As my first ever international destination beyond Australia and the Pacific Islands, Malaysia is the magnificent country to which I credit my love for travelling Asia began, and the country in which I officially caught the travel bug at the ripe age of seven.
I was lucky enough to travel to Malaysia and Singapore on a family holiday all the way back in 1997 and couldn’t wait to explore this incredible country again as an adult. I was eager to revisit some of the same destinations, stirring childhood memories and creating exciting new ones.
This photo says it all: I love Kuala Lumpur!
We flew directly to Kuala Lumpur from Jakarta, and I was a bundle of excitement the whole way on our surprisingly comfortable Air Asia flight. After checking though immigration, we whizzed into the city on the train and checked into our Chinatown hostel in the early evening.
Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is buzzing with activity. Despite being exceptionally touristy, a wander up Petaling Street and the nearby lanes in the evening is enough to intoxicate all of your senses.
In addition to mouth-watering Chinese food, colourful lanterns suspended overhead and people bustling by, Chinatown offers all you could ever need in terms of fake handbags, shoes, watches, sunglasses – you name it, Petaling Street has it! Shame we didn’t need anything, though we certainly made the most of the food.
By day, the city’s diverse temples are peaceful havens from the hectic streets.
And we couldn’t miss Batu Caves, one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. After a toilsome climb of almost 300 steps, you’ll reach the largest of the caves housing a Hindu Temple, which also happens to be the home of many scavenging monkeys.
Kuala Lumpur’s lush, green Botanic Gardens was worth a visit. We took our time exploring the gardens and I was sure to make the most of the well signposted photo opportunities.
Frequent rest breaks were required in the 30+ degree heat.
The playgrounds were pretty awesome for kids…or the young at heart!
Of course, no visit to Kuala Lumpur is complete without the standard tourist photo in front of the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers. Back when I visited with my family in 1997, the city was coated in thick smog and we were unable to see the Petronas Towers in all their glory, so it was great to tick that one off this time around!
We visited in the evening to make the most of the last remaining daylight…
Before darkness took over and the lights came on!
Outside the Petronas Towers is a beautiful garden with a running track, lake and colourful light show. Not to mention an enormous luxury shopping mall directly beneath!
We spent a morning wandering the city, discovering Pasar Seni (Central Market) just around the corner and Little India a little further up the road…
Followed by an afternoon exploring the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and admiring the diverse cityscape from Merdeka Square. What a treasure to have a spacious, green area like this within the central city to relax!
That same afternoon was also the day we fatefully decided it was time to try the beloved durian fruit, which is said to taste delicious despite its abhorrent stench. What better way to introduce ourselves to this popular fruit than in cake form, right? Who doesn’t love cake?
Durian is gross, guys. I should have known better! Even just the smell alone is enough to make me dry wretch. Alan, somehow managed to consume his own cake and finish off mine.
We also managed to squeeze in a scrumptious meal on the famous Jalan Alor, the city’s notorious “eat street”, where tables and chairs extend out onto the road and sizzling Chinese dishes are served, best washed down with an icy-cold Tiger or two. I couldn’t help but love Jalan Alor!
Despite the durian cake incident, our time in Kuala Lumpur was wonderful. Coming from Jakarta, we were delighted to find an immaculately clean city, with footpaths (!) and a wonderfully functional, easy to navigate MRT/LRT public transport system. I may have regularly exclaimed “I could live here!” more than once a day. Kuala Lumpur is the best of both worlds – the culture, food and bustle of Asia with a modern, luxurious, and somehow very comfortable twist.
Far too soon our four nights in Kuala Lumpur were up and we were headed south to our next destination: the cultural melting pot of Malacca.
Have you visited Kuala Lumpur? Ever visited a place and felt like you would be content to just stay and live there?