Malaysia is one of those elusive places you sometimes hear of, but knowledge about it seems to escape the greater population. Is it a city? A country? Even for travelers like me, who seek out unusual locations, Malaysia doesn’t seem to be topping any travel lists. Malaysia is in fact a county, which borders Thailand to the South. I spent 4 days in the rapidly up and coming, developmentally proactive capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL).
I loved it, and here are my most memorable moments:
1. Climbing to the ‘Batu’ Caves – About a half hour away from KL by train, the Batu Caves have been formed in a limestone hill. However, it takes 272 tiring steps to reach the biggest cave! The caves, inside and out, are speckled with Hindu temples and shrines; the site is an popular place of worship.
2. Cooing at a mama and baby monkey at the caves – Not all the monkeys were this precious. One fiercely threw a coconut down to the ground, which hit me on the big toe. But this sweet site made up for it.
3. Looking up at the Petronas towers – These are the tallest twin towers in the world and an icon of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline. Whether daytime or night, they are utterly captivating and overly shiny, and eyes can’t easily be drawn away. These twins would be disadvantaged players in a game of hide and seek; they tend to outshine their surroundings, which makes them easily spotted from every angle.
4. Looking down from the Petronas towers– Looking down from the towers is equally exciting. From up on the 86th floor, I could see miles (or should I say kilometers) in every direction. (One tower is occupied by Petronas, an oil & gas company, and the other tower is available for other companies to lease.)
5. Seeing the fireflies in Kuala Sengalor – Although it was about an hour and half taxi ride outside of KL, the trip was well worth it. When night fell, 4 of us loaded into a tippy, wooden boat, and as the man rowed us under low hanging tree branches, we watched hundreds of fireflies blinking in-sync like christmas lights.
6. Crossing ‘fish spa’ off the bucket list – The area we stayed in, Bukit Bintang, is well known for its ‘fish spa’. This foot treatment involves hundreds of wee Garra Rufa fish eating your dead skin off. It’s an aquatic, exfoliating spin on your average pedicure, but it’s insanely ticklish, and probably somewhat unsanitary.
7. Getting up-close-and-personal with exotic birds – KL Bird park is an enormous open-air, tastefully designed park built into the curvy green hills. Peacocks to Scarlet Ibis’, ostriches to toucans, these birds have a surplus of greenery to meander through and natural looking water sources. Its took us a full two hours to walk around the trails leading all around the park, while exotic birds whizzed over our heads and poked around by our feet.
8. Donning full covering to visit the National Mosque – Although Malaysia is very multicultural, its main religion is Islam. The outer area of the National Mosque is very airy and inviting with tile immaculate enough to lay on (and this is precisely what people do, for hours at a time). Although we were able to peek into the prayer room, which had a soft, colorful glow form the stained glass windows, only Muslims are allowed in the prayer room.
9. Melting into the melting pot – KL especially is a melting pot of cultures, colors, and religions. I gathered that most of the population speaks at least 3 different languages (one taxi driver spoke 7), with a wide use of Malay, English, Tamil, and Mandarin, to accommodate diverse populations. I’ll be honest, it was nice to see some color! Thailand prides itself on its light-skinned, homogeneous population, which quickly loses luster; I was elated to embrace the rainbow.
10. Wandering around the beautifully laid out cityscape – KL is an ambitious capital with hopes to be ‘completely developed’ by 2020. Although several areas are in a heavy, perpetual state of construction, much thought has been given to the development of KL. Transportation is easy and cheap. Broad sidewalks and open areas provide room for trees and grassy areas, while fountains, and other thoughtful architectural knick-knacks make for an enjoyable wandering experience.
3 additional things I really, really enjoyed particularly because I’m living in Bangkok: breathing clean air, throwing my trash away in a trashcan, and walking on even sidewalks! Oh, the simple joys! KL, you were good to me!
Before my KL trip, I was inspired by Time’s Article- Kuala Lumpur: 10 Things to Do.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Jawaharial Nehru