It's been nearly two weeks since I was in KL and it feels like it was so much longer. To be honest, I only did the KL stopover because I got so wrecked flying to Europe last year that I thought it'd be best to have a break. Since I was flying the first leg with Air Asia, I had to go to KL anyway, so why not spend a few nights.
I'd never been to Kuala Lumpur or Malaysia before.and, after doing a bit of research beforehand, wondered if Kuala Lumpur was the city for me. Pretty much all the lists of what to do included either shopping, eating or monkeys. Since I did not want to add a single gram to the weight of my luggage and I pretty much hate shopping, that was out. And I hate monkeys. They freak me out with their little monkey faces and their fingers and their carrying of diseases.
I did try to arrange a trip to see the fireflies near Selangor but, after contacting five drivers (out of the few that will even take a solo traveller) and getting no replies, I gave up on that. The weather was pretty much overcast the whole time I was there so not prime firefly viewing conditions.
The first thing I did when I landed was head to the Capsule Container hotel at the airport. I had an overnight flight and had gotten no sleep plus had the impression I'd arrive at the Sentral station to an overwhelming mass of people in peak hour. I couldn't check into my apartment until 1.00 and I do love a nap.
My sister and I had planned on staying at the Capsule Container hotel last year on the way to Japan then found out it wasn't in the transit area so changed our plans. I'd never stayed at a capsule hotel before so this was my chance to try it out.
First up, the check in process was a bit clunky. They are supposed to give you a bag with all your stuff in it but I just got handed a bunch of stuff -- slippers, towel, keys etc -- with no bag and then had to handle that while getting stuff out of my suitcase in the locker area. Then I headed to the showers. You get the shower stall with no dry area for changing so I grabbed my stuff and made a dash for the loo. Better that than getting my stuff damp.
It was then I realised there were a few things in my suitcase I could've used but, since the locker area is public, I didn't want to get fully dressed again.
Clean and refreshed, I headed to the capsule. It was a quiet time with not many people around and most of the capsules packed up for cleaning.
The mattress quality was premium. I am like a princess with beds and this one was just right. And crisp sheets. Delightful. The capsule had all I needed - power points to charge my stuff, wifi, a light, space for my stuff and even a little pull down table with mirror for doing my makeup before I left.
For less than 20 Australian dollars, I went from being a cranky bitch to refreshed and coping with the world.
Next up, getting to my apartment. Kuala Lumpur airports have this awesome system that should be everywhere. Well the capsules should be at every airport too but this was tops. You go to a counter and tell them where you want to go and they sell you a taxi voucher. You then hand it to the driver and have no risk of being fleeced.
Checked into my apartment. Okay, I'm going to have a bit of a bitch here. I seem to have a pattern of checking into Airbnb places only to be told to wait while they clean. What's up with that?
Anyway, funnily enough, I thought that if I was going to have a bad Airbnb experience, it'd be at this place. The host had some bad reviews but I decided to give it a shot because it was cheap and had a pool (since I booked it, their price went up over $15 a night so not sure what was going on there). It ended up being great apart from the wifi flaking out the first night and not working again but hey, there was a great cafe down the street with wifi and coffee and yummy food.
Okay, onto Kuala Lumpur itself.
To be honest, three nights in Kuala Lumpur itself is a bit much. Unless you are into the aforementioned shopping. There are some traditional areas around the city but, if I went back, I'd probably only do 1 or 2 nights or go for longer and head out to see the rest of Malaysia.
One thing I loved about the city was that it was so easy. I get easily overwhelmed by crowds of people and find South East Asia very stressful. I pretty much hate travelling there. But Kuala Lumpur isn't like that. Which makes sense, it's a developed city, but even in the larger cities in Thailand, Vietnam etc. I never feel comfortable.
Since I was staying in the Bukit Bintang area, I headed to Jalan Alor for dinner. Jalan Alor is a street food area with tables lining the streets and a heap of places to choose from. Again, not overwhelming. You had guys from the food places approach you with a menu but not with the fervour you get in some SE Asian countries.
I had Mee Goreng and satay. Not very adventurous choices but it's good to start with the staples. I was tempted to try the frog porridge but gave it a miss. The noodles were pretty ordinary, to be honest but the satay was tops. I wish I'd gone back for more the next night.
The next day I headed to the aquarium. Since the whole point of my trip was to take it easy, I didn't try to fit in too much touristing but I'm a sucker for aquariums and the KL one has piranhas.
Aquaria KLCC was fantastic. Not up to the level of the Osaka aquarium but then not many are. I missed the feeding times but there was still plenty to keep me amused. A few times I thought I'd gotten to the end of the displays then realised there was even more to see.
That night, after dinner, I decided a massage was in order. My body ached from the flight and just from being me. I wandered the streets, checking out the massage places and deciding most of them weren't for me. I don't know, maybe it was the low cut tops and the mini skirts or the heavy makeup but I don't think those girls were qualified in massage.
Then I found a place with a bunch of women in polo shirts and long pants sitting on stools outside. That struck me as more legit. I decided on a 45 minute foot massage followed by 45 minute body massage.
Maybe it was just my experience, but here's a tip. If you go for a massage at one of those cheap places, stick to the foot massage or other body parts that are done in the public area. The foot massage was amazing but, as soon as we got away from watchful eyes, it was all a bit half hearted and not worthwhile.
The public area was a treat though. I've never been in a massage place with free wifi before. I guess some people don't like to be offline for long. Then there were the snorers.
The next day, I headed to Chow Kit markets. The info online said I'd see fruit and vegetables I'd never seen before. Now I've been around a lot of fruit and vegetables but those giant bean things were new to me.
I started off with an icy cold drink then, two sips in, realised I probably should've checked that the water in KL was safe (apparently it is and I had been brushing my teeth with it without problems). I didn't want to risk it so left it next to the bin. Hopefully one of the homeless guys hanging around made use of it.
Anyway, I ended up buying a heap of fruit. One good thing about Kuala Lumpur is that there is plenty of cheap fruits to get to counteract all that satay.
I didn't really have plans for the rest of the day but stopped in at one of the shopping centres on the way back to my apartment to get more cash because I was running low. Then discovered a karaoke place. I only intended to stay for one hour but she told me that it was free time until 8.00. Well, what could I do?
Malaysian karaoke is weird. It's just the official video clips or concert footage with the vocals taken out. You can actually keep the vocals in too. I'm pretty sure they are infringing all kinds of copyright.
I had a curry with the most awesome roti ever while I was at the shopping centre. OMG the roti just melted in my mouth. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten.
The next day, I said goodbye to Kuala Lumpur and headed off to Germany, via Hanoi. I'd never flown Vietnam Airlines before. They were fantastic but OMG the passengers were fucking nuts. I got seated next to a Vietnamese woman who should not have been out in public alone. She kept touching me, to the point where I screamed at her and almost punched her.
Anyway, in summary, I'd say Kuala Lumpur is a great destination if you want to experience South East Asia without all the infringement on personal space and dealing with shit that you get elsewhere. It's not the most exciting city in the world but very comfortable and easy to get around apart from the humidity.