Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Vacation Days 16-17: Kuala Lumpur

Whenever I hear the name "Kuala Lumpur" I always think about koala bears lounging around with umbrella drinks in their paws. Well, that's not exactly what Kuala Lumpur is like: there are no koalas and I didn't have a single umbrella drink. However, it is an interesting place with lots to see and do!
We stayed at a fairly awful hostel (four beds in a closet-sized room with no window, dirty front entry, weeeeeeird people hanging around and sleeping in chairs...) for 12 ringitt per night- can't complain about the price, that's only $4. It was also in a pretty convenient location for touring around the city; it was very close to an MRT station, a major bus stop and within walking distance of a lot of attractions.

Kuala Lumpur is clean and modern, to the point of feeling almost sterile. A lot of attention has been paid to making the city attractive and futuristic, including the building of the tallest twin towers in the world, the Petronas Towers.

We visited the towers, Chinatown, took a walking tour around our area to see some of the architecture of KL, wandered around one of the many very comprehensive malls, saw the National History Museum and traveled just outside the city to see Batu Caves.

The towers have a connecting bridge that can be visited during certain hours of the day; admission is free but a limited number of tickets are given out so you have to go, claim your spot and then return at your designated time. It's a unique experience: before going up the 42 floors in the incredibly rapid elevator, you watch a sort of propaganda video for Petronas, which tells all about how wonderful the company is as well as some information about the construction of the towers themselves. There is also a small museum to look through.

When you reach the bridge, you are supervised by a staff member for the ten minute allowance each group gets up there. The view is probably spectacular on a clear day, but it was hazy and rainy and less impressive than I think it might have been otherwise. It was still pretty neat, looking way down at the streets below, knowing that in a little while I would be standing down there looking up!

Inside the towers are mostly offices, as well as a theatre and concert hall and a HUGE, expensive mall. While in Thailand and Bali you might find "Loo-ee Vutton" or "Prayduh", in this mall you get the real deal. Kuala Lumpur was not so much the land of lounging koalas as it was the land of sprawling malls. It had a GREAT food court, though- huge portions of all different kinds of delicious looking food at really reasonable prices.

Chinatown is not that big; at night, there is a great market that opens up on the streets. We had a really good meal there one night and Alisa had her very first egg tart!

There are a lot of really impressive buildings around KL, most within walking distance of each other.

Also close to our place was the National History Museum, which was really comprehensive and well-organized. Malaysia has had an incredibly interesting history and I was surprised, first at how little I know about it, and also at how bloody it has been.
Batu Caves are about a half hour drive from the bus stations within KL- they are amazing, this sudden mountain of limestone that juts out of the landscape and houses some amazing caverns. They are a pilgrimage site for the Hindu people of Malaysia and are accessed up a large flight of stairs. I had been told that the stairs are pretty daunting but, after having summited Mt. Kinabalu, I laughed in the face of these mere 200-odd stairs!

At Batu we had one of the most amazing meals- we couldn't understand the menu so we randomly ordered a couple things and ended up paying less than a dollar each for four different kinds of toothsome, delicious sauces and flatbreads to eat them with. Later, back in KL, Alisa and I found another restaurant that served similar food at even better prices. I could get very used to paying thirty cents for a fantastic lunch!
We flew back to Bangkok, thoroughly satisfied with more than two weeks spent discovering new and amazing things!

Until next time,


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