Monday, April 21, 2008

Olympic torch comes to KL


I managed to see the Olympic torch as it passed through Bukit Bintang area in KL on April 21 2008. I watched it from across the road from Times Square. The event passed peacefully. The people wearing the red and white Tshirts in the last few photos are students from China who are studying in Malaysia.

First photos show the sponsors -

 safety bus (above) and press truck

 my 1st glimpse of the torch

 Chinese students

 © Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dinner in the clouds at Menara KL

Published on The Brunei Times

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Dinner in the clouds

Delicious food, great view: (Top to Bottom) A waiter tempts diners with some succulent fruit; the KL Tower; a bird's eye view of Kuala Lumpur. Pictures: Liz Price

Sunday, April 13, 2008

IT'S quite an experience to have dinner at 288m above ground level in a slowly revolving restaurant. The rate of rotation is so slow you don't notice you are going around unless you stare at part of the structure that is not moving. But there were great views over the city as we slowly turned.

We were up in Menara KL, or KL tower. This telecommunications tower in Kuala Lumpur is the fifth highest such tower in the world, at 421m to the top of the antenna. Although it is not as high as KLCC's Twin Towers (452m), from a distance it can actually look taller than the Twin Towers, because it is built on a hill.

The tower was opened in 1996. There is an observation deck at 276m and the restaurant is one floor higher. As we approached the tower my attention was drawn to a large Jelutong tree, which the signboard proudly proclaims is 95 years old. This is actually not very old for a tree, but it seems this is a special tree as it was preserved when the tower was built, and it cost RM430,000 ($192,000) to protect.

We began our evening by taking the high-speed lift up to the observation deck. This is an enclosed area and you can walk around getting a 360-degree view of the city. There are free binoculars situated at a few points. Display boards and pictures name some of the buildings you can see in each section.

It was quite exciting for our group of four, as we could see the buildings we lived in, even though they were several kilometres away. And the binoculars gave an even clearer view of our respective apartments. I could almost see into my bedroom.

From this bird's eye view of the city we could see lots of buildings we didn't recognise, as well as lots of construction sites where new structures were sprouting up like mushrooms. It was nice to see there were a few green areas remaining, although these are few and far between now.

Twin Towers is very close to Menara KL and it was great to be able to see it from such a high level. It was early evening when we arrived and all the lights in the city came on transforming it into a colourful display of brightness. I wondered what the electric bill for the city is like on any given night!

We were totally absorbed in walking around the deck that we were reluctant to tear ourselves away for dinner. However, we knew that we would get the same view from the restaurant so we took the lift up to the next floor. Here we were welcomed by the restaurant staff and taken to our table. It's necessary to make a booking as the restaurant is full most nights.

We took our seats and the waiter explained how the food was laid out. Our table was conveniently located by the counters containing the starters. The main courses and deserts were situated at other areas around the deck. This is actually a good idea as it means there is plenty of space at each buffet area, and you get the benefit of a little exercise in walking to each section.

I found the starters to be particularly tasty and went back for seconds, before I decided to go and investigate the main courses. The seating area of the restaurant deck is the rotating part, whereas the inner area stays put. The desert section is in an inner area, and when we arrived, it was located right next to our table. But as we slowly moved round, the deserts disappeared and we slowly went past the lounge area, pianist and other parts of the inner circle.

Once or twice I had trouble finding our table as the deck had moved in my absence and I found myself walking a full revolution before finding our seats. This was good as it meant the food in my stomach had a chance to move down, creating room for more. At least that was my excuse to eat more!

I didn't take a note of the view when we arrived, but I know that during our lengthy dinner, we saw KLCC at least three times, meaning we did at least three rotations while we ate. After we were totally sated and fit to burst, we sat and relaxed and tried to recognise the landmarks.

All good things come to an end and we decided it was time to return to reality and go back down to ground level. As we were walking back to the car, I spotted a small enclosure of rabbits, and wondered why rabbits are part of the attractions at the tower. Unfortunately the fountains on the walkway terrace were not in operation so we gave that a miss.

Sometimes there are coloured lights running up the outside wall of the tower, and the upper decks are lit with lights of changing colours. But on our visit we were not in luck.

However, the view from ground level looking straight up into the night sky was still spectacular. The tower reminded me of a giant colourful lollipop. This was certainly a dinner I won't forget.
The Brunei Times

© Liz Price

See more photos on menara KL.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Indonesian Airlines

When I was flying to Maluku in 2007, I had a transit of almost one hour at Surabaya airport. We stayed on the plane and I amused myself by taking photos of different planes from different Indonesian airlines which came in during that time. According to my Multiply contact Raja, there are some 46 airlines in Indonesia.
All the photos were taken through the plane window so are not that clear.


Adam Air

Batavia Air

 Trigana Air -

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Highway connects SE Asia to China‏

On April 2 2008 the news was full of items about the new highway opened between China and SE Asia. It is of interest to me, because when we were in northern Laos in early 2006 on a caving expedition, we saw this highway being constructed.

We travelled from Houay Xai , which is in Bokeo province, and is the border town with Thailand (Chiang Khong), situated by the Mekong River. From Houay Xai we drove to Vieng Phuka, luckily in a private UN Land Rover, as we were doing a project there.

The journey was incredibly dusty due to the construction works, plus the fact it was dry season. I wrote in my diary at the time : "The road is incredibly dry and dusty – it is dry season. There’s a new highway being built through Laos to connect Thailand to China, and work is just underway. There are scores of excavators and bulldozers and diggers etc. I was amazed at the number of machines they had. It is an incredible mammoth undertaking, clearing steep hillsides and widening the whole landscape. It was hard to work out what they are actually doing as they seemed to be clearing enormous areas of land. It brought back memories of the new highways I saw in Yunnan, China in 2004. "

The drive from Houay Xai to Vieng Phouka took 4.5 hours. Vieng Phouka is situated in Luang Nam Tha province, half-way from Luang Nam Tha town and Houay Xai at the Thai border. Luang Nam Tha is close to the Chinese border at Yunnan province.

The AP report wrote :

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- The landlocked country of Laos inaugurated a new highway that will allow a north-south land route connecting Southeast Asia and China to operate year-round, the Asian Development Bank said.
"The opening of Route 3 Monday fills in the last stretch of road for what is supposed to be an all-weather route that at its full length connects Singapore to Beijing, the bank said in a news release.
The inauguration of the highway, which links China's Yunnan province with northern Thailand via Laos, was attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda.
The leaders of the six countries sharing the Mekong River -- Laos, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand -- were in Laos on Monday for a summit meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion bloc.
At the end of the two-day meeting they agreed on "a comprehensive five-year Plan of Action that aims to spur growth, reduce poverty, promote social development and enhance environmental protection in the subregion," the Asian Development Bank said.
Measures included a rail link joining Singapore and the southern Chinese city of Kunming.
The bank, a multilateral institution that finances development projects in Asia, said the completion of Route 3 "will create more business opportunities and provide people with easier access to social services."
"Before construction commenced on the new route, the highway was closed four months each year during the rainy season, limiting communities' access to basic social services, and impeding trade and employment opportunities in the region," it said.
Tourism in Thailand, Laos and China will also be boosted, it added.
The bank, as well as the Thai and Chinese governments, each contributed US$30 million (euro18.9 million ) for the project, while Laos -- one of the region's poorest countries -- gave US$7 million (euro4.4 million), it said.
The project to modernize the road network from the Thai capital Bangkok to Kunming was under development for more than a decade, the bank said."
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission