By Josh James in Kuala Lumpur

Less than two hours after touching down at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Arsène Wenger, Robin van Persie and Bacary Sagna were given a small taste of what they can expect over the next week, when they gave a press conference to the assembled hordes at the team hotel.

More than 200 journalists, cameramen and photographers filled the Ballroom Suite at The Saujana Hotel - situated on the outskirts of KL - as the fans enthusiastically made their presence known outside. The locals, it's fair to say, are in a state of excitement (more on that later in the week).

And the players are excited too. It's a world away from the pre-season tours they've been used to over the past ten years, in a remote outpost in the Austrian mountains, and the squad look invigorated by the change of scenery. Well as invigorated as you can be after a 13-hour flight.

Malaysia is seven hours ahead of London, so the 2pm press conference was at 7am according to the players' body clocks. But there's no time to rest - the full-on tour schedule means the players will be working just as hard away from the training pitches as on them.

The press conference was held jointly with the coach of the Malaysia National Team, Dato Rajagopal, who is a self-confessed Man United fan by the way, so perhaps Wednesday's friendly fixture may have an edge to it after all.

After the press conference all of the 23-strong playing squad signed autographs for an hour for 200 fans (who ran through an impressive repertoire of Emirates Stadium anthems while waiting in the lobby), before it was time for a snack, and then, finally, the chance to kick a ball.

A short coach journey away from the hotel lies the 60,000 capacity Shah Alam Stadium, where the players took part in a closed training session, as minds were re-focused on the serious stuff of preparing for 2011/12. 

And with the temperature in excess of 30 degrees C, it will be anything but easy going as the squad get back into the swing of things after the summer break.

So Arsenal's first tour to Asia since 1999 has kicked off. Tomorrow night the team will train in front of thousands of local fans in the national stadium as the dual aim of making friends across the world and gearing up for the new season is ramped up a notch.

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11 Jul 2011