I've recently returned from a short work trip that took in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was the PCI DSS auditing keeping me busy again. I travelled with Brad from my customer's security team who I went to Manila and India with. He's from Melbourne so he was quite happy to use the opportunity to catch up with family and friends. We flew down to Melbourne on Monday morning, I did my audit thing as soon as we arrived, and then at night we want for a really nice Italian at a place called Fletchers in Essendon. We met up with Brad's mate and his mate's girlfriend, who were really nice, and then afterwards we went over the road to the Irish pub for a few beers where were joined by his Mum and Aunty. It was a good laugh, especially to watch Brad get embarrassed when his mum started talking about the Cabbage Patch dolls he had as a kid!
The next day I did some more auditing in the morning before we caught the 3pm flight to Kuala Lumpur.
I wasn't sure what to expect from KL as unlike with previous trips I didn't do much research. I soon discovered KL is a very modern city, much more akin to Singapore than Manila. Very modern infrastructure. As soon as we arrived at the airport we were whisked into an aerotrain which takes passengers from the international arrivals/departures building to the main terminal.
Apparently there's a really fast train that takes you straight into the city centre from the airport. That's definitely the best option for anyone traveling to KL as the traffic is mad. We got a taxi from the airport but even at midnight the roads were packed as soon as we got close to the city. It took nearly a hour to get from the airport to the hotel. It was midnight when we arrived.
On the Wednesday I did my audit stuff during the day - another call centre - and when finished, Scott, the Operations Director of the client I was auditing took us out to show us a bit of KL, which of course meant seeing the sights from the perspective of the nearest bar.
We dropped our bags off back at the hotel, had a drink at the hotel bar, and then took a walk. He took us first down Jalan Bukit Bintang, which seems to be the 'main drag' in KL, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and also what seemed like plenty of ladies offering different types of massage. It soon became clear that many of the ladies were in fact lady boys, and it wasn't a foot massage that they were offering! So in spite of my aching feet from a hard day's auditing we walked on towards the Pavilion shopping mall. Inside the Pavilion there's a row of bars and restaurants, all of which were offering happy hour. So we had a couple of beers there and then walked in the direction of the Petronas Towers.
The Petronas Towers look amazing all lit up at night. At the base of the towers there's the large KLCC shopping mall (is it me or is South East Asia just one shopping mall after the next?), with a number of bars outside overlooking the Simfoni Lake, which itself backs on to the KL City Centre Park. The entire area is quite picturesque. The fountains in the lake not too dissimilar to the famous Barcelona Fountains, although not quite as magnificent.
After having a couple of beers at an Irish pub outside the KLCC we took a walk through the park to the Traders Hotel.
The 33rd Floor of the Traders Hotel is home to the Sky Bar. This was Scott's little treat for us and I'm so glad he was with us otherwise I would not have known this existed.
The Sky Bar is just like one of those GQ experiences you read about. During the day it's the hotel pool. After hours they transform it into a luxury bar. Of course the main sell of the bar is the view - it looks directly out at a full view of both of the twin towers.
Having a swimming pool in the middle of the bar is very strange. No one was swimming in it, the place is far too cool for that. The bar oozes sophistication. The lighting was just right, and so was the music, with a DJ playing an eclectic set of dance tracks, and what's more the menu was delicious. We went for the Tapas, ordering a selection of calamari, chicken satay, samosas, etc. Everything was really well-prepared and came with gorgeous dips and garnish.
It wasn't cheap, and at the end of the night Scott picked up the bill for the lot! Bless him. I guess that's the beauty of being a Director working out in Malaysia but being paid in the Aussie dollar. I think he was glad of the company. All of his staff are locals, and with Malaysia being largely a muslim country he doesn't get to drink with his staff.
We thought about going up the Petronas Towers, now the 4th tallest building in the world, but the fact is the best thing to look at in KL is the twin towers. It's not like when I went up the Empire State Building in New York, surrounded by iconic buildings in every direction.
On the Thursday I got through the rest of my auditing, finishing mid-afternoon. We got a taxi from the office straight to the KLCC to do a spot of shopping. It wasn't long before we were both sick of shopping so soon found ourselves in the Irish pub again playing a few games of pool.
