Silver Shadow Arrives in Malaysia
Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow sailed through a wicked thunderstorm last night en-route to our first port of call in Port Klang, Malaysia. I awoke around two in the morning to see lightning illuminate the closed curtains of my suite’s bedroom, followed by the roar of thunder, and I could hear the rain pounding down on the sloped bulkhead that makes up Silver Shadow’s forward superstructure. I love thunderstorms and the sound of rain, and within seconds, I was back asleep again.
With an excursion scheduled for 8:15 this morning, I made things easy on myself by ordering breakfast to my suite for 7:00 am. This is done just like you would on any other cruise line: by filling out an order card the evening before and placing it outside your suite door. The difference is that here on Silversea, your butler delivers breakfast for you – plated, with real silverware and a complete table setting including tablecloths and crisp linen napkins. It’s a very civilized way to start your day.
By 8:00, Silver Shadow had come alongside the pier in Port Klang. It’s a very industrial port that nonetheless serves as the unofficial gateway (for cruise passengers, anyway) into nearby Kuala Lumpur. And we weren’t alone: Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas was berthed to our port side, while Star Cruises’ Taipan was moored directly forward of us.
Silversea offers a total of five excursion options for our stay today in Port Klang, plus a complimentary shuttle that takes you into the center of town. Situated some 30 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, Port Klang used to be the epicentre of Selangor. It continued to have a high profile until 1880, when cheap tin deposits were discovered in Kuala Lumpur. The rest is history: Kuala Lumpur is now the epicentre of the region, while Port Klang has been relegated to commercial port status.
Since I’m a huge fan of independent touring but still needed to get into Kuala Lumpur, I chose Silversea’s 7.5-hour Kuala Lumpur On Your Own (KEL-F) tour. At $69 per person (or included, if your cruise price included excursions), it’s a real bargain considering the taxi ride alone would cost you far more than this if you did it independently.
Silversea also offered a shorter five-hour Highlights of Kuala Lumpur (KEL-A) tour for the exact same price, along with excursions that focused on the cultural and historical aspects of Kuala Lumpur. The line even offers a six-hour Gulf at Sultan Abdul Azis Shah Golf Club tour that prices out at $389 per person – and was completely sold out on this trip. This is one excursion you’ll want to use your online My Silversea cruise personalizer to book well in advance.
Departing shortly after 9:00 am, my coach made it into Kuala Lumpur in what locals tell me is record-time: just over 60 minutes. Complimentary maps were distributed by our guide, along with free ponchos. We were told it had rained all day yesterday, and that torrential downpours that cause flash floods aren’t uncommon. Should we encounter a severe downpour, she said, it would be best to make our way back to the coach drop-off point.
Our guide explained where we’d be dropped off: at a gigantic shopping mall called Pavilion, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang district. She also took the time to explain what was within walking distance (more malls), and what we’d need to rely on other transportation to access.
One of the prescribed methods for getting around Kuala Lumpur was to use the local city bus, the Go KL City Bus. It’s free (yes, free!) and operates four different lines that whisk passengers to nearly every corner of the city. How do you find your bus? Easy: if you want to take the Purple Line, hop on the purple-coloured bus. The green line’s busses are green, the blue line coloured blue, and so on. It’s foolproof.
So, I hopped the city bus from Pavilion and headed towards the Central Market, which has been in operation since 1888. Here, you can escape the Prada’s and the like and focus on locally-made Malaysian handcrafts. Some of these run the gamut from chintzy to classy, so it pays to look around a little bit first. Foodies, though, will want to head to the upper level for the coolest food court you’ve ever seen, serving nothing but local specialties. The local food smelled incredible, and you’ll never look at food courts the same way.
Afterwards, I took a stroll through the heart of Chinatown, which is carved in half by the outdoor shopping mecca that is Jalan Petaling. Chinese lanterns are strung high across the entire length of the street, while on ground-level, stalls of all shapes and sizes sell “genuine fake” merchandise, from Mont Blanc pens to Rolex watches. It’s a bit of a zoo (watch your wallets!) but a cool experience nonetheless.
Nearby, I also managed to visit the local Hindu temple, Sri Maha Mariamman, at 163 Jalan Tun HS Lee. Established in 1873 but rebuilt twelve years later, the building is said to be laid out in the form of a reclining body. You don’t have to be of Hindu faith to enter this interesting temple, but you do have to take your shoes off and pay RM 0.20 per pair to sto
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