Saturday, December 03, 2005

Kuala Lumpur taxi adventure - 1 December 2005

Sculpture in the park at the foot of the Petronas towersWe are back in the good old, cold, UK winter after a balmy 30C, humid day in KL. We spent the day mainly doing the shops but, in the morning, procured 2 of the 1280 free tickets that are issued daily for visits to the sky-bridge between the two Petronas Towers. It was quite an interesting side diversion and the park at the foot of the towers is very attractive. The contrast between the Suria shopping centre in the podium below the towers and the Chinatown/Little India/Central Markets area of KL could not be more marked.

When we arrived in KL we purchased return tickets and took the KLIA Express to the city. At KL Sentral station there were masses of taxis drivers waiting for business. We asked one how much to the Crown Plaza Park Royal. He told us RM18 which sounded OK, it was late and we were tired. On the way to the hotel I asked him how long the return trip would take at 7 in the morning (allowing for rush hour traffic, etc.) He said 45 mins, which seemed OK as we did not know better and the traffic at 9pm seemed horrendous. We agreed for him to be back at the hotel at 0715 Friday morning.

The park from floor 41 During our day in KL we rode the monorail and found we could get, almost, from our hotel door to the KL Sentral station for RM2.10 each, but we had made a booking and so at 0705 Friday morning we left the hotel to find our man waiting with his taxi. Traffic seemed very light but the trip from the station had seemed quite tortuous so we sat back and relaxed. After about 15 minutes I decided the scenery was quite different from the trip in and we seemed to have been travelling on a motorway for much longer than I remembered from the inbound trip.

I thought I had better check with the driver and, as I suspected he was taking us direct to KLIA.Festive decorations at Suria shopping centre This was a problem; his published rate card for the trip was RM90, we had about RM35 and we already were in possession of return KLIA Express tickets. He exited the next off-ramp and wound his way back, this time in the city-bound rush-hour traffic. He then took a "short-cut" through some scruffy residential area and ended up at a no-exit point where only motorcycles could proceed. A U-turn and back to where we got off the motorway - but of course it was an off-ramp only. More ducking and diving through the residential area and finally back on to a multi-lane road that I was sure was headed in the wrong direction. Sure enough, he had to U-turn at a set of lights, installed expressly for the purpose of allowing U-turns - the only light was a green U-turn arrow.

Here again the traffic was quite heavy and it was with great relief that, not long after, I spotted an exit sign to KL Sentral Station and we arrived at the station in time for the 0800 KLIA Express which delivered us to KLIA in plenty of time for our 0900 check-in. Whew!

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