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Showing posts from November, 2011

Jingle bell in KL

"I want to go see friends and play with toys." After over two weeks on the road Alex was entitled to be a little travel weary. I can't say that I was in any hurry to return to Australia myself, but I longed for a lazy day, relaxing in the hotel room or by the pool, going out only to eat food at a local kopitiam or hawker centre. It was not to be. We had to check out of our hotel and meet some childhood friends of B before heading off to the airport in the evening. First we ducked down to the nearby hawker centre for a final breakfast of roti canai and milo ais. Thomas and Liz have a daughter Isabelle who is five months younger than Alex. Confused, Alex nicknamed her Jingle Bells. We drove over to the nearby Pavilion shopping centre where the two kids immediately raced around together.KL is not particularly child friendly and Alex had had few opportunities to run around freely. Now he could not stop. Run, run, run! Run to the lift, press the button, run hide run. Upm

Raining in KL

By the time we left the hotel it was midday. I was still feeling tired, but our time here was limited so we had to do something. We acceeded to Alex's demands and caught a monorail a couple of stations up, then a light rail to Pasar Seni, the Central Markets. B was looking for curry powder and knew it should be available somewhere around there. Somewhere... We wandered the streets, past moneychangers and jewellers, though a street of Indian goods and made it to outside Khota Baru, opposite Petaling Street when the very dark clouds opened up. It rained as only the tropics can. The streets were flooding and lightning flashed close by with loud thunderclaps. Taxis would pull up and disgorge their passengers into the water. Umbrellas were useless. We were stuck there for an hour before it eventually cleared enough for us to cross the sheltered bridge and make our way into covered Petaling Street. We ignored the watch and t-shirt sellers and eventually found a couple of shops sell

Exhausted in Kuala Lumpur

The path through Kuala Lumpur International Airport was, by now, a familiar one. At least this time we could promise Alex that, yes, he could catch the train lifts as we descended to join the KLIA Express service to the city. The light was beautiful as we raced past palm plantations and the amazing architecture of Putrajaya, reaching KL proper in 28 minutes. As we sat in the taxi driving to our hotel in Bukit Bintang the green, decaying city outside brought back so many memories. This was the second country I ever visited and it feels so familiar. We had to wait a few hours to check in at the Parkroyal hotel so we ducked behind to the hawker stalls to eat some breakfast of roti canai and milo ais. Gosh the milo ais tasted so good. Then Alex went crazy around the big Christmas decorations of The Pavilion, relishing the opportunity to run around. I was literally falling asleep on my feet and very glad when we could finally check in to our swank room. Pity about all the street noi

The day gets shorter

Our stay in Amsterdam was far too brief. After a quick breakfast in the railway saloon inspired eating area decorated with a wide variety of railway paraphenalia we were soon heading out into the chilly Amsterdam air. Over the road was the ornate Amsterdam Centraal railway station and we jumped on to the double decked yellow and blue train to Schipol Airport. I really like Schipol. It's no wonder that it is consistently rated one of the world's top airports. There's a good range of reasonable shopping and most of it seems accessible. Collecting our tax refund proved to be difficult as, due to a systems failure, I had to walk across the single open teller at the opposite side of the terminal. Alex discovered a yellow balloon lying on the floor and took possession of it. At the gate I was surprised and a little disappointed to see our old friend "Penang", the same 747 that had carried us all the way to Europe. Alex sadly had to give up the balloon while B and

Briefly Brussels

Here we are at the A-Train hotel in Amsterdam after a day on the trains. A long day on the trains. We said a sad goodbye to Paris, catching a packed metro train and then a RER train up to Gare du Nord station. We were early and there was not much to do but stand around the headers and watch the trains arrive and depart under the canopy. Our fast Thalys bound for Amsterdam waited next to another decorated with Tintin, in a cross-promotion with the Spielberg movie. The Thalys was very comfortable inside, bright pink and red decor, wifi (free for first class, extra cost for us) and power sockets. After days of blue skies today we left under foggy grey, racing past tenements, then cultivated fields of green dotted with small towns. Though our tickets were for Amsterdam we had to make a stopover in Brussels to pick up some lost property. We had actually left it in Ghent, but the luggage staff kindly shipped it straight down for us and look after our big bags as well. Not having seen out

Alex's sightseeing tour of Paris

Our last day in Paris! How could we not be a little sad? This is a special place. Though the sights are uncountable it is the experiences that make Paris what it is. We could easily spend a month here, doing very little, just soaking up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is not to be on this trip, so we had to make this last day special. I was originally planning a day trip out to Vitre, a medieval castle town in Brittany, but we couldn't stomach six hours in a train. So instead we decided to take Alex on a sightseeing tour of Paris. During our three previous trips here we have visited many of the popular tourist destinations. You might think Alex is too young to do the same, but he has books on Paris that he can relate to, most notably Masumi's Paris Hide and Seek where you have to find Theo and his dog Potchi in various locations around the city (thanks Nanna!). The previous night we had visited the Eiffel Tower and Alex had spotted the lifts going up and down. Of course he