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Kuala Lumpur

Still loving Malaysia

sunny 33 °C

I took a bus from Georgetown to KL and was picked up from the guesthouse at 9.30 in a minibus. After picking up another group of people (from a hotel with a 'No Durian' sign outside) we were dropped off under a bridge to wait for the actual bus. When the bus arrived I sat next to the only other foreigner, or westerner at least - a Belgian girl from Antwerp, on what truly was a VIP bus. It had giant seats with buttons to recline the back and adjust the leg and foot rests as well as built in massage function. We then stopped for an hour at another bus stop before leaving the island via Penang bridge that links the island to Butterworth on the mainland. I'd seen the bridge from the air as my plane had landed a couple of days earlier and it looked incredibly long - apparently 8.4 miles makes it only the fourth longest bridge in south east Asia. As soon as we reached the mainland, after the excitement of the super-long bridge, I fell immediately asleep waking up briefly at a bathroom stop and not again until we were pulling into KL.

Fortunately the bus stopped just a short walk from my hostel as KL was hot. Even after two and a half months in predominantly 30+ degree temperatures it still felt hot and the closer I got to the equator the more humid it was becoming.

I checked into Raizzy's guest house and met an American girl called Brit who was on a short break from her job teaching English in China. The two of us walked a short way up the street to Reggae Bar for a beer and then wandered to Little India where I ordered food for both of us. I was pleased to find that KL's Indian food was of the same quality as Penang's and we ate well and cheaply. After dinner we returned to the Reggae Bar for a glass of wine that turned into several when we invited a British woman (who was alone and being hassled by a drunken Indian man) to join us. She too was an English teacher and was on her way home having been teaching for over a year in the middle of no where in the Malaysian jungle and it was ally interesting to listen to both of their stories especially as both of them lived and worked outside of major cities where there was no expat community to speak of. With such a short time in KL I hadn't intended to spend the entire first night in one bar but it was a good evening and as it began to rain heavily we ordered yet more drinks.

The next morning I woke up feeling better than I deserved to, just a little impatient and grouchy. I had one day to see KL and the first task of the day was working out how to leave the following day. I'd read that the train journey from KL to Singapore was beautiful and, keen to travel by a method other than bus (even massaging bus), I left the hostel just after nine to the main station. Unfortunately my dreams of travelling in first class comfort were not to be realised as there were only sleeper beds left so I paid my £10 and took the metro back to the hostel where I'd arranged to meet Brit at 10am as she'd wanted to join me for my whistle stop tour of KL.

First sightseeing stop of the day was Batu Caves, one of the most visited Hindu shrines outside of India, that had been recommended by a couple of people. It was a short train journey out of town to the end of the line. It was particularly busy there due to a Tamil festival that takes place at this time of year called Thaipusam. There was a market set up that detracted attention slightly from the limestone hill (and caused some unpleasant smells) which was a shame and its caves but the giant golden statue at the bottom of the steps to the Cathedral Temple soon brought us back. Passing behind the gigantic 140ft high statue (that apparently cost 24million rupees!), along with hundreds of Indians, we began to climb the 272 steps to the top. In spite of the heat, it was easier than expected and we stopped only once to watch a monkey en route. Once at the top we entered the cave and walked through to the temple. It was smaller than I'd expected and the statue and the statue and the steps were actually the most impressive part. Having visited several caves in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and now Malaysia I definitely had cave-fatigue. We did however see a six foot long un-friendly looking snake on the way out.

We were on the way back into town before midday and our next stop was the Colonial District and Merdeka Square where we hunted for the Nationalq History museum without success. And coincidently, a lunch time, we found ourselves back in Little India where, after convincing us to sit at his restaurant come street food shack, an Indian from Chennai did a bad job of explaining his menu to us. Seeing Lipton bottles in the fridge, I ordered an iced tea which arrived not in a Lipton bottle but a cup of sweet, milky tea, builder style, served on ice in a beer mug. I couldn't decide my thoughts on it but drank it all whilst thinking about it. Food wise I was more successful and managed to get a plate of fried rice with mystery meat and chilli sauce.

After lunch and a wander around the Indian bazzar, we hopped back on the metro to KLCC where we emerged into a shopping centre. This was by far the most commercial place I'd been in in months and it was quite exciting - they even had a Topshop, Marks and Spencer's. I almost forgot we'd gone there to find the twin Petronas towers, worlds tallest buildings until 2004. As it was we were under them so we made our way to the nearby KLCC park for a sit down (lying down was frowned upon) and a better view. It was one of those 'I can't believe I'm here moment' as we gazed up at the iconic towers and I had that funny 'I'm all the way on the right side of the map' feelings. When we left the park we were well and truly in the shopping district and KL seemed to have shopping centres galore. We passed (okay went in) H&M and a Debenham's before taking the monorail (first three stops in the wrong direction) back to Chinatown for a well earned beer.

In the evening we visited n the central market and, as I had very few ringgits left, watched a film in the hostel before bed. Choosing movies we met a Dutch guy on a rather interesting trip - he'd arrived sweating and exhausted at the hostel earlier in the afternoon having spent three days cycling to KL from Georgetown. He'd actually bought a bike in Cambodia and had cycled from there through Thailand and into Malaysia navigating with little more than road maps and a compass and resting in random towns along the way including spending one night being taken in by a Cambodian family (http://www.gofundme.com/acodofarm#description).

The next morning after an interrupted nights sleep it was muggy and overcast as I left the hostel for my 9am train to Singapore and I was disappointed to find the Starbucks in KL Sentral not yet open - I'd saved my last ringgits for a caramel macchiato. Boarding the open sleeper carriage, seemingly the cheapest seats on the train, I was pleasantly surprised - I got a single bed to myself with curtains and a comfy pillow - with the exception of a noisy young child a few beds down, I was looking forwards to laying back for the seven hour journey, watching the next twilight film and catching up on some sleep. It was just a shame to be leaving Malaysia so quickly - it was up there with India in competition for my favourite country so far and I'd used just four days of my ninety day visa.

Posted by madeinmold 04:01 Archived in Malaysia

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