Michele here… writing from Singapore on March 6th about our time spent in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Today, we have been away from the U.S. for exactly 9 months. Wow!
To get to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, we took a 2 hour bus from Trang, Thailand to Hat Yai, Thailand on Thursday, Feb. 23rd. From Hat Yai, we caught a huge double decker ultra comfortable luxurious bus to Kuala Lumpur. We didn’t have any idea that the bus was going to be so great. Mike had more leg room than he knew what to do with and could lean back without being in someone else’s lap. Plus, it was cool being on the top of a double decker bus because we were higher up than the other drivers on the road. The A/C worked great and we were also provided with blankets in case the A/C got too cold (which it did). The real bonus was that there was a woman employee on the bus that spoke pretty good English so I asked her a lot of questions about the border crossing, where we were going to get dropped off in Kuala Lumpur (KL), etc.
The 9 hour bus ride was actually uneventful – which is the way we like it! We got to the Thailand (Sadao) border, got off the bus and quickly got our passport stamped with an exit stamp. Then we drove through no man’s land before arriving at the Malaysia border (Bukit Kayu). We got out of the bus, got our luggage from underneath the bus, and walked to the border partrol building. We got our entrance stamp and proceeded to customs where we were simply waved through. Sweet! The entire process (exit from Thailand and entry into Malaysia) took about 20 minutes.
Once we got into Malaysia, we immediately noticed the giant jungle-like foliage on both sides of the highway. If you were walking through the palm trees and other leafy vegetation, you would certainly feel like a tiny ant because all of the trees and leaves are huge!
At 8:00pm we were dropped off in the big city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What a difference from the small town we left behind in Thailand. There were sky scrapers everywhere and it was incredibly hot and humid. We had a few places in mind that we were planning to check out and after looking at them, we decided to stay in a budget hotel. We didn’t stay there because the hotel was some great place. I think what made the hotel attractive was that I was sick with a fever, we were both soaking wet and dripping with sweat, and it was 9:00pm. In the morning (after listening to the air conditioner drip water all night) we decided the hotel wasn’t worth the money so we checked out. We found a much cheaper backpacker place (Pondok Lodge) that had funky decorations and shared bathroom. We liked it there and that’s where we stayed for the next 4 nights.
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting place. It’s a mix of three cultures although the majority of people in Malaysia are Muslim. The three cultures include Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese. With these three cultures comes three different religions (Muslim, Hindi, and Budhist), three different types of food, and three different sets of habits and customs. Some contrasts we saw included young, hip, Chinese women wearing make up and skimpy clothes next to Malaysian (Muslim) woman wearing long skirts, long sleeve shirts, head covering, and no make up. We also saw a crematoria where Hindu (Indian) people cremate the dead next to a Chinese cemetary where people are buried.
Our backpaker place was next to a well known Chinese hawker stall row where an entire street was dedicated to serving cheap, fast food. We ate there several times and one night Mike ate a sting ray and another night he ate frogs. Both were actually very good.
While in Kuala Lumpur (KL), we visited two famous sky scrapers: The Petronas Towers and the KL Communication Tower. The Petronas towers are really two towers built in an 8-sided arab Islamic art pattern. There are 5 tiers that represent the 5 pillars of islam. This building was designed by an American architect, was completed in 1988, has 88 stories, and a skybridge across the 41st floor (146 meters/320 feet above ground). We got up early one morning and stood in line with a lot of other people in order to get tickets to visit the sky bridge. Below is a photo of the Petronas Towers. I took a lot of photos from the sky bridge but they weren’t nearly as impressive as the photos I took from the KL Communication Tower observation deck.
The K.L. Communication Tower is nothing special to look at but it has an observation deck at 276 meters, which is much higher of course than the sky bridge of the Petronas towers. The views from the K.L. Communication Tower observation deck were impressive. I’m sure on a clear day its possible to see forever but we rarely encountered clear days in Malaysia. Everyday was cloudy and sometimes it poured rain (which makes sense because the rainy season is just coming to an end now). Even though it was cloudy, a photo from the K.L. Communication Tower is still worth seeing and is shown below (along with the Patronas Towers photo):