Selamat Datang KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA 2015 (Part 1)

How long has it been since I last updated my blog? I’ll only briefly apologize for the lateness of this post, which I meant to have written up within a couple of days of it happening. But I’m An ordinary employed girl reveling in a break from course work and schedules, so I got lazy and am just now getting to writing it up.

I feel as though I’ve been neglecting this little blog ‘o’ mine lately. Sadly, I have had every intention of updating before now. It’s been a long month so far, what with the general hustle and bustle that this season brings.  But anyway; excuses, excuses, right?

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I was off on a whirlwind trip to South East Asia a few months back (most of which, feels like a blur now). While getting into the swing of travelling, admittedly my updating has not been as frequent as planned. But let’s start with rounding up the 4 days and 3 nights of my trip, which were spent in and around Kuala Lumpur.

Together with my best friends Jen and Viv we boarded a Manila-Kuala Lumpur flight via Cebu Pacific. The flight lasted over 3 hours and went fairly smoothly. We arrived at KLIA2 2:30PM and immediately took a cab to Youniq Hotel, our home for the duration of the trip. Tip: You may want to exchange for enough Malaysian Ringgit (for the bus and cab fare) at the airport. However, money changers along Chinatown or Bukit Bintang offer the best rates.

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Touchdown Kuala Lumpur!!

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Youniq hotel definitely lives up to its name: unique. Its quirky designs left a deep impression on us. This is perhaps also attributed to its contrasting neighborhood which we would elaborate later. The hotel is also busked in neon lights!

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The hotel provides facilities like hot & cold water cooler in the common lounge and, iron with iron board, washing machine and sink in a common space beside the balcony. Cool use of QR code on room key to access the room. We were struggling how to get into the room. We looked for a card slot and we tapped the card. We thought the QR code was to direct us to the hotel website or something. So, yea. Tap on the QR code. Haha.

Rooms are also spacious and provide decent amenities (cable TV, wi-fi, etc.), not to mention the clean bathroom. The hotel offers buffet breakfast (rice, bread, viands, pasta, etc.) which is a really good value, especially since you need much energy touring during the day.  Our rooms were also reasonably priced, I might add (booked via agoda.com).

For our first day, we booked a tour which also offers every foreigner visitors in the hotel. You can see Kuala Lumpur’s top sights in a rush on an overnight stay, but you’ll need at least two days to do them justice, and three or four days to really get a sense of the city. In a week, you can get a good look at most of what Kuala Lumpur has to offer, do some shopping and enjoy an excursion to Selangor as well – the Batu Caves is not to be missed.

Kuala Lumpur is adept at reconciling the old with the new. How the city excels at striking this balance is clearly observed in how the colonial facade and structure of the Sultan Abdul Samad building blends intimately with the tall, freestanding wonder of The Petronas Twin Towers.  One thing you’ll discover in Kuala Lumpur is the many priceless moments you get to sit back and reflect. Amidst the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city, lies a calming yet serious appreciation of culture and the crafts.

Take a look. Take a walk. You will be inspired.

First in our list is the famous Batu Caves was our first destination for the day, though not exactly part of Kuala Lumpur, but we went to see it as it was very close to KL.  It’s one of Kuala Lumpur’s most famous attractions, is 45 minutes away from the city center. It is actually already in the outskirts of KL in the area called Gombak District. Let’s say this was my first taste of MALAYSIA TRULY ASIA.

It is one of Malaysia’s famous tourist attractions located at Gombak district, 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and is also known for its large gold statue of Lord Morugan.

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The caves is said to be 400 million years old already but was only founded to be a site for Hindu worship in 1890 by K. Thamboosamy Pillai (the same founder of Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur). The place is also the main location of Thaipusam festival in the country that occurs every January or February every year.

We were greeted by a large statue of a green monkey deity upon entering, there was also a small shrine nearby the entrance but it seems that no one goes up there except for Indians. Walking further, we also saw some Indian restaurants that caters to tourists who wanted to take a quick bite before taking the journey to the caves or some refreshments to those who have already been up to the cave and wants replenish their thirst. There were also some stalls that sell souvenirs, clothes, and other snacks.

After few minutes, we were able to see the most photographed section of the Batu Caves, the grand statue of Lord Murugan. The newly erected statue, stands 140 feet high and took 3 years in construction. I think it is not made of gold, but just with gold paint. :)

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The journey doesn’t stop just by having photos of the large statue. We ventured on taking the 272 concrete steps leading up to the Temple Cave. The stairs looks stiff and it was in a straight direction, no left or right. However, I saw a lot of senior citizen climb up and down the stairs, so how could we be discouraged! We climbed the stairs one by one until reached the top, it was not bad though, not as hard as we thought. P.S, be careful when climbing the stairs, as there were a lot of monkey around. Fortunately for us, we were not able to encounter the famous notorious monkeys in the area. The climb was manageable and good thing I brought with me a bottle of mineral water I was able to climb all those steps without getting dehydrated.

