DAY 2Jun 02 2019
Unit 1/28 Ethel St
Changi Airport Singapore
Ascott Kuala Lumpur
And away we go... maiden trip to Malaysia and Singapore! As expected, it turned out to be a long day in the air. After arriving at the airport around 8.00am and a bit of a delay through the "new and improved" customs, we jet set out of Melbourne a bit after 11.00am. Jetstar premium economy... again... I'm getting used to this. It was a pretty smooth flight, everyone watched a couple of movies... Bohemian Rhapsody for me 🤟... The boys got along (most of the time). Maybe the aisle between them helped 😜 We largely restricted our binge lolly eat, but still got in a few CCs and Vodka (that's Kerri and I, not the kids). We touched down in Changhi Airport in Singapore around 4.30pm. Less of a walk arpund this time as we confined ourselves to Terminal 1 but we managed aome dinner - Burger King (same as Hungey Jacks Jett?) for the boys and some wonton/noodle dishes for the adults. Unfortunately, then we got hit with delay... after delay... after delay... Stormy weather obviously took some of the blame but some other arrivals were running late. Nearly 2 hours later, we hit some turbulence in the air, before landing at our destination in Malaysia. That last flight turned it into a really long day and everyone was fighting to stay awake in the Grab from the airport to our hotel (well, just me really, sleep got the better of the other 3 in the back seat pretty quickly). It was a 55 minute trip with my early impression of KL being a big and shiny city. The Petronis Towers soar over our hotel with neon light buildings all around us. We made it through check in like a family of zombies and up to our room on level 8. Wow, I'd thought I'd stumbled into the Presidential Suite... this place is huge. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 baths... one big sitting area. I may well lose my family for a week in this room. Anyway, we savoured our surroundings pretty quickly, before we passed out in bed, out like a 💡
DAY 3Jun 03 2019
Our first full day in KL. Jett and I were up bright and early... well, early at least, and we went hotel exploring. Up to Level 22 where we checked out the pool and gym area. Some great views of KL Tower and half of one of the Petronius Towers, despite it being overcast and foggy... a bit of a them for the day. After picking up Kerri and Zack we made our way down for the hotel breakfast. It was nothing to write home about, not even close to Bangkok according to Jett, but it'll do. We then set off to KL Tower, stop no.1 on the Ash Program. Aannnd.... it was closed. Well, kind of. The Sky Deck was closed due to the wet weather. Oh well, another day. Luckily my program has the right blend of itinerary and Zack-relaxation time, so we'll do the Tower later in the week. Close by was our next stop - the Echo Park. It felt like we stepped into the jungle with some Temple of Doom draw bridges (according to Kerri) amongst the rainforest. We were taking it all in and making our way around the circuit until... da da da... Attack of the Killer Monkeys. Well, a monkey jumped at me (caught perfectly by Zack on his phone) when we came upon him and his friends at one of the tower points. So we did what any human who encounters another animal a fraction of his size and strength does... run. So that was the end of the Echo Park, good whilst it lasted. Next we headed to China Town amd some sites, including Masjid Jamek mosque along the River of Life/Filth and then a couple of temples. In between we ate lunch at the Merchant Cafe. 1 for 1 on food choices. It was a modern take on some traditional dishes through a hidden-ish doorway. Lovely setting and lovely food. My Chicken Satay Tortillas were the standout. Zack sloshed through his wings and rish using both hands and Jett had some yummy looking Butter Chicken Pasta. The adults shared. After a few hours in China Town we got an LRT back to KLCC and found our way through some walkways and the Suria KL shopping centre back to our hotel. The afternoon was spent swimming in the pool, running on the dreadmill in the gym (me) and researching dinner (Kerri). We finally settled on the 1st place we looked at 3 hours beforehand and took a Grab out to Opium KL in Bukit Bintang. All the tourists probably gave away the "authenticity" of the food, and the price. It was ok, a bunch of Chinese starters - prawn dumplings, satay sticks and BBQ chicken rolls - and 3 mains - lemon chicken, butter prawns and wonton noodles with kale - but pretty overpriced ($100AUD) and nothing special. The entertainment was, however, great with a woman playing a traditional string/flat harp type instrument with some modern tunes - Old Town Road the stand out. After some map travels, we found our way back to the hotel and crashed in a similar way to the night before, bellies full. Day 2 in the books.
