post

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

April 5, 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2018 Borneo tour

Joe & Charlotte standing in the Sky Box atop the KL Tower

Joe & Charlotte standing in the Sky Box atop the KL Tower

We arrive at the KL Tower when it opens at 9:30AM, so there are no crowds. Our tour guide Susan waves off the photographers who normally take photos of everyone as they enter the elevator area. We go straight up to the Sky Deck, which offers open air viewing. This is much better for photography than the glassed-in deck I visited in 2016 when I was here on a Holland America shore excursion. There are also two Sky Boxes on this level, which are glass-floored boxes that extend out into the open air clear of the tower superstructure.

We make a stop at the Titiwangsa Lake Gardens for some very nice views of the Petronas Towers and the hospital district with the cityscape reflected in the lake. Our next stop is the Petronas Towers mall for lunch in the Signature Food Court on level 3. The food is cheap and good, but I have to eat quickly and get out of there to escape the noise and crowds.

Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple

We visit the highly ornate Thean Hou Chinese Buddhist temple, which presents us with lots of photo ops. By the time we get back on the bus, it is after 2PM and getting very hot outside. Some of our group are done for the day, however our tour leader Susan wants us to see two more sights before we return to the hotel. She proposes to finish the original tour, which includes a walk-about Chinatown and two more temples, but only for those in the group who want to go.

So we all go to see the Chan See Shu Yuen clan hall, which is very interesting, but only worth about 15 minutes, and then we go to nearby Merdeka Square, where there are lots of colonial era buildings, including an old English-era church and a cricket field. We cross the street and walk a block to the River of Life area, where two rivers meet and where the historic Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque) is located.

Susan takes the group who want to see more off on their walkabout to Chinatown, while the rest of us (me included) are driven back to the hotel. I have a shower and a rest before we leave in the bus for a dinner and cultural show at Saloma (now called WoW KL) in the club district of the city. The cultural show is a high-energy affair, which highlights the multi-cultural milieu that makes up the country of Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur (2016 & 2018) – galleryslideshow

post

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Feb 27, 2016 – Port Klang & Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2016 – SE Asia and Total Solar Eclipse cruise

Petronas twin towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas twin towers, Kuala Lumpur

There is a giant NCL ship docked beside us this morning at Port Klang. She arrived first with 3,500 passengers aboard, so the shore resources are swamped. This delays the clearance of our ship, and the departure times for the shore excursions end up being almost an hour later than planned. We finally leave to board our buses and start the hour long drive through heavy traffic to Kuala Lumpur (KL).

The first stop on today’s shore excursion is a Hindu shrine, the Batu Caves. It is built into a huge Karst rock sticking up in the small community of Gombak, just north of KL. I take both video and lots of photos of the stairway of 272 steep steps up to the cavern containing religious temples and statutory. Using HDR and my fisheye lens are both helpful to capture this place. There are monkeys everywhere, and people are feeding them bananas of all things! Guess where the monkeys leave the peels…right on the steep steps! The caves at the top are interesting and well-lit, and have some shrines for the faithful.

Since we had a late start, lunch is our next stop: a sumptuous buffet in a local upscale hotel, the Concorde Hotel. We then make our way to the KL Tower, where we have to wait in what seem to be endless lines to take the elevators to the observation deck. Once there, the views of the city are spectacular!

By this time, we are running very late, so we make a quick photo stop at the Petronas twin towers, and can only stop at the Muzium Negara for a half hour. There are some very interesting historical artifacts in the museum, but we really don’t have time to appreciate them. Our last stop of the day is Independence Square, which offers us obstructed views of quite a few colonial buildings, as well as a cricket field, and other old buildings we have no time to explore.

Our tour is supposed to end at the cruise ship terminal at 4:30PM, but is is a full hour later before we finally arrive after battling traffic congestion most of the day. Not that it matters much to us as passengers, since the ship is not scheduled to depart until 10:30PM.

Warisan Seni Budaya are a Malaysian dance troupe who come aboard the ship this evening and perform some fascinating dances reflecting the mixed cultures to be found in Malaysia: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sarawak, and Sabah. A young dancer struts around the stage in a peacock costume, and their performance ends with a combo of all the ethnic groups dancing together.

post

Eiffel Tower

September 20, 2014 –  Saturday – the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Base of the Eiffel Tower & the Champ de Mars

Base of the Eiffel Tower & the Champ de Mars

After breakfast, the Rick Steves tour is officially over. I say goodbye to the tour members in the lobby who are leaving today. I meet Jennifer’s boyfriend, who lives in the south of France. I end up spending most of the morning catching up with my journaling, sitting in the lobby just chilling out a bit. I chat with a few tour members who are staying in Paris for a few more days. Some are staying in other hotels, so they are moving this morning.

I skip lunch and walk over to Easy Pass Tours to pick up my prepaid, priority entrance ticket to the Eiffel Tower. It is great to walk past the lines of people waiting to buy tickets, breeze through a priority security line, and zoom up to the second floor in the main elevators. Following the Easy Pass instructions, I wait in line for the smaller elevators that take people to the top of the tower. This takes about 20 minutes, but finally I’m at the top, and have absolutely beautiful clear and sunny weather for my time up there. I take lots of photos, including a few selfies, and then descend back down to the second floor for a look around before returning to the ground.

The priority ticket from Easy Pass Tours is well worthwhile in my estimation, since it saves so much time and aggravation. I walk back through the Champ de Mars – a beautiful park with the leaves falling from the trees. There is a Family Day celebration going on, so there are lots of people, kids and dogs around this afternoon.

I previously arranged to join some of the tour members for dinner this evening. We have reservations at Le Bosquet restaurant, which is recommended by the Rick Steves guide. Seven of us end up going out for dinner, and by all accounts everyone is pleased with the food and service.

Today was most enjoyable, and I really appreciate the much slower pace from my days on the tour!