Kuala Lumpur, 25 - 29 November
25.11.2008 - 29.11.2008 25 °C
It's so clean, so efficient, so different to Indonesia! Slightly more expensive though (always a flipside to that coin).We decided to stay a few days in Kuala Lumpur before flying to Thailand - will come back to Malaysia once the monsoon has evacuated.
Found some great accommodation on Jalan Petaling - the central street in China Town which is ladden with shops and stalls to entice the tourists. "Oasis" Guest house, a steal at only 30 Ringgits ($15) for a double room. Friendly, vibrant place - with all the movies we could ever want to watch at our disposal in the lounge (all bootlegged DVD’s of course!). A good time and place to entertain ourselves - especially during the huge thunder and lightening storms that prevailed every night - the loudest we've ever heard and makes for very impressive sights from the balcony overlooking the city. The road transformed itself into a rippling river... looks like we still haven't escaped the monsoon! Made ourselves at home at the local food court, the fiery curry laksa becoming our staple diet.
On foot we explored the nearby area - Merdeka Square and some larger, impressive historic buildings, such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (1897) and the National Mosque (rather unremarkable – especially since no visitors are allowed inside). The KL tower looms in the distance… not quite the Sky Tower though (ever so loyal). Guido is keen for more mosque action so we visit the “Masjid Jamek” a pretty mosque set in a grove of palm trees amidst the skyscrapers, and filled with people sleeping in between prayers. The volunteer who shows us around reassures us these folks are actually on their lunch break and not from the local salvation army (oops). Also, since girls have to don a headscarf and cloak to cover up (as if it’s not hot enough already!) – Alana looks ridiculously out of place with her fluoro pink and yellow slushy in hand (I love the 7-Eleven).
Close by is the "Central Market" - a refurbished Art Deco building filled with arts and handicrafts that we can’t take with us (packs are way to heavy as it is!). At least the nearby malls don’t tempt us… filled with cheap brand-alike clothes and pirated movies & music, mostly in pigeon english. Some of it even sells at western prices – how cheeky!). None of this comes as a suprise of course – we all know the Orient for its rampant piracy by now. The abundance and availability of it is, however, way beyond expectation. Even legitimate shopping malls floors are crammed with this stuff – whole floors selling nothing else.
It’s so easy to get around KL with their exceptional rail system – underground and above. We head out to “Sunway Pyramid” for a laugh – an Egyptian themed shopping mall with a giant lion sculpture at the pyramid entrance, hieroglyphics and pharaohs decorating the buildings. This monstrosity has 2 domes – Orange Atrium which is inspired by the sun god “ra”, and the Blue Atrium which is themed by the Great River Nile. Four floors of shops around a loop corridor (so you can never get lost), with different shopping precincts within. So new and immaculate, an aesthetic treat! This mall even has onsite hotels, a “Sunway Lagoon Theme Park”, and an ice skating rink – with an ice hockey game to entertain us. Giant xmas trees and decorations remind us that the festive season is upon us. Because we are traveling and can’t buy presents, we eat ourselves silly – so many taste sensations (and way too affordable).
The rail also takes us to the impressive Petronas Towers – although we are too late to get up for a view, we browse the mall and wander through the park before heading to the Golden Triangle – KL’s premier business, shopping, and entertainment district comprising of flashy high-rises and malls malls malls. After Sunway Pyramid, we’re hard to please, but Times Square is pretty impressive – complete with “Cosmos World Theme Park” on the top floor – home to the longest roller coaster in Asia, apparently. There’s something relaxing about drinking coffee while hearing the screams as the roller coaster flies past.
Catch the bus out to Batu Caves – the best know attraction near KL (15km north). Towering Limestone Caves at the top of 272 steps (yes, every step is labeled). We enter the “Temple Cave” – the largest cave, at 100m high (actually that sounds ridiculous…but it’s really high!). Once you get past the tacky souvenirs and man with a posing snake, you enter the dark, dripping cave – it’s immense! Natural light breaks through, bats fly overhead, monkeys run down the cliffs for food, Hindu statues adorn the walls – this place has it all! On our way down the stairs a monkey takes a keen interest in Alana’s plastic bag – and so begins a tug of war, rough and tussle, both too stubborn to let go until the monkey plays dirty, knarls its teeth, and gets agro (darn maqaques!)… Alana drops the bag and the monkey rubs insult into injury and bites into the full water bottle that has fallen from the bag. Cry me a river... Guido finally stops playing paparazzi and shoos away the agro monkey. By now there is quite the audience crowding around – monkeys and tourists alike enjoying the scene.