Malaysia – KL and Melaka

Kuala Lumpur - Part One Getting from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur was a bit of an effort - instead of taking the simple flight from city to city, I wanted to catch a train. I hadn't really considered how much hassle this would end up being, but in summary: Singapore subway/light rail, bus to the railway station (you go through Malaysian immigration at the station), train (for fifteen minutes across the causeway to the mainland), bus replacement service for two hours, and finally a train to KL. It was a long trip, but it got me where I wanted to go, and I did get a sense of satisfaction of not taking the easy route. Kuala Lumpur was the first city that I had visited previously, while my partner was living there, so I expected this visit to be somewhat different to my normal travel experiences. The hostel, Reggae Guest House 2, was right in Chinatown, just round the corner from the Petaling Street market - one of those lovely Asian markets where haggling is the standard method of setting a price for any of the huge variety of cheap, knock-off goods. My only purchase was a t-shirt and boardshorts for around three pounds - necessary while I washed all of my other clothes. I met an American on the first night who wanted to visit the city's two towers - the famous Petronas twin towers, and the lesser known Menara KL tower - and hearing of long queues for the former, we left very early to get in the queue before it built up. In the end, after over an hour queuing, the Petronas Tower wasn't that great a viewing platform - the early morning haze blurred out a lot of the detail of the city - though I suspect that the evening would have been a far better time. The KL Tower had better all round views (being a single tower, rather than having a twin blocking the sights), and I'd recommend that for any other visitors - if nothing else, it's around half the price. Meeting a few more people in the hostel led to two other trips: the KL Bird Park, which was a huge net-covered area full of interesting birds, which were mostly free to fly around; and the fireflies of Kuala Selangor. While the firefly trip was fun (the taxi we rented repeatedly broke down, and the driver didn't know where he was going), I don't think the season was quite right and the fireflies weren't as spectacular as I'd hoped.
These guys were always trying to steal peoples food

These guys were always trying to steal peoples food

Ambition, at the KL Bird Park

Ambition, at the KL Bird Park

Melaka A two hour bus ride led to Melaka (or Malacca), one of the most historic coastal towns in Malaysia. I had decided to treat myself to a private room for a few days, and managed to find one of the nicest guest houses in the city - the Roof Top Guest House - which had amazingly welcoming hosts, reasonable prices, was immaculately clean, and provided free cake and fruit! I spent an hour wandering the old town - while the city is now pretty big, the really interesting bits for tourists lie within about 1sq km, and are easy to enjoy on foot. I saw various preparations going along the main street (Jonker St) for what looked like something exciting, so I took one of my slightly-too-regular afternoon snoozes, and headed out again in the evening. I arrived at the foot of Jonker St at the start of a Chinese dragon parade, and proceeded to follow it for over an hour at it progressed up past the many random goods and street-food stalls that had opened up along the road. I ate soooo much food on the return trip - dim sum, satay, takoyaki, otak-otak, sausages-onna-stick - I nearly exploded. One weird feature of the evening was that a group of old Chinese guys followed the dragons, handing out oranges to everyone (as I was following the parade, I ended up with three). I'm sure there's a story behind this, but I haven't yet discovered it - probably handing out good luck for the new year. The next day was to be a general wandering, exploring and photography day - this started well, visiting a huge reconstruction of an old Dutch ship which housed a museum, and visiting a few temples, but I was soon sidetracked into popping into a riverside bar. There seemed to be a lot of couples having wedding photos taken along the pathway by the river, and I couldn't help but take a few myself, which I think turned out quite well for a first attempt. Soon after, I helped some kids (who were having a party in the bar) to tie off some balloons - a simple friendly gesture as they'd managed to fire several into the river. A few minutes later, an unrequested bottle of beer arrived at my table, which turned out to be a gift from the bar owner whose daughter was celebrating her birthday. Six hours later, the bar closed and I stumbled back to the hotel, after being adopted into the grown-up side of the party - I spent the evening with several Malay bar owners, an Iranian girl who runs a cowboy themed bar in KL, and numerous random French and Dutch people who were pulled into the group as the alcohol flow laid waste to inhibition. A perfect final night in Melaka before heading north to Penang.
Creepy - during lion parade in Malacca

Creepy - during lion parade in Malacca

Part of the Chinese New Year lion dance

Part of the Chinese New Year lion dance

A man with a beard, in Malacca

A man with a beard, in Malacca

Newlyweds having pictures taken by the river in Malacca

Newlyweds having pictures taken by the river in Malacca

They didn't mind me taking photos...

They didn't mind me taking photos...

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2 Responses to Malaysia – KL and Melaka

  1. Hannah says:

    Otak-otak sounds amazing…

  2. admin says:

    It’s very… different… but good too 🙂

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