New city fun…Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia, RTW: 2007-2008, Southeast Asia — By on September 30, 2008 4:45 PM

There is nothing more exciting than arriving to a new country for the first time!!! I always get a rush and I am filled with a mixture of emotions as I step off a plane or a bus in a new city and or country. Naturally, one can also feel a little anxious as to what the city will hold for them, when you enter having limited knowledge of the area and little or no plans of how you will spend your time.This is usually how I find myself traveling, as I find it much more fun to figure things out as you go and learn about the country from your experiences.

I decided to go by myself to Malaysia, although a week prior I wasn’t even sure what country to visit next! I had originally planned to go to the Philippines; however, I decided to wait to go there until I had more time and the weather was better. I decided to go to Malaysia for three weeks spending the first two weeks exploring on my own and I would be meeting up with Nicole the last week for more fun in the jungle!

When arriving in a new city or country, especially when traveling alone, I try to arrive in daylight. However, the only flight I could afford from Vietnam to Kuala Lumpur arrived at 10 pm. I decided to ease my worries by booking with a guest house ahead of time that could arrange an airport pickup for me.

Normally, I hate to pre-book accommodations and prefer to scope out neighborhoods and accommodations before settling down in one pace. I learned a long time ago not to trust the “Lonely Planet” (or the “Lonely Liar”) as Nicole and I renamed it! Unfortunately, the guesthouse I pre-booked was a complete dump, but at midnight there wasn’t much I could do about it. The room had a mattress on the floor, one that I was convinced most likely was filled with bedbugs so I slept with the light on to keep them from coming out and getting me as I heard they only come out in the dark? Thank god for my sleep sac! Needless to say, I woke up early checked out the Chinatown area and picked a much better room to stay in for a few days. I stayed at Stay Orange Hotel, which was by far the smallest room I have ever seen but it was clean and had all the basics.

After only spending a short time in Malaysia I feel that this country is so much more “civilized” than other countries I have visited in SE Asia. People actually follow traffic laws and regulations and stay on their side of the double line! I have also noticed that I have regained my personal space as people respect ones boundaries. And so far everyone is SO nice!

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and is a proper big city with all the norms… big buildings, a subway, and the usual Starbucks & McDonalds. I even stumbled upon an Outback Steakhouse, which brought about a strange craving for a blooming onion!? I do have cravings for many random food items from home! Now if I could only locate some decent guacamole and dill pickles?! There are many big malls in KL, some even with roller coasters inside! But I resisted the urge to shop as I still haven’t recovered from Hoi An! The public transit system in the city is great and it is really easy to get around. I felt completely safe in Kuala Lumpur and decided to stay for five days to slowly explore the city, catch up on Internet stuff and watch CNN! I am finding it very hard to follow the Presidential Race as most places I stay don’t have cable TV.

While I feel that I have changed in many ways during my travels, I am definitely still a city girl! I absolutely love getting lost in a new city. Setting off on foot, trying to figure out a new subway map, exploring at my own pace with no specific place to go. I also quite enjoy traveling alone and find that I can amuse myself for hours and I find that it gives me confidence to figure things out on my own this way.

I love discovering my new favorite places in a new city. I stumbled upon a donut shop that makes the most random assortment of flavored donuts! I had a hard time choosing between Tango Mango, Durren Durren, Rolling Stone, The Alien, Snowy, Witnut, Pink Panther…just to name a few! I cannot disclose how many were consumed by me…

Malaysia is the first Muslim country I have visited. One has to dress more conservatively here than other parts of SE Asia as it is proper to be covered from your shoulders to your knees. And it is HOT! I am visiting Malaysia right in the middle of Ramadan, so many of the mosques were closed to non-Muslim visitors.

I visited my first mosque while in Kuala Lumpur and was given a scarf to wear on my head and a robe to wear over my clothes. I do not know how these people were so much clothing everyday in such heat! I could hardly stand it for a short time and thought I might pass out!

I spent a few days exploring the major sights of the city in Chinatown and the Golden Triangle. I visited Merdeka Square, Masjid Jamek and Masjid Negara.

Merdeka Square: the nation’s independence was proclaimed here in 1957.

Masjid Negara: One of Southeast Asia’s largest mosques.

The most spectacular site was the Petronas Towers, formerly the world’s tallest skyscrapers (until Taipei 101 took the title in 2004). I hung out in the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) and waited for the sun to set and the lights of the tower to come to light.

After getting my big city fix, I decided it was time to head back to the beach for some much needed R&R! I decided to take myself to the very isolated Perhentian Islands known for beautiful beaches and great scuba diving!

To see all of my photos of Kuala Lumpur CLICK HERE.

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1 Comment

  1. Rick@NatureEscapes says:

    Your travel attitude is perfect! And that allows you to make good choices … Perhentian is a great island introduction. When you get back to KL check out some more nature adventure at Nature Escapes KL

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