Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia. We had a flying visit to the city during our month travelling Asia. We were excited to head to the city having kicked off our adventures trekking on the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. The flight from Kathmandu was delayed and the airport was like an overflowing cattle shed! Far too many people packed into a very small space that housed all the international flight departure gates. It was a shame to be delayed given the limited time we had in the city. We’d found cheap flights onwards to Sumatra in Indonesia from Kuala Lumpur that only gave us one full day to explore.
We arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport late in the evening. Immigration and customs were friendly and straightforward and for under 3 months no visa was required to enter the country as a visitor. Having read about transport from the airport to the city beforehand we had decided to get an airport taxi on arrival as it was far cheaper than that offered by the apartments. Sure enough as soon as we passed through customs we found the airport taxi desk. Ensuring we told them we wanted the budget option we paid a very fair £17 and were on our way with a friendly taxi driver. It took an hour to get to the apartment we’d booked ‘Lanson Place Bukit Ceylon Serviced Residences’ using booking.com for a fantastic price (£60 per night) WOAH! We were utterly blown away by the place. We were upgraded as the smaller apartments were all full due to a conference. Going from sleeping in teahouses high up in the Himalayas we couldn’t believe our eyes. The apartment was beautiful and the view of the city at night was breathtaking.
We slept beautifully well in our huge comfortable bed, and headed upstairs for breakfast. We filled our tummies with fresh fruit, smoked salmon and lots of tasty foods. As we only had one day we’d decided to get a day ticket for the hop on hop off bus. It cost £9 each for 24 hours and was well worth it. We decided to do one full circuit of the route to work out where we’d get off on the second lap. However the traffic in the city was pretty bad so we didn’t have time. It was nice sitting on the open top section but boy was it humid! We were stubborn and persevered with the heat to get some photographs.
We loved how green the city was with the mixture of colonial and modern architecture. There were many beautiful mosques, and the museum was very pretty. The commentary on the bus was hard to hear but it helped orientate us to the map in the leaflet. Little India was a pretty place to see from the bus, as was China town. The bus route takes you through the green belt where we could look out over the cities main parks. This is when we decided to change plans and jump off at the bird park and spend some time there.
It is the worlds largest free-flying walk in aviary. It was a fun place with some very curious birds. Although we hadn’t planned on visiting it we had a lot of fun there. Although we did feel sorry for the caged birds. They sold little pots of bird food and inquisitive little birds would come and peck them out of your hand. We spent a couple of hours walking around checking out many hundreds of species of birds before deciding to head back to the city centre. The buses depart every 20 minutes so we didn’t have too long to wait. The Petronas towers in the city centre were incredible. As soon as we saw them we knew we’d have to return by night to see them all light up.
We walked the 40 minutes back to the apartment finding lunch on our way at Opium KL. While we were sitting eating a nice salmon salad a big thunderstorm hit. The rain was torrential for a good hour. By the time the rain had calmed down enough for us to run back to the apartment the road was like a fast flowing stream. We got absolutely soaked! But it was refreshing on the skin after coping with the humidity and heat all morning and did make us laugh getting so drenched. We dried off and cooled down while watching the storm continue to circle the city from our apartment.
Once the weather calmed down we decided to walk to the central market having seen it from the bus and been curious to check it out. We used google maps but soon regretted the route it had chosen. It was an eye opening hour of walking through a very poor part of the city. There were hundreds of homeless people sitting in long rows on the streets. Some sitting in suits having clearly been to work for the day, with nowhere to go for the night. It felt a little hostile and it did make us nervous. We saw one man, naked, washing in the water coming from an overflow pipe, we didn’t blame him the humidity was back with a vengeance. It’s eyeopening seeing how such poverty and such wealth can be within a street or two of each other.
We got to the market and had a walk around the stalls before deciding to head back to the Petronas towers and the safer part of the city. Although we were glad to have seen the other side of Kuala Lumpur as the centre of the city is so green, with such attention to detail with the architecture it almost didn’t feel real. We found ‘Pier 12 Seafood Tavern’ on Trip Advisor, desperate for some tasty fresh fish and we headed there for dinner.
I struggled with the cultural differences that popped up and surprised me a few times on our travels. While the food was delicious I was treated like I didn’t exist by the staff. Pretty much ignored for the whole evening with all the attention being on Pato. A few men commented on my appearance or barked at me during our time in the city. I had made the effort to be respectful of the muslim culture and cover my shoulders, and my legs. In fact I was the most dressed tourist we saw that day but still I didn’t get away without some hassle in the day, I guess it’s how pale and blonde I am, it sticks out.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment to sleep, tired after fitting so much into one day. We would have liked to have another day to explore what we hadn’t managed to see.
The following day we had enough time to go and check out the swimming pool at the apartment block. It was gorgeous! We ended up spending as much time as we could there before having to head off for our flight to Indonesia.
Overall we liked Kuala Lumpur. It was cheaper than we had expected it to be, and generally the people were friendly. The apartment was the bargain of the century! We’d wanted a city break in luxury accommodation as a treat after our week trekking, and that is what we got. But I don’t think we’d go back again.