Highlights of Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers

I was feeling a bit out of sorts in KL. I couldn’t find my balance, my center, myself. I wanted to sleep a lot, not talk to anyone, go about my days and stay out of the heat. Heat makes me so sluggish, especially the kind where the air is dense. With that said I did manage to do a number of things I enjoyed in KL, I just didn’t make too many friends and I’m ok with that. Sometimes I just like to be alone.

Batu Caves – I saved the best for last. The day before I left KL I went to the Batu Caves almost by accident. I had been planning to go but also putting it off. I had heard mixed reviews from people but I knew I would go eventually. When a few things for my day didn’t work out, I boarded the next train to Batu Caves. The train ride is about 20 minutes long and the caves are still considered to be “in the city.” In fact if you go up the Petronas Towers you can actually see the rock formation rise out of the city. It looks out of place but fully at home. The city has grown up around it as it continues to sprawl towards the mountains.
Batu Caves is a Hindu temple area that looks like it is straight out of India. In fact many people from India visit this cave system as a part of a pilgrimage. The market around it is fully stocked with Indian products and wares. I had read a bit but still didn’t know what to expect. When you get off the train you are literally right at the caves, you can’t miss them. I headed to the left cave system while most people headed straight for the big gold statue. To the left is a cave system you have to pay 2MYR to enter. Leave your shoes at the entrance and then prepare to be confused. The inside is lit up like a theme park to reveal reclining Hindu gods and goddesses and scenes from Hindu scripture. The statues are painted and well cared for. People were even working on them while I was in there. Further into the cave a huge falls presents itself, also lit up. It was surprising. It’s just not what I thought was going to be in the cave. Next to the falls, a very large staircase winds up further into the cave. I walked up this very steep staircase but found the climb to be more of less not worth it unless you are Hindu. There was a small temple up at the top with a stalactite that appeared to be very meaningful.

Once you exit this cave there are a few more places you can stop off before the large staircase. I went straight for it. I looked at it, thought about the heat and what I was wearing and decided to go for it anyways. How could I not?  On the way up I got stuck behind a family feeding the monkeys. I tried several times to pass them to no avail and then finally broke free. Monkeys freak me out. They are unpredictable, especially when they are used to being around humans, they get brazen. I always try to stay away from the monkeys at temples no matter where I am. At the top the staircase I was greeted with a detailed view of the city. The cave at the top was even bigger than the previous one and housed another temple. At the far end of it, there was also another staircase. I hadn’t heard about this so I climbed it to find another temple and a more open air cave, let’s call it an indoor/outdoor cave.

Now sweating profusely in my jeans and t-shirt, I made my way back down and had an ice cream. It was worth the climb and the trip out. It was unusual but interesting and I am glad I went.  On the way out I stopped off for some henna. It was the fastest henna I had ever had done. It cost me 5 MYR and it lasted nearly 2 weeks, longer than any I had had previously.

Petronas Towers – The Petronas Towers might be the most recognizable skyscrapers in Southeast Asia. You might not even know you’ve seen them before, but I am sure you have. They make appearances in movies and photographs alike all over the world. One tower serves as an office building for the National Petroleum Company, that’s right, the whole building. It has no public access. The other building is a combination of mixed office space, tourism and restaurants. The Petronas Towers have a stop on the KLIA train service, KLCC. You are let off in the basement of the five story mall at the bottom of the towers. In order to go to the famous sky bridge, you have to make your way to the front of the buildings, middle escalator in the mall on your right, or follow the business people, and then go down another level to get tickets. Go early if you want tickets the same day, I had to book for the following day and I was there at 10am. The tour lasts about an hour or so. I liked it and I thought it was worth the money to get up there and play around and take a million pictures, however, if you want a good view of the actual towers, the KL Tower is better for that. Because you are in the towers you don’t get the full view of them. You do get a close up of the tops though. The tour takes you to both the skybridge and the 86th floor. A hologram gives you a security briefing that should tell you all you need to know about this tour. If you go here, don’t miss the fountains and gardens out back.

Menara - KL Tower – It almost looks like the space needle in Seattle or the Berlin TV tower if you look at it quick. I walked there from the Petronas Towers. That is not advisable if it is at all hot out, which it will be. There are two options for this tower, the top deck which is open and significantly more expensive and the lower deck, which is enclosed and chock full of running kids. If you do the upper one you automatically also get to use the lower one. I did both. I thought the open air deck was better for pictures and it was a touch higher, probably not enough to make a difference but it worked for me.  They make you sign an extensive release because it is open air. I think this tower gives you a better all around view than the Petronas Towers but the Petronas are  just so much cooler. Menara also has a little theme park for the kiddies if you are traveling with children.

Masjed Jamek – Although I didn’t get the chance to go inside because it was closed to tourists the day I tried, it is something to see from the outside. From the light rail station, go around to the left and you can get a great view of it. A small market also winds its way down the street across the street from the mosque. If you are into fabrics this is the place for you. The market seemed geared towards women’s fashion.

General KL – Use the public transport, it is highly effective, all branches, but always very busy. If you head out during morning or evening rush hour prepare to be squished. I did this for the people watching. The transportation hub in KL is KL Sentral. You can get to just about everywhere in the city from there.

This is a pretty short list of items.  KL is full of old mosques, a palace, and old Chinese temples; I just didn’t make it around that much while there. Most people visit KL as a stop over to somewhere else or for business. If that is the case for you, I would suggest adding two or three days on to explore the city properly. There are a lot of tours that will “hit” all of the sites in one day. If you are at a hotel or hostel, you can usually sign up at the front desk.  If you have a few days though, I would do it on your own and at your own pace.