Kicking Back in Kuala Lumpur

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 21, 2008

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Friday, January 18, 2008

Arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL) for a weekend of forgetting why I am on this trip to begin with....WORK!

After getting settled I mosied around the hotel found the Polo Lounge and settled in for a couple of beers and to plan my day of exploring for Saturday. Somehow I managed to have about an hour's worth of a conversation with the bartender and I don't believe I understood a word she said. I don't think she understood much of what I said either but luckily I just had to point at the beer and hold one finger up and somehow I got another cold one.

Saturday - well the day started off bright and early...well not really ha-ha. I am getting ready to go explore KL and am taking the shuttle from the hotel at 12:30 (I didn't want to rush myself today=). I am going armed with my map, a bottle of water, some ringgits (local currency) and a great attitude. The hotel told me they have a free shuttle to the City but they mentioned nothing about a shuttle back. But KL has taxis and I have an arm and I am sure if I hold it out long enough something will stop that will bring me back. I don't know what the weather is going to be today and don't intend to find out. I know it will be hot and that is all I need to know. How hot... does it really make a difference once it is over 90 and humid?  I am sure at some point it will also rain. And me without my umbrella.

The shuttle dropped me off at the Petronas Towers and it was already hot, hot, I got my bearings I headed inside to the shopping mall and was bombarded with all things Western. I got an iced mocha latte at Dunkin Donuts and perused the Gap for a shirt (desperately needed) before I had just too much America for one day and headed back out into the heat. I missed the ticket line for the towers but hung around the grounds for a bit to get the feel of the city. I could have signed up for a tour but wanted to do my own thing. It is exhilarating to be dumped off in the middle of a foreign city and just your thing. I am sure a tour in an air-conditioned bus would have been more efficient, but who wants to be efficient when you have just a couple days and nothing really to do. While it can be exasperatingly frustrating to get around on your own, it is also that much more satisfying when you figure it out. It gives you a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can...hell, I am in KL and hanging by myself with nothing more than a map and my own two feet (which have a lovely shade of pink nail polish and are feeling fabulous).

I looked upward and saw the KL tower and headed that way. Somehow I got there and decided to bypass the free shuttle and walk/climb up. By the time I got there I was so hot all I wanted to do was find somewhere to wipe the sweat off. Instead, I bought a ticket (20 ringgits) and headed to the top. Wow, what a view. Spent some time there and instead of buying a souvenir, got myself some much needed sunglasses (I left mine at the Island Shang in HK before Christmas..wonder if they will be there when I get back next week??). A pair of Oakleys for 25 ringgets or < $7 US. Are they really oakleys??? Could be but who cares I had shades. I elected to take the free shuttle back down to the street and headed for the Central Market area which had the National Museum and a Mosque I really wanted to see. I opted to walk and somehow found what I was looking for (how satisfying considering reading the Malay map was a bit challenging...Jalan means road...I think).

I went to the Mosque and after putting on headgear was deemed appropriate. From there I headed to the museum but was too hot and tired to pursue. Instead I decided to keep heading to the Pasar Seni or Central Market. I figured this out after much consultation with the map, because the map had it listed as well, the Central Market, but all the street signs said Pasar Seni. But, I found it and had a great time shopping and even found a heavenly place where I got a 1/2 hour foot massage for < $10 US. Oh did it feel good and got me going for another 1/2 hour of shopping before I was done. I hit the 7-11 (they have been in EVERY country I have been to) for a few cheap beers for the mini-bar and negotiated a fair rate for a taxi and headed back to the hotel. Once there I hit the Polo Lounge again for a couple cold ones and much to my dismay a retrospective of the early music of Britney Spears (her new album actually kicks a little ass - don't ask) before heading back to my room for a much needed shower..did I mention it was HOT...and a couple more cold ones before hitting the sheets before another day of exploring.

So sending out an update now....will send out another tomorrow if it was half as interesting as today...

Sunday - Got a great night's sleep and headed to the city on the 10:30 shuttle today (hotel is about 20 minutes away but on a lake and quiet & relaxing) and got dropped off at the Petronas Towers again. I wanted to start the day with some food and taking in Bukit Bintang, a little cosmopolitan area in the city. See live, love, for the food update..yum! So I decided to walk over...the shuttle driver suggested a cab. So NOT what I wanted. He said it was like 4 km, but after finding the right road saw a sign that said 1.3 km. How is that 4 and I wanted to be out in the fresh, though hot, air so I could see stuff and take pictures or slow down or change my mind. They do love their taxis here. I headed over and grabbed lunch and walked around. After that I decided to head to the National Museum and then spend the rest of the day around the Lake Gardens (a 229 acre park with a bird park, butterfly garden, orchid garden, deer park etc. etc.). It was too far to walk so I hopped a cab after we negotiated a price. Seems that Sunday is a "holiday" and the meters don't work. When I told him that is what my driver said the previous day he got a sly grin on his face. I was prepared for the taxis in this town thanks to my guide book and negotiated a < $5 US deal. The museum was an absolute joke and I only recommend going to see if for laughs. It IS going through a renovation, so hopefully it will be decent when they are done. It is their National one after all and should represent what a great and interesting country this is.

The Lake Gardens were in walking distance and after walking up staircase after staircase in stifling heat, I ended up at the Planetarium which I had no interest in. At this point I was hot and confused and had to remind myself I was on an adventure. Luckily, I was pointed in a downhill direction to what I hoped they had told me was correct. I was a little doubtful because the guy looked as confused as I felt. But everything turned around. The walk became pleasant and the signs started to seem right. I saw a huge lizard that I have only previously seen on the National Geographic or Discovery channel and tired to take a picture but it didn't work out. After that I took in the Bird Park. It was really cool and worth the trip. Birds of all kinds roamed freely and I got to feed the lorries again (see Singapore Bird Park visit). At one point I was taking a picture of peacock like bird that walked up to me and the next thing I knew he/she was chasing me. I was like, dude leave me alone! I had high hopes of doing a full loop and taking in the flower, deer and butterfly parks and then walking through the park and kicking back by the lake. But, I had been at it for over 6 hours and the heat just wore me out, so I decided to call it a day.

KL is a great city and more than a stop-off to the beaches or rainforests of Malaysia. You could definitely fill 3 busy days or 4 to 5 slower days (especially if you want to take in the nightlife). The people are very friendly and it is very safe. The food is top notch and there is so much to do, I barely touched the surface. I hope to make it back, but in that case it would be just a stopover as I need to get to the beaches of Langkawi and the rainforests of the Taman Negara National Park. If anyone is interested in joining me just let me know...because I plan to be back! My attitude received its much needed adjustment for sure.

Heading to Hong Kong tomorrow for a couple will dominate, so will send an update when I have figured out how I am going to spend my personal time. Until then....

Take care and I hope you enjoy the pictures...what a great trip,
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Hakim Hamzah on

An interesting article about your visit to Kuala Lumpur. You may want to consider posting it to to win great prizes!

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