Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If You Believe This......

.....you'll believe anything!

Update 23/8/10.
Well,that will teach me for being such a cynic..
This does seem to be working.
I recently took a taxi for a small trip in KL that used to cost me RM10 as either the meter was broken and/or that's what the driver wanted..take it or leave it.
Last night the driver automatically set the meter and the ride cost RM 3.20....nice.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pudu Jail, Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur

One of the oldest buildings in Kuala Lumpur,built in 1895 will soon be lost forever.
I guess it's quite strange to list Pudu Jail as an "attraction" as some horrible things have happened inside,including the hanging of two Australian's convicted of Drug Smuggling in 1986.
But having said that,Pudu Jail is an interesting bit of architecture.
It closed as a prison years ago and the authorities didn't really know what to do with it....it became a museum for a short while and then was closed for ages and then became a drug rehabilitation centre and now it's going to be......surprise! surprise! a Shopping Mall and Condo Development!
Like we need another one?
I don't know anyone who would want to buy a condo there as they'll consider it "haunted land"
It will probably look a bit like the ugly Times Square opposite....
Demolition work on some of the outer wall started last year,to build a road tunnel going towards the Putrajaya Bus Terminal-for years there has been talk of relocating the bus terminal but I guess by building a tunnel to it,it must be staying where it is.
Oh well,such is the fickleness of the Kuala Lumpur planning authorities....
You can get a great view of Pudu Jail when you ride the monorail between Imbi Station (Times Square) and Maharajalela Station going towards KL Sentral.
If you're on foot,walk to the bottom of Jalan Bukit Bintang/Jalan Imbi and cross the big junction.
The closeness of this prison to the city-centre tells of how small a settlement Kuala Lumpur was 100 years ago-but then I did read an account of a tiger being shot on Jalan Bukit Bintang in the 1920's.....or perhaps it was a "Thai Girl".....

Friday, March 19, 2010

St.Patrick's Day at Gypsy Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur

It's been an interesting few nights on Changkat Bukit Bintang
It all started with St. Patrick's Day.(17th March for those who are unaware)
You would expect the Irish Bars to be busy-which they were,almost packed-out but the whole street was jumpin'
It was like a Friday night.....The only place that seemed to miss-out on the crowds was Reggae Bar,it was empty.
Gypsy Bar was really busy and laid on some entertainment in the form of a kilt-wearing bagpipe player accompanied by two drummers playing bangra-style.
It was all a bit weird and not very Irish but somehow it seemed to work.
An unexpected good night-out.
Then I heard that Reggae Bar and Elixir Club were both subject to a police raid the next night at around 11.30pm.
I understand it was nothing to do with vice but more to do with licensing/permits (you need about 70 different types of permit to operate a bar in KL)...or maybe it was linked to recent complaints about the noise.....
The sound-systems and CD's were confiscated but it was all "business as usual" the next night.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ugly City of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is actually quite an ugly city.
I know there are some nice, atmospheric enclaves with a bit of character but,as I said..
It's pretty ugly.
The skyline,from a distance looks great but when you get up close and personal it's a different story.
The main reason for this is that the city never really looks "finished", there is ALWAYS some construction going on somewhere and because nothing is organised, planned or coordinated on a city-wide scale it's all a bit hap-hazard.
Then you've got a dirty,rubbish strewn streets with drains blocked-up by inconsiderate idiots who just throw their rubbish into the nearest drain.....
A good example would be Bukit Bintang-The Pavilion Shopping Centre was completed two years ago-it was huge construction site for ages,now what used to be KL Plaza is being re-modeled,so another huge and ugly site-Lot 10 is also going through a staggered re-development.
When that's complete,watch and see what happens to the land between the Grand Millennium Hotel and Pavilion which is scheduled to be serviced apartments....The premier street in Kuala Lumpur seems to be a permanent construction site....
Have a look around KLCC and the park there-more construction sites for yet more apartments plus another couple of hotels and office blocks and another mini-tower next to KLCC for yet more shops....
Alright,I know that in this part of the world,progress and development= concrete (never mind the lack of infra-structure) and some of the office buildings are quite spectacular but I just wish they'd all hurry-up and get it finished.
It makes a smoggy, hazy city even more dusty and the pavements/drains/roads are always getting damaged by heavy vehicles.
And it's the same in the suburbs as well...just take the LRT or monorail and count the number of cranes you can see...
I get the feeling that the domestic economy in Malaysia is fuelled and sustained by the construction industry.
All the condos/serviced apartments seem to be built for "investment" the developers don't seem to really care if anyone actually lives in them....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day trip to Port Dickson from Kuala Lumpur

