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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Artists' Complaints Are Universal!

   On Sunday, Matthew and I went into KL on the free shuttle provided by the hotel. We left around 10:30 and were dropped off at their twin towers, which are remarkable,. They have a bridge about 42 stories up that connect the two. We would have gone up and walked across---oh, needless to say, it's NOT a suspension bridge and it's enclosed!--if we'd had time. Instead, we bought ticket for the city bus where you hop on and off at specific stops. Whenever you want to get back on, you wait at the stop because they come every 20-30 minutes. The tickets are good for 24 hours. We did this first in Rome 10 years ago, but learned there to do it the first day of the trip, not the last.
  We got off at the stop where they have artists' studios and a commercial building for sales. The sales aren't necessarily the work of the people who are housed in cottages in the back. We spent a lot of time talking to the batik artists, which was interesting. Artists' complaints are universal: the economy is low, so people aren't buying art, patrons want specific colors and after commissioning you to do a piece, decide they don't like it enough to buy it, they like the work, but can they pay about ¼ of the asking price? But it's for the prime minister's office and you'll be famous! Okay, we don't hear that one at home.
Artists' studios behind the shop

Batik artist's work, plus he was teaching children for a school project how to do batik.  

Jon Bagul Magit (check him out on Facebook) who's from Borneo, but is working at the studio in KL right now

We didn't buy anything there, and on our way out a taxi driver started a conversation with us and offered to take us to the best place with the best prices on batik for no charge. Well, ya'll know what that means, right? He gets a commission for bringing us in. but he was a legitimate taxi driver, so we figured we'd go along. Matthew ended up being the shopper, buying a batik robe and shirt. I bought what's supposedly a silk robe in Vietnam, and he decided he wanted to get a robe here—he's been using my dad's old one!
  Then we asked the driver to take us somewhere to get a good, authentic lunch. He dropped us off near our next bus hop-on stop, and pointed us in the direction of the downtown mall with the food court. Okay, that's sort of authentic—like, hey man, lots of Malaysians out shopping and eating. What could be more real? Anyway, we had some pretty good food—I had char kway teow, which is a noodle and seafood dish, this one had shrimp and clams in it. It reminds me a little of pad thai, which I ordered all throughout Thailand. 
Matthew's coconut drink

I don't plan to do the same with this dish. It's good, but I'm not as stuck on it as I was pad thai.

More mall shots:  
Not actually from the mall--this was lunch at the Carousel after pool sitting.

We got off at another stop to see the central market, but after spending time in many of these, I didn't find this particularly special. I felt like it was a bunch of junk that didn't interest me at all. I did buy one scarf during the day because I left my favorite one from Thailand on the plane and needed to replace it. I'll be in search of more in other areas, but this one is pretty cute in a flashy sort of way with silk flowers on it.
  We knew we were being picked up by the shuttle at 7 (yes, 10:30 till 7 is a long day out hopping on and off), so we decided we'd better stay on the bus since it takes about 2 ½ hours to make its rounds and we had about 2 hours left of the day. We hadn't gotten very far in the 23 stops at that point. It was a good decision, because the skies opened up and it started to pour. I'm so glad we didn't get caught in it as we did the day before. I forgot to mention the water taxis do not run when it's raining, so when we were about to return to the hotel, and it was raining, we had to sit in the other hotel's lobby and wait for it to stop so we could get back.
The skies don't even look like it's going to rain...then suddenly clouds come in, it pours anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes, then the sun appears and all is right once again. We got back in plenty of time.

  We had dinner that night back at the Palace of the Golden Horses—and after asking, learned we can order a la carte in the Carousel and not have to eat the buffet. Actually, we learned that at breakfast and shared eggs 'benedictine' and some hash browns that look very much like large tater tots. The amount was perfect since we had eaten so much the night before at the Japanese buffet.
  Yep, still waiting for good street food.
  I suggested that for the next day, Monday, we take it easy and not try to do a bunch of running around. We need one day of rest or we'll be too tired later in the trip to make it. We started with breakfast you-already-know-where since it's the only game in town, but since we figured it would be our main meal of the day till late, we'd each order our own meal, but again, not the buffet. Well, I ordered the eggs benedictine since it was a small only came with that broiled tomato, which I planned on skipping. And since the 'hash browns' numbered about 8, we shared them again. When our meals arrived, we were surprised to see both plates had hash browns, our separate order had about 25 on it, AND I had 4 chicken sausages with the meal too! Go figure—we shared a small plate of food the day before for RM18 ($6) and today, for the same price, I got a mountain of food, which I really didn't need. And the extra plate of hash brown tater tots was immense. On our way out, we asked the cashier about this and I even whipped out my camera to show her what we had the day before. They got the manager, Karen, so we told her we weren't upset with them, but thought it odd it was such a discrepancy. She said she would be taking it up with the kitchen and thanked us for telling her. Then we got to talking, and she's been to SF and spent time in other states, and offered to give us a list of places where we'll find good street food. We had a great time talking to her and when we came in from the pool later for some fruit, she remembered me by name. Fun to meet people with whom you can relate and enjoy.
  We had to get back to the damn mall later in the day, so took the shuttle instead of the water taxi. He drove us through the golf course estates, which was amazing to see. The houses are huge—as Matthew says, many of these Muslim men need homes large enough for all their wives and children. One house looked like it was the clubhouse because it had canopies over the 15 or so cars in front...and a sign saying it's a private home. Also a huge house.
So why would we go back to a mall for the third time in three days? Hey, I USED to go to malls often, but not anymore! I'm talking to one friend here whom I know is laughing her ass off since I used to drag her to them all the time. We went because we needed an ATM for today's class and to pay for the massage cruise we're going on tonight! We'll be picked up at the dock here and spend an hour on the boat going around the lake while getting foot massages. Oh, yes, that's plural...Matthew's getting one too.
  For dinner last night, we went to the Chinese place here at the Palace. (I really wish I'd brought a tiara. For the palace.) 

Appetizer desserts

 Anyway, the restaurant was completely empty and the girl who started to take our order was obviously sick, coughing constantly. We nicely asked her if she was sick, and she admitted she was, so we told her we didn't want her waiting on us because we don't want to get sick on our vacation. No one in there really spoke English very well, which was fine except when Matthew forgot what we ordered and thought the two dishes that came were one thing and asked it we were supposed to combine them. The guy walked away and asked something, then came over and nodded. Turns out they WERE the two dishes we'd ordered and they must have thought we were nuts putting our beans in the bowl with our noodles, ravioli, and lobster sauce. The beans were stir-fried with lotus buds and Chinese wolfberries, which is why we ordered it—we'd never had them before. Both dishes were lazat, which is Malay for delicious!
                    After this, NO MORE MALLS!
more random shots:
woven basketry-- handbag

batik pillows in shop

Ah, the famous squat toilets of Southeast Asia.   Oh, how I don't miss them when I'm home.

plants growing in old lightbulbs!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the "tour." Great pictures. The batik looks amazing. Love your comments.