Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nikko Hotel: Fountains Everywhere

As stated in the Low Yat post, I was sent to KL this past week to meet the representatives from a European university. The occasion was one of those ubiquitous Business Opportunity Seminars cum Networking sessions, which attempt to pair foreign businesses with locals. Only one university was being represented, and my boss wanted me to explore potential collaborative opportunities.

The event was hosted by the Nikko Hotel, a Japanese-owned and run hotel that is one of the classiest in KL. My colleague and I, however, did not stay there since prices are premier also.

Meetings are meetings and not that interesting to you, casual reader, so I decided that it would be more interesting to tell you that the Nikko Hotel and some nice fountains.

Outside in the back, was a waterfall dropping into a pool, complete with wooden walk-ways, Japanese koi fish in the pool, and plenty of greenery. Falling water produces white noise that is at once both evident, but also soothing. I would rather listen to white noise, than city traffic, with is intermittent, forcing one to listen. White noise just sits politely in the background, and masks tinnitus, a ringing sensation within our ears.

Inside, the dining area included a chocolate fountain, and this was quite the hit with us diners. One is to take a wooden skewer and impale a choice of fruits before dipping into the fluid chocolate. With strawberries as one of the fruit choices, there was no reason to go with anything else. Real cream ice cream was also available.

Finally, the meat station was also quite popular. A couple of the European visitors, probably less adventurous in their eating habits, spent the bulk of their grazing energy at the meat station, with roast beef the main choice. I tried a little bit of everything that is not common in Malaysia (seven choices of cheese!), and still ate too much.


Low Yat Plaza

After a few boring, but busy weeks teaching class and marking exams and tutorials, I finally had the opportunity to escape the daily routine. My boss asked me to make a trip to KL to meet the representatives from a European university. Since I was in the market for a new camera, I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to visit Low Yat Plaza for some serious shopping.

Low Yat Plaza is the premier shopping mall for electronics in Malaysia. It is so popular that it has its own online forum for people who want to discuss the latest tech issues and electronic gadgets.

Low Yat is located near the Imbi Plaza stop on the KL Monorail system. It consists of several floors of electronics, with cameras on the bottom few floors, cell phones in the middle floors, and computers on the top floors. My colleagues, especially the computer science lecturers, all use Low Yat for their shopping needs, and we often go together on our rare visits to the capital city.

I was in the market for a new camera, and I found what I was looking for at a price a bit lower than that in my hometown (which also has limited selection). These two friendly Malay shop assistants were quite helpful, partly because I could chit-chat with them in Malay. In fact, one told me that it was "cute" hearing me, a white guy, speak Malay. I suppose the bulk of the orang putih they meet cannot use Malay and the salesmen have to use English, which isn't the most popular language in the world. (Most used by necessity, not choice.)

Whatever the case, Low Yat is the place to visit in KL if you want the largest selection of electronics, but do not expect the prices to be much lower than elsewhere. There is a myth that abounds amongst the backpacker crowd that Asia is the place for cheap electronics, but that is mostly untrue. Expect to pay about the same price. The internet has made it too easy to compare prices and order from the retailer (e.g. with the lowest prices.