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Published: September 13th 2010
We had a bit of a bumpy start to our flight down to Malaysia’s capital. The plane was about an hour late for takeoff, they boarded us, closed the hatch, and then let us know that there had been a delay so we sat in our cramped seats for the hour passing time by sleeping and grumbling. The flight wasn’t overall bad, although landing in Kuala Lumpur at midnight wasn’t the most fun experience as the main metro system to get into town was shutting down, and the airport for some reason is over 70km outside of KL. We eventually made it into Chinatown and found our hostel for the next few days, which marks out first dorm experience on this trip.
Our first impression of Kuala Lumpur was how green it was. Not in the modern ‘let’s recycle and use solar power’ way, but the amount of trees in and around the city was awesome. The air smelled so fresh and clean, it was a rather large contrast from the smoggy city of Beijing that lay behind us.
Day one was shopping day for us; we thought it might be a good idea to stock up on
some warmer clothes for northern Greece and Norway, so we set off to one of the many shopping malls in the Golden Triangle area of KL. After 6 months of bargaining and haggling for everything, and using shopping malls for their aircon we forgot what it was like to shop away from the street stalls, and let me say that it’s a frustrating experience. After 2 hours of aimlessly wandering and checking out deals on camera gear we gave up, and stumbled upon a massive open air proper market on the streets. Heaven!
If someone were to ask for a picture of Kuala Lumpur, the most obvious thing they will see is the Petronas Towers; the gleaming steel and glass twins. We went in the middle of the day with two friends we had made the previous night in hopes of going to the free sky bridge between the two towers, and were turned away as they only allow a certain number of people up every day. Boo for us. We instead turned to the Menora Kuala Lumpur, or the KL Tower. The KL tower is perched up on a small hill nearby the Petronas towers, making it
taller than the twins as well as offering a 365° view of the city. Just outside the KL tower is a massive 10 hectare first growth jungle, which had free tours throughout the park.
We went on the free 45 minute tour with a very excited and informative guide who decided he would inform our friend Gideon of everything he saw about two inches from his face while screaming so the rest of us could hear what he was saying. It was pretty amusing. We didn’t see much wildlife, other than a few cicadas, and a MASSIVE very poisonous spider. After the forest walk we rode the ‘fast’ elevator up to the top of the KL tower for our impressive view of the city, accompanied by the hands free audio system used as a tour guide. As part of the park ticket we were also able to see the traditional ‘village’, which was a display of the different types of traditional houses you could find around Malaysia with descriptions for each. We were also treated to a show of some traditional dances, and Gideon and I were pulled up on stage to participate. It was actually quite
fun. After a long day and a quick bite we went back to the Petronas towers for some night time shots of the impressive buildings.
We were planning on leaving the next day but got a surprise in the form of Scott’s previous roommate from Norway, who is living just outside of Kuala Lumpur proper. We had been trying to get in contact with him for awhile and of course the night before we’re planning on leaving he emails and says he’s free the next day. Ok plans changed again, so we met up with Karl Erik and spend the day wandering useless, checking out the mediocre and overpriced bird park before getting a taste of sub-urban KL and having some delicious road side Indian food.
So we found ourselves heading off to Melaka, the old port city just west and slightly south of KL. The city reminded us of Penang as it was an old colonial city from the British rule. With some amazing old churches and buildings, as well as a massive Portuguese ship on display and boat tours down the river. We only planned on one night here (which was a
mistake, if we had more time we would have stayed much longer) but managed to get a good view of the UNESCO World Heritage site encompassing the older part of town. It was very beautiful and had a much quieter pace of life than the capital city. Next for us is Singapore for a few days before our European adventure begins. We’re taking the afternoon bus out that will take us directly into the city. We’ve both enjoyed Malaysia, the first time we were here many months ago we felt it was such a shame that we had to miss so much of the amazing country, so having the opportunity to come back and experience just a little bit more has been amazing. I can see us returning here in the future to explore more of the smaller islands as well as Borneo.
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