Backpacking Southeast Asia: Kuala Lumpur

Saying goodbye to Malacca was no easy feat. On the day of our departure, I wanted to dig in my heels and spend more time exploring the terracotta “museum city” whose streets were jam-packed with tourists, noisy trishaws, and vendors. Our hotel was also quite hard to leave behind after the warmth and comfort it had so easily given.

Although Malacca was a breather from the sprawling urban maze and tech hub that was Singapore, it did not quite dampen the buzz of Kuala Lumpur when we stepped off the train in KL Sentral.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL

Our bus from Malacca to KL was an hour late, and we arrived in Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at past 1 in the afternoon. TBS is a huge station opposite KLIA on the KLIA Ekspres line with buses to and from different parts of Malaysia. The first floor of the station holds the main toilets and the ticketing outlets, and the second floor is where the money changer and food concessionaires are.

After using the toilet (boy, was the line loooong) and having lunch at KFC, we bought tickets to Butterworth so our trip to Penang would go smoothly. It was past 3 when we finally walked out of the station and headed for the lifts that lead to the trains. And pretty much like my first train trip in KL back in 2015, the guy issuing tickets at the KTM Komuter stall overcharged us, and the train took around 30 minutes to arrive.

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Street art that we walked past on our way to Travel Hub Guesthouse

It was past 5 when we checked in to Travel Hub Guesthouse (pros: affordable, near a GoKL bus stop, near the MRT station, near a laundromat; con: bedbugs!). By a stroke of luck, Booking.com had a system error, and instead of reserving a room for us, it sent our booking into limbo – no room, no beds, nada. Fortunately, the hostel wasn’t full, and after a call to the manager, the receptionist was able to give us six beds (+ one roomie).

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What kind of hostel guest are you?

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We rested for a while before going to Suria KLCC via the GoKL buses. One thing I love about KL is their public transportation. They have FREE AIR-CONDITIONED BUSES WITH WI-FI that run an average of 17.33 hours daily!

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Source

Suria KLCC is home to one of my favorite places on Earth (Books Kinokuniya) and a huge food court that serves delicious and affordable international meals. It also houses Petrosains (a Science Discovery Centre), Petronas Galeri (an art gallery), Godiva, Harrods, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, and other high-end boutiques that would give you a run for your money (if you’re into that kind of thing).

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Of course, a trip to Suria wouldn’t be complete if we ignored the looming Petronas Towers!

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(R-L) George, Shar, Kline, Maly, Monica

Just before midnight, we went out to a nearby laundromat to do our laundry. Everything was fine until the vending machine got stuck and wouldn’t dispense soap. Being so used to how Filipinos solve machine problems, Maly smacked it hard enough to jostle the contents, and wouldn’t you know… it set off the alarm. The other customers stared at us like we suddenly grew extra heads, but the police didn’t come, and nobody arrived to scold us, so we went on with our business and went back to the hostel past midnight with some of our clothes still damp because the dryers didn’t do a decent job.

DAY 2: GENTING HIGHLANDS

Early the next morning, we got on the bus to Genting from KL Sentral, and after an hour-long bus ride, we boarded the cable car that would take us up the mountain. We got one all for ourselves since the car seats 6 people. The 15-minute journey was initially nerve-wracking, but the lush, green forest somewhat covered by fog below us proved to be an effective distraction.

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Aboard the cable car

I don’t have much to say about Genting except that it can be far too easy to lose yourself among the winding and branching hallways, escalators, and lifts. Disappointingly, we weren’t able to visit the Chin Swee Temple and the Strawberry, Lavender, and Mushroom Farms because the line to the shuttle buses were too long (s/o to Starbucks whose English Breakfast, milk, and sugar syrup helped soothe my ruffled feathers), and our bus back to KL Sentral was at 5pm.

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After looking around the place, we took the cable car back to the waiting area and spent 3-4 hours waiting for our bus back to the city. Several wild monkeys dropped from the trees and started playing on the road. They were both adorable and a little frightening, but observing them helped pass the time.

Our ride back took two hours due to a road accident. A Shell lorry had crashed into the center island and totally blocked off the road. The authorities were quick to respond, however, and used a backhoe to move the lorry’s body and allow vehicles to pass.

From KL Sentral, it took us another hour to reach Suria KLCC because the buses followed a route different from the one on our city maps, and we had to get on and off different buses and lines just to reach our destination.

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(R-L) George, Shar, Sir Jo at the back, Monica, Kline, Maly

DAY 3: OFF TO PENANG

Other places to visit in Kuala Lumpur:

  • Batu Caves
  • Strawberry, Lavender, and Mushroom Farms
  • Chin Swee Temple
  • Happy Bee Farm
  • Gohtong Jaya
  • Perdana Botanical Garden
  • National Museum/Muzium Negara
  • Istana Budaya
  • Planetarium Negara
  • Stadium Titiwangsa
  • Orchid & Hibiscus Gardens
  • Central Market
  • Petaling Street/Chinatown
  • Dataran Merdeka
  • Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
  • Music Museum
  • Textile Museum
  • Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Disclaimer: This post contains photographs taken by Maly Larrazabal and Georgette Tejano. Thanks Mal & George 🙂

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