures of a particular locale, but like icing to a cake, tasting native food is another adventure of the palate kind.

So how does your Bak Kuh Teh taste like? Honestly, it’s a wierd sounding name, but it’s one of those authentic Malaysian foods you may come across on many of their food or restaurants here. It’s highly customizable to your taste buds, you can choose a combination of spices, with either beef, chicken, or lamb on a bowl of herbal soup and there you go. Instant Bak Kuh Teh. Later I learned (from googling of course) that Bak Kuh Teh is really Chinese in origin. Its recipe was brought here and became really popular due to it’s therapeutic qualities as well.

Satay

Satay! The dark one’s the lamb and the light one is the chicken. I prefer the lamb!

And what better to add on its side is Satay. It’s actually a barbecue but with a choice of either a lamb, chicken or pork. And add to it is the kinda sweet and spicy Satay Sauce! It’s delicious and cheap. (more…)

KK Adventure 06: City strolling

Kota Kinabalu City at night

City municipal at night

Just something to keep people occupied while I do a major re-design. This would be the 2nd to the last entry for the KK adventure entries. Will try to finish the last part soon.

Kota Kinabalu is a small city. It seems more like other major provinces here in the Philippines. You could actually tour the city in half a day. For us, we managed to go around the city at night, walking, exploring what is there to explore in the city. Night life is a bit “complicated” says one waiter from a resto we were eating. Karaoke bars usually have “Trouble”. Safest place is at the Waterfront, it’s similar to Baywalk without the lollipop lights and resto structures are aligned.

Corner block

Corner block

There’s really no major attractions around the city. Mostly, there’s hotels (from the budget to deluxe), malls lined up and stores on city blocks, and lots of restos and eatiries. It is evident that this is to cater for us tourist. There are souvenier shops around the malls, but the best place for souveniers here is at the Filipino Market where you can bargain to as good as half the original price! In terms of souveniers though, not much on the food pasalubongs since they have no specialty here worth taking home. (Will delve more on the food on the final entry ) (more…)

KK Adventure 05: Sidetrips

Manukan Island

Manukan island. Who you pointing that finger, huh?

Kota Kinabalu also holds other attractions other than the Kinabalu Mountain itself. If you are into water sports or am longing for some underwater scene after that long long trek up the mountains and forest, there’s this Tunku Abdul Rahman Park which comprises 5 islands. We were only able to visit 1 island (yeah due to budget constraints) which is Manukan and spent most of the day there. It’s only 15-20 min by speed boat and cost us like 15 RM per pax and 10 RM entrance fee. Manukan Island is the largest island in the park. It has very nice guest rooms and restos and quite a number of fish if you are into snorkeling. It has powdery beach but not as fine as Boracay. But I love the ambience here, it is simple and elegant and not commercialized as Boracay. (more…)

KK Adventure 04: Down on wobbly legs

Time to go down

Time to go down!

It’s interesting going down as this time you could see the view, whereas when you climb all was in darkness. Though for some, the darkness was good to cover out the scene, because now you could actually see where you could fall. Going down from the summit is kinda hard on the knees and toes as your body have to balance itself from the pull down. Then navigating through the ropes requires a bit of rapeling skills. Which I found to be fun actually.

Highest Phone booth

The highest phone booth?

Just of the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint is the highest Phone Booth I’ve seen. Yes, it’s working! They may have put these up in case of emergencies or communications from the other stations or if climbers would like to call their friends, loved ones or relatives and tell them they’ve conquered the peak! (more…)

KK Adventure 03: 2.7 km to the Summit

Morning assault to the summit

The trail after the Sayat-sayat check point.

We barely have a couple of hours of sleep. We had to wake up around 2:30am for our summit assault. Or better yet, we were awaken by the constant sound of footsteps from other climbers on the hallway, getting ready as well. Navigatng through a ton of scattered drenched clothes above our room heater and after having something for breakfast at the canteen we set off to climb the last 2.7km toward the summit.

There was a bit of a drizzle. I went ahead of the group as we started our assault 3:30 in the morning. The first 200 meters was easy, as there were lamp post to guide us towards the Summit Gate. After the gate it was all stairs up and total darkness within the forest. It might be the rains but the trail have flowing water. The hike seems much easier or must be the excitement. I just climbed the stairs one step at the time. Whenever I get tired I would count down from each breath from 5 to 1 and say “Go” to force my self in burst mode to continue on my way up. It seems I got hungry often here and had to munch on my raisins and peanuts on the trail. As I go higher I looked back to see the city lights. The amazing view was somehow fullfilling reward to each ascent. I could see some headlights like 10 to 20 meters behind, must be the rest of the guys I thought. I looked up. It was the moon shimmering bright along the clear skies. I was glad, it was a sign of a good weather.

700 meters up I finally reached the rope trail. I decided to wait for my companions, there were two other groups of foreigners who passed me by until they arrived. I went on with the ropes and navigated beside the rocks. It was fun, I thought. Then we reached a stop where I could see the peaks ahead illuminted by the moonlight and at my back the whole city of Kota Kinabalu at night. It was just amazing and thought this trip was really worth it. Shortly we reached the “Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint” where you have to show your IDs. That was already 7.5 km on the trail from the jump off at Timpohon Gate. And shortly from this point it was a vertical assult.

Break of light

The break of light!

It looks easy but it’s tiring. Walking on these stone surface gradually elevated seems much tiring than going up those stairs. It must be the thin air or the altitude sickness starting to kick in. A friend of mine told me that altitude sickness starts at 10500 feet up, and we’re already like 13000+ feet up. Shortly I could see warm light seeping in. It was the break of light on the horizon. It was just breath taking! I just have to stop and see the sun penetrate the sea of clouds slowly dispersing as the sun shone brighter. (more…)