With a sad goodbye to Thailand (for now) we went to Krabi airport and flew AirAsia to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia which turned out to be a quick and simple affair. Malaysia only appeared on our itinerary as a convenient joiner for Hanoi and southern Thailand rather than a specific desire. From KL airport, a simple and cheap bus to the city (8MYR £1.60) let us chill and see the lush countryside – all looking good.
Our guesthouse was easily found and in a good location, but to be fair not up to our usual standard despite good web reviews. Hate to see some others… We rejected the first room due to leak in bathroom, then rejected the second due to faulty air con, and then went back to the first room after they fixed the leak. Only after did the leak return and we realised the window had a huge gap in it so it was very noisy. Hey ho.
Our evening hike into KL didn’t make the city warm to us. A mix of very big/modern buildings with very poor and messy unkempt backstreets. Lots of rubbish everywhere including food waste, and hence some mega-sized rats running around. The cafes and street eateries just didn’t look or feel as good as Thailand – even the lightbulbs were dimmer, and our random choice of food on the first day was mediocre at best. This was quite a surprise as we expected KL/Malaysia to be a step up from Thailand in terms of quality and appeal, but first wanderings suggest otherwise.
Our second day took us wandering further up to the Petronas towers and the KLCC mega shopping mall. If you love shopping you’ll love KL and its countless Mega Malls, but really the shops and prices are no different to the UK – the Malls could almost be in London. All tours of the towers and sky-bridge were full and due to holiday season you need to queue before 8am to get a ticket! We decided this wasn’t for us, so went to the Kuala Lumpar Tower instead – a huge tall broadcasting tower just down the road. The views from the top were impressive and worth going up to see, but the little zoo attached was a good example of how not to look after animals – most cages were simply “pet-shop” sized which didn’t please Mel.
The only interesting exhibit was a weird two-headed tortoise – really weird.
We still found street stalls to be less appealing than Thailand, but our food choice improved. The place we went for tea we pretty much got dragged in by the vendor, and probably were the only white people to venture in – ever. Very rough and ready, and though the fish heads were not appealing, the food was good and tasty and very cheap!
Continuing our KL tour, we explored Chinatown and the interesting Central Market and the Merdeka Square, the latter being prepped for NYE fireworks. We then ventured to the almost deserted, but very nice Lake Gardens – a huge botanical/tropical garden with a lake and quite a few things to do – you could easily spend a day or more here. (Butterfly world, Bird world, museums etc). We went to the Planetarium which was a bargain of 20p entry and 60p per film, fairly interesting but we got there late so only saw one film there. Well worth a visit if you have any interest at all in the stars.
On New Years Eve we cheekily sneaked up to the 33rd floor in Traders hotel, to their sky bar, for an impressive view of the Petronas towers. Clearly by the multiple swimming pools its a more expensive place than where we stay! For New Year itself, there were numerous parties and bands around KL, but we went back to the KLCC park and the Petronas towers.
The DJ and first band were quite dire, amateurish at best, and when the fireworks appeared they weren’t between the buildings as everyone expected, but behind us…. They were supposed to be sync’d with music but we could not hear the music so it didn’t really work. A good final but not an event you’d class as spectacular. Getting out was a challenge the manners of most people wasn’t great.
So fair to say, Kuala Lumpur has some nice sites, but nothing that has wowed us and isn’t a place we’d recommend or return to (bar using the airport!). With one more day here before heading to Meleka (Malacca) where we hope to see some nicer places in Malaysia. For sure Malaysia has some lovely rainforest, limestone caves and beaches, but as we’re seeing similar in Thailand, Vietnam etc they aren’t on the Malaysian agenda.
Next installment here