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Published: September 20th 2013
Kuala Lumpur is an enormous city with a wide diversity of cultures, the main 3 being Malay, Chinese and Indian are all reflected in the food. We stayed in Chinatown amongst the lantern lit streets just at the end of the covered market and well in the mix of street food vendors. Chinatown is supposed to be one of the cheapest areas to stay but we still had to pay double our usual rate for a not so nice room which was annoying. Arriving late on night one we headed straight to the satay food stall outside our hotel. We took our pick from the 50 or so skewered delights, colour coded to indicate the price, from the buffet. Handing our selection to the bbq guy we also ordered rice and beer and sat at a table. We had just enough time to suss out the dips/sauces available; satay as we know it, firey chilli and sweet chilli, before our food arrived. Devoured in no time, our first taste of Malay was good. Food was good value but beer was unfortunately £3 a bottle and not much cheaper elsewhere from what we saw so we decided this week might have to be detox week.
Day 1 took us to Lake gardens to visit the Orchid garden for a quiet amble around the hundreds of exotic species and first glimpse of the city skyline. Next stop was Menara KL tower but the price and cloudy day put us off the ascent so we admired the 360 view of the city from the 1st stage walk way.
Having had 2 bad taxi rides out of 3 we had a change of tac and headed for the monorail to get to Petronas towers, the second tallest building in the world at 490m high (it was the tallest until 2003). Arriving in a huge and super blingy shopping centre, we wondered around shopping hell for a good 20 minutes before managing to find an exit and escape onto the street. We were lucky to have so narrowly avoided the presumably automatic emptying of our wallets. On the street we followed our noses around a number of skyscrapers to the 1st tower and then around to the front for a square on view of the skybridge. The a/c of a small foyer (small only in comparison to its flanking towers) seemed like a good place to have a cool off so we wondered in... but hang on... we were in shopping hell again! how did we miss this door when we were trying to escape? We had actually been under the towers themselves and managed to walk the wrong way along an under pass then all that way back along the steet- we quickly got out before the vortex got us again. We found a good stoop at the bottom of the fountain decorated square to hang out until dusk then watched the sky go dark and towers light up, a very cool site. Quick film reference - this is the building that Catherine Zeta Jones larks about on in 'Entrapment'.
In 'the Golden Triangle' district, the elite area of town, we made a bee line for the famous Jalan Alor food street and scoffed some more Chinese food before catching the montorail back to Chinatown. Chinatown market is open all day but only gets really atmospheric after dark. Its trade includes designer trainers, handbags, watches, perfume and sunglasses - all dirt cheap and all fake of course.
There's not much else to see in Kl and since its fairly pricey, we could have left the following day but instead decided to have a general jolly about on our new favourite transport, the monorail. At 25p a trip, our hop on hop off and walk a bit tour was a fun way to see a bit more of the city and we finished at the central market for a browse before walking back to our digs. That evening we joined in the chaos of the Chinese lantern festival, picking up our free lanterns then watching the colourful Chinese dragon precession steam by.
KL - a good stop off and great for food but not much to see so 1-2 days is sufficient.
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