The Bright Lights of Kuala Lumpur

Our visit to Malaysia began with two days exploring the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The modern and diverse city is dominated by sparkling sky scrapers and huge shopping malls, and is home to lots of different ethnic groups while also having a large western influence.

The star attraction in Kuala Lumpur are the landmark Petronas towers, which at 452m were the tallest buildings in the world from their completion in 1998 until 2002. The towers are the centrepiece of a huge complex that includes the six storey Suria KLCC shopping mall, the Kuala Lumpur convention centre and the large KLCC Park. 

The park was our first stop after arriving into the city, and we made it just in time for the daily light show. It was a beautiful and colourful display of lights and water, although we were less keen on the accompanying music.

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Given that the Petronas Towers dominate the city’s skyline, we decided that instead of climbing the towers, we would look for the best view of them from around the city. 

With this in mind, the following day we visited the Sky Bar, which is one of the many high up bars and swimming pools in Kuala Lumpur. The bar is located on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, and has the perfect view across the KLCC Park to the towers. While the swimming pool also looked inviting, unfortunately we didn’t have our swimmers with us so we had to make do with the amazing view.

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Later the same day we visited the Menara KL Tower, another of the city’s most popular landmarks. The communications tower was completed in 1995 and is actually taller than the Petronas Towers at 421m, making it the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world.

We took the long elevator journey to the Sky Deck viewing platform, before admiring the stunning 360 degree views of the city’s skyline and surroundings. As with Bangkok, the city seemed to stretch endlessly into the distance. 

Next we checked out one of the glass bottomed Sky Boxes which extend out onto a ledge, with the City 300m directly below. With the Petronas Towers looming large in the background, this was the perfect opportunity for some photos, and gave me a chance to show off my new Malaysia football shirt.

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We found a table in the Sky Deck Cafe, and enjoyed a cold drink as we waited for sunset. Gradually the sky grew darker, and it was an impressive sight as the surrounding towers began to light up around us in a huge array of bright colours.

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During one of our days in the city, we decided to escape the midday heat with a visit to the Aquaria, which is also part of the KLCC complex. Although an aquarium would not usually be on our to-do list, Aquaria is one of the largest in the region and we thought it would be good to do something a little different. 

It was definitely a step up from any aquarium that either of us had been to previously, with the self guided tour taking us through a variety of marine landscapes. Highlights included a 90m walk through glass tunnel, with huge tiger sharks and stingrays swimming above us, as well as a huge freestanding cylindrical aquarium filled with fish.

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Malaysian cuisine is unique and reflects the countries history and diverse population, with traditional Malay food influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisine amongst others. As with elsewhere in southeast Asia, street food is readily available in Kuala Lumpur with hawkers serving up local dishes all over the city. 

We visited the bustling Alor Street market both nights we were in Kuala Lumpur, fighting through the crowds to sampling a variety of Malaysian dishes, all washed down with some cold beers. The market was clearly a very popular spot with both locals and tourists, and the choice of delicious looking food from the long row of stalls and restaurants was almost overwhelming.

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The city’s markets are not limited to food, and while exploring Chinatown we came across the Petaling street market. The busy street is a well known shopping district, and is lined with stalls selling a huge range of bargain clothing and other goods. 

The majority of the stalls seemed to be selling counterfeit designer clothes, with some of these more obviously fake than others. It was fun to browse through the market, and listen to the trader enthusiastic sales pitches, while there was also a huge collection of football shirts for me to look through.

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We ventured further out of the city on our second day in Kuala Lumpur, making a visit to the famous Batu Caves. The large complex of caves are home to the most important Hindu temple outside of India, making them a popular pilgrimage site.

It took us around an hour on the train to reach the caves, which are located to the north of the city. After arriving we walked through the grand entrance before arriving at the bottom of the huge staircase that leads into the caves. This is watched over by the towering 43m golden statue of Lord Murugan.

We slowly climbed the 272 colourful steps, all the while holding on to our belongings and keeping one eye on the mischievous looking monkeys swinging above us. 

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We entered into the vast cathedral cove, which is the largest cave within the complex. This is home to several Hindu shrines, and we were able to watch a number of religious ceremonies as we wandered around the cave. 

It was really warm even within the cave and we were glad to have visited so early in the day. After spending some time exploring, we returned to the top of the stairs, admiring the view of the colourful and intricate buildings below. We slowly descended the staircase before continuing our tour of the rest of the site. 

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We really enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur, and it was a great introduction to Malaysia. It is a very modern city, with great public transport, making it very easy to get around. There is an interesting mix of eastern and western cultures, and it was considerably less hectic than our visit to Bangkok. We could have easily spent longer in the city, and look forward to returning in the future. 

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