Malaysia 2015

Hey, everyone!

I had this great opportunity to go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last March 19-24, 2015 with some of my friends from the eSports Inquirer team. You see, my friend is the editor-in-chief for the eSports content section for Inquirer.net. I send out content to the website part-time, which consists mostly of product reviews and features of gaming peripherals. So when there was an announcement that there was going to be a big Dota 2 event to be held in Malaysia, I jumped on to it with no questions asked! The Major All Stars Dota 2 tournament is the biggest SEA tournament with a prize pool of over $100,000. Yes, eSports continues to grow and grow. I was just excited to hop on and join the team as part of the media crew and also get to tour around Kuala Lumpur as a bonus! So let me share with you some pictures and excerpts from my trip.

Day 1

I woke up super early. Couldn’t get much sleep since I was so excited for the trip. Finished packing my things and read on TripAdvisor about all the places we should visit. Pao came over and we had lunch at the house, then my dad brought us to the airport. We checked in and passed through immigration just fine. The waiting began! I bought myself a Coke. Was excited to add another stamp on my passport. I was also wearing my Dota 2 cap that was generously given by Pinoy Game Store & Dota 2 Philippines. After all, this was the point of the trip! Major All Stars, the biggest Dota 2 tournament in SEA.

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After about a 4 hour flight on Air Asia, we met up with the rest of our friends and had dinner at Quizinn by Raza. Had Daging, which is beef, and mixed it with rice topped with curry sauce and cucumber. Mixed it with this random smoothie. First meal and it was already a 7 on the spicy meter! Crazy how much Malaysia loves its spice. KLIA 2 was an awesome airport! Definitely world class.

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We were going to take a taxi and split it four ways, but we decided to take the bus as it was the cheaper alternative. Our friend’s mom set us up nicely and treated us to stay at this fancy hotel called Corus. You know it’s fancy if it has palm trees!

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Juan told us of this place across the street called Nasi Kandar Pelita, where it had all the awesome Indian food! It was already around like 12 MN before we finished settling in our stuff and went out to explore.

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This guy was making Roti & Thosai. It’s like flour that is formed into pieces. It’s pretty cheap too. It was like RM 1.20 per piece of Roti, which is around PHP 15.00. Really filling especially with the dips!

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So here is the Roti and matched with three types of curry sauce! Stuff was delicious! And we topped it down with Iced Horlicks. It was hot at the bottom but cold with ice on the top. Really hit the spot!

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They had chicken and beef and some other meats available. They were generously dipped in their spicy sauce. What’s funny is that there’s no pork in Malaysia, due to majority of their people being Muslim. It’s amazing to note that even your food is influenced by your culture.

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It was already around 2 AM when we went to visit the Petronas Twin Towers. It was amazing since Corus Hotel KL was literally just 5 minutes away from the Petronas and KLCC. Unfortunately, the lights were dimmed already, so we decided to take pictures some other day. Still, it was awesome to stroll around KLCC and look at all the bright lights and buildings. A bit more strolling before we decided to call it a night.

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Day 2

We were up bright and early at around 6 AM! The Major All Stars Dota 2 Tournament was going to have its registration from 9-10, so we wanted to be there at the earliest possible time. But before that, I just had to stop by the nearby OldTown cafe and get some of their famous coffee!

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There was a distinct taste to the coffee that I wasn’t quite sure about. Maybe it was the herbs or spices placed into the drink. It was good, but definitely something different.

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We made our way to Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam. It was actually about 45 minutes away from KLCC, so it was pretty far. We got out and we were excited to see lots of people already lining up!

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We had a sneak peek of what was inside before they let everyone in. The set-up was amazing! My only complaint would probably be the chairs, but as for the booths, players area and screens, they did a real good job! It looked positively legit. It got me real stoked! 3 Days of high caliber Dota with some of the top teams in the world will warrant that reaction.

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Our first match of the day was between Invasion and Na’Vi. Na’Vi is a European squad that is famous for winning the first iteration of The International, which had a prize pool of 1 million US dollars. Invasion was one of the two local squads representing Malaysia. It was a fun game 1, and Na’Vi took it in convincing fashion. Unfortunately, after that match, there were some technical issues and we never got to see another live game after that for Day 1. Rough start for Major All Stars.

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I tried to make the most out of it though. Even though there weren’t any live games, I went around the tents and booths. This is the Secret Shop, which sells a lot of Valve’s official Dota 2 merchandise. Things were selling like hotcakes! I regret not buying anything from here, but in all honesty, I didn’t really find anything that made me go “I have to have this.”

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GrabTaxi in Malaysia is known locally as My Teksi. Who knew this would be such a life saver for much of our trip. If you’re staying within KL, you can go via LRT and KTM, but there are some inaccessible areas that really call for a taxi here and there.

