I had a few days in the city and a few things I wanted to see. Mostly, of course, I wanted to mingle with Malaysians and get under the skin of what it is to live in the day in the life of a local.
I made a friend, a few friends. Irwan, a charming, young man, a strong and resolute leader in his family and community, took joy and pride in showing me around his capital. We were fortunate to have a car to drive around, protected from the heat of the environment.
As a tourism major and history buff, Irwan was a fountain of knowledge and culture. He will be a licensed tour operator soon, and I truly believe that travellers will get the best sense of this city from a guided experience with him. A bit of karaoke to top off what was already a big, eye-opening day of culture appreciation and sightseeing. Thanks Irwan!
Here’s how I spent the first 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur! You’ll see that you can fit in a lot into one day leaving more time to relax and eat food. 🙂
The Glorious Dead are commemorated in every country that has been touched by war and conflict. Malaysia’s national monument sits atop a beautiful hill and botanic garden, overlooking the cityscape in the distance.
There are kings (known as Sultans) that have ruling control and reign of the nation, alongside the democratic government (which follows the British System). Each Sultan will have a 5-year ruling term and reside at the Istana Negara (National Palace), here in Kuala Lumpur. When the Sultan is in town, the flag of his sultanate will be raised.
Just like in London, this palace has guards. Just like in London, the guards do not react or interract with you. But, I was nice and said Hello and he gave me a nod of acknowledgement. After I took this photo, I said Terimakasih and he gave me another nod as if to say, You’re welcome. So nice!
The caves run 13km into the mountain rock, housing some of the most revered Hindu temples and shrines outside of India. The murti (consecrated statue) is Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war.
The 272 steps to the mouth of the cave were once constructed of wood – imagine climbing the steep incline on a structure that bends and flexes! Now concrete steps guide you up to the caves, the incline is not too difficult to climb, but there are several rest areas on the way.
Macaques live wild and free in this area – be careful, they are very naughty. I bought a small bag of sweets at the bottom and carried them in my hand as I walked up the stairs. A cheeky little rascal tried to rip it from my hands! It is prudent to keep loose articles in your bag or pockets, this includes sunglasses…
Inside the cave, the roof opens up to the sky, giving an interesting view to the top of the mountain, feeding light deep into the caves below.
This is a restaurant favoured by locals for their famous banana leaf rice. It is basically served on a banana leaf with salads on the side and a piece of chicken or other meat. In the traditonal manner, eating with your hands is very much encouraged here! If you need cutlery, you’ve got to ask for it specifically..
If you do choose to eat with your hands, be aware that you should only be seen to eat with one hand (usually your right hand).
An interesting structure in the skyline at night, the Petronas Twin Towers are certainly worth a visit – if not for the spectacle of night lights, then for the view at the top. Petronas is a combination of the Malay words – Petrol Nasional – Petronas.
There is a fee to take a lift to the top floor of Tower 1, but I didn’t go up. There is a shopping mall at the base of the towers, Suria KLCC, and it is nice to be in the airconditioning, away from the humidity of the outside world.
At around 8PM, there is a fountain and light show at the water gardens in front of the eastern entrance to Suria KLCC – the music is dramatic, think Ride of the Valkyrie. You could close your eyes and immediately imagine yourself riding into battle, then only to open your eyes and be presented with such a dainty light and fountain show… hahaha!