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Pattaya Memoires 5



7. KLCC scam

Last December I took a flight from Amsterdam over Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Bangkok with Malaysia Airlines. This allowed me to make a stop-over in Kuala Lumpur. I was about to stay 4 days in Malaysia and I would only visit the capital. 4 days seemed sufficient for this. After that, I would fly to Bangkok IA and take the bus to Pattaya. I arrived on KLIA at about 7 pm local time. Unfortunately, my luggage was mistakenly shipped directly to Bangkok. I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and airport personnel assured me my suitcase would be flown over from BKK to KL ASAP, probably the next day. Useless to make a fuss about this, it won't help me anyway, so I kept my calm, although I had my doubts about the "next day" thing. I turned out to be right about that because my suitcase arrived in KL only one day before my departure to BKK. Anyway I was happy to have my stuff back as I did not exclude the possibility that I would never see my suitcase again.

After the issue with the luggage was sorted out, I took the express train to the city centre, which took about half an hour, after which a cab brought me to the Crown Princess Hotel where I had booked a room online a few days earlier. When entering the city it is impossible to take your eyes off the Petronas Twin towers. They are majestic and beautiful and impressively lit at night time. You can see them from anywhere in the city. We have all seen the pictures but the real thing is much more impressive. I took a quick shower and decided to take a walk into town before going to catch some sleep. The hotel is only a 10 minute walk from the ultimate centre of the city : KLCC or Kuala Lumpur City Centre, the complex of which the Petronas Twins are part of.

KLCC actually is quite a big complex. There are the Petronas Twin towers which house the offices of the Petronas oil company. The bottom 7 stories however are a big shopping centre. Here you find outlets of exclusive brands such as Versace, Armani, D&G etc. Pricy stuff! Next to the towers is a nice mosque. Behind the towers there is a park with a playground for children, a lake with fountains and next to that sits a big conference centre. I decided not to visit KLCC at this time, but walk through to the area between KLCC and the KL Tower.

I had read on the internet that this is a major nightlife area. I also knew that, as Malaysia is a Muslim country, there is no such nightlife as you can find in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok or in Pattaya. Still, there were a few nice bars and clubs in the shadow of the Petronas towers, so I had to check this out. The first bar I entered was the famous Hard Rock Café in Sultan Ismail. The place was packed. I ordered a beer and had to pay about € 8 for it or $12. A shitload of money for just a 33 cl glass of Carlsberg draught beer! Alcohol is extremely expensive in Malaysia. I met James, an Australian expat, in the Hard Rock Café. He had been living in KL for over a year. We talked for a while when, inevitably, the subject changed to the "girls" and "P4P" subjects, as at a certain moment we were surrounded by pretty smiling girls. "Filipinas", said James, "These girls are hookers", he explained. Man, they were really stunners. There were a lot of expats in the Hard Rock Café, and these guys are considered to be lonely and loaded, so the place was also crowded with prostitutes, mostly Filipina and Russian girls. James used to work in the Philippines and he speaks quite some Tagalog. He was quite popular with the girls as he spoke their lingo. He explained to me that the price you pay for a night of fun with these very pretty creatures cannot be compared to what you pay in Thailand. LT in KL will set you back $150 to $200. At least that is what you pay for the Asian girls, I don't know about the Russians. I was not interested in paying that much money besides I had just arrived in the city and wanted to visit a few other establishments in the neighbourhood. There are also nightlife centres in other parts of town, but I did not get to visit them. Anyway, nightlife is a bit "same same everywhere" in KL and according to James I would encounter nothing new nor special if I visited those other places. After a wonderful and very interesting night out, I went back to the hotel at around 2 am. I went alone. I wanted to get up pretty early the next day and see KL by day.

The next morning I got up at around 8, had breakfast and went back to KLCC to visit the Petronas towers. I went in to get a ticket at 10 am. Unfortunately I could not get a ticket because I was too late. You have to be early to get a ticket : all tickets for the day are gone by 9 am and every ticket states the time you have to be at KLCC to be allowed on the towers. They do not issue tickets for the next day. I had to come back the next day so I decided to visit KL tower instead but take some pictures of the Petronas Twins first. The next day I could get hold of a ticket, which by the way are free. I had to be back there at 17hrs15. Unfortunately you can only go to the skybridge on the 42nd floor. The public is not allowed to go all the way to the top floors of the towers. Also nice is the 3D-movie you get to see first which tells the concept and the story of the building of the Petronas towers.

