It started out with a friend who bought early bird tickets to the race last year end and had commented the price was really good. We had not been to the circuit for over 6 years so I tried to plan a trip over. Surprisingly, the Le Meridien at Kuala Lumpur had a promotion package and I booked that along with tickets to the popular K1 Grandstand. Naturally it was to be a drive up.
Play forward 4 months and it was time to set off. Maps were no longer free so it was with Google maps we did our homework on driving in.
The 4 hour drive up was uneventful. I satisfied my Malaysia KFC crave during lunch and the chicken was still as tender. When closing to KL city, it was time to look at hardcopy maps which was tough. I tried to use my smartphone HTC Maps which failed miserably as it reported requiring a data connection which costs RM20 per MB that was a no go. Additional help came in the form of Nokia Maps, something I pre-loaded on my old phone and it worked fine too. With it, we zoomed into the right road to head to our hotel which had a another surprise. We circled 2 rounds and still could not get “in”. Help came again from a friendly Malaysian who in the end guided us in his Proton Saga to the hotel.After check-in to our 29th floor room, we took the plunge to try the Commuter train to Midvalley since KL Sentral Station is right next to the hotel. The train looked like a fusion of the Netherlands’s NL train and Singapore’s MRT and crowded. The frequency was at least 20 minutes so much so that we forfeited our return fee and took a taxi back. Which the ride was in short bad since we detoured like 3 roundabouts before reaching our hotel.
A good discovery was across the station were some streets with plenty of local delights. After breakfast in Oldtown Coffee, we had a second breakfast of pratas made the way we imagined the best to be. We also came back for wan ton mee local style which tasted simple but good.
For 2 nights straight, we ate at Jalan Alor, the famous road open air food area. We picked the first restaurant by the side by gut feel and the food was cheap and tasted fresh and delicious. At first we were conservative and in the end we had lala, hor fun, friend vegetables, chicken wings and satay. Second round we had braised noodles and sambal pork intestines on top of chicken wings.
F1 action wise, the view at K1 Grandstand was the best of the seated locations we went so far. K2 hill has its own flavor and this year, the weather proved to be excellent with drizzle that provided cooling winds. I was not challenged on bringing my long lens over. Hence I was able to use for the first time in Sepang, my 400mm high-speed lens. Photography wise, since I had taken the mill of everything, I was more adventurous trying longer panning shots, since I am now on digital, burning memory disk space is not as costly as burning films. It was no easy take to balance speed of the F1 cars, camera speed and hand swing panning motion to come out sharp photos. Hence I was very happy with my capture of the overtaking of Mark Webber with Massa which seems to be the top photo taken this year.
NEX-5 anti motion blur function worked wonderful when I forgot to lug my tripod up for a night shoot from the hotel window. By keeping a relatively steady hand, the night photo taken came out sharp.