Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Night Bus to Genting

The Poo Seafood Restaurant is on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

Somehow this mesmeric title summed up for me the quality of food experienced at the bus stops, en route to and from the Genting Highlands this past weekend.

On a previous trip I tasted the worst bau (steamed bun) I had ever tasted and this trip it was a portion of Chicken Rice that captured my attention. Where the chicken itself was captured is another story - I suspect a local kampong, as the bird bore no resemblance to the excellent Chicken Rice of Singapore.

I don't know what it is about these road stop eating places, the quality of their fare is inevitably bad.

Last Wednesday we took the Night Bus to Genting (not to be confused with the Midnight Train To Georgia). We had been assured by the agent in Chinatown that said bus arrived in Genting at "about 8 am". Given that we left at 9:30 pm and it was a 7 hour trip, this timing didn't add up. Still we thought, perhaps the driver had to pull over and have a break for an hour or so?

We arrived at 3 am in the morning. Adding to our misery was that I was still nursing a sore back (not helped by the steady vibrations of the bus's chassis) and my wife had picked up a virulent flu bug the day before. In short a couple of 'crocks' emerged bleary-eyed from the Night Bus.

At reception we were told to wait a further hour until the ticket operators commenced their duties.

"Couldn't we just check in we?" asked Reception. "No" was the reply. "You need to take a numbered ticket first and when you number is called then and only then can you come up to the Registration point".

I felt obliged at this moment, and not being in the best of tempers, to point out that there were only three of us trying to register and there were at least five staff behind the reception counter - doing very little.

As such pleadings proved futile, we asked "If we paid for the night of our arrival as well, could we get into a room?" Of course we could. So for any extra 130 Ringgit (about $Singapore 60)we were duly registered and went to our room.

Last time we came to Genting we stayed in one of their standard rooms, which had the dimensions of a large chicken coop. This time we opted to pay a little more for a "deluxe room".

Our "deluxe room" appeared exactly the same dimensions as our previous "standard room" with the same view of an adjoining wall. This time it came complete with dripping cistern, a blown light above the bed and an extractor fan in the bathroom that threatened to break lose of its moorings at any minute. All of which conspired to make much needed sleep impossible.

I must record that these matters were addressed later in the morning by the maintenance staff of the hotel.

The weather was cold and wet on the first day making it impossible for children to go outside and use the theme park. I thanked my lucky stars that we had packed my warm jacket and hood.

The one thing we both enjoyed was the coolness which meant that you could sleep soundly under an extra 'helping' of blankets. This was a pleasant relief after the cloying heat of Singapore.

The other thing that hasn't changed since our trip to Genting over the Chinese New Year of 2007, was the complete non-compliance of the no-smoking regulations and the hotel's adjoining walkways.

When we pointed out to a ruddy faced Chinese gentleman that he was smoking in a non smoking zone he got very agitated and yelled out "Get Used to it, you are in Malaysia". I thought this was a very sad indictment on the country. The laws are there but seldom policed.

The big difference at Genting Resort this time around were the large numbers of Middle Eastern families, the room enveloped in their traditional black abayas. While they do not gamble in the casinos they were certainly spending large sums in the shops and on the children's indoor activities. They of course were staying in the Superior deluxe rooms and the suites.

It would appear that tourism from other Islamic countries into Malaysia is booming. As long as they not tempted by the chicken rice, this trend will probably continue.

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