Petronas Twin Towers
View from the Menara Kuala Lumpur, the 4th-highest telecommunications tower in the world.
Question: Which city would you rather visit: KL or Melaka? The modern capital city which didn't even exist 150 years ago; or the old colonial town, drenched in history, formerly occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British? Before visiting both places, I would have answered confidently: Melaka! What a mistake that would have been...
We arrived in KL on Saturday evening on a Berjaya Air flight from beautiful Pulau Tioman. Even after spending only a couple of days on a small island, having to dodge traffic when crossing the street seemed a bit strange at first. For the first night we had booked a room in Pondok Lodge in the "Golden Triangle", KL's central business district. After settling in, we looked around the neighbourhood, coming across a road lined by loads of food stalls, Jalan Nagasari. I love these kind of places!You sit down at a table, surrounded by lots of locals, and order some food from whichever food stall takes your fancy. Everyting is served promptly, tastes wonderful, and is cheap as well. For gourmands like me, it is simply great...
On Sunday morning, we decided to check-out of our room in Pondok Lodge, partly because the room
Petronas Twin Towers
Formerly the world's tallest skyscrapers.
was very small and we had to use a communal bathroom, partly because we wanted to be in a more lively part of the city. We found a comfortable room in Hotel China Town Inn, recommended by our traveller's Bible (the Lonely Planet guide), with a more promising location: It is situated on Jl Petaling, where a busling night market can be found and where you can buy lots of "real" Rolex watches, DVDs etc. After checking in, we made our way to the Menara Kuala Lumpur to check out the city from above. It is the fourth-highest telecommunications tower in the world, and at 421 metres above street level you have a splendid view of Kuala Lumpur and its most famous landmark, the Petronas Towers. Next on the list was the Merdeka Square and the nearby National History Museum. The museum was quite interesting, especially because the version of Malayan colonial history portrayed probably doesn't quite correspond to the version taught in schools in Western Europe. If only I was Malaysian I would have been proud of my ancestors, who fought so bravely to oppose the brutal colonisers from the West!
Originally our plan had been to divide
our time in Malaysia between Melaka, on Malaysia's West coast, and KL. Things didn't quite turn out this way though, as we went to Pulau Tioman instead. Not wanting to miss out on Melaka's colonial splendor completely though, Phil and I decided to visit it on a day-trip from KL instead. On Monday morning we hopped on a south-bound coach and two hours later we had arrived! Our first stop were the Historical & Ethnographic Museums, which are housed in the Stadthuys, the former town hall and governors' residence from the Dutch colonial era. It was ok... Things went downhill from there: after visiting the museum, we walked into yet another Chinatown. It was deserted! Now, I know it was Monday morning, but I really didn't expect this. Maybe it's worth a visit when the week-end market is on, otherwise don't bother. Disillusioned with Melaka, and our guide book not inspiring us to see anything else, we went to a shopping mall to ride out the time until we could get on the bus back to bustling KL. Later on, while driving back into KL and seeing the Petronas Towers as the sun was setting I could only be happy
about us not having wasted any more time in Melaka... Mind you, reading a book on a comfortable coach for a couple of hours was quite welcome at the time.
On Tuesday, we were hoping to go up to the skybridge which connects the Petronas Twin Towers. Entry to the skybridge is free, but tickets for a 15-minute visit are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis from 8.30am for visits starting at 10am. Phil volunteered to wake up early and get some tickets for later in the morning, while I could lie in. Yippie! He managed to score some tickets and after we had a late breakfast, it was time for our visit. From up close the towers look awesome. It used to be the tallest building in the world, until Taipei 101 took over the title in 2004. From the skybridge the view was pretty good, but not comparable to the view from the Menara Kuala Lumpur. I suppose it's nice to be able to say that I've been inside the Petronas Towers, but given the effort needed to get tickets, was it really worth it?? Hmmm.... Afterwards we decided to visit the Batu Caves, a system of
three caves just 13 kilometers from the capital, reachable by bus. The most famous of the caves is the Temple Cave, reached by climbing 272 steps, which is visited by over a million Hindu devotees during a three-day festival in January/February. The cave is absolutely huge and well worth a visit. The climb up is tiring, yet satisfying.
Wednesday was unfortunately going to be a day of travelling for us. Our time in Malaysia had already, too quickly, come to an end. Vietnam was waiting for us though! The morning was spent reorganising our bags and getting to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, over 70 kilometers south of the capital. We then took a flight from KL to Bangkok, and spent a couple of hours in an airport lounge, before flying on to Hanoi, which is where I am at the moment. So far so good! We're loving it here.... to be continued...
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