June 24, 2014
The first thing that struck me about Kuala Lumpur was the humidity. And when I say struck me I mean it came down on me so hard and fast I could feel the weight and thickness of the air as I breathed, with my breathing becoming heavier with every breath. I was sweating just standing within a minute of stepping through the airport doors and waiting for the taxi to pull up. Temperature wise Dubai was hotter, but the humidity put KL on a different level.
It was well past midnight by the time I checked-in to my room in a guesthouse inside a renovated 19th century colonial building. My room was about 50 square foot with a coat of pastel green paint furnished with a bed and a rack to hang my clothes. I was exhausted from the long flight but I was hungry and couldn’t help but notice the irresistible aroma from the Indian food shack next door. It had an outdoor stove under a large canopy with simple white plastic chairs and tables. There was a field hockey game on the large tv screen with a small group of Indian men fixated on the action. I ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice and some type of chicken and noodle dish. I would end up regretting that for the next two days. I don’t think I need to share those details.
After this inauspicious and unceremonious start, I decided to change my lodging and have another go at KL. I relocated a few blocks away, staying in the busy Bukit Bintang region. I spent my days walking the streets of Bukit Bintang, picking a direction in the morning and following it through for a few hours. I stayed clear of local food for a while, usually eating fast food or dining in restaurants in areas concentrated with tourists. The humidity never eased, but you just get used to being sweaty in KL. The heat and humidity was constant throughout the days, with only one day of strong rains.
Although taxis are fairly cheap, it is best to get around KL using the many light rail lines that span the city. Traffic in KL is constantly backed up and the streets are narrow except for a few major arteries. The best view of KL I had was from the observation platform of KL tower. The boundaries of the city go on for miles until nature imposes its own boundary in the form of dense hills and mountains coated in dense, plush green forest. And somewhere on the northern edge of the city in one of those mountains there is a formation millions of years old known as Batu Caves. Only one part of the caves was open when I visited, which was not remarkable in itself except for the hundred-odd year old Hindu temple that was housed within that sanctuary. A giant golden statue of the deity Murugan stands at the foot of the hill in front of the 272-step climb required to reach the temple.
I have now left KL to travel deeper into the country and higher into the mountains to a hilltop outpost known as Cameron Highlands. I’ll be taking things easier here and just enjoying the scenery. Until the next one!
PS – I am sad to report that I lost my camera while I was in Dubai. I had some great pictures on there that are now lost unfortunately. It’s a shame because I would have loved to share more of what I’ve seen with all of you back home.