Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Petronas Day

Wednesday 1st December 2010 (white rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits)

MP3 track of the day: White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Weather: Humid with a huuuuuuge downpour of rain right in the middle of the day

I woke up early, but I didn't want to, and it was a little later than I had planned. I skipped the free breakfast at the hostel and headed out as quickly as I could; my destination, the Petronas Towers. I arrived at 7:50am and the queue was already huge, with people camping on the floor (I was told later that some had arrived here well before 6am). Before joining the queue I went into the local convenience store and bought a 'snack breakfast' consisting of crisps and biscuits.

It took two hours of queuing before I eventually arrived at the ticket desk; all the while, in the queue, I could see a monitor that displayed tour times and, as people booked their tickets, the amount of tours started to disappear. For tickets to the 'sky bridge' you have to queue early; like I said I got to the towers at 7:50am however forty minutes later, after a guy had come around asking how many tickets each person wanted, the line was closed as all 1,000 tickets for the day had gone.

Once at the desk I booked a ticket for the earliest tour, which was at 2pm at that stage. Reluctantly I paid the 10 Ringgit (£2.00) and then I toured the small Petronas Towers museum before going to the gift shop. My dad wanted a polo shirt of the Petronas Towers and to my amazement there were some, but not many. I had a look and the burgundy shirt was perfect, except for the size. I asked the lady behind the counter if they had anymore polo shirts in different sizes however she was more interested in talking to her work colleges. She basically told me no, which I didn't believe as I couldn't accept the fact that the Petronas Towers didn't have a stock of souvenirs. I had to come back at 2pm for my tour so I decided that I would pop back in and ask someone else.

This is the problem with the Malaysian people; most, not all, but most I've found to be pretty rude (Having a cashier at a mono-rail station, on her mobile phone talking to her mates as she serves you, isn't a rare occurrence) and I find it difficult to trust the Malaysians as I feel that they are trying to squeeze all the money possible out of me. Added to this that the general Malayan public keep staring at me (and not in a good way) I'm starting to really dislike Malaysia. The problem is that I keep comparing things to Japan; you would always get the full attention of a Japanese member of staff in a shop, they would always be polite and never try to rip you off ... it's such a different and better culture.

It was now 11:30am and, with only two hours until my tour, I decided not to wonder far. Not giving up on the quest for my dad's shirt I decided that I would look around the shopping center, within the Petronas Towers, to see if there was another souvenir shop. But first I decided to head out, into the nearby park, and take some photos of the towers.

The park was lovely, but rather hot; as it was around lunch time (and I was a little sweaty) I decided to head back into the air conditioned Petronas Towers and search for said shirt.

Well I didn't find any souvenir shops but I did find a massive book shop with a military history section. Just like in Canada I like to read some history about the places I visit, when I visit ; for South East Asia I've chosen the Vietnam War as I don't know much about it. I ummed and arrred over the price (£15); eventually, after much internal debating, I decided to buy it as a) it's such a specific topic that I think I'll have to purchase a new book 2) the books are imported so they won't be any cheaper than at home and d) in the Melaka book shops there weren't any military history sections so I may not have another opportunity. This did mean that I was now carry three books; still I had posted home three guidebooks (and throw another two away) and so I could carry the extra weight ... also Christmas is just around the corner so a couple of books might be handy.

It was now 1pm and I had a quick lunch before heading down to the ticket office of the Petronas Towers for my 2pm tour. Having arrived a little early I decided to start to ready my book which, from the introduction, seems very good indeed. Soon the gates opened and on my tour there seemed to be me and one huuuuge Malaysian family. Again some of them kept staring at me; I don't know if it's because I'm white, tall or because I have a stupid hat ... it certainly isn't looks as my hair is very greasy today.

After a short film about Petronas I went through a metal detector and into a high speed lift (which ascends, and descends, a floor every second) to the 42nd floor. Here we had fifteen minutes to walk along the sky bridge, taking photos and generally having a look at the view. A few members of the Malaysian family wanted to have their photo taken with me, which was all very nice, however I only had fifteen minutes up here and I wanted to look around. After two photos I politely walked away from the photo shoot and took a few photos myself. The Tour guide asked if I wanted her to take a photo of me and I said yes (wish I had washed my hair this morning); she was very nice and it put a little bit of my faith back into the Malaysian people.

After this we headed down and I went to the gift shop, still no joy. Was the sky bridge worth the three hours queuing, having to come back and generally mess up my entire day? No not really. Was the sky bridge worth doing just to say that I had walked along it? Yes I think so, this is after all Malaysia's iconic symbol (though I was gutted that Catherine Zeta-Jones wasn't there in her cat suit ... not sure what I'm on about? Watch the film Entrapment).

After this I headed to the Thai embassy, about a fifteen minute walk east of the Petronas Towers. As I past the British embassy I gave a little salute back to blighty (and a little bit of me wished I was back at home in the snow). I made it to the Thai embassy but disaster, the Thai embassy only accepts visa applications between 9:30am - 11:30am. I thought how stupid however a gentleman did speak to me and said that the turn around for a visa was only24 hours, so I can pop back tomorrow ... which is a pain, but okay.

I decided that, at 3:30pm, today had been quite a full day and so I started to make my way back to my hostel (giving another salute to blightly on my way past). After ten minutes walking, the skies had darkened and drips of rain were starting to pour down; I erected my umbrella just in time for the biggest downpour known to man. I made it to a tax shelter where, mostly moped drivers, we sheltering too. I thought twenty minutes and it'll all be over however the rain just kept on coming, more and more ... I've not seen rain like it (certainly not in the UK). After an hour I raced between shelters making my way to the Pertonas Towers shopping center. My plan was to have a hot chocolate, and read my new book, whilst the rain poured down and then leave after.

When I arrived at the towers the price of the hot chocolate, compared to a meal, was so high I didn't bother. Looking out the window the rain had stopped and so I headed back to the hostel. On the mono-rail I saw two girls being chatted up by some Malaysian guy. The girls were certainly western, and looked like they were travelers. The whole situation look uncomfortable for them and so I stood near to them making sure they were okay. As it turned out they were heading to the same hostel as I and, even though I reckon they could have handled the situation by themselves, they did see what I was trying to do and thanked me ... which was nice.

Tonight I need to wash my hair and get something to eat. Another early night I reckon as I need to get up early to get to the Thai Embassy. It's actually quite nice walking around here in the morning as it isn't too hot; in future I might get up early, then head to a shopping center for the middle of the day, I dunno.

Toodle Pip!

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