Meet me at the Petronas Towers for dinner!
Back in October when I went home for a few week I screwed up my visa situation, much to VSO’s annoyance. I am about 3 weeks off-kilter from where I am supposed to be, which led to a bit of a visa dilemma. I had to leave the country by January 12th. VSO didn’t want to pay for another volunteer visa, because I really only have less than a month left of placement and the reason my second visa didn’t cover my placement term was my own fault. So, we decided I would switch to a regular tourist visa which presented me with two options: 2 visa run trips to the nearest border (Laos or Burma) for 2 15-day land crossing visas, or 1 flight to neighboring country because when you re-enter through an airport, they give you 30 days…and we agreed that’d we’d split the cost so that I was paying for part of the visa run out of pocket…fair enough. Trying to figure out what was cheapest for VSO & for me, so as not to rock the boat any further, I planned on just doing the 2 land crossings. That is, up until the last minute when the scheming of my brother and the scheming of my husband led me to conjure up a very last minute whirlwind trip. Justin had bought an open jaw ticket to come here: into Bangkok and out of Kuala Lumpur, and he was going to be in KUL sometime around the 12th. Luis really didn’t want to leave Thailand without visiting its claim-to-fame: the beaches, and a solo beach trip really didn’t appeal to him. So, I booked a super cheap one way flight to Kuala Lumpur (gotta love AirAsia), spent about 40 hours there, crossed paths with Justin, flew to Krabi, met up with Luis, spent 3 and a half days soaking up the sun and the views, transferred by bus to Phuket airport, and flew back to Chiang Mai. That all happened in less than 6 days.
Here’s the recap of my quick tour of Kuala Lumpur:
KUL is a really vibrant city and is a fascinating place to just walk around, and then turn around and walk some more. It is a true melting pot of cultures, languages and histories. Almost all signs are in Malay, Tamil & Chinese, because in addition to Malays, there is also huge communities of Chinese and Indians. What most caught my eye was the result this has all had on the architecture of the city center.
It was also the first place I’ve ever visited with such a large population of women who cover their heads and it was interesting to walk through a textile market with rows and rows of shops selling nothing but head scarves in every color, fabric and design!
My time there allowed me to explore one of the two Little India’s as well as Chinatown, which we enjoyed walking through both early in the morning and late at night:
I loved the unique blend of religions….on the same block, I found a Chinese temple, a Sikh temple and this Hindu temple:
Of course it was impossible to be here without being affected by the grandeur of the Petronas Towers. Most of the time I was far from the part of town where the towers are, but even so, occasionally I would walk around a corner and catch a glimpse of them, like here:
And here, where they can be seen way back in the distance, with the KL tower in front:
On a walk through the trendy part of town, I went into a maze of shopping centers and a tunnel connecting the convention center to some more shopping centers and I came back up into the street and found myself directly underneath them, what a sight:
Later, when Justin rolled into town, we went back to see the towers at night. We started out by having a beer at one of the bars at the base of the towers and then headed across the park and up to the skybar inside the Traders Hotel. Being the loving and employed brother that he is, Justin treated his not-so-employed sister to wine and an appetizer, buying us the privilege to sit at a window table and enjoy the spectacular view!
Our final hours together in KUL allowed for a stroll around one of the main mosques in the city and a few more tasty snacks in Little India before I had to catch the bus back to the airport.
This is a city I really hope to return to with enough time to visit properly! In fact, Malaysia has always been top on the list of Asian countries I want to thoroughly explore and with the few hours I was there, I can now confirm its place at the top of the line (ironically, Thailand was always towards the bottom of that same Asian list…go figure how life works out).