DAY 4Jun 04 2019
It was an early start to day 3. The boys and I were up before 7am so we could make our way out to Batu Caves before the tour buses and the crowds arrived. Batu Caves are a series of cave temples set into a limestone hill. The caves are accessed by climbing 272 stairs with a giant gold statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity at the bottom. It was very impressive! We worked our way past all the dogs in the car park and the pigeons near the base of the statue before starting our climb up the stairs. We were on the look out for monkeys that apparently guard the stairs and like to snatch anything they can off tourists. But the monkeys must have had a big night the night before because they were no where to be seen. So we made it up into the caves with all our possessions still on us and then had a look around the temple and some of the Hindu statues around the caves, before making the trek back down. Good timing... the tourist coaches all started arriving just after we left. We made it back to the hotel a bit before 9 to pick up Kerri and head downstairs for some breakfast. After we (well, just Kerri) unpacked, next on the program was a walk around KLCC Park and some shopping at Suria KLCC. The park was great. Very clean and green. Great views of the Petronis Towers, a water park for the kids (and adults with kids) with a very diligent security guard who loved blowing her whistle and a walking/running track. After taking a bunch of happy snaps we headed inside Suria KLCC to get out of the heat and grab some lunch. First stop was the Signatures Food Court on Level 4. Luckily we just beat the lunch/work crowd although it was still pretty full with locals. We ended up sharing 3 dishes - black pepper noodle hot plat, chicken tepinyaki and bewf char koay teow - all very yummy and cheap. With lots of food in our bellies (well most of us), we hit the shops. We checked out a Lego store for Jett and then grabbed some gym/running gear in a bunch of sports stores. The boys were starting to get worn down and impatient, although some ice creams for them and a pretzel with caramel sauce for Kerri helped. A few hours later we walked back to the hotel, just as the rain and storms set in. There goes our plans for drinks at the Sky Bar... another day... and any other plans actually. It ended up being a night in. Kerri and I had a few drinks before taking one of Jake's recommendations and ordering through GrabEats from a local Mamak. It was our first food disaster for the holiday. Mee Goreng and Nasi Goreng both tasted like they'd been sitting in the back of the fridge for far too long, the naan wasok, but the honey chicken looked like zombie brains apparetly floating in a bowl of black zombie blood. A few mouth fulls killed everyone's appetite and we all ended up suffering a bit that night and/or the next day. It was getting late and the count down was on to the big 4-0 birthday, so it was bed time for a day full of surprises (ha ha Babe!) ahead!!
DAY 5Jun 05 2019
The day has arrived! After months of planning and keeping the boys quiet to keep it all as a surprise (or just banking on them forgetting everything), Kerri's 40th birthday is here. Up bright anf early with a glorious photo of her half asleep and the boys climbing all over her. There were the always predictable tears as she read her mum's card and some smiles for the reat of ours. Kerri was already peppering me with questions about what lay ahead but the vault was closed. So it was a quick breakfast before setting off in a Grag for destination unknown at 8.30am. As we drove into the suburbs, the mystery heightened. We then pulled up at a house in a gated community about 30mins out of the city. Out walked Sara Khong who I'd booked a cooking class with (New Malaysian Kitchen), Kerri still had no idea until Sara filled her in. First impressions indicated that she was happy with my choice... but half of me was still worried I was sending my wife to the kitchen to cook on her birthday. But it ended up being a great experience! We started with a light breakfast, including a traditional pancake with a candle in it so we could all sing happy birthday, as well as some tasty jelotine looking cakes, noodles with palm sugar and some blue tea, then out to the garden, hats and all, where we were shown some home grown ingredients, with some taste testing, before heading into the kitchen to begin our class. On the menu was chicken satays with a peanut sauce, char kuey teow, a vegetable and fruit salad and a sago pudding. After a little while Zack turned as white as Caspar, so Sara anf her mum kindly gave him some warm water and let him sleep on the couch in the living room, but Jett more than made up for his absence going full Junior Masterchef and jumping into every cooking challenge. He had a great time, along with Kerri and I and Sara was a great teacher - very patient and welcoming. After some hard toiling we sat down and dug into our first attempt at some local dishes. It was all delish... and where Jett filled in for Zack on the cooking front I made up for him on the eating front. By 1.00pm, we'd finished our meal and some interesting conversation and it was time to head off for Part 2 of our birthday celebrations. After a (very) quick stop over at the hotel, I left the boys behind and walked Kerri over to the Swasana Spas at the Impiana Hotel for a pampering and relaxation session. When I picked her up 2.5 hours later, she looked like she was floating in the clouds. Another tick for my inspired birthday planning. It was then back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner at 6.30pm. It was destination Fuego - a tapas sky restaurant overlooking KLCC Park and the Twin Towers. We were lucky (organised) enough to score a table right next to the glass petition and thankfully the weather was ok... our walk up to the temple at Batu Caves to honour the gods must have done the trick! The food was great. We shared a number of dishes including home made guacamole with vegie chips, chicken and beef tacos, corn on a cob, potato with an olive and anchovie rub, nachos churros and lamb short ribs. Cocktails were just as good... I had a few Fuego Dark and Stormys (a rum/ginger beer concoction) and Kerri her ol favourite Moscow Mule's (vodka instead of gin). They even threw in a desert - more churros, this time with caramel sauce and cream - more yum. Overall, a very satisfying dinner. Back at the hotel, Kerri and I enjoyed some more drinks at the downstairs bar whilst they boys went back to the room. There was also another cake waiting in the room from the hotel - an opportunity to sing happy birthday for the 3rd time - and to finish what I must say was a memorable day for the birthday girl!
