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Published: June 19th 2010
Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, has about 2 million people and is also the biggest city in Malaysia. We arrived very early this morning, after a 9pm flight from the Hong Kong Airport. The flight was 3.5 hours long! Luckily, the time flew by...I guess we've become used to long journeys by now. I wonder what driving for a few hours will feel like again in the States.
Arriving at our hostel (Red Palm) by taxi at 2:30am meant that all we did was get a room key and immediately fall asleep. Well, tried to. The World Cup was playing at the restaurant next door, so sleeping at first was a little difficult with all the crazy cheering.
Kuala Lumpur is a difficult city to describe. It's the most culturally diverse city we've visited during this year so far- Malays, Indians and Chinese all live and work together here, meaning that English is widely spoken, as it's the language they all have in common with each other. Upon landing, we realized how weird it was to once again be in a country that uses the alphabet. We can read signs, though we don't really know what they mean, of course, other than some of the obvious ones. Bahasa Malay (the official Malaysian language) has many commonalities to English: Restaurant= restoran, for just one example. Because of these similarities (and because they use it more often!), the English spoken here is much more comprehensible than that in China. So far, we've had zero communication issues, something that we're not used to!
Our hostel is really nice, and located right in the downtown area where there are many restaurants and things to do. Their monorail and lightrail systems (both above ground) are easy to use with English signage everywhere. The first thing we did, after a provided breakfast at the hostel, was to head out on the monorail and buy our bus tickets to Malacca for tomorrow. It was a simple process- take the monorail to KL Sentral, choose any of the ticket desks, ask for a ticket, give them money and voila! No miming needed. We made a stop at The Coffee Bean, as well as getting a snack of some traditional Malaysian bread with onion & cheese. Yum.
Afterwards, we walked around 'Chinatown' for awhile, enjoying the stalls upon stalls upon stalls of copy watches, copy bags, copy everything...without the persistent yelling and hawking of goods that is so common in Hong Kong and mainland China. Only one guy really tried to get our attention, and instead of addressing me as "Lady" or "Just looking", he yelled out "Oh, beauty!". I almost wanted to buy his stuff just from that.
We happened upon a hole-in-the-wall (literally) vegetarian restaurant and stopped to buy some fresh spring rolls. While there, an Indian woman from Singapore struck up a conversation with us, simply to be friendly. She also suggested we try a local favorite soya bean drink, so we did...and it was okay. Not the best, but good to try! The spring rolls, however? A-MAZING.
After we'd had our fill of Chinatown, we headed to the Menara KL Tower, the 5th tallest telecommunications tower in the world. The views from up top were amazing, and made even better by the sunny blue-clouded sky day we had. From there, we made our way over to the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world. They used to be the tallest buildings in the world period, until Taipei 101 (which we visited in May) was built! While you have to pay to go up the Menara KL Tower, the Petronas Towers are free...IF you wait in line at 8:30am for their limited free tickets. We'd heard the views were more spectacular from the KL Tower, so we skipped getting up that early and just enjoyed the Petronas Tower views from the bottom, taking lots of pictures.
We ended our evening with some seriously delicious Indian food right over the fence from our hostel. For less than 4USD, we ate 2 big meals and 2 servings of garlic naan with two dipping sauces. My stomach is past full, and I am incredibly happy!
Tomorrow, we take a 2 hour bus to Malacca!
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