I've been meaning to write about Port Dickson for a while but never got around to it-but recently a friend of mine went and recanted his story and we shared similar experiences....
The short answer is that it's not really worth the effort.
It's about 100km south of KL and is the closest thing KL has to a beach (not counting artificial Sunway Lagoon) Getting there really means you need a car or hiring a taxi for the day.
If you're truly adventurous it can be reached by bus from Pudaraya.
The town and the coast are dominated by Oil & Gas refineries and despite the fact that parts of the town look a bit quaint with some old shophouses and a railway line,there's really nothing there of any interest.
The coastline is the only attraction and if you follow the coast road south you will come across mile-after-mile of self-contained resorts and abandoned construction sites.
They all look pretty-much identical,best beach is probably at Blue Lagoon about 8km out of town. I used the word "best" in a vague sense as it's still nothing special. The sea is a very,very shallow and can be a bit oily and yucky. Beach litter is also a bit of a problem.
But,at least you're out of KL for a while and the natural scenery is better to look at and the air can be a bit fresher.
Lots of locals come to Port Dickson for weekends or for company training sessions and stay in the self-contained resorts whilst others just come for the day,have a beach barbecue and leave their rubbish behind.
Many visitors don't even swim,they just stay at the resort and stare at the sea.
Service and food are,at best,pretty average.
Another wasted opportunity,it could be so much better with a little planning and better management. Like so many seaside places in Malaysia,there is no real centre, just a long ribbon of "development" all offering exactly the same experience.
You may as well stay in KL,get a nice hotel room and look at the pool-and probably save a bit of money over the weekend as places here aren't that cheap...
If you really need to get out of KL and see some sea then it would be far,far better to fly-up to Redang or the Perhentians on the East Coast for a 3D/2N stay.There are some pretty good deals on Airasia and some good value packages.
It was reported in "The Star" 12/3/10 that almost half of the restaurants recently inspected had to be closed-down due to poor hygiene standards.....

Lion Dance at Reggae Bar,Changkat Bukit Bintang,Kuala Lumpur

I've mentioned before that Reggae Bar is not my cup-of-tea.
When it's empty it looks like "a club waiting to happen" and is devoid of any atmosphere whatsoever and when it's busy and jumping inside,I'm too stingy to pay the cover charge or the exorbitant price for a beer....
Maybe I just need to get the timing right....
But having said all that,they did put on a really good Lion Dance during the recent Chinese New Year celebrations-so,good luck to them!
Definitely one of the best I've seen.
Reggae Bar and Elixir Club were subjected to a police raid at around 11.30pm.
I understand it was all about licensing/permits rather than vice activities....or maybe it was linked to recent complaints about the noise....
The sound systems/cd's were confiscated but it a day later it was business as usual .
I've been told that to run a bar in KL you need to apply for nearly 70 different permits from the local council/police/fire dept etc etc....

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Best Restaurant in Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur?

Yes. No Contest.
I've written before about Jalan Alor,the food street that runs parallel to Bukit Bintang.
The best food can be found at Meng Kee Grilled Fish Restaurant about half-way down.
This place covers about 3 or 4 shop-fronts as it sprawls out along the pavement.
It's easy to find because there are always lots of people sitting at the tables-the sign of a good restaurant plus,like most places along the street they have staff outside eager for your business. Look for the small Chinese woman boss with the big voice-she will always find you a seat!
Note: There is a totally different night time scene to day-time.
this restaurant only opens in the evening which is why there are many confusing name-signs.

