Today was our last full day in Kuala Lumpur and we had nothing planned. We flipped through guide books and looked online at KL’s attractions and we basically saw everything we wanted to see yesterday. Most people take a few hours to see Batu Caves but after seeing more than 2 limestone caves on this trip we decided to pass. Also, since it’s a holiday in Malaysia, we expected the caves to be more of a gong show than they probably are.
We went down to the main breakfast hall for breakfast to compare the two different areas. The restaurant was packed and looked very chaotic. Little did we know this would only be the first time we’d be surrounded by swarms of people. The main breakfast restaurant had a lot larger selection of food than the lounge floor. They had Western, Malaysian, and Indian options for breakfast. They even had a fresh roti station, egg station, and a noodle station. The big downside to eating here was that there were so many people and staff couldn’t keep up – they ran out of plates, cups, juice, and food trays were empty.
After breakfast we stayed in and caught up on some errands we had to do. We decided that we’d go out for lunch and then save the majority of our activities for the evening. Tim wasn’t feeling that great so it was good we had more of a chill afternoon.
We decided to go to the Suria KLCC for lunch and check out their food court. We took the LRT to KLCC stop, which goes straight into the Avenue K Mall. Avenue K is located directly across the street from Suria, and it was the calm before the storm. As soon as we crossed the street towards the Petronas Towers and Suria Mall, we saw hoards of people. Today is another holiday in Malaysia so everyone is at the mall apparently. We went inside the mall and it was super packed. I don’t think I’ve seen that many people in one place in a long while. People didn’t really seem to be shopping, they were just loitering and walking around. We went up to the food court and it was way too busy to find anywhere to sit and eat. They looked like they had some good Malaysian food choices but it was unfortunate that even at 3pm, we couldn’t find somewhere to sit. We walked around to all the restaurant/cafe options at the mall and they all had line ups, so we left Suria and went back to Avenue K.
Avenue K was so dead compared to Suria. I guess everyone wants to be at the fancier mall. After looking through all the food options, they didn’t look that great so I went to Nando’s at Avenue K – there was no long line up at that location. Tim wasn’t feeling well so I ordered something for myself. It was almost 3pm and I was really hungry. After almost an hour of waiting, I saw food come out and go to all the tables around us that came after. I was pretty annoyed and frustrated (probably because I was so hungry) so I went to ask them what happened and if they even put in my order. No one apologized or really addressed what happened, which made me even more upset. Our waiter miraculously disappeared during the whole ordeal and we never saw him again. I told Tim this was probably the most annoyed I’ve been the entire trip. I know it sounds ridiculous after I recall what happened and how I was so upset, but after wandering around Suria and other places to find something to eat and having to shuffle through hoards of people, my fuse was pretty short (I was so annoyed that I didn’t even take pictures of my food!) (Tim: plus it was Nando’s so no one really needs to see a photo of it).
Any way, after that ordeal, we made our way back to our hotel for the rest of the afternoon. As we experienced how crazy Kuala Lumpur gets during a holiday we didn’t have the urge to go out any more. Right at 5:30pm we went upstairs to the lounge for free drinks and appies. We went right at the time it starts to get a table after seeing how busy it was the day before.
When we got upstairs we were shocked to see the whole place packed with Malaysians and there was only one table left! I went to browse at the food they had for the day and everything was gone. The lounge was so loud and crowded, it was like a repeat of being inside Suria Mall. There were kids running around like it was a day care and you could tell people were getting upset with the state of the “executive lounge”. I overheard an Aussie complaining to management about how he’s never been in such a horrible executive lounge. Since there weren’t enough seats, people were standing all over and the food supply was being turned over constantly. Today the two regular waiters had help, which was good!
We headed out to the Petronas Towers after sunset to see the towers at night. As we got off the train at the KLCC stop, crowds of people piled on to the train before we could even get out (had to point out the elbows for this one). We went through the mall again to get to the other side of the building to see clear views of the towers. They looked much nicer at night than during the day. We took a few photos and walked through the crowds and headed back to our hotel.
