Friday, 12 October 2012

A long weekend in KL

6th-9th October

Been working too hard? Feeling the stress of the 9-5? Bored of the same old routine? What you need is a city break. Using those criteria we wouldn’t qualify but why should we miss out, just because we haven't got 'jobs' or 'stress'. Who makes up these rules anyway?

Time for a long weekend in Kuala Lumpur!

In fact we needed to go to KL for good reasons: flying via there was the most cost effective way of getting from Vientiane to Kochi in India. So, rather than limiting ourselves to a few hours at the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal – as exciting as it sounds), we decided to stick around for a few days and sample some of what Malaysia has to offer.

First impressions of Kuala Lumpur? For a start, there's no Kualas (and not many Lumpurs neither). Superficially, it looks like just another big Asian city – it reminded me a bit of Bangkok or Hong Kong. Under the surface it was quite different. It’s a very cosmopolitan city: there were the usual number of expat westerners but it’s also home to fairly sizeable Indian and Chinese communities. Also, having spent most of the last few months in the largely Buddhist Mekong Delta countries, it was big change hearing the call of the muezzin and seeing women wearing hijabs - a clear reminder we were now in a Muslim country.

It’s quite pricey to stay in the centre of town, so we found a hotel a twenty minute metro ride away. The area wasn’t the nicest but it was cheap and convenient, and the view from the metro station (Maluri) was pretty good.

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Petronas Towers from Maluri metro station
Considering its size, there’s surprisingly little to see and do in KL. We spent a day browsing the stalls at the Central Market and the nearby Petaling Street. Both are worth a visit if you're there but are nothing special really. It’s not a very pretty city, but we did visit a few of the architectural sites worth seeing.

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Sultan Abdul Samad building
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Merdeka Square (including cricket pitch!)
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Petronas Towers
We decided not to go up the Petronas Towers. It was quite expensive and I've got a rule that I only go up tall buildings if there are at least two fairground rides at the top. The Petronasses had none.

Just outside the city is the Batu Caves. They're only a 30 minute train-ride from KL Sentral (and only 40p each way) so there’s no good reason not to pay them a visit. They're a series of large limestone caves, halfway up a hill with a collection of Hindu shrines inside. Just be careful of your possessions as the large monkey population will steal anything: food, cameras, or in the case of one unfortunate girl, her cuddly toy!

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Batu Caves entrance
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Inside the Batu Caves
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Inside the Batu Caves
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Inside the Batu Caves
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Cute monkey?
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Not when he's just stolen your cuddly toy...to eat
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View of KL from the top of the steps at Batu
And that was KL – not worth going out of your way for but if you’re passing through, there’s enough of interest to spend a couple of days there.

Perfect for a long weekend!

Current location: Kochi until tomorrow
Next stop: Alleppey

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