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Got my picture taken with some of the cosplayers! Bloodseeker, Templar Assassin, Windranger and Lina. Good stuff!

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I brought a black cartolina and a gold metallic pen to have some of the players sign. I also managed to get some pictures with some of them. I was extremely lucky I got a picture with this guy right here. Got his autograph too. His name is Dendi and he is arguably the most famous Dota 2 pro player there is! This picture was featured in a local Dota 2 page, and it got over 25,000 likes! I definitely felt the 15 seconds of fame. Ha! Either way, I was fortunate to get his picture. He’s been an inspiration for a lot of us. He really loves his fans, and he’s really friendly. A great example of a class act professional.

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There were food tents outside the venue, and it was amazing to see the street food! Lots of variation from your usual kwek-kwek and tempura!

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Lots of juice and refreshments as well. The colors really pop on their food and beverages, don’t you think?

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Even though there was a lot of down time, the host had a couple of games and some prizes. I found myself on stage! It was a push-up contest. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. But it was still fun to participate!

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Day 1 was fun for me and our team since we got to go around, eat, meet players, interact with the people and the different booths. But due to the technical issues, they couldn’t play any more games and they had to postpone it for the next day. Really sad, but you know, sometimes that’s just how it is. You just have to bounce back! Here’s a picture of the eSportsINQ team! What’s also funny was that after they announced that they would postpone the matches, it started raining real hard, and some of the stuff in the tents fell down. We couldn’t get a taxi, and we were swarmed by mosquitos. It was horrible! Bad vibes, so we went to the nearby mall to have dinner before calling it a night.

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KFC! We had to pull out the fast food card. Again, you can see the differences in culture and how it affects the local cuisine, even if it is regulated fast food. Can you tell me what’s missing from this meal? Clue, it’s a must have when you pair it with chicken and it rhymes with navy.

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After that meal, we were able to get a taxi to the nearest KTM station, and we rode the KTM to KL Sentral. From there, we took another taxi. Finally settled in Jalan Gurney after getting lost for a bit. We were all so tired and just decided to call it a night.

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Day 3

Again, we were up and early for Day 2 of Major All Stars. Had some breakfast at the nearby restaurant! Spicy banana chips along with Chicken rice. As usual, there was that spicy sauce mixed with some fresh cucumber. We topped it off with Teh Ice or Iced Tea.

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Gave OldTown another try and this time I got the Iced Hazelnut. Boy, was this delicious. I think I could have this drink everyday. This one was really, really good.

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We were a bit late in getting to the venue, but once we got there, it was all business! We didn’t have too much time to go around since we were covering all the games as it was adjusted on a tighter schedule. I manned the laptop and provided updates on the games on our social media accounts. The others were taking pictures, getting interviews and listing down feature stories. Day 2 went much better because we actually managed to watch a lot of fun Dota games.

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Got my picture taken with the Vanguard and Pudge mask! Awesome stuff from the booths.

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Just a random picture from the Logitech booth. They were advertising their Logitech G302 MOBA Gaming mouse, which I eventually bought because it came with a free mousepad. The offer was too good to pass up! Check out the Crystal Maiden cosplayer playing a game of 1v1!

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We ended up at around 11, and made our way back to KLCC at around 1. I was super tired from this day. Some of my friends still found the energy to go out and party. YOLO life right there. Me and Pao decided to just stay in and relax. I must be getting old.

Day 4

Another version of Chicken rice! This is what we had for brunch to kick things off for the final day of Major All Stars. I was still excited!

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We were watching all the lower bracket games, and it had some fun filled moments and jaw dropping plays, but nothing drew the crowd quite like this autograph signing session from the Na’Vi squad. People were lining up and the queue reached all the way outside. Amazing to see this kind of reaction from the crowd.

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One of the team members from eSportsINQ was a major Dendi fangirl. She bought the Na’Vi jacket and jersey on the first day of its release! She got to give him her gift of Dried Mangoes. She was rewarded with a selfie and a hug from Daniil! Amazing stuff. Eventually, Dendi followed her on Twitter too. Dreams do come true, eh?

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The Grand Finals was a BO3 between Chinese squad Invictus Gaming and European squad Team Empire! Empire lost to Invictus Gaming earlier in the winner bracket finals, and they climbed their way back to face them again in the grand finals. They must have been under fatigue from playing lots of games as iG beat them 2-0 in convincing fashion. Invictus Gaming are your Major All Stars Dota 2 Grand Champions! It was a sight to see ChuaN, one of the iG players who hails from Malaysia, hoist up the trophy as everyone is taking pictures and celebrating with them.

