How many towels do we need?

At 41, it’s been a while since I last lived at home. But when you’re on the other side of the world and your folks are in town, you kind of have to really, don’t you? So rather than a hotel, this week mum and dad and I are sharing an apartment on Melbourne’s South Bank. And as you can probably imagine, the fun starts here.

We have a two-double-bedroomed apartment, booked for three people. In the bathroom are two bath towels, two hand towels and two flannels (as much as will fit on the radiator rails). As they arrived first, mum and dad have claimed a bedroom and started using their towels. So when I arrive and want to have a shower, the fun begins. Which towel should I use?

In my mind, I’ll use whichever hasn’t yet been used, assuming that mum and dad have already used some. I see that there are two set in the bathroom already (that’ll be theirs) and in my wardrobe there are two more sets (those will be for the second bedroom guests then). Simples. Well, to me, yes. But after over 40 years of marriage, parents do tend to bicker, don’t they? And usually about the most trivial of things? Like towels. The conversation went something like this:

Mum: “They haven’t left us enough towels out.”
Dad: “Why?”

Now this is where it starts. In saying “Why?” what dad actually means is “Why do you think that, dear? What has brought you to this slightly disappointing conclusion?” However, mum doesn’t think like dad, and with a slightly shorter fuse than she had 40+ years ago, she is annoyed by this shortcoming, and even more so by dad’s apparent stupidity – how on earth should she know why they’ve only left out two sets of towels? The conversation then spirals into parental normality:

Mum: Well I don’t know, do I?
Dad: What do you mean?
Mum: They’ve only left out two sets – there are three of us!
Dad: Right, shall I go and speak to the concierge downstairs and ask them to bring some more?

Again, this is illustrative of the differences between my parents. Mum’s approach is to state the obvious and use this as the basis to start a conversation. She likes to talk. Meanwhile dad’s approach is not to focus on the problem, what’s the point? He likes to fix things. He’s a bloke, after all. Bearing in mind that they’re now on completely different trains of thought, the conversation continues:

Mum: Well no, because there were spares in my wardrobe, so I used one of those and left one set in the bathroom for Rebecca to use.
Dad: So we’re not short?
Mum: Well they only set it up for two and they should’ve done it for three.
Dad: So do I need to go down and ask for some more or not?
Mum: David, you’re not listening to me!

At this point, I decide to mix it up a bit, and do what my late brother was so good at, and drop in a grenade, just for fun…

Me: There should still be a clean set in the bathroom then, because there were two sets in my wardrobe too.
Mum: Oh, so did you use one of those?
Me: No, just saying, they probably set up for two in the bathroom and left plenty of spares in each room. So we actually have enough for six.
Dad: So I don’t need to go downstairs?

I then throw in a curve ball:

Me: Well you could, because there’s no frying pan for me to cook my eggs in the morning, and I’m sure I saw one on the itinerary for the apartment?
Mum: What itinerary? I didn’t see an itinerary? David, where are the printouts we brought?
Dad: What? Were towels listed on there?

Brilliant! I’m now not sure if dad’s playing along for fun, or doing his usual and only half listening to mum:

Mum: Nooooo! Why do you never listen? Was. There. An. Itinerary?
Dad: No? I didn’t see an itinerary?

I then mix it up again by introducing another variable:

Me: It wasn’t with the booking, I found it on the website.
Mum: What website?
Me: The website for the apartment, it listed what equipment each apartment is stocked with.

Mum, who’s phone is never far from her hand, is quick to open her browser, only to find she can’t connect to the wifi. Frustrated, she watches me connect straight away, before complaining about why hers doesn’t do that. I reopen her browser and click the ‘Connect’ button and she’s soon on the website for the apartment.

Mum: It says there should be a chopping board too, but there isn’t one.
Dad: So what do I need to ask concierge for – a frying pan, a chopping board and two towels?
Mum: No, we don’t need towels! For god’s sake David, why don’t you listen?

