Out of all the places we’ve had lined up on our trip, Malaysia wasn’t really the place I was most looking forward to going (not for any particular reason, I’d just looked into other places more), but it’s ended up being three of the best days we have had yet.
Our journey from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur was the smoothest transition we have had so far. Our cheap minibus picked us up from right outside our hostel and got us to the airport with the perfect amount of time to avoid a long queue at check in. Security was a breeze for once (we normally have to completely empty our tightly packed bags then repack them all over again) and we even had some time to get some food before boarding.
Something funny I’ve noticed about every flight we get on, is that when we board, the air hosts and hostess’ always want to look at your ticket so they can guide you to your seat. They’ll glance over it before gesturing down the aisle and saying “just down there on the left/right ma’am”, as if there is any other direction our seat could be in!
We were in for a treat over the next few days. Jenny’s dad has two friends- Rebecca and Mike- who live in Kuala Lumpur, and they’ve been kind enough to have us stay at their place. Mike even picked us up from the airport, and we got to know each other better during the hour-long car drive to their house. There’s nothing more exciting than gazing out of the car window at your new surroundings when you first arrive in a new place. I’d never seen so many tropical trees all in one place and skyscrapers and tower blocks gradually popped up in the distance the more we drove. From where we were, it looked as if Kuala Lumpur was a city built amongst acres and acres of jungle.
Rebecca and Mike’s house is homely and beautiful. They have high ceilings and a minimalistic-style kitchen and cosy, decorated bedrooms with patterned curtains and snazzy artwork. The room we’ve been staying in is luxury, especially compared to our previous hostels. Having your own space is a treat enough, but having an en suite with a shower that not only works properly but you don’t have to wear flip flops in, is just heaven. The princess bed and marshmallow pillows are so snuggly, that we pretty much fell asleep as soon as we arrived and lay down on it! And the icing on the cake is that they have a fourteen-year-old little fluffball called Chico and an adorable three- year old nephew.
We’ve been made to feel so welcome and we’ve had some well-needed home comforts. Our dead batteries have been charged, our dirty clothes have been washed and we generally just feel like we’ve had a good break. Mike and Rebecca took us out for a meal with their son/stepson, Dylan, on our first night, which was so generous!
The evening was warm and not too humid and we noticed that it stays light later here in comparison to other places we’ve been in Asia. We sat outside sipping pints of Heineken and I ordered slightly spicy penne pasta with seafood, which ended up being the nicest seafood I’ve had since being away. After our meals we headed to a bar that they used to own, and every time we finished a pint another one appeared in front of us! We kept saying thank you and how rude we felt for the fact they were paying for everything but they were so lovely about it and told us not to feel that way. I didn’t manage to get any photos, because I left my phone at home to charge, but it was such a funny night!! So different to the usual night we’d have, but it was so, so good and we really enjoyed it.
We woke up quite late the next day, I think it was to do with the fact the bed was just so comfy that we just kept snuggling and falling back to sleep again. After eventually dragging ourselves up and getting ourselves showers, we headed into the town centre.
Luckily for us, a sky train had just started running a couple of weeks before our arrival, and there was a stop just down the road. You could tell it was new because it was pristine. The map is really easy to understand (it’s like the tube map), but unlike the tube the trains have blue, plastic seats, making them dustless and a lot easier to clean. Another thing which differs these trains from the tube, is that instead of being underground and seeing nothing but darkness, you get amazing views of the city as you pass through. And probably the best aspect that differs this system from the tube, is that a journey that would cost you about £7 in the UK, costs only 34p over here!!
Another difference about this train system, is that they give you tokens instead of tickets. You scan them to get through the gates and when you leave at the next station you put them through a slot and they get reused.
Kuala Lumpur is extremely westernised. English is highly spoken out here and they have the same type of shopping malls and fast food restaurants. As we wondered through Q Sentral shopping centre, we pointed out the same stores and brands we would find at home, like H&M, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret etc. But more importantly, THEY HAD A NANDO’S!
For weeks, we have been craving a Nando’s (especially Jenny). Even though I’m not a meat eater, I appreciate it just as much as any chicken lover out there, and used to go on a regular basis with my colleagues when I was living at home. Their mushroom and halloumi wraps and piri-piri fries never fail to make my stomach smile.
We didn’t care how much it would be, we walked straight in and sat down and discovered that over here you get served at your table, rather than walking up and ordering yourself. Using XE converter we worked out that we were actually paying around half the price than what we would have paid at Nando’s at home, which made the experience even better. When we went back to the same mall the following day, we ended up going again, after wondering round each floor contemplating other restaurants and realising they wouldn’t be as good or cheap.
Dylan had previously recommended us a sociable hostel called Reggae mansion, so we headed there a bit later to have a couple of drinks. Somehow we were feeling pretty shattered, so Jenny got just the one pint and I got just a couple of Gin and tonics and we headed up to the rooftop to admire the city as the sky got darker and the buildings lit up.
It was quite a big hostel, I’m not sure how much it was per night, but it was relatively cheap and the pizza and calamari was really good, so if you’re looking for ideas for hostels in Kuala Lumpur, I would really recommend looking into it.