DAY 6Jun 06 2019
I was up early to go for a run around KLCC Park. 95% humidity and some alcohol still in my blood stream = struggle town. 6 or so laps and 10ks wpre me down pretty quickly and left me dripping with sweat back at the hotel... so, swim time with the boys. I managed to cool down in between them jumping all over me and headed back to the room just as Kerri was waking up to enjoy the first full day in her 40s. Today's program started with the Aquaria KL... the city's aquarium. We were a bit put off by the long line to get in, I mean to take a photo in front of a screen near the entrance, but, crowds aside, there were some interesting animals to see inside, including the otters who gave our cats a run for their money in scratching the door down at feeding time, the huge sharks and ugly stingrays in the walk through tank and some bottom-of-the-sea-what-the-hell-is-that creatures. We even got some see some them close up in between every 2nd Chinese tourist taking their 1,236th photo of the day... a miracle! Struggling through the clouds built up our appetites, so we headed over to the Pavillion shopping centre and Din Tai Fung's on the top floor. It came with high expectations and didn't quite live up to them. We shared some Shao Long Bao (soup dumplings), pork and prawn won tons, fried pork and rice, a tasty cucumber with pork wrap and ginger appertiser and beef and noodle soup. As Jett would say, we left just enough for desert... luckily because we had our 2nd round of pretzels/ cinamon sticks and caramel sauce and, after much curiosity (having seen lines everywhere at Singapore Airport), some egg bits/tats (can't recall their name), which were circular pancake like waffle balls - initial impression was they lacked flavour, bit they ended up being crazy addictive. The boys and I couldn't get enough! We'll definitely be back for more. After briefly exploring the shopping centre we headed back to the hotel for a restful afternoon. For dinner and after a heap of helpful suggestions from Zack (not!), we went close by to Naughty Nuri's. It's a chain restaurant, with a signature BBQ Rib dish. That changed Zack's tune pretty quickly on whether he felt like ribs or not. We both ordered them and there was enough to feed an army... so about the right size. Jett went Bali-style ordering Mee Goreng and Kerri just some fries and corn. The service was great again (Malaysians are so nice and friendly!), so we walked back im the rain full and happy. Another day in the book.
DAY 7Jun 07 2019
Day 6 continued the animal theme. After a quick hotel breakfast, we were off to the KL Bird Park in a Grab. The variety and amount of birds was very impressive, but the place was somewhat depressing as well with many birds confined to small avaries or fenced areas. The ostrichs in particular got us all down a bit and took the gloss off the whole experience for me. Still, the owls were fascinating (once we realised they were real) and Zack got some great selfies for his ever growing collection of Insta followeres. After an hour or so, we made our way to the National Mosque of Malaydia - a very grand and spiritual setting nor far from the bird park. As non-muslims, we were confined to walking around the exterior, but the building was pretty spectacular nonelethess. The Old KL Railway building was similarly an impressive feat of architecture, albeit a bit run down and... to our dismay, not somewhere we could actually get an MRT or LRT from. As the heat and the walking started to take its toll, we ventured back to China Town for lunch - this time Choca Store which happened to be closed last time we were in the area. It was worth the second effort as the food was fantastic. Our selection this time around included some CFC (fried chicken), chilli squid, roasted cauliflower and best of all, some (really) thick noodles. Another food success story... please stand up and clap your itinerary master: Mr Ashley. After the late-ish lunch, the adilts dropped the kids back at the hotel before heading off for some alone time at the Skybar at the Traders Hotel. We were luckh enough go score a little booth near the window overlooking KLCC Park and the Towers from a much higher vantage point than we'd enjoyed before and even a half open window (much to my amazement). The 2 for 1 cocktails went down very well and although we couldn't escape more kids invading our territory, it was a great way to bring in the evening.... as was some shopping. Yes, after a few drinks we made our way back to Suria KLCC for some night shopping. Kerri and I managed to score some new Nike running shoes and some make up (for Kerri, not me), so it proved to be a very successful (albeit a bit pricey) advanture. Likewise, the boys seemed to love having the hotel room for themselves fully emersed in their gaming worlds. This was the last full day in KL, with a new destination on the horizon.