I now suspect dad is playing along, so I leave them to it and make my escape…

#BoxyOut

 

 

 

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Augustus and his boot lid

I got off to a good start in the first few days, but like Robbie’s Monkey in Hot Fudge, I’ve clearly I’ve been having too much of a good time and haven’t written since. That’s not to say there hasn’t been entertainment to write about…

So day one. I immediately make myself known in the neighbourhood by having the angriest taxi driver in Australia (we’ll call him Augustus), and causing a commotion outside the apartment on arrival, when he can’t open the boot of his car. Inside the boot is my case, and there’s no way on earth I was letting that out if my sight with him – he was a lunatic! Despite his erratic speed behind the wheel, he had no sense of urgency in retrieving my case when the boot release stopped working, and just kept shouting at me for slamming the lid too hard when the case went in.

AN: the fact that I was sitting in the car when the case was loaded by the concierge who hailed his cab for me, had clearly escaped him, and I wasn’t going to raise it; I was more bothered about getting the case back than how it’d got stuck in the first place…

Anyway, after his attempts to force the boot open with a pair of pliers had failed for the fourth time, Augustus shouted some more and sat back in his seat, apparently doing nothing but huffing and puffing (as, clearly, that was going to help). Meanwhile, I was scrambling around in the back trying to figure out how to pull the seats down (and discovering that a Toyota Camry does not have fold down seats, nor is there a hatch hidden behind the centre arm rest). By this time, a friendly Aussie chap (Let’s call him Mick) had seen what was going on and decided to come to my rescue, shortly followed by Wally, Donk and a series of other helpful chaps, all determined to show they could fix the situation, only to give up five minutes later once they realised how useless Augustus and his Camry boot lid were.

By this point, I’ve exhausted Google’s discussion threads and YouTube video clips on how to ‘cleverly’ bypass the Toyota auto boot release feature (no, the back seats do not come down, there’s no button in the taillight and nothing in the fuel cap either). I suggest to Augustus that he calls the RAC, or Aussie equivalent thereof? He has no idea what that is… handy. Perhaps his taxi control room might be able to help? He reverts to huffing and puffing some more (helpful) and eventually gets onto the radio to his control room. I have no idea what language they were conversing in, but given the actions he was repeating, I figured he’s still blaming me for slamming the lid too hard and is complaining to the poor Doris on the other end of the radio, rather than seeking advice or help on how to call the RAC.

At this point, I figured out that my biggest issue was in fact not that my case was stuck, it was the lack of communication skills, resourcefulness or simple common sense from Augustus. I therefore decided to flag another similar taxi in the hope that they might be more helpful.

Enter Karl. He took one look at Augustus, asked me what was going on, I told him, he pressed the boot release catch on the driver’s door, wiggled the lid a bit, and up it popped – bingo. As I thanked Karl for his help, Augustus looked utterly bemused, huffed and puffed some more, then asked me if I’d paid? Yes I have! And I’m not paying again!

Is it beer o’clock yet?…

#BoxyOut

What, no jeans?

You know that thing, when you’re super early for something, and you think I’ll just go and grab a quick coffee… then you take ages to find a cafe, get lost finding your way back, and end up being late for the meeting you were super early for – we’ve all done it, right? Well, on landing at Hong Kong International Airport and seeing the queue for immigration, I figured it wasn’t the best place for this to happen to me. So having carried my gym kit in my hand luggage, it remained there all the way from London to Melbourne, while its carrier ploughed her way through the wine list of two airport lounges and in-flight meals.

On arrival in Melbourne, I no longer have an excuse. So I check into the hotel and head straight to the the gym. Despite not being the best equipped gym in the world, I feel relatively smug at lifting a couple of weights and doing a few crunches. I return to the room, have the world’s longest shower, and open my case to change into fresh clothes for the first time in two days.

