Monday, April 15, 2013

Paul's Country Review: Malaysia

We took a bus from Singapore and headed into Malaysia. I liked it here as well, especially our first stop Malacca/Melaka (Portuguese/Malaysian). It's split into two parts: the Old Town which was ruled by the Portuguese then Dutch then British; a lot of the architecture is indicative of that. The newer part of town is experiencing a boom economically and a lot of building is going on like luxury high-rises, restaurants and shopping areas. We stayed in Old Town which is a UNESCO world heritage city (I don't really know what this means, but I think it's good) so it's basically a living museum. We walked around, took in the sights and enjoyed the city.

A friendly, laid back town

We then headed to Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. It's a very busy, crowded and confusing city where even the residents don't know where anything is. Cab drivers have to ask for directions in their own town, for a street that is 3 streets over. Then you sit in traffic for 45 minutes. Why didn't we walk - you ask? There aren't a lot of sidewalks, mostly due to high-rise construction, and when there is a sidewalk someone is driving on it - it is chaos.

Check out the gridlock at this intersection pretty much 24/7

From KL we took a trip to Malaysia's national park (getting there was long and hot) but the scenery was amazing. We took it easy and just enjoyed our surroundings for a couple of days before heading back to KL.

The jungle, it came alive!

Shortly after, this man looked at me and said, "dude, you have a dart in your neck!"

The next stop was Penang, a popular island getaway and home to Georgetown, another UNESCO world heritage city.

Welcome to Penang: Pearl of the Orient

I don't know who this UNESCO guy is, but does he throw a "World Heritage" stamp of approval on anything? Penang was relatively boring with nothing of note about this so-called Georgetown (I still don't think it really exists). The beach there was about 6 feet wide and no one went on it because people trying to rent their horses out to tourists kept galloping up and down the beach thinking they were John Wayne in Fort Apache or something. Even if we could avoid the horses and get into the water, jet skiers were having there own death race a couple of feet from the shoreline making swimming all but impossible. Instead we hung around our poorly serviced hotel and relived prom night.

*A brief reminder: for those of you who don't know, I had an allergic reaction Christmas Eve and spent most of the evening in the ER taking a Benadryl nap while Christine watched A Christmas Story. Going to the Allergist I discovered that I am allergic to just about everything in varying degree of severity, so Christine and I have been doing our best to avoid eating anything that might give me problems - which has been extremely difficult. *

So every time we order food Christine and I go through the same things with the staff wherever we are. I will have the whatever food, make sure that it doesn't have any (list allergies here). One of the things I am allergic to is tomato, my skin gets all red and itchy when I eat it. So almost every time we order a meal, a tomato, in some form, is on the plate. Which always leads me to ask, are people morons or are they just robots programmed to complete a specific set of tasks? I think they are moron robots, sent back in time by John Connor to kill me. Here is an example: 

Paul: I will have the Rib-eye medium rare with mashed potatoes. It says it comes with seasonal vegetables - are there tomatoes, green peas or eggplant in there? (I know what you're thinking, why would any of those things be in a vegetable side? That's what I always say but, I am surprised every time; like when I asked for a traditional caesar salad and got cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and smoked salmon in it)

Moron Robot: You want tomato?

Paul: No, I don't, I was asking if there was any of those things in it. Just make sure there isn't any of those things anywhere on the plate please

Moron Robot: Because there isn't any tomato, do you want tomato?

Christine: No, he is allergic to tomato, make sure there is no tomato on the plate

M.R.: OK, no tomato.

The food shows up…

Paul (to Christine): Is that tomato in the side salad? (there was no mention of there being a salad)

Christine: Yes

Christine (to M.R.): Excuse me, we said no tomato anywhere on the plate

M.R.: Huuhhhhhhh?

Christine: There are tomatoes in this salad

M.R.: Does not compute, error, error

Paul: Screw it, scrape the salad off and whatever was touching tomato, eat and lets get out of here

And that's pretty much every meal. 

Sorry for getting off topic, but it is necessary so you understand Prom Night. So we are at our hotel in Penang and not really motivated to leave the room so we order room service. We order a nice dinner (steak for me, fish for Christine) with appetizers, soups and a bottle of wine. We go through the conversation mentioned above with a little better result so we're actually optimistic that it'll be good. The food shows up and the cart is wheeled into our room. The lady from room service opens the wine as I set our little table, she leaves and we sit down to eat. Appetizer was pretty good, the soups were very good, I'm thinking this is great. I then go to the cart to get the main course and notice some kind of ketchup stuff all over my steak (I opted for the Cafe de Paris butter on the steak because not one place in our travels even salts the meat a little; it's always some kind of sauce to choose from, which I never like so I figured this was just some butter with herbs or something similar). The sauce is everywhere, and half of a tomato sitting on top of the mashed potatoes. I take a bite and confirm that it's homemade ketchup and pour the wine. At this point I notice that the bottle of wine is hot to the touch - weird. We can feel how warm the wine is when poured in the glass. I take a sip and it is real bad, unless you like hot vinegar, in which case it was really good. Christine was nice enough to switch meals with me so I ate her bland fish and she attempted to eat the steak. She soon gave up and called room service to give them an earful and they removed the steak and wine from the bill. FYI on boiled wine: commonly used to dress wounds during the dark ages. Cloth bandages would be soaked in the hot wine to fight infection - so there's that.

