We were very blessed this summer to be able to take a long family vacation to an exotic location and have a great time! If you back up about a year, when a military father has a child, he is entitled to 10 days of paternity leave. Brett qualified for this back in August 2009, when Mal came along. But he had just changed offices, and wasn't able to take the time off (thank God my parents were here- I don't think I could have been at home alone with a 3 day old baby). Anyway, he was finally able to take the time at the beginning of August, just before the baby leave expired. We decided to take a family trip to Malaysia and Thailand, and had a fantastic time.
We left for our trip July 30th. We actually spent that first night at a tiny little hotel in Tokyo, near the airport. We were flying out of Haneda early, and it would have been hard to get to the airport early enough. So, we took a very long train ride (seriously- it was long, especially with 1 kid/stroller, 3 suitcases, 1 diaper bag, and 1 camera bag- hoping on and off various trains to make it down to the Haneda Airport area) and spent that night at a Tokyo hotel, got up (very) early the next day, and caught our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
We had an easy flight and made it to KL that afternoon. The KL airport is about an hour away from downtown, but we were staying at the Traders Hotel, so they picked us up and when we got there, checked in. We had upgraded to a room with a view, and it was well worth it. The hotel was right by the Petronas Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world) and our view was fantastic! Here's a bit about the towers: The Petronas Twin Towers (Malay: Menara Berkembar Petronas) (also known as the Petronas Towers or just Twin Towers), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiawere the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004, when their height was surpassed by Taipei 101. From 2001, the towers remain the tallest twin buildings in the world.
Malaysia is a very Muslim country, so we saw a lot of women in head dresses and burkas. Even with the language and religious differences, they thought Mallory was cute and wanted pictures with her :)
After shopping in the mall, Brett and I decided it was date time :) Brett and I haven't had a date since before Mallory was born, and we figured what a great place to spend some time together, in the really neat bar at our hotel. We had a babysitter (aka Traders Hotel employee) watch Mallory (she was almost asleep when we left, so really the lady just sat on our bed and watched tv) while we went about 10 floors up, to the top of the hotel to the bar. I'd reserved one of the cozy little areas with a great view just for us.
which is also the pool area. The swimming pool was literally in the middle of the bar and you walked around it. By day, it is just the swimming area. At night, it turns into the Sky Bar!
We had a couple yummy drinks each and enjoyed chatting child free. Then we went back to our room, relieved to know that Mallory was ok (yes, we are those overly protective parents that thought about/talked about/worried about her the entire 3 hours we were at the bar).
The next day, August 2nd, we actually checked out of Traders, but our flight to our next destination wasn't until 9:15pm that night, so we had all day in KL still. We had planned on going up the Petronas Towers, but they are closed on Mondays. Whoops! So, we visited the other tower KL is known for, Menara KL Tower. It is not as tall, but has a cool ball thing on top and we got to see the Petronas Towers from up high and have them in our pictures, so that was cool. And since you can't go all the way up the twin towers (you only go to the skywalk part) you are actually higher up in this tower. Here is the KL Tower from down below.
We could see this tower from our hotel too, and thought it was much closer, so we started to walk. That was a bit tricky, and it is actually much further than we realized. After getting a bit turned around, and hot and sweaty trying to walk to it, we finally got in a cab and drove the rest of the way, thank goodness. It did end up being a longer cab ride than I expected, and I was glad to not be walking at that point!
We finally made it, bought tickets to go up, and hopped in the elevator. The ceiling of the elevator was so pretty.
We made it to the top and they give you some headphones (in your language of choice) to explain what you are looking at out each viewing window. Here's Brett sporting his headphones.
Mallory was a huge hit in the Tower as well, and all the workers wanted to hold her. The Japanese and Koreans love babies, but I think the Malaysians might love them even more, if that is possible!
The views were beautiful. Out this window, in the distance you can see a darkish hill. That is actually a sacred Buddhist cave, called Batu Cave, where they worship and hold festivals each year.
After walking all the way around the Tower twice, we came back down and had tickets to the Malaysia Cultural Village. Outside was this vendor, which I just thought was funny.
We visited the Cultural Village, just outside the Tower, but honestly we weren't all that impressed. I don't know if if was because we were hot and sweaty or because we couldn't read the signs in Malaysian, or because we just don't really care that much about their old architecture, but we quickly walked thru it and called it good. I took a few pictures, just to prove we were there.
After that, we went back to the hotel. Well, we tried to go back to the hotel. We somehow ended up in a cab that smelled like a cross between dirty feet and too much curry, and how this guy was a cab driver for a living I have NO idea. He would speed up, only to slam on the brakes and throw on the parking brake at certain times, for no particular reason. I hit my head on the back of his chair more than once. We had told him Traders Hotel, but he took us to a completely different place (I think it was something like the Renaissance Hotel) in a different section of town. Brett argued with him for a bit that we weren't in the right place (seriously, he wanted us to get out at that hotel saying 'you said this hotel'...ummm, no we didn't dude). Anyway, we finally had him take us to the Petronas Towers, knowing we could walk home from there and that it is also the biggest landmark in the entire city. I think he was mad at us as we got out, but the feeling was mutual. We walked back to the hotel and changed clothes (the cab smell had permeated our other outfits) and headed off to the airport.
We had a small mix up there too, as there is the main airport, and then the "cheap airlines" terminal. We belonged there, but went to the other one first. We figured it all out, and got to the right place in plenty of time. We were flying Air Asia up to Langkawi Island, Malaysia, just a bit north of KL, and a very touristy spot (that's pretty much all that is on the island is tourists and hotels). Our Air Asia tickets were like $45 each! We were both a bit nervous about kinda old piece of junk they were going to put us on for that price, but it was a nice, newer plane. We made the 45 minute flight to Langkawi, hopped off and checked into the hotel....