No, I’m not still in Kuala Lumpur (KL), I’m only a casual month behind writing about my short trip. Writing is like going to the gym: hard to get into the routine of it but it feels great when I force myself to do it. So here’s another attempt of getting back into regular posts.
I spent a very short 2.5 days in KL as that was my time off for Chinese New Year. @ everyone who told me how great CNY is and how much time everyone gets off work for it, I am still salty that I didn’t get that but I’ll get over it (maybe). My office had Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday off for the important holiday while many offices were closed here for a week or more. Stingy with my leave as I am, I decided 3 days was plenty to go somewhere and I decided to make the most of it for a much needed trip where I thought I would lounge by my incredible Airbnb pool away from people, see the few sights KL can boast, and, most importantly, eat new things.
CNY decorations and Chinese temples
I didn’t do the best job planning this one. I have become very lazy from hopping on a train in Hungary and seeing what happens when I get off a few hours later, pretty unconcerned as things weren’t too different in that new place. I should’ve done a bit of research before going to KL as maybe most importantly, they also had CNY off and as such, the city was just as crowded as Hong Kong always is, maybe even more so. Apparently, there are many men from neighboring countries who come to Malaysia to work and with a few days off, they meet in KL to see their friends and have some fun themselves. Unfortunately, this meant a huge amount of human traffic. The crowds of foreigners pleased with their time off created atypical problems. One of my many Grab drivers (the Asian version of Uber) complained to me about how this was affecting him. As soon as I hopped in, he wasted no time telling me that some of the streets were shut down due to the aimlessly wandering pedestrians and how horrible this was for him for the week. Waiting for a bus or the metro was a ridiculous waste of time in the unforgiving Malaysian sun, not to mention likely to make me a target of pickpocketing. So I Grabbed nearly everywhere for the few days feeling very relieved it was so cheap.
On top of not considering how the holidays would affect my planned peaceful days away, I also didn’t do considering of the country in general. Malaysia is pretty conservative and I packed workout leggings and dresses for my couple of days. This elicited a lot of attention I don’t care to attract. As soon as I stepped off the plane and into my first Grab, my drive asked me all the typical questions “Are you here alone?” but unfortunately they were followed by “Did you eat dinner yet?” which is not a welcome question by me ever when I’m solo but especially not at 3:00am. Thankfully I had the foresight to tell him I was meeting my non-existent boyfriend at my Airbnb and he stopped bugging fairly quickly. One driver slowed WAY down to shamelessly hold his phone out of the window to take a photo or video of me, men constantly burned holes in the back of my head (or more accurately, ass), and my guide of the one tour I took refused to translate the comments some men made to him about me. He was deeply offended by them for me and grudgingly told me, “These men are not Malaysian, I just want you to know this because we Malaysians respect women and they do not.” Since so many men were hanging around with their buddies off work, there wasn’t much I could do in public without attracting attention I most sincerely never want. Between the crowds, the heat, and this uncomfortable, unforeseen complication, I chose to see even less than I thought my short timeline would allow for.
The highlight of my time was from finally trying out Airbnb’s offered tours. Thina, a young, Indian Malaysian, gave a wonderful intro to Malaysian culture with a walk through Little India. We had lunch served on banana leaves where I was the only one in my group offered silverware instead of being expected to eat with my hands. Thina showed us some Hindu and Buddhist temples and finished the tour at the main shopping market. He was a really wonderful tour guide who is naturally a delight to talk to and a great education for me on Malaysian culture. It’s very mixed, definitely a cultural melting pot. Malay, Chinese, and Indian people bring together their languages, foods, and traditions in a beautiful way here. Thina told me he speaks 4 (I can’t remember but I think) languages. It’s definitely a foodie’s delight with so many cuisines in arms reach. With all of the religions sharing a country, I asked him if there were a ton of pubic holidays as I always like to plan ahead for where I should live, but Thina said not really (google says 12, not bad). Thina also helped me bargain for a new purse which I really needed as my old one was falling apart due to daily use in humidity so now I’m the proud owner of a totally legitimate Jimmy Choo that cost $15 USD. Yes, totally legitimate.
After booking my trip to KL around December, it seemed like every single travel person I follow on instagram made their way to the rainbow steps of the Batu Cave. In these pictures, this person, and possible companion, has the location completely to themselves which is something I always love. Remember how I said the city was unexpectedly extremely crowded due to my own lack of research? I definitely did not have this experience. I also found the caves less interesting than temples I’ve seen in India/Thailand, likely due to having guide in both of these countries to tell me about what I was looking at.
Inside the cave and looking from the top of the stairs.
There were so many monkeys! Especially so many baby monkeys. They love to be fed, I’m not sure that people should be feeding them chips and all the junk that they are, but the monkeys sure don’t care about that.
There were some tiles on the floor that were absolutely stunning and some Hindu gods pictured. This is at the base of the caves.
When we were tired of the unforgiving heat and even less forgiving crowds, my new friend, Emily, and I went back to my Airbnb to relax by the pool. I had tried to go to the pool the day before and left after a few minutes as it was so crowded there was hardly anywhere to sit. Again, not like the picture or the hastily crafted vision of this getaway in my mind. I crossed my fingers that the pool would be less full after the manager shut down the elevator without warning the previous day in his disgust of how many (likely not guests) were loudly using the rooftop pool. Emily and I smiled excitedly at each other when we got off the elevator to see a nearly empty roof. We enjoyed several hours of turning deep red as white girls do in the sun and sipping sugary cocktails. When we could no longer risk sun poisoning, we agreed to meet later at a popular tourist bar in KL for drinks and to boast of actually doing something on our trips.
The Heli Lounge Bar gets some interesting reviews from tourists and we had a good time chuckling over them while deciding if we were planning to venture to it that night. Basically, as long as you’re a normal person and remember that it is a place of business and not just to take selfies with the city scape, it’s a fine, tad expensive bar. To be perfectly honest, my Airbnb had a better view of the city and I 100% recommend it. Hosted by Azreen at the Regalia, the infinity pool view knocks out just about any Airbnb I’ve stayed at before, especially with the low price tag. (Traveling to KL? contact me for Azreen’s number and a discount to stay here).
Regalia left, Heli lounge on the right
The last thing I did before heading out was a few hour visit to the bird park. I intended to go to the butterfly park but wasn’t expecting the bird park to be so huge or to like it so much (I hate birds, especially pigeons). If you’re in KL, definitely see the bird park!! There were so many peacocks and all of the birds roam freely, getting as close to you as they’d like.
I could use a sign like this walking the streets of HK
Overall, it was a fine trip. It definitely doesn’t come into top 5 experiences, but I’d likely return to KL if I had a few friends in tow and am planning to see other parts of Malaysia alone. The best part was definitely the food, I’d happily go back to eat with some amigas.