Kuala Lumpur was a destination I had mixed feelings about visiting, a lot of my fellow expats in Vietnam told me it was “pretty boring” and not worth visiting for more than a day or two tops. So I made a rough itinerary with Kuala Lumpur as a long layover on my way to visit my family in Singapore and using local budget airlines VietjetAir and AirAsia I found a ticket from Ho Chi Minh to KL for merely $65 and from there to Singapore for $20. Initially, curiosity and cheap costs were my primary motivations to visit Malaysia.
Speakeasies: I have an infatuation for speakeasies. Quaint cocktail bars set up to replicate the prohibition era where the sale of alcohol was prohibited and so bar owners put up a front as a business such as a shoe repair, toy store, or antique shop but behind closed curtains they were secretly bars. These bars are a homage to the older times and some even need a verbal password to enter.
PS150’s visage as a Toy company.
Petaling Street Flea Market: I’ve been to a lot of street markets and this one indefinitely caught my eye because it had the biggest variety of products from knives, bongs, and zippos to t-shirts, handbags, and backpacks. It also had a surprisingly warm number of salesmen and women who weren’t borderline harassing me or displaying a complete bullshit friendly attitude only trying to make a sale. They were kind and exclaimed bargains and prices and when I would say no “thank you” or “I’m not interested but thanks” they would simply smile and respond with “okay, no problem” or “that’s okay, have a good night”. It’s responses like these that made me turn around and second guess walking away. My funniest moment was when a local was pitching tattoos and I chuckled, said, “I have enough,” and lifted my t-shirt to reveal I had nine big pieces across my upper arms, chest, or torso. He laughed and retorted, “but have you had a bamboo tattoo?” and I must admit I was intrigued for a moment but ultimately rebuked a spur of the moment tattoo.Central Market: My budget hotel was literally located next door to the Central Market so I was there everyday during my stay naturally. There was a surprisingly vast array of food and drinks most of which I was familiar with except for a few such as rose lychee juice and snake fruit which was named such because it’s outer skin literally looks and feels like a snake’s scales. The outside food market was exceptionally cheap and I would highly recommend a stop here, the inside struck me as more of your cliche touristy and overpriced goods that you could find anywhere if you looked hard enough.
KL Tower: The tallest viewpoint to KL has to offer. The KL Tower has two places to observe one being the skydeck which is highest and partially enclosed and the other being the observation deck which is lower and completely enclosed.
Petronas Twin Towers: The Petronas Towers are arguably one of the most popular photo opportunities for visitors and expats alike in southeast Asia. They’re big, beautiful, and magnificent structures that embody the elements of Kuala Lumpur’s prime and original architecture. I think it would be a huge mistake to not visit the Petronas Towers if visiting Kuala Lumpur for this classic viewpoint selfie alone.Batu Caves: I would argue that Batu Caves was the highlight of my trip. I love nature and architecture and Batu Caves had the best of both worlds. The stairs were over 200 steps but I didn’t see it as a challenge until I decided to partake in the volunteering of carrying bricks up as part of a general request from staff to help aid construction workers in their duties. The caverns themselves were immense and filled with bats gliding by as well as workers constructing expanses on the temples inside of the caves itself. Quite simply there was just so much awe-inspiring scenery.
Walking back down I was looking for a good photo opportunity and by dumb luck I looked over my shoulder and saw this monkey casually eating a coconut within arm’s reach of me. Disclaimer: Don’t feed the monkeys as it makes them aggressive towards people and as a result they spend more time reproducing than foraging. These monkeys are intelligent and took every opportunity whenever someone took an eye off of their food or put their bag of snacks down. They knew how to open bottles, peel off seals, and open bags of chips. Quite amazing yet sneaky little thieves.
Getting Around: The MRT is dirt cheap, very clean, and navigating is straightforward, but has some strict rules and regulations such as no eating or drinking and there is even an entire separate segment of the train that is reserved solely for women. Otherwise, Uber is a cheap, convenient, and tried and trued method when visiting. Taxis are not the best option as they will generally charge you triple if not more than Ubers. Walking isn’t a very viable option because of the hot weather and confusing walkways where it gets easy to head the wrong way if not familiar with the city.
Getting sick while traveling: The unluckiness of getting sick the day of my vacation wasn’t the end of the world for me and I did my best to make the most of it. I powered up on immunity boosters, cold medicine, got my rest everyday, maintained good hygiene, seldom drank alcohol and tried to eat properly to minimize the severity of my cold. If I had been really determined to beat my cold I would have tried to over-hydrate on water and then taken a steaming hot shower or stepped into a sauna in order to flush out my system of toxins.
Missing your flight: I’m an idiot and for the first time missed my flight within a few feet from my gate. How? Good question. I got my timezones mixed up like an amateur. My phone was manually set to Vietnam time which is an hour ahead of Malaysia. My boarding pass was printed out in Malaysian time but my printed out copies were in Vietnam time. Thinking it was a misprint I decided to sit outside my gate and wait until it opened up to inquire like a fool, but instead I dozed off and woke up to my gate being closed and departing. I had to endure the embarrassment of walking back through security and passport control only to pay nearly five times my original ticket’s price as a result.Easiest ways to get foreign currency: Generally speaking I would say order foreign currency ahead of time at your local bank as it is the tried and trued method. On the other hand I have an international card with my local Vietcomback in Ho Chi Minh City and because my card is a visa it is widely accepted at ATMs universally. There is generally a small fee of a couple of dollars depending on the country but the convenience alone is worth the ATM fee in my case and because Vietnam is such a cheap country the international transaction fee and currency conversion is minuscule as well. Malaysian ringgit comes in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 in colorful, vibrant notes as well as coins.Where I stayed: Avenue J Hotel, a 4-star hotel offering 2-star prices, this hotel is located directly next door to the Central Market and has a decent breakfast for a small additional fee.Singapore: I’ve been to Singapore plenty of times but came this time solely to see my family who are from there. Despite having arguably the strictest of immigration or drug laws there are still some good beers to be found here and plenty of things to do.