KL hustle & bustle

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

 20080330 KL hustle & bustle
Our plan was to spend 3 nights in Kuala Lumpur (KL) which would give us a change to do a little shopping and plan the next few days of travel. Using our trusty shoestring guidebook we checked into a highly recommended hotel in the centre of  KLīs Chinatown. As the bus from the airport dropped us off at the entrance to Chinatown the sights, sounds and smell overwhelmed us. The main road through Chinatown was alive with little shops selling anything you can possibly pirate to food stalls offering freshly prepared eastern dishes, most notably was the sweet smell of roasted chestnuts that filled the air. It was quite a task to locate our hotel through all this madness and after stopping and asking for directions we found that we had walked right past the hotel which was hidden behind some stalls.
The Hotel Chinatown Inn was listed in the shoestring guide book as splurge option - a little more upmarket that a regular backpackers. We had booked a room with a window as many rooms often have no window and/or windows that look into an elevator shaft. What we didnīt know is that our room with a view looked directly down on the main street in Chinatown. It was quite something to look down on the mad hustle and bustle on the street but also realised we were going to need the earplugs to get some peace and quite.
Chinatown is a mixture of just about all the races which make up Malaysia, from the ever smiling Malays to Chinese, Indians and some Africans all mixed together harmoniously in one big melting pot. All the restaurants and stalls catered for these different cultures and there were limitless choices when it came to choosing a meal. Of course hygiene in these situations is never a priority but its best not to think about that when the food tastes so good.
To get a better look at KL we bought tickets on the hop-on hop-off city tour. When time is limited this is usually the best way to take in the cities attractions as the bus usually stops at all the cities highlights. We got to see some a little of the city but unfortunately the majority of our time was spent waiting for the bus which should have arrive at half hour intervals and then getting stuck in KL rush hour traffic for 3 hours. We did get to visit the Petronas Towers which are enormous and were once the worldīs tallest towers (until 2003 when Taipei 101 surpassed them). After a tour of the exhibition center we realised that the towers 400 plus meters will only be half the size of the Burj Dubai, even if you put both towers on top of each other they would still be shorter, go Dubai!
KL has some top class malls which are an complete contradictions to the compact crowded shopping in Chinatown. All the big brands can be found and the malls are spotless, bright, shiny and spacious with multiple stories and clearly very popular with local Malaysians. It reminded us a little of Dubai and its many malls. I couldnīt help looking at all the stock in the stores and thinking to myself that they needed some inventory optimisation, guess I havenīt quite forgotten what I did for a living before this trip.
Our plan for the next few days is to make our way up the built-up and popular west coast of mainland Malaysia towards the Thai border. Thanks to the free wireless internet I was able to pick-up we have booked a nights accommodation in the Cameron Highlands which is famous for its tea before we make our way back down to the coast where weīll spend some time on the beautiful island of Penang.
If we had more time I would have preferred to tour the east coast which is a lot less visited and apparently has some spectacular beaches, islands and diving. Malaysia certainly has a lot more to offer than we initially though and once again will be put on our `must visit again listī.
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