Immediately upon arriving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — a quick 50-minute flight from Singapore — the distinction from the recent visits to Cambodia and Vietnam is very apparent. While both Phnom Penh and Saigon are quite modern, there’s virtually no comparison to KL and the surrounding area seen en route from the airport (a good hour, depending on traffic).
The grand welcome at the new Four Seasons Hotel was unexpected! To say our visit felt appreciated is quite the understatement. I have written before about the value in creating “brand” relationships. In this case, the connection between our stay in Vietnam (Hoi An) and now in Kuala Lumpur was indeed a continuation. A subsequent post will include this trip’s “trifecta” with a layover in Hong Kong.
The area surrounding the hotel is home to numerous high rises, of which the new hotel (open less than a year) fits right in. The structure combines both hotel followed by residences above and is attached (conveniently) to a large department store.
Readers who follow this blog know that the hubby and I consider ourselves foodies — not just passionate about experiencing cuisines, but likewise connecting with the creators; i.e., the chefs and restaurateurs. We have such a connection, made two years ago on a visit to the Maldives at the exquisite Four Seasons Kuda Huraa resort. Executive Chef Junious Dickerson made a fateful comment at departure when we happened to share a short ride from the resort to the mainland: “Come to Kuala Lumpur! I am transferring there when the new hotel opens …”
After that trip, we communicated a bit when he would comment on a blog post. I think it’s safe to say it might have been unexpected for us to actually show up. Nevertheless, it was a grand reunion with him and we shared some precious time during our brief few days there. After all, he oversees a kitchen staff of 100 so he’s a busy guy. And the food offerings were vast and elaborate to say the least. We happened to be visiting during Ramadan, widely observed by Muslims (Malaysia is roughly 60% Muslim), so nearly ever restaurant was affected. Since there’s strict fasting between dawn and sunset, a large and elaborate buffet was offered every night during our stay with countless dishes prepared. Imagine your typical Sunday brunch available at many high-end hotels, and then having to do that every evening. It is quite the effort to pull off.
As happens in the days concluding weeks’ long travel, there is a winding down period where the travel back home is now in sight. That, coupled with a bit of travel fatigue and less of a desire for sightseeing, led to some very low-key days. We did go to the famous Petronas Towers, not just your ordinary tall structure, but unique for the two matching towers connected by a floor-to-ceiling, glass-enclosed bridge … about 560 feet above the ground (connecting floors 41 and 42). I got about about three steps onto the bridge and had an epic failure to proceed. In fact, I commandeered a guide and then an elevator operator to take me straight down immediately. I say “commandeered” because my first request was met with “Oh, you need to go to the 82nd floor and then go down with the next tour group” to which I respectfully declined.
Curiously, I was fine on the visit to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa which observation deck is 125 floors up. Or for that matter, lunch in Taipei on the 84th floor. It was the damn bridge that did me in, feeling there was no support underneath.
Our couple of days were spent with a visit to their Orchid Garden (not great considering the constant humidity) and, of course, plentiful shopping malls. If one wanted to see then newly-released Avengers End Game, it was showing on four out of seven screens in one location alone. Kind of like home.
Our last stop of this trip is a long layover in Hong Kong. I’ll cover that plus my SE Asia “winners and losers” in the next post.