Thanks to everyone on this forum for the wealth of info I obtained prior to leaving - love TA!
As per my previous posts we arrived Monday 9th June at about 8pm from Sydney on jetstar direct flight. New Dreamliner was quite nice but still jetstar and I was pleased I had sleeping tablets ;-)
Have been staying at The Sarojin which is lovely but not as nice as some other boutique hotels I have had the pleasure of staying in, particularly the Casa Del Mar in Langkawi. Nonetheless, it is a quite good hotel and I will post a review separately.
First day in KL we hired our motor bike from hotel, easiest way and for 250THB per day we couldn't be bothered hiring from anywhere else. Good bike in great condition but unfortunately the helmets were shocking and for the first time ever in Asia, we ended up riding without them for the most part :-( police couldn't care less unless that had set up a road block and all the locals would stop within 50metres and pop their helmets on lol. while KL is much quieter than Phuket, I still wouldn't recommend anyone hire a motor bike unless they have been riding for some years as Thailand really isn't the place to learn.
Our first impressions were KL is like Phuket was the first time I visited over 15 years ago, though much much quieter. At times, we have been the only people in areas which I imagine are normally full of people such as bang Sak beach. Bang la on also very quiet and we spent most of our time in bang niang. It has also rained much more than it has on our past holidays in Asia during wet season. Some days we couldn't even leave our hotel room as it was solid rain all day, which wasn't at all what we expected. Whenever we have travelled during wet season, it rains but usually for only a short time before being fine again. 5 days out of 10 it has been rainy for the most part of the day in KL. However we still managed to get into bang niang for drinks and dinners and still managed a decent amount of pool time. The beach was not swimable at all which was also a first for us, though for the most part the beach at sarojin was great to walk on. Much of the beach at bang niang has been eroded and the waves came right up to the wall, with no sand to walk on.
Our favourite thing in KL were the chilled out bars. Songs bar at the markets was amazing, every market night we would have a seat and be served great cold drinks, while listening to extremely talented local acoustic singers and eating food that we would pick up from the stalls. Best curry puffs I have ever tasted were found at the bakery stall - they are a must! Also had my fair share of spring rolls, waffles, banana pancakes and BBQ chicken yum yum! On other nights we would hang at a cool bar opposite pinocchios on the road leading to the beach. Lovely young barman who made quite good cocktails. We would regularly be the only ones there though! Same for restaurants - rarely were there more than 1 other table which was quite bizarre.
Favourite places to eat were Enzo, Orchid Cafe and Hilltribe. We went to Enzo and orchid more than once, they were so good. Can't say we were overwhelmed with the amount of good thai food this time, it was mostly too sweet and catering to the western palate. We had to ask for spicy and even then, it wasn't as hot as we expect. But I can't recommend Enzo highly enough, great Japanese food - as much as you can eat for a bit over aud$30, all freshly prepared. And Toshi, the owner, was delightful! Whenever we go on holidays our mission is to find the most unexpectedly good food. We have found the best Italian in the Cook Islands, the best French patisserie in langkawi and so on. Well our find for this holiday was the most amazing French fries! Mars bar - wow! Burgers were also amazing, with homemade bread. Mars is also a delight and made us feel very welcome, despite the bar clearly being a local expat hang.
Other things we did included elephant bathing which was great fun, though I'm not usually a fan of animal activities in Asia. We went to sairung and the elephants looked well cared for and quite happy. We organised this through the sarojin and it was a great afternoon. We also rode up to Chong fah waterfall which was also worth a visit. We drove up to the rachaprapha dam but couldn't stay due to torrential rain. I'm sure it was pretty though. Mostly we just relaxed either in our room or by the pool, ate and drank and enjoyed thai life.
We found the people so much friendlier than Phuket, many would stop you at 7/11 just to ask where you're from and are we enjoying khao lak. Loved their beautiful smiles! We definitely missed the activities of Phuket on the rainy days though as there really isn't much to do in KL when it's solid rain but oh well we were forced to chill out.
We are off to Phuket for 3 nights tomorrow and I'm sure we will feel shell shocked after the quiet-ness of KL :-) prior to leaving aus we were nervous about the political situation but we have noticed nothing apart from a military presence at certain checkpoints. The locals seem very pleased about martial law as it sounds as though they are better off, particularly the farmers. I have also heard the taxi mafia situation in Phuket has been broken up, but we will see if this affects taxi prices while we are there haha.
all in all, loved our stay though not sure if we will return anytime soon as there are still plenty of other places in Thailand we would like to see! Thanks again for all your information and advice! Happy for anyone to pm me if you have any questions I might be able to answer :-)