Kuala Lumpur, or KL as most Malaysians call it, is often overlooked despite being the capital – usually, people view it as a stopover to get to other destinations or just a place for shopping. However, for the city traveler like me on this trip, it can have a lot of great stuff if you know where to look.
I arrived in KL from Melaka in the afternoon. After checking in at the Melange Boutique Hotel, I headed out to visit the famous Petronas Twin Towers. You can buy a ticket to go up on the walkway between the towers, but the very thought of it made me break out in a cold sweat, so I was quite happy snapping photos from the ground. I also popped into the huge shopping mall underneath – Suria KLCC – to buy a nice watch for myself. Know what you’re looking for and where it is, or you’ll waste hours inside (unless you’re into window shopping!)
Watch-buying mission accomplished, I continued to Thean Hou Temple, a Chinese temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (the name is literally translated into “Heaven’s Queen”). It’s located outside of the city – you can walk there from KL Sentral, the main hub of transportation, but it’s a bit long (about 2 miles), and there are some scary parts where you have to cross the road with no traffic light or pavement. I find KL not a very walkable city, unlike, say, Singapore, for example. While most of the attractions are free, their locations are not convenient, so you end up paying for transport anyway.
I opted to walk because the road leads through Brickfields, KL’s Little India. It’s just one main street, but because of its small size, it feels much more… concentrated. The sights, sounds, and smells make it feel like a street plucked straight from New Delhi.
Finally, after an uphill trudge, I made my way to the temple. It looked quite impressive, with five storeys rising up on the hillside under the setting sun, and the intricate decorations on the roofs and ceilings are simply gorgeous. Another plus is that it wasn’t very crowded, which makes it a nice place to relax and watch the sunset.
As it was getting dark, I booked a Grab (SE Asian version of Uber) back into town and headed to Jalan Alor for dinner. This famous pedestrian street is a giant food court, and there were so many choices that I got overwhelmed. I’ve said before that I’m not much of a foodie while I’m traveling – to me, food is just fuel. But if you love food, then Jalan Alor is the place to be.
Afterward, I walked to KLCC Park to watch the light show at the fountains in front of the Twin Towers. However, I got the time wrong – I thought the show started at 10 PM, but it actually starts at 9:45 PM – so I only caught the tail end of it. It looked great though.
The next morning, I headed out early to go to the Batu Caves, the site of a famous Hindu shrine. Most guides say to get there early, but unfortunately, my train got delayed, so by the time I arrived, it was super crowded and super hot. So after climbing the 272 steps up the hill, wandering around the main cave for a bit, and taking some photos of the cheeky monkeys there, I returned to KL Sentral. It would’ve been nice to spend more time at the Caves and take in all the colorful architecture of the temples, but the crowd was stressing me out.
I ended up seeking refuge from both the crowd and the sun at the Botanic Garden.
From there, I walked to Merdeka (Freedom) Square and Central Market for some souvenir shopping (my niece’s initial is KL too, so it was great fun looking for KL-themed things for her.) I briefly considered going back to KLCC Park to see the light show properly, but I was exhausted after a full day of walking, plus I had to pack, so it was back to the hotel for me.
The next day, I had some time before my flight, so I went out hunting for street art. My hotel is located in the hipster area of the town (Bukit Bintang) and there is plenty of street art just around the corner. It’s a great way to pass the time; plus as it was early in the morning, I practically had the streets to myself!
And that concludes my travel in Malaysia. If I had more time, I would’ve checked out some other destinations (like the Cameron Highlands), but I’ve had a good taste of the country too. And frankly, the experience of seeing Snow Patrol live is so wonderful already that this is really just the icing on the cake.
As mentioned in my post about the Snow Patrol concert, I chose to go to Malaysia because I wanted to combine seeing the show with some traveling, and Malaysia makes the most sense with the short time that I had (4 days).
So, the morning after the show, I set out for the city of Melaka (or Malacca), which is 1.5 hours away from Kuala Lumpur by bus (I booked the ticket online; you don’t have to as there is a bus once every 30 minutes, but as it was the holiday weekend in Malaysia, I thought it was better to be prepared.) Arriving in Melaka Central Bus Station, I was picked up by a driver from my hotel, Tripod – it is located outside of the Old Town, but it provides free transport to all the touristy areas, which is a big draw for me.
After checking in, I got dropped off at the Red Square in the center of the Old Town, so called because of the red colors of its Christ Church and the Stadhuys (town hall.) The Old Town of Melaka reminds me a lot of Hoi An, with its rows of traditional shop houses lining the river, but in a way, it reminds me of the Netherlands as well, with a river instead of a canal – not surprising, considering Melaka was under Dutch rule for over 100 years.
I had lunch at a riverside café and spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering around, turning down any alley or side street that caught my eyes.
