Kuala Lumpur: Love Hate Relationship

By Alan

After a 5 hour bus ride through some crazy tropical rain, I made it to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My goal was to stagger my stops between big cities and beach/Island/nature/small towns just so I don’t get sick of either one. I already broke the rules on my third stop coming from Singapore but it’s a place I have to layover before going to Cameron Highlands.

Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it. It doesn’t feel like it has an identity and is a mixture of parts haphazardly jammed together. Alot of the main areas are under major construction so it may be work in progress. I think I made the mistake of going from one shopping mecca to another and getting a little tired of malls. There’s sooooo many malls next to each other and blending into some main attractions. Enough complaining, I did have things I enjoyed such as the food, Batu caves, and being stuck in a flash flood.

Attractions & Sights

KL attractions and sights are decent. I didn’t feel wowed by anything except for the Batu Caves Temple.

KL Bird Park
Interesting concept and cool area to explore. It’s a nice break from the city and the birds (for the most part) aren’t locked up in cages. Although there is a high netting so they don’t all fly away.

Islamic Arts Museum
Alot of cool artifacts and history in this museum. There’s three levels and lots of historic information to soak in. For the small price I think it’s worth the cost. It’s a plus that it’s nicely air conditioned to escape the heat.

Bukit Bingtang
This was the area I stayed in and is the main attraction for shoppers and nightlife. The Pavilion mall has lots of high end shops with a great food court. Lot 10 and Jalan Alor hawker centres are also in the area so that’s where I did most of my eats. The surrounding areas light up at night from big billboards and buildings. There’s plenty of restaurants/bars, cafés, and small markets to browse around all night.

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC)
This area has a bit of everything! A decent park, convention centre, huge mall, and of course the main star the Petronas Twin Towers. I didn’t get a chance to go up the towers but I’ve heard the view from the top is worth it.

At night there’s a fountain show once every 30 minutes that lasts about 5 minutes. The one I saw was to the music of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.

Batu Caves
My absolute favourite sight in KL. It’s almost two attractions in one with the monumental statue and the caves filled with monkeys. The statue stands at 140 feet tall… Pictures don’t do it justice.

After that, be prepared to walk your ass up a hundred plus stairs to see the caves itself. It’s hot and humid up there so be ready to sweat. There’s also a night cave tour off to the side that I didn’t go through but looked interesting.

Chinatown
Well I made it there but didn’t get a chance to see it. Within 2 minutes of getting out of my Uber there was a flash flood. About 6 of us stood inside this overpass tunnel hoping that it would die down. About 20 minutes in, this thing was just getting worse so I decided to head back to my area and dry up. From what I heard the Chinatown is not that greatest anyways haha.

Food

My hotel was 1 block away from Hutong at Lot 10, an invite only hawker food centre featuring the best of the best food stands around KL. This place had a little bit of everything at a cheap price! I don’t think they top Singapore’s hawker stands but it comes pretty close.

Another place I went to is called Jalan Alor, a nightmarket of food stands. Also located about 10 minutes walk about from Bukit Bingtang centre. This place gets really busy after 5pm when all the shops start opening for dinner.

Other random food I had throughout

Culture & Mannerisms

The first thing I noticed walking into a 711 was that this isn’t the overly friendly service I’m used to seeing back home and in Singapore. Over time I realized that it was the culture differences and mannerisms in how situations are handled. KL’s service is direct and to the point.. no need to say hi, bye, thank you and please. Just put your shit on the counter, hand over the money, get your change, and leave. No need for small talk.

Another thing my spidey sense told me is the segregation of racial groups in the community. According to my research, KL’s population is made up of roughly 50% Malaysians, 23.7% Chinese, 7% Indians and the rest a mixture. The Malaysian community doesn’t seem to mix with the Chinese community and vice versa. Stores, restaurant workers, and even friend groups seemed to consist of their own ethnicity. I got refused 3 times from Malaysian taxi drivers without much explanation. That’s when I started exclusively using Uber and Grab Car. 3 times I got Chinese drivers and once I got a Malaysian driver. The Malaysian driver said two words to me in our 20 minute ride. The 3 Chinese drivers had conversations with me the whole time after I asked if they spoke Cantonese. They were the friendliest service I had while in KL and one of them even added me on Facebook. One of the drivers did agree with me that there is a segregation in how things operate. I’m not sure how accurate my 5 days of observations and experiences can be. And I’m sure the whole city isn’t like this.

Next stop is Cameron Highlands, a small town up in the mountains.