Wednesday, November 18, 2009

KL, Malaysia

This year for the Water Festival holiday we had 10 days off of school, and I had nothing to do. No plans. No trips. So Kate and I decided to go to Battanbong to visit our friend Corey. But Battanbong is a tiny little town, and there isn’t much to do. So when Retdy (Kate’s boyfriend) got a Thai visa, we decided to go to Bangkok with him. I have been to Bangkok 5 times already, so that was not exciting. But there is a train that runs from Bangkok to Malaysia.
Malaysia. Now there is a place I could get excited about! I decided to hop the train and head down to Malaysia from Bangkok. Then the more I talked to people the more they suggested I go to Kuala Lumpar, the capital. The town I’d previously planned to take a train to was Penang, a historic town on the coast.
Change in plans. Kuala Lumpar, nicknamed KL, was my new destination. It was a cheap plane ticket down. So two days before I left, I booked my flight from Bangkok to KL.
KL was awesome. I went by myself, which seemed like a scary idea at the time. I really loved the time alone though. After travelling with Kate for a week, it felt great to be alone and decide things independently.
I spent three nights in KL. The great thing about Malaysia is that everyone speaks English because it used to be a British colony.
I stayed in Chinatown, the dirtiest district in KL. It was the backpacker’s district though. Things were cheap, and temporary friends were abundant. Chinatown was a night owl’s paradise, and torture for a recovery shopaholic. The place came alive at dusk, and roared with excitement as travelers packed the streets.
During the days I scheduled tours through my hotel. I joined temporary tour groups as we explored outside the city. The first trip included a visit to a pewter factory, a batik factory, and the famed Batu Caves.
The Batu Caves is a Hindu temple in a large cave outside of KL. It is populated with monkeys who feast on the snacks of tourist. Its temple is not that impressive when you finally reach it inside the cave. The impressive attribute of the cave is the stairs leading to the temple. Apparently Hindu believers climb the 290 stairs as atonement for their sins before reaching the temple. My favorite part of the temple was the Python they let me hold when I reached the top of the stairs!
My next tour was a trip to Melaka, a small city 2 hours south of KL. Kate recommended this trip to me. She said it was a historic town where I could see lots of old things. I took this to mean it was a tourist city set up in the old lifestyle of ancient Malaysia. I was wrong. It’s just a city with some old buildings. Nothing too fascinating. An old Dutch church here. And old fort there. A Chinese temple that was 300 years old... You can only take so many pictures of an old building.
I did plenty of shopping during my time in KL. I went to one mall called “Times Square”. They had a Krispy Kreme Donuts (yum!) and a Papa John’s (heaven, I’m in heaven). It was just like being in an America except for the clothing stores were very Asian (cramped tight with strange looking, miniature-sized clothes). The coolest thing about Times Square was that apart from the two movie theatres and the bowling alley, there was an amusement park, in this 10 story mall, complete with a rollercoaster.
I never got to climb to the top of the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest buildings until 2004. I never got to see any of the museums of KL. I never got to see than many mosques of this Islamic country. I guess I’ll have to go back.

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