The trip has started as usual: with a lot of “paperwork”, a lot of unforeseen, a lot of confusion. When you go from being mid-summer in Zaragoza, the city that almost never happens, to Kuala Lumpur, the city in which Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones rob their most important building … the adaptation process takes time.And more if to this we add a good monsoon. Do you know what the monsoon is? I guess so, but come on, in short … it rains a lot. All the time. And not a little, if it rains you get wet … The first day he still respected us but this is on the way to becoming a habit. But hey, it will be a matter of keeping morale high and the camera well protected. Our bodies will already dry out. But if we are missing something … it is Couchsurfing . There is nothing like visiting a city with its locals. At the moment we have had no luck in our search for Malaysia although this will be fixed soon. We are nice, someone will open his door for us soon and everything will begin there. This cleared up, let’s get down to business.
( 08-22-14 ) Our long day of travel started earlier than desired. Well, actually the same thing always happens because you leave everything to the last minute and you end up narrowing it. Bus trip to Barajas T4, eat grandmother’s sandwiches at the airport, look for the screen with the schedules, discover that our plane does not appear, investigate, conclude that it is not taken at that terminal, realize that Barajas is Huge, take a bus to take us to the other terminal, do not check in because backpacks are a trick, go through the security control and have half of Diego’s toiletry bag taken away … and plane to Istanbul .
First time on Turkish Airlines, nice surprise. Accustomed to the narrowness, discomfort, absence of details and regular treatment of low-cost companies, it was for us like flying in the first class of the best plane in the world. It was actually a normal plane, with a good treatment from the crew but … above all, with a screen per seat. How much good a well-worn monitor can do. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Turkish Arlines commercials . They are the same, but without Messi or Kobe Bryant in the next place. Each seat has its own screen where you can choose between playing games, listening to music, getting informed, watching movies … We opted for a bit of cinema.
Flying we missed the journey to Istanbul, where we made a small stopover (nothing to do with the disastrous stopover at the Miami airport on my trip to Peru) to catch the final one to the capital of Malaysia. An even bigger plane, with more screens and lots of vacant seats, so there were about three seats per beard. Better to sleep, you think …
… But not in my case. The world is not designed for tall people to sleep vertically. The food could be improved, very on the plane and at very rare hours. It is also remarkable that in this second part of the journey we take the opportunity to get started in the wonderful Malay language. A language learning game helped the cause. You never know what phrases you might end up needing.
( 08-23-14 ) After a long day of travel plus the consequent time change (6 hours difference between Malaysia and Spain), we landed at around 6 in the afternoon at Kuala Lumpur airport . Well, they call it Kuala Lumpur airport for calling it something, because it is 50 miles from the city. By taxi we left there, although the driver showed us his disagreement because we weighed a lot and the suspension of the car suffered. When we arrived it was night.
At first we were struck by the fact that they drive on the right (although we already knew, it is always surprising), that there is not excessive traffic (one imagines all the cities in Asia to burst), that they have a very good road network and tall are all the buildings. In the center of the city our taxi driver freed us, where we went in search of some of the most recommended hostels. All full, of course. New odyssey: finding a hostel in a completely unknown city. Although at the beginning we got into, probably, the most seedy of the whole city and, second, we were about to stay, finally common sense entered the scene and we left there while they took the data. It was unfortunate. Since it was going to be an arduous task to find decent accommodation, we set up camp.
Three or four stays later, we found it. It wasn’t the Ritz but it had a seemingly clean bed and a seemingly decent bathroom. What we did not know is that at 3 in the morning the locals usually sit at the door of the hostel, next to our window, to talk. Well they call it talking, I call it yelling. But regardless of how bad or bad we slept there, the site met the minimum requirements to choose it, so we settled down and went out to see the city at night. Kuala Lumpur has little or nothing to do at night with that of day, at least in our area.
Our hostel was located in the Bukit Bintang neighborhood , which is the leisure center of a city, in itself, very idle. We took a walk there, and we lost everything we could. I say everything we could because the truth is that it is not a city that invites much to it at night. The main streets go but the alleys, which are the majority, seem the typical corner where Jackie Chan is going to flee from the bad guys. Topics aside, that night we had dinner at Jalan Alor.
