Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia

 

Kuala Lumpur, or KL, which translated means ‘muddy confluence, estuary or city’ (the ‘muddy’ goes in front of each description) is the largest city in Malaysia – its also the capital, and even though I had only a week there, it left a good impression.  Perhaps, after nearly three months in Thailand, the biggest thing to strike me is how clean KL is, infact, the whole of Malaysia is very green and generally seems ‘tidy’, especially the city, for city standards.  Tall, beautiful, clean skyscrapers, clean streets and organised with its free flowing traffic, taxi ranks and energy.  Let there be no mistake, Malaysia is on the ‘self-proclaimed’ up-and-up, even including itself in the lucrative ‘medical tourism’ market.

 

KL was a stopping off point before our trip back home to Australia.  After some quick research in LP and on the internet, we decided to stay in ‘Chinatown’ – it sounded exciting, authentic and interesting – and thats one distinct aspect that is truly Malaysian – its blend of  peoples, culture and the bringing of the two together.  I picked a small hotel called ‘Chinatown Boutique Hotel’, it was clean, tidy and recently renovated.  I was warned through my sources that the entrance was hard to find, but the taxi driver had no problem. Theres a gaggle of street stalls right outside the door, and the entrance is down a short alley way, but the building is really, very hard to miss.  It sits on the outer edge of Chinatown itself – over the big intersection right outside is Starbucks, McDonalds, Nando’s…. Go within the ‘Chinese limits’ and your food choices are a little more authentic – with an array of eateries, restaurants and, of course, street vendors.  There was a guy right outside our door who had, amongst other delights, toads. Big and fat, they resembled the Queensland cane toad, only with lighter skin, and no, we didnt!  Actually, we were after something with lots of fresh vegetables, and a nice protein – we ended up eating at Nando’s one night, a restaurant in a hotel the second night (with an impressive buffet) and on the final night – we tried a restaurant that, although incredibly basic, served up a great meal.  You choose what you want off the menu, and it arrives bubbling and steaming table side, in small clay pots.  After four months in south-east asia, I wasn’t going so hard after ‘street food’ – so I was happy with the choices we made.

 

I loved Chinatown.  It’s a hustle and bustle of activity that goes on day and night.  Be warned – the street sellers are some of the most ruthless I encountered!  Unluckily for them, it was the end of my trip so I was over the harassment – I actually had some good bargaining clout and didnt once feel pressured to buy something only to walk away and wonder why I had!   There was the usual assortment of items – bags, belts, dvd’s, watches, glasses… I reckon it was more hardcore there than anywhere in Thailand – even MBK!  Seriously, stall after stall of exactly the same things and everyones got a bargain! Tucked in behind these fronts though, are some great surprises, which for me were, foot reflexologists and a Chinese medicine clinic with amazing acupuncturists – who teach their trade as well.  I had two sessions, with two different practitioners, for around $10AU all up!!   And the reflexology was a treat, its all throughout Malaysia, they really have a thing for it – its offered everywhere, so soak it up when and if you can!

 

Our first full day we set off for that most famous landmark – the ‘twin towers’.  Neither of us clicked when the driver told us we probably wouldnt get to the top, but on arriving, we saw… he was right, there was no way in hell we could get up to the top!  The deal is this, each day 1800 ‘passes’ are handed out for people to travel up to the top of the towers.  We arrived not long after 9am – and they’d been out of tickets for over an hour!! So, if you do want to head up there, you literally need to be standing at the ticket kiosk (along with the other 2000) waiting for it to open.. However, theres always the ‘KL Tower’ which has better views anyway!  Its about 5 mins by taxi from the twin towers, there was no queue and the views are a 360 degree panorama of the city.  You pay to enter in the lobby, take an elevator to the top and then get given a personal headset to use on your way – theres a commentary that takes you around the top. Im a little too impatient to wait for and  or listen to a recording.  Really worth the trip up though – and from up here you’ll really see how beautiful a city KL is.

 

The airport at KL is nice, no doubt – but its situated an hours drive from the city itself, so be warned!  Also, its illegal for a taxi driver from the city to tout for custom at the airport, so go with the taxi rank that is situated at the airport.  Which is unfair, because it meant out taxi driver that took us back to the airport had to then return to the city with an empty car – not very environmentally friendly either..

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