Now here’s the downside of trying to be clever. I’ve left a small bag in London, containing the clothes I wore for work this week – I’m not going to need that lot in Australia, right? Unfortunately, before I went to bed the night before I left, I was tossing-up between bringing my dark blue jeans or my black ones. Clearly the black ones were the right choice, but for some reason, when I went to be bed I thought otherwise, and put the black ones in my leave in London bag, and left my dark blue ones out to bring to Oz. When I woke up in the morning and saw my dark blue jeans left out, my immediate thought was of course, I’m not taking those, I’m taking my black ones… and so duly packed the dark blue ones into my leave in London bag, along with the black ones I’d inadvertently put in there the night before, wondering why didn’t I do that last night? None the wiser, I then wore my light blue jeans to travel, managed to spill most things on them en route, and they went straight into hotel laundry on arrival in Melbourne.

So now, having just enjoyed the world’s longest shower, I open my case to pull out my black jeans… at this point, I’d be happy with my dark blue jeans, or even my light blue dinner-covered jeans, in fact, any jeans…

I didn’t need any excuse to go shopping, but hey!

#BoxyOut xx

What, no pyjamas?

So the second leg of my journey was from Hong Kong to Melbourne, flying Business Class with Cathay Pacific. I’d heard reports before I set off, that Cathay’s Business Class could actually be better than BA First. But I’m a BA girl, and whilst I kept an open mind, I also secretly hoped this wouldn’t be the case and burst my little BA bubble!

Luckily (or unluckily, depending how you look at it), they were wrong.

There are some things the airline can’t control; like a couple with the most annoying voices in the world, apart from their child’s, which is more annoying, especially when said child is with them; or the loudest snoring ever, from whoever was sitting behind me.

But some things they could control but chose not to; like offering me a glass of champagne – thank you – then returning within five minutes and standing beside me pointing at my glass, waiting for me to finish it so they could take the glass away, as we’d soon (in 15 minutes?) be pushing back? The lack of pyjamas I could understand (you don’t get those in Business with BA either, only in First) but I did expect to arrive in my seat to find a little bag of some goodies – socks, eye mask, lip balm, toothbrush etc? But alas no. These did eventually arrive some time later, while I was asleep, so I didn’t actually make use of them until half way through the flight. Handy. And the selection of in-flight entertainment was questionable – I wouldn’t have classed Casino Royale or The Holiday as ‘recent releases’ but they are two of my favourite movies, so I shouldn’t complain.

All that aside, the seat was spacious, the duvet comfortable, and the flight effortless. But I won’t be rushing to book Business with Cathay again. I’m still a BA girl 🙂

#BoxyOut xx

Picking up where we left off…

OK, so it’s been nearly three years since I updated this blog. In fairness, I have had a minor issue to deal with, in the form or Breast Cancer, and I did keep writing throughout that journey (see www.boxysboobjob.com). But it felt wrong to use that blog for more trivial posts, now I’m well again. So I’ve left the boob job as a relic of battles past, and am picking up here where I left off; blogging about my crazy travel, F1 antics, and generally embarrassing mishaps.

For the benefit of those I haven’t already bored to death; before we go on, I should probably provide a quick recap.

This time last year, I’d planned to go to Australia to celebrate my 40th birthday. Unfortunately, my boobs had other ideas and I ended up having chemo on my birthday. But that was ok, I just decided to celebrate my 41st instead. So one year on, I’m picking up where I left off and heading out to Australia to celebrate in style. I’ve upgraded my flights to first class, I’m having a week in Melbourne, four days in Sydney, three in Auckland and four in Fiji. In my usual style, I have a pretty packed itinerary and can’t wait!

BA First Class

So I’m sitting in the BA Concorde Lounge at T5. I’m on my third glass of champagne (no idea what it is; I’m the uneducated one at the end of the bar who’s picking the wine with the nicest label), eating nuts (all good intentions of finding something healthy went out the window when the barman starting talking…) and wondering whether I’ll make it to the plane, let alone Australia?! My 20:50 flight to Hong Kong is delayed by an hour, but I don’t mind – I have a 7-hour connection in Hong Kong, and I’d rather spend an extra hour here than there. So as long as the barman doesn’t keep topping up my glass with bubbles and strawberries (loving the strawberries, on so many levels!) I’ll be fine. I’ve already been to Tiffany’s, I just need to make it past Prada… famous last words…

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So I made it to the plane. Tick. One of the crew turned me left at the door and showed me to my seat. On first impressions, it doesn’t look that different from Business Class – lots of leg room, a flat bed, and actually less storage space than in Business? But the seat is more spacious and comfortable, and when the wine list arrives the difference becomes clear. Within seconds of sitting down, a delightful cabin attendant called Russel arrives with one question: champagne? Do I look like I need more champagne?! Clearly yes, and he returns a minute later with a bottle of 2015 Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle… no idea if that’s a good vintage, but it’s what I was drinking in the lounge, so I congratulate myself for not mixing my drinks, and settle into my surroundings.

