Blessed to be a witness

<= previous | back to index | next =>

Friday, April 15th

Stranded in the colonies

We changed hostel to a much nicer one just down the road, for the same price. The next day, M suggested that we indulge ourselves in an English high tea at a place called 'Carcosi Seri Negara', up on a hill on the edge of the city. We got a cab up to the place, up a jungled hill, from which appeared a baby monitor lizard on the approach road, which is now an astonishingly sumptious hotel housed in the original British governor's house, which he had had built as KL was being turned from a muddy river village into a city.

The tea room smelled of the huge bunch of freisias in a vase, like an English country church. Decorated in chintz and Liberty patterned curtains, one could really imagine the atmosphere at the time it was in its original usage, though no doubt they'd have had a punka-wallah to fan us, rather than air conditioning. Obsequious staff served us Earl Grey tea, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, and then, fulfilling my stereotype of such occasions, out came one of those multi-tiered silver cake stands bearing home made crumpets and scones, with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and a plethora of cakes. After two scones, though, the ensemble started to become horribly sickly, and I had to abandon the cakes, though the tea was absolutely delicious, with free refills.

Master of all he surveys

Then we called for the bill, which was five times more than our guidebook had told us, and a taxi, then retired to the verandah, as one does, to look over the grounds. An hour later no taxi had appeared, and the place was shutting. To make matters worse, it was rush hour, and it had begun to bucket with rain - during this season in KL, there is a thunderstorm of an hour or so about once every evening. We were stranded, and the hotel's own car had disappeared, swallowed up by the rush hour rain traffic.

I was considering asking the price of the rooms (I'm glad I didn't embarrass us in this way - we learned later that we'd have been able to stay one night, but then we'd have had to return to Europe, penniless; we would have had our own butler for the night though), and then wondered how long it would take to walk back into the city and get saturated. However, in a stroke of good fortune, the maitre d' told us that another guest would give us a lift down. A Malaysian Chinese woman, and her Japanese friend visiting from Hong Kong, introduced themselves, and told us that they'd drop us back - and not only that, but they'd cheekily asked to see the rooms. So we accompanied them to see the suites, the largest of which was €700 per night, which is good for five star, but not for us. This is where the real rich people stay when visiting, including the unlikely combination of Queen Elizabeth and David Blaine.

So we were driven down the hill and dropped off at the central train station, where we caught the very handy LRT (Light Rail Transit) back to Chinatown. As we were being dropped off, the woman gave us her phone number and told us to call her the next day, and she'd show us around.

Our addiction to pool has now reached new levels of seriousness, and we were delighted to find a pool hall near the hostel, where we accidentally indulged ourselves until the small hours.

<= previous | back to index | next =>

To comment on this, or just to say hello, mail me at