On the dawn of 12th October we step into a new country. Kuala Lumpur International Airport welcomes us to Malaysia at 5.30 am, after a 4-hour flight from Sri Lanka.
They are very kind to check us in after a short wait, even though our room is on the same floor as the reception, just behind the corner, and walls aren’t really soundproof… Anyway we manage to get some sleep, and later we go out to explore the busy neighbourhood of Bukit Bintang. Street food, street food, and more street food, just how we love it! Time to enjoy some delicious chicken satay!
We walk towards Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), where the main business building rise. Just when it was getting unsustainable hot, a much needed air conditioned walkway comes to rescue us. It goes on for about 1 km, linking some huge shopping malls. After getting across the last of them, we find ourselves at KLCC Park, dominated by the super tall and iconic Petronas Towers.
The next day we go meandering around Chinatown and Little India, close to the Bricksfield neighbourhood: a big melting pot of cultures, food, lifestyles and of course people. I think this is the most multicultural city we’ve ever been to so far, with quite big percentages of every origin, coexisting apparently peacefully altogether.
In the afternoon, we go and see the main Park area of Kuala Lumpur, which includes the Bird Reserve, the Butterfly Park, the Botanical Gardens, and more. It’s well maintained and spacious, just a little bit far and not really walking distance, therefore not busy at all.
Walking back towards the city centre, we stop by Masjid Negara Mosque, nothing less but Malaysia National Mosque! The building is massive, with enjoyable outdoor areas featuring fountains and pools. The sunlight enlightens them up, together with the main room covered by the huge dome. We have to cover our heads, arms and legs, and we identify ourselves in the islamic culture for a while.
From KL Sentral we take the KMT kommuter, that brings us there in about 30 minutes. Soon we see the scaffolding all around the huge golden statue at the gates of the cave, unluckily for us.
The step from misfortune to disappointment is short, while we climb the immense stairs we notice there are little bit too many works in progress, and when we get upstairs we witness the cave full of workers as well.
2022 UPDATE: Yes, Batu Caves have been completely renovated since our visit, you will probably have seen pictures of the entire staircase, now rainbow coloured! We definitely have to go back to make up for our unfortunate experience.
The highlight for us, apart from a snake falling from the sky from the top of the cave, and a lot of monkeys to whom we got used to, was another smaller grotto nearby, the Ramayana cave. It is really well maintained and displayed, and as a matter of fact requires a small entry fee/donation (5 RM), but at least keeps people, garbage, touts and peddlers away.
One more time, we are seduced by the Petronas Towers’ beauty, as the fountain show makes everything even more special.
After settling in at Victor’s Guesthouse, we head into the old town following its meandering river banks: we walk past old colonial houses, characteristic shops of Jonker’s Street, before getting to the main square with the famous red Christ Church.
It’s easy to tell it’s a place full of history, where many different people settled in the past: walking distance you could see Chinese temples, Christian churches, Islamic mosques, plus the commercial harbour and the fortress in front of the sea, both built by the Europeans.
It’s a Sunday, and soon we understand it’s a common weekend getaway for Singaporeans to come to Melaka, which explains the huge crowds of tourists everywhere. We don’t give up and dive into the busy night market held in Jonker’s Street, where we get the chance to eat some delicious street food, stopping by for a while for Ambra to get her hand tattooed with henna ink.
Later we decide to reach the pier to hop on a boat cruise along the Melaka River: worst decision ever! The river is super busy, but still dozens of boats speed on the waters like it was a race, causing some waves that literally shower us! The salty and smelly taste will accompany us on our way back to the guesthouse, but at least we got some pictures…
Our final review on Melaka: it is a nice town, well worth a visit if you are travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but make sure to avoid it on weekends if you don’t want to find yourself stuck in the middle of tourist hordes!
- Simms Boutique Hotel, Kuala Lumpur: 60-90RM/night, AC, small room;
- Royal Palm Lodge, Kuala Lumpur: 60RM/night, AC, small room, Bukit Bintang;
- Victor’s Guesthouse, Melaka: 60RM/night, AC, shared restrooms, nice owner.
FIND CHEAP BACKPACKERS HOSTELS IN KUALA LUMPUR
- KLIA express, to Kuala Lumpur Sentral: 55RM/person, 30 mins;
- Monorel, Kuala Lumpur city, single fares from 4RM;
- KMT kommuter, LRT metro, to Batu Caves 2RM/person; to BTS bus terminal 5RM;
- Bus, Kuala Lumpur to Melaka: 12RM/person, 2 hours;
- Batu Caves, free entrance;
- Ramayana Cave, 5RM/person;
- Melaka River Cruise: 18RM/person, 1 hour, shower included.
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