After a flutter of snow and sub-zero temperatures hit the UK this weekend, there was some disruption at the airports and the captain soon comes over the tannoy with an update to our delay. Apparently, we’ve boarded wonderfully quickly – thank you – but we’re in a queue of seven other aircraft waiting to be de-iced before takeoff. This process is likely to take another hour, so it’ll be a while before we push back. My long connection in Hong Kong improves again and Russell reappears, bottle in hand, with that look on his face – the one where he doesn’t actually have to say anything, just leans forward, raises his eyebrows slightly and presents the bottle… Marvellous, thank you.

We finally push back around midnight, by which time I realise that perhaps I should’ve familiarised myself with the navigation on the in-flight entertainment system before the wine list? Still, I manage to find Taylor Swift in the ‘essential albums’ section and all is good in the world 🙂

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Once we’re in the air, dinner is served. Enter cabin attendant Jemima. She’s never met me before today, but Russell’s obviously had a word, because her first question (before asking which meal I’d like) is which wine I’d like. I’ve already decided I want the scallops and salmon to eat, so I explain that I’m considering the 2016 Stellenrust 52 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch. The slight snag is that I actually like the sound of the Chateau Faugères 2010 Saint-Émilion Grad Cru, but not sure red goes with fish? Jemima has clearly experienced such a quandary before, and suggests I start with the Stellenbosch? Perfect. I like her already. A little later, as she clears my dinner plates, she returns with a 2015 bottle of Argentinian DV Catena Tinto Histórico and just leaves it on the table in front of me, saying see what you think of this one too… Oh Lordy, I can see how this is going…

AN: It’s worth pointing out that I’ve packed my gym kit in my hand luggage, with all good intentions of squeezing in a workout in Hong Kong; partly to kill time but also to work off some of the plane food and wine before exploring Cathay Pacific’s Business Class lounge… Odds of this actually happening are diminishing as quickly as the wine…

After dinner, Jemima reappears and asks if I’d like her to make up my bed… maybe in 20 minutes or so, when my dinner has settled? She duly returns a little later with some pyjamas, slippers and a Liberty bag of bathroom goodies. I toddle off to the bathroom to change, and return to find my bed made up with duvet and pillows. I snuggle down and am out like a light…

Next stop, Honkers. Odds of getting to the gym…?

#BoxyOut xx

 

Let’s go racing

A few people have asked me recently, how come I travel to so many F1 races. So before I share the silliness of this trip, a little background for those who don’t know the background…


A few years ago, I took my dad to the #BelgianGP in Spa – I’ve loved F1 for as long as I can remember, but I’d never been to a race, dad hadn’t been since before I was born, I could afford to buy the race tickets, so the deal was: if he could get us there, I’d get us in… Five months and a whole lot of excitement and planning later, we set off on his motorbike, complete with tent a camping kit strapped onto the back, and had a blast. During the obligatory post-race analytical celebratory refreshment process, we realised that if we continued to do one race each year, we’d complete the F1 calendar the year dad turns 80… well there’s a reason, if ever we needed one! And so began the annual pilgrimage of dad and I going to an F1 race together each year, now affectionately tagged as #letsgoracing


In 2011 we were drawn, like olive oil to balsamic vinegar, to the passionate, flamboyant home of motorsport… We joined the Tafiosi in a sea of Ferrari red, in the glorious Italian province of Monza for the #ItalianGp #trip2


In 2012 mum and dad went off round NZ in a camper van, like recycled grads on a gap yar, whilst I went off solo and explored Honkers and the East coast of Australia… Naturally, being so close, it was rude not to coordinate the trip with the #AustralianGP in Melbourne, right? #trip3