I’m looking forward to getting out of Kuala Lumpur and going to Penang. Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have the same charm or warmth (from people) as other large SE Asian cities that we’ve been to. There aren’t many notable sights in the city and you could probably spend a day and a half here if you really want to see everything on the Trip Advisor attractions list. The most interesting part about Kuala Lumpur for me was the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country so it was cool to be here during the end of Ramadan and see how the city celebrates (may not be the best time to be a tourist here though). Penang is the food capital of Malaysia so I’m looking forward to going there to check it out.
Our first full day in Kuala Lumpur and we were ready to explore and eat! Before going for breakfast at the hotel, we booked our flights to and from Phu Quoc, which will be our last hurrah before coming home!
The hotel breakfast was nice and pretty normal. They had all the components for a full English breakfast, fruits, yogurt parfaits, croissants, and Malaysian noodles. We ate on the executive lounge floor but will go to the regular breakfast floor (bigger restaurant) tomorrow to compare the two.
We planned on using the hotel’s free shuttle to take us to an area called Bukit Bintang. It’s supposedly another shopping area and close to Jalan Alor, a famous food street. The hotel shuttle dropped us off at the Pavilion mall in the Bukit Bintang area. We walked through the Pavilion and it was another nice mega mall. Can’t get over how many large malls there are (so close together) in Kuala Lumpur. As we made our way towards Jalan Alor, we walked past a handful of other smaller (compared to the mega mall) malls.
When we arrived at Jalan Alor, more than half of the vendors were closed. At first we thought it was because it’s a holiday here “Hari Raya AidiFitri”, which is the end of Ramadan and also a National holiday in Malaysia. But after doing some reading, we realize that Jalan Alor comes alive at night and is pretty dead during the day. We’ll try going for dinner tomorrow night.
Since there wasn’t much to see, we continued our walk towards a restaurant called Wong Kee which specializes in roasted and BBQ pork. It took about 20 minutes to walk there for Jalan Alor and when we got there, it was closed! Looking around at the stores around town, it was pretty clear that more than half of the businesses were closed for AidiFitri (which makes sense as ~60% of the country is Muslim). This was a disappointment as there wasn’t much around where Wong Kee was located. We walked around a bit more and saw some stalls set up surrounding open air seating. We browsed a bit and decided to eat there for lunch.
All the stalls served Chinese Malaysian food in all its various forms. I saw Chinese BBQed meats (which I have been craving for a while) and I got a plate of roasted duck and pork. My meal came with chicken rice and soup. Tim was more adventurous and tried Malaysian dry noodles with ground pork, BBQed pork with fried garlic. After ordering from the stalls, you find a table in the seating area and pay after the vendor finds and serves the food to you. Food in Kuala Lumpur is very cheap. Tim’s noodles were 6 MYR = $2 CAD and my lunch was 8 MYR = $2.65 CAD. While seated, a man from the beverage station went around asking if you wanted to order any drinks. Tim asked for a coke but I don’t think he understood and brought some iced lemon drink. We were confused and the table next door ended up wanting the drink any how. Lunch was tasty and satisfying. It wasn’t Wong Kee roasted pork but it was still very delicious!
After lunch we walked towards one of the Monorail Stations to take a train to Chinatown. The walk to Chinatown would’ve been about 30 minutes so we decided to take the train and to get metro cards (Tim likes to collect them) and see how their trains operated. We both bought MyRapid cards for 5 MYR = $1.60 (non-refundable deposit) and 15 MYR = $4.80 CAD mandatory credit. By using a MyRapid card you get a slight discount for each ride. Kuala Lumpur’s transit system has different lines – Monorail, Light Rail Transit (LRT), Commuter Rail, and Airport Express.
The Monorail trains only had two cars, which were surprisingly short. We stayed on the train for a couple of stopped and got off close to Chinatown. The Monorail stations are quite old and look like they need some attention. We walked towards Chinatown’s Petaling Street, which is full of vendors selling counterfeit accessories, souvenirs, and typical SE Asian tank tops. Petaling Street was super crowded. It was probably the most people we’ve encountered while in Kuala Lumpur so far.
