Madhavi Kulkarni is a vociferous reader. Her mind often toggles between thoughts on Harry Potter, CSI reruns and old Bollywood movies. She’s also sharing with us her thoughts on Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Read on for details.
Diamonds strewn on the ground – that was my first thought as I peered through the window on my flight from Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur. I was flying to meet hubby dearest after 9 months of separation. He was flying from New Zealand and we had decided to meet in Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is more commonly called, to have some time just for ourselves.
My first view of KL brought memories from my earlier trip here with my parents around 6 years back. At that time, the trip was just a well deserved break from work, so I had spent most of my time sleeping! I had made up my mind to enjoy this trip and see all that I had missed.
As I disembarked, I was struck by the simplicity and style of the KL International Airport (KLIA). With a satellite and main terminal, I had to wait a while to meet up with hubby, so I used this time to explore the airport completely, covering the duty free sections, lounges, immigration, luggage sections etc, also completing my formalities.
A reunion later, we made our way to the KLIA Express counter. This is a train connecting the airport to the central station at KL, called KL Sentral. This is a hub from where you can catch either the monorail or the Metro to different parts of KL. Every station has counters and kiosks for tokens, help and directions.
KL Sentral also has a KLIA counter where commuters can check in their baggage and collect their boarding passes, while flying out of KLIA. All they then need to do is catch the KLIA express without luggage to KLIA and go through the security check and then board their flight. We made use of this facility on the day of our return.
Our hotel, The Silka Maytower, was close to a station called Masjid Jamek, and we were soon in our hotel room. The people in KL are very helpful and helped us reach our hotel without losing our way. Our hotel was close to a major Indian shopping hub with lots of eateries, which was the reason we had chosen it. With a room on the 10th floor, we were guaranteed a room with a view, and we were not disappointed.
Over the next 7 days, we covered KL like a local, using local transport completely. KL is filled with malls selling everything from clothes to cosmetics to accessories to electronics. Low Yat Mall is a mall selling only electronics – all 7 floors of it! Sungei Wang Plaza is another famous mall for shopping. These malls are close to Metro and monorail stations, leading to good connectivity.
Places to see in KL
KL boasts of some famous landmarks, the most famous being the Petronas towers or the Twin Towers. The Petronas towers are offices belonging to Petronas, the oil and petroleum group. 2 tall towers joined by a bridge, these towers have come to signify KL. You can buy tickets on a first-come-first-serve basis to visit this bridge, but tickets generally run out quickly! The best view of these towers is at night, and we were lucky enough to see them in the rain, with clouds covering the top, making for a wonderful photo op! The towers lead to a mall attached to them, also housing the KL Aquaria, with varieties of animals, fish and marine life which are a big hit with kids and adults alike.
The Menara is a communications tower situated on Pineapple Hill (Bukit Nanas). It has a viewing gallery which gives a 360 degree view of the city. Further up the tower is a revolving restaurant (Atmosphere 360), where you can have a gourmet meal while gazing at the city.
The Freedom Park (Merdeka Square) is where the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag was hoisted for the first time on August 31, 1957. This square is where the annual Merdeka Parade (Independence Parade) is conducted each year. There is a legend that when the river Klang (which divides KL into 2) flooded, water entered the city’s banks and wet all the paper money inside the banks. Apparently, this money was spread out at Merdeka Square, weighed down with coins, and kept to dry under heavy security. This information was shared with us by our guide from the Kuala Lumpur Heritage walk, which is organized by volunteers who take us all across the city telling us about its history.
KL has a complex of 5 parks and 2 museums – the Butterfly Park, Hibiscus park, Orchid Park, Bird Park, Deer Park, Islamic Art Museum and the Police Museum. This complex is accessible by buses which enter the parks and the Metro, where you will need to walk in to the parks. Spread over a huge area, these parks are a great draw for nature, bird and animal lovers as well as kids. KL offers excellent connectivity to places like Batu Caves and Putrajaya, which are famous tourist spots. Connectivity is provided by train, bus and taxi.
Genting Highlands is a group of 5 hotels and 2 theme parks situated on a mountain top that is accessible by cable car.
Construction started in 1965 and ended in 1969 with the first, Highlands hotel (now called Theme Park Hotel) being completed. One of the hotels – First Word Hotel- has a record of having the largest hotel in the world from 2006 till 2008, with 6118 rooms. There is one indoor and one outdoor theme park for families. There is a Casino as well within the indoor theme park.
What to wear in KL
KL has weather that changes any minute of the day. Some essentials that you need – comfortable clothes (preferably cotton), water bottles, sunscreen, flats (you walk a lot if you take the Metro or Monorail!), and an umbrella – It rains any minute! (as we found to our dismay! We kept getting caught in downpours!)
Food and Drink
KL is heaven for meat lovers, with street food found everywhere. Vegetarians have a tougher time and they need to research and find out eateries offering vegetarian food.
You can cover all of KL completely within 3 to 4 days, making it a great getaway for a long weekend. Shopping and food complete the picture here! Have a great time and enjoy your journey to this modern city, the way we did!
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