Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
26.11.2011 - 03.12.2011
We were hoping to take a train to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore but found out that the trains were fully booked due to the school holidays. The old train station building in Singapore had been closed down too so we instead opted for a ‘luxury’ bus that turned out to be much cheaper anyway. There were hardly any people on the bus so we had lots of space for the 6 hour journey. We met a Swiss backpacker who had just spent a month in Indonesia and tempted us to go there with his stories. We also met a Malaysian lady who now lives in Singapore and also loves to travel.
The weather in both Singapore and KL was strange, it was very hot and humid but it rained every afternoon, so we had to wear cool clothes but also take an umbrella too and hope that we would be undercover when it starts to pour down!
We arrived into KL at night and it was already dark. We were dropped off in the middle of bustling China Town, at the night market on Petaling Street. Although we have been to KL before, we were really excited to explore the city again.
We checked into a backpacker hostel called Reggae Guesthouse as everyone we have met so far has advised us it’s the best place in town! It’s definitely a cool place and in a great location plus it has free breakfast of toast and peanut butter thrown in!
After dumping our bags we went out for some food and found a roadside restaurant where we tried ‘steamboats’ for the first time. Basically, there’s a load of raw food on skewers all arranged on ice and you pick a mix of them and then at your table there’s a large pot of boiling water to cook it in. You can then add some sauces like soy or satay, it was good fun!
Whilst in KL we visited the ‘electric city’ shopping district called Low Yat. It’s a huge place full of all the latest technology and packed full of people. Sully decided to invest in a new notebook computer to use whilst travelling as we noticed that other backpackers were using them and that free wifi is available everywhere we go. We had a good time shopping around and haggling with the salesmen before we got the deal we wanted :-)
In the evenings we ate at a hawker centre (like an outdoor food court) in China Town where we actually ate Indian food. We found a stall where they make delicious roti and curries and went back twice. The food is so cheap, we had a big meal for only £2!
Despite being a very cosmopolitan country, Malaysia is mostly Islamic and so we took the opportunity to visit some of the amazing mosques here. The mosques are huge compared to those in England and are really grand in their design, especially the more modern ones. We visited the National Mosque in KL as well as the famous Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque (The Blue Mosque) in Shah Alam and the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, here we met some young muslims travelling from France, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia.
The blue mosque has the biggest dome in the world (106m high) and glows blue inside because of the sunlight glowing through the dome. This mosque was built in the 80s by the Sultan at the time.
The Putra Mosque has a pink dome and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is on the edge of a lake. The weather was very hot when we visited. Putrajaya is a new city built in the 90s to be an administrative centre for the country. Although everything is new (including the mosque) and well designed, with beautiful buildings and landscaping, it felt like a bit of a ghost town.
In KL we also visited the National Museum of Islamic Art where we learned about the history of Islamic architectural design and the different style of mosques throughout the world. We also saw very old Arabic and Persian texts, hand-written and very decorative. There was a special exhibition on about the Afghan cameleers of Australia that we found fascinating as we had never heard of them before.
Whilst in China Town we visited a very old Taoist temple and saw for the first time the prayer rituals performed inside. The Taoists here are mainly Chinese and pray to various idols and light lots of incense sticks and then burn paper in a large kiln. We didn’t find out why but could see it was an important part of their prayer rituals. They also devote food to their idols as we have seen in both Hindu and Buddhist temples.
We visited, too, another South Indian (tamil) Hindu temple which was very similar to those we visited in Singapore. Early in the morning we found the priest there reading his paper with his mobile phone tucked into his waistband! We were also surprised to meet a ‘eunuch’ called Preeti in the temple who was happy to pose for a picture:
On our last night in KL we went to the Suria shopping centre where all the cool people hang out (!) and had some great food in the food court there. The food in Malaysia is amazing and we don’t always remember the name of what we have eaten but there seems to be a mix of Indian, Chinese, Indonesian as well as traditional Malay dishes. Yummy! It seems that wherever we go, there is food being sold and we can't help but keep sampling it all!
After a huge meal and some naughty donuts we headed to the Traders Hotel (Shangri La) in our best backpacker gear, hoping to get into their swish roof top bar on the 33rd floor. We were pleased to get in despite not quite looking the part and not being able to afford the cocktails! The bar was soooo cool, there were amazing views of the Petronas Towers and the other towers of the city and the bar had a swimming pool running down the middle. The best bit was the DJ and his hiphop/RnB beats and a Chinese lady dancing alone like Beyonce the whole night – great fun and a fantastic way to end our time in the capital!