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Here is iG with the champagne shower at the afterparty! The afterparty was at the Best Western Hotel in i-City, and it was pretty fancy! We had a nice view from above, and we were able to mingle with the players, casters and other fans and spectators. It was nice to just chill, eat some food, have some beer and enjoy. We managed to get a few more pictures and autographs before calling it a night.

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Job well done to the eSportsINQ team! Lots of learning experience for the next LAN event. Also, hats off to Fallout Gaming for bouncing back from a horrible day 1 to finish out day 2 and day 3 of MAS in stunning fashion. Major All Stars Season 1 was far from perfect, but it showed promise and makes me excited even more for season 2. Congratulations to all the organizers, players, casters, sponsors and contributors. Bigger things to come!

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Day 5

Well, the Major All Stars Tournament was an over-all success! I was glad to be a part of that experience for sure. But it was our last full day in Malaysia, and I wanted to be on full blast tourist mode. So we got our things from the apartment, checked back in to Corus Hotel and set out to explore. First things first, we had to try the national breakfast staple in Malaysia, Nasi Lemak. Rice, softboiled egg, cucumber, peanuts, a spicy sauce and dilis. Pretty unique in taste, and it was good. Something different.

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We rode the LRT and took the KTM to our first stop, the Batu Caves. I was glad that it was pretty accessible from KL Sentral. Transportation here in Malaysia is very convenient with all the interconnecting trains.

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What a beautiful sight. The Batu Caves are known for their tedious uphill climb of about 250+ steps to get to the actual entrance. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad actually as the incline wasn’t that steep where it would be too tiring. The giant golden Buddha paired with the colorful decorations made for a great viewing experience even from the bottom.

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We tried to count the exact number of steps but stopped after a while to catch up to our heavy breathing. It’s amazing as this was a Monday morning and there were so many people.

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Once you successfully reach the top, this is the cave. It was huge! But there’s another exit and a few more steps that leads into another section.

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I’m more of a waterfalls kind of guy, but I admit that this was still a pretty gorgeous sight to behold.

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This is the kind of stuff you only see in the movies. Simply jaw dropping. I was glad that we made that climb.

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Once you reach the top, you can rest there a bit and take some pictures with the monkeys. But be careful though, they are known to be very mischievous and can steal your food or little items. Personally, when we went there, nothing happened to us, but that was probably because we didn’t have any food or snacks on hand. Check out this picture of this monkey feasting on a coconut while breastfeeding her infant. Cool stuff.

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Juan, Dreb and I took a selfie with one of the monkeys. Just part of the gang! I love the expression on the monkey’s face. His face screams “what did I do to deserve this?” and it’s just too damn funny!

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After making our way down, we had some snacks in an Indian restaurant. I had Thosai, which still has the same ingredients as Roti, but it’s made differently and has a kind of crispy and smooth texture, so it tastes different too. Paired it with their coconut and curry sauces and topped it off with Mango Lassi, which is a mixture of a smoothie and yoghurt. Delicious stuff!

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After having snacks and waiting on the rain to stop, we rode the KTM and LRT back to another station. Our next destination was Central Market. We had to walk quite a bit but it was enjoyable as the skywalks in Malaysia treated us to some nice views of the city landscape.

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Looking like I own the place! Central Market in Pasar Seni is one of the most famous spots in Malaysia for shopping, particularly known for having a little bit of everything from chocolate, clothes, luxury items and souvenirs. Personally, the three of us being guys, we didn’t really stay too long. We bought some chocolate and went on. But for moms, daughters, sisters and ladies in general, you could probably spend a lot of time and money here!

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There’s lots of trinkets, clothes and souvenirs inside. There’s also a food court on the second floor, so if you’re hungry you can eat here as well.

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Just right next to Central Market is Kasturi Walk, which is more of an outdoor shopping area.

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We had to stop by and try this place! Reminded me of our barbeque here in the Philippines, but they certainly had their own twist to it. Ayam is Chicken and Daging is Beef. Kambing is Goat. I forgot what Perut is. Ketupat is their hanging rice or puso. But instead of wrapping it in leaves, it is wrapped in plastic. But it’s amazing to note that it still keeps that diamond shape. I just thought it was pretty interesting!

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We also ended up in Petaling Street or Chinatown! Lots of Chinese inspired decor, but inside it’s more like Divisoria. Lots of food though.

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Lots of fakes and copies of shoes, cellphones, bags, clothes and what have you. Did not buy anything here, just strolled around and enjoyed the sights and scenery.

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We walked from Chinatown and made our way down to the area of Merdeka Square! It’s kind of like a park and open field with lots of Muslim inspired buildings nearby. Really great architecture, and it’s amazing to see how it blends in with the modern buildings so well.

