After a quick 3hr flight from Bali we arrived in KL bright and early with the whole day ahead of us.
The trip was an early birthday present for James to go and see the second race of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
He’s a big fan and goes every year to an European race with his friend Tom. I felt I should seek Tom’s permission before buying tickets for James as I didn’t want to disrupt their f1 bromance. Tom agreed that it was acceptable, “as long as he’s allowed to come to a race with me this summer” 😂 why would I not allow it? Haha and not much I can do from Aus anyway!
I had floated the idea of getting an AirBnB apartment so that we could stay with my friend Roseanna and her boyfriend Pele, who had flown across from Bangkok where they both live to see us for the weekend 😊 however, James had insisted that the “only place to stay in KL is Traders Hotel” okay darhling.
I have to admit it was pretty ideal. Obviously not as personal as the Amala since it’s a huge hotel, but the location right on the park opposite the Petronas towers can’t be argued with. Oh and the view isn’t bad either….
We dropped our bags and then headed out to China town and The Old China Cafe for lunch. It’s an awesome little place in one of the few remaining original tea houses from the 1920s.
After that we strolled through the china town market where I treated myself to a passionfruit snow cone, with those weird little fruit bubbles on top that they put in bubble tea.
Once back at the hotel it was time for me to catch up on the Bikini Body Guide workout for Wed and Friday. A double 😳 I headed up to the hotel gym and was delighted to discover they had an empty fitness studio which I could use, with huge windows and a view across the park to the twin towers.
I was especially pleased by this since I’ve never done the workout outside the confines of our flat in Sydney, or another private space, so I was dreading having to do it in front of anyone other than Toots.
The closest I’ve come is when strangers walking on the road outside our flat stopped to take photos of us! When we spotted them and shouted from the balcony “hello? Everything okay?” they just giggled….”yes, you are so funny working out at home” – bizarre!!
However, this fear was realised when 3/4 of the way through a Malaysian guy and his personal trainer opened the door to the fitness studio. Thinking I had the place to myself I had stripped down to my sports bra, was blasting out some motivational tunes on my phone, and was 45 minutes in (i.e. not a pretty sight!) hence their slightly shocked/horrified expressions when they entered.
Nonetheless I had to finish, so I turned the volume down a notch or two and continued bouncing around the studio like a sweaty maniac.
I bumped into the guy who’d been having his personal training session when I was in the lift back down to the room, marginally more composed. He apologised for interrupting, and I apologised for, well, everything 😂
I scrubbed myself up and we headed for drinks up in the skybar at traders.
It’s an awesome view but I think the best way to describe the ambience is a little dated. All flashing disco lights and too-sweet cocktails.
We’d been hoping to go for drinks at a bar called Marinis, which is right next to the Petronas towers, however they had an F1 event on so had some ridiculous cover charge.
Marinis had been recommended to me by a girl called Emma, who I’d met at the tequila wrestling fiesta last weekend. She grew up in KL so provided me with tonnes of food and drink suggestions!
Roseanna and Pele came to meet us at Skybar. They’d been unable to flag down a taxi so had had to walk the whole way across town in the heat 😳 It was SO good to see Roseanna after almost a year and awesome to meet Pele.
After a drink we headed over to the Troica building where we had a table booked at Fuegos restaurant (another of Emma’s recommendations)
The Troica building is a huge tower set across the park from the twin towers and traders hotel. It’s mainly apartments but has a ‘sky dining’ level 23 floors up housing 4 different restaurants.
Fuegos serves South American cuisine, and had an amazing open air feel as it’s on a semi-balcony out over the park. The views of the towers all lit up were stunning.
The food was awesome too, we had: smoked snails, smoked quails (eggs), 2 of their house guacs, a watermelon and halloumi dish, ceviche, spiralised potato and spinach hash browns and some little puddings.
It was an open kitchen and I’d seen them making candy floss earlier in the evening so like a child requested this as my pudding ☺️ happy days!
Full and tired we headed back to the hotel, agreeing to meet the next morning for a trip up the KL tower (a super tall radio tower with panoramic views of the city)
You could choose to go up to an indoor viewing platform, or to pay £10 more to go to the highest possible level to an outdoor viewing deck that stretched the whole way around the building. We opted for the latter and spent a good hour wandering around taking in the views of the city, interacting with the graffiti (and taking selfies on our various devices).
Pele and Roseanna had gone to Osaka, Japan a couple of weeks ago and Pele had made an awesome video montage of their trip. After watching it Roseanna and I both requested (instructed) 😂 that he be on video duty for our weekend in KL.
After the KL tower James and I set off on our journey to the Sepang International Circuit (the f1 track). When booking the tickets I’d read various things only about what a nightmare it usually is to get to and from the city centre of KL to the airport.
The only other Grand Prix I’ve been to was to Singapore in 2013, and transport was no issue here as it’s a street race, so right in the heart of the city!
Taxis to Sepang were ruled out, partly due to cost and partly due to things I’d read saying that it was impossible to get out through traffic at the end of the day.
