from “Release”, Pet Shop Boys, 2002.
The next stage of our travels takes us to another new country – Malaysia – as we explore more of Asia from our base-camp in Bangkok. And as we often do we decided to take our first dip in a new country by visiting its capital, so we packed our bags again and headed off to Kuala Lumpur.
Our travels have enabled us to rack up a few frequent flyer miles so we opted to cash in some of our points with Thai Airways and get a couple of free seats; we only paid for the taxes (around £50 for both of us) so two free return tickets to Kuala Lumpur on one of our favourite airlines seemed like a pretty good deal. We also took a break from Airbnb in favour of a good deal from Starwood Hotels and used our gold membership level to get a very comfy and spacious room at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel with a view of the KL Tower.
The trip to Kuala Lumpur was very straightforward, no delays or problems, though it is still surprising that considering you are flying to a city only two hours away just how much time it does actually take to get there. The car to the airport picked up at at 6:15am and it wasn’t until 2:30pm (Malaysia is +1 hour ahead) that we reached the hotel, which was 7 hours of travelling. Anyway once at the hotel we got settled in after a short wait – the check-in time was 3:00pm – and then we were ready to head out for a bit of an explore.
Outside the hotel is a large and busy road – Jalan Sultan Ismail – along which runs the elevated monorail, one of Kuala Lumpur’s mass transit lines. And on the opposite side of the road from the hotel is the Quill City Mall, which was the nearest place to us with shops and restaurants.
Quill City Mall is much like many of the malls we have encountered in our time in Asia: bright, clean, with plenty of shops and restaurants, and also a cinema with several screens. Though as we were to discover, Quill City Mall had one difference.
We started our exploration of the mall at the top and worked our way around and down in order to get a good idea of what was there and make note of any interesting looking restaurants or shops. Upon discovery of a branch of Daiso (a Japanese chain of shops that sells things for 100 yen / £1 / 60 baht / or in this case 5 ringgit) Philip decreed it was out of bounds until we had found somewhere for dinner; suffice to say there was some pouting as a result. Daiso = cheap stuff shopping heaven, and it definitely brought back fond memories of our time in Japan.
So we perused the menus of various restaurants, and noted the location of the Starbucks (always handy as a Known Quantity for a snack) and spotted a few places that looked promising, particularly Longhorn Steak and Hokkaido Ramen. After having looked at several menus we noticed that none of the restaurants served beer or wine. Then, while scanning the menu of an Italian restaurant, Robert made a statement that has gone down in the Book-Of-Things-To-Be-Brought-Up-To-Show-What-An-Idiot-He-Is, when he said, “Oh look Phil, they do carbonara here with chicken instead of bacon,” to which Philip responded: “Think about it, where are we?” Doh! Explains the lack of alcohol too.
We finished our exploration of the mall and discovered that there was alcohol and pork products to be had: the 7-Eleven sold beer, and the very nice Aeon supermarket on the basement level has a special section with plenty of “banned” products for us decadent westerners to buy 🙂
These prohibitions didn’t apply at the restaurants we found at the Pavilion mall – a later discovery we made in our explorations of the city – just a few stops away on the monorail, and it was there we found another of our Japanese favourites: Coco Ichibanya.
So yes, as we later learned, Quill City Mall is in an area of the city predominately lived in and used by muslims and so there was no alcohol nor pork products served in any of the restaurants. It didn’t stop us dining at Quill City Mall though it was iced-tea or fruit juice with dinner when we ate there on several nights.