Amsterdam - Kuala Lumpur - Hobart - Beijing

Rotterdam, april 15

Alarm at 7am, breakfast, took local train at Blaak station (city in process of being blocked off for the yearly Rotterdam Marathon), arrived at Schiphol Airport at 9:30am. Checked in and coffee at 10am..
The 777 for flight MH17 to Kuala Lumpur is towed to the gate instead of rolling in under own power... Bad omen? Or just fresh from the hangar after maintenance?
We were assigned seats 35J 35K, but we ended up occupying the assigned seats PLUS seats 33F/G/H across the aisle. A seasoned traveller knows how this works; the moment you hear the crew announce "Boarding Completed" over the PA you pick out the vacant seats and "occupy" them. If you won't, your neighbor will..

Take off at 12pm, arrival Kuala Lumpur International Airport 06:10am. KLIA is 55 km away from city centre. An Airport Express and city-connection to your downtown hotel is the same price as a taxi, so we opted for the latter. You purchase a voucher in the arrival hall for 75 Ringgit (Ä 19).
Early check-in at 8am in the Traders Hotel. It always pays off to negotiate an upgrade; for a small supplement we could upgrade to the business section on the 28th floor, executive suite, free use of the business lounge AND the room was available. View on the Petronas Towers.

Better to not exaggerate the first day and keep jetlag in mind as well as heat. It is 35 Celsius and sticky. Since the Petronas Towers are closed for visit on mondays I opted for the alternative, being the Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower), standing 421 meter tall. Meets my criteria, so another tower added on my list! (one of my hobbies is to visit high buildings all over the world. Only two criteria apply; minimum 100 meters tall AND open for visitors, so NO office towers and such. This pastime started back in 1987 when I was on the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre in NYC and felt like a nice hobby. Besides that I always have liked far and widespread views).

Did a Hop on Hop off citytour for first impression of the city. The tour would take 90 minutes but since this city (like many South-Asian cities) is blocked up it took 3 hours. When we finally grew fed up we got off and walked back to the Petronas. Hint: forget Hop on Hop off and walk OR use LRT (Light Rail).

We concluded that the vibe in KL is a bit different than the other SouthEast Asian metropoles. What exactly makes the difference we yet have to find out. Charm? character? The dynamic of streetlife in cities like Bangkok or Hanoi fails. Feels more business-like.
Another difference is the Islamic character of Malaysia. It reflects in the way people dress. Many mosks, but big variety in their architecture.

Jetlag is getting me. Back to the room to have a tea, work on the travelog, upload pics and get some sleep!

Engine trouble? View from the Traders Hotel View from Menara KL Tower Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur / Malaka, april 17
Made a trip to Malaka today. This city, 160 km south of KL, has both a Dutch and a Portuguese past of which traces are still to be seen. "We" occupied Malaka during our VOC-period but were kicked out when the English colonized Malaysia.

It was quite special to discover several signs of Dutch influence in the old city center. Whether to be proud of our colonial past or not is not the issue, history is history, but it feels weird to find headstones and streets bearing Dutch names. (e.g. Jonkerstraat)

Besides the Dutch and Portuguese, the Chinese left their mark on Malaka as well, reflecting in the many temples. Malaka has the largest Chinese cemetery outside China. Built on and around a hill. The higher the grave is to the summit of the hill, the more important and influential the person was in his/her life.

Christ Church.. ..Dutch origine Tombstone Chinese temple

One day is not enough to visit all 17 museam in Malaka. An 8-hour daytrip (of which 4 hours on the road) does not cut it. One night in Hotel Lisbon on the strait of Malaka might be a good idea to create more net time in Malaka.

Back in KL another attempt to get tickets for the Petronas Towers, but no luck. Number of tickets is limited and one really must queue up early morning. Tough luck. One more chance tomorrow since we will be moving on to Australia tomorrow evening.

The sky darkens. The daily shower is imminent. Ten minutes ago in 35 celsius sunshine, now an avalanche of water while lightning strikes the Petronas Twin high above us. What a spectacular way to conclude the long day!

Jonker Street Traditional Malayan residence KL City Park at 5:10pm.. ..and at 5:20pm !

Kuala Lumpur, april 18
Slept late, a long day ahead. Packed and put luggage in hotel storage for the day. Took a cab to Merdeka Square. I do not fancy cabs and prefer to walk or use public transport to get around, but the temp was excessive and a conditioned ride was tempting. But after 20 minutes stuck in traffic (again..) we decided to get out and walk.

Kuala Lumpur Merdeka Square Sultan Abdul Samad building The old quarter makes way for glass and steel...

A visit to the Textile Museum is worth your while, the adjacent cultural centre offers a diarama of KL, Chinatown comprising Central Market and Petaling... Enough to see and do. Food and beverage are cheap: I laid out 10 ringgit for a huge plate of gado-gado and a glass of fresh cucumber/lemonshake. Cuisine is a fusion of Indonesian, Chinese and Indian.
The daily shower started early today at 4pm. No cooling down, on the contrary. Humidity gets even worse. Back to the Traders to change and fresh up. Cab to KLIA at 7pm. The first half hour needed to reach city limit (4 kms), the next half hour to cover the remaining 55 kms to the airport.
KLIA is hypermodern with very efficient and swift procedures. Beats our own Schiphol which already is speedy... Flight MH149 to Melbourne (Airbus A330) is scheduled at 10pm. Filled 100%, no need to wait for the "Boarding Completed"-message. Well, it is only an 8-hour flight. Watched "The Artist" on the inflight entertainment, took my little helper and dozed off for several hours.