I also had a great time searching for street art – it appears to be a Malaysian specialty, with every town and city having its own famous pieces:
When it got too hot for walking, I took a river cruise (30 RM, which is about $7, for 40 minutes), which is a good way to cool off, rest your legs, and see the town.
You can also get a ride in one of the decked-out trishaws gathered on the Red Square, but they’re more expensive (about 25 RM/15 minutes) and a bit too touristy for me. Yes, the river cruise is touristy too, but I’d feel like a wimp riding around in a Hello Kitty or Minion-themed trishaw blasting “Gangnam Style” or “Let It Go” or whatever (but if that’s your thing, feel free!)
Later in the afternoon, I got picked up by the hotel’s driver again to go to the Masjid Selat Melaka, or Melaka Straits Mosque, a mosque built on a manmade island on the Melaka Straits. It is almost prosaic compared to the outrageous mosques of Iran, but it’s cool in a modern kind of way. Besides, the best view is from the outside, at sunset and all lit up at nightfall. You’re not allowed to go out on the rocks to take photos, but everyone does anyway.
Afterward, the driver dropped me and a few other guests off at the Old Town again for the Jonker Walk night market, which sells everything from housewares to souvenirs and snack food. This is when the Old Town really comes to life. Everywhere there was a riot of colors, sounds, and smells. Even the river got lit up.
I went through Jonker Walk twice, nibbling on a few snacks in lieu of dinner, but eventually, the crowd got too much for me (though according to the driver, it was nothing yet!) so I retreated to the river and just sat there taking in the colors until it was time to go back to the hotel.
The next day (August 31) was the National Day of Malaysia and there was a big parade in town, but I’m not keen on crowds, so I just had a lazy morning at the hotel before heading to the bus station and back to Kuala Lumpur. If you’re a foodie, you may want another day in Melaka, but for me, one full day is just enough to see all that this small but lovely town has to offer.
Last weekend I just went on a 4-day trip to Malaysia. It was partly a holiday because I didn’t get to travel this summer, but the main reason was to see a Snow Patrol show (hence the post title, which is a line from their song Heal Me.) Now, if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that they are my favorite band ever, so when I found out they were doing an acoustic tour in SE Asia – Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore – I jumped at it.
After some consideration, I settled on Malaysia. I’ve never been there before, so it would be nice to combine the show with some traveling. My plane landed in Kuala Lumpur early in the afternoon – the show was at 8, and I figured I would have plenty of time to settle in. However, between waiting in the longest line ever at immigration, navigating two trains, and my exquisite sense of direction, I didn’t get to the hotel until 5. Luckily, the venue is literally next door, so after checking in and a quick wash, I popped over. The venue looked so unassuming that I wasn’t even sure it was the right place, but as soon as I arrived, I heard the sound of Run floating down – they were doing sound check – and my heart skipped a beat. There were a few people in line already, so I decided to just grab a quick bite and queue up. The line wasn’t too long, certainly nowhere as ridiculous as when I went to see them in LA (though that line was mostly Ed Sheeran fans) but I didn’t want to take any chances.
After 2 hours of waiting, we were let in and the place soon filled up. Then it was more waiting, first for the opening act, Ryan McMullan (who was filling in on piano for an injured Johnny McDaid), and then for Gary and Nathan to join him. Still, Ryan McMullan was good, and I had fun chatting with some people in the front row and we got a kick out of watching the roadies setting up – they were all big guys, yet they had to stand on tiptoes to check Gary’s mic because he is so tall.
Finally, it was time for Snow Patrol. And though it wasn’t my first SP concert, it still felt like the first, so amazing it was. No, “amazing” wasn’t the right word. It was magical. I read in an article or an interview that Gary has this ability to make a stadium feel intimate and a small venue feel like a stadium, and it was absolutely true in this case. Though I missed the rest of the band, their absence didn’t affect the show in any way. And all this when Gary had a throat and chest infection. Despite his voice cracking a few times, he said he didn’t want to cancel the show and soldiered on.
And that’s what made everything so special. The music is great, but it was Gary’s charms and his bantering with the crowd and the rest of the band that brought a fun, unique touch to the show (there was a moment when they were tuning up and Gary asked Nathan “Are you all right there, sweetheart?” that melted all our hearts.)
My crappy phone photos couldn’t do the show justice, so here are a couple of videos – we were quite happy to sing along and give Gary’s voice a rest 🙂
And here’s What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get for the encore, because Gary is adorable in it:
As it turned out, they did have to cancel the last two shows in Indonesia and Singapore. I was so glad that I decided on Malaysia and felt incredibly lucky that I got to see them. Hopefully I will get to see another show with the entire band one of these days (and it won’t take another seven freaking years.) Thank you, Snow Patrol, and get better soon, Gary!