Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog› entry 9 of 17 › view all entries
This weekend's excursion was to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And while it was no Bangkok, it definitely wasn't disappointing in the least.
Malaysia is fairly close to Singapore. As you can probably see from the map, Singapore almost looks like it should belong to Malaysia. And it did at one point in its history. The nice part about the proximity is that we didn't have to take a plane. So for once we didn't have to go through the hassle of going to the airport, checking in, waiting at the budget terminal 30 minutes early, etc. Instead, we opted for a train. Exciting, definitely, esp. because most people on the trip had never been on a train.
The train left on Friday at 1 p.m. Or it was supposed to. We ended up pulling out of the station at about 2:45. If it had been 3, we would have gotten our money back. Funny how that works out...
The train station in Singapore is not nearly as modern as the airport or the MRT Subway station. It looked like it had been the train station for 50 years and hadn't been renovated at all during that time. The train, however, was pretty nice. And it ended up in the confusion of trying to book a sleeper on the way back we had booked first class tickets for the way there. Amazingly the whole round trip to Malaysia still ended up being about $50 a person.
Anyway, the train ride was about 8 hours. We finally got to our hostel in the Golden Triangle (downtown) of Kuala Lumpur at about 11 p.m. on Friday night.
KL was far more modern than I had imagined. It was a lot cleaner than Bangkok and most of the signs were in Roman letters, even if they didn't spell anything I recognized. Tall buildings dominated the skyline and even as we drove through Chinatown at night in the Taxi, nothing looked too old or disheveled.
The Golden Triangle area (where we were staying) was very busy and lit up with neon. The guidebook described it as a mini-Times Square but it reminded me more of a mini modern Bangkok. Minus the sketchy street vendors. The skyrail looked a lot like Bangkok as did the storefronts and a lot of the residents of the city.
We found our hostel with a bit of trouble, it was down a side street our taxi driver had never heard of. They also had a funny taxi system in Malaysia. You went to a booth to tell someone where you were going who would try to figure it out and charge you from there before giving you a ticket to give to the driver. Kind of a middle man system, I think. But I guess it would stop drivers from price gouging and also ensure tha the driver did know where you were going (from looking at the printed ticket) especially if he didn't speak English. Again, there was no problem in Malaysia with the language barrier. I wonder if China will be different...
Anyway, the hostel was a bit of a downgrade from the one in Bangkok. Not as nice, but a good location. The 8 of us stayed in one room with 4 sets of bunk beds...we are all getting pretty close after all of these close quarter situations. There were two locking gates in the front which made us all feel a little better and we had to take off our shoes to enter the hostel...someone mentioned that it was disrespectful if you didn't. I don't even want to think about what could have been on the floor of a hostel called the Punjanjja Homestay in a back alley of Malaysia. And I would prefer not to.
Anyway, we went back up to the main strip and had a couple of Tigers and talked for awhile. Oddly, we ran into the other half of the Study Abroad group at the Irish pub we were sitting at. We all hung out and talked to about 2:30 before heading back to the room for the night.
Katie woke us all up the next morning at 7:30. Our main goal in coming to Malaysia was to see the Petronas Twin Towers...the two tallest towers in the world. We headed over there (about a 10 minute walk from the hostel) to get in line for tickets. They only let about 1000 people up in the tower skybridge every day and we wanted to make srue we could get up. After queueing in and going to get an American breakfast at the adjoining mall, we finally got to go up. What an amazing view! And the skybridge they allowed you to go up to was less than halfway up the towers. I loved the design of the building and how they were so modern but still incorporate symbols of the Islamic faith. We saw an interesting video on how the towers were constructed as well which was pretty informative...
Took a lot of pictures in the tower area and spent the rest of the day in various mega-malls. We hadn't really spent a lot of time shopping yet and Malaysia certainly had the venues for it. We could have gone to some Hindu caves, but I think we were all a little templed out and are trying to save some enthusiasm for Cambodia in a couple weeks.
The malls were huge. 6 and 4 stories respectively. People everywhere. Neat little boutiques that aren't anything like you would see in the U.S. The Malaysian version of the department store was different as well. It is fun to wander around crowded places like that. You really get an idea about what the average person is like. I spent at least an hour people watching at one of the malls.
We had dinner before catching our night train back. We had reserved sleeper cars so we could sleep our way back to Singapore early on Sunday. We had decided to only spend the one day in KL as to save the rest of the weekend for more exploration of Singapore.
Very different than I thought it would be and another great weekend!