72 Hours in Kuala Lumpur
It’s been a minute since my last blog post, but if you don’t have me on social media, you wouldn’t have known that I have actually been away for a few weeks exploring Malaysia! When I booked this trip nearly a year ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. For most, Kuala Lumpur is a stop over when flying to Australia for example, but when I knew I had to stop there to continue flying to Singapore, I thought why not explore.
Walking off of a 13 hour flight with no sleep, I thought I was going to feel like a zombie but I think the excitement and adrenaline just kept me going. Without even being able to check into the hotel, a quick outfit change in the lobby and we were out.
I feel as thought Kuala Lumpur is Asia’s version of New York, a city that never sleeps, where every want and need is available 24/7. To ease ourselves into the Malaysia heat, walking around temples was an easy task to do.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Luckily, the temples were close to China Town and Central Market which consist of close knit market stalls selling fake designer goods, souvenirs and yummy street food. Personally, I love a barter and if there’s something I want, I’ll try my damn best to get a good price. After being awake for more than 26 hours by 8pm we headed back to the Airbnb to enjoy our infinity pool and cool off from the humidity.
Being the first temple I was ever going to step foot in, I thought we had better pick a famous one. This temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples founded in 1873. A man outside the temple told me that this is where devotees of the religion would start a pilgrimage here and end their journey at the Batu Caves (which we will explore on day 2). There is a strict dress code, but for women, they are offered a sarong to cover their lower half to the ankle. The temple was so colourful and the detailing was amazing. Although I am not religious, walking around a temple or a church gives me the same feeling of calmness and inner peace. Very different from the rest of the city. The other temples we wanted to visit where shut by the time we got there, but we knew we would be returning to the area on another day.
Probably the most famous thing you have heard about Kuala Lumpur is the Batu Caves. It is said that the limestone around it is over 400 million years old and was later made into a temple by the same owner, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, as the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in 1890 by erecting the statue of Sri Murugan Swami. Previously I mentioned that people would pilgrimage to the caves, which according to good ol’ google maps, would take 3 hours to walk. This, is of course before you climb the stairs!
Recently, the stairs have had a makeover, making them a beautiful rainbow instagram hotspot. Luckily, I got there early, so I missed all the crowds of people hogging the staircase for the perfect picture. It was a but daunting looking up at the 272 stairs. Being a Hindu temple, men and women had to cover up so I was already feeling the heat in a long jumpsuit. My advice to anyone climbing the stairs is wear something as loose as possible and stop to drink water. The higher you go, you can feel a bit dizzy.
Reaching the top, I had never felt so rewarded. I had made the same climb that thousands of people all throughout history had completed just to worship their God at the top. What’s magical about the inside is that, when you look at the exterior it’s a cave (a huge one at that) but it becomes this colourful hub full of people who are bonded by the same faith. Candles and bright lanterns are lit, prayers and songs of worship echo the walls and I began to realise that I am just a speck in this massive world. A real eye opener.
We decided to take another visit to Central Market and China Town as we had only taken a few hours to complete the Batu Caves. It’s an interesting building that has small alleyways full of stalls from China, India and Malay culture, selling their wares. Most of it is touristy souvenirs but you get the odd one or two that sell authentic homewares and clothing. In the past, it was a wet market selling fresh fish and meat. In a taxi on the way back to the airbnb, our driver stated that Central Market was actually the origins of Kuala Lumpur before the British colonised it. It was originally made from wood and straw and was only until the British came over, they sold the Malaysian people bricks to make the building more secure. By the building, there is a river running parallel and is now known as the River of Life, but previously the Brick River (although I can’t find anything online about it) because this is where the bricks would be laid before being used to create the structure of central market.
Looking up at the towers it’s like you’re standing in a sci-fi film. The design is so futuristic that it stands out compared to the rest of the city. The Patronas Towers are named at the tallest twin towers in the world and are joined by a ‘floating’ bridge in the middle. I say ‘floating’ because when we were standing in the bridge the guide told us that they aren’t actually secured and can move and come disconnected. Really reassuring when you’re 274619ft up in the air. The 80 ringgit ticket (£16) includes a stop at the bridge, which you and your party get 10 minutes alone to wander around and take as many selfies as you desire and then a lift up to the near top where you can experience spectacular views. I think this way of ticketing was really smart as it didn’t mean over crowding and people getting in the way of your photos.
While we were on a high hype, we decided to visit the KL tower which is the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world and stands at 421 metres. UP the top, was a sky deck and sky box. I do have a bit of a fear of heights, but Andrea pushed me to face my fears and stand in the solid glass box that overhung the side of the tower. You get a 2 minute time slot to take pictures and freak out whilst you try not to look down and imagine your plummeting death. Apart from that, the views are incredible and if you go up there on a good day, you’ll see the entire city.
Thean Hou Temple
The end of the day saw us venturing to Thean Hou Temple which was my favourite whilst in Kuala Lumpur. It stands like a palace, with beautiful gardens surrounding it. To get to the temple itself, you have to walk up 4 flights of stairs to the top which leads you into a court yard, little lanterns float above your head and the smell of incense wafts into your nose. The yellow and red colour scheme stands out from the grey skies and I started to feel as though I was in a fairy tale. After removing your shoes, you’re allowed in. I watched people praying and waving incense sticks in a ritual motion which was peaceful and fulfilling. There were pots of stick beside the Goddess Tian Hou, which contained numbers. After selecting one, the number 29 correlated to a numbered box which has a fortune in it. Mine was so accurate, it kinda scared me. I now keep it in the back of my phone to remind me to stay on the path I’m on. So I think I’m doing alright.
I was only in KL for 3 days, which on one hand was enough, but on the other - not enough. It’s one of those places that you can really explore if you have the time. There are galleries and museums, incredible bars and traditional mosques and temples. I think I achieved quite a lot in the days that I was there and if you’re wondering where all the nightspots are… they’re coming in a separate blog post because I think this one is long enough as it is!
I really hope you have enjoyed reading this post, it is one of many to come about what to see/do in Malaysia.