Well hello from Kuala Lumpur.
In all honesty, KL is not somewhere I’d ever really thought about going before this trip. In fact, I just liked the name of the place. I didn’t even know it’s in Malaysia, or that the Petronas Towers call Kuala Lumpur their home. There we go, ignorance admitted! We knew we wanted to go to Bali, and then to Hong Kong, but the flight between the two was pretty long (about 8 hours) so we looked for somewhere to stop en route, and in stepped Kuala Lumpur!
Our flight from Bali was delayed by an hour, so we arrived KL at 10pm instead of 9pm. We got some cash out of the machine in the airport (organised as ever) and wandered around until we could find the correct bus. The coach was playing loud orchestral/Asian music which is really hard to describe other than it was like something you’d expect to hear at Disneyland.
This wore thin after half an hour of trying to stay awake so we got off at the right place. We stumbled off the bus in the city centre and headed for the monorail. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Up an escalator. Down an escalator. We finally found the ticket machines which were all out of order (helpful) and just decided to hop on the monorail. (We didn’t have to pay in the end) Sometimes I fantasise about just getting a taxi but alas, we’re on a budget. Besides, the monorail was pretty cool.
We got off in what felt like New York’s time square, but a very grotty version. We knew our hostel was next to the Macdonalds. We could see the Macdonalds but there were roadworks everywhere and the roads were so busy it took us forever to get across. When we arrived, I was in a foul mood. Hot, knees and back knackered from all the stairs with my backpack on, and I hadn’t eaten since lunchtime. It was gone midnight, and those of you who know what I’m like when I’m hungry will know we were in very dangerous territory. I could barely speak I was so over it all, but the hostel staff were so kind and funny that they actually cheered me up. We had a Macdonalds and then went to bed. (Not exactly Malaysian but I was in no state to find somewhere more local!)
After a big sleep, I was more human the next day and ready for some exploring. We walked around a few huge shopping malls which were really high end and full of shops like Gucci etc. We then went to the cheap mall by our hostel because we knew there was a post office there. I collected a box and then we went back to fill it up.
I decided to send home my camera (God knows why I thought packing two cameras was a good idea, it’s literally just been taking up room in my backpack for six months) I also sent home the clothes I’d bought, and bits of paper and my Hawaiian solar powered hula girl. I won’t be needing her until I get home. It cost about thirty quid to post but I really don’t care haha!
Walking around I had the weird sensation that everyone was staring at me. At first I thought it was just paranoia, but they really were staring…. It took me a little while to realise that my shorts (not teeny tiny, but because I’m tall, all shorts provide a lot of leg action for me.) were actually a bit of a cultural faux pas. Like Morocco, Malaysia is quite an Islamic country and its wise to dress modestly. I put some trousers on and felt a lot hotter, but less like I was offending anyone. Phew.
We then went to a food court for lunch and after a bit of deliberation and mind boggling (raw fish porridge anyone, or perhaps a salty egg porridge, or a fried trotter?) we went for some safe ish Thai noodles. They came to about £1.20 a bowl. I’m still really enjoying cheap food. It’s insane. The hostels don’t really seem to have kitchens in Asia and eating out is actually cheaper than our New Zealand favourite of crisps for lunch.
We headed back and out to the famous “food street” for dinner. Basically it’s a load of restaurants whose tables and chairs are out in the street. The waiters really scrabble to get you to come into their restaurant so it can get a bit hectic. After one trip down the road and briefly considering a frog porridge (I’m not joking) we settled for a safe Chinese restaurant and had very safe sweet and sour chicken with spring rolls. I didn’t take the chopsticks offered… I was also offered a Guiness which was considerate, but hilarious.
There was one moment when my inappropriate laughter got the better of me once again…A busker was walking around the restaurant singing to people down a microphone. The speaker was held by his friend who he pushed around in his wheelchair. So bad to laugh but I nearly choked because it was getting a bit Little Britain… I’m going to hell.
The following day we went on the hunt for the “Times Square” shopping mall because we’d heard it was so huge that there’s a roller coaster inside. We saw the roller coaster. We didn’t buy anything…. Tom was delighted to discover that Krispy Kreme donuts work out at less than 50p. I had a smoothie because I felt in dire need of some nutrients. Then we had lunch…
Here in Kuala Lumpur, lots of the restaurants have plastic models of the dishes (which fascinate me!) so you can see what you’re ordering. This makes it a lot easier for foreigners. We found a nice looking model of some noodles, pointed to it and paid then sat down. Then our food was plonked in front of us and it was nothing like the example. It was basically a thick black soup with an inch of oil on top of it and a few noodles floating about. Oh, and a raw egg. Luckily it came to about a quid each so we saw the funny side and politely poked a bit of it down then left. I needed the toilet but there were no western toilets… Just the hole in the ground job popular with French service stations. No toilet roll either. Arghh. Too much info dear reader? Well I didn’t want you getting the impression that travel is all glitz and glammer!
We scurried back and used I the toilet at the hostel then headed out for our pre-booked trip up the Petronas towers. We were packed like sardines into a lift with about forty other people. Small spaces with people I don’t know really make me panic, so I did some deep breathing until we arrived on the viewing floor. It was really cool! Not much to say other than it was an ace view and a really beautiful building.
Good to see the towers up close.
We then headed to a bar at the top of one of the hotels called the “Sky Bar” where the folk from our hostel were heading for a night out. It was probably one of the poshest bars I’ve ever been in and I felt like a total frump in my elephant trousers and saggy vest. I basically looked like I was in my pajamas.
The bar had a pool in it? And free cocktails…. Despite it seeming like a recipe for disaster, we both managed to enjoy the night without any accidental swimming.
Our final day in KL was spent avoiding the rain and trying to sort out Japan next week. Our usual approach of winging it may get us incredibly lost and confused in Japan, so we are trying to plan more thoroughly. I’m so excited to see Japan, it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I’m especially excited to have my mind blown by Tokyo, sleep in a capsule hotel in Osaka and to stay in a temple in Koyosan.
Anyway, we’re off to Hong Kong tomorrow. Time to start researching what to do. So far on the list: see the giant Buddha and go to Disneyland!
– it’s mainly shopping malls, food, and the Petronas towers.
– in the west we’re obsessed with having a tan. I’m guilty of this – I’m feeling so pleased with myself for being a bit brown. Here in Asia however, most of the beauty products contain ingredients that whiten the skin. In fact, the other day I needed a new deodorant stick and had to hunt for a while to find one that wasn’t “whitening.” (I didn’t really fancy glowing pits…) you also see a lot of people with arms and legs completely covered up, wearing hats, sunglasses and carrying sun umbrellas. Probably wise because the sun is so strong here, but it’s definitely also an image thing.
– we’ve struggled to find Malaysian food! We’ve eaten Macdonalds (hehee) Thai, Chinese, Portuguese (!) and middle eastern.
Until next time…