There were some food vendors that looked interesting and had long lines ups, including a tofu fa vendor. He worked alone (and quite efficiently) and served hot tofu fa and cold soya bean milk. He was really busy as his line was consistently long. I ordered a tofu fa with brown sugar and ginger syrup (160 MYR = $0.52 CAD). It would’ve been nice if the tofu was cold because it was so hot out already and having steaming tofu didn’t really help. Tim doesn’t like it so I basically ate the whole bowl myself. It was really good, I can see why he had a long line up. We walked around a bit more and didn’t see anything worth buying. Tim got a soursop fruit smoothie (tasted a bit like guava) from one of the vendors (4.80 MYR = $1.55 CAD).
After Petaling Street, we walked to see a Hindu Temple close by. There was a wedding going on outside the temple so we just observed from across the street. Hindu Temples are often colourfully vibrant which I find really cool. On our way towards the National Monument we passed by another shopping area called Katsuri Walk, which is right beside the Central Market. The Central Market was full of more unique/hand crafty type of shops compared to Petaling and Katsuri streets. The market was also air conditioned which was a nice break from being outside.
We continued on our tour of the city by walking towards the National Mosque. It was closed to tourists for today so we just walked around the front of the building. We stayed around the Mosque and rested for a bit. Kuala Lumpur is really humid and we had finished all our water so we were feeling a bit drained.
Our next stop for the day was walk to the National Monument. On the way towards the National Monument we passed by the Butterfly Park, Bird Walk, the Islamic Art Museum (closed today), and the Botanic Gardens (closed today). On our walk it started to rain and then quickly became a torrential downpour. We took refuge in an undercover seating area and stayed there for about 20 minutes before the rain stopped. As soon as it stopped raining, the sun came out and it felt even more hot and humid than earlier. Areas that had puddles of rain water were now steaming.
We eventually made our way to the National Monument and were there with bus loads of Chinese tourists. The National Monument is set on a hill and has pretty good view of some parts of Kuala Lumpur. The monument is dedicated to all the Malaysians who lost their lives in war.
We continued to walk along the back side of the monument area towards Dataran Merdeka, which is a square close to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the high Malaysian flag pole (where they raised the Malaysian flag for the first time). The Sultan building and the Textiles Museum buildings were really neat. I really like the Islamic Architecture as it’s so different from other places in SE Asia. We hung around the area and took a bunch of pictures before finding a LRT Station to take us back to the hotel.
It was a pretty long afternoon of sightseeing. We were both wearing cotton today, which was a horrible idea when you’re out all day walking around. The LRT Station was really busy, as it was right beside another Mosque. We took the LRT to Ampang Station and the ride was a very smelly one. Everyone was sweaty and smelly. Thank goodness there was strong air conditioning and ventilation on the trains. As our stop, Ampang Park, is one stop after the Petronas Towers (KLCC), the train pretty much emptied when we got to the KLCC stop.
We passed by Ampang Centre and it was all closed except for a few exterior Chinese businesses and McDonald’s. We washed up and headed upstairs for cocktails and appies. The lounge was so much busier today than yesterday. The place was a bit of a gong show and at some point, it felt like more of a day care than a lounge. There were a lot more Asian families with young kids. The kitchen couldn’t keep up with food, so it wasn’t as relaxing as yesterday. For hot food today, they had beef rendang, sticky rice, and spring rolls. We both preferred the satay skewers from yesterday. We stayed for about an hour or so and then went back downstairs. I felt bad for the two regular staff working. They were so overwhelmed and they even brought servers from other restaurants up to help out.
One of our favourite Malaysian food that we usually order in Vancouver is roti canai. I googled where to find the best roti in Kuala Lumpur and a place called Valentine Roti came up. Valentine Roti is a 15 minute walk away from our hotel so we decided to try to see if they were open today. We walked along a fairly large road (with sidewalks) and when we turned the corner to where Valentine Roti was we saw a restaurant that looked closed. Again we were disappointed until we walked a bit closer and read the restaurant was called “Roti John”. We walked a bit further down the road and saw a restaurant lit up and it was Valentine Roti! They were open and it was filled with locals. Turns out that the owners of Valentine Roti are Christian Indians, so they were open.
