After nearly two months in an island paradise it's back to the city life. I'm experiencing a little something called culture shock. I disembark a bit foggy from my red eye and attempt to navigate my way into Kuala Lumpur. I make it to customs, and am given a 90 day Visa on arrival from a smiling agent, no questions asked. I like this country already! And, lucky for me, Kuala Lumpur (KL), is very well planned and I find the Express Train downtown without too much trouble. It takes about 40 minutes and drops me at KL Sentral Station. I switch to the local train and take it one stop to Chinatown to find my room at Bird Nest 2. I only have to wander a short time with my pack until I stumble across the small sign above the door. It has a nice vibe, and I receive a warm welcome from Willie. It's just very hot and humid in KL. I settle into my single room at 25 Malaysian Ringit per night (3.2 on the dollar) and wander into the 100% Polish occupied common area – unexpected! Despite my jetlagged fog, I manage to communicate and promise to see them after my cat nap. I emerge 3 hours later to a cup of Turkish coffee from my smiling new friends. I am now ready to face the madness of Chinatown.
First stop is Central Market for a look around – knick knack central and tourists abound. You can buy anything you want there, just be prepared to haggle quite a bit. Upstairs is a food court, where I sampled some fresh juice. Tired of haggling, I head towards the nearby mosque and find myself inside being handed a free purple robe. I pop it on and start looking around. After just a few minutes I am roasting under the robe and decide to make my way out. At that point I run into a lost Korean woman, who for some odd reason thinks I might know where she wants to go – so I offer to join her in her quest to find a certain famous Square. We walk for a few hours together, and find the botanical gardens, the bird sanctuary, the I Love KL statue and art museum, and a bike race, but we never did find that square! We part ways to head back to our guest houses.
My new Polish friends are hanging out, with the addition of Willie the owner and a German. I join them, and we end up having a lovely evening of religious, political, cultural, and all kinds of controversial conversation best avoided when meeting people for the first time – and vodka... let's jump right in! :) The next morning the German and I found a vegetarian buffet and some excellent iced coffee. That day I joined one of the Polish women on a trip to the Batu Caves. It's an easy, air conditioned train ride away and we have a lovely afternoon climbing the stairs and watching the crazy monkeys. That night the German took me to see the Twin Towers, which were gorgeous at night. We walked through the 'food street', which is only open at night and popular with tourists. I enjoyed some fresh satay and we share some Tiger beer. Our goal was the Helicopter Bar, but we arrived only to find it closed. The next day I spent more time eating my way through Chinatown and turning down a new tattoo, the salesman asking you like they are offering a cigarette or a new pair of sunglasses. Amusing. That day I discovered the most delicious vegetarian curry laksa and coffee on a tiny street behind the main Chinatown drag. The stuff of dreams.
The next day I tackle the laundromat. The exciting life of a backpacker. That night the German and I reattempted the Helicopter Bar. I wore a dress and we found him some new threads on the way. Our efforts were rewarded – we go right up and enjoy a bucket of Tigers at the top for 75 ringgit. Just as we're getting comfortable, fireworks start going off in the distance – a great night and end to my time in KL! What luck, and highly recommended if you want to see the Towers. I really enjoyed KL – multicultural, a mini food heaven, English is widely spoken, people are nice, there is nightlife, and the coffee is delicious. The only downside so far is the poor air quality and the humidity, but the public transport is easy and it makes a great hub to explore the region. I look forward to my next visit!
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference and a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born. A place to share stories, resources, and a way to inspire and support others in realizing their individual travel dreams.
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Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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