Things look up; we look down

View from Petronas Towers.

Having sick kids is never fun. Having sick kids while travelling is even less fun than that.

By the time early evening rolled around yesterday Callum was burning up with fever and vomiting. An hour later Declan joined him, lying on his bed and moaning piteously that his head hurt. I started having flash-backs to the nightmare of altitude-sickness in Peru (which, upon re-reading the blog entry, I realised I rather underplayed at the time – partly so as to not worry those back home and partly because we felt pretty stupid having put the kids in that situation) and began considering options for calling doctors in a strange city.

The night passed poorly with several cries for help. Declan managed to go through a whole cycle of conversation, drinks, illness in the dark-hours while apparently still asleep as he remembers not a thing. Callum awoke at 3am and was literally burning up with fever. I had resigned myself to a poor night followed by a day trapped in the apartment.

Playing with virtual frills.

But the new day dawned with everything changed. We got up to both boys saying they were feeling better and their fevers having disappeared. They are obviously still a little fragile but basically they are OK again. And that put us back on track with our plan for the day.

Getting up the Petronas Towers is notoriously difficult. The queues for tickets are ridiculous and they sell out quickly. We tried to get tickets on our first day and baulked when we saw well over 100 people in the queue in front of us and a screen showing all slots sold out well into the next day. There’s no option to buy online.

As we were passing the next day we went to have another look later in the day. There was no queue but everything was sold out for that day and the next – sorry, they said, there was nothing to be done. Luckily though we’d done a bit of research the night before so thought to ask, somewhat forcefully, if we could buy tickets further in advance. Oh yes, of course it is possible to buy up to a year in advance. They just don’t tell anybody that! So we had tickets booked for 10am this morning.

Pool with a view.

The visit up Petronas Towers is a high-tech delight. The safety briefing is conducted via images projected onto a screen made of smoke that billows as you move around it. It’s cool enough that an otherwise silly briefing was watched carefully by everyone there. Then you enter the lift which whisks you with amazing speed up what was once the tallest building in the World. As the lifts are on the inside of the building their walls are covered with large screens showing the view you would be experiencing if the lifts were on the outside of the building.

From the 86th floor the view over KL is impressive. Of course the Towers suffer from the same problem as most such buildings – you are standing in the thing that is the most iconic structure in the City, and so you cannot see it. It really is a great view though and the tower itself is futuristic perfection. Unfortunately, KL doesn’t have a lot else to see so while the view is pretty there isn’t a lot to gawp at. In recognition of that fact there are several displays dotted around the observation deck – one a 3D affair and some others using augmented reality from your ticket stubs. All quite cool but not quite worth the money or effort involved.

The second part of the tour involves going down to the sky-bridge that joins the two towers together – which as the guidebooks never tire of telling you is the same one ‘made famous’ by Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment. Twenty minutes at this lower altitude added nothing to our view of KL but it is clearly an important part of the experience for the tour organisers.

If we’d actually queued for a couple of hours to get the tickets I think we’d have been feeling a bit aggrieved. As it was we all came away sort of pleased to have seen the view, but of the opinion that it’s not even slightly worth the money. The high-tech frills are just frills and the basic view is great but not unique. The building is not even close to being the tallest in the world any more.

And the not-a-million-miles-dissimilar view from our hotel swimming pool has the distinct advantage of being from a swimming pool!

For those who might come after: go to buy tickets later in the day so there wont be queues and then buy for a couple of days away. You may well need to push the issue that you want to buy more than a day in advance as they don’t offer that up at all.

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