How I made it through immigration at Kuala Lumpur airport remains a mystery to this day. I have no recollection of boarding the plane, the journey, or even my first few hours in Malaysia! The night before my flight a ‘couple of drinks with friends’ had escalated into buckets, beers, and shot after shot on Khoa San Road.
Bangkok – 1, Liam – 0 (as always).
I needed a new tourist visa to stay in Thailand legally, as did a girl I was dating at the time, so we decided to fly down to Malaysia together to visit the embassy there and spend a few days in KL before heading out to the Perhentian islands.
Fueled by my desire to travel as much as possible but limited by funds (I was in-between teaching jobs at the time), Malaysia seemed like an obvious choice for a visa run. Bordering the south of Thailand, the ex-British colony is easily accessible by bus or plane. Numerous, affordable flights bound for Malaysia leave Bangkok every day.
After I started to sober up, my spirits were high, despite a monstrous hangover that was getting worse by the minute. The energy at the infamous Reggae Mansion hostel partnered with that incomparable buzz you get from visiting a new country for the first time kept me high on life.
We took a quick nap before wasting no more time and headed out into the streets to explore.
Our itinerary for our time in the city was the standard tourist checklist for those visiting KL– see the Petronas Towers, explore the parks, visit the KL tower, and of course, venture out to the Batu Caves!
Kuala Lumpur is full of spicy delicacies. The best way to experience the city is through the taste buds. No shortage of cafes, restaurants or street food stalls makes KL a heaven for foodies. Needless to say, we started our day of exploring with a nice lunch! Dishes come in all shapes and sizes and don’t break the bank. Some must try foods for those visiting Malaysia are – Nasi Lemak, Roti Cani and Masak Lemak.
Most of the meals we consumed during our trip were served to us on banana leaves. Banana leaves have been used as a serving plate in Malaysia for a long time. In addition to the fun novelty the experience eating from a banana leaf gives a humble tourist like me, the leaves are rich in antioxidants and naturally eco-friendly.
Navigating the city is best done via the train system (The Klang Valley Integrated Transit System). Since 1995, KL residents and visitors alike have been able to get around the city via the interconnected rail network that covers most of KL and beyond. I must admit that I was so extremely impressed by the efficiency, simplicity and affordability of the train system in KL, that many years and hundreds of cities later, I still rank it as one of my best modes of transportation.
Kuala Lumpur boasts a dazzling city skyline, especially when experienced for the first time by a 24-year-old with little urban experience. The 1483-foot-tall Petronas towers, which are the largest twin structures in the world, are breathtaking to see and stand out prominently from the rest of the blended architectural landscape.
We took our time admiring the towers from below because we didn’t want to spend the money to visit the observation deck (we were saving that for later), and then we strolled around a few of Kuala Lumpur’s urban parks.
I enjoy the different types of parks that can be found in a city, there is something likeably unusual about them. Each one has its own personality. Sitting on the grass looking up at the smoggy sky, the chaotic roads and traffic seem like a million miles away – somehow the silence makes sense.
We soaked up on the sun for as long as our we could on the prickly grass before venturing off to our penultimate tick box destination – The KL tower!
The KL tower is lesser in size than the previously mentioned towers, but it’s needle-like design still allows it to make an impression. It’s also more affordable, so we decided to head up to the observation deck for a panoramic view.
The birds eye view from ‘Sky Deck’, 300m high, was one of, if not the highlight of my time in KL. Sunset had turned the city into a magical wonderland. Golden rays of sun bounced off the buildings, cars and people below. The mountains in the distance, something that was not visible from the ground, created an extra layer of drama to the landscape. It was a special experience.
Day had turned to night by the time we finished exploring. It was time to refuel with food and beer, so we made our way to a renowned street food district.
Jalan Alor, described by many as the best food destination in Malaysia, lies in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It is a notable area for adventurous foodies or anyone who loves street food. An array of food ‘mamak’ stalls are spread out across both sides of the street and tables and chairs are scattered everywhere. Seafood to chicken wings, exotic fruit to ice cream – you can find everything your taste buds desire at Jalan Alor. It’s a truly overwhelming experience – the lights, the noise, the hustle and bustle, the smells, the flavors – it’s sensory overload for all 5 senses.
Our food was delicious, but I did not anticipate the exorbitant price of alcohol, especially when compared to other Southeast Asian nations. It turns out that since Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, high taxes known as the “sin” tax are added to all beers and other alcoholic beverages making them quite costly to purchase. Still, I bit the bullet and treated myself to one large beer.
After a full day on our feet, a hangover that was very much starting to become real, and a desperate need for a shower, I suggested that we slowly make our way back to our hostel.
I tried to get as much sleep as possible, despite hostel life around me – the sound of rats scurrying between the floorboards, the Swedish guy munching a tube of Pringles in the bed above me.. Oh! And of course… the couple making love a few bunks down. That is backpacking life I suppose!
The next day we woke up early to catch a train to the Batu Caves…
3 thoughts on “I Have no Memory of Waking up in Kuala Lumpur!”
Hey Liam! I’m glad you had a good stay in KL. Yeah, beers and alcohol are quite expensive in Malaysia, due to our government use it as a way to generate more profit on the alcohol taxes. The best way to buy cheap beers or alcohol is to buy at the big grocery store like Giant or Tesco. But, anyway, great post!
Hey! Thanks for stopping by & thanks for the advice 🙂
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