From the Green Jungle of Taman Negara to the Concrete Jungle of Kuala Lumpur

It would have been cheaper to have taken the 7:30am public bus to Jerantut from Kuala Tahan then the 10am bus to KL. The bust station was just around the corner where some food stands had set-up shop.  The snacks being sold there are cheap freshly-made, and tasty.  On my way back to the guesthouse, a couple of young white girls with big packs stopped in front of an electrical system cabinet on which were stenciled “Kuala Tahan – Jerantut” and asked if it was the bus stop.  Being the good-natured traveler that I am, I pointed them down the street.

I was in no hurry to go back to KL  which I had already explored a couple of years ago.  Since arriving in Malaysia on this trip, my only glimpse of the city  so far was in the LCCT and KL Sentral.  I still had to make it back by late afternoon though as Yna, Jeannette, and Julie were arriving.

The best place to just kick your feet up

I booked the RM75 boat-bus trip at Han Travel.  We departed by boat at 9:30am.  The boat ride was very languid and so enjoyable especially since I was seated alone at the front of the boat. We had a  brief detour to a sandy bank at Sungai Tembeling for someone to piss.  It was a little amusing.  We were surprised when the boat was heading for the bank. I suspected engine trouble or something like that.  When it stopped, a girl scrambled up behind some trees.  “Go if you gotta go,” somebody remarked when she came back and apologized for the detour.  We all had a laugh.

We arrived at Kuala Tembeling at 11:30 and had lunch while waiting for the bus from KL which promptly arrived around 12:45 discharging passengers who were taking the boat to Kuala Tahan.  It wasn’t full so I had the seat all to myself.  We had a brief stop at a bus stop for some refreshments and a rest room break.  We arrived at Chinatown at almost 4 already as it was traffic as soon as we got to the city.

Back in KL.  The bus dropped us off right at the center of Chinatown which was really convenient.  I pounded pavement to  Central Market in search of Plammers Guesthouse which prided itself in being so close the market.  I had previously stayed in the Bukit Bintang area but decided that Chinatown was more interesting.  Maybe I was just tired but I  couldn’t find Jl Hang Kasturi which turned out to be just by the market and with a large arc that read “Kasturi Walk.”   I phoned the guesthouse and the guy who answered said he’d pick me up.  A short while later, a middle-aged guy in glasses showed up and I followed him through an Indian restaurant and its kitchen and out on a side street.

Plammers  was a nice enough place and the location was superb as it was just behind the Central Market. Though it lists its address as Jl Hang Kasturi, the entrance is actually at the alley behind the street.  There’s actually a sign (which I missed)  along Kasturi Walk.

My favorite common area in typical Indian colors

The large living room

The Indian couple running it were very nice and accommodating, especially the woman who was almost motherly. I was a little disappointed that they weren’t Malay as I was keen on improving my fluency with Bahasa-Melayu.

My booking at Booking.com didn’t register, a problem they often have with the website, the woman  explained.  Fortunately, there was a vacant single room so I was able to check in.  It was box-like, had no windows and the walls were a little thin but at least the a/c was strong and cold and it was clean.    There were only two bathrooms/showers but the guy pointed out some stalls they were currently building.  The common areas were nice though especially the little nook with its orange walls which was just outside my room. A small corner had a water dispenser (hot and cold) and a rack of glasses and some eating utensils.  There was also a fridge on the door of which a sign said, “Don’t take away food that is not yours.”

The end of this corridor overlooks the Central Market

Hotel Chinatown Inn where the girls were booked was about a block away at Jl Petaling.  The famous shopping street  was already crammed with stalls for the night market. I couldn’t help but laugh as I got on the phone to Yna reminding her of our hotel in Shanghai which was above a department store.  This one was in its own building but you had to go through a maze of stalls selling cheap knock-offs and every imaginable mobile phone or Ipod accessory.

Since the girls were quite hungry and we were going to walk to Jl Alor for dinner, Geoff suggested a quick stop  at Swiss-Inn for something light to fuel up a bit for the long walk.  Something light for the girls turned out to be some rice and satay! Such an appetite considering that they had a peanut pancake from one of the stalls at Jl Petaling. Me, I was reserving my appetite.

Jalan Alor Food Trip.  The girls were awed by all the options available at this famous food street. It was around 8:30 already and being a Friday, there was a crowd but not big enough to fill-up all the sidewalk tables.  Touts with colored laminated menus called people to their tables.  The trick to Jalan Alor, as I’ve learned from experience, is to take your time to check out what’s available as you really are spoiled for choice.  You can also just base yourself on a particular spot and also order from the other stalls.

Geoff chose the Chinese place just by the head of the street.  It was the same place where I had my first meal at Jalan Alor a couple of years ago on my first trip to Malaysia.  I still remember having some roast duck and crispy pork.  This time I had crispy pork with fried noodles while we shared a plate of shells and some crabs.  Dessert was durian from one of the nearby stalls peddling the aromatic fruit.  Unbelievably, it was Yna’s first taste of durian!

We took the long route back to Chinatown passing by Bukit Nanas.

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