The view of course is good. I stopped occasionally along the steps and made I appreciate the view. Looking down, seeing the crowd trying to find their way up, and the buildings of the surrounding area even as far as downtown Kuala Lumpur, and looking up, marveling at the limestone formations on the mouth of the cave.

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Once you’ve reached the top, you can now see the entrance to the Main Cave. There’s a bench so in case you get breathless, you can rest there for a bit. Walk your way through to the rear cavern that has a natural opening at the top that allows light to sneak in the rest of the cave area.

There was only a small Hindu shrine in the Temple Cave, which is dedicated to Lord Murugan. The entire place felt very spiritual especially with the light effect of the cave. There were some Indians worshipping on the site but most of the people there were too busy to take pictures. The area felt very touristy to me and I hope the travelers there appreciate the essence of why Batu Caves was established for, and not just by being there for a tourist attraction. The Temple Cave also offers great views of rock formations.

As it is regarded as a sacred Hindu Temple, there is no such thing as entrance fees, A.K.A it’s free, how cool is that! Except there are some museum around the cave area (outside the cave), which are not free.

The monkeys of the Batu Caves: The real attractions of the Batu Caves are the baboons living in these mountains. These monkeys are real thieves do steal anything to get food or drinks that lead over the visitors. Other people are dedicated to feeding the monkeys, but also can be a relatively dangerous activity if the monkeys want to take food from your hands. Normally, if you do not bring food and do not mind the monkeys do nothing. Still, careful with your personal items like sunglasses, among others.

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After half an hour, we finally decided to go down and explore more. We finally saw the last of the three caves which was the Dark Cave. The tour will also require you to pay a fee but I heard that you’d be able to see nice limestone formations and some of the cave animals such as an arachnid called the Trapdoor Spider that is already an endangered species.

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It was an awesome experience to be able to go to whole Batu Caves It surely gave a different light on how I see Hinduism as a religion and has opened to more understanding on the Hindu’s beliefs and culture. It’s also one of a kind what with the elaborate designs of the place and the thought of having a religious site inside a cave! It’s one of those places not to be missed when you’re around Kuala Lumpur.

We were up quite early for our first day in Kuala Lumpur. I was feeling excited to tour around the city even though the temperature here was probably even hotter than Manila. Our host offered to tour us around which we did not hesitate to accept.

Our next destination was Central Market, translated in Malaysian as Pasar Seni. I was told that formerly, the place was just your ordinary wet market but was transformed later on to this building that not just sell food, but also focuses on arts and crafts-related products imported from different countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, China and India. Now, the place is packed with tourists for its popularity as one of Kuala Lumpur’s unique destinations.

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We were able to sneak inside and haggle with some vendors but we did not but anything though. One can buy souvenirs, Malaysian/Chinese/Indian food, local fruits, clothings such as sarongs and other traditional wears, and a whole lot more.

Just across the road near Central Market is Petaling Street which is probably considered as the heart of Chinatown. Our goal was not to do some shopping (yet!), but just to do some sightseeing, people watching and probably to have some bite of good cheap Chinese food in the hawkers stalls. Jalan Petaling is one of the city’s bargain hunter paradise. It’s also similar to our own Manila Chinatown though the vendor stalls are more organized and the area is way more cleaner in KL.

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We walked around and noticed that the items being sold there were imitation goods (clothings, accessories, DVD and CDs) and souvenirs stalls were dime a dozen as well. Of course, haggling is the way of life here. One trick that I always practice is that I negotiate for almost 30-80% off the price, if they don’t budge, I’ll just threaten them to walk away and look at other stores. ;)

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We went off to take a quick bite on one of the food stalls at Chinatown to figure out where we would be heading out next.

Next stop, the Instana Negara is known as National Palace in Kuala Lumpur. Considered as the favorite tourist spot where they welcome you with arch guards. This is sort of their Malacanang counterpart, where the Malaysian monarchs live. Nothing much to see here except the gates and the horse-riding security personnel guarding the premises. This impressive palace of white and gold is certainly worth seeing. This very pretty building is a rather underrated but very interesting sight in Kuala Lumpur.

We opted to pass by Brickfields as we were already in KL Sentral. Brickfields is also commonly known as KL’s Little India due to the high percentage of Indian residents of the town.. The place is filled with colorful monuments and landmarks which are very depicting of the Hindu culture. I can just imagine how colorful this area can be during Indian festivals.

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Then we dropped by the KL Sentral to get food since we were getting a little hungry. There are also various fast foods, convenience stores, shopping boutiques and money changers around and this proved to be very convenient especially for first-time tourists.

More of my moments in Malaysia on upcoming posts…

For Part 2 of our KL adventure, click HERE.

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