again it turns out that it is great having friends around the world. The
trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was triggered by an invitation to a
wedding in Kuala Lumpur (called KL from now on). We didn’t get that
much time to plan the trip because we got the invitation on pretty short
notice. We did manage to get tickets round trip from Stavanger to
Singapore for about 6000 Norwegian kroner (about 650 US dollars) and
that is not bad. Maybe the price is related to the time of year when we
went on the trip. We started from Stavanger on November 9th
2000. As usual we flew to Amsterdam to catch the next flight from there
to Singapore. When I say we I’m referring to my love Nikki and myself.
For the first time we had decided to bring a video camera. I also had to
bring a laptop and it can get pretty heavy to carry all these items
around. My advice is to bring as little as possible with you to carry
airport (http://www.schiphol.nl) in Amsterdam has gotten a little
facelift since the last time I was there. I like this airport because it
has quite a lot of nice shopping and the whole airport is in one
terminal so you don’t have to take buses around. It even has an
Internet “café” on level 2 in the main shopping area. The price for
45 minutes was about 9 Dutch gylder.
flight to Singapore took about 11 hours and 30 minutes and that is a
pretty long time. We flew KLM and I have to say that their service and
quality has lowered in the years after I started travelling. They seem a
bit old fashion now since they don’t have little screens in each seat
but keep on using the small TV’s hanging in the ceiling. The first
part of the trip was freezing by the way and even when we tried to ask
them what was wrong we just got the answer “it will get warmer”. In
the end most people had put on all the clothes that they had brought
along and it did get warmer eventual.
landed at Changi aiport (http://www.changi.airport.com.sg/)
at about 4 pm. This airport has a reputation for being one of the best
airports in the world and I must say that I was impressed when I went to
the toilet and I saw the toilet paper was folded just like it is folded
in a bathroom in a hotel room. Singapore gave us a hot and humid
welcome. It was about 26 degrees Celsius when we landed and it seemed
like it had rained. I like the climate and it reminds me a lot of the trip
to Thailand in 1998. Talking about Thailand. We flew right over the
island of Koh Samui when we were flying to Singapore. We spent the night
in Singapore at a friend’s house and it was so nice to sleep in a bed
again after sitting on the plane the previous night.
trip to Kuala Lumpur
The following day we took the bus to Kuala Lumpur. The round trip ticket
to KL cost 46 Singapore dollars. The ride itself takes about 4-5 hours
and on the bus they show a movie. There are normally a few stops on the
way where you can buy something to eat and drink. I have taken this bus
before but I took it by night the last time. It doesn’t really matter
cause there is not that much to see apart from green, thick
“jungle”. The roads are nice and all you have to make sure of is
that you have money to get through the toll stations if you drive a car.
Coming to the Puduraya bus station in KL was a “traumatic”
experience btw. It was like 30 degrees and it was packed with people. We
didn’t have any money so the first thing that we had to look for was
an ATM. We found that eventually and then we had to find a taxi. We were
in an extreme hurry because we were going to a wedding on the same day
as the arrival. So when a guy came up to us and said that he would drive
us to the hotel for 25 Ringgit we said yes even if it sounded a bit
expensive. It turned out that the hotel was not very far away so if we
had taken a regular taxi we would only have paid 5-10 Ringgit.
have been to KL before and I used Asia travels (www.asiatravel.com/)
to book a hotel the last time. We did the same this time and the hotel
in KL was “only” 110 RM pr. night. The hotel that we stayed at was the
Federal hotel on Jalan Bukit Bintang. This is where you will find large shopping malls
like Isetan, Lot 10 and so on. The hotel is a pretty nice 4 star hotel
that offers pretty good service. The only drawback is that there is a
construction site right outside and the busy street can get kinda noisy
too. But at least we got a room with a view and we could even see the
Petronas Twin Towers.
about getting around in KL: The taxis in KL are pretty good and pretty
cheap at least compared to what I’m used to. The cabs seem to have
rules to stick to and the name of the driver is available if you want to
file a complaint. We did run into some taxi’s that wanted to drive us
to our destination using a fixed price but we just said no when that
happened and waited for the next taxi.
I have mentioned we were lucky enough to be invited to a wedding in KL.
When we got to the hotel we had not much time to shower and change and
then we jumped into a taxi and drove of to the church. The wedding was a
wedding between an Indian couple but they are both Christian and the
wedding was influenced by that.