Jalan Alor is a street full of Asian restaurants of all kinds. We have had dinner here both nights and the truth is that we have not done very well. The first we ate very little and at a not too good price and the second we did not eat much because we chose at random and did not have one. Well, because of that and because we have a serious problem using chopsticks. After dinner, walk around the capital and one goal to meet: find a hairdresser. Diego forgot to cut his hair before coming and when you travel the world like this it is a good idea to wear it short (hygiene, freshness, comfort, drying speed …). But the problem had a quick solution: Algeria Hair Saloon.
Sounds good right? Of course not, but that was precisely its charm. In that and in that among his regular customers was Cristiano Ronaldo. But beyond the shabby appearance of the entrance and its poster, the Algerian who ran the thing did his job very well. Of course, since it was charged at the price of Spain.
With less hair, I return to the nightlife area to see the bars that we cannot afford (yet) and to sleep. Well, let’s try. Have I already told you about the mania that the locals have for sitting next to the window of that hostel shouting at 3 in the morning?
What to see in Kuala Lumpur
( 08-25-14 ) The day started later than expected because with the sleep that we had after the sleepless night, we passed the first alarm that sounded olympically. The second alarm was that of our conscience and there is no one to stop it. As best we could, we made a tourist route through a city that is very little designed for tourists. A lot of road and few sidewalks … and the ones that are there are raised. Well, usually everything is under construction.
My impression of Kuala Lumpur? Actually, I do not want to create opinions or judgments about a city in which I have spent two days of my life (although we will have to go back to catch the plane back). But as I imagine you would like to know then … regular. The feeling it gave us is that it is a city with very little history (about 200 years), built at the heel. Also, in Kuala Lumpur there is a lot of mixing of cultures, something that in itself is not bad, of course, but I think they have remained in a no man’s land. It is an Asian city playing at being American with 10% European. I insist, first impression. Apart from that, we took a walk and, while the rain allowed it, something gave us time to see.
Among the most attractive, Jalan Petaling, a crossroads in Chinatown full of stalls, people, cultures and more people.
A pleasant and obligatory walk if you are there even if you are not going to buy anything, as in our case.
Around that area we also find the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple (you do not repeat this name without being wrong), a very small temple but with a spectacular facade that we could not (or knew) enter.
Guan Di Temple
Right in front of the competition, the Guan Di temple, a Chinese temple that we did enter …
… And we were able to enjoy a zen moment inside.
Leaving Chinatown we head to the Central Market, a market that combines some traditional national product with big brands. Something more authentic in a city full of shopping centers. In addition, all of them are huge and have very varied leisure offers like this one, in which you can participate in a game that consists of trying to access that bank in 60 seconds to win a prize.
And near the Central Market you find the Dataran Merdeka, one of the main squares of the city where the spectacular Sultan Abdul Samad building is located, a small architectural massage in a city full of skyscrapers.
In that same square is the KL City Gallery, a gallery that houses the largest model in the city. It is recommended to visit because it is accompanied by a video about the future project of Kuala Lumpur. If it is fulfilled, of course, it can be an admirable place but for the moment everything is too much under construction.
And then, it started to rain, like every day but with the difference that this time it didn’t stop. So we had to grab a taxi (not without effort to get their attention under the monsoon). Throughout the day the intensity of the rain decreased but it never quite ended, so at night we went out to get a little wet. We then headed to Kuala Lumpur that you will all have seen for sure: The Petronas Towers .
The Petronas Towers
These buildings of only 450 meters are the tallest twin towers in the world. They are a sample of what Kuala Lumpur is in general: power for those who have it.
Inside the towers there is a shopping center full of exclusive top brand stores. It is striking, among other things, that if you pay (50 cents) on the ground floor you have access to a “premiere” bathroom, while on the other floors you can access free bathrooms.
Several photos later, we lost another time in the surrounding area (all the buildings in the place are quite impressive) and from there to dinner and back home.
( 08-25-14 ) Today I am not writing to you from Kuala Lumpur but from Tanah Rata , a normal city but located in a privileged natural enclave: Cameron Highlands. So far we have seen little because the rain has not respected us too much. Tomorrow we have an excursion planned that we trust will go ahead.
Whatever happens I will tell you everything that happened in this city in the next publication. From Kuala Lumpur we leave with a bittersweet aftertaste, although it is also a product of not having been able to share this route with anyone in the area. It has nothing to do with discovering a city from within, as one more, than seeing it with the eyes of another tourist. But no, we are not tourists, we are travelers, and once acclimatized we promise to begin to introduce ourselves to the human stories that we all like so much. Stories like yours, which we would love to read in our comments.