Back to day 2. KL tower is at a 15 minute walk from KLCC. KL tower is a communication tower of about 400 meters high, thus approximately as high as the Twins. Entrance is cheap and from the top you get a spectacular view over the city and of the Petronas Twin towers. The views you get from KL tower are absolutely breathtaking. This is a must if you're in town. In the afternoon I went to Chinatown. Nothing spectacular there, it is a crowded couple of streets where copied goods are sold along with some typical Chinese stuff. KL is a lot smaller than BKK and it is also a lot cleaner. Traffic does not seem to be as hectic (yet) as in BKK. I also went around town to visit some bazaars. Great to watch the locals. KL seems to be very open and liberated. It is not unusual to see 2 gay guys holding hands in public. How's that for a Muslim country? However, speaking to a Malay national who was on business in KL for a couple of days, I learned this phenomenon is typical to KL and that I would never encounter this anywhere else in the country. The same goes for the burka. In KL only a minority of the girls/women wear one, but as soon as you get out of the capital, so said this man, religion is the only thing that counts and people live by the Koran. Outside KL there is also the so-called "Religion Police" : police who ensure that everybody follows the rules of the Koran at all times. They look for consumption of alcohol amongst villagers, check whether people who are living together are married (if not they are assumed to have an unlawful and sinful affair), sometimes they also raid houses looking for pornography. KL is very liberal and open, for a Muslim city that is, but what I heard about the rest of the country makes me frown.

As I walked around the towers, camera in hand to find a nice spot to take a shot from, I was approached by 2 women. One of them was young and pretty but she spoke almost no English. The other woman was about 40-45 I guess, she spoke English very well. They offered to take my picture with the Petronas towers in the background. I handed over my camera and a couple of pictures were made after the elder woman returned me my camera. She asked me where I was from. I replied I come from Belgium and she stated she had a cousin who wants to study in Brussels. We sat down comfortably near the fountains right in front of the Petronas towers and were talking. The conversation went on for a couple of minutes about all kinds of things until she mentioned the younger women. She told me the young girl likes me but she had to go now and she would like to meet me later. At that point all of a sudden a police car drove up, out of nowhere, right in front of where we were sitting it stopped. 3 officers get out of the car. 2 officers cuff up the 2 women and put them, without saying anything, in the back of the car. In the meantime the 3rd officer asks me to step back up against a wall.

Officer : "Are you a tourist sir?"

Me : "Yes sir."

Officer : "Are you alone?"

Me : "Yes I am sir."

Officer : "Can you identify yourself, do you have your passport on you?"

Me : "My international passport is at my hotel, but I can show you my national ID-card."

Officer : "That's ok, show me this card please."

I take my ID-card out, show it to the police officer who starts writing my credentials on a piece of paper.

Me : "What is going on, sir? Did I do something wrong?"

Officer : "No sir, you did not do anything wrong. We saw you were approached by these 2 women. We know them both. They are not Malay, they come from the Filipines. What did they ask you?"

Me : "They asked if they could help taking my picture and they asked if they could meet me again later".

Officer : "These women will try to lure you into illegal gambling, prostitution or will just try to get into your hotel room to steal your money and valuable belongings."

Prostitution? No problem for me I was thinking haha, on the contrary, as I was on my way to Thailand anyway. But in this country and under these circumstances I felt it was better to keep my mouth shut about this, especially when talking to the police.

Me : "I did not realise this … but what do you need my credentials for?"

Officer : "We have to able to show our superiors who was the victim of these women. That's all. Here's your ID back sir. Please be careful. If women approach you and talk to you in this city, they are up to no good. Please realise this at all times. Have a nice day sir, enjoy your stay in KL."

The police car drove off with the women and I did not hear anything from this incident ever again. The following days 2 more times people tried to pull this scam on me. First time was inside the KLCC shopping centre when I was sitting down writing postcards. A man came to sit right next to me and starts talking. He asks me where I am from. When I say I am from Belgium he states he has a son who wants to study there. I got up and walked away from him without saying anything more and without looking at him.

Second time was on the streets. Again 2 women, this time both young and pretty, ask me where I am from. After answering the question one of the ladies happens to have a brother who wants to study in my country. What a surprise. I tell them I have to go because I have an appointment to visit the skybridge of the Petronas Twins, which isn't even a lie. They wish me a good stay and walk on.

Kuala Lumpur is actually a very nice, clean and safe city. There are lots of things to do and see and as many Asian capitals KL is a dream destinations for shoppers. It has a limited nightlife but you can still have all the fun if you want, but only if you are willing to pay big time for booze and girls. Unfortunately it seems rather difficult to get in touch with local females. This is no doubt a religion thing. There are a couple of locations where the locals hang out, I was about to discover this as I met a Servian waiter who lived in KL for about 2 years. Unfortunately I met him on my last day in the city so there was no more time to discover. Police is everywhere, even when you don't realise it, which in my case, wasn't bad. Good destination for a couple of days off if you want to get a break from the Thai bar scene.

Have fun, you've been warned for the scam.

Stickman's thoughts:

These sorts of approaches seem to happen to Westerners all over Asia. One simply has to be careful of who they allow to get close to them in foreign countries. I make a point of lying to anyone who approaches me, as opposed to me approaching them. I always claim to be Michael from Australia and as soon as they say they or someone close to them wishes to come to my country I tell them I am not from Australia and that they should get lost. Works every time. I only do this with anyone shifty who approaches me in the sort of places I would consider such an approach unusual.