I have been on a journey of discovery and I’ve learnt that a journey of this length gives you more time to discover yourself. I have learnt so much about who I am and what I believe in, I found the real me and all this happened in Malaysia.
I had not visit Malaysia before but had heard great things about its multicultural society and its vast beautiful vistas. I have only Explored a tiny amount of this country but learnt more here than anywhere else in the world.
Arriving at Kuala Lumpur airport for the first time was daunting for the second exciting, this city has a lot to offer the traveller and today I’m going to attempt to do it justice.Arrival
I have always thought that borders and passports should be things which didn’t exist and everyone should be allowed to wander the planet freely, after all why does the place that you are born determine your destiny. Luckily and I use that word loosely British citizens are allowed to visit Malaysia for a period of 3 months without a visa. 90 days may seem a long time but you won’t even scratch the surface of this wonderful country.
Immigration stamped my passport with a smile and I was free to explore, Kuala Lumpur international airport is the size of a small town and I found it to be a good place to stop for a moment and breath. Travelling can be stressful as well as exciting but there is a lot that can and sometimes does go wrong, so to arrive is the time I start breathing again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole process of travelling apart from the queues. I am getting to be a savvy traveller and airports are part of what I do now.
These days I can’t seem to live without the Internet especially whilst travelling, which is odd as surely to travel should be an opportunity to switch off from gadgets and Facebook. I however have discovered the opposite as I travel alone, I use my smart phone to navigate and my tablet to communicate. I avoid contracts with service providers and always buy an unlocked phone outright, I never buy the top of the range, state of the art phone as I will either break it or lose it. I have however managed to accumulate three phones and for some reason I carry all three. The LG G3 is my main phone but recently I have had a few issues with it, first it started to get into a boot loop, hence me buying my second phone in Spain. This turned out to be a battery issue and after purchasing two new batteries the boot loop stopped. The LG has just started to unmount the SD card on its own accord, I have tried a new card but to no avail. I have read that compressed air blown in the back of the phone could help but I am inclined to think that the LG has come to the end of its life. I will retire it on my return to the UK and turn it into a security camera.
My Spanish phone is a good replacement for the LG but lacks a few features, well it was only £60. I use it solely as an mp3 player now and have the option of using it instead of my LG.
Phone number 3 is a £6 Nokia which lives in the bottom of my bag for emergencies.
Kuala Lumpur airport has a lot of options to purchase a local sim card, I opted for the tourist Maxis 4G. Maxis have an app for topping up which makes life so much easier, no more searching for an outlet to buy a voucher. The app works without any credit too meaning you’re never stranded.
Sleeping in airports has become part of my travelling itinerary now as it saves on accommodation costs. Kuala Lumpur airport is very easy to sleep in and there are a lot of options. I headed down to the concourse level where you’ll find the buses and taxi’s, there are lots of seating and places to rest. I carry a ¾ self inflating mat with me which helps tremendously to get comfy.
Kuala Lumpur airport has a few hotel options and I did stay at Tune on my last visit as I was in urgent need of a shower and a comfy bed. Tune has a hotel within walking distance of KLIA 2 but I found the staff rude and the room very odd. The light switches and air conditioning controls are located next to the door meaning you have no control from the comfort of your bed. I even tried the breakfast in the hotel restaurant, it looks nothing like the photo in the room and was awful.
The airport has lots of cash machines which makes obtaining your spending money easy and has several hundred options of places to eat and drink. There are several options for getting to the centre of Kuala Lumpur, I have used the bus service which is the cheapest option and the KLIA Express train which is the quickest, I avoid taxis as much as possible as I always feel I’m getting ripped off.
Either the bus or the Express train will take you to KL Sentral the main transport hub in Kuala Lumpur. Here you can easily get to anywhere you desire, there is the LRT, the equivalent of the London Tube although a hundred times more efficient and a hundredth of the price. Then you have the Kommuter a rail network which knits its way across the country. Kuala Lumpur also has a monorail system, which is worth travelling on just for the views. The monorail is situated through the NU Sentral shopping centre, just go up those escalators in between the huge electronic billboards. Public transport in Malaysia is cheap and you can travel the equivalent of the length of the UK for less than £20.
Whilst in Kuala Lumpur I walked all over the city and my advice is don’t, the city is designed for motor vehicles and not pedestrians. Walking in a small area is great and highly recommended but getting from A to B is hard, not to mention the heat. I stayed in Chinatown which is 1 stop away from KL Sentral and during my stay I attempted to walk it, big mistake I was hot sweaty and stressed, seen as the LRT would have cost me 30 pence it’s not worth it.
China Town (Pasar Seni LRT Station)
OMG! The main street Jalan Petaling is crazy, huge fun and vibrant but I don’t think I’ve been anywhere like it. During the day the street is lined with kiosks and stalls selling everything fake you could possibly imagine and at 4pm they add another few hundred stalls right down the middle of the street. A few years ago I was told not to reply to street vendors who shout at you to buy their goods as they then don’t know what language you speak and move on to the next victim. This is the street which will drive you nuts due to the amount of people wanting you to buy from them. Keep your eye out for the entrance to the wet market it is a side alley off Petaling street, if you’re squeamish don’t go as in the morning they kill the meat and fish in front of you before preparing it for sale, I went vegetarian that day.
Chinatown has a vast array of places to eat, try Kim Ling a Chinese restaurant established in 1927 it’s incredibly cheap and the food is amazing. Look up at the crossroads and it is the red building. You can go upstairs in the air conditioning or eat in the street.
