The most common reaction to hearing that I was staying in Kuala Lumpur (KL) for a week was usually a face that gave away an equal combination of disgust and confusion. This lovely look was almost always shortly followed by the words, but why?
Well, you see, I caught a stomach infection while in Indonesia and it had definitely slowed me down, like, pitifully slow. Luckily, I’m a semi-professional napper so a few days rest wasn’t too difficult for me, but for someone that moves pretty fast it was a serious struggle to say the least. Fortunately, it was the only time in the past four months of traipsing about Southeast Asia that I’d gotten really ill so I’ll count that as a win. Feeling crappy (in every sense of the word) was why I actually chose to spend six days in KL; half of them were dedicated to running back and forth between my bed and the porcelain throne down the hall.
In general, KL isn’t really a vacation destination but more of a layover spot; it’s a place you stop thru and say, well I’m here so why not? For most people, 2 days, maybe 3, are sufficient and then you move on. To be fair, it’s not a bad place by any means, just nothing truly spectacular either. It’s a big city with even bigger buildings and it’s contrasted with smaller Islamic and Indian architecture that adds a bit of character to the largely sterile landscape. The infrastructure is decent too and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of traffic. Amazing! Honking isn’t overbearing, crosswalks are used and cars actually stay in their designated lanes. Crazy, right? Honestly, having any one of those three things occur on their own in any one city on this side of the world is like asking for a small miracle.
Sure, KL is still a busy place with a lot of people just kind of hanging out, but that’s an unavoidable sight in Asia unless you are hiding in the Nepalese mountains. It’s a little polluted and a bit difficult to breathe at times but it’s not too bad relatively speaking. Ahem, Jakarta, ahem. Plus, there are quite a few travelers here, at least compared to Indonesia (and I don’t include Bali in that because Bali isn’t really Indonesia, I mean, it is but it really isn’t). Overall, Kuala Lumpur treated me pretty well, although it really had less to do with the city and more to do with the people; it really was the fellow travelers I met along the way made KL an alright place for me.
The hostel I stayed at in Chinatown (The Explorers Guesthouse, ~$8/night) was also pretty sweet and where I met said wonderful people. Not only was it very clean, ultra comfortable and home to an ever-so delightful pillow, but the staff were especially welcoming when I checked in at 2am in a near-zombie state and with my energy in the negatives I would’ve been happy to just book one of their bathroom stalls for the week. And speaking of bathrooms, I took my first real shower (with heat!) in weeks and reveled in all its toasty and pressurized glory. (To be clear, I showered before going there, I swear, just you know, with a bucket and a cup and not with a water-spewing shower head.)
Despite being utterly pathetic and essentially useless to the world for a few days, I’m glad I got some much needed rest in a comfortable and clean place, and did I mention there was a nice pillow!? Luckily, by day 4 I was feeling semi-alive again, or at least alive enough, and was able to see the city.
Equally as random as it is cool.
Glad I saw it but was a bit more underwhelmed than I had hoped. It requires going up 300 steps and battling an equal amount of fruit hungry monkeys and selfie-stick wielding tourists. On the plus side, it’s easy to get to using the LRT, the main cave is free and if you happen to fancy monkeys they add to the entertainment value. I’m still deciding if having an empty milk carton thrown at us by a monkey falls under “entertaining” though… Seriously, monkeys are just little assholes.
ARAB SWARMA FOOD STAND
Aka, home to life changing falafels. I ate 4 within a 48-hour period; I couldn’t stop eating them and became a powerless slave to their deliciousness. We also took a picture with Omar, the master himself, because that’s what you do when you find the greatest falafels apparently. He moved to KL from Syria 4 years ago, opened up a tiny shop and has been thriving ever since. Thank you Omar for your beautiful and vital contribution to this world, you truly are a falafel saint.
It’s really quite a sight and the circular architecture and small details are pretty amazing. I don’t usually use the word “beautiful” when describing skyscrapers, but it really was just that, especially at night.
It is ultra clean and the best place to see the towers and a squirrel or two. Or five.
PERDANA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Overwhelming and underwhelming all at the same time. It’s huuuuuge, as in geographically it is large, but within that space I didn’t find a lot to offer. It’s a nice reprieve from the city with playgrounds and small areas to picnic, but it’s a little too big with not a whole lot going on. We stopped at the orchid garden, mouse deer park and small garden oases. On a scale of one to awesome, I’d give it a solid meh.
Skyline views galore! We went to Luna Bar but there are many places scattered throughout the city. Some have a minimum you must spend (~$25/person) or a cover charge (~$15/person), so a little research is duly advised.
SRI MAHAMARIAMMAN TEMPLE
Didn’t go in but the outside was neat.
So there you have it, six days (but really more like three) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! It may not be a perfect place but it was exactly what I needed.
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