Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Singapore & Malaysia 2014

Kuala Lumpur - a reintroduction

I got up nice and early for my 9am departure - it struck me as a hugely conservative recommendation by the hotel staff for an airport like Miri, but I decided to go with it. After a particularly quiet breakfast at Zest, I left at the appointed time and was the sole passenger in the van for the transfer to the airport. Once airside, I was amazed to find an executive lounge, which hadn't even been mentioned at the check-in counter. Unfortunately, especially in view of my early departure from the Marriott, the flight was rescheduled to 1155, due to the anticipated late arrival of the inbound aircraft.

RIGHT: Miri Airport, including the lounge and some notable signage!

(Link to flight log in side panel)

The 'KLIA Ekspres' train whisked me non-stop to 'KL Sentral' in an impressive 28 minutes. I knew that the Hilton was located directly beside the station (or stesen!), but it took me longer than expected to find my way through the maze of passageways, all heaving with people, towards my objective. Eventually I got settled into my 28th-floor Executive room. The room itself, and indeed the entire hotel interior, had a pleasingly modern and stylish design, and I felt confident that my one night there was going to be a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

It was after 4pm by now, and I realised that I had better get moving if I wanted to see anything today. I quickly got myself organised and headed back down to the main station, having decided to limit my plans to Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka), a piece of unfinished business from my one previous visit to the city in 2006. The square is a short walk from the Masjid Jamek metro station, itself only two stops from Sentral on the fully automated, driverless trains of the Putra line.

Independence Square is one of the most impressive public spaces in Kuala Lumpur. Notable buildings include the Royal Selangor Club complex, the Music Museum (formerly the National History Museum), the National Textiles Museum, the Kuala Lumpur Gallery and St Mary's Anglican Cathedral. The grandest of them all, however, is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, built by the British administration in the late 19th century. For many years the home of the country's highest courts of law, it currently houses the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. The atmosphere of the square was almost certainly not what it would normally have been during my visit, as some kind of race event was being held which involved the use of undersized motorbikes.

Back at the Hilton, I had a quick shower in order to make myself presentable for the Executive Lounge, following my short but rather sticky foray out into the city. I went up shortly after 6pm and found a wonderfully attractive and stylish lounge, which was not overly crowded. Prosecco and water were my drinks of choice to accompany the superb buffet, which included beautifully presented (and utterly delicious) sushi and sashimi. I decided fairly quickly that no dinner would be required; I'd had a substantial hot meal on the flight and there was more than enough here to keep me happy. My fellow guests were also universally to my liking, with none of the all-too-frequently encountered noisy types. When I felt that I'd just about had enough, I finished the evening with a cappuccino. I needn't have had any concerns about the caffeine intake: after reading for a short while back in my room, I quickly fell into a deep sleep.