Kuala Lumpur for the lazy traveller

The usual 3-day itinerary in any place typically involves a clever mix of time-saving routes and an assumption of boundless energy that will enable any intrepid visitor to cover a key number of sights. In short, a brag-worthy itinerary for a short but exhausting period of time that you can confidently say to anyone ‘I’ve visited this place and have seen the top x number of things I should see in it’.

Doing this in a place as dauntingly large as Kuala Lumpur is a difficult task to plan. Doing 3 days over a festive period (Chinese New year) with many Chinese shops (and areas like Chinatown) is impossible. But seeing as I was there primarily to try climbing the Damai Wall at the Batu Caves, running around the city and aiming to visit the Petronas Towers were not my priorities. So you could name something (such as Pudu, Aquaria, Central Market) and chances are, I haven’t seen it at all.

On the contrary, what I saw and did were the antithesis of the rush job that the crammers try to do. I don’t remember how that happened for me, but there was a time where travel became a race to see as many things as possible, following a list of things to do because they’re worth seeing, then getting very upset when I couldn’t tick off all the boxes. KL became a place where I finally did what I felt like doing, and not because a guidebook recommended it.

But first, get out of the airport. That was in itself, a feat to congratulate yourself for achieving, considering the 1.5 hours spent just waiting in a queue that barely moved to get my passport stamped.

  1. 1. Get from the airport to the hotel via KLIA express, which I found good and reliable. This was an extra bonus because I stayed in KL Sentral.
  2. 2. Walk and eat along Brickfields, the Indian quarter of the city.

  1. 3. Get around using Grab, the goodwill of some people who actually deigned to drop me at the near Light Rail Transit station (the KTM is the most unreliable thing, they said) and the various rail transit networks. They’re all good, except for the horrifyingly cramped and stuffy monorail.

4. Visit several train stations and gawk at the shopping complexes built around these stations. KL is an impressive place, with a skyline as diverse as I’ve ever seen: high-rise condos that stretch to the outskirts of the city, gleaming skyscrapers, minarets that suddenly rise out of the forested hills and a bewildering rail network that sometimes towers so high above the expressways that you think of syfy-movies immediately. And since you’re there, go shopping. KL Sentral (Nu Sentral), Imbi (Berjaya Times Square) and the very trendy Bukit Bintang (Pavilion, Lot 10, Fahrenheit) took up a whole day.

5.  Watch a movie. It was a novelty to do something like this, then walk back to the hotel room which was literally just 5 minutes away.

6. Go climbing. Novice climber or aspiring pros, there’s always something to do. I chose to visit the Batu caves with the fabulous rock climbing guides at Verticale, though Camp 5 at 1 Utama was a serious consideration before I found out that trad climbing was available during Chinese New Year.

7. Spend half the day in the pool. The hot weather will give you the tan you crave.

Eating in Siem Reap

Khmer cuisine is a curious thing, as it sits on the crossroads between Thai and Vietnamese dishes, though the dishes are slightly more sweetish, minus the stomach-burning heat yet still bursting with flavour with the abundance of herbs used in each one. Steven, our guide for the local food tour that we are taking of […]

Continue Reading

Templed Out

Coming to see the Angkor temples was my primary objective in visiting Siem Reap and doing it during the cooler months from November – March sounded like a bloody good idea. Unfortunately, it seemed as though the whole world thought the same thing. Still, the best thing you can do is to plan…and plan well, […]

Continue Reading

Beyond the culinary

The crowds and the smells always indicate that something food-related is near. Well, it’s certainly true of the legendary night markets in Taipei – there’re 14 of them at least, some lesser known to the tourists which locals frequent – that are noisy, bustling affairs of smoke, dirt and well, some delicious finds. We managed […]

Continue Reading

When mining mattered

I’ve hesitated for years about Taiwan, in part due to the language which has been prohibitive for me, despite how much friends of mine have said—and extolled—about this place. This time around, I have 3 travel companions with me and planning for all of them has been a bloody pain and travelling with them, an […]

Continue Reading
1 2 3 6