That being the first race of the year, by mid-season we were getting itchy feet, and because Melbourne hadn’t been just the two of us, and no motorbike was involved, it was only acceptable to do Spa again, right? #trip4


By this point I’d well and truly caught the bug, both for F1 and travel, and snuck in a few extras including the #SpanishGP in Barcelona, #MonacoGP in Monte Carlo, #HungarianGP in Budapest, #EuropeanGP in Valencia, #AbuDhabiGP on Yas Island…


One of the many advantages of living in Europe, is that travel is relatively easy (compared to other countries, where you can travel thousands of miles just to get out of the country). But unfortunately, the number of GPs in Europe is diminishing, as emerging wealth in other countries allows Bernie to demand more and more money for hosting a race. Don’t get me wrong; the newcomers are putting on some spectacular shows and justifying their place in the calendar, but the traditional venues are dropping like flies. A sad state of affairs. So whilst the long hauls are attractive, the iconic tracks closer to home are more so. So in 2013, dad and I joined the bikers of the F1 paddock (who, every other year, opt to ditch the first class lounge in favour of the Black Forest and take the scenic route) and rode to the iconic Nurburgring for the #GermanGP! #trip5


Last year, Bernie announced that F1 would be returning to Austria. I’ve never been to Austria dad… Haven’t you? That’s no good… No further discussion required (other than shall we fly rather than ride this time, to minimise time off work and potentially have time for another race later in the year…?) Three months later we fly out to Vienna, drive across to Graz (if you’ve never been, go, it’s so pretty!) and join a sellout crowd at the new RedBullRing in Spielberg for the #AustrianGP! #trip6


Whilst I’ve squeezed in a few more races (#CanadianGP in Montreal, #MalaysianGP in Kuala Lumpur, and old favourites Barcelona and Budapest), dad hasn’t missed out either – he’s done a few bike trips with his brother, but has talked for years about riding across Spain… I think there’s a ferry from Plymouth to Santander dad, and one from Portsmouth to Bilbao… Really?… And Google says you can ride from there to Barcelona in a day… I expect so… And the transport from Barcelona to the track is really good, the trains run direct from Sants to Montmello, it’s easy… Well… The next thing I know, I get an email from Papa along the lines of “Oooops! I hope your passport is still valid!”


#SpanishGP

#Trip7

#letsgoracing


Bxx

KL reflections

Apparently, from my posts on Facebook over the weekend, it came across as perhaps the best trip I’ve been on? To be honest, I don’t know if that’s true. I find it hard to point to any one trip and say “that was the best” as they’ve all had their own individuality and memorable moments.

 

This time, the individuality came from the lack of individuality! KL is perhaps one of the most mixed places I’ve been to, even compared to London. London has a lot going on, but I find that almost works against it – the constant excitement and buzz, always millions of tourists and even the climate, means that you just know you’re in London. I expect it’s probably the same in places like New York?

 

AN: I haven’t actually been to New York since 2000, apart from transferring through JFK, which doesn’t really count does it? So I’m totally speculating on the ‘just knowing you’re there’ thing. Maybe it’s time I went back? Thelma & Louise trip for 2016 perhaps? I digress…

 

In KL, there’s loads of different areas to explore and each has its own story, unique feel and vibe, and on my first day I saw this in abundance.

 

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Firstly, there’s the bit where two rivers converge, the point where KL was founded. When I get here, I walk out of the LTR station straight into a small but bustling street market. They’re selling nothing notable, it just feels like your average locals’ market, a local community, nothing touristy at all. I clamber over rubble and broken pavements to get down to the point where the rough guide says I’ll get the best view of the convergence of the rivers. I get there in one piece, toes and ankles intact, to find a motorbike park on one side and a building site on the other. If I hadn’t previously read-up on it, I’d never have known it was anything significant? But I still think it’s quite interesting because of what it stands for, and I find myself taking photos of piles of concrete, a crane and the odd digger. Hey ho!

