Thursday, April 9, 2009

Backpack Accommodation in KL part 3 – Hotel Hibiscus City

A busker at the festive Bukit Bintang.

Kuala Lumpur is notorious for some of the worst accommodations for the scrimping backpacker. Compared to its neighbors from the Indochina route, KL’s budget lounges and guesthouses are gag reflex-stimulating and cringe-inducing. Consider this. From my last entry into KL, and having just arrived from a paranoid India, I decided to try out a new place along Jalan Pudu (where Puduraya Bus Station is). The rows of buildings just across the station are a smattering of guesthouses. I went up to check out a room from one of these guesthouses. 

As I turned the knob to open the door, what greeted me was a dim room with a musty smell. Hmm… Sheets looked clean, but then you can never be sure when there’s not enough illumination. Fan was working. I just wanted to steal a few winks so I can rest up and recharge. I badly needed some sleep. I sat at the corner of the bed and my gaze was transfixed at the pillow. Hunched down, pupils accommodated, then I jumped from my seat. I saw what could be the biggest booger-sized bug roaming, crawling away on the pillow. And I haven’t even checked out what’s under the sheets. This was about 10 millimeter big! Friggin! Gathered my bag and hastily returned the room keys at the check-in counter. Definitely, no thanks!

Nearby, I saw
Hotel Hibiscus City with an addendum written under – a budget hotel”! Photos on tarpaulin were promising. Through its elevator, I made my way into the 3rd floor hotel lobby. I think I have inquired here before last year, but there was no vacancy. Luckily, this time I got lucky! I like this place coz it is just across Puduraya, and there’s a metro (monorail) at the back of the same station. Bukit Bintang is just 200 meters away. Beside its entrance, is a 24-hour restaurant – the Maulana Food Court. Quite convenient for those with several out-of-the city itineraries. If you are into walking like myself, Petaling Street (KL’s Chinatown) and the Central Market are all within walking distance. Restaurants, Watson’s, mini-malls are within the vicinity. Even the Main Post Office is just at the back of the Central Market!

Once again, the only available room was a double bed. AC room, with draw curtains, very clean/new glazed tiles, 2 medium sized beds with very clean sheets – and the absence of creepy crawlies! Did I say that a
KFC is nearby?

My room at the Hotel Hibiscus. Two beds all mine and a new AC!

What’s the catch? There is no attached bathroom within their rooms, which is quite tricky. I love my bathrooms – clean dry ones without leaky faucets ! But hey, why don’t I check out the common bathrooms. They can't be that bad, can they? There were about 8 of them for anyone to use – small sized shower-cum-toilets with sliding fold-doors. At any given time, there are several unoccupied bathrooms, that's for sure! My only complaint is – I found it hard to flush any of these dump-seats! I had to manually hold a cut hose towards the inodoro (bowl) and wait for 3-5 minutes before every debris cleared out! Ewwww! – as my 6 year old Paulinian niece would say! But I was really really tired! So after clearing my bowels and freshening up, I went into a very relaxing sleep that made me lose a good part of daylight! The bed was very comfortable, and AC was new and working overtime! I pulled the curtain string to open and I had a magnificent view of the east-bound Pudu Street. Except for the dodgy toilet, this was a great place!

How much? A very affordable
60 malaysian ringgit ($16.60 or PhP798)! Beside the counter is a common room with sofas and 2 units of desk top computers for your online needs at 1 ringgit an hour ($0.28). The annoying thing about this is the way they collect payments, which is on a daily basis. I insisted on getting a receipt of my payment on the first day and the lady at the counter felt lazy to issue me one – which is a big no-no! Every idiot knows that if he pays, he should get a receipt to protect himself from some unscrupulous people. The very next day, I offered to pay early in the morning coz I was gonna go out of town, but this same idiotic girl said, “Later!” Meanwhile, do I wait until she found the time to accept my payment which she might actually need for her salary? Unbelievable! And it’s not as though she was busy with other customers! So – took off and went my way! Upon my arrival in the evening, guess what? They were beating on my door – asking me for my payment! Kung hindi ba naman anak ng… Morons! I mustered all my resolve not to make a scene, but I was obviously annoyed!

Except for that incident and their dodgy toilets, Hotel Hibiscus would be an acceptable place to stay for the budget conscious wanderlusts!

The usually unmanned entrance. Lobby is through an elevator at the 3rd floor.

Walking home from Bukit Bintang, I passed this side street where there's a nice view of the colorful KL Tower, 2nd tallest structure of the country after the Petronas!

Maulana Food Court, Malay gastronomic delight - and bottles worth of chili paste. This restaurant is open 24 hours, and stands beside Hotel Hibiscus City. From its corner, there is a paper vendor where you can buy your English dailies, like the Sunday Star at 1.50 ringgit ($0.40 or PhP20)!

Masjid Jamek, a majestic white mosque just a stop away from monorails' station Imbi (above and below).

Merdeka Square area at night! Notice the Hibiscus lanterns at the top of the lamp posts.

Bukit Bintang! Just cross this street (Jalan Ismael) to check out the posh Lot 10 Mall. Walk further for the bright lights of the Bintang Walk. Just further ahead is KL's biggest mall, the Pavilion!

As an afterthought, it would seem that the Hibisbus is Malaysia’s national flower. Well it is! Locally called Bunga Raya, Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis, is also common in its neighboring countries, including in the Philippines where it is called “Gumamela”. Variants of the said flower are also the official flower of the state of Hawaii and South Korea. This is the reason why this flower is honored with a park all its own at the Lake Gardens. Moreover, lanterns that illuminate the city, especially the Merdeka Square, are shaped like the hibiscus.

This is the
Eye in the Sky!

For more accommodation options, please check out these 2 posts:

More Accommodations in KL here (follow the succeeding posts here for different hotels):

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