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Published: April 17th 2018
Entrance to Jalan Petaling
Our hotel is somewhere inside!
Nine years ago we wrote ‘Kuala Lumpur is Knockout Lovely’. Well, it still is! KL is a vibrant, bustling, noisy, cosmopolitan city and we love it. Getting here was somewhat taxing but that is all part of travelling. We left Hampshire at 17.20 on Sunday and twenty two hours later we arrived at our little hotel in Chinatown in KL, at 22.20 on Monday, which would be 15.20 GMT (seven hour time difference) and 16.20 CET at home in Spain (six hour time difference). Why such a long journey? Well, true to form, we arrived in a major tempest which is how we usually manage to arrive in foreign parts! Last time we flew in to Singapore, for example, lightning struck and moved our bus on route from the airport! This wasn’t quite so dramatic, however it was severe enough to close the airport, causing all planes circling to re-route. Our plane was re-routed to Penang where we refuelled and then flew back to KL and landed safely. So, fourteen hours after taking off at Heathrow we were sitting in the plane on the tarmac getting refuelled in Penang and two hours later we landed in KL; sixteen hours is a
Our hotel on left
long time sitting on a plane. However, the seats were good, plenty of leg room and Malaysia Airways serve decent spicy food. So ‘no pasa nada’. Unfortunately we didn’t sleep but watched a few good films. The flight distance was 11,787 km, which is 11,139 to KL plus 648 km flying up the Malacca Straights between Malaysia and Sumatra to Penang and back (324 km each way).
We are staying in Chinatown in central KL in famous Jalan Petaling, which is referred to as the Petaling flea market on our tourist map. We haven’t found any fleas yet! It is a great place, cheap and crazy, with little hotels jostling with market stalls, street food outlets and money exchange kiosks; typical backpacker land. It is KL’s answer to Bangkok’s Khao San Road. During the day the market stalls are just each side of the road but each night more spread all across it; a maze of stalls and one has to zigzag through, which is a bit hard carrying rucksacks, but we managed. We have checked in to the same hotel that we stayed in nine years ago; cheap, basic but clean with double bed, bathroom and
air con. Not bad for £11 a night! Despite getting here at 10.20 p.m. and feeling knackered, we needed to go out to get something to eat and drink. Rather late for most restaurants here, but one can always get street food in KL at all times of day. So, we sat on wobbly plastic chairs in a tiny but not too hygienic establishment to be honest; the food was great! We both had green chicken curry with rice and coca cola; 15 ringgit for both of us (about £2.70, £1.35 each, or 3.10€, 1.55€ each). Got to bed at midnight and slept well.
Today we had a leisurely start to the day; still a bit jet-lagged. We went out around midday and spent the afternoon strolling around, after a great lunch of Nasi Lemak with a really hot spicy sauce and ice cream to cool the palate down a bit! Malaysian food is great. We visited the Central Market, built in 1888, which is crammed with artisan stalls. One artist exhibits beautiful oils; the oil is squeezed on straight from the tube then using palette knives and I think a teaspoon, the oil is moulded and
lifted into shapes. This is a technique that I am going to try when I get home. Other artists create beautiful batik designs and the sewing machines are out making bags and garments to sell. Wonderful place. After the market we strolled along the Klang and Gombak Rivers, once the lifeblood of colonial KL before the railways. Nine years ago this area, the confluence of the two rivers, was a dirty forgotten backwater. Today, it has a new lease of life, with gardens, walkways and bridges and fountains on the embankments. It was a very hot, cloudy day with a few showers (34 degrees): typical tropical weather. We escaped the heat by visiting the Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad mosque, built in 1909. John had to wear a skirt to cover his sexy legs. I had to gown up completely, covering arms, legs and hair with a red hijab. This rather thick red hoody was so hot that it was a relief to enter the mosque and the air con. Women have all the fun.
After the mosque we crossed the Klang to Merdeka Square, full of colonial buildings like the Royal Selangor Club 1884, the Sultan
Abdul Samad building, 1894 and the British government offices built in 1896 and the delightful Edwardian fountain of 1904. At the end of the square the Malaysian flag proudly flies from a 100 metre tall flagpole, one of the highest in the world, erected in 1957 when Malaysia gained independence from British rule.
This evening we went to the Old China Inn to see if it was still as good as it was nine years ago. The ambiance was as good but the food was a little disappointing. It was less spicy than we remembered and certainly less spicy than the delicious Nasi Lemak that we ate at lunchtime. The cuisine is “Nyonya” sometimes called Peranakan, which is a fusion of Chinese and Malay food and typical of Malacca Straits Chinese food. The blue rice is interesting. It is flavoured with the dye from blue petals of a common South East Asian flower.
Tomorrow morning we leave Kuala Lumpur to fly to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in Borneo. Our stay in KL has been short this time but thoroughly enjoyable. It is a great city!
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