Aug 24, 2009

Where I Stayed in KL (1) - Kondominium with Superb View of KL Skyline

My zest for historical and urban adventure finally took me beyond the shores of Singapore. Unlike typical backpackers, I travelled alone because my decidedly weird interest and orientation (yg commented I'm young but think old) made it hard to find a partner in crime. So from January 2009, I have designed, planned and executed a couple of 'missions' to Malaysia (Malaysia because you go regional first before you go international right?). These were shoestring missions because Second Shot's modus operandi for missions is - cheap transport, cheap room, cheap food. No money, no honey. No Hyatts or Hiltons.

(Cheap here has no negative connotation and simply means the subject is affordable to the author who derives pleasure from it, i.e. most bang for the buck. I mean sensory, intellectual and spiritual pleasure. Not physical banging carnal pleasure.)

This August, I gave NDP a miss and was in Kuala Lumpur (KL) during the long weekend. I was spared missed the pledge at 8:22pm and the chance to showcase my solidarity and unity with other Singaporeans. How unfortunate fortunate because I was enjoying my dinner and the free wireless with my paperweight in a quiet cafe at one of KL's largest shopping malls. In fact, I was having an email conversation with Peter when the pledge was read. Records show I replied his email at 8:24pm.

Back to cheap room. What can you get for RM45 a night? I got this:

Night View from KL Retreat

Absolutely mesmerizing. KL city skyline glowing in the distance and nice suburb houses littered along a brightly lit but unbusy road. Away from congestion and pollution, the din and fast-moving lifestyle of city dwellers, I began to savour KL the city from my open window in the suburb. Alone in the room and lost in thoughts, I didn't even notice the soft country breeze blowing gently. For that fleeting moment, I wished I had a Chardonnay.

(In the picture, the bright phallus-like object is the famed Petronas Tower. Look for the horizontal lightstick object near the top left edge, that's their MRT Station.)

Day and night, the view is stunning. So this is KL to me:

Day and Night View from KL Retreat

(From top to bottom, pictures taken (on three different days) at 7:02am, 7:18am, 8:17am and 10:44pm respectively. I have taken up Victor's challenge with a fourth shot.)

That moment in the room was indeed fleeting. The caretaker came back shortly after.

Huh .... an intruder in my room?! No lah, he was really the caretaker and I was actually in the living room of the condominium unit. I arrived at around 10:40pm on my first night in KL. While he was off retrieving my room keys, I took a shot of the KL city skyline.

So back to our original question. What can you get for RM45 a night? You won't find the answer (read: photo) in their website. Only the more glamorous packages are advertised. Obviously mine was not. I got this:

Single Room at KL Retreat

You won't see the aircon because there was none. You won't see the fan because even though it was there, I think it is 'unglam' to include it - a standing fan - in the composition.

(The RM45 package includes body and face towels and unlimited use of a shared bathroom. The room is spartan, with only a bed and wardrobe. The window is hidden by the nice flowery curtain and protected by mosquito mesh. This single room faces the common corridor and the lift.)

Welcome to Gurney Heights Kondominium!

Sunrise at KL Retreat

(I have omitted the name of the 'guesthouse' because they never paid me to be their reviewer and for the free advertising. I take this to mean I can write good and bad things about the place. Enjoy the photos - above is silhouette of the kondominium at sunrise.)

When I think 'condominium', the swimming pool immediately comes to mind. Here is the pool in Gurney Heights:

KL Retreat and Pool

Excellent! This can rival even yg's famous photo of Kallang River Walk that was much admired by Chun See.

(You know, a still pond pool is indication of a non-working pump which means water is not continuously filtered. Apparently the swimming pool had been 'under maintenance' for some time.)

Next comes the facilities. No, I don't think I skipped the sauna and I can't imagine how the gym will look like if there is one.

Facilities at Gurney Heights
From left to right,
1. Colorful playground in a 'drabby' condominium.
2. Business Center. Opens daily from 12pm to 12am. Internet at RM3 for 30 minutes.
3. Interior of Business Center.
4. Swimming pool from a vantage point - some landscape rocks if I remember correctly.
5. 24 hours Indian 'restoran' and mini-mart beside.