After a few beers at the Irish pub we decided to drop our bags off at the hotel and go out and find a restaurant for a traditional Malay meal. The following morning we had to leave at 6am to catch our flight so we were going to be sensible and get back at a reasonable hour. That was the plan anyway.
We left the hotel and had a walk back down Jalan Bukit Bintang. We wandered into an undercover area following a path to what looked like a group of restaurants. On the way we got beckoned towards another bar in the midst of happy hour. This was one of those circular bars similar to the one Tom Cruise's character tenders in Jamaica in the film Cocktail (I love that film).
The beers started flowing again, and we got talking to a couple of Aussie backpackers to our right, who were on the first night of their trip before flying off to Europe, as well as a British expat to our left, who now lives in Perth but was about to join an oil rig off the coast of Malaysia.
A few drinks later and before we knew it we had completely forgotten about our restaurant plans and instead found ourselves in a taxi with our new set of mates and the two girls from the bar on our way to a nightclub.
They had wanted to take us to the infamous Beach Club Café, but given this place was known to be frequented by many ladies of the 'love you long time' variety, both myself and Brad thought it wouldn't be a good idea. We're both getting married in the next few months and Rach for certain would perform a bobbit on me if she found out.
Looking the place up now it seems we went to a club just along the road from the Beach Club Café. There's a street behind the Petronas Towers that's home to a number of nightclubs. I think the one we went to was called S.I.N.
My memory of the rest of the evening is a bit fuzzy. I know we had a fantastic time. It was one of the best nights out I've had in a long time.
There was a really good live band on. Just like Manila it was a good mix of live music with the DJ playing dance tracks in-between sets. At one point I realised I was running out of cash so I had a walk out to find an ATM with Brad. For some reason the ATM kept rejecting both our cards so we staggered back expecting to only have enough for a couple of more beers. Shortly after getting back in the club though some random guy came and placed a large bucket of Carlsberg beers on a table next to where the group of us were dancing and told us to help ourselves. After drinking those he then went and fetched another bucket. What a fella! I realised later that he may have had ulterior motives as he seemed far more interested in making friends with the males in our group than the females. Oh well, the things we'll do for a beer!
It's fair to say I partied like it was 1999 (except I didn't party in 1999 but that's a different story). It's a long time since I've been to a nightclub and stayed until the lights came on at the end.
We got back to the hotel at 4:30am. So much for the quiet night out! We never did end up having a traditional Malay meal.
I managed to get an hour's kip before we had to leave for the airport. As the taxi was waiting downstairs I had to knock on Brad's door and wake him up. He was in a worst state than me, he hadn't even packed.
We got to the airport still really drunk. I was also partially deaf from the nightclub. It would be another 2 hours before my ears stopped ringing. We boarded the flight trying to appear as sober as we could.
We then sat on the tarmac for an hour going nowhere before they told us that there was a mechanical issue with the plane so we had to go back to the terminal and wait for further instructions.
We ended up being delayed for 4 hours, but in retrospect it was a god-send as it allowed us to get our head's down on the comfy sofas in the Malaysian Air Lounge. It's the first time I had been in a lounge for one of the international airlines and it's a shame that I was dying, because the facilities are amazing. A buffet with a good selection of hot and cold food, a well-stocked bar including champagne and spirits, relaxation rooms, putting room (yes, a room to practice your golf putting) and other features, all free! Unfortunately, we were in no condition to make the most of it.
I finally arrived home shortly after midnight on the Friday night / Saturday morning. After only having 1 hour's sleep in the past 48 hours I felt like a zombie on Saturday.
It was a short but memorable trip.
When I was in the Navy one of my biggest regrets is that of all the fantastic places I visited, I would often only travel as far as the bar closest to the port. Since leaving the Navy I've tried to make up for that by taking Rach to New York, Rome, Barcelona, etc where we've done the complete tourist thing.
With these work trips I seem to be regressing.
See more of my photo's from Kuala Lumpur on Flickr.