We arrived at 11am at KL International Airport. You gotta hand it to Air Asia they really aim for the most basic of service from A to B.
A 2 hour flight and somehow they managed to lose a yoga mat. Good start.
We went to find the taxi counter and it turns out we are in KL at the end of the 44th ASEAN Finance Ministers meeting and arriving on Day 1 of the KL Grand Prix. Roads are closed and you have to take the train. Another good start.
It’s actually a pleasant ride and we get to our station Bank Negara just in time for a monsoonal downpour to coincide with our 10 min walk to the hotel. Cracking! The saving grace is that much of KL can be navigated through covered areas and tunnels.
Hotel Frenz where they aim to make friends with everybody (not in an overly weird way) was where we landed and time to hit the streets, by this point it was late afternoon. Damn you yoga mat! Remember my meditation, remember my meditation!
After much research and friendly recommendations we mashed together what we love (food, photography and steps apparently) in Kuala Lumpur over 36 hours. Here’s what we found.
Petaling St Chinatown – Merdeka Square – Masjid Jamek
Walking to Chinatown, we seek out the food. We start with a wintermelon iced tea as we navigate down narrow alleys of watches, knock-off purses, handbags and clothing. Bustling with hawkers it can be a bit overwhelming if you are not there to shop. We are after the food. I spot a cute Chinese teahouse and of their 3 varieties of tea, we go for the bitter tasting tea that is meant to relieve heat from your body.
Continuing on down the street we went to the highly recommended Kim Lian Kee for some Chinese food.
A disappointing start to the food in Malaysia with slow service and relatively bland hokkien kuey teow. The spicy claypot chicken was super tasty but arrived way too late after we gobbled the noodles.
At this point whilst we are hungry and tired, at least I wasn’t boiling hot. The heat tea actually works I say to Rich. He reminds me we are sitting in an aircon restaurant. Ahhh!
We take a late night walk past Masjid Jamek mosque all lit up with it’s onion white domes.
Following the mosque we continue on to Merdeka Square. The square is of high importance to the Malaysians as it was here where the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan Flag hoisted up on 31 August 1957. Adjacent to the square is the Minister’s office for Culture, Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Formerly the British government houses and later served as the high court, this building is highly influenced by Mughal architecture. Across the square is the Royal Selangor Club in a Tudor style. If you are starting to visualise the area, you can see it’s a mash up of different styles.
We, Tripmashers head back to the hotel after taking the obligatory picture in front of the sculpture at City Gallery. It was good we opted for night-time as there are queues during the day. Fit bit count 17,500 steps
Perdana Botanical gardens – Batu Caves – Petronas Towers – Jalan Ahor
To get our bearings and see this 8th most visited city in miniature form, we return to the City Gallery for the first and largest city and light show model. For 5RM, which can be redeemed at the end for a free coffee, it’s worth a 30-40minute visit.
Outside the City Gallery we spot of a hop on hop off tram for 4RM that takes you around the Botanical Gardens. Perfect we think, but unfortunately we missed it, but the chap returning passengers gave us a ride which was nice.
Malaysia is certainly aiming to live up to their campaign of 2015 Year of Festivals. This week is the Orchid and Bonsai Festival and we got to look at the different country submissions.
After two hours walking around visiting the Deer park and National Mosque we headed off to Batu Caves. There is lots more to see in the gardens like the Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Islamic Arts Museum and National Planetarium, but we opted to miss these as we have recently been to Brazil Bird Sanctuary and visited numerous Islamic art museums in Turkey.
Walking to Kuala Lumpur station near the National Mosque, we hopped onto the KTM Kommuter for 4RM return. 30 min ride later we got to the caves.
It’s free to enter the Temple Cave but 35RM for the Dark cave or 5RM for the Art Gallery and Museum Cave on ground level. The 272 steps were not really hard to get up and interesting watching the monkeys eye up your bag for food particularly as they are wired on red bull.
A 100m high cave interior in a 400million year old limestone cliff, is pretty cool, but not an amazing cave interior if you have visited Jenolan Caves in Australia, Hallstatt in Austria or ATM in Belize.
Knowing that the Grand Prix was on, we were not going to try and secure a ticket up the towers at 80RM, and more interested in the lit up spectacle.
Around Petronas Towers
If you have some time to burn before its dark, head through Suria KLCC shopping mall with a whole floor dedicated to candy.
Also there are all the luxury brands. Don’t make the mistake we did and try to get to the Marini’s Level 57 bar. Strict dress code! What we look like we don’t belong? Okay I may not have really brushed my hair that day – fair call.
Instead we opted for an equally insanely priced drink at Maloneys by the fountain and treated to a water light show.
On good advice we were told to get to Jalon Ahor for a tasty feed. We weren’t disappointed. A whirl of smoke, people and smells, it’s a good place to rest the weary feet.
Onto our last ringgits Rich makes a run to the ATM for beer money. Lucky he did as the rain pour of all rain pours kicked off for the next hour and a half.
Finally the rain subsides and with a belly full of food and beer we walk back to our hotel. Fit bit count 45,000 steps.
Of course there are more places we could have got to, but for our interests, this was what we wanted. My memories of KL are crazy architecture with streets smelling of durian and smokey stick food. I would be really interested in seeing this place in 5 years time with the revitalisation projects complete. Something tells me it will rank higher in the most visited places.
Conversion rate: AUD1 – RM 2.9
Listening to some Taylor Swift on our bus journey to Melaka.