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Trip Report Melnq8's Big KL Adventure - Trip Report

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We’re American expatriates who have lived in Duri, Indonesia for about six months. Duri is located on the island of Sumatra, separated from the Malay Peninsula by the Strait of Malacca. We’re rather isolated here and getting in and out of the country is an ordeal. We’re three hours from the closest International airport (Pekanbaru) and 90 minutes from the nearest seaport.

Because Chinese New Year and Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year) fell back to back this year, we got a five day weekend by taking only one vacation day. We figured this would be a good time to visit nearby Kuala Lumpur.

There are two ways to get to KL from Indonesia, plane or ferry. Both are time consuming, and both involve an assortment of private drivers, busses and security escorts (for expats). Feeling adventurous, we decided to try the ferry. We purchased our ferry tickets in Duri for 220,000 rupiah per person return, and paid 15,000 rupiah per person departure tax and 500,000 rupiah per person fiscal tax in Dumai.

Dumai is a 90 minute bus ride from Duri. Once in Dumai we were met by a driver and taken into the city of Dumai to collect our boarding passes, then to the Dumai ferry terminal.

We waited for eons in the non-air conditioned Dumai ferry terminal, then waited some more on the pier. Our ferry from Dumai to Port Dickson (Malaysia) finally left at 2:50 pm, almost two hours late.

The ride was okay, albeit long at 3 hours and 10 minutes. The ferry itself wasn’t too bad, with the exception of the onboard loo, which mere words cannot describe.

We arrived at Port Dickson at 7 pm local time. Americans and Caltex employees were called to the front of the line, which was a surprise. We were also waved through customs and our luggage was not inspected.

Despite being over two hours late, the driver we’d hired when we bought the ferry tickets was waiting for us with our name on a placard. He drove us from Port Dickson to Kuala Lumpur, which took about 90 minutes. He charged 150 RM for a 10 passenger van.

We finally reached our hotel at 9 pm that evening, some 11 hours after leaving Duri, which is approximately 140 miles from KL.

We’d booked an Executive room at the Mandarin Oriental. It was late and we were starving, so we had a late dinner at the hotel’s café – Biba’s. One main, two starters, two desserts and one beer – 150 RM – it was all very good.

Our room at the Mandarin was comfortable and very nice. It was on the 27th floor with an “in your face” view of the Petronas Towers from our window. Our room had a comfy KS bed with cotton duvet, a large bathroom with glassed in shower and separate marble tub.

In addition to evening turndown service, our towels and bathroom amenities were replenished twice a day and our ice bucket was always full.

Our room included daily breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres served in the Club Lounge on the 24th floor, with views of the KL skyline and KLCC park.

Breakfast included omelets made to order, 4-5 hot dishes, pastries, fruit, cereal, bread, cheese, meat, juice, tea and two coffee machines that turned out some awesome lattes!

Tea included beverages, scones, cream and jam, as well as an assortment of other nibbles.

Cocktail hour (s) included several hot and cold dishes, cheese, NZ white wine, Australian red wine, and an assortment of beer and liquor. It was all self service and very generous. The staff continued to replenish supplies right until 7 pm.

The lounge also offers a business center with computers and free Internet access, and free flow of soft drinks, coffee and tea throughout the day.

Laundering and pressing five pieces of clothing each day was also included with our room.

The hotel staff informed us that many businesses would be closed for the entire week due to Chinese New Year and Al Hijra, but most shops and restaurants seemed to be open and we found plenty to do.

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