Day 4: Sepang prangs

So to, for those of you who hadn’t guessed (!), the real reason my final flight change on the way to Beijing is in KL rather than Hong Kong (or even flying straight there from Dubai). Well when in Rome, sorry, I mean a several hundred mile radius of an F1 race…

Welcome to Sepang!

I’d say the car park is a bit more Brands Hatch than Silverstone!!

Moseying around in the F1 village:

Vettel and Webber rounding the final hairpin to finish the first lap in P1 and P2:

As, indeed, the race finished.

Vettel still in the lead on lap 9, as the prone Virgin of Timo Glock is towed away:

One M Schumacher, limping past me at north-circular-rush-hour-commuter-speed on lap ten, about 15 metres before stopping for good (apparently a rear suspension / drive problem):

And being driven away on the back of a motorbike, waving to the crowds:

Vettel still out front:

Lewis Hamilton speeding by:

He started 20th, owing to a bad tyre choice in incredibly wet qualifying yesterday, but finished 6th. Good drive, fella!

Seb Vettel taking his lap of honour:

Nico Rosberg taking the crowd and marshals’ cheers for finishing third:

A good finish for him, particularly given he roundly beat Schumacher again.

Alguersuari, Buemi, Hulkenberg, Trulli and F1-folk-hero-Karun-Chandhok all making it to the flag:

Well done, lads. I still maintain Hulkenberg is one hell of a one to watch, and Chandhok is just doing an amazing job given the practice time he’s had in that car. With a smile on his face, too!

Ending on someone who really should have listened when he was told that duffel coats were too hot for Malaysia!!

Thass all, folks. Off to board a plane for Beijing now. Let’s see how much of the internet I’m allowed on from then on in. If not, this might have to switch to after-the-event updating…

Day 3: Muddy Convergence

In case, dear reader, you don’t read every Lonely Planet guide, Kuala Lumpur means ‘muddy convergence’ in Malaysian. I’ve smelt the two converging rivers, the Klang and the Gombak, and they’re smell not only of mud but sulphur and putrefying fish. Mmmm.

For all that Dubai was a multicultural place, it was very segregated between the Finance and traditional districts. Kuala Lumpur is truly integrated, with shacks next to old Colonial-style grand architecture, next to gleaming modern skyscrapers. Then add in a monorail, and it looks a wee bit like The Jetsons:

You have to get up pretty early, and brave the dazzling early sunlight, to head to the Petronas Towers to queue for a ticket for the skybridge visit.

It’s a long way up from the bottom, and even further from just halfway up (the skybridge is the 41st and 42nd floors):

Batu Caves are about 10 miles north-west of KL, on a crazy local bus. Once you’ve climbed the 272 steps, you’re inside a cool, damp cave with lots of Hindu temples and hilarious monkeys!

Odd Malaysian monkey God, with 1980s Kevin Keegan wet-look perm:

Finally, in honour of the Formula 1 tomorrow, here’s Malaysian Stig skulking around at the bottom of the Petronas towers looking for petrol to ingest:


Day 1: Disneyland on acid

Hello from Dubai: a surreal world of bright, bright lights and strange, strange shapes.

A place where you will find the tallest building in the world (the Burj Al Khalifa)…

Burj Al Khalifa, Dubai

… where shopping centres contain fountains, aquariums & theme parks, plus ice rinks and ski slopes WITH REAL SNOW (yes, it snows inside the shopping centre). And ladies in burkas go snowboarding!

Indoor ski slope, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

A place of crazy man-made islands with hotels that are a cross between the Ferrero Rocher ambassador’s gaff, and that of Karl Stromberg in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.
That hotel – the Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah – has a house speciality cocktail called ‘Ambassador Lagoon’, which matched their piano bar’s aquamarine walls, and was pretty much bang on the thematic money.

Atlantis Hotel, Dubai

I’ll add more photos when I get a better wi-fi connection (Dubai International Airport’s, somewhat implausibly, is borderline useless). Until then, here’s a man dressed as a horse skulking around in a consumer electronics shop. No, I don’t know either!

I’m off to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur (singing the b3ta badger song over and over again!), so see you on the other side.

The Big Trip is booked…watch this space!

I sneaked a longer lunch and went to pay off the balance of what, from here on in, will be known as The Big Trip. SO excited!
For those who don’t know, I’ve been in my job just over ten years, and so I get a month’s paid (!) sabbatical as a loyalty bonus. Given a few Bank Holidays and some annual leave, I’ve got that up to six weeks.
So, I leave for DubaiMalaysiaChinaTibetNepalBhutanIndia on 31st March straight from work. I expect the highlights to be Tibet (pretty much all of it), Everest Base Camp, the Formula 1 at Sepang (Kuala Lumpur) on Easter Sunday, all of Bhutan, the Taj Mahal….okay, I’ll shut up now!