So, the penultimate stop before heading back to the UK (have you missed us?) …
Most people know that I am NOT a good flyer. I can’t stand take off and if there is the slightest turbulence during the flight I end up cowering in my seat whimpering, shaking, a wreck! So, the flight from Colombo to Kuala Lumpur (KL) was hard work, 3.5 hours of constant turbulence (gulp). Seems like this was the norm, as not one other person on the plane flinched, perhaps I need to grow a pair!
Anyway, we landed at around 6am (2.5 hours ahead of India/SL and 8 hours ahead of GMT), jumped into an Uber, dropped off our bags at the hotel, and then headed out on a hunt for some South Indian breakfast…
Malaysia is a melting pot of many cultures and ethnicities, from the indigenous tribes of the Orang Asli who still live within the rainforests, the traditional Malay folk, a large Chinese community, as well as Tamil Indians. The latter are considered Malay Chinese and Malay Indians. They all speak Malay, with either Cantonese or Tamil as a second language. Both communities moved here for work during British rule, either through choice or force. Rubber, tea and tin plantations all needed a reliable workforce and the British found Chinese and Indian labourers to be the hard grafters, so during the 1800s these two ethnicities started forming a large proportion of the Malaysian demographic. They now jointly form 30% of the country.
Malaysia’s identified religion is Islam, with 60% following. During our travels, we’ve spent time in majority Hindu, Buddhist and now Islam countries – quite a contrast, and it’s been interesting to see how the main religion affects day to day lives.
Within 24 hrs of being in KL I fell in love with the place! It just whacked me in the face; big skyscrapers to look up at, flashing lights, clean streets, the subway-style walkways above the roads, copious number of shopping malls, the different cultures mingling around, and (last but not least) the food. I think this may well be the main subject for KL posts. The street food markets here are world-famous, and I can see why. Fresh dim sum, spicy noodles, steamed buns, chicken rice, kebabs, soups, curries… all cooked freshly and sold for a couple of quid. YUM : )
As we’re in the tropics it seems that along with the humidity, and intense sun, you also have a daily thunderstorm. They seem to be at the same time too, from 3:30pm onwards if you’re not indoors you’re going to get caught in it. Not only is there loud claps of thunder and lightning bolts galore but you also get huge constant downpours for an hour or so, haven’t seen anything like it before. The humidity here is quite unbearable at times, you end up dripping in sweat 10 mins after leaving the hotel. The beauty is that you can quickly dive into a shopping mall to get a chill on from the air con and then come back out again!
We’ve done a few sightseeing bits, obviously one of the main attractions is to see is the fantastic Petronas Towers, which loom above the city skyline, and possible to spot wherever you are in the city. We coughed up a few pennies to visit the Bird Park within the Lake Gardens, which is one of a handful of only green areas within KL. I won’t bore you with my opinions on the Bird Park, I wasn’t too happy with going and felt a bit of a hypocrite, but alas I really wanted to see a Great Hornbill bird, such a peculiar looking creature and unique to this part of the world. The chance of seeing one in the wild would be quite rare. Anyway, we were lucky enough to see it right at feeding time, check out Steve’s picture below, a shot in a million! The Bird Park is supposed to be the largest aviary in the world, it was pretty expansive. We didn’t realise that you would actually be walking among a lot of the birds, such as Peafowls, Egrets, Storks, Pelicans. Most of the bids were taller than the school children that were walking through! We really enjoyed our time here, hadn’t been anywhere like it before, and to see not one but around five Peafowls display their impressive feathers was such a lovely sight, even if it was near dustbins!
Places / Food
As mentioned, the food in KL as well as Malaysia is going to be a must talking point within my next posts. Coming from Sri Lanka, where we found the food to be average in most places, we’re looking forward to our taste buds being spoiled again.
There are so many places to eat you can become confused with where to go! It seems whatever cuisine you fancy you will find a stall or restaurant offering it, however, the majority of the food is either Chinese, Indian, Malaysian or Thai.
Even food courts within the shopping malls are to a high standard, with independent stalls offering Asian staples. Our first sample was some sushi within the mall underneath the Petronas Towers. Like a Yo Sushi it mostly worked round you selecting dishes from a conveyor belt, however you also had the choice to select other dishes from a digital menu on your table, all very futuristic and fantastic sushi at a fraction of the price you get back home.
There are plenty of food courts within KL, so picking one as well as picking the right hawker stall is a bit of a gamble. The first one we tried was the famous Lot 10 Hutong Court, mostly serving up Chinese cuisine, we settled on roast duck with rice for moi and noodles for the boy. Terrible mistake, you wouldn’t even get this crap served up in the so called Chinese restaurants in the UK, avoid at all costs, cold, greasy, yuk!
It also seems our hotel serves up the worst breakfast buffet you can imagine, you know you’re in trouble when the bread is the best thing on offer, quite annoying….
Our saving grace from the bad meals was to visit a Korean restaurant called Sopoong that was based in Berjaya Times Square Mall. It didn’t disappoint. I went for the Kimchi Udon Noodle soup. Kimchi is fermented cabbage and is the ‘thing’ to eat at the moment, being classed as a superfood. Lots of London street markets have started selling it. It tasted fantastic anyway, don’t ask me how I used chopsticks to eat it, bit of a mare to tackle! Steve went for the Chicken Bulgogi Dolsot Bibimbap which was a concoction of rice, egg, chicken, and vegetables, all mixed in a pot by yourself, served with a miso soup on the side. All healthy and at £10 in total, with drinks, wasn’t too badly priced.
Most guides of KL will tell you to head on down to Jalan Aloor to sample some of the street food on offer. If you love your food it’s pure heaven, but at the same time daunting as to where you should go. To prevent another roast duck incident again Stevie did a bit of research to see what was the best things to try. We sampled some chicken and pork skewers from the Fat Brothers stall along with some Dim Sum on the Fat Men stall next to them. All yummy and mouth wateringly tasty. Strangely the highlight for me was the broccoli kebab skewer that we had, no idea what they sprinkled onto it but it tasted fantastic.