It was always going to be an odious tip to Kuala Lumpur from Kota Kinabalu. I can only liken Kota Kinabalu airport to a bus stop, flights were never on time and there was no indication of where they were going, you just had to hope for the best and have your wits about you (but more about that in a later post).
After getting a cheap coach (traveler on a budget) for several hours I arrived at the train station and did the only thing that would bring back some level of normality – getting a KFC. After hopelessly trying to connect to the WIFI to see where I actually was, I decided to just get a taxi to the city. A queue of about an hour then ensued and we were turfed into a cab with an overly chatty driver and a Malaysian girl who was equally so, that was between the many selfies that she was taking along the way. I then realised that asking to be taken to the ‘cheap part of town’ was probably not the best idea and the majority of places that were within our budget looked not too dissimilar to a brothel.
I settled for the Comfort Lodge, which was decidedly uncomfortable not to mention the fact that the walls did not meet each other never mind the ceiling. The room was tiny and barely fit the double bed with it’s unwashed sheets. The shared bathroom consisted of a toilet cubicle a few floors below with a shower head above the toilet accompanied by a blocked drain so was actually more of a toilet bath situation.
As the Comfort Lodge was not located far from Chinatown I decided to head down for the night markets. This was probably my favorite part of the trip, it was really bustling; full of stalls and shops selling everything from cheap knock offs to beautiful silk shirts. There were a lot of food stalls with delicious dishes being cooked in front of your eyes. I will say because this area is so busy and tourists are drawn here make sure that you only take the bare minimum and keep it close to your person (but only if your accommodation is safe enough to leave valuables). Brush up on your bartering skills at this market however, remember not to do what I did on every stall. I have a terrible habit of walking up to stalls and saying something like ‘Oh wow, I have never seen anything this amazing anywhere else in the world and I have always wanted one’. This does not set you up well for your Malaysian bargain of the century.
The next day I made my way into the city and one of the first things I noticed was just how clean it was, there were workmen whose sole job seemed to be cleaning the public areas on rotation. I decided to visit the craft market however en route I accidentally managed to get involved in a wedding fair and before I even had time to think I was sampling food and looking at photographers portfolios for my non-existent Malaysian wedding. After narrowly escaping without being in any kind of engagement I headed for the Central Market. There was nothing really special about this market but apparently its just something you have to see. There was quite a lot of crafty items for sale however I did not make any purchases moving swiftly back to China Town before sundown.
I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to go up the Petronas Towers, as I felt that this was a must see in Kuala Lumpur. Definitely make sure that you book ahead as when I got there (extremely early in the morning may I add) there were no tickets left and apparently they sell out by 6 am – I guess it’s an excuse to return on another occasion. The surroundings were beautiful and there were even fountains leading up to the towers. Beside was a beautiful botanical garden and we basked in the sunshine that I had been denied so far on the trip due to surgery, smoke clouds and monsoon season.
The shopping centre was unreal, all the huge brands (even a Topshop) were there and every bit as expensive as they are everywhere else in the world. I made a huge mistake when using the toilets, although I am not sure if it was a mistake to use the paid ones first or not using them the second time. The first toilet experience met me with warm hand towels, hand cream and even a hair dryer. The second time met me with a hole in the ground and women rolling up their trousers before they entered.
After stumbling upon a pub called The Green Man I never wanted to eat anywhere else. Serving traditional English pub food and drink they offered a unique point of difference and after touring Asia the last month I was in desperate need of some home comforts (especially as I don’t like most Asian food!). The staff were really friendly and there were plenty of English expats with a story to tell. I was going to meet a dear friend in Krabi and had a 7am flight so I retired to my crooked room for the night with a strict no Durian fruit policy – which suited me down to the ground as I despise the smell. If you have smelt one you won’t forget in a hurry, I can liken the smell to something that is rotting away nicely.
That concludes this weeks post on Kuala Lumpur. Share your experience of the city especially if you managed to get up the twin towers!