Kuala Lumpur (KL as the locals refer to it) is (if you forget Singapore) the most developed city in the south east Asia.
If you arrive here after visit Cambodia,Laos,Vietnam…..you’ll probably have a slight mental breakdown because this city is more advance and developed than even some European cities, with high tech infrastructure, modern buildings and a fast, bustling pace.
The city has two big international airports but belongs to a low cost carrier company that make easy to travel around and use as a base for other SE Asian countries for less money. Although unfortunately both are around 90km from KL centre itself. The city really is this big. From south till north Malaysia is no longer than 1000 KMts with a fantastic new highways that are solid tarmac, Kuala Lumpur is strategically well situated.
Once you arrive in KL’s heart- the finance and commerce district the city buildings deliver the big eye impact it always promised from seeing other photos from people. It is really interesting to understand how they developed it because here it is obligatory that buildings offer parking below the offices or apartments. Yet all of them also need to be covered with plants or colors. If no one told you, you would just think it was just another skyscraper… however the meticulous planning on reducing the cities hard lines works really well and gives a far more plesant city experience.
Irsia BnB is the small bed and breakfast we stayed in, located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur in a quiet area that still makes it easy to move around and visit the traditional places you can find in any guidebook or to explore this immense city by yourself. However the owners were really friendly and pointed us in the direction of anything we fancied doing- always better to gain the local knowledge.
Walking around the city is tiring in the heat but once you’re adapted you can enjoy using the public transport, which often feels like you are driving around with a hot hair dryer blowing in your face. The education here is bilingual and most of the people speak basic if not a good level of English, so getting around by public transport is not difficult at all and feels far too easy after the other SE Asian countries we visited.
Then what to explore!? Green areas, culture, night life…….anything you can imagine can found here including the last gadgets that of course offer one main advantage : the exchange rate…
We started exploring the city and getting our bearings, which always needs to be done at the start of any new place. We stopped off for an ice coffee, which has now become our staple cool down drink of choice. We started talking with some locals and when asked about the city they said the best thing was that you’re invisible, which my preconceptions says makes a city less friendly and more individualistic and competitive. Yet people value here seem to value being anonymous. What is there to hide? The population here is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Hindu people and all the mixes you can imagine in between. You realise that you’re just one more person together with everyone in this melting pot of cultural diversity and suddenly the richness of the city explodes to life. The vast amount of different types of food and produce, activity and bredth of things to experience, see and do is incredible.
Inside the malls in KL you can enjoy movies (also in 5D!) ,fairs (including amazing roller coaster with an incredible loop). However ice skating surprisingly is what the locals enjoy most of the time, and provides the venue for teenagers and people in their early 20’s to hang out and have a laugh. The younger people enjoy different kinds of activities in areas dedicated to this younger group including graffiti, skateboarding, bilking all till late at night. They then tend to move to the street food courts or places people have started to use to hang out and impress the opposite sex, but hanging out in the warm streets 11- 12 at night sharing a drink in the various popular places seems to be the order of the day for most.
Museums, local and modern architecture, music events and the Sepang circuit (the famous Malaysian race course) are all here, located on the doorstep. We needed to rein ourselves in to ensure we didn’t tourist overload!
Perhaps the best thing about KL is that 25 kmts out of the city and you’re in the jungle. Few hours by car (no more than 3) and you’re in the Cameron Highlands. Mountains around 25 hundred or 30 hundred meters where you can go hiking in the incredible green valleys where strawberries grow in the expansive farms and incredible flowers grow for the honey producers. Further around these steep luscious hills tea plantations stretch into the distance. Not so far away is Taman Negara (the oldest forest in the world) where you can’t miss enjoying 100% of what mother nature has to offer. This really does feel in the middle of the jungle, even more so than in areas of the Brazilian jungle. It just seems more remote and dense, more tropical here.
Then what do you say about the tropical islands with the amazing blue water where you can scuba with turtles, sharks and a vast array of flashing colour from the small fish that are everywhere in the water Sandy beaches, palm trees and christelline blue waters. What more do you want?