Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Travelling Southeast Asia: Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur was the third stop on our trip, and we got the bus from Melaka to the capital city. There are so many buses between the two so there was no need to book; we got on a coach within minutes of arriving at the bus station in Melaka and the journey cost us £4 each.

As soon as we arrived in Kuala Lumpur we were confronted with the difficulty of manoeuvring yourself around the city. Although there is an extensive rail network, the lines were built by different operators, meaning that stations and lines don’t connect practically at all. In fact, it’s even tricky to get around on foot, with the concrete highways sprawling in every direction across Kuala Lumpur.

Having been inundated with photos of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, we were expecting Malaysia’s capital to be similar in some ways to Singapore, but it was only really this small area with which we could draw parallels. The other thing that surprised us about Kuala Lumpur was the lack of things to do. We scheduled three full days in the city, but struggled to fill the final 24 hours.

Geo Hotel was our accommodation of choice and I couldn’t really fault it for the price. I think we got it on some kind of deal on hotels.com which made it fit well within our traveller’s budget. Plus, we had our own toilet and shower so it felt like luxury compared to our last two hostels. Livin’ it up in the citaaaay. Ahem. We also had breakfast included, and although this consisted of soggy scrambled eggs and do-it-yourself toast, it still saved us some Ringgit.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur well after lunch, so headed straight to Sangeetha Vegetarian which was a really good Indian restaurant just a few streets down from our hotel. The food was amazing, hello paneer dosa, and very reasonably priced.

For the afternoon we decided to go and have a look at the Perdana Botanical Garden, and I think this was my favourite spot in Kuala Lumpur. It’s free to enter, so we spent a couple of hours wandering around and taking millions of unnecessary photos of flowers. BUT LOOK HOW PRETTY.

We made it back to the hotel just in time to hide from a brewing storm, which became a regular occurrence in Kuala Lumpur.

In the evening, once the storm had passed, we ventured into China Town for some cheap street food and getting lost in the realms of the fakes market. I’ve never seen so many Michael Kors bags and Rolex watches in one place.

The next morning we got up fairly early to ensure that we could get tickets to go up the Petronas Towers. Getting up early was a good shout, because the mornings were completely clear before the storms rolled in later on in the day. Although the tickets were relatively expensive compared to other activities in the area, £23 for the two of us still seemed like an acceptable price. And going up the towers is something you have to do if you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur.

Nagasari Curry House was where we headed next, following a recommendation in the guidebook, and although it was good, cheap food, it was probably not worth the thirty minute walk back to the hotel in the downpour that arrived just as we were leaving (although I did discover aloo gobi for the first time – yum). This was a prime example of how awkward it is to navigate around the city, as there was no quicker alternative.

Today’s passing-the-time-whilst-waiting-for-the-rain-to-stop activity was washing our clothes in the sink. Big error. After the disaster of trying to get our clothes to dry in an air-conditioned room, we opted to pay to have our laundry done from this point onwards. There are some luxuries that even backpacking requires.

On our final day we got the train out to Batu Caves to see the infamous Hindu temple, which is covered in monkeys.

This didn’t take up as much time as we thought it would, so we decided to go and see Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, which the guidebook described as postcard-worthy. I honestly don’t know what the writers of this guidebook had been looking at, but all we saw was an abandoned park that was half dug up. Hands down the biggest disappointment of the entire trip.

We avoided yet another storm later that afternoon before returning to the Petronas Twin Towers to take photos of them at night. We ate in a food court in the shopping centre at the base of the towers, which wins the award for the best food court that has ever existed – we walked around for about half an hour before we could narrow down our choice to one type of food.

It was then time for an early night before our journey to Penang the next day.

Although I really enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur, I probably wouldn’t go back. If you’re in Malaysia then you definitely need to visit the capital, but just be aware that two full days is probably long enough.

I also vlogged our stay, which gives an even better impression of Melaka, so give that a watch and subscribe to my YouTube channel  so you don’t miss the vlogs from the rest of the trip.


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