DAY 8Jun 08 2019
Our final day in KL has arrived... boy, that went super fast! Although it's only been a week, I feel like we've got to know the city, or at least our part of it, pretty well and had some great experiences. You can thank me for the impeccable itinerary later! I started the day with a run on the treadmill in the gym (don't get me started on how hard it has been to try to exercise on that thing!) and a swim in the pool with Kerri and the boys. Then Kerri went off to get here hair done, just in case was a red carpet to walk down in Penang, as the boys and I (well, just me really) started to pack. For lunch we headed over to Suria KLCC for the last time and a chain restaurant called Madam Quans which Sara our cooking class chef had recommended. Kerri and I had some satays and Char Kway Theoh, Zack some beef noodles, and Jett the same noodle dish as us. We rounded it off with a Sago Pudding for desert. Following lunch, we collected our bags, said goodbye to our penthouse at the Ascot and took off for the airport to Penang. It was a delayed but pretty short and uneventful flight. We arrived in Penang a bit after 6.00pm and got through to collect our bags pretty quickly. We had (yet another) very friendly Grab driver pick us up at the airport. Zack played DJ putting some music clips on the little TV screen near the front dash. The number 1 selection was definitely Old Town Road... which got everyone going/laughing including the driver. As we entered Georgetown, the mixture of architecture made an immediate impression with some old historical and delapitated buildings surrounded by modern malls and eateries. We then arrived at the New Marigold Hotel aka Jawi Peranakan Mansion and it was like we'd stepped back into history. It was an old but restored colonial building with grand arcitecture and furniture throughout. I had a mini heart attack after I thought I'd left my phone in the Grab but found it in my back pack (of course!) after we got to the room. The room itself was beautiful, with the parents bed downstairs and the kids in a loft area upstairs. The boys were particularly impressed by the big TV, but the throwback design was a standout. I felt like an Indian Sultan... well, maybe someone of less stature who couldn't afford a larger room. We dumped our stuff and then went to grab a late dinner. My map was full of food options and our first stop, Mutri's Cafe, was a great start. Zack and I enjoyed a delish-Penny-would-be-jealous Beef Rendang and Jett some satays. Kerri lucked out with a chicken noodle dish and an average Cosmopolitan cocktail, but it was a good feed overall and a great vibe with nice staff and some live music near closing time. We couldn't resist stopping in at Rollney to enjoyed some over the top ice creams in a donut inspired cone on the way back to the hotel. The boys were particularly impressed and everyone was ready for bed with a day of exploration in our new holiday destination ahead.
