Just like all new places we visit, we had no idea what to expect coming to Malaysia. Was it going to be like Indonesia? More developed? Less developed?
Even MORE hectic traffic? What’s the food going to be like? Wait, is it the rainy season?
That last question was one of the first answered for us. Landing in Kuala Lumpur, we were quickly welcomed with a steady dosage of rain. The airport in itself
was massive and beautiful. Oddly enough though, it felt completely abandoned besides us and our fellow newly arrived passengers. Like a flock of sheep we all snaked our way towards baggage claim.
Check, Check, Check. Nothing lost, nothing stolen, and nothing broken. Our rucks and all the contents inside were in good working order. We slung them onto our
backs and made our way towards the exit. *A small piece of advice* Don’t buy a SIM card for your phone at any airport, wait until you make it to the city. Trust me, they are plentiful and your wallet will thank you!
The two of us huddled into the corner, using the Airport wifi to find the best way to our Hostel. What we found was that Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA for short, is quite a way from the city center, so unless we wanted to pay a fortune for a taxi, or spend nearly an hour on the bus, the train was our next best option. Unfortunately for me, I caught a bad cold in Indonesia, and the full force of that sickness was hitting me
on this very first day in Malaysia. For this reason we opted to take the KLIA Express. All around the train station we saw signs boasting of the trains speed and
luxury, “Get to KL in just 30 minutes!”, “Take KL’s Smoothest Ride Home!”. It was like we were transported back to Europe. The train gained speed and small screens around
the cabin played the same advertisements over and over. Between the airport and city we first gazed out at palm oil plantations as far as the eye could see. Quickly the leafy green vegetation gave way to rough concrete, twisted steel, and mirror like glass. It began first with small homes way out on the edge of the city, each one made of tin sheets
and concrete cinder blocks. Then, two story business began to sprout up around us. These were quickly consumed by the grand finale, skyscrapers that pierced the
clouds loomed over us. We could see the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers in the distance. Both of them looked like Empire State Buildings side by side, unified by a glass encased sky bridge.
If you can walk to where you are going…walk. After nearly an hour in the taxi we had moved no more than a quarter of a mile. Every 10 minutes we would inch forward
while sidwalk pedestrians briskly walked by, leaving us in the dust. “We’ll walk from here sir, thanks though.” We hopped out of the rusted red taxi and popped the
trunk. Backpacks on our backs we were on the move again. This felt like light speed! We moved through block after block. Each one more interesting than the last.
Giant shopping complexes, monorail trains zoomed over us, women and men dressed in slick business suits, eyes glued to their cellphones scurried by us. After an hour
of walking we arrived at our new home. If you are ever in Kuala Lumpur and need a cheap, clean, and basic place to stay I definitely recommend the Oscar Guest House.
It is located just off of a main strip of bars, convience stores, and restaurants. It is also just a 15 minute walk away from a huge local food market where you can
get some really cheap and delicious food from all over the world.
Refreshed from a good night of sleep and ready to go we explored the city on foot. Mosques jutted up all around us with their beautiful architecture and rythmic
chanting. We visited gorgeous parks, shopping complexes, China Town, Central Market and just about every inch of the city center. Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of cultures. In Indonesia, it felt like everyone was Indonesian but here we saw Japanese, Thai, European, American, Australian, Vietnamese, Malaysian..EVERYONE! It’s
a humbling thing to see such a diverse community living together without prejudice or judgment. There really is no shortage of places to see in KL. If you are not fond of going around by foot, the city has a wonderful public transportation system. They also have a great double decker tour bus called ‘Hop on Hop off’ that will take you to all the top destinations. You can stay at each place as long as you like before
boarding the next bus (once every 30 minutes) to the next destination.
Right now we are a few hundred kilometers North in Langkawi, Malaysia working at an Eco-Campsite. Between monsoons that have nearly swept our tent away and monkeys in
our backyard, it’s been quite an experience already, and one that I’ll leave for a later post.
Happy Travels my friends, Kevin P.