Ten days into our trip we headed to Kuala Lumpur, the cultural, financial, and economic center of Malaysia. From first glance, KL is pulsing with diversity. The most colorful people walk the streets hailing from countries near and far, each traveller rugged in their own unique way. The streets are covered in grit, the alleyways adorned in urban graffiti, and the echoing chants of the Islamic call to prayer bounce off buildings in the distance.
With a population mostly made up of Malays, Chinese, and Indians, the city held our attention with tasty food, crowded markets, and an interesting blend of colonial, Asian, and Malay-Islamic architecture. So far, we’ve made a point to explore the public transportation systems of each new place for fun and pinching pennies. KL was nothing like Hong Kong or Singapore, and not in a good way. Between the light rail, rapid transit, monorail, and commuter rail our heads were spinning with confusion and frustration. Maps showed the rails interconnected, but in truth we had to walk out of a station, cross a street, and turn a corner, in order to board the next line. Not a user-friendly system!
One of KL’s claims to fame are the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin buildings ever built. At 1, 483 feet these beauties glow in the night sky like giant crystals, resembling Islamic art motifs. Tickets to the top sell out quick so we arched our necks to view them from the ground.
Travel fatigue caught up to us in KL. The blazing heat, frequent transport, and accommodation turn-over converted into some good afternoon naps in our cozy hostel. Being back in a somewhat dirty city with litter on the sidewalks, crowds to maneuver, and puddles to step over probably exhausted us too. Compared to Singapore (our last reference point), KL has a lot of character: a surprising smorgasbord of people and ethnicities, an urban flow of traffic and pollution, and a delicious and budget-friendly selection of local eats.
Our RATINGS: (out of 10)
- Transportation 5 (overcomplicated and a headache to navigate)
- Weather 7 (hot sunshine, occasional rainfall. bad hair days)
- English Proficiency 8 (easy to communicate. adopted unofficial language)
- Cleanliness 4 (cracking sidewalks, garbage, and stinky smells)
- City Pulse 7 (dedicated religious practices & high-tech architecture)