Tag Archives: Malaysia

The Beginning: Kuala Lumpur

After two overnight flights, we arrived in KL pretty delirious, but happy to be there. We grabbed the KLIA Express train after clearing customs and picking up our bags which took us to KL Sentral, the main train station. Our hotel, the Aloft KL Sentral, was actually accessible through walkways within this giant station/shopping mall, which was really convenient, especially after two nights sans sleep.

Rooftop pool at the Aloft KL Sentral.

Rooftop pool at the Aloft KL Sentral.

I typically pick a “nicer” hotel to stay in at the beginning of these trips after the big trip over, thinking that after long flights I would be happy to rest and recover in a comfortable spot. Each time I do this, I am reminded of how awesome I am and what a great idea that was, and this time was no exception. The staff at the Aloft was totally awesome and allowed us to head up to a 6th floor room to nap (we arrived around 12:30 pm). Later, upon waking up, they’d move us to a nicer, upgraded, upper floor room (which was being cleaned so we couldn’t go in at first). I was overjoyed to hear that one, we had a place to nap and two, we’d be upgraded! So we crashed hard for about four hours and then headed up to our new and sassier room on the 28th floor, which did indeed have better views. This is one of the many times during our three day stay in KL that I would be so happy to have picked the Aloft, I honestly can’t say enough nice things about it!

We spent several different afternoons lounging at the rooftop pool, just two floors above our room. This was the second time I would be thrilled to be staying here, because WOW. The rooftop infinity pool was simply amazing, with panoramic city views, sexy lounge music and just an all-around Lori-approved vibe. Upon entering on the first day, we realized it was about to storm, and so we enjoyed taking some photos and then headed back down to the room where I promptly fell asleep again. Finally, an hour later the rain had stopped and I had come back to life and we headed to the night market in Chinatown.

The Chinatown night market.

The Chinatown night market.

This is a good point to stop and explain a little bit about KL in general. As far as cities in Asia go, this may be my least favorite, as it seems extremely disjointed. There’s several “sections” of the city that are cool, like KL Sentral/Little India (where we stayed), Chinatown, Bukit Bintang (near where the Petrona Towers are) and more, but in between it’s very odd, with just highways or industrial streets. It actually feels like several small cities sort of close to each other instead of one big city. This made it annoying to get places, even though they do have a monorail transport system and we did walk and use Uber as well. It’s also worth noting the city is not super pedestrian friendly, which is something that is important to me in a large city. It was annoying to get around, there was just so much traffic, and I really didn’t like it.

So back to Chinatown. As far as night markets go, I’ve been to many in Asia, especially in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos and this just didn’t seem to have much of an ambiance. It was fine, though, we walked around, got some Chinese food (KL is also a big mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay) which wasn’t great and went home to crash. After sleeping 11 hours, we decided we needed to enjoy the insane pool for a bit, so we headed up to spend most of the day there, which was so wonderful.

View from the KL Tower.

View from the KL Tower.

That evening, we headed over via Uber to the KL Tower to visit the observation deck and see the city, Petrona Towers included, from up above.

Petrona Towers at night.

Petrona Towers at night.

Then we walked over to the KL Towers and strolled through the active Bukit Bintang area where we searched for this restaurant I wanted to try, and never found it. We ended up getting Lebanese food which was awesome, but I was seriously jonesin for some Malay food at this point, but we couldn’t seem to find the right spot.

The Batu caves.

The Batu caves.

The next morning, we got up early to head out of the city and see the Batu Caves. The journey was super easy on the KL Komuter Trains, and we were able to get there with no problems, as it’s just about 25 minutes outside the city. Although it was super hot, these Hindu caves and temples dedicated to Indian God Lord Murugan dating back to 1890 were worth it. They were colorful and huge and quite unique, thanks to their many stairs and excess of annoying monkeys running around stealing peoples food.

A monkey eating a stolen ice cream cone.

A monkey eating a stolen ice cream cone.

One of the temples had  about 300 stairs to climb to get to the top, which of course we had to climb. In the heat and humidity of the day this felt like an extreme sport of course, especially as I was wearing pants and sleeves (temple gear, gotta stay covered) and we were sufficiently sweating and tuckered out by the end.

Inside the caves.

Inside the caves.

However, for me this was one of the highlights of KL, and to be honest, one of the most unique temples I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of temples, but really). As I mentioned, KL has a bit of an awkward vibe, and so this cool cultural attraction really was a highlight for me in the midst of a bustling city that can’t seem to find it’s own personality.

The menu, entirely in...some language I don't understand.

The menu, entirely in…some language I don’t understand.

Once we arrived back in town, of course we hit the pool and then finally found a more local spot for dinner, but not before taking Jorge to Little India to get his head shaved at the barbershop for $2. After a nice haircut, we found a cheap street vendor to make us some Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and roti (a type of buttery nan bread) which was fantastic. The guy spoke no English, so I ended up ordering the above somehow, plus some kind of green vegetable (perhaps morning glory, a common vegetable eaten in Southeast Asia) with chicken which was covered in ginger and delicious. The whole meal cost about $3, so I was thrilled. After spending a lot more on other shittier meals and feeling like I was getting cheated for half the trip, a good $3 meal helped to put me in the grandest of moods.

The next morning, we were headed out to Lombok and then onto the fabulous Gili Islands, which will be detailed out in my next post.

Basically, compared to other large cities in Southeast Asia, KL is my least favorite. I think I’ll stick to Bangkok from now on for my jumping off point. That being said, if you want to explore Malaysia or Indonesia, it is easily accessible and close to everything, so it can be a good place to start. However, for future trips, I doubt I will be back unless I get some kind of insane flight deal.

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