We ordered a regular roti, garlic roti, Valentine roti, a teh tarik, and a milo tarik. The roti all come with 3 types of curry for dipping, and they were all delicious. The garlic one had way to much garlic in it for me though (Tim liked it). The Valentine roti had meat, onions, and vegetables in it – it was super filling and tasty. There are so many different types of roti to order but the one we both liked the best was the regular roti, sometimes simple is the best. The restaurant clientele was mainly made up of large Indian families and a few tables of Chinese Malaysians. Happy we got to try authentic Malaysian roti at a place that is off the beaten track.
We walked back towards our hotel and planned to go see the Petronas Towers lit up at night but when we went to the overpass at our hotel, the doors were closed. We didn’t realize it was already past 10pm, so we decided to just see it close up tomorrow on our last day in Kuala Lumpur.
Our alarm went off at 5:30am this morning. We got ready, ate a quick breakfast, and took a tuk tuk to the airport (free airport transfers from the hotel). The tuk tuk ride from our hotel to the airport took around 20 minutes. There’s a lot of people on the roads at 6:30am in the morning – including kids going to the school. They start early!
Our flight on Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur was at 8:35am and it seemed like a popular flight. There were a lot of western tourists on our flight and it was almost full. After security, we had to go through customs to get our exit stamp. The customs officers at Siem Reap all seemed very very grumpy and rude compared to the ones in Phnom Penh. I’ve read that they are more corrupt than in Phnom Penh – I believe it!
Siem Reap’s departure terminal had a food court, coffee shops, a few shops, and had free WiFi. Of course everything at the stores were more than double the price than they would be outside of the airport. We boarded our flight, and I was happy to see a larger plane (Airbus A320). Tim and I didn’t check in online and didn’t preselect our seats (we didn’t want to pay extra) so we were seated behind each other. It ended up not being a big deal because the couple beside me moved to an empty row in the back and then Tim moved back to sit with me.
Air Asia is a discount carrier so it’s basically a no frills airlines. You can pay for food and drinks but we didn’t. Their Air Asia magazine had an extensive article about food in Kuala Lumpur and while taking notes on restaurants, I was getting really hungry. I really like Malaysian food!
The flight was around 2 hours and was a quiet and smooth flight – thank goodness. Right before we landed, the flight attendant went through the cabin and sprayed (we think) a type of insecticide – everyone covered their nose and mouths. We landed in Kuala Lumpur 20 minutes ahead of schedule. KL is 1 hour ahead of Siem Reap. We haven’t had to adjust our clocks for a while. The KL airport was really big and all the Air Asia flights land in the same terminal. We had to walk quite a ways to get to customs and to our bags.
When we approached the customs area, it was a gong show. A bunch of other Air Asia flights just landed so the area was chaotic and pretty disorganized. There weren’t any airport workers directing people on where to go or how to line up, so it was a big mess of people. It was nice not having to get a visa to enter a country for the first time in a month (and not worry about corrupt officers) (Tim: and not even having to fill out an arrivals form).
Our bags were already out when we got to baggage claim. Our next errand was to get Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). We didn’t plan on coming to Malaysia on this trip so we didn’t really prepare any cash in advance. We found a Maybank ATM before exiting and took out some money there. They had a Kuwait Bank but I remember seeing a lot of Maybanks while we were in Singapore and figured it was a good bank to withdrawal money from.
Before exiting arrivals, we had to put our luggage through security. Malaysia seems very strict on what you can and cannot bring into the country. Once we got through, we went to the taxi counter in the airport and bought a ticket for cab fare to our hotel. The ticket was 85.10 MYR = $27 CAD. We thought it would be a bit cheaper (around 78 MYR) but when the lady typed in our hotel it came out to be more. It’s an automated system so can’t really argue about the price. The other option to get into town is to take a train to KL Sentral Station (yes, sentral, not central) and then transfer to connect to another train to our hotel. Since there’s two of us, it was cheaper to take a taxi (express train is 100 MYR round trip or 55 MYR one way per person).
