Great Heights in Kuala Lumpur

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When traveling from Thailand to Bali, I decided to make a few quick stops in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. I knew that if I was only going to be spending roughly 48 hours in KLL, I needed to stay in a place that was close to the sights and the nightlife. The Trader’s Hotel was a perfect fit, which offered amazing views from my room, perfect service, and a complimentary happy hour with tea and biscuits (perfect to catch up on some blogging). They are one of the few hotels where you can actually see the full view of the Petronas Towers, and the rooftop bar, SkyBar,  is particularly popular, meaning a short commute back to your hotel room. The cherry on top? It’s centrally located, meaning you’re close to tons of great culinary options including Shanghai, Bijan, and Cilantro.

For my one full day, I decided to trek out to the Batu Caves. I had heard mixed reviews, but I am a sucker for anything that gets me outside. If you’re staying close to City Central, which you likely are, you will need to arrange a cab to take you to the caves. Have your concierge strike a deal for a ride there and back, so you don’t have to hassle with a cabbie for a ride home. An added bonus: it will usually save you a few bucks, too. Once you arrive at the caves, you’ll see a giant set of steps and a massive gold statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, identifying the caves as a place of worship. Because of that, it is important that you dress appropriately. I err on the side of covering up. I kept on a long sleeve top and a skirt that hit below the knees, just to be safe.

Once inside, it’s a little dark and dingy, and for the most part it’s not all that interesting. Because of this, I can see why people would be disappointed. I decided to stick around and check out every nook and crany, and after a period of time, chanting and prayer began. For me, this was the real treat. As much as I try to be respectful of the people around me, I do still find religion in general quite fascinating, so I stood back and spectated from afar. I didn’t take any pictures because I feel like that’s pushin’ it. Afterwards, I journeyed back to my hotel and treated myself to a solo dinner and then drinks upstairs at the bar. I ended up meeting a group of MMA professionals in the city for a tournament, and we stayed out until the wee hours of the morning. Just proof that you never know who you are going to meet when you travel.

So, if I had to leave you with three tips for a quick trip in Kuala Lumpur: 1) Book a hotel in City Central with a great view. Trader’s would be my pick. 2) Spend more than 15 minutes at the Batu caves and enjoy the people watching (remember to dress appropriately!), and 3) Enjoy the burgeoning food scene with a dinner at Bijan for traditional Malay cuisine.

Do you have any tips for a long layover in KLL? Leave me a comment!

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Posh Pit Stop

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Between Thailand and Bali I couldn’t help but make a quick stop over in Singapore for a night. There were a few things that I wanted to check out, including some rooftop bars that offer some incredible views of the city. But first, a little history. I stayed at the New Majestic Hotel, which is a hop, skip and a jump from Chinatown.

On the walk over to Chinatown, I stopped at the Sri Mariamman Temple, which is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. This architecture was so impressive, and to be honest, this picture really doesn’t do the craftsmanship justice. Once you turn down Pagoda Street you will find the Chinatown Hertiage Center. Inside are diaramas that help you relive the days where Chinese migrants were coming to Singapore. Most people whizz through in 15 minutes, but if you take the time to read every label and watch all of the videos, you can learn a lot. It still only lasts about an hour, but the quick stop was one of the highlights of the day. Bonus: it only costs $10.

Once I was ready for the evening, it was time for a night on the town. I started with dinner with a fellow traveler at Esquina then headed to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to check out Ku De Ta and the sunset. After Ku De Ta, we finished the night at 1-Altitude for some music and dancing with one of the best views in the city.

While I wish I could’ve spent more time in Singapore, my first 24 hours gave me a good preview of all the city has to offer, and now I can’t wait to go back.

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Don’t Fail to Prepare: Part II

Tomorrow, I will start my trip! First stop will be in L.A. to visit my dear friend Malcolm for a few days before he drops me off at the airport to head to Narita Airport in Tokyo. I’ve been running around today to take care of some of the last minute details. So here’s the skinny on what you should be taking care the last few days before your trip.

Call your bank. I have three bank accounts, and one credit card. What do they all have in common? They need to know you are going out of the country. Make sure you have your itinerary all set, as some banks or credit card companies want to know exact dates. For some of the countries I’m going to (Vietnam and India in particular), it took over two weeks to get the holds released on more than one of my accounts, so make sure you plan in advance for certain countries. You don’t want to be stuck without any way to pay for your delicious Pho in Hanoi, or fabulous salwar kameez in Delhi.
Pack pack pack. I thought packing for three months would be difficult. I was wrong. Picking out outfits for 90 days was the easy part. The tough part was fitting it into one piece of checked luggage, one carry and a personal item (aka, the biggest bag I could imagine would fit underneath the seat in front of me). I had to do a lot of editing. Apparently, four pairs of heels was a little too much. While some people can live off of 20 articles of clothing for 3 months, I choose not to, and I have no problem paying for a checked bag for a little more comfort. One of the big problems I faced was packing for multiple climates. Within the same three months I will be facing 40 degree weather at night in Beijing and 90 degree heat in Phuket. Layers were definitely the key! While I don’t want to get into the specifics of my checked luggage, I will touch on the important stuff that should be going with you to your seat on the flight.
All of my electronics I’m bringing with me. I’m packing my MacBook Air, Kindle, Canon DSLR camera, iPhone 4S, iTouch, Nokia dummy phone, electric toothbrush (not pictured), and all of the chargers to go along with it.
My carry-on bag holds all of my essentials to make me comfortable god forbid my luggage gets lost. This includes: all of my medications needed for the trip (which has everything you might need just in case), a small bag of my liquid toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, hairspray, body wash, lotion, face wash, shaving cream, and sunscreen. Tampons, which are hard to find in some countries in Asia. Peptobismol and Immodium (definitely needed for India!), protein bars for travel snacks, neutrogena face wipes, a baseball cap, Kate Spade sunglasses, my favorite 3.1 Philip Lim crossbody bag (in it’s dust cover), a pair of blue jeans, shorts (not pictured), and a couple tank tops (not pictured), a bathing suit, bra, sports bra, couple pairs of underwear, sandals, and flats.
The all important personal item! This Lulelemon bag is great for all of your essentials that you don’t feel comfortable putting in the overhead compartment. It is filled with all of my electronics, a couple extra protein bars, my passport (with visas), my wallet, my Chanel sungalsses, kleenex, hand wipes, face wipes, a pen (to fill out forms on the plane), a scarf, Nyquil (to help me sleep on the plane). I’m wearing my Jimmy Choo sneakers on the plane with a sweater, pair of jean shorts, and a jacket in case I get cold. Also packed in here are the few pieces of jewlery I won’t already be wearing.
Double check! Go through your packing list. Make sure you have everything you need. Worse comes to worse, you can pick it up in another country, but some things you just can’t get anywhere else. Medications, passport, and visas are all a giant pain in the butt to get elsewhere. Make copies of your prescriptions, passport photo page and all of your visas just in case.
Say thank you. If you’re like me, there are a lot of people who helped you get ready for this trip. Show them your appreciation with a fun card! I still love getting snail mail, and I know my friends and family will be grateful for my effort. As Oscar Wilde says, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

 Until next time! xoxo