 

From here, I walk South through an unassuming little square with a tiny clock tower in the centre. Not hugely impressed by the tower, but the mishmash of buildings around the square makes me wonder (as I do!) Turns out this was the old market square and the centre of the city – I’d never have guessed, again there’s nothing notable to tell me that, just different eras evident in the decaying architecture around me.

 

I carry on over the bridge towards the Colonial core. Now this is more obvious. With Moorish looking buildings on one side, a mock Tudor building housing an exclusive Gentlemen’s club on the other, fountains and a flag pole at one end, and arches and pillars at the other, all surrounding a huge square plot of well-kept grass, complete with cricket crease in the centre! You can tell this place has so much significance, even if you dodn’t know the history. In the midst of all this is a giant red model of the initials I❤️KL and markings on the ground for people to queue up to take their picture with it… yep, not proud, of course I did!

 

In the centre of the fountain stands a huge flagpole, where the Malaysian flag was raised at 12:01 on their first day of independence less than 60 years ago. Suddenly, a city full of such old buildings and history feels so young – it’s like it’s full of people who’ve been there for ever, but who suddenly have a new lease of life? And they’re grabbing it with both hands and rebuilding their city into a magical place, whilst neither losing nor over-exaggerating its past. It makes me feel lucky, humble and excited all at the same time. I also feel very hot (relentless sun, no shade, first day in 30+ degrees, when the forecast suggested it’d rain all weekend…) so I have a moment, take my snaps, then make my way back over the river.

 

At this point, I’m looking for shade and fancy a drink, but don’t want to head back up to the hotel just yet. Out comes the guide book and #2 on my list (yes, of course I have a list!) is Chinatown. Except they don’t call it that. It’s just an area influenced by Chinese culture, a bunch of street markets with an oriental vibe. Now the guide book says to head for Petaling Street, and shows me a photo vaguely resembling Gerrard Street in London. Looks a bit touristy, so I decide to get to it via the back streets and alleys. And here I discover a very different kind of market. Not for the faint hearted, vegetarian, vegan, or anyone with any other moral foodie preference; this is dark, smelly alleyways, where I’m clambering over milk crates and avoiding puddles of goodness knows what, staring in curiosity at stalls either side propped up by steps and tarpaulins, mostly selling food (although the only indication of what’s on sale is what’s clucking around in the crate under the table), with limited interest in hygiene (although I do see a chap washing a wicker basket under a drainpipe). I generally have the constitution of an ox and not much makes me queasy, but I’ll admit, I may think twice about what meat I eat after seeing this!

 

As I come back out into the daylight I find myself on Petaling Street, where the markets suddenly become outlets for football shirts, baseball caps, fake watches and touts. Not my kinda thing, so I scurry through with my head down, and scuttle round the corner. Luckily, I’ve already plotted an idea of where I’m going and I manage to find my way to the Little China Café. Goldmine! For a mere 15 ringgit (c£3) I get a delicious freshly squeezed lemon iced tea, served with liquid sugar?! (New fave, the tea not the sugar, if anyone knows where to get this in London let me know!) and fresh spring rolls (perhaps the freshest, lightest and tastiest I’ve ever eaten, they were just delicious!) In fact, there’s heaps on the menu I want to try, but I’m not that hungry yet. So I decide to come back over the weekend and make sure I’m starving!

 

After lunch, I head back North and see a bit more of the city, literally. Now anyone who knows anything about KL has heard of the Petronas twin towers. They’re the tallest skyscrapers in the city, but you can only go up so far, as the top section isn’t open to tourists. However, the KL tower just across the road is built on higher ground, so although it’s not as big, it actually reaches higher above sea level and is therefore the highest point in the city. And there’s a 360degree platform at the top which you can go out onto. And you can see the Petronas twin towers from there. So that’s where I head.

