One of the things I like least about being an expat is having to say goodbye when you or your fellow expats move on. Still, it means you’ve often got friends in so many different places, and stopovers are always more fun visiting friends who live there.
Last weekend I visited Kuala Lumpur, a city I’ve transited through countless times over the past 12 or so years. Each time I’ve moved overseas I’ve happened to have flown MH, and have spent countless stopovers in its hub city on other trips. It holds some fantastic memories, particularly of backpacking there as a uni student. Now, friends live there and it only further adds to the appeal, along with its wonderful food, warm people and low-key vibe.
Look, a city with low rise buildings!
Like the last couple of trips, we stayed at the Parkroyal in Bukit Bintang, which was a disappointing stay this time around. Never having previously stayed in the superior room, we got a royal shock when we stepped into the room, after having been stuck in traffic from the airport and arriving at 1:30am. The 23sqm room (coming from Hong Kong, that’s a decent size) lacked a proper bathroom, and the doors to the toilet and shower were in the middle of the space, just frosted over. The bed was smaller than the euphemistically named “semi double” size which most Hong Kong apartments can only fit. It was hard, too, and lacked any mattress pad or good quality sheets one would expect from a decent hotel. To say such a room would be a decent Japanese business hotel is not a compliment when expecting a 4-star room in a country such as Malaysia, which doesn’t face the lack of space in Japan or Hong Kong. We had to pay RM60 extra per night to upgrade to a deluxe room, which was of the standard we expected. By the time we got a decent room (the night manager promised to send up the keys, but after waiting and waiting, we called and were told he had no one to send the keys up – we would have collected them first thing had we been told) it was after 2:30 am.
The bed in the deluxe room was much bigger and softer, but the room lacked blackout curtains to block the bright tropical sun from getting in the way of a decent sleep in. Another thing which got in the way of our sleep was noise. Despite asking for a quiet room, we were placed near the elevator. Being so eager to get to bed, we didn’t notice it initially, but boy did we notice it when Chinese families were marching to and from the breakfast buffet. The doors also lacked that soft ‘click’ shut of a good hotel room, and instead closed with a giant ‘thud’. Wakey wakey!
On the topic of a breakfast buffet, I generally don’t bother in this part of the world, as many travellers here give it the ambience of a wet market. Instead, we ordered room service, which was decent and affordable at about RM40 for more than enough food to feed two adults. However, the extra poached eggs I’d ordered in addition to the Malaysian breakfast set ended up being a full American set, at full cost and with unwanted sausages and other meat products.
Opon checking out, we asked for a meter taxi and had a rather confusing experience. The staff member asked what our budget was, and confused, we repeated that we wanted a meter taxi. Again, he asked what we wanted to spend. It took a while to express that we didn’t want a prepaid taxi, but wanted to pay what the meter said, which is always less than a hotel’s taxi charge. I’m still not sure if it was an issue of second language pragmatics, or something more dodgy.
So, as a huge part of my travel story, I’ll definitely find myself in KL again, but probably not at the Parkroyal. I guess we’ve outgrown each other, and it’s time for a new KL hotel.