KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
DAY 35 - 14 February 2023
CURRENT POSITON: ENROUTE TO LAEM CHABANG (BANGKOK) THAILAND)
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting live from Queen Mary 2
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (Port Klang)
Port Klang cruise terminal is impressive. An extended wooden building with long walkways to exit the ship. Worth it for the range of services and retail including Duty Free offered in the building.
First and foremost, an answer to every cruiser’s prayer – FREE wifi. The prices for wifi and the poor signal onboard which means that 24 paid for can come down to less than half that in efficient connection is a constant subject of discussion on dinner tables and anywhere the passengers gather. Cunard offers a choice of internet packages. Full voyage which started at $1,500 (Southampton to Southampton) or the above mentioned 24 hour sign up. Among guests and crew, the internet frustrations rank top of the complaints list.
The terminal building at Port Klang becomes home to internet deprived passengers who camp out in the comfy chair’s hour after hour, approaching each other and asking in a whisper, “What’s the password?” Bliss to be connected and talk freely to family, friends, send photos and catch up on emails.
Reluctant to leave the free wifi, I joined the line of people waiting for the shuttle. As we set off, the guide was exited to relay the information. “The journey will take about 45 minutes as we take you to one of the largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumper.”
Shopping Mall? The couple in the seat in front of me, turned around and queried “Shopping Mall? We thought we were going to the city to see the iconic Twin Towers.” Nothing to do but wait for the coach to reach the shopping mall, jump on the next coach back to the ship and get a taxi.
That was Plan A – but the taxi drivers who had been rejected at the cruise terminal in favour Free shuttle, now had the last laugh. They follow the coach from the terminal to the shopping mall knowing that passengers who want to see the KL sights will now need their services. Taxi drivers crowd round those of us seeking transport to the city. Prices are pretty standard at $70/80 and this is often split between four passengers.
For me, now on a tight schedule, I opted to travel alone and happily paid the $70 to one of the drivers who seemed friendly, knowledgeable, not too pushy – and he had a nice, clean silver taxi. He happily gave me his phone number and licence number.
Safety precautions, especially for women travelling alone are crucial in every part of the world. Kuala Lumper is a well-regulated city and tourists are a priority in maintaining good relations with the cruise liners.
My smiling taxi driver/guide, Amri, explained that the city was an hour away on the highway and after I had visited all the places I wanted to see, he’d take me back to the ship.
The highway journey took us from levels of high vegetation and few buildings and gradually passed areas of development with high rise after high rise of worker’s apartments and onwards to the city more expensive luxury residences.
The skyline of the city is a populated with ever higher buildings and corporate offices worthy of any international city and the Twin Towers, stands proud as a Kuala Lumper landmark. Even though its status as the tallest Tower is being challenged by the new KL Tower.
At the foot of the tower surrounded by skyscrapers, the Twin Towers are primed for tourists with photo sites to capture the best view and also a bevy of photographers anxious to show photos they want to sell. Though the point of it is hard to see as everyone they approach is already in position to photograph the tower on phone or occasionally camera.
Onwards to PPNB Tower, (421 meters high) as it nears completion ready to take the crown of tallest KL tower. This contemporary, shiny edifice reaching up to the sky appears to be a worthy contender.
Even on a Sunday, traffic in the city is dense. There are two stops side by side that tourists generally want to see, China Town and Central Market. My driver Amri explained that normally the stops are combined and it is not a long walk between the two. However, being as a lady on her own, he refused to leave me to walk the short distance. Everywhere we went his silver taxi was positioned in the right spot to allow me to sight see, take photos and accept as he held open the open back door and we continue the tour.
China Town still had most of its decorations from Chinese New Year and the atmosphere is festive and not over populated. Goods from all over the world are sold in this ancient city centre and though the tourists come to see and experience, the majority of hoppers appear to be Chinese or Asian.
Central Market is an old building repurposed for a different use. An indoor market now. The ground floor is a food hall with street food from all the major nationalities in Kuala Lumpur.
Small shops with handicrafts, clothes, t-shirts and silver jewellery take up the upper floors. A pleasant place to walk around and easy to communicate with stall holders as many of them speak English, It is taught in schools and the legacy of the British occupation of this country is evident.
Kuala Lumpur was granted Independence in 2020 but are still members of the Commonwealth. Independence Square marks the transition of power and with St. Anne’s Cathedral taking up one side of the square and the former law courts the other, the square is a symbol of he New Order.
My driver Amri is Malayan and he is less than complimentary about the government but not completely disillusioned. The government should do more to help the people, ‘” he says. “I am an independent taxi driver, I own my taxi. If I don’t work, my family receive no benefits. Everything is so expensive, we struggle every day to make the rent and take care of my family; my wife and two chidren who are at school.”
Amri is one of the coach chasers from the cruise port to the shopping mall and if he’s lucky to pick up a fare into the city.” Another highway ride back to the cruise ship terminal. Amri took me on a great tour of his country and the price was worth every penny.
Back in the cruise terminal, passengers still enjoy the Wi-Fi, I get out my phone and start texting and catching up with the family back home.
Happy Sailing and Happy Valentines Day !!!
KUALA LUMPUR FULL PHOTO GALLERY
(click to enlarge)
Current position of Queen Mary 2: (14 February 2023) - 12:06 gmt
Enroute to Laem Chabang (Bangkok)
Departure was 1 hrs 6 min ago. (at 19:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 2 d 11 hrs 24 min. (at 06:30 h local time)
Traveled distance since Singapore: 10.46 nm (19.38 km)
Remaining distance to Laem Chabang: 810.81 nm (1,501.62 km)
Traveled distance since Dubai: 3,900.44 nm (7,223.62 km)
Happy Sailing ... The Journey continues... Ellen
NEXT PORT - BANGKOK, THAILAND
17/18 February 2023 (Overnight)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.