Textile Museum China Town KL LightRail ..almost there..

Melbourne / Hobart, april 19
8:00am: touchdown on Melbourne Tullamarine. We were facing a long lay-over since Jetstar has changed our connecting flight JQ705 to 9:45 earlier on. We were re-scheduled to the afternoon flight of 2:45pm. No worries, mate! We can always go downtown for a lunchbreak.

But.. What is happening? Cleared Customs in 20 minutes? got our luggage at 8:30? Flight JQ705 still boarding? Go for it! Went straight to Jetstar service desk and managed to get on standby for flight JQ705. Lucky bastards we were. Two no-shows, so seats 6D/6E were ours! In Hobart at 11am instead of 4:30pm. Great!

Melbourne JQ705 burning recycled frying oil joke! Family reunion in Kingston

What are all these reporters and cameras doing in the plane and around it? And why are all these leaflets handed out? It is important? Not for us, we just want to get to Hobart. Finally the story unfolded. We (the passengers and crew) were used as guinea pigs. It turned out that flight JQ705 was Jetstar's first commercial flight that would use bio fuel (50% kerosine, 50% recycled cooking oil). The #1 engine was burning regular kerosine, the #2 engine burned the bio fuel. No difference to us, we got there and that was most important for us. Nice story for future grandchildren though..

Met my dad and stepmother in their new Kingston residence. Not too bad at all. Nice view on Mount Wellington.. Got used in trucking left and steering right-hand side with automatic gearbox in no-time. Driving a car in Aussie is much more relaxed than in Europe. Drivers are much more respectful down under and generally observe the rules of traffic much more disciplined.

The next five days are family-business and will not be interesting for a travelog.

Hobart / Kingston, april 20,21,22
Daytrips and going down memory lane. Pity the weather is changing. Day of arrival it was 23C and sunny, now it is grey and autumn is in the air.

Margate train: buying icecream for daddy TasmaniŽ, south east coast line Tasman highway Richmond Jail

Richmond bridge: oldest
bridge in TasmaniŽ
Richmond Lewis str, Seven Mile Beach Seven Mile Beach

Zondag 22 april: prediction of sunny and clear weather. This implies: Mount Wellington not shrouded in clouds and go up there! "The Mountain" has her summit on 1271 meters and offers great views in all directions. There's a gale most of the time up there and it is freezing. When we finally made it to the summit we could just take in the vista for about 10 minutes before the clouds concentrated again. Made several decent pics though.

Battery Point is the old Hobart and clearly shows her British influences. Why do I stay in the Netherlands and do not move down here like my dad did in the seventies? I could have been an Aussie for 30 years now...
Finished the day in the Wrest Point Casino, where by sheer coincidence the Targa-rallye finished today. I do not care for car-rallyes at all, but I dů like to look at the vintage cars that took part. Nice Mustangs and Jaguars, but I liked the 1963 Ford Cortina (the model with the round 3-section taillights) we used to have when I was a kid... Memories, memories...

Shopping at the local Woolworths and a local brew to go with the daily cigarillo. A Cascade Draught stubby at $3,45! This kind of prices should keep all Aussies sober...

Hobart Storm op Mt. Wellington Kingston, seen from "the Mountain" Battery Point

Battery Point Wrest Point Hotel/Casino Battery Point Noord-Hobart, opposite MONA

April 23: last day in Tasmania. Today we will visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). Read about it, is supposed to be extreme. The museum is founded by David Walsh, an eccentric millionaire. We did not share the "extreme" sentiment: probably Aussies are more sensitive when it comes to sexually explicit works of art.
Impressive overall exhibition. I particularly liked the water curtain and "00101001". No posts, no explanations as those are supplied by a smartphone which guides you through the museum. Every work of art has kind of beacon and triggers your device. Reserve a day to "do" MONA.

Returned the car to dad, said farewell (tough...) and took the last bus back to Hobart. Packed and had dinner in one of the better fish restaurants on the docks.

"Waterfall" MONA MONA MONA

Bye car.. ..shuttle to Hobart Airport.. ..bye Hobart.. see you next year? Midway Point and Seven Mile Beach

April 24: early rise, check out of the Astor Hotel (and the wonderful innkeeper Tildy) and took the airport shuttle. Being a internal flight to Sydney, drinks and liquids were permitted to be carried in handluggage. We are sů not to this anymore! I was selected for a "Random Explosives Check" as seen in the reality programs. My luggage and me were swiped overall, the swiper was inserted in a machine which told me if I could explode or not. I was clean.

Arrival in Sydney one hour late. The plane had a bird-collision on the way in and had to take some precautions for landing. Since we had a long 6-hour lay-over in Sydney we totally did not care about the delay. Transfer from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 takes AU$ 5 these days (for a 3-minute trainride). Yes people, Australia really is getting more expensive every year.

We are sitting across the China Airlines check-in counters for flight CA174 to Beijing. Still two hours before opening. No problem, free Internet. Good opportunity for updating the travelog. See you in Beijing tomorrow!

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