KLCC Kuala Lumpur Malaysia travel gallery

KUALA LUMPUR

In Malaysia by thedustyroad1 Comment

Malaysia’s Bustling Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s bustling capital. Like much of South East Asia, it was hit hard by the 1997 Asian financial crisis forcing the cessation of much of the urban development throughout the city. Today, the city still appears to be rebuilding from the crisis. Many of the deserted buildings remain unchanged and instil a ghost-like quality to the area. The city centre is a stark contrast, with development on nearly every corner it exudes wealth.

Our visit to Kuala Lumpur was plagued by the haze. Every September and October Malaysia is affected by the Indonesian forest fires. The illegal fires are lit to clear forests rapidly and cheaply to grow plantations for palm oil and paper pulp. The locals we have spoken to in both Malacca and Kuala Lumpur have said this is the worst haze to date. The degree of severity is measured by the air quality index (AQI), in Sydney and Melbourne it usually sits between 20-50. Anything under 50 is deemed acceptable, over 100 is unhealthy to sensitive populations and over 151 is unhealthy to all individuals. The AQI has been between 130 and 170 during our stay in Kuala Lumpur. Local schools are closing down some days and visibility is extremely poor. We are both getting headaches, developing a cough and have irritated eyes. Throughout Indonesia the AQI has been over 1,000 at its worst. Specific data on the health effects is difficult to find, however, one website reported approximately 110,000 people die each year from health problems which can be directly linked to the haze. These people are largely those from vulnerable populations such as children under 5, the elderly and the immunocompromised. I find it fascinating that all this is occurring so close to home and I was completely unaware of it prior to our arrival in Singapore.

Haze in Kuala Lumpur

Haze in Kuala Lumpur


ACCOMMODATION

This took a bit of organisation and even then it didn’t quite work out for us. We wanted to stay in the Golden Triangle, the heart of the city. The most popular hostels had already been booked (as we were there over the weekend) so we had to stretch our budget a wee bit for a hotel. That was ok until we arrived at the hotel to find there was an extra 16% that hadn’t been included in the quoted price. Overall, it was a great location and a nice change to have our own bathroom. The WiFi connection was horrendous which was frustrating.

FOOD

The standard of food has continued to be excellent. Where we stayed was a block away from Jalan Alor, the main food market area in Kuala Lumpur. While the food was great, we were put off by the number of workers trying to hustle us into their shop.

Jalan Alor food street in Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Alor food street

We had a vegetarian lunch at one of the restaurants at the Batu Caves. It was great, we had a banana leaf special which comes with several different curries and several varieties of vegetables. I continue to be amazed by the incredible flavours served upon these banana leaves.

On our last night we stumbled upon an Indian/Malay fusion restaurant not far from where we were staying. Here we had a huge meal, stir-fried vegetables, fried noodles and an awesome chicken dish. It was way too much food for us but still cost only RM20 (approx. AUD $6.70).

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS

We were a bit limited with what we were able to achieve in Kuala Lumpur due to the haze. We still spent some time wandering through the city centre and into Chinatown and Little India, what we were able to see was pretty amazing.

China town in Kuala Lumpur

China town

The Petronas Towers and the surrounding garden areas are amazing. The twin towers are just over 450m tall and are the tallest twin structures in the world. The buildings are designed based on an eight-sided arabesque pattern, a form of Islamic art. It is an incredible feat and well worth the visit. There is a shallow lake at one side of the buildings with fountains throughout it. In the evening, from around 7.30pm there is a light and fountain show, which is very impressive. We watched for about 45minutes and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Batu Caves are a well know tourist destination in Kuala Lumpur. These are a series of caves set in a limestone mountain that hold religious significance to Hindus. The gold shrine at the base of the cave is a statue of Lord Murugan. Every year the Thaipusam festival is held here in either January or February (Thai for the month and pusam for the star which is at it’s highest during the festival). Thaipusam devotees carry milk as an offering to Lord Murugan either in small containers in their hands, or in large structures suspended on their shoulders called kavadi. These kavadi can be huge, 2metre high structures and contain skewers that sharpen to a point and pierce the skin. The hooks are then removed by a priest, once the devotees have climbed the 272 stairs to the Temple Cave. The cave at the top was huge with multiple Hindu prayer statues.

Lord Murugan statue at the enrty to Batu caves in Kuala Lumpur

Lord Murugan statue at the enrty to Batu caves

While the cave is a major tourist attraction, I felt I was almost imposing on those who had come to worship. It is important to remember to dress respectfully, mainly for women, it is important to wear pants that cover the knees. Well worth travelling to, be mindful of the monkeys who will rip open plastic bags searching for food. They can also smell if you have food in your bag.

Macaque monkey at Batu caves in Kuala Lumpur

Macaque monkey at Batu caves


PEOPLE & CULTURE

The culture in Kuala Lumpur was slightly less desirable than what we had experienced to date. Amongst the bustling city everyone was trying to earn a living, which is difficult when the bloke next door is offering the exact same thing; whether it be food, clothes or random knick-knacks. We found the incessant haggling frustrating at best and bordering harassment at worst. I also felt people were constantly staring at us; one group of girls even took our photo on the train. Being a lot taller than everyone and blonde did not help at all here. Put all that aside, I love the Malay culture and find the general population are great.

MISHAPS

Having arrived from Malacca by bus, we caught a train then transferred onto a monorail. Once we got there we were extremely disorientated so decided to catch a taxi the last 1km. Before I could say anything, Jimmy had agreed to RM15 (it should have been RM5 or less) for the taxi driver to take us to the hotel. Once we arrived at the hotel the driver said he had no change (which was a blatant lie) and short-changed us a further RM2.

WHAT WE LEARNT

While everyone is trying to hustle a few dollars out of you, it is merely their way of earning an income. They can easily identify we are travelling which indicates we have money to spend. Unfortunately, this works in the opposite way and turns us off from spending money in these places.

BUDGET

We are going pretty well with the budget, other than the hotel that unexpectedly blew it out. We spent approximately RM600 over the 3days we were in Kuala Lumpur.

PLAN

Cameron Highlands next. We still want to head to Pulau Perhentian but as the island shuts down in November for the monsoon season we are not sure if we will be able to. Due to the haze, if we can’t head to the islands we will head north as quickly as possible on the hunt for some clear skies.

Comments

  1. So many wonderful experiences. Hope the haze is not harming your health. xxxxx

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