Hello from Malaysia! I arrived here by train from Thailand almost a week ago, and I have been stunned by the fascinating blend of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and colonial architecture, culture, and food. This has been a great place to visit for someone who loves to 1) take photos, and 2) eat.
I had always wanted to do something interesting for my birthday during this trip, but since I rarely plan too far in advance, I really didn’t have any specific ideas. When my regional itinerary finally materialized during the last two weeks or so, it looked as if my birthday weekend would be right around the time that I would be passing through Kuala Lumpur. So, still slightly burned out from recent stays at noisy, dimly lit budget hotel rooms of questionable cleanliness, I decided to splurge on accommodation there. I have always loved historic hotels, but most of them are extraordinarily out of my price range. Having found a good deal, I booked two nights at the Hotel Majestic near the old Art Deco KL train station.
Let me tell you: it was worth every last penny. Between my stay there and my four previous nights at the Museum Hotel in Georgetown, Penang, the last week of accommodation has easily been the best I’ve ever experienced. Worldwide.
My room was modern and gorgeous. The customer service was phenomenal. When I went down to the front desk to ask about the shuttle to the train station, the staff person actually sprinted outside to make sure that the waiting shuttle didn’t leave without me. A top-notch breakfast and laundry service was included (yay! Clean jeans!) And my bathtub had its own television. I discovered this at about 2am just after brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. I flicked on the TV just to take a look… then spent the next two hours in the bathtub turning into a human prune – an eyeglasses-and-nightguard-wearing prune- watching Speed. Ah, Keanu. Still dreamy after all these years.
Determined to make the most of my birthday lodgings, I spent several hours at the pool and then squeezed in a reservation for afternoon tea. I have never gone to an afternoon tea before, but it seemed like a pleasant way to get lunch without leaving the building! Leave it to me, however, to do something stupid before heading to such an upscale establishment. In my attempts to quickly shower off from the pool before tea, I somehow managed to aim the shower spray directly into my eyes while trying to avoid getting my hair wet. Startled, I yelped out and instinctively bolted forward … directly into the shower wall, clocking my forehead so hard that my teeth crashed together and I felt momentarily stunned. I made use of the minibar by borrowing a cold can of Pepsi to hold against my swelling forehead as I got dressed. I was pretty sure that this was not what is meant by “One lump or two?” when going for tea.
The afternoon tea was an elaborate and delicious offering of little sandwiches, scones, and cakes (although I was wondering if maybe they could dope up my tea with some Tylenol. My forehead was really aching). Toward the end, I saw the staff singing “Happy Birthday” with a plate holding an iced cupcake. I pleasantly thought, oh, how nice, it’s someone’s birthday. Then I remembered that it was MY birthday! The dessert was not for me, however, which was just as well: any more sugary, cream-filled baked goods, and I would have to be ordering a side of statins.
I *did* get a surprise dessert later on, though. I was getting ready to meet up with my new friend Mike from the US for dinner when my doorbell rang. A staff member was waiting at my door with a complimentary chocolate birthday cake! I was so touched that I didn’t have the heart to admit that I am allergic to chocolate :(. Not to worry: Mike stopped by, polished off half the cake before dinner, then finished the rest when I saw him the next day. Can’t waste a good cake!
We got a late dinner at one of the only places that we could find that was open, a restaurant called Wong Kok. They also had a free “birthday special” on their menu: the largest glass of milk tea I have ever seen. With its own ladle.
We finished off the celebration in typical Zakelj birthday fashion: singing karaoke until 3 in the morning.
I gotta say: #35 is going to be a tough birthday to beat.