One of the downsides of traveling is that you tend to get a little bit jaded, as you’re spoiled on daily basis by all the riches the world has to offer. You’ll read this again and again in all travel blogs. This waterfall is beautiful, but not as beautiful as the last; if you’ve seen one temple/church you’ve seen them all; the cheese in this country is good but not as good as the last, blah blah blah blah blahhhhh.
That last bit was a little dramatic. Cheese is always good in countries that offer it as a part of their everyday diet, AKA I’m just cheese-deprived over here in Southeast Asia & craving. I miss grocery shopping in Florence, Italy. But anyways….
Ironically, traveling also kind of comes with this pressure to be wowed with everything. Sometimes people get into what I like to call the “fake hippie” ruts. It’s when you pretend like everything is so amazing and impressive just because it’s exotic. And the more exotic and off-the-beaten-path it is, the more you love it. Even though sometimes things are off the tourist beaten-path because they’re not really that memorable.
Not that I’m trying to encourage negativity, just something to keep in mind when you read articles and travel blogs that glamorize travel.
Back to KL…
I think all of the above might be the reason that Kuala Lumpur didn’t wow me. And maybe because of the pressure I mentioned above, but I don’t like to say negative things about a city or a country, they’re all amazing in their own ways. But nothing about the city really stood out to me. Everything I liked about it seemed borrowed from another. For example:
- Little India – amazing Indian food, but hellooooooo it’s Indian
- Little Arabia – amazing shwarma & falafal, once again borrowed
- Batu Caves – interesting somewhat (although I’m salty about climbing to the top and being greeted by an unfinished cave) but paid more homage to a religion than a local culture
I think we’re starting to see a pattern here. I guess the real beauty in Kuala Lumpur can be found in it’s diversity? Dear lord I sound like a middle-school lets-paint-rainbows-and-hold-hands presentation. But actually, the culture and people in KL were the most mixed I’ve seen since landing in Asia. Thailand is full of Thai people, Indonesia Indonesians, Cambodia Cambodians….most countries I’ve seen aren’t very mixed.
Maybe the mixed culture just didn’t seem exciting to me because I grew up in the red white & blue melting pot that is the USA.
What else can we get from this review? The food was dankkkk. The mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay influence among others made for a wide array of culinary options, including the best shwarma I’ve ever had in my life.
So what do you do in Kuala Lumpur?
Hack – the cheapest way to get from the airport is the Airport Coach bus at 10 Ringgit a person, about $2.50. It took around 30-40 minutes when I did it. Taking the metro from the airport is faster, but it costs 35 Ringgit.
Visit the Petronas Towers
These massive towers are definitely an icon of Kuala Lumpur. They cost a whopping 85(about 20USD) Ringgit to go up and get a view, however. That’s just about as much as it costs to go on the much cooler skydeck at the Sears Tower in Chicago.
We opted not to go up because of the cost, and just took selfies in front of it instead. While we were taking pictures some guy wanted to get a picture with us, leading to a line of people forming to take pictures with us…not something I was expecting in Malaysia.
See the Batu Caves
Even though personally I didn’t find the caves exciting, the big to-see in Kuala Lumpur is the Batu Caves. These are a series of caves with different statues depicting stories from Hinduism, along with Hindu gods.
There’s one large main cave that requires walking up a ton of steps, and a bunch of separate little caves around it. However, each of the little caves comes with their own separate entrance fee, so personally I wouldn’t recommend them. I don’t remember the numbers exactly, but they were pretty cheap, if you forget the fact that you have to pay for each one.
The main cave is less than exciting to say the least. You climb up a ton of stairs and battle off monkeys all the way up for a mediocre view of the city and a cave that’s under construction. There are some statues in it, but not many. I don’t know the background on the cave but I think it has some kind of spiritual significance, as there were many Indian people there who looked like they were paying homage.
The caves are conveniently located at the end of the line on the metro, so they’re easy to get to. They were inconveniently scaffolded and under construction, but life happens sometimes.
Surprisingly, a lot of people also wanted pics with my friend Melissa & I at the caves. I’ve heard that people like taking pictures with white people in India, and a lot of people seemed to be visiting from India, so maybe that had something to do with it. I was cool with the picture taking until I was sitting on a bench waiting for the train & caught an old dude taking selfies with me in them without asking or even letting me know. I’m chill with the paparazzi but not the stalkerazzi.
Grab a drink at a helipad bar – Heli Lounge Bar
Kuala Lumpur seems to be chock full of rooftop bars, and also helipads. Maybe it’s for the nice view of the Petronas towers? Whatever it was, my friend Melissa & I paid way too much for cocktails and wine so that we could go out for a drink with a view.
KL isn’t known for nightlife as Muslim countries tend to impose high liquor taxes, so we decided grabbing a drink was a good alternative to running around the city seeking out mediocre nightlife.
NOTE – while I did not stay there, some of my friends that visited after said they stayed at Reggae Mansion hostel in KL and it was poppin’. So if you’re looking to meet backpackers and party, I’d recommend staying there.
The only thing left to do in Kuala Lumpur is eat. They have a wild mix ranging from Indian to Pernankan. I was only here for 24 hours before I caught a bus to the Cameron Highlands, so all I managed to scarf down was a dosa and some shwarma.
All in all, Kuala Lumpur was less than exciting. There are other things you can do in the city like go up the Petronas Towers, but we opted out of that as it’s absurdly expensive. I think the main draw to this city is that AirAsia is headquartered here, so there are always cheap flights when you’re in need of a visa run.
Just because I didn’t love the city doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. But when you travel remember that you don’t have to always love everything, we’re only human now.