Kuala Lumpur & Georgetown: Malay Bustle

Posted on July 29, 2011

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I had 2 days to kill in KL before being due to meet up with my siblings, who were flying out for a couple of weeks, so I spent this time mostly in my nicer than usual hotel, recharging batteries. Though large, the city itself did not seem to offer much in terms of tourism, and so I thought it best to save what there was for their arrival.

The highlights of these first two days were thus relaxing by the hotel pool and gorging myself on the massive complimentary breakfast. I ate lunch and dinner in bargain open-air restaurants near to the hotel, and relaxed with some beers in the evening. By the time my guests arrived, I was relaxed and ready to explore again, though slightly agoraphobic given how little I had left the hotel.

It turned out our hotel was in an excellent location, handy for both the Golden Triangle and Chinatown as well as on the same street as the bus station. We headed first for Chinatown, experiencing the usual bustle associated with these areas. The central market was interesting, and more organised than expected, and we treated ourselves to fish pedicures (an experience I probably won’t be repeating). Little India was once again as expected, busy and dirty, but a walk around the cool and spacious Pedang rejuvenated us a little. The similarities between KL and Singapore are certainly clear, though the former is a little more sprawling.

Dinner that night included spicy frogs legs, and we were up early the next day to try and score tickets for the top of the Petronas Towers. Alas, we missed the boat by hours, instead visiting the TV Tower on the Menara (the 4th highest such building in the world) for great panoramic views of the city and, bizarrely, an “F1 Experience”. We did subsequently get up close and personal with the famous twin towers, linked by a bridge, but were only able to witness their size from the base before we grabbed a taxi over to Chow Kit Market to catch a glimpse of local Malay life and culture (and also grab a whiff of the smell), before spending our last night in KL with local food and several cold beers.

The bus to Georgetown, across a causeway on Pulau Penang, was painless enough the next day, though we then endured real hassle trying to arrange our onward journey to Thailand. Suitably unimpressed, we would up drinking and eating local curry with a couple we met in a reggae bar (probably best not to ask). In fairness, our view of the town improved hugely the next day as we toured the architecture that make it a World Heritage Site. The ample temples, large Pedang and the interesting Fort Cornwallis made it a pleasant place to spend a day, as did the sea views from the port. After a hawker dinner, which included a very disappointing laksa, we headed to bed, with Thailand beckoning us the next morning.

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Posted in: Experience, Travel