Arriving in Kuala Lumpur on the 8th of march and the first thing to hit me was the humidity, apparently KL was experiencing some hotter days than usual. So, lucky me, I guess, as I wouldn’t be needing a hotel with a sauna or steam room!
Kuala Lumpur appears to be one of those typical major Asian cities that is undergoing the slow process of modernisation. Some of KL is incredibly glitzy and modern, where as much of it is rundown old buildings coated in years of grime, and occupied by many that I guess are in the grip of very tough existence.
The modern areas of KL are clean and something that you are sure to notice is that every major doorway has an attendant or a police officer nearby. The police are friendly and I even found keen for a chat if they find out you are from Australia!
I arrived into KL very early and my first real introduction to the city itself was stepping out of the cab and walking down Petaling St towards my hotel…..The smell, the heat, and just the griminess is too hard to put into words to describe, except to say that it would have been quite easy to vomit.
As I walked down the street, on the lookout for giant killer rats that may emerge from wherever that smell was coming from, I wondered do I just turn around now and get a taxi back to that Crowne Plaza that I saw on the way, or do I keep walking. I kept reminding myself how uncultured I am and kept walking.
I found the hotel (My City Hotel) which was towards the end of the street, I introduced myself and they had my booking sheet right on the desk and the staff seemed friendlyThey were happy for me to check the rooms and lucky i did as the first one must have been inhabited by a chain smoker for the last month the next one was ok
Once I was settled in I went out and discovered that in the time that I was checking in, getting settled and having a change of clothes, Petaling st had amazingly transformed itself….
Petaling St is actually KL’s ‘Chinatown’, and during the day until late into the night it is a hustling bustling area that is jam packed with market stalls selling clothes, watches, fashion accessories and plenty of food stalls.
Only the Chinese could manage such a transformation within such a small amount of time! There isn’t an inch of space wasted, every place you look theres something for sale..And where you cant see something for sale there will be someone in your face saying ‘DVDs’, ‘Watches…rolex..omega..cheap’, ‘Shirt sir, polo shirt sir’..
The prices are reasonable with a fake brand name polo shirt costing about 25 ringgits (about $8 aud), cheap enough that this seemed like a reasonable alternative to washing clothes. The back pack is pretty tight so, out with the old and in with the new….
My first stop on my guided sight seeing tour of KL was to meet my wonderful guide at the Twin Towers entrance. From Petaling st its pretty easy to get a taxi and most of the drivers speak english or at least enough to get you to where you need to be. Im told that because Im a foreigner that many drivers will simply quote a fixed price which always seemed to be 20 ringgits. Later when travelling with my guide i would learn that via the meter this trip is less than half that much!
(My guide for the weekend was the wonderful and beautiful Jinn, who is a professional beautician in KL and also the writer for my site getpretty.com.au)
The Twin Towers contains residential accommodation and a retail complex including many of the large global brands and a variety of local big name stores. To use the toilets you have to pay a small fee, but the toilet has a concierge and an atendant who keeps the area immaculate, it’s a six star toilet!
Around the Twin Towers building is a large public space including gardens, water fountains, a massive kids playground, a kids swimming area, seating and paved walking areas, it’s a great place for a stroll and a great place to take some shots of the Twin Tower.
Nearby is Julan Alor (‘Julan’ means street) which is just one long street of eateries. There isnt really a footpath as the differing variety of kitchens have stretched out on to the street making for not much more than a narrow lane that cars, people and mopeds weave in and out amongst each other along this fascinating street.
Julan Alor is an old street and if its your first time here, like me, the variety of unusual smells and the general griminess may put you off your food, but I put my faith in my wonderful guide and sat to down to one of the greatest meals I am sure to ever eat!
It’s fortunate that I had a guide as not many people in this area probably speak english, and only some of the menus are in english, but this may soon change. The menus usually have pictures and the people are friendly, so just try the ‘point at the picture’ method of ordering….
We had five, or more, plates of divine chinese food including steamed and fried dumplings, rice, a kind of fish hot pot, noodles and vegetables. I couldnt get close to eating my way through this but long after I had stopped Jinn kept on going! Chinese girls can eat! Where it goes I will never understand!
The next day was a trip to Times Square which is a massive and very modern shopping complex featuring even more well known global brand names and a variety of local retail shops selling clothes, cameras, cosmetics and many wonderful eateries including many well known western fast food franchises. But there is a quite amazing feature that seperates Times Square from any other retail shopping complex that I have ever seen…..it has a roller coaster and theme park on the top level. Yes, a full blown rollercoaster.
Close by to Times Square is another massive modern shopping complex called the Pavillion. The Pavillion features many global designer label brand stores.
Nearby to the Pavillion is the KL Tower which features a revolving resturuant from which you can get an amazing 360 degree look over the entire of KL. For around 45 Ringgits per person you can have a full buffet meal including sandwhiches, salads and many local dishes along with tea and a wonderful array of tasty deserts.
Thank you so much Jinn!!