Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
45Trip End Feb 13, 2011
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I'm currently sitting in a blissfully air conditioned Internet cafe, outside it's an extremely bright 33 degrees Celsius in Kuala Lumpur. Today is actually the first time we have properly seen the sun since being here, the air outside is normally of a dense grey smoggy quality, although cloud or no cloud, humidity is still around 79% (according to google weather) and any amount of time outside gives the sensation of pollution slowly seeping into your skin as the sweat pours out.
Kuala Lumpur is a world away from Singapore. The super modern high-rises have been replaced with a mixture of run-down colonial buildings and Arabic architecture. The streets are far dirtier but also far more exciting, usually filled with vendors selling exotic fruits or aromatic food, or as in Chinatown where we are staying, "genuine copy" designer handbags, purses and DVDs. Everywhere you go people are calling you to buy something from them at a 'special price'
The Hostel we are staying in is a really nice but VERY basic place in Chinatown accessed by walking up 2 flights of dingy cobwebby stairs behind a newspaper/cigarette stand. However, as you approach the foyer on the 2nd floor all is forgotten as the place has been covered in Chinese lanterns, fake plants, pebbles and even two giant fish tanks with resident turtles and dog sharks!
This was the first place we stayed when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur with Marks mum and many happy nights were spent on their rooftop bar soaking up the city atmosphere (pollution). Much like our few days in Singapore, the first few days in KL were a flurry of sightseeing. We visited some amazing orchid gardens, a massive butterfly park, The National Museum and the Islamic Arts Museum which were all really interesting. We also went up the KL tower to see the city from 421m up!
Despite having walked the city flat, and seen in from the highest viewing point, we then embarked on the epic challenge of going up the famous Petronas Towers. The Sky bridge which connects the two towers at 170m above street level is open to the public, however only 1700 tickets are issued daily on a first come- first serve basis, and so it's a KL tourist's rite of passage to get up at the crack of dawn to queue for a coveted place.
Thankfully, with only 2 hours of queuing (on Mark's part- Liz and I went to sit in an adjoining air-conditioned room!) we managed to get tickets! This was very lucky as some people queue from 4am- when we arrived at 8am the room was PACKED and we were among the last people to be let in
After such a busy few days, it was a welcome relief to leave the city for a little while as we set off the next day to Kuala Selengor National park. Just 75Km out of the city, it was an arduous walk/bus/2hrwait/bus/taxi, journey with heavy backpacks but the sight of our chalet, silently resting on stilts in still water covered with pink lilly pads made it all seem worth it!
2 lazy days followed, throwing bits of food into the water to be gobbled up by the giant catfish lurking under the surface, watching monkeys play in the trees and geckos scurrying across the porch roof at night. However, our reason for going there was to witness the natural phenomenon of the synchronized fireflies which line the river banks in the Kuala Selengor area, and it did not disappoint!
Just a few hours after sunset we drifted silently up the river, through inky black water. It was so dark, the only light came from the stars, their reflections in the water making it hard to tell where the horizon seperating the water and sky was. This gave the aerial sensation of floating through air. Then as we turned a bend, the tiny white lights of the stars were outshone by bright flashing lights all along the edge of the river. The mangroves with ablaze with fireflies flashing with such regularity that the looked like christmas lights! Everywhere we looked was darkness piereced by bright twinkling lights, a surreal and breathtaking expierience!
As we departed Kuala Selengor we felt refreshed, relaxed and rearing to hit KL again!