A Grand Day Out

This auspicious day – 27th May – did not mark a birthday or anniversary; it was simply an interesting way to do a ‘visa run’.

While in Penang in February we were able to obtain a 60 day Thai tourist visa at the Consultate there.  Phuket Immigration issued us with a 30 day extension which we found a very straightforward and friendly exercise.  In fact we were through in five minutes.  It did help that we had all photocopies and passport photos required and turned up in reasonable attire.  Thereafter, a trip to another country is required if only for a few hours to obtain an ‘exit’ stamp on departure, entry/exit stamps in the other country and a 30 day renewal at airport Immigration on re-entry.   Sounds simple, but in fact the Thai government seems to move the goalposts rather frequently, causing confusion within the yachting community that generally prefers to spend more than 30 days in one country.

Our original plan was to travel by minibus to Ranong at the Burmese border, about 450 km from Phuket, catch a longtail (see Phuket Encore) for a short trip to Kawthoung in Burma, get the necessary stamps in our passports and return in a day.  This was thwarted by uncertainty as to whether the border would be open even before the military coup of 22nd May put further restrictions in place.

Finally, we opted for ease and a cheapy ‘red eye’ Air Asia flight to take us from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur which we had not yet visited.

From the brand new KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2) we took the light railway to the central KL station – a journey of just over 30 minutes.  As we knew we would not have too much time in the city we decided to see as many of the sights as possible by using the ‘Hop-on-Hop-Off’ bus service which conveniently stopped just outside the station.

We were not disappointed.  Here are some of the shots taken en route:

National Palace

National Palace

On guard!

On guard!

Guard to horse: 'I think I may faint!'

Guard to horse: ‘I think I may faint!’

The Menara KL or KL Tower

The Menara KL or KL Tower – 276 metres high

Palace of Culture

Palace of Culture

Petronas Towers - HQ of national petroleum company and tallest twin buildings in the world

Petronas Towers – HQ of national petroleum company and tallest twin buildings in the world

Merdeka or 'Independence' Square.  Malaysia became independent in 1957

Merdeka or ‘Independence’ Square. Malaysia became independent in 1957

More attractive colonial  architecture with Moghul influence by  A. C. Norman - late 19C

More attractive colonial architecture with Moghul influence by A. C. Norman – late 19C

Admire the reflection!

Admire the reflection!

Colonial railway station, now used as a commuter line

Colonial railway station, now used as a commuter line

Though we could have shopped till we dropped (Bob loves it!) at many of the high class shopping malls, we stayed put until the Chinatown stop when we alighted and had a late lunch at one of the small restaurants in this vibrant and colourful part of the city.

Chinatown

Chinatown

Fresh papaya (left) and lychees (just in season)

Fresh papaya (left) and lychees (just in season)

To sum up, we are glad we made the effort to venture into the heart of Kuala Lumpur, but are equally pleased we had not chosen to stay longer.  Now rated as a world city, business, cultural and economic centre, KL is a modern, bustling Asian metropolis of nearly 2 million people.   After a day of sightseeing we felt weary and in need of putting our feet up on Pipistrelle (theoretically that is).

Vitally, after a grand day out we could legally re-enter Thailand and stay for a further month!

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