I was looking forward to taking photos from the observation deck of this telecommunications tower, which is slightly taller than the Petronas Twin Towers down the road. I didn’t realise that, following on from what I was saying the other day about my conflicted capitalist/socialist leanings, the tower has embraced the hardcore free-market dictum of “charge the poor schmucks as much as you can get away with, even if you’re offering them a load of old tat”.
I couldn’t just pay to go up there, oh no. I was expected to pay an extortionate sum for the observation deck experience and four tacky-looking activities I wasn’t interested in. The good news is that in walking away, I got to see all sorts of interesting stuff near the Petronas Towers as day was turning to night.
The banks at Kuala Lumpur Airport
They don’t change travellers cheques (what!?) and I had to try seven ATMs before I could get my hands on any ringgits (that’s the currency here).
Not being allowed into the prayer halls of mosques
Their gaff, their rules, I guess.
Is this what a monsoon’s like? I’ve never seen anything quite like it, except once when there was a flash-flood outside my mum’s house in Hartlepool.
Luckily I didn’t have much sightseeing left to do today and as the skies darkened during my visit to St Mary’s Cathedral, I decided to head back to my hostel. I’d made it halfway when the hard, driving, pelting rain came bucketing down.
A lot of Kuala Lumpur’s shop buildings have covered walkways along the sides but after nearly an hour waiting under one with no let-up, I decided to make a break for it. I was soggy within seconds but the real mistake was to try to cross a wide main road. Needless to say a car drove through a puddle in front of me and, like some sick tribute to a scene from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, drenched me from head to foot.
Wish I’d brought a brolly.
This advert in my in-flight magazine
I came into Kuala Lumpur on the budget carrier AirAsia, which is based in this city and last year started offering flights between here and London for £99. You know the sort of thing: you have to book six months in advance, set off at some ungodly hour and sell one of your kidneys if you intend to carry any luggage.
BLIMEY! exclaims the advert. LONDON’S SO AFFORDABLE.
Is that so? Forgive my incredulous snorting. Let’s examine the “8 good reasons to go to London”:
1. The pound just took a huge dip.
Yeah, thanks for reminding me, AirAsia.
2. The famous landmarks are FREE! Pay nothing to see Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and Westminster Abbey.
Not if you want to go inside the palace or the abbey. Next!
3. Get rooms from £9.50.
For “rooms”, read “bed in a grubby 12-person dorm with people who snore”.
4. Move around London on the famous red buses for only £1.
And take forever to get anywhere. You can try the Tube, but it'll cost ya.
5. Shop till you drop at Primark from 80 pence.
Yes, and encourage Indian sweatshops while you’re at it. Remember folks, they’d be unemployed if Primark didn’t exploit them!
6. 60% off designer labels at Bicester Village.
7. 70% off selected theatre tickets daily. Catch Mamma Mia, Billy Elliot and many more daily!
Hmm, the subeditor/insufferable pedant in me objects to the repeated use of the word ‘daily’ and the fact-checker in me is dubious about that 70% figure. Even if it’s true, it’ll be 70% off top-price tickets for a show nobody wants to see.
8. Last but not least, fares to London can’t get any LOWER than at AirAsia!
Neither can copywriting.