After our short stay in Colombo, we took a short flight across the water to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. KL, as the locals call it, was never really on our itinerary and we wanted to go straight to Thailand. That said, every flight we looked at seemed to go via Bangkok and having been there for a few days 2 years ago, it was a place we weren’t in a rush to go back to.
So, we found flights to KL direct from Columbo so thought we’d stay there for a few days and explore before heading to Southern Thailand and we weren’t disappointed at all. KL is a sprawling metropolis yes, but it is very different to any other big city we’ve ever been to. For a start, it’s extremely clean! You never see any rubbish on the streets, and for its size and population, it’s not polluted either. The people who live and work there are very friendly and helpful which made our time here a dream. It’s safe to say we enjoyed our little taste of Malaysia.
As we recently got married and received some gifts from our generous friends and family, we thought we’d treat ourselves to a more luxurious hotel stay compared to our usual backpacker hostel or guest house arrangement. We booked a lovely apartment on the 36th floor of a very modern downtown hotel. It had 2 infinity pools including one on the roof which was amazing. It’s something we’d always wanted to try so we headed straight up to the roof. It was a great feeling to be swimming so high up in amongst the skyline of KL, a place so far from home. It was so good in fact, we went back later on when it was dark so we could see all the lights from the various skyscrapers.
Our first outing into KL saw us take in a weekly night market. We took the metro, which I must say is incredibly efficient, clean and more importantly on time! However, they are all automated so therefore have no drivers. We won’t be moving to KL anytime soon!
We arrived at the market which was set up along the service road next to a duel carriageway, and found all kinds of tempting food and drinks, along with the usual handicrafts and clothing. During our wander through the market we bought some fried squid, a carrot cake stir fry (?!) and some Japanese Gyozas which are a firm favourite of ours since our trip to the Far East 3 years ago. We also tried some steamed cake (?!) and a couple of exotic fruit juices.
There were also a few things which we were too interesting, so we had to get pictures…
The ending of this trip was also very interesting. As we had no internet, we were not able to order ourselves a grab (online taxi service, like Uber). Hoping he would help us, we approached a local shop owner selling groceries asking if he would kindly order us a grab from his phone, but he told us his little shop had WiFi. We were saved, and straight away we realised we were in the more technologically advanced East compared to where we’d been previously!
The next day we headed for KL Forest Eco Park. It’s basically a jungle in the city centre with the added bonus of towers and bridges making up a walk amongst the tree canopies. It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours surrounded by nature all within the confines of a metropolis.
In the centre of the Eco Park is KL Tower standing 421 metres high offering 360 degrees views of of the city. It’s the worlds 7th highest free standing tower, and quite impressive.
Our next must see item on the KL list was a trip to the Petronas Towers. They are amazingly iconic structures standing side by side linked by a walkway bridge. As we arrived at KLCC metro station we exited straight into a shopping mall. We wandered around for a while before crossing the street and into the ground level of Petronas, again into another shopping mall. This time, the mall had extremely exclusive brand named boutique stores, so we walked on by in our flip flops and t-shirts!
Outside the Petronas towers and across the street it was a veritable melee of people eager to take a photo of themselves in front of the towers. Not an easy task when the towers standing 450m tall. Of course we had a go ourselves……
By this point we had left our wonderful “penthouse” apartment behind and moved across town to a much more modest hotel. The next touristy activity on our agenda was a trip to Batu Caves. We took a train north to the end of the line which took about 45 minutes. It was then just a short walk to the awe inspiring combination of natural caves and man made steps and statues.
As we approached the first thing you see is a a massive golden statue of Lord Murugan. It is the most popular Tamil shrine outside of India, and you can see why. It is said that the limestone inside the caves is around 400 million years old.
There are 272 colourfully painted steps leading steeply up to the cave entrance, and our tired legs can confirm the effort required to reach the top. It’s most definitely worth it though as you can see.
After spending some time exploring all the carvings, temples and yet more steps inside the caves we headed back down the steps to grab some lunch. Of course that’s 272 steps back down again, so we’d worked up quite a hunger!
The last thing we did during our time in KL was take a bus north of the city to a place called Genting Highlands. It’s a long cable car ride high up into the clouds (literally) to a resort, yet another shopping complex with a casino, convention centre and indoor fun fair. To be honest, we were just interested in the cable car ride! As an added bonus, there was a beautiful pagoda and caves at the midway point of the cable car ride to explore too which we did on the way back down.
When we reached the top we strolled around the shops for a while, but then as we came back to the centre point we were treated to an amazing video and light show. It turns out that it plays a different theme every hour, and it was about a hundred balloon type lights on wires changing colour and making shapes as they go up and down. The one we watched was about a couple that bump into each other at work and fall in love. It was lovely.
We continued walking around this enormous place and we couldn’t help but be in awe of the sheer scale of the place.
As we wandered around more we all of a sudden felt a tap on our shoulders. Imagine our surprise turning around and being faced with this……
I could only imagine the smile on the persons face inside that amazing costume as he or she walked around scaring people. Now there’s someone enjoying their work!
Time was running out and our return coach departure time was drawing ever closer, so we made our way back down on the cable car. A lovely pagoda was waiting to be explored half way way down as an added bonus. As we descended, the clouds had lifted and the pagoda came into view…..
It’s formal name is Chin Swee Caves Temple and it stands 4600ft above sea level. There were a series of escalators taking us down to the pagoda level and as we made our way down for a closer look, to our amazement there were many more things to see. There were the small caves, a temple, a very ornate hall, a very large and impressive Buddha statue and of course the pagoda itself which apparently all took 18 years to build by hand. This of course was due to the extremely challenging landscape.
As we were about to leave to catch our bus back to KL we spotted these characters depicted in various poses. We thought we’d make their acquaintance ……
It was quite a long and tiring day with lots of walking, exploring and travelling so it took its toll on us. We must have dozed off on the bus because the hour journey went by in a flash.
On our last night in KL we were down to our last 100 Ringdings (it’s actually Ringit, but I thought it sounded much better!). We tried to time it so we spent our last bit of local currency that night, and have enough for the taxi to the airport the next morning. Easier said than done of course. We wanted to try some of the sky bars of KL, so after a little research, we headed out to a lovely hotel with a beautiful roof bar. We ordered our drinks and sat high amongst the lights of the KL skyline for the last time.
As a quick side note, it’s actually quite difficult getting to grips with different currencies back to back, and something I didn’t give too much thought to. This was our 3rd country in 8 weeks, and of course they all have their own currency with their own exchange rate. Obviously the notes are all different shapes, colours and denominations so just as I’m getting used to one, it’s time to move on. Poor me huh?!
Anyway, it turns out we miscalculated our Ringdings as we didn’t have enough for the taxi to the airport in the morning. Cue yours truly frantically checking the local ATMs trying to withdraw just enough. At the 3rd attempt I managed to get some Ringdings out (not all banks accept our pre-payed card), get back to the hotel, order the taxi and make the 45 minute journey to the airport in time for our flight.
So, our time in Kuala Lumpur has come to an end and it’s off to Thailand next. A country we’ve visited before, but are excited to explore more of……