 

When I walk in, it’s all very efficient. A lady welcomes me, asks my nationality, and escorts me to the appropriate desk. The chap there asks whether I’m going to the inside view room ¾ of the way up, or the outside observation deck at the top? I think back to a mate in Australia telling me that, if I was going to do a skydive, don’t go for the cheaper 11,000ft jump, do it properly and pay more for the 14,000ft. So I pay my 99 ringgits and am escorted to the next desk, where I’m presented with a piece of paper and asked to sign a contract… Erm, what? Apparently, the small print basically says I promise not to run, jump or push anyone over the edge! Well that’s ok then! Let’s go!

 

The view from the top is incredible. KL is so much bigger than I realised! Most of the bits in the guide book are walkable, and the light rail train and monorail get you pretty much anywhere quite quickly. So on the ground it seems quite small. But it feels like you can see the whole country from up here! And the skyscrapers aren’t just in the centre, they’re dotted all over the city, which makes it feel even bigger. And there’s random hills popping up everywhere too, not like Yorkshire hills or Everest, but hills big enough to throw up a spot of green in between buildings. I take my photos and after just a few minutes, wonder how long I’m meant to stay up here to consider it value for money? To be fair, 99 ringgits is only about £20, so it’s not silly money. I breathe in the view, make sure I get another picture and head back to the elevator.

 

Once back on the ground, I realise that, in between here and my hotel and is KLCC – the new city centre. So I follow my feet and aim in the general direction of the twin towers. Now, this is a bit like coming to London and seeing Big Ben. It’s probably one of the best known images of the city, and you can see it from miles away. But when you get up close, it’s something different.

 

From an early age, I’ve liked interesting architecture – not so much the older stuff, but weird and impressive new buildings. And my favourite for many years has been Richard Rogers’ ‘powerhouse’ – home to Lloyds of London. Well sorry Rich, but the top spot has now been taken over. I LOVE this place! I could honestly stand and look at the twin towers for hours. The fact that it’s sunny does help, and I’ve been told that they look even better at night.

 

Beyond the towers, is a huge park, with impressive buildings all round it. Like a cross between Central Park and Canada Square, but with heaps of sun, no traffic, lots of fountains and cafes, it’s just lovely, and another distinct change from the Colonial core, Chinatown and Bhukit Bintang.

 

Talking of which, it’s time I headed back, so I walk from KLCC back to Bhukit Bintang, where I’m staying. This area is surrounded by impressive shopping malls, and Gucci, Hugo Boss and Prada adorn the view from my hotel lobby. It’s bright lights, glamour and credit cards all round, but feels clean, safe and not in the slightest bit pretentious.

 

Just a few streets away, is the nightlife of Chankit Bhukit Bintang, where I’m heading this evening. One long strip of more uneven pavements, raised kerbs, stationary traffic, convenience stores and Thai spas, this is one of the busiest streets I’ve seen so far, and clearly where the tourists come. As night falls, the streets fill with hawker style eateries and loud bars – there’s the token Irish and, with F1 in town, a few bars are sponsored by race teams like Red Bull and Kingfisher. Luckily, I’m in flats tonight and opted to dress down, so the terrain, touts and tourists are easily navigated. I make my way up to the top of the street before stopping, to decide which establishment to go back to. Across the road is a quieter venue called Havana, perfect. So I grab a table, order a cold one, pull out my book and read up on very thing I’ve seen.

 

In one day I’ve experienced the Moorish old town, the Colonial core, street market heaven/hell in Chinatown, incredible food, the immaculate KLCC, the view from KL tower, the shopping mecca of Bhukit Bintang and the frenetic nightlife of Chankit. I’ve only touched the surface of each so still lots to explore, but already I love KL… This place is amazing…

 

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Was that really a week ago? I guess having landed home on Tuesday morning and gone straight back to work, I haven’t really stopped and reflected until now, so it feels like I was only there yesterday. But I’d go back tomorrow. The people were friendly, not pushy at all, and didn’t seem to see tourists as a money pot. They were welcoming and seemed genuinely pleased that people want to come and see their beautiful country.  I wasn’t offered a selfie stick, not anywhere, quite the contrast from Rome last month. And when I go back – I will go back – my new Malaysian friends have told me to go to Penang and Cameron Highland too. I will, for sure. Just need to save up again first!

 

#brokebuthappy