The ceremony lasted longer that what
I’m used to from back home in Norway. After that there was a
reception/dinner for the relatives/friends/family and 650 people had
been invited. It was a surprise to us to find out that this dinner was
very short (but good) and the party didn’t last all night as we
thought it would. And some of the guests were also very informally
dressed for the occasion. Of course I have to add that there was another
dinner the next night for friends of the couple and we went through a
long menu of Chinese dishes and there were also dancing.
arrived in KL on Saturday afternoon and went back again to Singapore the
following Wednesday so we did have that much time there. But thanks to
Choo (a friend of the bride) we really got a chance to go around in KL.
She was an excellent local guide for us. First of all we went out to
visit Batu caves that is located right outside KL. To get up to the cave
itself you have to climb the 272 steps and they are steep. And the
monkeys can get kinda aggressive at least if they find out that you have
some food and you don’t want to share it with them. The cave is where
the Thaipusam parade ends every year by the way. I think that it is held
also went out to a place called Sunway Logoon near Petaling Jaya.
This is a combination between shopping mall, hotel, theme parks and so
on. It is basically built on the same model as Sun City in South Africa.
The shopping mall itself was quite nice and it includes a bowling ally,
ice rink and cinema. And the exterior is also amazing because they have
built a whole pyramid and a sphinx in front of it. We also tried out the
water theme park but even though it was very big it wasn’t really that
great. It only cost 25 Ringgit to enter it but there were cost involved
to rent boards and rings. The lagoon is huge but there is really not
that much to do even if they brag about having the largest surf pool in
the world. There was not that many slides and some of them were closed
and on some you needed a ring.
world largest buildings are located in KL. This twin tower is called
Petronas Twin Towers, named after the oil company that house one of the
towers. The building are just amazing and you can get some feeling of
this if you go on the tour to cross the sky bridge on the 42nd
floor. At the bottom you have a shopping mall called KLCC. Another tall
building worth mentioning in the KL tower. This is a 270-meter high
tower that provides an excellent view of the KL area and there is also a
revolving restaurant in this building.
is not really that big. I went out jogging one morning and I jogged from
the hotel on Jalan Bukit Bintang over to the twin towers. I also jogged
around the KL Tower and to Merdeka square and then back to the hotel.
And I did this within an hour and a half.
should not be missed either. Again it is within walking distance from
the hotel district on Jalan Bukit Bintang. The Chinatown area provides a
big marked of fake stuff like sunglasses, watches and t-shirts. The
people selling the stuff are nagging all the time and it is said that
bargaining is part of the game.
sites that might be worth visiting are:
Lake Gardens that contains museums parks and so on. I did go to this the
last time I was in KL and it was very cheap to get into the different
highlands is a casino combined with a theme park in the mountains
outside KL. I was quite surprised when I read that it is located in 2000
meters altitude. The air was a lot cooler and a lot fresher there
compared to in KL itself.
from that you shouldn’t miss out on Malay food. It is rich in flavors
and it is hot and spicy. The problem is that in the more touristified
areas there are only western food restaurants. So on Jalan Bukit Bintang
we found a lot of McDonalds, Pizza Hut and on but not so many
restaurants serving local food.
is a part of the wet season in KL by the way and we found out that it
can get really wet. On afternoon when we were out walking in Chinatown
we could see dark clouds building up. When you feel the first drop you
know that it is time to run and find cover cause it really pours when it
starts. We got stuck for about an hour before we could move on.
you want to keep updated by using the Internet there are many internet
cafes around in KL. I used one on the street were the hotel was located
(Jalan Bukit Bintang) and the price was only 4 Ringgit for an hour.
Wednesday it was time to leave again and we went back to the chaotic
Puduraya bus station. We did find our way to the bus but this bus
station is in no way a practical bus station. I even had the pleasure of
helping push a bus to get it started because there was something wrong
with it. We started the bus ride at about 10.30 and we came to Singapore
at 16.30. It takes a bit of time as you go over the border because you
have to fill in an immigration form. And Nikki got a bit scared when it
said on the form that drug smuggling would be punished with the death
penalty. So we did use a bit of time just to see that no one had slipped
something into our bags.
We were a bit tired after the bus ride but after a nice meal we were
ready to go to the night safari (www.nightsafari.com.sg).
