Kuala Lumpur Impressions
We were travelling through Thailand and our visas were about to expire. We needed to leave the country and decided to visit Kuala Lumpur because the airport is a major hub in SE Asia and we were curious about it. We did not know what to expect from KL or Malaysia, but it ended up being one of our favorite experiences.
Firstly, this is no Wikipedia entry and I have decided to keep this limited to observations relative to previous experiences. Kuala Lumpur was unlike any place we have ever visited. It shares some similarities with it’s neighboring countries but it is unlike anything else. It is close to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The population of KL is split into three main groups. Malay, Chinese, and Indian. Each one’s influence is felt and the finished product is what you experience. Religion is 45% Muslim, 35% Buddhist and 10% Hindu. Everyone seems to make it work out and the city is thriving for it.
I can’t wait to talk about the food we’ll get to that shortly. We spent most of our time Bukit Bintang which was central to everything we wanted to see. Nearby Chinatown is known as Petaling Street and the Little India part of town is known as Brickfields. KLCC is where you will find the Petronas towers and modern business district.
On the surface it might seem like there is not much to see and do in KL but if you are a junky for culture, there is a lot to explore and learn about. See the tourist things but also see how the locals eat, shop, spend their time. It is exciting and full of energy as soon as you leave your place. Go walking get lost and you will find something you will always remember. We once went looking for a local market and found an outdoor hardware market I still remember.
Anything you could ever need you can find in Bukit Bintang. It is filled with shops, restaurants, and activities to keep you busy.
The “normal” commercial malls are enormous. We did not make it to all of them but I remember being in disbelief when we saw the Berjaya times square. “Berjaya Times Square is a 48-storey, hotel, condominium, indoor amusement park and shopping centre complex”. I am not used to seeing three story rollercoasters inside of a mall.
Public Transportation is excellent with Bus, Taxi, Train, and Monorail. It is also walkable if you don’t mind up to 15-45mins to most attractions.
Things to see/do
KLCC / Petronas Towers / Aquarium – All next to each other and a good days worth
Menara or KL Tower – 360 degree view of KL. Catch it on a sunset and watch the lights come on
Islamic Museum – Beautiful collection of Islamic art and artifacts
National Museum – History of Malaysia and KL
Jalan Alor – Great area for local street food.
Batu Caves – Spectacular Hindu Temple set inside of a cave.
Petaling Street – Chinatown, cheap shopping and authentic Chinese food
Brickfields – Little India garments and some of the best Indian food you will ever have.
Note: Hop on Hop off is not bad to locate everything you might want and revisit as needed. Otherwise you can take a taxi or monorail and get anywhere as well.
We enjoyed the Aquarium, and recommend it.
So let me now talk about the food. I can say that in my opinion the flavors of Kuala Lumpur are some of the best I have ever had. That mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian!?! You get sweet, spicy, savory, and they get that balance right, every time. I’m the type of person that always likes to add and season my food but you will not find anything on the tables because the flavors are perfect. I never saw it coming but now I can’t forget it. A typical plate is rice along with sauce and meat along with some vegetables. Flavors include coconut milk, lemon grass, kaffir lime, tamarind, ginger and galangal.
Food is usually served like a buffet and someone comes to your table and pulls a number out of the air. Don’t try to understand, it might be your hair, it might be his argument with customer, who knows, he will look at your plate give you a price. Teh tarik is a delicious milky tea drink that seems to go with everything and comes in handy when you eat something spicy. This blog goes into further detail about what is what and where to find it.
We found a place on airbnb located in Pudu that had an excellent view of the skyline. We took photos from it all the time especially when the weather became moody. Celeste made a beautiful timelapse video you can see here.
There is so much more to explore and learn from this culturally rich city. Looking forward to the next time.