I’ve heard a lot from people who have not travelled beyond the airport at KLIA2, being more so a base to catch their connecting flights elsewhere. I was determined, this time around, to get an, albeit brief, insight into Malaysia’s capital city and not leave them as just book ends for our trip to Seoul.
WHERE I STAYED – For our trip, we booked two hotels with the condition that they had a club room/lounge. For leg one of the trip, we stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (165 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur). Without a doubt, the Intercontinental has to be one of the swankiest places I’ve ever stayed. The room looked a-ma-zing with the pillows dwarfing the size of my entire bed back home. Of course, we ordered room service, which was amazing – but perhaps unnecessary and erring on the side of gluttony, as there was certainly no lack of amazing and filling food. Leg two on the trip, saw us stay at the Renaissance Hotel (corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang). Now, the problem with staying at an amazing hotel at the beginning of the trip is that any place you are going to go afterwards is just going to pale in comparison. The Renaissance Hotel probably didn’t do themselves any favours here either, not quite living up to their 5 star-status and looking an awful lot dated around the edges.
WHAT I DID – Given the short amount of time we had in KL, this list is going to be particularly short. One destination that could not be skipped over though, was the Batu Caves. I’m a little torn about my overall impression of this place. On one hand, despite the heart attack inducing staircase up the mountain, the views, religious artwork and caves themselves were spectacular. On the other hand, the place seemed in dire need of a little TLC, with less than savory smells emanating from the trash left about. Ultimately, it IS a place that you would want on your bucket list (take the educational tour through the caves – unless pitch black spaces scare you), but do keep in mind the romanticized versions in your mind might not live up to your expectations. The hordes of monkeys that leap around the place taking snacks were entertaining to watch, a lot more so than the nightmarish hordes of pigeons that congregate around the base (not a fan of these birds, in case you could not tell). In true, in prepared form, we poorly timed our trip around the opening hours of Petronas Towers – I guess we’ll just have to appreciate it from outside! That disappointment aside, the shopping center decorations were cranked up to 110% with the approaching Chinese New Year celebrations. Pavillion Shopping Center in particular looked spectacular, bathing everything in ‘good luck’ reds and golds.
MUST EAT – Essentially, for those who don’t know about clubrooms, as part of your room package, you receive access to an exclusive area where they serve food and drinks whilst you can merrily eat to your hearts content. One particular sweet that I will look back on fondly from the Intercontinental, was the Seri Muka, a brightly green coloured, layered cake made of pandan and glutinous rice.Else where, I took plenty of opportunities to devour the beloved Nasi Lemak dish – a little spicy and a little salty, what’s not to love there? There are plenty of authentic Indian options located at the Batu Caves, which you also must try whilst in Malaysia. Our final dinner was at Mabuhay Laguna Restaurant (I know, I know, it isn’t Malaysian) but what can I say, I’ll always make time for Filipino food, no matter which country I’m in. The kawali was calling me!
THE VERDICT – Malaysia is so diverse in cultures. It’s what makes travelling through Asia much more interesting, seeing how “differences” can harmoniously live side-by-side. The weather too seemed to have trouble deciding what it wanted to be, one moment being stickily hot, the next bucketing down with rain and clapping thunder. Ultimately, it’s that unknown and unexpected twists that make adventuring so much richer. Terima kasih, Malaysia - you’ve been ace.