After a largely sleepless 8-hour flight with Air Asia over Australia and the Indian Ocean, Carolyn and I arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at around 7am local time. After a zippy 45 minute bus ride with Skybus to KL Sentral in the center of Kuala Lumpur (KL), we stumbled around for a bit and with hardly any help from sign posts or our guide book, we found the Monorail station a 5 minute walk away. We bought a couple of passes for RM 1.30 (~40 cents CAD), took the Monorail a few stops to Bukit Bintang, dropped our bags at our hostel, and went back out in search of breakfast. We found a hawker stall nearby and had an excellent curry seafood dish.
We spent the afternoon checking out the Taman Tasik Perdana park, got up close with some monkeys, and browsed the greenery of the Lake Gardens. We were pretty tired and hungry, so we vetoed the KL Bird Park, stumbled to Central Market and had an tasteless plate in the food court. We then walked on to the Petaling Street market in Chinatown, browsed around a bit, but couldn’t get into bargaining mode. We took a break at the Reggae Guest House Bar, shared a pitcher of Margarita, and found the energy we needed. I bought some Billabong board shorts, Oakley sunglasses, a Polo shirt, and Addidas kicks for Carolyn all for around RM 183 (~$56 CAD). For diner, we found a hawker stall recommended by our guide book, ordered Hokkien Mee (a popular Malay hawker dish) and weren’t disappointed. What the heap of oily noodles and seafood may lack in presentation, it certainly makes up for in taste! To finish off the night, we took the train to the Petronas Towers, got some great night shots of the well lit buildings, and then made the short walk back to our hostel.
Our hostel turned out to be excellent. It was clean, the staff were very friendly and helpful, and the dorms were very well air conditioned and comfortable. It definitely exceeded my expectations.
On day two, we got a Transnasional bus to Malacca, a historic town two hours south of KL. We had a quick lunch at Hoe Kee which is famous for their Chicken Rice Ball dish, though I found it pretty ordinary and not nearly as tasty as the Hokkien Mee. We spent most of the day visiting the history museum, the naval museum, the Sultanate Palace and exploring what remains of the old Portuguese (A Famosa) and Dutch forts. There were even several open excavation sites that appeared to be in active exploration.
We had a few drinks before diner at a restaurant on Jonker Street, then chose the Portuguese/Malaysian restaurant Eleven Bistro on a side street off Jonker. We had a few dishes of seafood and vegetables which were pretty good, but a bit pricey. After diner, we checked out the market that had setup on Jonker Street and proceeded to find a city bus back to Malacca Sentral bus station. Unfortunately, when the bus came along it just passed us by, the driver waving casually at our frantic waving for him to stop. So we ended up scurrying to a busier street and flagging down a cab. With only 20 minutes to spare, it was a very nervous ride to Malacca Sentral to catch our bus back to KL, but we made it just on time. Exhausted from all the walking and the uncomfortably hot bus ride back to KL, we called it a night and turned in early.
On day three, we sat down and enjoyed some Nasi Lemak for breakfast. We then checked out KL Tower and Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill – a forest reserve), an enormous shopping mall, and then picked up some more Nasi Lemak from sidewalk hawkers for lunch. We then grabbed our bags at the hostel and hopped on a bus destined for Kuala Selangor (KS), a small town about 2 hours north west of KL. There were lots of poor people in the countryside and palm tree farms that stretched further than the eye could see.
We arrived in KS just at dusk and made our way on foot, through a night market, about 45 minutes to our accommodation at the KS Nature Park. We arrived just in time to catch the last employee leaving for the day and booked a trip to see the fireflies. About 30 minutes later, we were sharing a boat with a couple from London on the Sungai Selangor and admiring the spectacular display of fireflies synchronously lighting the trees along the river banks. It was an incredible show (photos didn’t turn out unfortunately).
Our host drove us back into town and dropped us off at the only restaurant in town that served beer, Restoran Makanan Laut Ah Poh. After an excellent meal and some large bottles beers, we took a couple of bottles for the road, swung by a Chinese concert, then retired back to our little cabin for the night.
The next day we climbed the hill to Bukit Melawati, a fortress built by the locals in the 19th century. There were lots pieces of the original fort remaining including some Dutch canons. There were also lots of monkeys and it was fun to watch the Chinese tourists feed them. We spent the rest of the morning exploring the KS Nature Park. I found that it was a bit run down and depressing, but Carolyn very much enjoyed seeing the mangrove forest and the mud skippers.
After grabbing a few snacks, we caught the bus back to KL, ditched our bags in a locker at KL Sentral station, headed for the National History Museum, and got soaked in a torrential downpour of rain. The museum was actually quite a bit better than our guidebook had reported. We then headed back to the Petaling Street market to try another hawker stall for diner. We weren’t disappointed. The king prawns were excellent.
After diner, we grabbed our bags at KL Sentral and I was almost robbed in the restroom. Luckily, I had no cash though and the guy just walked away after I showed him my empty wallet. A close call, just before getting our bus to the airport.