We went down to the taxi area, which was a bit of a trek in itself. You go through a mall to get there. After being in developing countries for a month, it’s quite a change to see a mall with western stores and brands again (that are real). The cab ride to our hotel took about an hour. The city centre is pretty far away (around 60km). Tim had our hotel starred on Google Maps and we could see how sprawling Kuala Lumpur is.
We’re staying at the Double Tree Hilton which is attached to the Intermark Mall. Tim used his Hilton Honors points for our three nights at 10,000 HH points/night, making the redemption value really good (room per night here is around $150 CAD/night). We haven’t stayed at a western branded hotel in Asia since Osaka (Sheraton). It’ll be nice to have some western luxuries for a couple of days. When checking in, they upgraded us to an executive level floor (33rd floor out of 34), which is nice. The redemption room was supposed to be two twin beds but the upgraded room had a king size bed. We also get free breakfast and free drinks and snacks every day from 5:30-7:30pm. Yay for all of Tim’s work travel benefits. We better take advantage of his Hilton status while he still has it. There’s basically no chance he’ll be able to maintain his status for next year.
Our room is quite nice and has a city view. We were hoping we would be able to see the Petronas Towers but we couldn’t (Tim: just barely couldn’t). We settled in and went out to find something to eat for lunch. The Intermark Mall (also an office tower for JP Morgan and other businesses) is connected to another mall and the metro station via a covered overpass. We walked to the Ampang Centre in search of food. We walked through and saw the majority of the clothing stores were for Muslim women (~62% of Malaysians are Muslim). Today is the last day of Ramadan so there are a lot of decorations all around the city celebrating. There was a Malaysian cafe that looked decent but Tim wasn’t feeling it. I think it’s because he saw the “golden arches” close by and wanted McDonald’s. He said we could have McDonald’s for lunch and find something Malaysian for dinner. So off to McDonald’s we went. (Tim: we also went to the food court in search of food, but being Ramadan, literally everything was closed except for one Vietnamese stall).
On the McDonald’s door they had a notice saying that it is against the law for any Muslim person to eat at McDonald’s during Ramadan. McDonald’s also had decorations all around for the end of Ramadan. Prices were half the price of Australia and a bit cheaper than Singapore’s McDonald’s prices. We ordered a McChicken and a Big Mac meal. Malaysian McDonald’s has some pretty interesting looking desserts (longan ice cream sundae, white taro pie) that I wouldn’t mind trying while we’re here. Lunch was pretty satisfying, although the McChicken didn’t taste the same as home. We’ve noticed during our 4 months that Big Macs are very consistent across all the countries we’ve been to but McChickens can vary – and not in a good way.
After lunch we walked towards the Petronas Towers. It’s about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, and about a 5 minute walk from Ampang Park Mall. We went to the park behind the towers that had a good view of the towers to take some photos (along with a lot of other people). We walked around the water fountain area and went into Suria Mall, which is located at the base of the Petronas Towers. The mall is huge and was really crowded. They too had festivities for the end of Ramadan, with displays and performances in the centre of the mall. We walked around the mall for a while, only going through a few stores.
We made our way back to our hotel just before 6pm and went upstairs to the lounge for free drinks and food. We weren’t sure if it was just going to be free drinks but we were happily surprised to see a nice spread of satays, samosas, chicken wings, sandwiches, fruits, and desserts. That was our dinner for the night. So basically we could eat breakfast and dinners here for free and then have nice lunches out if we wanted.
We spent the rest of the night booking the remaining parts of our trip (we’ll be back in less than 2 weeks!) and going for a pretty quick swim at the pool. There’s an outdoor pool that has partial views of the Petronas Towers, which looks pretty cool at night. We’ll probably come back to the pool during the day when it’s warmer. I’ve acclimatized and it felt cold when I came out of the pool, and it was 28 degrees.
Looking forward to exploring more of Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. Not sure what else there is to do here besides eating since we’ve seen the Petronas Towers (quite a bit) today. We have to do a bit more research tonight. There’s fireworks going off right now from people celebrating on the streets with the end of Ramadan.