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Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur

storm 35 °C
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Our last sleep at Everything English Homestay was another good one; I reckon the 6 hour hike helped. Lauren, Yassin and I all had a synchronised lie-in and woke to the sounds of birds singing outside. After breakfast we said bye to the other guests (and even got a hug off 2yr old Ashran) and made our way to our coach stop.

Our bus to Kuala Lumpur arrived on time and we saddled up for the 4 hour journey. Deviating from our normal bus routine of watching American Horror Story on my Kindle we decided to listen to my rarely-utilised music player on random. We'd forgotten how much we'd missed music and how much it can add to your experience of a new environment. We made the rule that we weren't allowed to skip any songs and I was doing quite well for the first few; a bit of Bob Dylan, Rick James, James Buckley and The Kinks but my credibility was never going to last and soon enough Right Said Fred, Jason Derulo and Kanye West turned up. Lauren pulled her headphones out soon after.

The 4hrs went by without a hitch; it's amazing how our tolerance for bus travel has grown. Nowadays when we see that a journey is less than 8hrs we're thrilled and see it as a short trip up the road. This should stand us in good stead for our next beast of a country; Australia.
We were dropped at Kuala Lumpur Sentral which is a massive station that houses a million and one different public transport networks as well as a huge airport-style mall. Oh and it's surrounded by a construction site - which made it a little difficult to get into.

We eventually found our way to the Monorail section (which isn't signposted) and got on our way to Bukit Bintang station. I don't think I've ever been on a monorail before and I couldn't stop singing the monorail song from an old Simpsons episode. While aboard a heavy rainstorm hit and we watched as the sky went from piercing blue to dark grey in a matter of seconds. Thankfully, the storm only lasted 10 minutes and it was dry again by the time we got off.
The area we were staying in, like KL Sentral, has a lot of construction work going on, meaning to get to Sunshine Bedz hostel we had to around the world following the trail laid out by a corrugated iron walkway. At the hostel we were greeted by a topless tattooed Malay gentleman who we soon discovered was called Patrick Jones. We're not sure whether it was our astonishing beauty or matching surnames that made Patrick upgrade us from a dorm to a private room but either way, we were pleased.

Our room was very basic and the walls were made of cardboard but at least we had a double bed to ourselves and some privacy. We also had a great view of digital billboards and the monorail tracks from our window.
We soon realised that we were flanked by no less than 6 malls; Kuala Lumpur is the city to visit if you're into shopping. Our first venture out was to Sungai Wang mall where we went straight up to the food court. There was very little choice for Lauren so she settled on a really crap plate of Maggi noodles and veg. I fared much better with a claypot Nasi Mee soup; thick udon-style noodles in a delicious broth with plenty of mystery meat and spicy flavours.
We found another food court 3 floors up where Loz got her second tea; a vegetarian murtabak (a sort of omelette/roti/pancake thing). We also finally got to try cendol; a traditional south-east Asia desert that consists of jelly stretched green noodles, sweetcorn, aduki beans, condensed milk, chipped ice, coconut milk and plenty of sugar. We didn't like it.

The moment we stepped out of the mall the heavens decided to open and loud cracks of thunder followed by bright flashes of lightening took over. This encouraged us to venture to the posher mall next door; Lot 10. After a bit of window shopping and dawdling around the gourmet Hutong food court (our 3rd food court of the evening) we got bored waiting for the storm to stop and sprinted back to our hostel, getting soaked on the way,

For our first full day in the capital city of Malaysia we had planned to visit the Islamic Arts Centre but we found out it wasn't open on the weekends. There wasn't really much else we wanted to do or see; KL's sights mostly consist of tall buildings with the odd mosque and church. We did walk into the centre via the KLCC pedestrian walkway (apparently an activity in itself according to Trip Advisor) and looked up at the Petronas twin towers for all of 3 seconds. I'm sure the view from the top is pretty impressive but we just weren't interested.
Not having much luck with met-free food in Malaysia so far, we managed to find an amazing vegetarian buffet for lunch called Blue Boy that was around the back of a small car park. We got chatting to one of the vendors who was a huge football fan and loved the fact that we were from Liverpool and Manchester.
It soon became apparent that late afternoon storms were the norm in KL and so we walked back to our hostel in the rain. One sad but not so surprising observation is that there are a lot of homeless people - men and women - on Kuala Lumpur's streets, many of whom have addiction issues. It must be hard enough dealing with the heat and humidity but the sudden and extreme downpours are another matter.

On day 2 we went back to Sentral station to visit a commercial building just beside it where a free Japanese film was being shown as part of an arts festival. I won't bore you with the details but we spent over an hour wandering around in the blistering heat trying to navigate busy 4-lane roads with no pavements in order to get across to the Pitching Centre that was only a few hundred metres from Sentral station. A combination of inaccurate Google Maps and building work that's closed off almost all pedestrian walkways meant for a frustrated Aisha and an infuriated Lauren.

We made it in the end though and the film, Osaka Hamlet, was brilliant; funny, intriguing and weird, as Japanese films should be. I did leave my amazing cat-sunglasses in the auditorium though which made me sad.
On our way back to the hostel we made a detour to 'Food Street' but everything was very meaty (dim sum, fish-head soup, steak) so we found a Pakistani place nearby and loaded up on dahl, rice and gobi and a freshly made naan.

On our final day in Kuala Lumpur we spent the morning planning and faffing around with an incorrect hotel booking. We walked to Central Market and Kasturi Walk where we picked up some fried Indian snacks and wandered around the stalls. The one product that did catch my eye was a name-on-a-grain-of-rice necklace. Some of you may remember the little see-through magnifying lockets from the 90s. Nostalgia wasn't enough for me to part with my cash though. Lauren had a peek at what she would call 'snide' shoes and clothes but the quality is so crap that it really is a false economy.

We walked back and packed to leave, feeling positively underwhelmed and unimpressed with Kuala Lumpur. If you like shopping, exploring skyscrapers and seeing familiar brands then it's the place for you. It's just not the place for us. Luckily our next stop is the island of Malaysian Borneo; which we're hoping will be the perfect remedy to the vacuous bore-fest we've just experienced.

Posted by advensha 22:23 Archived in Malaysia Tagged rain kuala malaysia hostel mall backpacking travelling lumpur storms kl monorail southeast_asia food_court thunder_lightening heavy_rain capital_city hawker_stalls sunshine_bedz_hostel sentral_station lot_10

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