Malaysia has been in the headlines lately and unfortunately, not for the best of circumstances. The biggest, of course, was Malaysian Airline’s missing plane. It was a sad day when I heard the news. During our visit to Kuala Lumpur, a lot of billboards displaying messages of sympathy for the passengers and their families were all over the city. It got me questioning myself, and honestly it was scary just thinking about the situation, to the point where it got me worried about boarding a plane.
Kuala Lumpur is the largest and capital city of Malaysia. It’s a very multi-cultural city composed primarily of Malaysians, Chinese and Indian. The good thing about KL is the highly developed infrastructure making it easy to get around via local public transportation. They had the monorail to get you around the city, then a large MRT and subway lines to get you to farther distances. I noticed that KL has turned into a city under construction, there were a lot going on. Nino and I spent 2 nights here before flying to Maldives.
We stayed at Rainforest Bed and Breakfast, a small guesthouse in Bukit Bintang. I would highly recommend any hotel in this the area, since the streets are full of life. It has everything you could possibly need in one place from shopping to dining to people-watching. When we got there, it was still too early to check in but the receptionist offered to have our luggages stored for safekeeping in case we wanted to go out instead of waiting for our room. Tired and hungry, we decided to eat lunch at a restaurant just near the area. I forgot the name of what I ordered, but it was a plate of spicy noodles with lots of herbs. It was good though. The weather was blistering-hot outside and as soon as we stepped into our room, it was like an oasis of calm and air-conditioning–a welcome respite.
The Petronas Twin Towers is the first stop for most tourists. The twins are arguably the most photographed building in the entire city. The Petronas which dominated the KL skyline used to be the world’s tallest building from 1998-2004 until Taipei 101 quickly shot up above them. The building’s Tower 1 is fully occupied by the Petronas Oil Company, while Tower 2 houses the offices of other companies who rent the space. Looking up at them made me seriously dizzy. It was really huge! That whole afternoon we walked around looking and smelling like zombies, but we still managed to go to the towers twice on the same day. I think the twins are much more spectacular at night.
We explored one of KL’s favorite local food destinations, Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, that evening. It’s a whole street lined with restaurants that have dining tables set up out on the side streets and even the sidewalks. The area is known to have the best variety of local food from everything you could want in KL. In fact, we stayed there till midnight just trying out every local street food. After that, we called it a night as we had a long day and we had big plans for the following morning.
The next day, we went to Batu Caves. It’s hard to believe that just a few miles outside of the city, is a huge cave surrounded by jungle covered limestone cliffs. The place is known for its massive statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war ,victory, wisdom and love. The 272 concrete steps that lead to a breathtaking view, and the playful monkeys that call the Batu Caves home is a must see. When we got there, we climbed a series of steps until we reached the giant mouth of the cave. At the very top there is a Hindu temple, which is one of the most sacred Hindu places of worship outside of India.
With only half a day left in KL, we decided to take the Hop-On-Hop-off bus tour since it seemed like the best way to get a quick glance of the city. However, it was disappointing. There were only a few buses and the heavy afternoon traffic made us wait for almost an hour for our pick-up at one of the tour stops. Some of the spots we visited were Central Market, ChinaTown, Little India, and Merdeka Square. Nino and I were teasing each other when we were in Chinatown. I told him that we were in his territory. And when we got to Little India, he said that all my ancestors were there. Bad..bad..bad..bad… Haha! The interesting part about Little India is not the temples and bright yellow marigolds but the loud sound of Bollywood music blasting from speakers on the side walk. It was pretty lively.
At 7:30 PM our bus driver pulled over and told us the trip was over. We were in a section of Merdeka Square – lost. We ended up walking in the dark looking for directions using the map we had from our hotel. At one point, we were looking up at the skyline to find The Petronas Towers, to guide our way back to familiar streets. To add insult to injury, it rained and we couldn’t get a taxi for a long time. It was a heck of an adventure! The best way to say good night to the city.
Overall, Kuala Lumpur is well worth a visit, even for just a few days. The transportation system is efficient and the food is great. Nino and I both agreed that 2 nights is plenty enough time to see KL and so therefore it made for a fitting stopover en route to our final destination. The nice air-conditioned train ride from KL Central to the airport, which sported free WiFi, was a surprise goodbye treat.