Dates: February 10th – 13th, 2017
Hostel: The Explorers Hostel
Key Spots: KL Bird Park, The National Mosque, Petronas Towers, KL Tower, Batu Caves.
While teaching abroad, a 3-day weekend provides you some nice, extra travel time. So when a holiday came around, Ally and I booked our tickets for a weekend getaway to Kuala Lumpur.
We had got in very late on Friday so on Saturday, we got up early to see what our neighborhood looked like in the day light. We started by walking through Jalan Pettling Market, a day market in China Town. We then got a taxi to go to our first stop, the KL Bird Park. I had definitely forgotten about my fear of birds but was slapped in the face with it as soon as I was in an enclosed space with hundreds of them. We got lunch in the café at the park so one club sandwich later, we were ready to continue our city tour.
The previously mentioned taxi driver had given us some solid advice: after the bird park, just walk down the hill. Do not pay for the bus. It is stupid and expensive. And stupid. (Stupid was said at least 5 more times). So we obviously listened to him, and walked our way down the large hill that the KL Bird Park is on top of. On our way down, we saw a few different museums and then ended at the National Mosque of KL. I had promised my parents I would take lots of pictures and see the mosques while I was there, and while we showed up at prayer time (hehe my bad), the outside was beautiful and I took a thousand pictures for Azzeddine.
We then walked our way to the City Gallery, where we got a historical tour of the city and learned all about the city’s beginning, it’s current state and it’s future plans. Kuala Lumpur – meaning ‘Muddy Confluence’ – got it’s name for being at the intersection of the Gombak and Klang rivers. It’s impossible not to see Islam threaded throughout the entire culture, from infrastructure to food, and I found it interesting to learn the history behind this officially secular but predominately Islamic country.
We had read about Jalan Alor, a must see street food stop, so we headed that way for a late lunch. If there is one important thing to know about my travel partner, Ally, it’s that she has to make frequent bathroom stops. SHE ALWAYS HAS TO PEE. So on our way to eat, we saw what looked like shopping malls – which means public bathrooms – so we made our way in that direction. It felt like for a moment that I had taken a trip to NYC with the skyscrapers, impressive malls, hookah bars, shawarma stands and animated billboards. We finally found ourselves at Jalan Alor where we consumed some of the best shumai I have ever tasted. It was definitely worth the stop!
To end our first day in KL, we wanted to check out the Petronas Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world). Going up the Petronas Towers was out of our price range but we were both very happy with just laying our eyes on them. During the day, the KLCC Park is full of families, individuals and friends relaxing, eating, chatting and just enjoying the nice park within the city.
Once the sun sets, there is an amazing water light show in the fountain and you can find hundreds of people capturing different angles of the beautiful Petronas Towers. Once we were satisfied with our pictures, we wondered into KLCC for dinner. We ate at Nando’s, which my travel partner tells me is where Ed Sheeran eats when he’s in Vancouver.
We had two places left to see: the Batu Caves and the KL Tower. The Batu Caves are 13 km outside of the city and involves a 45-minute light rail ride up North. We had read that it gets busier as the morning goes on, so we left our Hostel at 8:30am to try and beat the crowds. Famous for the gold statue of Lorg Muruga towering at 140 feet, it is definitely an amazing site to see.
After walking through lots of Indian street food, souvenirs and restaurants, we found ourselves at the bottom of the steps up to the caves. If you are not appropriately dressed (ie. legs aren’t covered) you will have to pay to borrow a parreo to wear for the walk up the steps.
272 steps later, we were standing in the 400 million year old limestone caves. Since it is a religious site, there are various monuments throughout the caves – some that you can see for free and some that you pay to enter. It is worth noting that there are monkeys here so watch out for your belongings on the way up and down. After coming down, we ate at lunch at one of the Indian restaurants, got some freshly fried pakora and then headed for the train. All in all, this adventure took about 5 hours.
After a nap and shower at the hostel, we headed over to the Menara KL Tower. We wanted to go up to watch the sunset and when we arrived, we were given 3 choices: a) eat at the fancy revolving restaurant, b) go to the sky deck and c) go to the observation deck. We chose c (budget ballin’), got some chocolate and watched the sun set from 1,099 feet above the city. The tower is the 7th tallest telecommunications tower in the world and was built in 1995. While the tower itself isn’t the tallest in the city, it is situated on top of a hill which makes for some pretty high views.
For dinner, we treated ourselves to dinner at The Hard Rock Café. Thinking back, I would categorize my dinner as one of the best sandwiches I had ever had in my life. That is definitely an over exaggeration but at this point, any thing that doesn’t involve rice is highly praised in my book.
Fun fact about my new travel partner and I: we both like hanging out in airports. So even though our flight was at 11:45am, we made sure to arrive early enough to eat at Wendy’s (yes that’s right. I had chicken nuggets and fries at like 8:00am and it was amazing). The KL International Airport is really nice and has lots of restaurants (halal options!), shopping and miscellaneous things to do. If you’re like me, KLIA is definitely a nice airport to spend some time in.
All in all, my first international trip since coming to Thailand was definitely an amazing one. It was really fun to make some new memories in a new city with a new friend! Next international travel: Vietnam! Much love to those back home!