Malaysia Chronicles

Major apologies for the delay of this post – I really don’t have anything else to say other than I’m sorry but better late than never right??

I’m hoping I can still remember the exquisiteness that was my trip to Malaysia about one and a half months ago. I went on a quick work trip to the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur – the capital of Malaysia. Our time there was to attend a bi-annual conference hosted by UN-Habitat on urbanization. My time there however besides work was spent trying to squeeze in time for some sight seeing, some shopping and of course actively looking for places for brunch!

The conference we were attending was the 9th World Urban Forum

The flight from Nairobi to KL is a good 12hrs, five from here to Abu Dhabi or Doha and seven from there to KL. We got there pretty beat, slept all the way from the airport to our Airbnb right in the heart of KL city. First thought of KL – extremely humid and quite hot even though it is apparently their cold season in Jan & Feb, I can’t even imagine how hot it becomes during their summer period.

Our Airbnb apartment, that I shared with two of my colleagues, was only two minutes away from the KLCC, a major conference centre where the main conference was going to be held. Work was walking distance – perfect! The apartment was in a highrise building overlooking the financial district of KL, we had a front and centre view of the dazzling Petronas Towers (which look even better at night, all lit up) and our host – Ben was extremely gracious and hands on, thanks so much Ben for your hospitality.

KL is the sixth most visited city in the world, recording a total of 8.9 million tourists per year, and a place that has been on my very long travel bucket-list so I’m glad I get to finally check it off now. It’s a very metropolitan city, sky scrapers around every corner and has a total of 66 shopping malls surrounding the vibrant south-east asian city, if you’re not careful, you could run your bank account dry here. With a nightlife as exciting as Las Vegas, stores ranging from Chanel to H&M, all the restaurants you could think of… and even with general basic living conditions, KL isn’t the cheapest place to live in but definitely one of the most exciting.

I had one free weekend during this trip so I asked my fellow travel lover Mary to come down from Thailand where she currently lives and we can get into some fun for the weekend. Get yourself a travel buddy like Mary y’all, she’s already been to Europe with me and now Asia, I wonder where we’ll hit next..?? She came down with her friend, Yasmin, and together we really did the most with the 48hrs we had together. First up – the clubs. If you ever get the chance to visit KL and are looking for a good turn up, head over to the Bukit Bintang area, streets are lined up with bars, clubs, restaurants and lounges, it kinda looks like a smaller version of the Las Vegas strip but a larger version of Nairobi’s electric avenue. I recommend the Why Not Kitchen Bar, a place we spent most nights at, it’s not too crowded, not too hectic, dope music and of course drinks and food in plenty.

There is a lot of touristy stuff to do in KL, we just couldn’t manage all of them because of the limited time and my cramped work schedule. What we did do though included a visit to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory, the largest manufacturer of Pewter in the world, got to see how a lot of pewter materials like flasks, tumblers, jewellery, ornaments and china sets are made. We also visited the batik factory, you know I got me some fabulous batik fabric, which I’m yet to use to make something… Our last and best stop was at the ancient Batu caves that are a good two hours outside of KL, in the Selangor state. The caves hold one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and is a popular tourist attraction because of the 20 minute hike up the 272 stairs into the caves and of course to be in the presence of the massive lord Murugan statue. The caves were formed by limestone that is over 400 million years old and the shrine was built in 1891.

That climb up was the exact fitness challenge I needed after pigging out throughout the first week in KL – didn’t have another McDonald’s after that day. An entire day of sight seeing with friends was a great way to start off a weekend and we ended it on the best note – eating out once in the famous Chinatown. Also, isn’t it weird that there is a chinatown everywhere you go now? Whatever continent, whatever country, you can always find a section set aside for authentic Chinese food and retailers, gotta respect the Chinese people’s hustle.

A closeup of the 272 steps up the Batu caves

Mary left us after the weekend to head back to Thailand and my colleagues and I had a few more days left in KL which we spent closing up the conference and doing last minute shopping at the mall right near our apartment, the KLCC Suria mall and the central marketplace in downtown KL. If you want super cheap souvenirs – go to the central marketplace, if you want to get quality stuff, then shop at the malls.

There’s so much to Malaysia that I would love to explore and discover when I have more time, but as my first time here, I can say I really enjoyed every single day here. The heat may have been a lot to get used to but that aside, Malaysia is a beautiful and extremely cultured country. Glad to have already ticked off my one new place to visit a year so early in the year already, here’s to hoping there’s more travelling set up for the year ahead. Thank you for reading and please tell me about your adventures so far in 2018, would love to hear your stories as well.

Take care and stay safe!

 

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