Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Petaling

The journey from Bali to Kuala Lumpur by air is cheap and fairly effortless. The Air Asia flight only cost about AU$40 per person, and while the seats were on the smaller side it was, after all, only a three hour flight. Not to mention the plane was half full.

On approach to Kuala Lumpur airport, palm plantations pop up out of nowhere and spread out for many kilometres, hundreds of thousands of the plants in orderly rows. You might have heard a bit about the palm plantation problem, but it’s not until you see it first hand and experience the sheer scale that you comprehend just how much destruction takes place so that palm oil can be produced like this.

The downsides of travelling with a budget airline is that quite often they fly into places that are much harder to reach. Technically, KUL is just one airport, but the terminal Air Asia flies into is on the opposite side to the larger airlines’ terminal. This means at least a good 30 minutes by taxi to get there, should you have a connection to make.

Oh yeah, and the city of Kuala Lumpur is a good 50-60 minutes from the airport by taxi, a journey that can become so tedious the taxi drivers try to find ways to keep themselves entertained (see picture further down).

It was 5-star accommodation for us again, this time with The Intercontinental. Super swish accommodation with a king size bed that would have fit about 8 people, and a huge bathroom with not one, but two windows to make sure anyone else in the room gets the best view of you figuring out the world’s most complicated bidet. Just imagine several buttons, knobs and tubes protruding from the toilet bowl, it was a daft contraption.

KL is a pretty compact city, at least as far as the main tourist attractions go. Apart from a trip to Batu Caves everything on our to-do list was all reachable by foot or, for those times we were feeling lazy and/or tired, there was plenty of tourist-friendly public transport.

First stop was Jalan Petaling, a street lined with open-air local food joints. The menu of the place we decided on wasn’t great at listing what the actual dishes were although there were pictures so I took a slight gamble on what I thought was steamed veg with satay… only what looked like satay turned out to be shrimp paste. In fact, it seemed just about every dish had shrimp in, on or around it in some form or another.

If you like to shop then you’ll want to come to KL.  There is shopping centre after shopping centre, with everything from massive name brands through to smaller, more niche shops, and it’s all exceptionally cheap when compared with Australian prices.Books, clothes, eye glasses, the savings practically covered the costs of our flights!

The Petronas Towers would have to be the biggest tourist attraction in the city, quite literally as the twin skyscrapers were the world’s tallest for six years up until 2004 . At 80 Ringgit, a trip to the top works out close to AU$26. We arrived early (8am!) to secure our tickets. At that time it was a crystal clear day, not a cloud to be seen. Our tickets were for late afternoon, and by that time the evening rains had come in and at times it was literally impossible to see as far as the next tower over.

As if we hadn’t had enough of the Petronas Towers, Bee suggested we go to Traders Hotel, as it sits directly opposite the towers and has an amazing rooftop bar with unimpeded views. We rocked up without a reservation and barely managed to find a table, but the views were just ridiculous.

Having had enough of man-made structures and blowing cash on ridiculously cheap products, we headed a little further out to Batu Caves. Part temple, part monkey haven and part lookout to KL city, the caves are about a 30 minute train trip and best of all there is no entry fee… although much like Ubud in Bali, the monkeys are happy to try and fleece you of anything you have with you.

The two-and-a-bit days we had was enough to get done what we wanted, but another day or so would have been optimal. At least I know that so long as Air Asia can keep up the cheap flights, I’m sure I’ll be passing through there again soon enough.

Taxi driver Indoor theme park The morning: Petronas Towers with KL Tower in background.

The evening: cloud cover between Petronas Towers The only way I could get a clear shot of the city behind me The view from Traders Hotel

Batu Caves Entrance to Batu Caves

 

Written on January 2, 2013