kuala lumpur

Posted in kuala lumpur, malaysia by moonwire on July 15, 2009

My flight to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia was fine. It was only a 3 hour flight and it went by in no time as I also slept for about an hour. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur at around 10 pm.  It was also the first time I had to go through a thermal scanner but no Swine Flu was detected (yet). Immigration was quick and easy. At least Malaysia doesn’t charge for the visa stamp (In Indonesia it’s 25 USD to get in, plus another 15 USD to be paid in cash when you leave the country. Kaching!)

Colonial District: Merdeka Square.

Old Colonial district across from Merdeka Square.

I took the airport taxi into the city. It was a pretty long drive; over an hour. My hostel, the Matahari Lodge is on the edge of Chinatown. I arrived just before midnight. Because my booking had gone all wonky, initially I only had a room for Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. I booked a room for the Monday night at a nearby hostel, but as it turned out, somebody had cancelled at the Matahari and I was able to stay in their room for one night. It was a double room, too. However, on the last night I had to move rooms again and I’m now writing this from a single room on the second floor. The staff is really helpful and friendly here and there’s a living room with a few couches, a TV, computers with internet and lots of magazines, books and DVDs. And it all looks very new and it’s actually cozy (just to use that word).

The first day I was just exhausted and I had to get used to the heat and humidity again. The second and third day were much better, though it remained very hot. The air quality is really bad here. A lot of the time it’s very hazy so on top of the heat and humidity it really takes a toll on your system. Also, though it’s very hot it is mostly overcast here. I decided not to do too much. And even without doing too much, it was still very tiring. I spent most of my time in Chinatown and I ventured out to the Golden Triangle where the KL tower is, Little India, the Colonial District and the KL Lake Gardens (huge park). Chinatown is my favourite though. Tiny little alleys with little stalls selling meat, fish, veggies, noodles, cats (!) etc. Early in the morning before the tourist part of Chinatown opens there’s a flea market in one of the alleys. This was really a hidden gem. I did not see a single tourist, but a lot of useless junk instead 🙂

Early morning flea market in Chinatown.

Cleaning chickens in one of the back alleys of Chinatown.

Outdoor barber shop in Chinatown.

One of the best things here was buying a few t-shirts, which I couldn’t find in Bali (no, I was not going to wear a Bintang t-shirt or a ‘I love Bali’ tanktop). So I bought a real fake Ed Hardy shirt, a 711 t-shirt (which is my favourite) and a real fake Lacoste tank top. There’s tons of that stuff here. All fake and all cheap. You should see the rows of fake designer watches and handbags. Insane. Oh, and I also bought a USB charger for my ipod so now I’ll have tunes on the road again.

Masjid Jamek

Little India which didn’t look very ‘Indian’ to me.

However, in general the clothes in Chinatown are ridiculous. It’s almost impossible to buy a t-shirt without a print. And the prints usually consist of a bunch of random English words that don’t make sense or are just plain weird. Which amazes me, because they do speak very good English here. One of the best ones I saw was a t-shirt with the slogan ‘A happy ending is our national belief’. Uhm, okay.

Food is really cheap here. For less than a dollar you can get a bowl with noodles and a fried egg. I mostly ate the Chinese grub and though I found it rather tasteless in Hong Kong, it’s actually spicier here. Having said that, and I never thought I would, I am getting sick of rice. A really nice brie/avocado/tomato baguette would just be lovely. Or a slice of pizza with arugula and goat cheese. The novelty of Asian food has mostly worn off, but I do find some gems from time to time. Such as this one at an all veggie Chinese place:

The more modern part of town didn’t hold any of my interest. Looks just like any other modern city with large office buildings, shops like Mango and McDonald’s. Though I didn’t see and do all that much, I really enjoyed just sitting down and watching the people.  Kuala Lumpur is great for a few days but I can’t imagine spending a few weeks here.

Typical outdoors ‘restaurant’ in Chinatown.

Off to Yogyakarta this afternoon. Looking forward to having a Bintang again. Didn’t touch a drop of alcohol here in KL. It is available, but it’s relatively expensive. It’s amazing how I’ve gotten used to paying next to nothing for things.

Entertaining the thought of taking the train to Jakarta after my stay there and spending a bit more time in Sumatra. Bali has ruined me. All I want to do is chill out. “Maybe later, ja?”

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