A Travellerspoint blog

November 2014

Attendees of the Huge TravBuddy Meetup in Kuala Lumpur


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) & Sri Lanka TravBuddy trip November 2014 on NT01's travel map.

Listed according to country of origin (TravBuddy usernames indicated in parenthesis and italics):

Philippines:Nolan (nolan), Rhea (rheagirl), Anne (super_otap),Eunice (yzzinecinue), Laiza (laichee), Rolan (rolanzachary)

Japan: Masayo (masayo)

Thailand: Jantima (travchef), Neua (neuapanchareon)

Indonesia: Maya (mmeymey)

Canada: Hali (halilee)

Russia: Anna (Avaria)

Australia: Brian (besandri)

United Kingdom: Jon (northlight), Darren (DAZMAN50)

Poland: Greg (greg1976) , Adrian (adrianpalczewski)

U.S.A.: Kanak (kanaknaidu), Walter (WalterC), Jamal (Jamal1280), Devi and Hima

Singapore: Hady (hady), Marie (mynthe), Mira (mnmira)

Host country Malaysia:Soon Thiam (soonthiam), Yanti (Aurora78), Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee), Hayley (hayley_phoon), Nisa (lisa_hn), Haiza (yayai), Cathy (catlim73), Roslan (Stupidguy), Karina (KarinaKalinka), Gwen (jesa145), Nathan (nathanshivaliew), Hassan (Chase2589), Lindy (lindyD), Syed (Mueezy), meimei (meimei2010), Joanna (Jopin)

If I missed anyone, please let me know. I met almost everyone except those who showed up only on Friday: Hassan, Nathan and Lindy

Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Back to Kuala Lumpur after more than 20 years!


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & The Huge Kuala Lumpur Meetup, November 2014 & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14174009512722.jpgJust landed in KLIA. Since we are at the end of the plane, we decided to let the others out first and take a group selfie.The last time I was in Kuala Lumpur [Kuala-Lumpur-travel-guide-1096867] was for work in 2001 - yes, more than 13 years ago! Well I consider it 20 years since we stayed in Putrajaya [Putrajaya-travel-guide-1311214] back in 2001 and just made a quick drive through and stop in Kuala Lumpur for one evening. (So technically the last time I stayed in KL was back in 1992). The big infrastructure projects that were initiated by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed like the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Petronas Towers, not to mention the new capital of Putrajaya and so on, made visiting Kuala Lumpur a photo op for posing with the tallest buildings in the world (Petronas).large_1840343_14174009519830.jpg It was really modernization at full steam.

Returning in 2014 had a few more interesting additions - there was now a fast express train between KLIA and downtown KL (KLIA Expres), more light rail stations, and even monorail stations. Yet the charm of KL still seemed to have never left, except that there were now more buildings all over. KL Sentral was a new meeting place (prior it was just a stop before the old KL train station), and there were malls all over. Truly there was a big transformation in those two decades.

Getting off the plane and into immigration took a good 15-20 minutes walk in KLIA 2 (now there was a second large terminal, just for LCCs like AirAsia), so definitely one shouldn't underestimate the walking time and transfers if in case of connecting flights. And finding the right transport was easy - the KLIA Express was the de facto means but there were also express buses which were cheaper.large_1840343_14174009486922.jpg Of course, the taxis, who way back in 2001 were so scarce that it was more of a shared taxi.

While I didn't stay in any fancy hotel (see the attached review of KL Sentral Hotel), the convenience of being able to go from one place to another was a big plus. Considering the meetup had over 40 people confirmed and expected to come. As soon as we arrived at the airport, Jon had announced to the group that we were there (since we were the last to arrive, and the others were there the night before). Jon met us at the train station and walked us AROUND the shopping mall, past his hotel before we went to the elevator and overpass to get to the other side of the street where our hotel was. On the way down the escalator we bumped into Masayo, which was a pleasant surprise ... as I was expecting to see her at the hotel.large_1840343_14174009483904.jpgJon, Nolan, Masayo and AnneIn any case, we didn't miss out quickly on taking a quick group photo.

Once we got settled into our room, we messaged the others who were also staying at Hotel Sentral - including Maya (mmeymey), and Eunice (yzzinecinue) who had arrived early in the wee hours of Saturday morning. We also found out from Masayo that Adrian (adrianpalczewski) had also checked into the same hotel, although he had to move rooms. So then we agreed to meet walk over to the meeting area (of all places, McDonald's at KL Sentral) where Yanti, Hali, Kanak, Hima, Devi, Walter, Brian and the rest were to gather to buy tickets to Batu Caves [Batu-Caves-travel-guide-1348409]. For some reason we ended up waiting for each other, and that allowed us an opportunity to get a bite as we were famished.large_1840343_14174009603797.jpgNolan, Rhea, Anne, Roslan and WalterEventually we all got together and Yanti purchased the tickets for our trip.