As the name Meng Kee Grilled Fish suggests,specialities here are fish.
The menu is simple and easy to understand with pictures and prices under each dish and you can order small,medium or large. Fish dishes range from RM20-RM35 and "small" is big enough for 2 or 3 people to share.
I think the beer comes from another stall along the street and is RM15 for a big bottle.
The Grilled Stingray with Chili sauce,The Chicken fish (guess what it tastes like) and the Buttered Prawns are amongst my favourites with Four-Angle Beans in Chili sauce or Taiwanese Bean Sprouts as a veggie accompaniment.
Plus the rice-or noodles of course.
The staff and the boss are very friendly and the restaurant caters to tourists,expats and locals.
I've been coming here for years and to my knowledge have never been overcharged.
I've recommended it to many others-all of whom have enjoyed it.

If you're a bit "fussy" the idea of sitting at a plastic table on a dirty and sometimes smelly pavement-knowing that their are plenty of rats in the vicinity whilst you're being hassled every ten minutes by some tout may be a bit off-putting.
Or you may think it adds to the atmosphere!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Asian Heritage Row,Jalan Doraisamy,Kuala Lumpur

Within walking distance from Cap Square/Dang Wangi LRT or the Imperial Hotel/Bukit Tuanku Monorail, Asian Heritage Row was at one time "The Next Big Thing" for Kuala Lumpur nightlife.
Sorry to say,It Isn't Anymore.
A few years back it seemed to have a good mix of places that offered almost something for everyone...pubs,bars,restaurants and clubs.
These days it's mainly just clubs-and a lot seem to change hands quite frequently which makes me think that the place just doesn't work.
It all looks a bit tired and run down to be honest. And I don't know anyone who goes there.Ever.
But then,I don't know many 25 year-olds.
When I walk past no one has ever tried to entice me inside so I'm obviously not their target market.
The bars look like clubs and the clubs have RM50 cover charges.
And it all looks the same.
It's almost deserted during the week and things don't get going until past midnight at weekends.
Whether it was wrong location,greedy landlords or just a fickle clientele that has moved elsewhere (and it's RM10 to park) ,it just doesn't seem to be raking in the crowds.
Maybe I'm just a bit jealous of youngsters who can party all night-and have more money to spend than I do....
Update 6/4/10 I just heard that BarSavanh has closed-this place was almost the "anchor tennant" and was probably the first to open on this street.
If they can no longer make it work here....maybe no one can.
I think you'd have to be very brave to open a bar on this street.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Beach Club Jalan P.Ramlee Kuala Lumpur

They had a Lion Dance performance at Beach Club last Sunday.
Traditionally,a Lion Dance ushers in the (Chinese)New Year and brings luck and prosperity to the owner/establishment.
Judging from last Sunday,Beach Club needs all the help it can get.
I used to like coming here for a few good reasons:
a) It was the only lively place to go on a Sunday.
b) It had a good Happy Hour bucket of beer promotion.
c) There was always some interesting "scenery" to look at-if you get my drift.
d) The DJ played a lot of 80's and 90's rock and they had a live blues band.
It would seem that since the well publicised raids last October and on January 1st this year that Beach Club can no longer call itself "Asia's Most Popular Bar" if it ever really could.
a) It wasn't very busy at all (although I did leave at 11pm so maybe it got busy later)
b) the bucket Promotion at RM69 for 6 beers is still OK-but not as good as when it was RM55.
And,I don't know if my hands have gotten bigger-but the bottles seemed a bit smaller.
c) There was definitely a "B Team" line-up as far as the scenery is concerned.
d) Beach Club does not have live music anymore-the DJ was crap and was playing bass-heavy dance music.
Also,at 10pm (in view of noise restrictions) most of the sliding doors are shut,leaving only a few gaps to get into the bar/dance area inside from the outside veranda,which creates 2 distinct areas;an inside and an outside and they feel quite remote from each-other.
There used to be a couple of small bars outside but these have been taken away-probably a sign that Beach Club doesn't get the crowds like it used to,or maybe they were banned from having them there.
I guess it's still one of the only lively places to go on a Sunday and Happy Hour is OK but it's definitely lost something of late-I'd give it a six-and -a-half out of ten.