View from the room


Lida and I made another visa run this last weekend. This time we made sure everything was in order and went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a bit of a sad trip for me, as it will likely be the last “points” trip I take as Im down to about one or two nights in my Starwood account. It reminded me that at the end of the year I will effectively lose all my pride ellite status with United (1K Member), Starwood (Platinum), Hilton (Diamond) and Hertz (Presidents Club). Hertz already down graded me from Presidents Club status to the bourgeoisie 5-Star Club. Come on Hertz, dont hide behind your seemingly salutatory ranks, we all know that 5-Star Club really means, “Thanks for your money but you have to walk an extra 20 yards to get your car and sorry we were only able to upgrade you to an American luxury model, all the Mercedes, Audis and Infinities are rented out”. It was a great final trip though. 

Coincidentally the price of tea in China is directly related to the price of tea in KL


We stayed at the Westin Kuala Kumpur and got the obligatory room upgrade to the Executive Level with a perfect view of the Petronas Towers. Of course the kleptomania came pouring out, as it does with any girl that stays at a hotel (Rachael, you still have my coffee cup?). Every morning before leaving, the bathroom would look like a department store post-apocalypse with empty bath room amenities packaging littering the sink and floor, the complimentary water bottles all missing (“gee my backpack seems heavy today”) and a couple pair of slippers stuffed in my suitcase. At one point I think she asked “Can we take the cloths hangers?”. On the way down to the lobby one day I had to physically restrain Lida as the house-keeping lady went by with her cart. 

The first night we found out that KLs night scene is quite a bit more formal. No shorts, no flip-flops and no t-shirts. Of course The Dude here has nothing but, so we werent able to get into Qba, the hotel Cuban bar. We walked down the street until we came upon some kind of Middle East/Indian restaurant/bar. When we walked in there was a dance floor with about 6 Asian or Middle Eastern women dressed in formal Indian dresses taking turns dancing, by themselves, to extremely loud Indian music. Sitting around the dance floor was about 10-20, mostly Indian but looked like some Arabs as well, guys drooling and giving the girls money. So from what I gathered it was pretty much a PG strip club for conservative Easterners. Anyway, it was fun. There was actually a live band playing for a while. 

Chinise Clan Temple


The first day was spent in and around Chinatown and Masjid India. Chinatown is basically created for the western tourist and an outlet for all the worthless crap they make in China and cant sell to anyone else. Its an open air market with vendors selling knock off brands of everything imaginable and mostly for extortionary prices all with the intent to make you bargain. Every country and city Ive been to has this and they always claim that haggling is the accepted practice but Ive never seen it as openly accepted as KL. In Morocco it was almost a hostile practice, both Lida and I felt physically threatened at one point or another. Understanding that my resolve would lose me quite a bit of money, I let Lida do the bargaining and it was fun to watch. On average she could get them down 50% of their “final price” and she never wavered from her price no matter how much the vendor begged and pleaded. At the point in which I would have given in she refused to even budge 1 Rinngit (about $.33 USD). In the end most of the stuff we got was crap and Lidas bargaining skills got us everything at fair market value but the money spent was more about the experience than anything. 

Momma and baby just tryin' ta get a nut.


On the way back to the hotel that night we got a very nice Hindi cab driver named Samy. Lida, perhaps still high on her victories at Chinatown, talked him into taking us to a couple of spots just outside KL the next day for 200 Rinngit ($66 USD). The one nice thing about KL is the affluence of English speakers. While I blame only myself for the difficulty in communicating in and around Jakarta, its nice that so many people speak English there. They also seem to be, for the most part, very nice people. 

Bhagwan Vino in front of Murugan


In the morning we went to Batu Caves. Its a Hindi shrine built into the side of a large rock formation. You climb up 270 steps and into the cave and of course the best part is the monkeys that eagerly await the attention and food from the tourists. I think they were more of the attraction than the temple and shrine. We got there pretty early and beat the tourist buses that were arriving as we left. 

After that we went to Kuching Rainforest Waterfalls. There are about 8 separate levels of varying degree waterfalls. Really there are 5 actual waterfalls, the first is separated from the rest and the first 3 of the main section are fairly heavily populated as they have large pools at their base for swimming. We skipped those and climbed to the last level which was a beautiful isolated waterfall. Not large in flow but perfect to lounge on the rocks with a slight mist and just relax. It got a little awkward when 3 locals came up to take pictures of Lida in her bikini. At first she was ok but after 10 min it was just too obnoxious and she repelled them with her trademark stare. 

We got some great pics on the waterproof but I cant find the cable


That night we did some proper shopping. Again I sacrificed my basic morals and betrayed my constitution in buying a plan tshirt with a v-neck. Lida said I looked good, I thought I looked like “a gay”. We also went to an electronics mall and one aspect of this made me reevaluate my decision to live and work in Jakarta. KL has WiMAX

They serve Hefeweizen in the rainforest?! At the Rainforest Sports Bar they do.



If you dont know what WiMAX is, dont worry, its been fairly low key in the states despite being production ready for nearly 10 years. My theory is that all the mobile operators and hardware vendors are still trying to eek out as much profit on their 802.11 (WiFi), 2G and 3G mobile systems and have made an industry pact to delay the release of consumer level technology for WiMAX as long as possible. I know this sounds like some alumnum-foil-hat-conspiracy but hear me out. 

In 2003 I first started reading about it and came up with a brain child for potential non-sequatar use of the technology. Some of you may remember the concept of using it to create digital radio broadcasting, develop hand-held receiver units , control advertisement revenue, then perhaps expand into paid service to allow customization of radio stations and even broadcast your own music. I met a guy in Denver in 2005 that was working for Motorola developing devices to operate on 802.16 technology, he said it wouldnt be consumer ready until 2010. Several cities are using WiMAX to deliver connections to local area networks, but you cant really define as consumer level since the consumer is still connecting via 802.11. 

The most basic functionality of WiMAX however is to deliver broadband internet access wirelessly. It touts the ability to deliver 10 T1 connections in a 30 mile radius for each WiMAX tower. This is equivalent to 100 broadband users. Not sure if this is still the cost but in 2005 equipment for 1 tower (not including the physical tower itself) was about $15-$20K. So you can see the overhead is miniscule compared to Satellite, Cellular or fiber-optic networks. This is great in locales that either have sparse populations that cant justify the capital expense to run lines or, if using the 802.16e variant, deliver a mobile connection. You can start to understand then why its a threat to the mobile service providers investments. With WiMAX, all of the sudden there is no need for the multi-billion dollar satellite infrastructure currently in place, all the cellular towers have to be upgraded and the iPhone (arguably the only thing keep AT&T Wireless in the black) is now just a bigger, slower, more expensive iTouch since you could get the same thing on iTouch by installing Skype and a $40-a-month WiMAX service. Then youre getting all the calls you want, even internationally, for a fraction of the cost and no lame 2 year contracts. 

Yeah, thats right. It says Titi. My name is Matthew and I hale from Lake Titikaka.


At any rate, KL has it. $40-a-month, you get a mobile router that you can turn on anywhere in the city and get broadband access. That combined with the excellent transportation system (Monorail and drivers that actually obey traffic signs), friendly people, clean streets and great attractions 10 minutes outside of the city, just made me wonder if I should relocate to KL. Just a thought thought. Its basically what my dream for Jakarta is, but doing it in a metropolitan city of 25 million (Jakarta) is quite differnt than doing it in one of 8 million. 

Ill post again about the Elephant Sanctuary on the 3rd day, which was one of the coolest things on the trip. Ive got tons of great pics from it but this post is running long and I gotta get back to work.  

She was so gentle and sweet.