Oh, hey there squat toilet, it’s been a while. And you, all-in-one toilet and shower bathroom, I’d forgotten all about you. I won’t go as far as to say you’ve been missed but it is damn good to be back in Asia.
First stop, Kuala Lumpur. To me KL is like Singapore’s less cool sibling. Not yet refined or charming but nevertheless a nice place to spend a few days. We chose to stay at Sahabat, a lovely guesthouse located in Bukit Bintang. This neighbourhood is a great base for exploring the city, and fortunately most of the sights we were keen to see were located along the nearby monorail line. Monorail.. monorail.. we couldn’t get that frickin Simpsons song out of our heads!
Anyhoo, the railway lines in KL are owned by different companies which means different ticketing systems and walking between connections. A little more effort than usual, but still an easy and cost effective way to get around. After catching up on our time spent apart we got to exploring (between nanna naps and Niall getting some work done). Here are the top 5 things we got up to:
1. Helipad Bar.
We first learned of this little gem from Juan in Valparaiso who provided us with directions. The Helipad Bar, dubbed KL’s best kept secret (woops), is as the name suggests set up on the helipad of a skyscraper. After catching the elevator up to the 34th floor of the Menara KH it was just a few more flights of stairs before we were greeted with 360 degree views of the KL skyline. And true to typical Asia health and safety practice (or lack thereof) there’s no pesky railing to spoil the view. We settled in to watch sunset with a refreshing, all be it pricey (MRG 25) drink. To top it all off, we got to witness a wonderfully romantic wedding proposal.
2. Batu Caves
At the end of the KTM komuter line are the Batu Caves. Exiting the train station our senses were awakened by air filled with bollywood music and the scent of indian food and flower garlands. After a stroll through the market stalls we were met by a huge gold statue of Lord Murugan.
Unfortunately, we had just missed the Hindu festival of Thaipusam by a day. On second thought, maybe it was a blessing because hundreds of thousands of people visit the caves during this time. What a party it must have been- the streets, stairs and temples were scattered with leftover rubbish and offerings. The cheeky monkeys that call this place home were only too happy to assist with the clean up process, helping themselves to coconut husks and the like.
After climbing 272 stairs we entered the main limestone cave which houses temples and shrines. It was still very busy, with many people carrying Kavadis (small buckets of milk) on their heads up the stairs to make penance for their past sins.
3. Petronas Towers
No visit to KL would be complete without admiring the architectural brilliance of these towers. To make things better the KLCC park is located just behind the building. We enjoyed ourselves strolling around the greenery and watching tourists take all manner of photos in front of the KL icon.
No surprises here hey. Actually, consider this a disclaimer: our meals will feature heavily on almost every post from here on. Please accept my apologies in advance if you couldn’t care less or easily suffer from food envy.
So, as expected the food in KL was delicious. With such a multicultural society there is a huge array of cuisines to choose from. Jalan Alor, a street lined with vendors (predominately Malay, Chinese and Thai) was a short walk from our guesthouse.
It is Chinese New Year soon and we enjoyed a special dish called yee sang, which you mix with chopsticks while wishing for a happy and prosperous year. The owner, so taken with Niall’s enthusiasm and questions dragged him to the back of the restaurant where he was shown the preparation area.
The dish basically consists of shredded vegetables, oil, pepper, five spice powder, roasted sesame seeds, plum sauce and some sort of biscuits. Traditionally, it is then topped with raw fish however ours was a fruit version. It was delicious. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with a few more synonoms for delicious over the next few months.
We also visited SK Corner for a cheap chapati set and nasi lemak as well as Din Tai Fung at Pavillion for dumpling soup, pork buns and astonishingly good steamed veg.
5. Chow Kit Market
We love visiting local markets wherever we go and the wet market of Chow Kit delivered some of the weirdest stuff we’ve seen so far.. chicken feet, tongues, trotters, live eels and a few other miscellaneous items we couldn’t identify, lungs maybe? Plus all your standard fare like fresh fruit, veg and clothes.