Friday, 3 April 2015

To Borneo

An auspicious beginning – we’re ready in good time for our taxi and actually leave home a few minutes ahead of schedule. Our driver was concerned about heavy traffic due to an earlier accident on the M4 near Slough but we don’t hit much traffic and arrive at Heathrow well before 7. Checked in, we drop our bags and go for dinner at Carluccio’s where Alex manages to score a free lemonade.

Our plan to buy food to eat on the plane backfires as Pret is just closing and has little stock, although Alex’s influence gets us free chocolate. Luckily our gate is right next door. Once we’re aboard, take-off is delayed by an ominous-sounding technical fault, but the engineer declares it non-serious and we take off exactly an hour late.

Our flight is unremarkable in every way except the plane, which Simon informs us is an A380 800, the largest commercial airliner, and the Muslim journey prayer that is shown on our screens before take-off. The boys manage to sleep, but I don’t. We land, very smoothly, at exactly 6pm at an impressively modern airport with a ridiculous number of shops. We take the transit to the old terminal and wait in a long line for passport control, grab our bags and meet the Selective Asia rep in arrivals. Simon nips to the 7-11 to get change for tips and returns with lychee flavoured Mentos, which pleases Alex greatly.  By now, it’s Friday evening.
The drive to our hotel is hampered by a ridiculous amount of traffic and a thunderstorm, but the roads are dry by the time we arrive. Alex is amused to notice a taxi alongside with a “no guns” sticker in the window. The Park Royal Hotel makes a good first impression and another Selective Asia rep meets us in reception to go through our itinerary. We stop at our room only briefly, but long enough to find out that we have a view of both the local Nando’s and the KL Tower.
Simon leads us round the corner to the Pavilion Shopping Centre, one of 66 in KL. It’s several stories high with a massive atrium and all the top brands; there are restaurants on the top floor which is where we plan to eat. We find a Vietnamese restaurant and begin our meal with a sharing wrap platter, a kind of Vietnamese fajitas. The wraps are bizarre, you have to soak them in water to soften them and they go transparent and stretchy.  Alex and I choose a different variety of Pho for our main course and Simon has some kind of Beef stew, then we go to look at the Petronas towers illuminated in the darkness. We walk most of the way down an air conditioned raised walkway. These are a welcome alternative to walking on the pavements, although some of those are canopied to provide shade, too. Finally, we head back to the hotel and long-overdue sleep.

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