If you’re have been reading my website at endlessroaming.com you would be aware that I have been blogging about previous adventures across the USA, specifically 2012. I’ll also write further about further experiences in the USA and other countries I have visited, at this point the count is 71. I am now sitting in an airport in Kuala Lumpur waiting for an airline flight to Borneo, so figure it’s a perfect time to blog about this city and maybe offer a few Travel Tips, so here goes…
Tip 1 – Upon arrival at the Kuala Lumper airport first of all I did what any global traveller should do, I swapped out my sim card at a shop for a local card, if you are not in the in the habit of doing this I suggest it strongly as the Telco’s at the airport almost always understand English and will do the switching over service for you, this also makes it easier to contract your driver, Google the local public transport or contact your accommodation.
The drive from KL International to downtown my area is roughly 60km, with traffic congestion it takes about 1.5 hours. On the way the driver told me a few interesting points about Malaysia that I wasn’t aware of, petrol in Malaysia is roughly 40 cents a litre and the entry price on a new vehicle is around $5,000. This is word by mouth but it means despite having a first-class inner-city transport system, most locals choose to drive meaning during peak hours it takes roughly 3 hours to get to and from work on a relatively short distance, this eventuated in myself being completely zonked out by the time I reached my hotel after an 8-hour flight from Sydney.
As it was my first night, I decided to hit up the Alor Street Market in Bukit Bintang, the next suburb adjoining the hotel I was staying at in the downtown area. It was all quite fascinating, outdoor restaurants selling all variety of South Eastern dishes, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Chinese and the list goes on. I chose a random restaurant, ordered up some tasty nasi lemak and a few Tiger beers and watched the crowd go by. There were a few Westerners but the majority were Malayans, Indians, Chinese and various other nations, KL is a true mix of some very different nations and religions, nationally the country is Muslim at around 60% of the population but there is also a significant proportion of Buddhists, Christians, Hindu and Chinese. Completely knackered I headed back to the hotel for the evening
The next morning feeling relatively fresh I decided to do a self-guided tour of the city. Tip 2 – I grabbed a tourist map from the local Hop on Hop off bus tour company and instead of taking the tour, just hiked it myself, its healthier and if interested in the history you can always Google what you are looking at. The Perdana Botanical Gardens features as a major tourist attraction and is roughly half an hour walk from my accommodation so that’s where I headed first. Its located in the city centre and is roughly 20 hectares in size. The park was relatively quiet and peaceful, it features a few museums but as it was such a nice day, I spent it looking at the various plants, a few animals and some of the historical buildings scattered.. Upon exiting I did a tour of the National Mosque of Malaysia, a 1960’s mosque surrounded by the green forest of the park. I then headed to the historical Chinatown area, at some satay and then then back to the hotel for a swim as the heat was getting quite high.
IN the evening I headed to the KL Tower for the sunset, this is located in the downtown area. KL Tower is a height of 421 metres, as it stands on top of a hill making its height above sea level at 515 metres meaning it’s the tallest freestanding area in Malaysia. The view is quite spectacular, KL is a city of skyscrapers and at the elevation, I was standing I was above all of it, including the hugely popular Petronas Towers that were only a few kilometres away. There is a revolving restaurant but I chose to sit in the Sky Café, ordered a beer and viewed the sunset. The manager came an joined me and told me a little about the history of the café, namely that it was tested in a wind tunnel by Ferrari due to the owner’s affiliation with the Malaysian Grand Prix and could handle winds of up to 400km per hour. Apparently, during new years platforms are used to let off fireworks at the eye level of the few privileged people that can afford to be on the Tower during NYE, must be quite the sight (and deafening noise).
Next was a few of the nightclubs in the downtown area, these were not so busy except for some men but most of the customers were Vietnamese prostitutes, at least the women that I spoke to. According to one Malaysia had clamped down on illegal immigrants and prostitution was frowned upon as Malaysia is Islamic and prostitution is considered illegal. As a consequence, there were few people in the nightclubs unlike a couple of years ago and the Malaysian nightlife scene which was once booming was now starting to dwindle. The only customers seemed to be businessmen and these Vietnamese women on one-month tourist visas. After a few beers, I decided to leave the night club and headed back to the hotel alone, so few people prostitute withstanding makes for a rather strange nightclub experience.
In the morning I headed to Petronas Twin Tower, this is KL’s number one tourist attraction and the shopping centre attached is truly world class. I purchased my ticket, bided my time as there are a lot of people interested and then headed up the tower. Being hugely popular the amount of time is limited to how long you can spend up there and unlike the KL Tower, the view is fully enclosed, there is no open view platform. The building is a whopping 452 metres and also has spectacular views of the city, its truly a marvel but if you want a cheaper, less crowded and better view then go to the KL Tower. In the evening I headed back to the Bukit Bintang area again for some more street food, this time a Mongolian restaurant which exclusively only made Thai food, a little perplexed nevertheless the food was tasty. I then headed to a few bars around the corner, this time no hookers, a few office workers and some other travellers. I had a few laughs with some of the bar staff and then called it a night.
The last day I decided too head to the 120-year-old Central Market, quite a popular tourist attraction containing many local arts and crafts. I then headed to the very impressive Sultan Abdul Samad building and did a walk around it, designed back in the 1890’s the architecture is quite impressive. In the evening I headed Pelit Nasi Kandar restaurant, basically an open food court specialising in Malayan food. I gorged myself on nasi lemak, laksa and had a couple of glasses of various fruit juices. Fruit juice is hugely popular in Malaysia, so much so that Malaysia has the highest rate of diabetes in Asia, despite the population not overtly having an overweight problem. After finishing up I then headed back to Petronas Twin Towers, again there was huge crowd, the building makes for quite a spectacular sight in the evening when up and close. I finished up, headed back to the hotel as the following day I had an early flight to Borneo….
I enjoyed my time in KL, the street food is amazing particularly if you like meat and various types of sauces. The nightlife is relatively expensive in comparison to other South East Asian countries and as indicated perhaps the nightlife is not what it once was with restrictions on works visas to the country. The city skyline is truly spectacular and construction is booming, this is mainly due to the petroleum industry there and there is a wealth of money being spread around, the occupancy rate of those buildings is at around 80 per cent and declining. There is a wealth of new retail shopping complexes to compliment this however poverty is also an issue and despite people being available to afford a vehicle due to heavy government subsidies, there is a huge social divide between the few priveledged and then many poor. Its well worth a visit, especially for buzzing views, many different cultures, food and nighlife.