For dinner the following evening, we chose this special deal the hotel was having for sunset dinner, for two, on the beach. This special deal was appropriately named the "forget me not." It should have been simple, a shared appetizer, we each get an entree, a shared dessert and two drinks. Christine made the reservations the day before to make sure we got a table because space was limited and we arrived 5 minutes before our reservation. Moron Robot brings us to our table, either he was an older model or he was malfunctioning because he lacked the power to speak, hands us our menus and walks away. When he comes back we ask what things, if any, are excluded from this package. He responds with a blank stare, so Christine explains that we are doing the dinner package (we made reservation, right? shouldn't there be a note or something?). He grunts and gets all pissypants on us, takes away the menus and walks away. He returns shortly after and begins setting the table. As we have no idea what's going on we ask, "Hey, Moron Robot, what's going on?" He explains(?) that we each get a caesar salad and a choice of either meat or fish. Oooookay. We place our drink order, and go through the usual ordering process. Our mojitos tasted like gasoline and we didn't drink them (how bad does a drink have to be to not drink it? c'mon man!) The salads show up and there are tomatoes in it. Christine gets the waiter (he was already gone) and explains that there are tomatoes in the salad and reminded him that we explained the whole allergies thing to him. So he takes the salad without a word and storms off. At this point I tell Christine that this jerk is just going to pick the tomatoes out and come back. My Nostradamus-like prediction came true because he was back in under 5 minutes (it took a 1/2 hour for the salads initially). I tell Moron Robot that they have to make a new salad because I can't have - whatever, buy now the readers should have figured this out by now, unless you are Moron Robots? So Pissypants (new name) is getting all pissypants on us because its our fault he is a Moron Robot. Christine and I look at each other and decide, telepathically, that it's time to leave. We get up and tell Pissypants that he sucks and we want to talk to a manager. We get the restaurant manager who is the leader of this faction of Moron Robots because he just says the salad is coming. No comprehension of what's going on around him. We leave and make an appointment to see the GM of the hotel so Christine can head butt them into submission and walk on down the road to find somewhere to eat.

That is one tasty burger! Actually, it wasn't.

The next morning the staff informs us that the GM is and has been on vacation, which makes me question who we talked to last night that said the GM is in every morning. Like wedding crashers, this guy must have been a job crasher. He shows up, steals a uniform and just wreaks havoc on other peoples workplaces. Anyway, we talk to the assistant GM instead and explain everything that has happened since we arrived and that his place sucks. He insists that we have a dinner at the hotel's expense, in order to make it up to us. We refuse and go to McDonalds, telling him we will think about it. We get back from lunch and I am telling the assistant GM that we don't want a makeup dinner, that's it's not necessary, and we don't really have that much faith in them anyway. Basically I can't stand groveling and gave in and agreed to the dinner. Yeah I know Christine would have torn him to pieces and rejected the dinner, telling him that we ate and will eat again at McDonalds rather than spend anymore time than was necessary at their establishment, but the guy was crying and snot was running down his nose and getting everywhere - it was ugly and I just wanted it to stop.

Sadly, this is our go-to when we attacked by Moron Robots

Prom Night

We get to the other restaurant where our amazing dinner is to take place and are led out to a separate veranda where our table was set up. This was so ridiculous I almost burst out laughing. Chiffon tablecloth (I thought the Chiffons were a women's singing group from MoTown), a small bouquet of roses, a rose-scented finger bowl for the cleaning of fingers and elaborate place settings to match. This is one of the main reasons why I hate these makeup dinners. They set you up for all to see and make the decorations so over the top with the pomp-and-cicumstance and elaborate flourishes so everyone is looking at you - the center of attention. I truly believe it is the hotel's way of saying that they took care of you, but really it is done this way so you feel foolish. The other reason is, obviously, that it shouldn't be necessary in the first place if people weren't crappy at their jobs.


The rose petals were the only thing that made sense

I got to wash my hands in dirty water

We have a bottle of red wine, in an ice bucket and the waiter takes it off ice and shows it to me and says, "you see, it is cold" and wants me to touch the bottle. I believe you, you moron, I just watched you take it out of a bucket of ice! This little display proves to me that the assistant GM has no idea how to provide good service either. It wasn't about the very hot bottle of wine and this guy missed the point. To think I fell for his trail of tears - never again! The rest of the evening was fine and Christine and I laughed about it. 

Afterwards, we had our first dance and talked excitedly about our upcoming trip to the Jersey Shore (as all prom-goers do after the prom). That weekend was gonna be awesome, but nothing compared to our Prom Night at the Park Royal Hotel in Penang, Malaysia - it was magical.

This is Pissypants, our Moron Robot waiter

Despite our experience in Penang, Malaysia is a cool place to visit so long as you stick to Malaysia's natural and cultural attractions and avoid the populated areas.


  1. My sister Erin went to Kuala Lumpur and said it reminded her of a more colorful Detroit. Needless to say, she was not a fan at all.

    Another enjoyable country review that brightened up my boring Monday morning at work (of course at your expense). Prom night sounded magical.

    1. Paul's storytelling is truly unique. When I read his draft I was laughing so hard, I cried. The Moron Robots are my favorite. Glad we can brighten up your day!


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