My baby sister, big brother and myself touched down in Kuala Lumpur on the 10th of October, 2014.
Yes, I have some travel companions for the next few weeks, unlike my last trip. It was nice to have company for the long journey out of Australia. This is thebeginning of an extremely tightly budgeted trip around Malaysia, so let’s see how it all works out.
My expectations of Kuala Lumpur where somewhat superseeded having visited other Asian cities such as Saigon previously. An 80 Rm Taxi ride of an hours length took us through the kms of palm plantations and past the outer suburbs of KL. Surprisingly the traffic on the roads here are rather ‘tame’ compared to what i was expecting. Our driver occasionally found the middle of his lane and even his indicator a handfull of times. We were all surprised he could see anything at all given the advertisement stickers and electronic gadgets covering his windscreen. Thankfully we got to our hostel, Reggae Guest House, safely.
Staying in China Town has its perks. Very centrally located, cheap hawker markets, street food, cheap restorans and easily accessible public transport are of advantage to this area. It was evident it was the right area for people backpacking Kuala Lumpur on a budget. Our hostel was situated just a few meters from the famous Petaling street, which is a street filled with Chinese culture and hawker stalls. At night it is a fabulous street to walk down. Absorbing the aromas of the food, the sights of the chinese lanterns lighting the walkway and the hustle of the stall holders and tourists is quite an experience. Once is enough however, for me anyway. Many cheap eats which appear to have decent sanitation were in the area. Meals for around 3 dollars were common and even down to about 1.50 but the newbies (bro and sis) are a bit paranoid about getting sick from such cheap places, understandably. The food is sometimes sitting on trays on the footpath already cooked, which with the heat is not a great combination. Just walking past some places you are hit with a rotten Fish stench which is rather off putting. Having said that, the majority of food here smells delicious and the combination of cultures (malay, indian and chinese) gives a huge selection.
On our first day in KL we set out looking for some food just about 3 blocks away, but ended up walking probably almost 10km! Bukit Bintang was the suburb we ended up in, well the air conditioned shopping centre anyway. The Shopping centre was massive. 2 floors in we noticed a rollercoaster which wound and loped through the remaining 8 or so floors. It turned out to be a small theme park inside the mall. That is certainly something we don’t get in Tasmania. Unfortunately i was way too tired and we decided it would be better to go on the rollercoaster in a few weeks when we are back in KL. This shopping mall seemed to belong to me… There was a shop selling sweets called ‘bb kiddo’ and another one selling dried fruit and sweets called ‘eddibee’ – what are the odds of that! All of the clothing is very cheap, ranging from less than 5 dollars upwards and the fashion isn’t as hideous as i excpected so I might be able to afford a few new pieces.
Our first proper Malaysian meal was from a small restoran in China Town called the Happy Frog. Thankfully frog wasn’t on the menu, but we did get some delicious Malaysian chicken fried rice, cold chicken curry and another Malaysian rice noodle dish which was a bit tastless (the name has escaped us). It was all very reasonably priced at around 7-10 ringit per meal (about 2.50 to 3 dollars). This seems to be the usual pricing for local meals which is as amazing as the food is.
Day 2 in KL consisted of a lot of walking. A piece of white toast kick started the day (one disadvantage of cheap hostels and backpacking Kuala Lumpur) followed by a walk to the central market. Some how we missed the market and ended up probably kilometres away at a garden at the base of KL Tower. This park was a lucky find. A steep set of steps winds up the hillside to a rundown fitness park followed by some rest spots underneath the Tower and some nature parks. KL Tower was so commercialised so it came with a hefty price of admission, hence I opted to only observe the 335 metre pole from below. 99 RM is under 40 dollars, but we all decided spending the money on the Petronas Towers would be preferable (89RM). Since we were so close to the Petronas twin towers we could see in the distance, we took a 10 minute walk there. Apparently you have to book a tour to go up the towers, so unfortunately our lack of planning didn’t turn out so well here. A taxi ride to the hostel won over waiting a few hours for the next available tour. Google distance tracker says we walked over 10km today, which isn’t bad when we planned to walk less than 1km originally! It is strange to look at how walking distances are perceived so different when you don’t have a car compared to when at home with a car.
Petaling Street, China Town market gave a few bargains to us that evening. Ed bought a fake CK watch for just 3 dollars!! While some stuff is cheap, some stalls see 2 white girls walking towards them and try to charge ridiculous prices. For example, fake Raybans for 30 dollars, what a joke.
It will be nice to leave KL and its grey, hazy skies behind and head to Penang which apparently is more cultural, nicer weather and more appealing to the backpacker.
Early rise the next day for an 8:30 bus ride to Penang.