The drive through the deserted city centre at 06:00 in no way prepared us for the emptiness of Wattay International Airport, Vientiane. The airport only had 1 departure between 07:05 and 11:30, ours, the flight to Kuala Lumpur at 08:45. The board appeared to be highlighted in red as 5 flights had been cancelled to China, 3 before and 2 after we left. It was a bit surreal to be in such a quiet airport! After some breakfast we boarded the plane and we were on our way to KL.
The plane arrived 30 minutes early! After picking up our bags we walked through the terminal and then the shopping mall to the taxi desk skilfully avoiding the gentlemen offering a taxi service, one even went as far as to show us a lovely photo of his car on his phone as we walked past. After avoiding the scam taxi's, we got an official taxi and soon after we were speeding into town to the Ibis (the only 4 star Ibis in the world, don't you know, thank you very much!). On the 19th floor we made ourselves at home in our comfortable surroundings and the trappings of western life that we had perhaps been missing more than we realised.
Our grand plans of having a relaxed dinner and evening disappeared when Craig heard back from a barber shop that would see him that night (a haircut on a Saturday night indeed!) so dinner was from Atlas Pizzeria in Robinson's department store! Katy enjoyed some time wandering the store and then in Starbucks while Craig got his spring shearing! The walk to dinner had also taken us past the famous Petronas Towers.
Having been up so early we decided to have an early night and fell asleep with the curtains open letting the light and view from the city into our room.
The next morning started rather slowly as we had a brunch booked for 12:00. Sadly, Craig (no one is surprised) managed to burn a hole into his shirt with the iron and so we had to cancel, no shirt no service! Instead we headed out to the KLCC mall and explored the vast number of shops in such beautiful surroundings. For lunch, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe where Katy had a balloon flower made for her (as well as picking up a pin badge)!
The temperature had reached 35 degrees with high humidity by the time we had finished lunch so we rushed back to the safety of our air-conditioned room where we caught up on our books. Not needing much for dinner, we went to the rooftop bar on the 31st floor for some drinks, nibbles and to take in the beautiful night time skyline.
On Monday morning we had a quick breakfast before setting out to Masjid Wilayah (Federal Territory Mosque) as the building is known to be beautiful and neither of us have ever been to a mosque before. After putting on our beautiful oversized robes (and a headscarf for Katy) we wandered around the beautiful building, only forbidden from entering the prayer hall which can apparently hold 17,000 people at a time. The main reason we had gone was for the highly praised walking tour however when we got there it was nowhere to be found and so we explored ourselves but felt we had lost something from the experience.
We returned to the city centre and went to the Pavilion Shopping Mall, a huge complex housing hundreds of shops and eateries, a fascinating place to wander, explore and ultimately, get lost in!
For KL we had planned some downtime and that started on Monday afternoon when we came back from the shopping mall with the rest of the day spent at leisure.
The next morning we headed to the rooftop infinity pool after breakfast where we spent our time between reading our books and swimming. It was hard not to get back in the pool when the view was this good!
After some food we decided we had to do some exercise for the day so we headed to the gym although, it wasn't a total chore with a view like this!
The evening was spent at leisure and we watched the Netflix series 'Don't F*ck With Cats' about the Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta. Craig's expert analysis is as follows:
1. If the group had never come together the outcome would have been the exact same.
2. Of course the group couldn't do anything, they were computer nerds, not police/interpol.
Then you realise, for all their bluster, it was a pointless documentary.
The next morning we headed out to the famous Batu Caves, a Hindu temple and shrine that was built in 1891. To access the caves, we had to climb the 272 steep steps to the entrance, passing the flagging tourists, the huge troop of monkeys playing on the stairs, waiting for their opportunity to snatch something unattended and, the faded, although still colourful painted stairs. At the top we stepped into a concrete cavern, where painted Hindu statues and temples adorned the space. Walking all the way to the back we entered another cavern where the top of the limestone mountain had given way to the blue sky. The cavern has been supported with cement, poorly painted, to try and replicate the rocks.
As we left the final cavern, a monkey seemed to take exception to Katy, and threw a stone at her as we were leaving, hey, at least it wasn't poop! We made our way down the stairs to leave the park, when we were offered a taxi. The gentleman quoted us RM60, we refused this inflated price (we paid RM17 to come to the caves) and asked to use the meter. We were told the traffic would be busy (at 11:00 on a Wednesday?!) so it would be RM60, we refused and Craig said we would use Grab when suddenly the price came down to RM50. As we walked away the driver then offered to use the meter but Craig informed him that "no, you have wasted it for yourself!" Sadly, the internet didn't work, so Grab wouldn't work but, refusing to lose face, we walked to the train station. As we took the KTM to KL Sentral (for RM5.60) we noticed a funny smell. Turns out, Katy had stepped on monkey poop, guess that's why the monkey threw the stone! At KL Sentral we switched to the LTR and went to the KLCC (for RM5.20) where Katy cleaned her shoe in the bathroom and we went for lunch in Nando's!
The afternoon was spent chasing our laundry around the hotel, going to the gym and getting organised before heading out to the Petronas Twin Towers, heading up tower 2. We spent time at the 41st floor sky bridge, a bridge that is not directly connected to either tower to allow it to sway in the wind, the 86th observation deck and the 83rd floor observation deck/tourist tat shop.
As we entered the lobby we were grouped with 13 others and taken around the 3 stops together, spending 10 minutes on the sky bridge and 20 minutes on both the 83rd and 86th floors. It felt like we were herded around and it also trapped us with the same group of people. The views however, were amazing, although cloudy, the haze had lifted allowing us to see the city in it's entirety and out to the mountains that KL is nestled between.
After dinner, we headed back to the room where we packed in preparation for going to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) tomorrow.