Chinatown is a photographer’s joy, just be aware some stall holders do not like the fake merchandise photographed, I wonder why?
Central Market (Pasar Seni LRT Station)
Established in 1888, I know that because it says it above the door, is an excellent example of an indoor market. If the hustle and bustle of haggling street vendors is not your cup of tea, head here. This air-conditioned bazaar is fun to wander and with its fixed prices makes browsing and shopping easier.
There are a number of places to eat here and my office was situated at the Secret Recipe Cafe. They serve a wonderful cup of coffee and tasty food, also try Hot & Roll, a savoury wrap here goes down very well.
Chow Kit (Chow Kit Monorail Station)
Chow Kit market is a must do, especially for photographers it’s vibrant and has a jolly atmosphere. Entering from the Monorail station side and you can walk through a small bazaar and food court, at the end on your right you’ll see the fruit. Wandering up and down will bring your senses to life with fresh smells and weird sights. The wet market is at the back and again if you’re squeamish avoid the mornings when they kill the food.
KLCC Suria Mall (KLCC LRT Station)
You are now below the Petronas Towers and you could easily spend all day here. Exiting the LRT station and on your right you’ll enter Avenue K, this is where you’ll find Loaf an excellent bakery and coffee shop. I rarely managed to walk past Loaf whenever I saw one as they have a vast choice of bakery items. If shopping is your thing continue past Loaf and head up the escalators, enjoy wearing the numbers off your credit card.
Exiting the LRT station and going left (at the top of the escalators double back for the loo, before the barriers). The underpass leads you into Suria Shopping Mall directly under the Petronas Towers. You are now in shopping heaven, I recommend trying the food court as it is very cheap, has a huge selection and reminds me of school.
Suria Shopping Mall has a really good cinema, I saw Jack Reacher 2 here for £1.60. Be aware that it’s cold inside the cinema and you aren’t allowed to take in your own food and drink.
KLCC Park (KLCC LRT Station)
This park is amazing with ornate water fountains and a children’s wet playground. You will be approached by touts selling wide-angle camera lenses so you can get a photo of the Petronas Towers, but I discovered that opposite the Suria entrance on the other side of the lake are benches that you can sit on and just stare in awe at them.
Exiting Suria bear right until you get to the conference building, here is the hop on hop off bus stop, No:4. Enter the conference centre and go down the escalators to get to the Aquarium. I didn’t visit, as I think fish should be in the sea but if it’s your thing be aware of the huge queues. There is a Starbucks down there too, remember don’t give them your name, make them shout out something ridiculous.
The Petronas Towers (KLCC LRT Station)
The experience of going to the top of the Petronas Towers will be one I always cherish. The ticket office is in the basement, just follow the signs to the theatre and then go down the escalators. This is a very popular attractions and it is unlikely you will be able to go straight away. I would recommend seeing both the Sky Bridge and the Observation Deck, you get plenty of time up there and the views are amazing.
Be aware you can not take any bags or extending selfie sticks with you, so fill your pockets. I managed to leave my spare SD cards in my bag and missed out on a lot of filming.
Batu Caves (Kommuter Train Batu Station)
Less than 30 minutes outside Kuala Lumpur is Batu Caves and Temple. You can easily spend 3 to 4 hours here but there is no air conditioning anywhere nearby. You just have to see this place to believe it, on my visit there was a lot of building work going on and the caves were noisy. As you climb the steps you’ll meet the hundreds of resident monkeys, you can buy food at the bottom of the 1700+ stairs. Once at the top you can see great views of the city and inside you can wander with the monkeys to enjoy the art and Temple.
There are temples at ground level too and you will have to remove your shoes to visit the temples.
KL Tower (Raja Chulan, Monorail Station)
Choose your day wisely as the view can easily be obscured by rain or smog, I would recommend, first thing in the morning or at dusk. There is a free shuttle service to take you up the hill to the entrance where you’ll find lots more than just the tower. They have a small petting zoo, a 4D cinema and a great Italian pizza cafe. There are different prices based on what you want to see I opted for the observation platform and the outside terrace, however because of the weather they closed the terrace. This wasn’t a problem as the ticket counter refunded the difference, which they won’t do if you buy your ticket elsewhere. You also sign a disclaimer to say if you fall off or hurt yourself you can not sue them.
The tower is 412m just a few meters less than the Petronas Towers and the lift shows you your height in meters rather than floors. On arrival you’ll be asked to have a photo taken in front of a green screen, I find this odd because you’re pretending you’re there when you are actually there. The view on the day I went was hampered by bad weather it rained heavily and you couldn’t see anything for nearly 2 hours. Luckily you can stay at the top for as long as you want, not like the Petronas Towers where you are given a set time.
The observation deck has souvenir shops and sweet shops but very little else, I would take a drink and snacks next time to save money and to be able to stay longer. The staff are polite but gave conflicting information about the open terrace. An employee told me they were going to open the terrace and to wait half an hour but they didn’t open it, even though the weather had cleared up. Another employee told me I wouldn’t get a refund for the terrace and the girl at the lift said I would. The ticket office tried to get me to come back the next day but I told them I was flying home, I then got a refund no problem.
These are just a few of the places I visited whilst in Kuala Lumpur, for someone who had not been before it was fascinating and I certainly will return as there is so much to do and see.