My most recent globe trekking took me away from Australia on a 9 hour flight north to Malaysia. The main reason for the trip was going diving in Malaysian Borneo. As there are no direct international flights to Borneo this meant I had 36 hours to experience Kuala Lumpur (KL).
KL is the most populated city in Malaysia, serves as the capital, and is home to 1.6 million people. Ethnically its about a 50/50 split of Malays an Chinese with 46% being followers of Islam. Compared to other experiences in Asia, this was a bit different. There was little of the vice like in Bangkok and lots more shopping.
My trip began with a 4am arrival to KL followed by a quick breakfast at the airport and an hour coach ride from the airport to downtown. After being dropped of at KL Sentral station it was a rather sweaty 2 mile walk to my hotel. Thankfully, there is an air conditioned walkway taking you from the Bukit Bintang shopping area to the KL Convention Centre area where I was staying.
The Bukit Bintang – KLCC Walkway – Image courtesy wonderfulmalaysia.com
After criss-crossing the park for a while I was able to find my hotel – The Traders. Not wanting to waste a minute, I dropped my bag off with the check-in desk and set off to explore.
First on, was exploring this gorgeous park that sits between the KL Convention Centre and the Petronas Towers. Time check – 7:57am.
I’m an architecture geek and was really excited to get up close and personal with the towers.
For a little background, the towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004 with a height of 1,483 ft (451m). Prior to their opening, the tallest building in the world was the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago. In 2004, they lost the world’s tallest title to the construction of Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan. However, they do remain the world’s tallest twin towers. And, they are stunning.
A running path that weaves around the park.
Looking back at my hotel across the park and a man-made lake
From the base, you can see the towers have an almost metallic sheen and are connected by a glass encased two story skybridge. You can pay to go up to the skybridge and tour the building. I was far too early though and the ticketing desk didn’t open for hours.
My tour of KL continued back toward the Bukit Bintang shopping area. You learn quickly that people in KL like to shop. There are malls everywhere!
This one had 6 stories and several wings.
Some even themed like this area called Tokyo Street.
Outside after the mall really started getting busy.
At another mall, the Berjaya Times Square, which hosts the worlds largest gumball machine.
They even host some good American favourites.
There were huge queues for both restaurants and it was a 45 minute wait for a single seat at the bar. Needless to say I left to have a cold bevvie outside.
Where the Americana continued…
Outside of the malls, you had the typical large Asian city scenery
Traffic designed to kill pedestrians
Massive billboards – even McDonald’s
And some interesting construction management attendants like this mannequin with a waving arm and dressed in high vis clothing
After a quick shop and some lunch it was back to the hotel to check in and take a dip in the rooftop pool.
Some pretty great poolside views of the towers.
I was a bit exhausted from the flight and being up since 4am trekking around in the humid Malaysian weather. Despite this, I ventured back to Bukit Bintang to check out the famous night hawker markets.
Stalls lined the edges of the streets as far as the eye can see. Every 10m or so another worker wielding a menu attempted to get you to come eat at their stand. This despite a complete lack of available seating…
Even with all the people they keep the street open. Tons of taxis passed through with people sheltered inside with air con while taking photos of the mayhem outside.
I made the exec decision to avoid this craziness and head back to my cushy hotel room and order room service.
I mean, if you pay for a 5 star hotel – might as well enjoy it, right?
Back at the hotel it was a quick order of room service while taking in the views from my room.
Dinner was a Malay spread of spring rolls, nasi lemak, salad, and fried chicken paired with fresh fruit juices.
I found out that after dark they do a Bellagio-esque light and water show outside the towers.
After my feed and the show I was completely wiped out and settled in for a much needed sleep for my early rise the next day.
Of course, I slept with the curtains wide open.
The next morning I was up early to try and get a run in before it got too hot. I laced up my runners and hit the 1.3km running track that ran around the park below my hotel.
This park has lakes, play areas, pools, fountains, you name it
The track surrounded by great shade trees
A very happy – and very sweaty JJ
They had some bridal convention on at the hotel. I’ll gladly take this for a wedding gift…
My time in KL flew by so after a quick feed, shower, and pack (with some new clothes) – it was time to leave KL and head to the airport via the bullet train.
The train line takes you out of the city and through some pretty countryside and palm plantations.
Including a well manicured golf course
Coming up next – JJ goes to Borneo!