These facilities are located on the 5th floor. My unit is on the 19th floor. No babes were swimming or sun-tanning. Anyway the pool is not visible from my unit which, luckily, faces the KL skyline. Some units indeed face the pool - how depressing.

I will blog about this Indian restaurant in future. Shiok, so you hear only positive comments.

You may want to give the facilities a miss, but you can't ignore the lift/ground lobby and the guardhouse/gate that you walk past everyday:

Gurney Heights Kondominium
Clockwise from top left,
1. Lift lobby. Taken at 5th floor, where there is access to the open area with the facilities. This explains the reflected sunlight on the lift door. My most vivid memory of the 19th floor lift lobby - it was almost pitch dark one night when I got back.
2. Ground lobby.
3 and 4. Guardhouse at main gate.

The world outside holds more attraction so how conveniently located is the condo to the nearest public transport?

For starters, the condo encourages pre-travelling workout because the main gate is located on top of a slope. So every morning, I do my warm-up by going 'up the hill' and when I get back at night, I do my cool-down by going 'down the slope'. It helps that the air is cooling at night.

(Look at the map below carefully. You see a main road from bottom left meeting another one from bottom right at the cross-junction where Block D (my block) is located. They are both 'Jalan Keramat'. Gurney Heights is at Jalan Bukit Keramat (emphasis mine). You get the idea.)

Map of Gurney Heights

There are two LRT Stations in the vicinity of Gurney Heights. The guesthouse website recommends Damai (bottom left). I don't recommend it. From the map, don't you think Dato Keramat Station (bottom right) is nearer to Gurney Heights? On my arrival night, I tried their recommendation and didn't like it. On exit at Damai, you actually walk back along Jalan Datuk Keramat then forward along Jalan Keramat. I don't like the idea of regressing, furthermore that stretch of Jalan Keramat has too many side roads. You don't see a single side road along Jalan Keramat to Dato Keramat Station.

What I like about Gurney Heights is its suburb location that is only three LRT stations away from KLCC/Petronas Twin Tower, which means you are not far from the 'center of action' at KL's Golden Triangle. But the best part has to be the sight along Jalan Keramat to Dato Keramat Station. A very suburb feeling that I could not experience in Singapore or even downtown KL:

Jalan Keramat
Clockwise from top left,
1. Char Koey Teow stall. I think their version of our Char Kway Teow?
2. The school near Dato Keramat Station. Together with the mosque, prominent landmarks at the fork junction and navigational sight posts to Gurney Heights. One night, I keh-kiang and chose the right (read: wrong) fork to Jalan Keramat Dalam.
3. Provision shop in a zinc-roofed building.
4. Near Dato Keramat Station. LRT viaduct in the background. A pasar across the road.
5. I think their neighborhood pasar at Dato Keramat. Condominiums in the background.
6. Bus terminal below Dato Keramat Station with RapidKL T307.

Also I rate my 'guesthouse' pretty decent in terms of cleanliness and facilities. The owner has two units on different floors and I got the one above the caretaker. The living room, with an attached balcony, is air-conditioned with TV and sofa. There is a dining table for communal meals and a fridge in the kitchen. The spacious bathroom has a powerful shower and dummy-proof water heater. Down at the caretaker's unit, there is also free internet access - you can use their desktop or just ask for the wireless password.

(I took a video of my unit. Opps, I forgot the bathroom and kitchen but hey, you can see the KL skyline from the balcony. )

For RM45, I got them all.


peter said...

The impression I get is the owner "sublets" rooms or "sublets" beds. How did you get this contact?

Victor said...

Wah Icemoon, condos getting so expensive in Sillypore that you've got to go regional to look for your ideal condo, izit?

Icemoon said...

Peter, sound like how Ah Tiongs sublet rooms to other Ah Tiongs in Singapore, haha It is a guesthouse that has a website.

Victor, you interested in the condo? 200k to 500k ringgit only! See the advert.

Victor said...

For that price, I can buy a 2-storey terrace house in JB with money left over to visit Chanaburi many times.