Short trip report from Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaAuthor: gardkarlsen (More Trip Reviews by gardkarlsen)
Date of Trip: November 2008
I wrote this while I was in KL recently. Hope that it can be of help to some :-)
I'm now on a business trip to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and that is of course pretty exciting. I have been here a few times before but it is always great fun to return here as it is so different to what I'm used to back home in Norway. The first thing you notice when you arrive is the climate. On many travel forums I see people asking about what the weather will be like when traveling to Thailand and Malaysia -- how hot it will be, if it will rain etc. The average temperature for KL is about 29 degrees Celsius all year long so it never gets cold. Even after the sun sets the temperature doesn't drop much so you can still go out at night in light clothing. The only thing you have to "worry" about is if you end up in a place where they run the air-con on full speed. But you have to be aware that there are periods when it rains more than usual here in Asia and it is best to get an overview of this by checking out http://www.weatherbase.com -- even if it has been a wet season now, the weather has been OK and when it does rain it only rains for a few hours - but it is pouring down when it starts.
I have stayed at Traders hotel this time -- a very nice 4 star hotel in the Shangri-La chain. Even if it is not one of the most expensive hotels in town, it is still one of the best hotels that I have ever stayed at. First of all the service is outstanding compared to what I'm used to back home in Norway and Europe in general. I have been lucky enough to stay at their Club level (executive floors) and I guess this is more aimed at business travelers as it gives you free internet access, access to meeting rooms etc. In addition to this you also get access to the lounge on the 32 floor -- and here you can find refreshments all day long and they even have a free bar for a couple of hours each night -- I can never imagine that something like that would be possible back home. And from the lounge we have an amazing view of the Petronas Twin Towers -- a view that you never get sick of :-) But it is first of all the service that makes me return here -- if you do stay at the Club level in the future please send my regards to the lovely Asa :-) I'm sure she will remember the 2 Norwegian guys that has been bugging her on several stays :-)
The food in KL is amazing and as you have large groups of Malays, Indians and Chinese, it is easy to find a wide variety of food. The first time I came here I was shown around so finding food was not a problem. But I guess it can seem intimidating if you come here alone for the first time. But if you are looking for a cheap meal you should head to one of the food courts -- you can find really nice food courts on malls like KLCC Suria, MidValley megamall, Pavilion etc. For 8-10 ringgits (about 2-3 US dollars) you can get a nice meal and you have an amazing selection. At night time you can choose between everything from small food stalls to great restaurants. If you want to check out streetfood you should head to Jalan Alor where you have a long street filled with tiny food stalls.
It is not that easy to know what to eat -- I feel that part of the travel is to be a bit adventurous when it comes to eating. So the other day when we went to a Chinese place called Hakka we ordered the pig intestines. The intestines were quite good but they were served together with some small, dark balls. I was not really sure what it was but I popped the whole thing in my mouth and it was not very good. It turned out to be century eggs -- this is a Chinese method of preserving eggs by putting them in a mixture of salt, line, ashes(?) etc for a few months and I guess you can imagine the result. The Malay food is fantastic and reminds a bit of Thai food. Try the rending and various laksa varieties.
They also have a few fruits here that we don't have back home. You should of course try the rambutan, mangosteen etc. But the mother of all fruits here in Asia is of course the Durian. You will know when you get near a place that sells it because the smell is quite strong :-)
Asia is very different from back home -- like the other day when I went to a restaurant at Central market. I was flipping through the menu and in the section for chicken I guess someone before me had spotted a cockroach and killed it with the menu because it was still stuck on the page. The toilet facilities can also be a bit different from what people are used to. In most places you can find both the western style toilets and the squatting type but in some areas the latter might be the only options. I don't mind the squatting kind but as many prefer to use the water hose for cleaning (instead of toilet paper I guess) it can be quite wet on these toilets.
KL is a pretty nice shopping destination and there are lots of nice malls around the city. Places like Suria KLCC, Pavillion, MidValley mega mall and 1 utama are all huge malls that can offer most things that you are looking for. If you want something cheap and maybe not as genuine you can head for Chinatown and Petaling street -- but remember that you have to bargain to get a decent price. It is pretty easy to get around town as there is a subway and monorail that covers parts of the town and even taxi can be a good option as it is quite cheap (if you get them to use the meter).
Well, this was just a little bit about what I think about KL. Maybe people should start considering this as an alternative to Thailand with all the issues that they are facing at the moment. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments :-)
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