Kuala Lumpur, to End Things

April 27, 2014 Tessa Bradford 17 comments

Kuala Lumpur, to End Things

For our final stop in Southeast Asia (on this trip, anyways), we headed to Kuala Lumpur and met up with our good friend, Ronnie. He's another American we'd met in Taiwan, and he's pretty great.

Our hostel was in China Town (because, where else?), right beside the Petaling Night Market. We spent our first night catching up, telling stories (we had plenty!), and drinking at the nearby Reggae Bar. White Russians, because that's what I drink.

First night in Kuala Lumpur
First night in Kuala Lumpur

We headed into the heart of the city the next morning and realized that Kuala Lumpur is very different from the rest of Southeast Asia. The hippie pants and beach-wear we'd grown so accustomed to in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos were nowhere to be seen, and I'm pretty sure we would have won some condescending stares had we opted to wear them. Instead we donned jeans and shoulder-covering tops, despite the extreme heat. This was the first Muslim country Nicole or I had been to, and we were wary of giving offense.

We explored Bukit Bintang, the main shopping hub, and we realized we truly were in a mega-city. The malls extended in all directions, the signs flashed high-end designer labels, and the shine of glass and steel was everywhere.  By the end of the day I'd seen enough fashion malls to last a lifetime.

Day 2 was when Nicole and I made our mad-dash to Singapore for 24 hours, and Ronnie spent the day with other friends in the city.

The Petronas Towers
The Petronas Towers

On Day 3, Nicole and I were completely and truly exhausted, but we didn't have many days left in Asia, and Ronnie was more than ready to sight-see! After checking out the Petronas Towers, we decided we'd go see the Bird Park. We grabbed a taxi and the driver said he knew the way.

We made a mistake. We mentioned that our plans for the next day were to go to the Batu Caves. "Oh, no, no, you must go today!" the taxi driver told us.

But no, we wanted to go to Bird Park today, and we wanted to go to Batu Caves tomorrow.

"Can't go tomorrow! Big holiday! It's closed, no foreigners can go tomorrow."

Ronnie, Nicole, and I all exchanged concerned looks.
"I don't think that's right..." Nicole said hesitantly.

"It's right, it's right! I take you to Batu Caves today. Not too expensive. Only way to go!"

And that was the taxi driver's mistake, because we knew there was a metro you could take to the caves. So we insisted on going to the Bird Park with much more confidence. The driver sulkily agreed.

I fell asleep.

In heavy traffic the taxi driver suddenly swerved to a stop, "This is close to Bird Park, that way! Road closed, I can't go more." He demanded a huge amount of money. We looked around confused, I blinked sleep out of my eyes, and the cars stuck behind us started honking in frustration.

"Quick, quick, get out, can't stop here!" He shouted. Money was handed over. I tried to ask where we were, but he shooed us on, and he suddenly peeled away.

"...How much money did we just give him? And where is the Bird Park?"

There were several shrugs and head shakes passed back and forth. And so began our very, very long walk the rest of the way to Bird Park. Plenty of taxis passed by, but they were all full. The road was definitely not closed.

But eventually we made it to the park, and although we'd become rather frustrated, the park was very impressive. It's one of the largest outdoor aviaries in the world, and we got up close to hundreds of beautiful and exotic birds (and quite a few local monkeys).

Covered in exotic birds
Covered in exotic birds

The peacocks were the best, as the boys were busy chasing after the girls and that meant lots of showing off their beautiful tail-feathers.

He's trying so hard.
He's trying so hard.

From the Bird Park we walked back to the city, passing ornate mosques and never-ending skyscrapers.

We walked all the way to the Kuala Lumpur Tower, where we paid for a very expensive buffet in the Atmosphere 360 restaurant. The food was good, but the price was really paid for the view-- Kuala Lumpur Tower is the tallest tower in Southeast Asia, and the restaurant rotates at the very top of it. As we ate we watched the city full of light slowly spin below us.

Atmosphere 360 at the top of Kuala Lumpur Tower
Atmosphere 360 at the top of Kuala Lumpur Tower

Day 4 we headed to Batu Caves. There was no holiday. It was definitely open. The metro took us right there.

Batu Caves is one of the biggest Hindu shrines outside of India. A colossal statue of the god Murugan guards the entrance, and from there it's a long walk up the mountain stairs to the opening of the caves.

The statue of Murugan
The statue of Murugan

The caves are definitely a fitting home for the gods-- colossal caverns filled with shrines, while skylights let in golden light. Unfortunately years of wear-and-tear, and the never ending tourist business has allowed shabbiness and clutter to pervade the ancient halls. But there is still an undeniable element of augustness lingering there.

Batu Caves
Batu Caves

The next day was our last day. We bought last minute souvenirs and Christmas presents for friends and family back home, we said our goodbyes to Ronnie and made promises to meet up again as soon as possible.

Saying our goodbyes
Saying our goodbyes

And then our trip was over. We'd spent two months backpacking Southeast Asia, and it was filled with truly unforgettable memories and incredible moments. It was time for us to go home, but not for long-- we were already making plans for our next trip.

Ready for the next destination
Ready for the next destination

 

17 Comments on “Kuala Lumpur, to End Things

  1. You guys should have drop by Sabah / Borneo (the other side of Malaysia). It’s less strict on the muslim part there & almost everyone wear sleeveless & shorts coz beaches & islands’ everywhere. So sorry about the taxi part. It happened a lot here in Malaysia. Especially for foreigners.. 🙂

  2. In Malaysia, travellers should always either agree a taxi fare before getting in or insist that the meter is used. Taxi drivers seem to be a bit of a law to themselves. You should also look out for pickpockets, especially around Central Station in KL. If you take these sensible precautions, then you should not get ripped off, and you will have a wonderful time, with wonderful people in a wonderful country. I should know. I’ve been visiting there, almost annually for the past 40 years.

  3. Ha! I’ve had similar experiences with SE Asia taxi drivers. Despite being ripped off more than a few times, I always felt that the self imposed donations must have been helpful karma for ensuring a safe ride. When I had found that I had “Miss-placed” my wallet, it was taxi driver who helped me out.

  4. I had to laugh when I read about the teksi driver trying to get you to go to Batu Caves instead of the Bird Park – it’s much farther away: $$$$ We live here and I’ve walked away from several teksi drivers when they try to completely rip me off. MyTeksi app is a godsend if you will be here for a longer time on your next trip. great post!

    1. I would say that if you are in KL, it is definitely worth a day trip. I would not say it is worth going to KL just for the caves. They are impressive, but definitely touristy.

  5. Hope you enjoyed my country..thanks for coming and sorry for the bad ass taxi driver..still lot of nice places in Malaysia than Kuala Lumpur actually..

    Suggest you to go Philippines if you have chance..more adventure, more risk, more danger, BUT you would falling in love with their virginity of natures..

    Email me if you want to see some photos..
    skatebox.channel@gmail.com

    1. The Philippines are very high on my list of places I want to go. I’ve been told it’s a beautiful place! Thanks for your input– and don’t worry, everyone I met in Kuala Lumpur was very friendly, except that one taxi driver. I just should have been paying more attention. 🙂

      Happy travels!

What are your thoughts?