Flying into KL, Malaysia…WOW what a change! The landscape, the people, the culture, the temperature and most of all the food!
I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, onMarch 10th, via air from Bangkok (60USD one way). The Klia airport is big, clean and has lots of ATMs. After taking out my cash for the two to three weeks I intend to stay in Malaysia (1500RM or 450$CDN), I hunted down the shuttle bus to downtown, it costs 12MR and took less than an hour!
Money snapshot March:
1 CDN dollar is roughly 3 Malaysian Ringgit (MR) and 1USD is equivalent to 1.35 CDN and 4 MR.
Sights and Attractions of KL, Malaysia
I found KL to be much more colourful and cleaner than other South Asian cities. It was bright, shiny and enjoyable. I also felt it was safer late at night, ‘safer’ but still not without crime: Malaysia’s favourite trick is to short change tourists, I say this having experienced it five times in 7 days. There just can’t be that many people who can’t do basic math for it to be a coincidence. Tip: count your change in front of the tellers and waiters.
Madeka Square has a lot of small museums and tourists sights plus the famous ‘I Love KL’ sign. The food in the other districts is awesome! Stroll through Chinatown and eat stall foods, Ice cream and desserts or eat 24/7 in an Indian restaurant.
Islam museums of Arts – 14RM, 7RM with student ID.
I loved this museum! Other tourists I met recommended it and they were spot on! The Museum is located in a government grounds park near the botanical gardens and national mosque. I took the transit system to KL station, it was just a short walk from there. The Museum itself is clean, has air-conditioning and lockers to put away bags while touring the exhibits.
The exhibits were well displayed, spaciously laid out and had English signs. The Museum covers the historic importance of Islam from its emergence in the 6 or 7th century by period and region of influence. The Museum also displays exhibits for the three valued arts of Islam: Calligraphy, Geometric Art and Vegetal, plus an underground artistic caricature scene as depicting religious figures was strictly prohibited.
I spent over two hours learning the history of Islam and admiring the wonderful artwork. They also had decorative swords, hair pin knives and tiny chest plates worn by soldiers. It was the perfect way to escape the midday heat and learn a little about another culture and religion.
National Mosque – no cost
I’m not quite sure why this is an attraction. The mosque is large in size, newly built, but far from strikingly beautiful. Since I do not practice Islam, I couldn’t go into the interior of the mosque. I had to throw on a robe anyway just to climb up to the terrace and take a look around the outer courtyard. I don’t mean to be rude but after visiting hundreds of Temples, Chedi’s and Padogas i want to be impressed. Apparently there are other more beautiful and historic mosques in KL and other cities. In KL, there is a Chinese temple called Thean Hou worth visiting.
Easily accessible via the amazing KL transit system, the Batu caves are set in a giant karst limestone mountain overlooking the city. The main cave cavern is massive in size, although short In depth.
There is a small tour available for 30RM to visit the dark caves where there are spiders, bats and other creepy crawlies inside the dark tunnels.
This cave got me thinking about the Hobbit and the lonely mountain cave, as only a cave of such size could inspire such a tale or house a giant dragon!
This giant park located West of downtown and north of the Museum of Islamic Arts is very pleasant, a great place for a picnic! From the north entrance, street art covers the walls and the sounds of the nearby highway fade away. At the gate, the park is completely quiet. A little haven so close to the city centre. As I walked the empty streets, I came across the Deer park which was more like an enclosure, a pitiful one.
The rest of the park however is beautiful and well designed. From here, the butterfly park (Free) and bird park (50 RM/person)are just a short stroll away. I never got to them, maybe on my next visit!
Asrama Step Inn Hostel
I spent four nights in KL, all at this Hostel. I met so many great young backpackers from Germany, England, Ireland, USA, Brazil and Kazakhstan. The people made my stay amazing, including the staff from Poland and Latvia. There is a great common room/patio area with a roof that was perfect for late night card and drinking games with the other guests. We played Kings Cup, In the Box and Big Two.
In the main lobby, the staff are always lounging around watching movies and drinking beer (Heineken’s 500ml can 7MR is stalked up in the lobby). There is also a liquor store down the street that sells 700ml Gin and Whiskey for 30MR and less (<7.50USD). The hostel includes toast with jam in the morning, and unlimited coffee and tea throughout the day. I also had access to a small kitchenette I didn’t use.
Down the street from the Hindu Temple around the corner is a burger stall that only appears at night. The egg ‘Benjo’ is delicious, reminded me of my time in Vietnam eating Banh Mi
My first three nights I stayed in the fan dorm for 20MR/night that was stuffy and hot, but perfectly cheap as I didn’t hit the sac before 2am on any night even staying out as late at 7:30am one morning with a couple of crazy Germans. My last night, I stayed in the air con room for 25MR\night which was much better.
I definitely recommend this hostel for a young backpacker looking for a social stay.
I wrote this article from the base of Robinson Falls in the Cameron Highlands and on the beach in the Perhentian Islands.