DAY 9Jun 09 2019
Our first night in Penang was a restless one. Zack got swarmed by mosquitos as the boys' bug zapper wasn't working and the plank of wood aka a matress Kerri and I were sleeping on kept us up tossing and turning most of the night. It also built up our appetites, so the next stop on our Penang food tour was the Lavish Fusion Bakery. It looked like a very cute and trendy cafe. I had a yummy egg dish with a tomato/roasted capsicum base sauce and a frozen fruit drink, Kerri some eggs and mushrooms (after a bit of arguing) and the boys some chips and, after a long delay, some soufle pancakes with ice cream that were worth the wait. We then walked down to the Chew Jetty, before checking out some of the amazing street art around town, including a very cool art lane. Jett was in full paparazzi mode and took a photo of pretty much every splash of ink or paint in Penang... those shown above included. Whilst we were all still pretty full from breakfast, we couldn't resist some of the desert stalls. The best was a small street stall that sold small round cakes with some very tasty fillings... I had some melted chocolate and banana and Kerri Oreo and custard. We'd be back everyday if there was a stall like that in Melbourne. After our cultural experience, we took the boys over to Tech Dome at the Komtar Tower. It was a mini Science Works with a tech theme. The best part was probably the retro arcade machines, playing all of the favourites of us oldies including Space Invaders and Donkey Kong. We also saw a pretty short (and somewhat meh) science show with Jett asking lots of questions and volunteering with an unimpressed look on his face. Overall, it was on par with Aquaria KL. We chilled in the afternoon and then went searching for some dinner and drinks. We couldn't get into my choice of bar, Mish Mash, with the kids so we went few places down to Jett's very informed choice of 7 Skulls. We were the only ones in there, but took advantage of the buy 2 get 1 free cocktail deal, even though we only had 30 mins before our dinner reservation at Holy Guacamole. It was, just as it sounds, a Mexican restaurant - right own my alley! Very cool and trendy place with painted Day of the Dead skulls all over the walls. I could have eaten from that place everyday... nachos with guacamole and sour cream, beef burrito, chicken wings with a mango salsa (Zack not a huge fan) and a seafood pizza (Jett's "choice" - well he disputed that afterwards), one of the best margaritas (according to Kerri). A big tiff between the boys brought the night to an end with both coping holiday lectures... I think the day has taken it's toll. Home time to bed.
DAY 10Jun 10 2019
I was up early to go for a run out to the Penang Youth Park and Botanical Gardens. Getting up 30mins earlier might have been a good idea as the heat and humidity set in pretty quickly once the sun came up at 7.00am. The broken and incomplete footpaths took their toll on my feet a calves, but the parks themselves were very picturesque and peaceful. After knocking off around 12k (although my body was telling me it was 30k) I arrived back at the hotel to everyone else waking up. First up on today's itinerary was Penang Hill. We took a Grab to the base of the hill where we took a very (very) steep Furnicular Railway up to the top. The climb and some of the views were incredible... almost as incredible as those from some of the look out points when we disembarked. We could see right out across the city over the water to Butterworth a beyond. The photos do not do the views justice, but we took lots of them nonetheless. From the look outs we made our way around to a desk to buy tickets to the Habitat - what I (and Wikipedia) can only describe as a "rainforest experience". The boys missed out on riding in the back of the ute up to the entrance, but then opted to do one of the zip lines when we got in. Being the resposible parents we are, Kerri and I were very impressed with the safety briefing and the demonstration... whilst the boys were hanging out to get flying. The zip line was about 80m long through a canopy of trees and although Zack said it was just "meh" (a bit like most other things for Zack this holiday), he and Jett seemed to have a lot of fun. After that, we checked out the two main sites - the Langur Way Canopy Walk - an amazing stand alone bridge with more amazing views - and the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk - an elevated circular walkway overlooking the entire hill. The whole attraction was one of my absolute favourites of the holiday and we were lucky enough to avoid any real crowds. With a few swings mixed in between and a lot of walking, we'd all built up quite an appetite so we headed back down the hill and then back into Georgetown for a late lunch at a cafe called the Black Kettle. Jett had some more conventional fish and chips, Zack the biggest "chicken chop" I'd ever seen, me a decent chicken burger and Kerri a mushroom/vegetable mixture with bread. Back at the hotel Kerri and I enjoyed a few beers by the pool savouring how much we were enjoying not being at work. After our appetite gradually came back, we decided to go to the Jawi Gallery and Cafe for dinner. We all had rice dishes for dinner - Briyani Rice with Lamb and Beef Randang - apart from Jett with his fried prawns and vegetables. My meal was pretty satisfying, but the servings were (too) big and everyone else was less impressed. After a big day on our feet, we all retired back to the hotel for a well earnt sleep.
DAY 11Jun 11 2019
There was no bright and early wake up for any of us today. We all enjoyed a bit of a sleep in before the start of our next day in Penang. For breakfast/lunch we went to Gurney Plaza... a big shopping mall near the water. Kerri had pre-planned a sweet breakfast/desert restaurant where she enjoyed a soufle, Zack some pancakes and Jett some french toast with ice cream and cream all around. I decided on a "famous" Liang chicken sandwich - a wrap style sandwich promoted by what looked like a Malaysian Justin Bieber - a bit like the man himself it was a lot of appearance and not muvh substance. The boys added to their sweet tooths by having some more eggetts before we left the plaza to the Entopia Butterfly Farm.