There were shuttle buses running from the front of the KLCC shopping centre (Petronas Towers) but the last bus left at 1pm and we were already cutting it a bit fine to catch that.
So we decided that our best option was to get the train out towards the airport and then to find our way to the track from there (it’s located really near the airport). Once we got to KL Sentral station there were convenient giant posters and stickers on the floor saying “fastest way to the race” so we followed those and found a little 2 day ticket package that got us an express train out to the airport and then shuttle bus to the racetrack.
Saturday was the final practice session for the drivers followed by the qualifying session, which determines which position they start in for the race on the Sunday.
The qualifying session is only an hour long, but in true tropics style we saw some excellent weather variety throughout, spicing up the driving a bit.
Part 1 of qualifying was conducted in scorching sun. The drivers aren’t racing each other to ‘finish first’ they’re just each trying to get the fastest lap of the track that they can.
At the end of part 1 a few cars are ‘eliminated’ (they still get to race the next day, this just means they’ll be starting on the back 3rd of the ‘grid’ – I.e at the back of the pack so if they want to win they’ll have to get past everyone!)
Part 2 and a storm had suddenly rolled in. The sky had gone black and there were dramatic thunder claps and lightening flashes around the circuit. It didn’t start raining until the drivers were a few laps into part 2, but they could all tell that it was coming so all the fastest cars got out as early as possible to get a quick time before it rained.
Then the heavens OPENED! It always amazes me how it can go from bright sunshine to black sky and curtains of driving rain (excuse the pun) within the space of 15 minutes.
The cars all stopped driving and the spectators rushed for shelter. Although most of the stand is undercover the rain was sideways rain so we head to head further in.
There was then a bit of a delay before they started part 3 of qualifying. The rain has stopped falling but there was still tonnes of water on the track, so it was quite spectacular seeing the water pluming up behind the cars as they sped down the track.
Our seats were right up near the big hairpin bend so it’s where all the cars are going their very fastest before they hit the corner. The brake disks of the cars glowed bright red inside the wheels. It was rather spectacular.
Lewis Hamilton qualified in pole position (I.e he’d be starting at the front for the race on the Sunday)
The qualifying had been delayed because of rain, and it took a while to get back to KL, so we ended up meeting Roseanna and Pele quite late and we all went to the main outdoor food street – Jalan Alor – for dinner.
En route there we drove through the bar strip – Bukit Bintang. I went there last time I went to KL, but in late afternoon on a weekday. This was Saturday night in full swing, and to be honest it looked pretty grim!
Jalan Alor was awesome though. Thank goodness Emma had given me a recommendation otherwise we would have had no idea how to choose between the hundreds of restaurants lining both sides of the street, often with the menu only in Chinese above the door.
Emma had recommended “The place opposite the KK store, with the yellow table clothes“…so I was slightly hesitant as to whether we’d actually be able to find it, but we did, and it was deeeeelicious. We had the most amazing garlic prawns, there must have been maybe a whole head of garlic cooked up with chili on them. We also had salt and pepper squid, some chicken satay, egg fried rice and steamed greens with garlic. Mmmm.
We then scoured the stalls for a pudding. I got a passionfruit, and Roseanna opted for this lychee pudding that was the same texture as creme caramel.
Sunday was race day! But before that, we needed to make sure we were suitably fuelled so had arranged brunch.
Sadly, the big hotel Sunday brunches (think champagne affairs) didn’t kick off until midday, so we went up to Thirty8 restaurant at the Hyatt for a huge buffet breakfast.
We then said our goodbyes as Roseanna and Pele weren’t coming to the race 😔
Sepang was far busier than the day before as lots of people only come for the race.
It was a really good race, but despite James’ motivational flag Lewis Hamilton couldn’t hold off Sebastian Vettel and came in 2nd.
Once again we got back to town late and had to be up at 6am today to fly back to Indonesia (Lombok this time for volcano hiking!) but we managed to fit in a final dinner.
I’d wanted to go to yet another of Emma’s recommendations since they’d all been totally on point so far…an Italian restaurant called Tatto. However for some reason it was closed all weekend so we made a last minute decision to head back to the Troica building but this time to try the Italian offering – Strato. It was really good but if you can only go to one I’d recommend Fuegos over Strato.
Then it was home time, packing time, final photos of twin towers time then up and off on the next leg of the trip…Lombok, Indonesia to climb mount Rinjani volcano.
I’m writing this post from Lombok (and publishing from Gili T!) where we’ve finally arrived at our destination, 15 hours after we set off from KL.
There was a dreadful moment when we got to KL airport, all ready to fly KL – Bali, have a few hours changeover and then fly Bali – Lombok, when we heard an announcement “Flight XXX to Lombok is now boarding” there was a direct flight!!!! I had assumed there weren’t any hence our 2 leg journey.
James looked at me with a slightly horrified face. I was like “Ummmm, they said LombAk babe, I’m sure that’s a place”.
So after our 15 hour journey we were ready to hit the hay and steel ourselves to rise early to walk for about 6 hours and climb 2600m!
See you on the other side!