Our 3 month visas for Thailand were due to expire on March 5th and in order to get a one month extension we had to leave the country, so we flew (60 minutes in the air) to Kuala Lumpur (KL) , Malaysia last week for a four day trip (Feb 24- Feb 28) . There is a U.S. embassy in KL, and we needed to go there in order to get new passport pages ( I was down to my last page).
There are so many nice hotels in KL, and at very good prices, that it is hard to pick one, but after lots of time spent on hotels.com we picked the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur. It turned out to be a lovely hotel, and they upgraded us to a very large executive suite when we arrived. The room was great, with views of the city, and most importantly views of the beautiful Petronas Towers, the 88 story twin towers that dominate the landscape of the city. These towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and are still the tallest twin towers.
We had a great 4 days – just being tourists. It is an interesting multi-cultural city. One sees a lot of ethnic Malay women wearing their very stylish colorful head-scarves with tight jeans and colorful blouses, side by side with tourists from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries dressed in full black burkas with even their eyes covered by sunglasses. Malaysia is popular with tourists from Arab countries because it is easy to find halal food and they are comfortable in a majority Muslim population. On the other hand, however, there are many Chinese- and Indian-Malaysians so you also see a lot of women in mini-skirts, short shorts and all sorts of outfits. The men, religious or not, all seem to be able to get away with wearing t-shirts and shorts.
We enjoyed the tremendous variety of Malay (including Indian-Malay and Chinese-Malay) food, went to a bird-park and to a movie, gawked at the Petronas Towers and the fantastically extravagant shopping malls, and just wandered around the town enjoying a break from boat life. People were very friendly and it was nice to be able to communicate in English and in Bahasa Malay which is very similar to Indonesian. (Malaysians speak much better English than Thais as they study English in school, whereas most Thais do not).
Now we are back in Thailand with visas good until the end of March and lots of passport pages to get us through the next few years. The freighter that is taking our boat (and 23 other boats) to Turkey is supposed to arrive here on the 15th of March. We are hoping that they won’t be delayed.