In this post you’re going to learn some gems for filming footage and traveling with the drone in Malaysia and India and more. This was a return trip to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, but it would be my introduction to India by visiting Chennai.
Packing can vary with every trip. My goal for this trip was to film a 4k aerial of the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur. I would do some aerial filming if it was permitted in Chennai, but I wasn’t counting on it. I also wanted to film my stock footage on my SLR handheld and on a tripod. I wanted to avoid checking in a bag if possible to save on costs, travel light, and save time waiting for luggage.
In my drone sling bag I packed the typical drone gear plus my 50mm F 1.4 lens, memory cards, and memory card reader. I booked the Orange Pekoe guesthouse, which had a free computer to backup my footage onto my 64gb USB drive.
I managed to fit my light tripod, SLR camera with 24-105 lens, clothes, and toiletries into my carry on suitcase. I was careful to pad my camera with my clothing and took care when transporting the suitcase through the airport. The big questions were would I be able to keep my assets safe and whether I would be able to take both my drone bag and the carry on suitcase with a low cost airlines like Air asia with extra charges. I would have over 7 flights, transit via many taxis, hotels, train stations, and airport to test this out.
I also had a special surprise as I was leaving the Chenai airport that would change my packing arrangement. This was probably the most hassle I have ever had traveling with the drone through any country. In short do not travel to India especially Chennai with a drone. It is not worth it.
India required a visa in advance for a fee of about $49 US that I booked online in advance. The process will take an hour to complete. I made a mistake on my application that required me to do it all over again. It is an depth application that will ask things like your religion and a local contact in India. After approval you will receive an email that you should print and bring with you. At the Chennai airport immigration I recommend you bring your printed hotel booking as well.
Visas for Malaysia are so much easier. No arrival cards are needed. For a Canadian passport and most other countries you show up and get an automatic 3 months. I love it. Too bad the lines at the KLIA2 airport took 2 hours on a Friday.
In Kuala Lumpur my first stay was at the Orange Pekoe Guest house. This was a good budget stay in a good location. They offered friendly service, clean and basic rooms, friendly service, and a good location. My second trip I shared a 2 bedroom condo at the Soho suites. This was a bit more luxurious for about the same costs and an excellent view.
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In Chennai India after much research I stayed at the New Woodlands hotel. My first room was average and the wifi spotty. They relocated me to a newer room with a balcony which I enjoyed a lot more. I missed my taxi transfer with no rational explanation and got haggled by the taxi meter drivers outside. Overall the hotel was a good experience. It offered 3 restaurants, was well-known to taxi drivers, rooms were reasonably clean, friendly english speaking staff, and clean. It was also located next door to the upscale Savara hotel where I enjoyed the Brew room and their 2 bars for Kingfisher beer.
Getting from the airport to the hotel was a chore and confusing. I took the KLIA express from the airport to Sentral station. From there I had a lunch at subway and walked to the monorail. I took the monorail to Bukit Bintang. Later I learned if you downloaded the Grab or Uber app you could probably get there faster or cheaper. Grab is a knockoff of uber that the local taxi drivers are using more than uber.On my second trip to Kuala lumpur I used the Grab app with my friend and we got there for 65 ringet.
For my first flight I planned to wake up before sunrise to get there shortly after sunrise. I woke up early around 530am and took a taxi from my hotel to KLCC for about 10 ringet. He dropped me at the KLCC park. It was still dark out when I arrived, but I could see people jogging around at this time. I wanted some distance from the towers as it was tall enough you don’t need to be close. Also I assumed there would be heavy security around the towers so I wanted to avoid getting them excited at some flying drone flying near it in the dark. I set up the drone in the park and immediately attracted several security guards telling me in a friendly manner that I couldn’t fly my drone in the park. Not one to accept no I asked them where I could fly. They pointed me in the direction and I walked over there. I found a good location to fly that was permitted and had a good view of the Petronas towers. I used this launching point for this morning flight and my sunset flight. In the end I was very happy with the footage I got especially the evening shot. Even from this launching point I had to content with more security guards and hordes of Chinese tourists. I will reveal the location, flight tips, dealing with security, the filter I use, and specific camera settings I used for the footage in my Aerial photography course.
I had already flown my drone in Penang during my first trip that I documented in this article. In general you can fly the drone in Malaysia, but it’s important to find the right locations to fly at.
For Chennai India I brought the drone to Marina beach on a Sunday, which is the local day off. There were huge crowds of people and police security throughout the beach. I didn’t plan to fly, but since I was here with the drone I asked police if I could fly it. I had to go through several police as it was challenging to explain it to them. In the end they said I couldn’t fly. As I previously mentioned it is not worth bringing your drone into Chennai and India for that matter.
I forgot my ND filter. I big mistake for outdoor shooting in Asia because the sun is so strong.
In the Kuala Lumpur airport I listened to my instincts and took shots in the airport whenever I felt the urge. I’ve sold shots in airports before and it’s not often that you see videographers taking footage in here. I shot the airport schedule screens and the insane line-ups at immigration.
In the city I took plenty of night footage with a tripod and 50mm f1.4 setup within Bukit Bintang. My guest house was within walking distance of the area I wanted to take footage. I think this is very important during the planning stages to save on time and costs. I shot plenty of foods you find in Malaysia like Satay, Shawarma, and Chicken Tandori, to dim sum. I shot some nightlife as well as some of the crowds and food stands at the famous food street Jalan Alor (famous street with food).
During the day I walked towards the Pavillion mall area. Along the way I found a Sheesha shop where I took the chance to take footage of myself smoking. The décor of the café looked authentic middle eastern. I took some selfie shots of myself filming Sheesha. I teach this technique in my mobile video production course. It certainly came in hand during this trip.
India had some interesting opportunities for footage. For example the rickshaw taxis are quite common. I took some handheld shots from the back to give a backseat passenger view.
I brought the tripod and camera setup to some of my meals to film me (mostly the food) eating some indian meals. I’ve sold food footage before so tried to do this properly. Carrying around an SLR with a tripod setup captures a lot of attention, but it still feels safe.
A photo posted by Greg Hung (@greghungshowdotcom) on
Drinking at a bar in India isn’t as easy as it is in other countries. However I found the Bamboo bar at the Savera hotel was a good friendly spot to drink some Kingfisher beer and get some footage. I also found an unexpected gem with the a nice café called the Bew Room. Here I filmed some footage of aero press coffee and some selfie shoots of me enjoying coffee against the brick backdrop and outside by the nice gazebo’s
I knew I had to bring the camera to the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple. I decided I would go at night to capture a different flavor. The façade was particularly interesting to film, but was told the shrines were not to be filmed. I found my sandals that I left outside were missing when I left and I was lucky not to be rained out barefoot with my camera. I caught a rickshaw just in time to get back to the hotel. In typical rickshaw fashion that driver tried to haggle me for more than we agreed to I think because of the rain.
My pace slowed down after Chennai as I wanted to relax in Penang because I already filmed there. I found one more interesting footage opportunity traveling with my friend through the Kuala Lumpur airport at a grey goose bar. The advantage of traveling with all my gear in my carryon suitcase was that I could quickly bring out my tripod and film some decent footage.
In total I shot about 40gb worth of total footage
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