We were out like a light again that night, but we woke up a bit earlier the next day because we had a busy one ahead of us. Toto, one of the housekeepers, made us some breakfast and a fresh orange juice before we got on the sky train again and headed back into town. This time we stopped at KLCC station so that we could go and see the Petronas twin towers.
They really were impressive. What makes them look so great is not just the fact they are in-your-face overwhelmingly tall, but they are covered in windows from top to bottom so both buildings give off a reflection effect, making them look more computer constructed than real.
Stop number two for the day was the Batu caves, one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India, where Jenny had been before and told me great things about it. The caves are located just outside the main city and it’s a must-do attraction if you’re ever in Malaysia.
A tall, gold Murugan statue stands guard at the bottom of the hundreds of steps that lead up to the caves. I don’t understand how they make huge statues like that, with such intricate detail and bright paint. How do they get them from A to B after they’re made?!
If you go to Batu caves, make sure you wear trousers or a long dress or skirt. It’s not a big deal if you don’t, because staff at the bottom of the steps sell shawls you can cover up with, but it just makes sense to save yourself the money. Visiting the caves is free, you just have to pay to get there in a taxi or train.
Every few steps we made up the limestone hill, we would stop for a break and turn around and admire the view of Kuala Lumpur- the tall hotels and malls and small houses and trees against the blue, cloudy sky. The actual caves were really impressive. I’ve never been in a cave so tall and wide and unlike the dripping wax-like effect most caves have, this one seemed to have eroded a lot more and was rockier. Little nature-made windows opened up at the top like a peephole into heaven.
Jenny had already told me about the monkeys at Batu caves, so we came prepared and bought along cookies from Subway to feed them. I now know why people use the phrase “cheeky monkeys”, because they really are sooo cheeky. They kept running up to us and other tourists and grabbing whatever food we had and then running off!
At one point, this girl was bent down with a bag of crisps and this monkey literally stood up on its back two legs and leaned on her, looking into the bag and snatching whatever it could! Sooo cute!
Were told to watch out for certain taxis in this city, like you have to in most cities where you’re a tourist. A tip would be to always ask if they use the meter before getting in. If they don’t make sure you confirm the fixed price with the driver before letting him/her take you anywhere, because they will rip you off.
We’d walked from place to place to place to try and get wifi to get an Uber but we didn’t have any luck. That’s one pain in the ass that we took for granted at home; having no mobile data can be really annoying at times like that.
Cinemas in the UK are ridiculously overpriced these days. Paying for a ticket if it’s not on a Tuesday is enough to empty your pockets, but then popcorn and a drink on top of that ends up making it a £25-£30 trip.
There’s no reason why we have to always do things we wouldn’t do at home whilst travelling! The idea of sitting back with some popcorn and going to the cinema was so appealing and the tickets only cost us about £2, so why not! After our second Nando’s in two days, we got a strawberry Fanta, a Coke and two boxes of salty popcorn and made our way to screen four to watch “Atomic Blonde“. It was such a good film! Like an action movie about a badass woman spy and the cold war. There are a decent bunch of actors in the cast and so many twists and turns and back stories that you’re kept gripped from start to finish.
That night when we got back, we sat in the garden by the pool with Mike and Rebecca and some beer and talked about everything from work, home, parents, different countries, different cultures, travelling, racism, money- everything you could think of. I love those conversations, especially when it’s with like-minded people.
It’s our last day today and I’m feeling relaxed and fulfilled! We planned on having a lazy one today to save money and get some rest before we have another busy couple of weeks. Sitting outside with a black coffee at about nine AM, I soaked up how fresh and light the air felt. Mike had told us the mornings in Kuala Lumpur were like that, and it’s the first place in Asia that has been so. We’ve spent most of the day playing with Jaden and watching TV, but Mike and Rebecca took us out for brunch so that we could try some proper Malaysian food.
I’m so glad we did, because yesterday it dawned on me that I hadn’t tried Malaysian cuisine yet, and didn’t want to leave without doing so. We went to a canteen where they had different stalls selling different dishes. Rebecca picked up two dishes for me and Jenny to share and she made a good choice. The first was fried Koey Teow, which is very much like Pad Thai. Sticky noodles with vegetables and peanuts and prawns. Pad Thai is one of my favourite dishes, so I really loved this. The second was Mee Rebus, which is like a noodle soup with vegetables, a potato based sauce and fritters, which was delicious! I think I preferred it to Ramen in some ways, because the sauce was thicker and the fritters were really nice.
As if we hadn’t already been spoilt enough since being in Malaysia, ton our last night tonight we were taken out for another meal by Mike and Rebecca tonight at their restaurant! I had fried rice with seafood and it was to die for. The best kind of rice where its dry but sticky at the same time, and the seafood is satly but still full of flavour.
Once again every beer that was finished was replaced by another beer. We had one for the road when we got back to their place and had even more deep conversations about love and how they first met and meeting up with them again and just every other conversation that makes you go to bed smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy.
Tomorrow, they make their way to Vietnam and we make our way to Singapore and I’m actually sad to be leaving. They’ve made us feel like a part of the family and we feel like we’ve had a proper experience of Kuala Lumpur. We will be getting a bus to Singapore tomorrow, which will cost us no more than a tenner! See you there!