There were a lot of us on the train, in fact, we occupied a whole car and there was this young Malaysian guy who was quietly listening to his music on his MP3 player - he wasn't spared as well as he ended up taking a handful of photos for us. While in the train, we laughed, joked about the warning signs on the train, and kept on taking group selfies with Rolan's GoPro and selfie stick (which Hima so coveted since their Bali meetup in April 2014). Upon arriving at Batu Caves, we were met by Roslan and I called Haiza to let her know we were already there (FYI Haiza lives near Batu Caves but had never visited it until today). In the end, there were a lot of us who attempted climbing the few hundred steps to the caves, some turned back because of the heat (and ended up enjoying cool refreshments while we got drizzled on), and eventually we all got together at the restaurant.large_1840343_14174009633907.jpgwaiting in line at Pelita's Nolan, Vanessa, Anne, Rhea, Jantima, Masayo and HayleyAfter parting with some who had to go ahead (like Soon Thiam, Walter, etc.), we decided to eat at Pelita's which was the meeting point for the night.

Along the way Yanti was able to recuit Neua (neuapanchareon) into TravBuddy, and he joined us from the train station all the way till Pelita's.

While at Pelita's the group decided to split into two, as those who were there the night before didn't want another round of Nasi Kandar. So about a dozen of them (Jon, Hali, Kanak, Darren, etc.) went over to Malone's for dinner before planning to go to Skybar at Traders' Hotel. The others (including myself) decided to stay over at Pelita's for dinner. And just as we were about to walk over to Sky Bar, it started raining. Not just rain, but rain really hard - as a result, the dozen Malone's people were stuck over at their place - good thing we were able to reach Traders Hotel and were not drenched as much.large_1840343_14174009626605.jpgPelita'sIn the end, we checked out a few tables at the far end of the place, but when Jon and the others couldn't make it, we decided to ask that we use his reservation for one table. There were close to 20 of us in Sky Bar, and we eventually waited out the rain until it was time to move on to Healey Mac.

At Healy Mac we met even more folks including Jamal, Gwen, Joanna, and the others who followed (Mira, Syed, Laiza, etc.). The ones who were tired did not continue anymore, as some of us had to start early in the morning for our trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka. And these people couldn't party enough! Way past 1AM Kanak was rounding up people to go to the Bangsar area for dancing - we tried to follow them (thanks to Soon Thiam who drove us around), but in the end, decided that it was too much of the crowd and rain so we (including Maya) just dropped off Laiza at her place and then Soon Thiam brought us back to Hotel Sentral.large_1840343_14174009688672.jpgmore elevator selfies - from left to right: Nolan, Neua, Yanti, Haiza, Jantima, Hayley, Anna, Rhea, Nisa, Cathy, Anne and Masayo

What a long day, and it even went into the wee hours of the morning for the people at Best Western, who partied until they ran out of liquor :P

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Planning, driving interest, and making the Huge Kuala Lumpur


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & The Huge Kuala Lumpur Meetup, November 2014 & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14177634694805.jpgMy invitation to the TravBuddies to join us for the KL meetup - posted November 26, 2013Let's see now...rewind to November 26, 2013. Almost a full year ahead of the event we were planning. That was the day that Rhea (rheagirl), Anne (super_otap) and I booked roundtrip tickets to Kuala Lumpur during a seat sale of AirAsia. The onward destination? Sri Lanka. So far only the three of us were sure to go...and then as we were booking our flights separately, Anne ran into trouble with her credit card. Apparently the site doesn't like locally issued cards from time to time. So Anne ended up with only a MNLKULMNL ticket while Rhea and I got to go all the way to Colombo (CMB) from KUL and back...and with a stopover in Male, Maldives to boot (which eventually got canceled because AirAsiaX dropped the route in January).

So out of excitement I put up the meetup ID and discussion page on Facebook.large_1840343_14177634691711.jpgWell sometimes some people can't plan one year in advance...not a problem with me.I invited my closest Malaysian TravBuddy friends first - Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee), Yanti (Aurora78) and Hayley (Hayley_phoon). Vanessa was receptive to the idea of a meetup but couldn't commit one year ahead - she had lots of travels already lined up. Same with Hayley and Yanti...it seems the locals are usually the last to confirm their attendance to meetups in their home country in many instances. And we even had skeptics...someone even said that "I belive no one can fixed this up right now, may scenario chnages at the time of meeting". (typed with all the typos and all)

Hahahaha - he doesn't know who I am and what I can do with meetups. :P

Having come from a successful meetup with a group of almost 30 during the first group meetup I organized in the Philippines, my next challenge was to mount a meetup abroad.large_1840343_14176811745960.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - details pageThanks to Jamal (Jamal1280) and Sisca (siscalustiawati) for being the inspiration on this one (they organized the hugely successful Bangkok 2013 and Bali 2014 meetups, respectively). But I couldn't do the meetup on my own - for one, I was arriving with only a few hours to spare in KL before we flew off to Sri Lanka, and second, I haven't been to KL in more than 13 years! So I enlist my good friend and O/C organizer Jon (northlight) and try to convince him to join the KL meetup. Ever the skeptic, Jon questioned why I had to book flights to Sri Lanka during the rainy season (because the fares were cheap :p) and eventually Jon booked his flights a couple of months after we did (third week of February). And then Masayo (masayo) was onboard (February 21st).large_1840343_14176811733373.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - top of Confirmed and Maybes listing. 36 and 37, respectively. We got over 40 attendees over two days, quite good for a response rate.Now we are ready to take more iconic "Beatles" photos of ourselves (Jon, Rhea, Masayo and Nolan in that seating order) at hotel lobbies, in remembrance of our first meetup photo at Salil Hotel in Bangkok.

