Our six week South East Asia journey ended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2011. The journey started in Hong Kong, and we weaved our way south, traversing five countries and having the time of our lives. We were in our last stop before flying back to the US, to resume our busy, stressful work lives. Over the past month, we had slurped dozens of bowls of noodles, spent literally days in buses and trains and seen landscapes unlike anything in the US. It did nothing but ignite our passion for travel.
Unfortunately, after a trip filled with amazing highlight after amazing highlight, Kuala Lumpur ended up being our least favorite destination. We enjoyed some great street food on Jalan Alor (the famous grilled chicken wings lived up to their billing), bought a few funky souvenirs from local design stores, and had some high quality tea. But something was missing. The abundance of massive malls and Western fast food chains everywhere certainly didn’t help. Neither did the oppressive heat, which left us running for shelter in air conditioning at every turn.
But maybe, just maybe, it was our fault.
In our planning for this trip, we had a serious issue with editing our itinerary. Because of our once-in-a-lifetime mentality, we wanted to see everything. Paring down our list of places to visit was torturous. So on average, every three days, we moved to a new city. After almost six weeks of constant travel, we had had it. By the time we landed in Kuala Lumpur, we were beat.
In retrospect, we probably should have seen fewer places for a longer period of time and had a richer experience as a result. Lesson learned.
Luckily, we booked a nice hotel for our last night in Asia, as a celebration for a journey complete and in anticipation that we would want to recharge before embarking on our long, long journey back to the US. We settled on the Traders Hotel, located next to the famous Petronas Towers and part of the fantastic Shangra-La hotel group. The thought of a rooftop pool and high thread count sheets had us at hello.
After exploring Kuala Lumpur for a few days and enduring some truly hellish heat, we decided to spend our last day in Asia completely within the confines of the Traders Hotel. We had never tried such a challenge, and when would we ever again, but we thought of it as a fun game. Could we spend an entire 24 hour period in a hotel property, without stepping outside?
Sorry Kuala Lumpur. It wasn’t you, it was us.
Below is Julie’s recap of the 24 hours entirely spent within the confines of the Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur from 4 February 2011.
As we wind down our adventure in Asia, we thought it only fitting to spend our last night in style. Fortunately, in Malaysia, style is slightly cheaper than at home, so we booked a room at the famed Traders Hotel for a little hotel love. At the end of my metaphorical traveling rope, sick of walking and heat and guidebooks and subways and tickets and meal decisions, I thought it would be fun to take the idea one step further and literally not leave the hotel for 24 hours.
We arrive at noon (before the traditional 2pm check-in, but we had to check-out of our other guesthouse at noon) and the Traders kindly takes us early. We promptly decide to pay an extra $30 to have a Club Level room, which grants us access to the Traders Club, a special floor of the hotel that serves guests complimentary breakfast, tea time and cocktail hour (the cocktail hour even has a dress code…gotta put away the flip-flops!).
I like to think that while I spent 24 hours holed up in a hotel, my family and friends back home were similarly camped out waiting for yet another winter storm to pass. My sacrifice was a demonstration of pure unadulterated solidarity.
Here’s how I spent my time at the Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur:
12:00 – 12:30: Check out the hotel, get clarification on the dress code for the special Club, and take pictures of all of our fun room amenities.
2:30 – 3:00: Back to the room to change clothes for tea time.
3:00 – 4:00: Tea time. Lots of finger sandwiches. An amazing view of the city from the 32nd floor.
4:00 – 5:00: Back to the room for some R&R. We read the complimentary magazines, and I get to spend some quality time with my blue accordion file which has all the ticket stubs and printouts from our trip. Watch some HBO (George of the Jungle starring the acting genius Brendan Fraser).
5:00 – 5:30: Take a bath. The bathtub is huge, and I dump an entire bottle of liquid soap in to ensure plenty of bubbles. I’m not exactly a huge bath person, but for some reason, in a nice hotel I always jump in. I think it’s also because I love hotel bathrobes, and the two go hand-in-hand.
6:15: Head to cocktail hour on the Club level. I haven’t had wine in over a month, so I proceed to drink my weight in wine. More snacks, more tiny sandwiches, lots of fun people watching (especially this Asian couple wearing matching purple Abercrombie & Fitch polo shirts). Try to act inconspicuous and like I belong on a Club level anything!
7:00: Dinner at the hotel. One of the highest rated KL restaurants, GoBo Upstairs, is conveniently located in our hotel. The lack of heavy meals this month means that a big steak dinner puts us over the top. We waddle out of the restaurant vowing never to eat again.
9:00: Watch part of Father of the Bride Part 2. I cry at the end. Like always.
10:00: Fall asleep, but only briefly. For some reason, the excess food and drink doesn’t quite settle well, and Drew and I are both up for hours in the middle of the night, wide awake. He plays three Scrabble games against the iPad, and wins two. I toss and turn and eventually fall back to sleep.
8:30am: Wake up after fitful sleep, glad we were able to sleep in past 7am. Turns out Drew didn’t go back to sleep until 4:30 or so.
9:00: Breakfast on the Club level. As expected, the spread is amazing, and we fuel up on yogurt with fresh fruit purees. We decide that we prefer the various coffee and tea concoctions we’ve had during our trip than the typical varieties at home and will begin making coffee with sweetened condensed milk (instead of creamer) immediately.
9:30: Shower, get ready and pack up our stuff one final time. With the various souvenirs and gifts we’ve bought, we have to get creative to get our bags to close. We’re almost done with our 2011 Christmas shopping at this point, which is exciting.
10:30 – noon: Play on the Interwebs, write blog posts, transfer photos, upload stuff, the usual ‘work’ stuff we do daily. I catch up on my Google Reader, my favorite Google product and a source of hours of entertainment for me (note from 2015: the death of Google Reader was a sad day for me, but fortunately I found another love in feedly).
Noon: Check out of our home away from home. As we take our final elevator ride, we decide that we could easily spend another 24 hours here, no sweat. We don’t want to leave. Now we just need to kill about eight hours before heading for the airport. The end.
Editor’s Note: The $30 upgrade we purchased for Club Access was one of the best bargains of this entire trip. For $30 we got all of the food and drinks mentioned above, plus access to all of the same amenities the day we checked out, and weren’t even technically guests of the hotel anymore.
Ever camped out in a hotel for a day? Ever been to Kuala Lumpur? Let us know your thoughts.