After spending almost a month in Bali, visiting Kuala Lumpur was a welcoming change to our trip. The plane ride was a bit scary since we had some crazy turbulence in the air, but we got to the KL airport in one piece. As we drove into the city, I couldn’t stop thinking about the contrast between Bali and Kuala Lumpur. The eight-lane highways that took us to the city looked vast in comparison to Bali’s narrow roads. And you can imagine the big smile on my face when I saw bubble tea the second we landed at the airport.
It was nice to be in a modern city with all the conveniences that come with a large city – big and proper sidewalks, being able to pay using a credit card, etc… I did miss those conveniences quite a bit after spending the first month of our year of travelling in Bali.
Read First: Nomad Life For One Life Changing Year
I love KL because their food is SO GOOD
We spent five nights in Kuala Lumpur, which is overkill for some as most people told me to stay for only two nights. But since we are slow travelling, we wanted to take our time. And Malaysia is foodie heaven, so we were quite content with eating and wandering the city.
We ate so much in Kuala Lumpur, but looking back, I still think we should have eaten more food. We stayed at Aloft and had a buffet breakfast every morning. Free breakfast is bad because the delicious food ended up filling up my belly and I didn’t have room to try as much outside food as I wished. Oh, how I wish my stomach were a bottomless pit.
Running errands in Kuala Lumpur
Another reason why we needed to extend our trip was so we could run errands in a big city. You know, boring stuff, like withdrawing money from an ATM in a mall. We had brought enough cash for Bali and waited until we got to a big city to withdraw money.
Our primary debit card failed us, TWICE!
Nothing is more stressful than being down to your last $40 and not being able to withdraw money from the bank. Luckily, most places in Kuala Lumpur took credit card, which helped us big time. We also had a secondary debit card that worked fine, but the fees are twice as much as our primary card. Of course, we gladly paid up for the chance to have real hard cash in our hands.
Later on, we also spent some time planning other parts of our trip and making sure we booked hotels and airfare for the next leg of our journey. The last thing we wanted to deal with was trying to book a place at the last minute while coping with crappy internet.
Note to readers: These were my thoughts from August, but I’m finally getting around to publishing it now in November. If you have been reading my monthly highlights, you will know how my mindset has changed since then. As you can imagine, I am laughing at my old spreadsheet-dependent-over-planning-anxiety-ridden self.
The days are so long. I could spend a few hours just writing about how my day went. Time goes by so slow and every day is filled with so many new experiences.
The large malls are one of many reasons why I love KL
We visited a lot of malls in Kuala Lumpur, which we didn’t mind at all. Malls meant there are lots of different food venues to try, so I was quite happy.
What we found interesting was the size of the malls and the number of malls in Kuala Lumpur. All the malls are so big, and it was shocking to see how crowded they were, regardless of the time of day. In just a few days, we managed to hit all these malls:
- Nu Sentral
- Avenue K
- Suria KLCC
- Pavillion Mall Kuala Lumpur
- Plaza Low Yat
- Lot 10 Shopping Centre
- Fahrenheit 88
Mind you, we didn’t buy anything since we have no space in our suitcase. We shopped for food instead and stayed inside to avoid the rain.
ASEAN’s 50th anniversary
We didn’t realize until later that the city was celebrating ASEAN’s 50th anniversary. It was fun to see the different Southeast Asian countries on display and their performances. At one point, it occurred to me how strange it was to be in a place where I look like the majority of the population. Everyone treated me like a local, and Chinese tourists always came to me for translations. Somehow I managed to help them with my butchered Mandarin.
One tourist thought Gary was a local and asked for directions on our second day in the city. We hope he made it to the right place.
Exploring the city
While there wasn’t much to do in Kuala Lumpur, we still had fun and managed to hit most of the touristy places.
I love KL | Batu Caves
Batu Caves was the biggest sightseeing activity for us while in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve wanted to visit this site for many years now, so I was super happy to be here finally.
I love KL City Gallery
We made our way to Independence Square, where most of the mosques were closed. It looked like they were setting up a stadium for Independence Day. We walked around, took some photos and went to this new exhibition called “experience KL.” It was kind of boring, but we did get some touristy photos.
But of course, the highlight of our trip was seeing the Petronas Towers, the iconic landmark I’ve wanted to visit for quite some time now.
My fascination with the city started in Shanghai when I travelled around China for three months. During my two weeks in Shanghai, I visited the Shanghai Stock Exchange and loved the building. In fact, I loved the architecture so much that I made it my profile picture on all my social media accounts (Yes, my friends made fun of me for being such a nerd). I remember coming back from that trip and googling about famous skyscrapers in Asia. That was when I learned of the Petronas Twin Towers and found the building to be beautiful. Since then, I started dreaming of the day when I can see the massive towers in person.
The one thing I couldn’t help thinking about were the learning curves during slow travelling. Something simple like figuring out how the metro works took time. Or withdrawing money was a huge battle for us, more so because we didn’t expect money to NOT come out of the ATM. Trying to troubleshoot why the ATM is not working was not fun and time-consuming.
Our confusion with time
I started to lose track of dates and began tracking time based on the number of nights we had in our hotels. I remembered booking five nights in Kuala Lumpur, but Gary kept saying we only had four. So I took his word for it, and we woke up at 6 am on our “last day” to leave for the airport shortly after breakfast. I did feel something was off, but because we managed to see most of KL, I figured he must be right.
On our “last day” in KL, we woke up at 6 am to finish packing and headed down for breakfast before going to the airport
Gary handed our card to the staff member to stamp our breakfast card, and when he returned our card to us, Gary said he didn’t need it.
The staff member looked at us with confusion and said: “But sir, you still have free breakfast tomorrow.”
That’s when we looked at each other and started laughing as we realized… WE HAD AN EXTRA DAY IN KUALA LUMPUR!
So what did we do on our last day in Kuala Lumpur? First,
we I squealed with joy because it felt like having one extra vacation day that you forgot about at work. Then, we went back to all our favourite places to eat one last time, for the second time.
Fashion week in Malaysia
The highlight of our last day was watching a fashion show since we happened to be in KL during their fashion week.
It was cool to see Kuala Lumpur’s elite dressed in their very best. We saw beautiful ladies in ball gowns wearing a… baseball cap? Odd combinations of outfits, but they still pulled it off.
The show we saw was celebrating pieces from Farah Khan, a talented Malaysian designer. She is as famous as Jimmy Choo and has celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kimora Lee Simmons wearing her designs. I’ve never heard of her before, but I could see how the crowd was very proud of her achievements. All levels of the mall had people watching that show.
Security was not taken lightly at this event as we saw the military walking around with rifles. I never thought I’d see that in a shopping mall.
On slow travel and reflecting in Kuala Lumpur
The pace of slow travel gave me lots of time to think. Yes, self-reflection can happen everywhere, even at home. But there’s something about having few worries and staring out of a bus window that takes you into a deeper place of thought. There’s no long to-do list or errands to distract you. It’s just the road and your mind, waiting to arrive at the next destination. As long as you have your passport and luggage (and a working debit card!), you’re pretty much good to go.
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