Once the four of us confirmed for Sri Lanka, we went about our business of creating a chatroom on WhatsApp - initally for Sri Lanka, and then I created a bigger one for the KL meetup in August. Now the fun was inviting others to join us in Kuala Lumpur plus travel with us to Sri Lanka for six days. And then I turned over the lead organizer roles to Jon since he loves working out the logistics and venues for the meetup. The division of labor had been set - Jon plans the events, while I take care of inviting as many TravBuddies as I can :D

In the ensuing months, Soon Thiam (soonthiam) came onboard.large_1840343_14176811738281.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - Confirmed listingDefinitely one of the best people to have while planning activities in Kuala Lumpur, Soon Thiam can cover most aspects including finding a venue, and even driving the foreign visitors to and from their hotels (our eternal gratitude to Soon Thiam for that). Soon Thiam also announced that KLIA 2 would be opening in May 2014 - which was a big jump in terms of convenience from the old LCCT (low cost carrier terminal) as it was only 33 minutes via the KLIA Expres train from KLIA 2 to KL Sentral - wow, that made it way easier to rush to the venues since we were to be the last to fly in on Saturday, November 22nd.

And then Jantima (TravChef) and Walter (WalterC) started expressing their interest in joining on May 1st. Of course, if Jantima is in, people will follow - especially Darren (DAZMAN50) who made it a condition for him to go, and Greg (greg1976) for obvious reasons ;) - although Greg initially had issues working out his schedule, he moved heaven and earth to join us and Jantima on this trip.large_1840343_14176811744665.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - Confirmed listing continuedNow where Jantima goes, Hayley also goes...so Hayley was planning to be there as well. And then Yanti says she will be around, so good as confirmed. By then we had 10 confirmed for the meetup, including Nisa (lisa_hn) who had confirmed for the meetup a few days after she had signed up with TravBuddy in April 2014.

Now Marie (mynthe) from Singapore gets interested, which goes on until we would get confirmation no. 15. When that would happen, Jon and I would declare the meetup a HUGE one, and jokingly said that the other (well it should really be Jon), buy no. 15 a drink (and we were hoping that would be Marie). And so the teasing goes on from one TB to another, and goes a step further when I created the KL planning chatroom in WhatsApp on August 20th.large_1840343_14176811733743.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - Confirmed listing continuedAll during the planning Jenny (trippin_jen) was contributing to the discussion and teasing although she was non-committal till the end due to her business trips (she did have one to Hanoi around the time of the meetup so she wasn't able to join). Suggestions for venues came from Gwen (jesa145) and Yanti now took charge of finding the venues in addition to what Jon was planning (you know Jon, he plans for drinks at bars but never dinner :P). Finally no. 15 is confirmed - Roslan (stupidguy) who says he's joining but only for the Batu caves portion of the meetup since he volunteers for a noble cause on evenings at the home for the elderly. Too bad, Roslan - Jon would have bought you a drink if you showed up during the evenings :D but it was great to see you on Saturday afternoon.large_1840343_14176811748528.jpgTravBuddy Meetup Page - Confirmed listing continued

Now because we invited so many people, at one time we had over 30 confirmed and over 40 maybes. That was creating headaches for Jon with regards to logistics - he only could reserve 7 seats at SkyBar for 8PM on Saturday. I couldn't care less - I enjoyed inviting more people! So I go through my friend list as well as the "find a TravBuddy" feature and message all those I could get my hands on for the KL meetup :D

When Hali and Kanak confirmed attendance, we were blessed with another organizing expert (Hali) so she took care of the Sri Lanka portion of our trip. The thing with globetrotters (as Jon would call them) is that you have to catch them before they are off on their next trip! So before Hali left for Nepal in October we would have most of the details down and sorted out so it was more of the little stuff that we had to plan for.large_1840343_14177634694485.jpgtracking Jon using the PC version of FlightAware (similar to FlightRadar24) - he was flying into KUL from CMB

Countdown to the meetup - Jon and I usually track others' flights using FlightRadar24 (see my Bangkok blog for a short background on this). So people were being tracked as they flew out of their home countries and as they were flying into Kuala Lumpur. We had over 15 foreign based attendees and so far the 10 of us who were moving on to Sri Lanka the following day were on schedule, despite underestimating the huge vastness of the KLIA 2 terminal which adds more time to getting out of the plane and into the KLIA Expres train.

Attached are photos of the list of attendees (confirmed and maybe) and in a succeeding entry I have the list of those who showed up on both days of the meetup.

I had so much fun planning this and keeping track of chats and flights coming in that because of my excitement, I wasn't able to sleep the whole night before my flight on the 22nd.large_1840343_14176816526213.jpg Once I get hold of more group photos I will continue to update this blog.

Till the next huge meetup!

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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