One photo that has always stood out to me from friends who have made the trek to Southeast Asia consists of two tall towers connected by their midsections, lit up against the night sky. For the longest time I had no idea where this was, but I did know that if I ever hopped on a plane and traveled in this part of the world, I would not leave before doing my best bad-ass pose in front of this looming piece of architecture. It turns out that this building is located in Kuala Lumpur, and goes by the name of the Petronas Towers. The good news? Said photo was a success (perhaps not as intimidating as I originally intended). The bad news? This took all of an hour and we still had another 24 to spend in the capital of Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is, to put it plainly, a bit boring. We wandered around Chinatown, ate food in Little India, and of course visited the Petronas Towers (does anyone else think of Harry Potter casting his Expecto Patronum spell every time they hear that name, or is it just me)? Despite successfully snapping my profile in front of this building, which was at one point the tallest in the world, I was underwhelmed by the experience. Yes, they are tall, but with the $30 price tag to go to the top of one of the towers, our backpacker budget didn’t quite allow us to gain an alternative view, which would perhaps have made the visit that much better.
On the second day we did a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, which was a good way to see more of the city. Unfortunately the first bus we were on didn’t have speakers in our seating section, leaving us to speculate most of the time as to what area we were in and what sights we were seeing. One activity that we know is very much prevalent in Kuala Lumpur is shopping. Everywhere you look brand names are splashed on billboards, with multiple malls and outlets for people to spend their time and cash. For most Vancouverites hitting the slopes on a cold Sunday is standard, for residents in Kuala Lumpur, heading to the nearest mall for a day of browsing and credit card swiping is more likely.
As per most places we visited in Malaysia, the food in Kuala Lumpur was top-notch. One spot worth mentioning is Restoran Dan Nasi Ayam Kam Kee in Chinatown. Walking by you would never think this place serves up some of the most drool-worthy Chinese food you’ve ever tasted, but after ordering your first dish the initial bite will change the minds of even the biggest skeptics. The restaurant is set up much like a street vendor, with plastic tables and chairs scattered next to the road. While the prices are more than most roadside establishments, the food makes it all worth it. Expect to pay around $10 each for splitting two to three dishes, and about $16 with beer.
Kuala Lumpur could easily be done in a day. Two days was a bit much, and we were searching for activities to do after the first 24 hours. However, while in Malaysia I would still recommend a quick stop in the country’s capital, even if it is only to eat at the best Chinese food stand in town.