Last year, in 2014, we visited the capital of Malaysia. We flew in from Australia, which might have add to the culture shock! We used AirAsia, the leading low cost airliner in Asia, nothing bad to say about them. It is low cost, so you know what you get. At the airport, AirAsia has their own terminal, which is also low cost … Culture shock started right there, at the toilets 😉 And then the row to get our stamp and enter the country. Queuing lasted and lasted, and after about an hour we could finally collect our luggage. First mistake: AirAsia has it all organised: you can take an AirAsia bus to the city center, which is quite cheap, but we’ll never ever do that again! We were so glad to arrive at the central train station alive! It started raining on the way, and it got dark very quickly. Add a bus driver who drives probably perfect according to Asian rules, but not to what we are used …
Second mistake: go for a hotel not in the city center, but just outside the center center. If you know what we mean J Whit our heavy backpacks and in the dark, hot, humid, tropical million city we had to take a metro and find our way to the hotel … Well, we found it. But by that time we had already given up on Kuala Lumpur. The area where we slept was very much what we didn’t expect.
And, as always, in daytime light you get a pretty good impression of where you exactly are. We decided to walk to the center and start our city trip. This was mistake three J Protected by a good layer of DEET (oh we hate it! Really. But we didn’t want to get infected by Dengue or get an allergic reaction) we discovered the surroundings of our hotel. Although there were some hotels, this suburb was clearly not the part of the city where lots of tourists come … So we escaped to a metro station on the way, and took a train to our first destination J
The highlight of our trip was definitely a visit to the Petrona Towers! The Twin Towers of Malaysia rise high above the city, and are especially a beautiful piece of architecture at night, when the towers are lightened. We purchased our tickets online, which is cheaper and faster than paying in site. Malaysia is a Muslim country, and this is also reflected in the shape of the towers: they symbolize eight-pointed stars, describing important Islamic values. The high-speed lift first took us to the Skybridge, which connects both towers. That’s the 41st floor, or 170 meters above sea level. That bridge can actually move, as do the towers, to intercept strong winds … The second lift took us to the top of one of the towers, to the 88th floor or 452 meters (!) above sea level. That is very high! Despite the fact the weather wasn’t all clear, we could still see quite far. So yes, we saw the Batu Caves, but from a distance 😉 The city itself is tiny from up there, but to get that view is just amazing! Once we got over a slight dizziness, we really enjoyed the limited time we got. Perhaps a good tip: don’t eat too much just before you go in, the lift goes down just as fast as it goes up J (nope, we didn’t suffer any injuries, but we saw the devastating consequences of sensitive stomachs J).
Malaysia has a rich history, but only gained independence as late as 1957, before that it was colonized by the Netherlands and the British. One of the must-see sights is Merdeka Square: the square where the independence was declared, with a huge flag pole to remind this event. Formerly the square was used as a cricket ground. Now it is a beautiful open space, surrounded with colonial buildings. The museum is okay but not the best in the world. But we did got a private guide to show us a maquette of Kuala Lumpur. From Merdeka Square it is an easy walk towards Taman Pasik Perdana, a big park (here you’ll find the Butterfly Park, the KL Bird Park and the botanical garden). On the edge of the park stands the National Mosque, which can be visited outside praying hours. Besides lots of mosques, KL also has a number of hindu and Chinese temples and a catholic cathedral. The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest of Malaysia.
And if you fancy shopping, don’t worry, malls are to be found everywhere in KL! The air conditioning was very welcome J
To get back to the international airport, we took a train. Much more comfortable although slightly more expensive than the bus. But at least we made it safe and sound!
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