Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – March 2 to March 11, 2015
After spending a week surrounded by elephants roaming freely, wide open spaces and new friends we were off to Kuala Lumpur, a city of over 1.6 million people.
We stayed at the One Stop Hotel and Residence, which was a little out of the way from central Kuala Lumpur. But as a bonus the hotel provided us with free LRT passes. The LRT was directly connected to the hotel, through a mall and a covered pedestrian walkway, so we never had to walk outside. Another great bonus was that we had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office (which Aurora claimed), a full kitchen and a living room with a sofa and TV. Ahhh…. we had a place to sit that wasn’t the edge of the bed and a table and chairs to eat meals at. It was a good spot.
Without a doubt Kuala Lumpur is a huge modern industrial city. Our hotel was right next to some F&N Company Buildings (F&N is a large dairy and beverage company in Malaysia), and out our window we could see the Petronas Towers, and many of the other high rise buildings on the skyline. We found the city clean with few honking cars. The people were friendly and we had little trouble communicating as most spoke English; even the signs were in English. What a treat.
We loved the public transportation system, especially the LRT cars that were designated for “Women Only”, they were clean, plush and often empty so Aurora and I got to enjoy brief moments away from the boys. KL’S skyline is lit up at night with the bright lights of all the high rises and on many of our nights, with lightening from recurrent thunder storms we got to watch (we discovered our visit to KL was during the rainy season).
There are more shopping malls in this city than anywhere else we have been. For those needing a little retail therapy, this is your place. I had read that there are about 33 major shopping centres in KL. More are being built, while others sit empty because there are so many already. Oddly, the mall attached to our hotel was empty too. We learned from a local it was built only a few years but they never got any tenants, and the entire mall, sits empty and completely unused. KL’s Mega Malls are not just for shopping. When you need a break from your shopping you can stop for a movie, a game of laser quest, go to the IMAX, play some 9 Dimensional Adventure Games or go have some fun at the indoor amusement park.
We hit KL at just the right time. Aurora has grown so much that none of her clothes fit her anymore. Shopping was one of the first things on our agenda. We stopped at Times Square, a mega shopping mall with 10 floors of shops and of course a theme park with a huge roller coaster. Outside the mall sits the world’s largest gumball machine. Believe it or not, we found very little in the clothing area for Aurora. Most shops were filled with trendy Asian clothing. Nothing that would be appropriate for a very picky 10 year old. However, our chance to window shop and see all there is to see, was a pleasant way to spend some time, I don’t think there is any recession here!
Another must on our list were haircuts for the guys. We stopped at one of the many malls and found a place that was suitable for Noah. An hour later the guys were walking out with new doos. We could see Noah’s eyes again. What’s great is that it was cut really short and Noah liked it!! It was the second best hair cut Noah has had on our trip. Everywhere we go people often turn to take a second look at us, sneak a photo (sometimes they don’t even sneak it, they just whip out the camera and take a shot) and sometimes they come right out and comment about how good looking the kids are. Today was no different. Today it was the hairstylist who asked for a photo with Noah and Len. They graciously obliged. The staff were so funny snapping pictures and telling us how handsome Noah was. Noah does not always notice it, but often teen girls are very obviously checking him out and giggling as they walk away.
The Petronas Discovery Centre
On another day, the kids and I hit another mall, located in the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. While there we stumbled across the Petronas Discovery Centre. Deciding this would be a fun and educational place to visit we paid the 50 Ringgit (about $17 CAD) and hopped into the little car (shaped like an oil drop) that took us for a short scenic ride to the main door of the Centre. We spent almost 4 hours playing and discovering new things.
The kids got to learn a little about space, science, technology, earthquakes, tornados, speed, electricity, and how to make music and art. We could have easily spent a few more hours there, but it was getting late. If you are planning a trip to KL with your children, make sure The Discovery Centre is on your list and plan to spend the day there, even if the staff say all you need is two hours… the times flies by quickly.
KLCC is at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. Besides the awesome view of the towers, the park is a great place to run and play. It also is the place you would find an aquarium called Aquaria. One day Len took the kids out to check out Aquaria, so he’ll tell you about that below.
Being used to Saskatchewan, flat prairie, far from any coastal shorelines, any time we get a chance to see ocean/sea, jungle/mangrove creatures, it’s a plus. Aquaria, like Ocean World that we saw in Bangkok, had an underwater glass tunnel, which was definitely one of the highlights of our day at the aquarium. We saw creatures not only from the side but also from below. Looking up and seeing Sand Tiger Sharks swim above your head, and seeing a Sting Ray, resting on the glass above you, is definitely a sight that commits to memory and leaves us with a sense of awe about the spectacular world around us. One of the other fish we saw was the Arapaima which is a freshwater fish native to South America, but was introduced to the waters of Thailand and from there has spread throughout South East Asian countries. It grows to immense sizes, and is an invasive and aggressive species of fish. Of course we saw exotic tropical fish, jellyfish, seahorses, sharks, octopus, eels and other species of creatures, all very interesting. It was a good way to spend the afternoon, and we finished our time off at the aquarium, by viewing an additional exhibit that included creatures such as scorpions and other interesting creatures.
We took the LRT to the Batu Caves, which drops you off a few metres away from the entrance. Although admission to the cave is free, I had to “rent” a skirt, because I was wearing shorts.
Beside the main cave, is a huge statue of the Hindu figure Lord Murugan. It is golden in colour and is an impressive figure, much photographed by tourists, including us. On the way up to the entrance of the cave we climbed the 272 stairs, passing by dozens of very cheeky macaque monkeys that are very active, and constantly looking for food. Many are quick to try and grab your food or bag. We watched one very skilled monkey run towards a tourist, jump up, reach into his backpack, grab some bagged baking, jump across to another bannister and continue on his way. All this happened in a matter of seconds. Further down the stairs he ripped open the bag and enjoyed his baking. If you visit these caves, be warned and keep a close eye on all your stuff around the monkeys, cameras included. Once at the top of the climb, we all stopped briefly to catch our breath and absorb the surroundings.
The Batu Caves are natural caves in which Hindu temples and sculptures have been built. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed to see a significant amount of trash and empty drink bottles throughout the cave. For being such a Holy place I felt saddened to see such a display of disrespect, by those who visit it. Those people, and it must be a lot of them, just don’t seem to care about littering such a special place. We saw one lone man sweeping up, but he looked so defeated against the backdrop of trash. Our guess is that he was a volunteer at the cave trying to tidy up as best as he could. However, on the positive side we wondered if there was an entrance charge if people would feel any differently about tossing their trash on the ground? I would hope that at least that way, there would be a little bit of income for the agency responsible for the caves, and some efforts could be to keep it a little more cleanly. If you can look past the trash, you will notice the cave is quite beautiful and is a great example of the natural wonder of Malaysia. The cave really is a wonderful treasure of Kuala Lumpur, and we are glad we had the chance to see it.
R & R, Homework and Blogging
We spent our remaining time in Kuala Lumpur just relaxing and not pressuring ourselves to see, see, see… more, more, more stuff!!! There was a large pool on the 5th floor, that had a great view of KL, and we spent many hours hanging out there. The kids love playing in pools (whenever our accommodation includes one) which gives them some physical activity and is a great way to burn off excess energy.
The kids needed some time to buckle down and catch up on homework, and our time in KL gave them a good chance to do that. While they were working on that, it gave me a chance to catch up on some of our blogs. Now we just have to post the blogs that are saved and waiting for you to read.