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Here is Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square. It’d be really nice to just sit down, enjoy the view and go people watching. Unfortunately, we were on a hectic schedule given that this was our only day on turista mode. Still, we made the most out of it!

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Right next to Merdeka Square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Equally as impressive!

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We went back to the hotel to rest up for a bit and freshen up as we had a dinner appointment with one of our friend’s godfathers. We headed to Suria Mall in KLCC. This huge mall is just right next to the Petronas Twin Towers. Just amazing with how it lights up! Really the defining building in Kuala Lumpur.

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The mall was huge and we got to go strolling for a bit. There was also a Petronas F1 event in the main hall.

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Juan’s godfather treated us to dinner at Nando’s. The chicken and side dishes were really good! Free food is always a plus, don’t you think?

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I missed my chance on Day 1 to get a photo of the ever popular Petronas Twin Towers. But on our last night, I finally got the opportunity to get a photo op with this magnificent architectural piece. Really, the way that it lights up draws all the attention to it. It really is the centerpiece of Kuala Lumpur and is a must visit.

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Outside one of the side entrances in Suria, there is a water and lights show every evening. It was about 15 minutes, and it was orchestrated real well. Everything was timed with the music, and that backdrop of the Kuala Lumpur city line was just amazing! I daresay that this is better than the Symphony of Lights show in Hong Kong! Maybe I’m biased with the water formations, who knows. This is also one of the must visits in KLCC. This should be rated higher up on TripAdvisor for sure!

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We walked across several connecting skywalks for what seemed like an hour before we got to Bukit Bintang. Bukit Bintang is kind of like the nightlife area in Kuala Lumpur and it has a lot of restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping malls and districts. This is the Pavilion Mall with their famous red flower fountain.

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After walking around Bukit Bintang, we finally made our way to Jalan Alor. If you’re hungry and you want to go on a food trip, Jalan Alor is definitely the place you have to go to. It’s a night food market that has stalls for days! You can just pick food from certain spots, have your fill and move forward. Really a dream place for the foodies out there as it has all kinds of food that you would want to try in Malaysia.

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We were still pretty full from that dinner in Nando’s, so we just picked a random restaurant and had some beers and chickent satay sticks.  I had a bottle of Guinness, and it was pretty good, but also pretty dark and bitter! Just taking in the scenery here in Jalan Alor was worth the one hour walk. I just wished I was a bit more hungry so I could have tried more stuff. Maybe next time!

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I was too full to try anything else after the beer, but we had this Turkish Ice Cream before we left. It’s 10 times as delicious as our dirty ice cream, and is a must try! It’s also funny because the guy serves you ice cream using a stick as the serving spoon, and he has several tricks and antics before he hands it to you. A bit of a performance, but definitely added to the experience!

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We took a taxi back to the hotel. I got to see the Petronas Twin Towers one last time. My jaw still drops as to how beautiful this piece of architecture is. Great way to end the evening!

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Day 6

Packed up my stuff, checked out of the hotel and we made our way to KLIA 2 via the airport express. I was a bit sad that I wasn’t able to buy packets of powdered coffee from OldTown, but hey, maybe it’s meant for next time! We arrived at KLIA 2 and checked in for our flight back to Cebu.

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Had an in-flight meal of Chicken Rice, peanuts and Fanta. The Chicken Rice wasn’t as good as what we had served locally in one of the restaurants, but hey, who’s complaining. The flight back was pretty smooth and it went by quick.

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We arrived early in the afternoon, my dad got us and we made our way home. Unpacked all my things and just rested for a bit. Work the next day, tons of e-mails and lots of eventual stressors, but it was all worth it for this trip. Lots of things checked off the bucketlist, and the wanderlust was temporarily fulfilled. Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia was a great experience, and I am ever so grateful to have wandered into it. I wouldn’t mind going back for a second time.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Definitely was a bit costly, but it was all worth it. Investing your time and money into experiences and travels rather than things. More adventures to come!

Until next time,

Cheers!

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6 thoughts on “Malaysia 2015

  1. Will keep this in mind–traveling with friends this July (but not for a Dota tournament) hehe thanks!

    1. Thanks, Rach! Skip Day 1-4 and go straight to Day 5 for some pictures and insights. There are lots of places we didn’t get to go to, but a lot of them are outside the city!

      Genting Highlands
      Lankawi
      Malaka
      Kota Kinabalu
      Legoland

      But if you’re planning to stay inside Kuala Lumpur, I think you can do everything in two days. Cheers! :)

    1. My friend said it looked run down! But that was back in 2011-2012, so hopefully they improved the place. It’s about 3-4 hours from KL, I think. It’s closer coming from SG! :)

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