The night safari is a nice concept were you go around and look at
animals in a more natural environment (at least for nocturnal animals)
which means that it is only open at night.
I think the place opens at
about 7 PM and close at about 12 midnight. We first took the tram around
and we also walked on some of the trails. There were lots of animals to
see and the guides on the trams give a lot of information. It costs
about 20 Singapore dollars to get a ticket for the night safari (it is
cheaper if you don’t go for the tram option).
a few days in Singapore we also went to the zoo during daytime (www.zoo.com.sg/).
It is a pretty nice zoo but I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for the
animals that are “contained”. Most of them seem to be very bored and
I don’t like seeing animals that are trained to do stuff for our
If you go to the zoo be sure to plan the day according to the
shows that are held and the feeding times. When they feed the animals
you also get some information about the animals from one of the
We only went to the reptile show but we got our money worth
on that cause Nikki was picked as a “volunteer” from the audience to
help out with all the snakes. But she is not very fond of snakes so she
had to back out after a little while. Anyway, to get into the zoo you
have to pay about 12 Singapore dollars per ticket. It is a bit out of
town but we managed to get there by using MRT combined with a bus.
following day we found out that it was time to get out of the city and
get some exercise. We were brought along by our hosts Yen Ping and Edwin
to Changi village (near the airport) were we took a little boat over to
Pualu Ubin a small island only minutes away from Singapore island. Pualu
Ubin is a tiny island and it is more or less used as a place where
Singaporeans leave their “leftovers”.
When we walked around we could
see plenty of cars that were more or less falling apart because of rust.
The boat itself is pretty cheap (about 2 Sing dollar) and you can rent a
bike for 8-10 dollars. I didn’t really think that it was a great bike
but it got me around on the island. We just biked around for a few hours
until we were all wet from sweat.
In the end it started raining a bit
and we just managed to get back to the center where the ferries/boats
come in. In this center you’ll find the places that rent out the bikes
and there are also some restaurants. On the island you can see durians
hanging on trees and apparently they fall down when they are ripe. In
other words: keep an eye on them so that you don’t get hit cause they
are pretty big. For those who wonder…durian is one of the fruits that
Asians love and everybody else hate. It doesn’t smell good and I
can’t say it tasted good either.
Singaporeans are well known for their eating habits and they have many
night we were taking to Raffles Marina to eat at the restaurant there
and we must have gone through like 20 courses and everybody was stuffed
in the end. We had scallop, clamp, jellyfish, salmon, crab, chicken,
pork, beef.and so on. We also had a local dish called chicken rich
another night and that was pretty good. It is basically what the name indicates: one
boiled chicken (served cold) with rice that has been boiled in the same
water as the chicken was boiled in. Other dishes not to be missed are
Prata (fluffy-crisp fried “bread” served in different manners) and
Satay (marinated meat on a stick that has been barbecued over charcoal
and it is served with a thick peanut sauce.)
hawker store is also a must when you go to Singapore. It is basically a
lot of small food stalls that has gathered together in one place and
they all see to have their own specialty. You can order food from all
the different stores and you sit in the middle of the stalls.
the dishes that I have described already will be served at Hawker
centers. We went to the Hawker center near Newton Circus and that was
great. But I have to admit that the Chinese dinner dishes are a lot
better than the desserts. Many of the desserts include crushed ice, red
beans, starch, syrup and so on and that is very different from the
dessert we are used to. Highlights from the dinner must be the oyster
omelet, satay and fish bowl.
restaurants have ratings by the way according to their “standard”.
When I say standard I don’t mean how good the food it. It more comes
down to how clean the place is. A is the best of course and D is the
really glad that we had some local guides in Singapore because if not we
would have eaten a lot of Western food instead of trying out some of the
Chinese/Indian/Malay dishes that we tried out. Some of the places that
we went to looked pretty shady compared to what I am used to from back
home and a name of a dish doesn’t really give you much information
what the dish taste like.
island is a little island located just to the south of Singapore. The
island contains beaches, hotels, golf courses and all sorts of
entertainment. You can reach the island several ways: by bus (the
cheapest way), by cable car from Mount Faber or by a ferry. We choose to
take the bus since it is also useful to use the bus when going around on
the island. So we parked the car at the world trade center and took the
bus from there. The price was 7 Sing dollars. Once on the island there
were lots to do and their website
provide more information.
