While I was sad to leave Thailand, I was overjoyed to land safely in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You may be wondering why I was overjoyed. Petronas Towers? Batu Caves? Yes, and no. I was mainly relieved to have landed safely after flying Malaysian Airlines. This airline has suffered two horrible tragedies and a sexual harassment scandal all within one year, so quite frankly, I was a bit nervous taking this airline. Would I recommend using Malaysian Airlines? HELL NO. Our plane arrived about one hour late, and none of the personnel managed to at least inform its passengers of this terrible and annoying news. Fortunately the flight to Kuala Lumpur was slightly less than two hours, so it was not too painful. And yes, we landed safely.
Traveler’s tip for those of you visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time. The ride into the city is about 30 minutes depending on traffic. If you have a late flight like mine (which landed at 11:00 pm), I highly recommending booking transportation in advance. It makes life much easier, especially when you are exhausted.
I was fortunate enough to stay at the Mandarin Oriental, which I officially dub as the best place to stay in the city. It is in a prime location, as it is right next to key businesses and an awesome mall. Is that all? Well, there is this view:
Oh and their lunches have amazing desserts that look like this:
And shopping of course:
Conclusion, stay at the Mandarin Oriental. The service was impeccable, and given the luxuriousness of the hotel, I was surprised that the cost per room was roughly $220. Not bad.
As you can imagine, the most famous site in Kuala Lumpur is of course the Petronas Towers. If you want a sky view of the city, you can arrange to visit the Sky Tower. Regardless where you stand, the Petronas Towers are quite the sight, particularly at night. Yes, that did rhyme. The Towers are rather young, as they only opened their doors in 1999. Consisting of eighty-eight floors, the design of the Petronas Towers was greatly influenced by Islamic Art. Given that the majority of Malaysia’s population is Muslim, this is not at all surprising. The Towers held the title of tallest building for six years and currently holds the title of tallest twin towers. This title was once held by the Twin Trade Center in New York City before they tragically fell on September 11, 2001. While I marveled at the site of the Petronas Towers, I could not help but feel sadness and reflect upon that horrible day in American and global history.
In addition to the Petronas Towers, another must-see site is the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are roughly twenty minutes from the city center, and the experience is truly unique. Here, one of the most widely visited Hindu shrines outside India can be accessed after walking up 272 majestic stairs. The Caves play a huge role in a huge annual festival, Thaipusam. Thousands of Hindus from Malaysia, India, and Singapore make the pilgrimage each year. Once you climb up the stairs, you can visit a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is an incredible sight, as the caves open up just enough to let the sun shine on the shrine. If this alone does not sell you on the idea of visiting the Batu Caves, then the monkeys will surely inspire you. When I would visit my sister on campus at the University of Texas at Austin, she would always tell me that the squirrels are so used to humans that I should be the one fearing them. Much like the Texas squirrels, Malaysian monkeys happily monkey around (time for a pun), and it makes for an amazing experience. They are completely used to humans climbing on their terrain, and they enjoy giving an occasional show. It was here in Malaysia that I officially took my first selfie…with a monkey.
Much like the Grand Palace in Bangkok, please be mindful of your attire. As it often rains in the afternoons in Malaysia, it is incredibly hot and humid. If you want to wear shorts, mini skirts, etc., please take a shall with you. If you forget to bring one, you can rent a scarf. You cannot be sure that they actually clean them, so please be prepared! Following a stressful day at work, visiting the Batu Caves was the perfect way to settle down in the afternoon and relax.
After having only one full day in Kuala Lumpur, it was time to go to Singapore where I would remain for an additional six days.