Last year when I was in Brunei, I was planning on visiting Kuala Lumpur (a.k.a. KL) and there were three things I wanted to do: go up to the sky walk of the Petronas Towers, ass loads of shopping, and go to the Batu Caves. So for my three weeks in KL, that was exactly what I was planning on doing! Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's skyline is dominated by the iconic twin Petronas Towers. These towers can be seen from almost every vantage point within this populous city. After living in Brunei, I have always found Southeast Asia so fascinating because of the diversity of cultures: Indian, Chinese, Malay, Muslim, Hindu, Christianity, and Buddhism.
Although there is a large variety of cultures and religions, the Petronas Towers' design was actually influenced by the Muslim symbol of Rub el Hizb as a homage and remembrance of the predominantly Islamic country. Working three weeks in this busy city, I almost would forget the Islamic influence in KL until I heard the sound of the prayer horns ring through the city streets and as sun sets, the smell of foods as people sit in restaurants breaking Ramadan fast (also a Islamic tradition), and visually by looking up at these twin towers. So going up the towers would be significant; me inside the most representative building of Malaysia... Fortunately, I did not go up!
There is a huge mall and park surrounding the Petronas Towers, Suria KLCC Mall and KLCC Park. One of our free afternoons, Petter, Dhiaa, and I went to go explore the KLCC Park. There were many places for exercise, relaxing, a plethora of fountains, animals, rivers, and most importantly many places to admire the towers. Don't let the humid, sticky weather prevent you from going to the KLCC Park. To be honest, it was so muggy and sticky outside, I almost didn't even go, but was so glad that I did. I actually wished I brought my running sneakers with me!
Through the KLCC Park and right beneath the towers is the Suria KLCC Mall which blows any of the Galleria Malls out of the water. People who have visited any of the Texas Galleria Malls should know exactly how big that could be! The amount of malls and options available for shopping is ridiculous and almost unnecessary. You can buy whatever your heart wants in any of the shopping ares within KL. There are apparently 28 malls within KL city limits and during my three weeks there, I only went to 5 malls, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Central Night Market on Jalan Petaling was somewhere that I wished I explored more on the shopping side. There were so many little family owned stores with both touristy and non-touristy gifts. Hand carved wooden monkey and turtle figurines, magnets and chocolates in the shape of Petronas Towers, Malaysian candies, knock off name brand bags, cheap jewelry, silk scarves, and more!
Next on my list of three was to go see the Batu Caves, a place of worship for Hindu's inside of a cave! HOW COOL IS THAT. SO COOL!!! No one wanted to come with me, so I took a taxi alone for about 30RM (about 9USD) one way. (SIDENOTE: As a female, alone, this is not something that I would recommend for other solo female travelers. Honestly, I never felt like I was in danger riding a taxi by myself, but apparently Kuala Lumpur is extremely dangerous for women as there are unusually high kidnappings and raping of women. So if you're a lady, please take someone with you!). The taxi driver dropped me off right at the front gate off the highway so I had to walk a bit to get to the main entrance where I encountered colorful temples decorated with various Hindu gods, a ginormous gold Murugan Statue, and a very steep 272 step stairway decorated in the three primary colors. This climb is not easy for those who do not exercise on a daily basis because it is very steep and high. It is definitely doable, especially with the many stops along the way to watch the monkeys. Yes, I said it. There are MONKEYS! They are quite funny creatures as they do not give a SHIT about who or what is around them. They just do their own thing, picking butts and eating leftovers.
Entering into the limestone formation cave, there is a cave passage way ending with the largest cave. This cave has an opening at the top with rays of light hitting the space in such a dramatic way that even though you are not religious, you will definitely feel moved. Although not spiritually, this space provoked me; one dramatic space of light at the end of the path of darkness... literally a light at the end of the tunnel... It was a enlightening feeling because this space literally and metaphorically showed me hope at the end of darkness. The only thing I wish was not apart of the experience was the rubbish that scattered literally everywhere throughout the whole compound inside and out of the caves. Also the little shops filled with cheap and cheesy touristy keychains and knick knacks that lit up in flashy colors did not add anything to the caves, spiritually. It almost actually made me feel turned off to even come back! It was such a shame to see these little stores inside a place of worship! The disrespect the rubbish and these little stores appalled me. I will probably never visit the Batu Caves again, but it was definitely something I was glad to experience at least once in my life, a check off the list!
One touristy thing in KL I missed out on is to go up to the sky bridge at the Petronas Towers. To be honest, I actually liked to soak it up and appreciate the view and see how these towers fit in from afar. For me, seeing from afar, you can truly see the significance and its importance as apart of KL sky line. At my home away from home at the Prince Hotel, I was somehow upgraded to the 23rd floor (VIP status ;) ) and had the best spot in the city (and A/C free of charge!). Overall, I am pretty proud of the things I was able to see and experience here. I did two out of the three things that I initially wanted to do while visiting KL, granted they were all "touristy" things. These "things to do" and the local places were really what made KL for me.
My three weeks in KL exploring the hawker stands to fine dining options, Louis Vuitton knockoffs from China street shopping to the high end shop options, the night life and bars, the parks, and architecture was just a small taste of the federal capital of Malaysia. I learned so much from my training course for work and even made new work colleagues that I could truly call my new friends. I suffered through lip infection with a terrible experience of expired canker sore medicine (Bonjelo), gastritis stomach inflammation from food poisoning, an awkward and shady shot-in-my-butt experience at the Glenn Eagles Medical center, but I have thoroughly enjoyed and survived the developing KL.