We tried one of the miniature golf courses at
Wondergolf and that was pretty fun. The Asian village is not really that
interesting and the same goes for the Dolphin Lagoon. It cost like 17
dollar to get into the Dolphin Lagoon and you get to see the pink
dolphin close up and a few lucky ones get to pet them. But these 17
dollars also gives you access to the underwater world and that is a nice
There is a little petting aquarium where you get to touch the
fish and there is a tunnel that you go through where you are surrounded
by the aquarium and it is fun to see stingrays and sharks swim right
over your head. We also had to try Fantasy island which is the water
theme park at Sentosa. According to the brochure they are open until 10
pm but the night when we went there, there were so few people that they
would close earlier. We also found out that some of the slides close at
6.30 cause they are not allowed to operate in the dark. And with to
slides closed due to maintenance there were not much left to do.
quay is an area that has been turned into restaurants, pubs, shops and
so on. We went there on a Friday night to get something to eat and there
were lots of people there. It seemed like most of the people were either
foreigners (either tourists or expatriates).
you like to walk there is also the option of walking around in Chinatown
during the day. You will find Chinese temples, Indian temples and lots
of little shops. We also went into a local wet market and it was quite
and experience to walk around and look at all the people working on
chopping up fish and so on. We even found a few cages of frogs and I was
impressed by the speed of the guy that was removing the skin from the
you walk a bit further you’ll reach Singapore river and boat quay is
located here. This is something like Clark quay but you won’t find
that many shops in this area. But it is filled with bars and
restaurants. If you walk a bit further you are in the downtown business
area where you will find some of the skyscrapers and big banks. On the
opposite side of the river is the place where Raffles landed his boat
originally and there are a couple of statues of him. Many of the older
buildings are located here including the old parliament, theater, courts
and so on. But there are also new buildings such as the new parliament
and Raffles City Shopping Center.
Faber is the highest mountain in Singapore but that doesn’t really say
much cause it is pretty flat. And it is not very high at least to
Norwegian standard. But we drove to the top and the view from the top at
night is pretty nice and there is even a restaurant on top. And this is
also where the first cable car station can be found (the one that leads
think many people are familiar with the word Orchard road and I think
most people associate it with shopping. And the shopping possibilities
is almost endless in this street cause one mall follows the next. If you
pick up information pamphlets in the malls\hotel\airport you will find
some sort of description on the different malls. We spent a couple of
days on Orchard road and we found a few good bargains. When we are on
the topic of shopping I guess I have to mention Sim Lim Square where
locals shop their electronics. The mall is dedicated to cameras, video
cameras, TV, videos and so on and I think it is like 6 floors. It is
quite overwhelming to walk around in this place and what bugs me is that
you have to ask for all the prices. I’m used to looking at things
without being “bothered” by sales personnel.
you want to get away from the city noise then a good option would be to
go to the Botanic gardens. It is nice and quiet and people go there to
go on picnics, go jogging, play football with their kids and so on. The
garden also includes the National Orchid Garden where you have to pay
about 2 Singapore dollars to get in. And as the name indicates it is
filled with all sorts of orchids.
November 22nd it was time to go back to Norway again. Again I
have to say that Changi is a very nice airport and there are shopping
possibilities here too if you missed something in town but according to
our local guides it is never cheaper at the airport. But getting tax
refunds for things that I had bought went swiftly and of we went. The
flight back from Singapore to Amsterdam took about 12 hours and 30
minutes. I’m glad that Nikki and me had 3 seats to share because it
made it a bit easier to sleep. It was not very nice to get back to
Norway where it was raining at it was about 8 degrees Celsius. But to
look on the bright side of it: I won’t get anymore mosquito bites this
It was a great trip and we got to see a lot and do a lot and most of
this is because we had local guides. The next time we go to Malaysia I
think that we must try and see more of the country itself. I have heard
that the east coast is great with many small islands that are worth
the end I would just like to send thanks to the following people:
Meena & Timmy for inviting us to the their wedding, to Mr. and Mrs.
Yeo for being so kind and letting us stay with them, to Yen Ping and
Edwin for taking such good care of us and taking us around so much, to
Choo for being such an excellent guide for us in KL and thanks to Marie
and Knut for letting us borrow the video camera.