After three months in Vietnam, it was time to do a visa run. Although Ryan and I have one-year visas, we still have to leave the country every ninety days. But no matter. This gives us the opportunity to do some more exploring. So we took a long weekend and went to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, has a population of nearly 2 million people. So yes, it’s a big city, but I found it to be clean and orderly and full of diversity. In addition, for the first time since arriving in Southeast Asia, the language barrier was nearly non-existent!
Public transit was pretty convenient and easy to figure out. We took the express train into the city from the airport and from then on, it was Uber time! Oh how we have missed Uber.
We stayed in a budget hotel which was still very nice (Ryan does good). It had friendly people working the desk 24/7 and a great view of the KL Tower. In addition, it was in a really good location. We could walk to many of the places we wanted to visit.
I noticed a few things about Malaysia right away that are different from Vietnam and other countries we’ve visited. Malaysia is the first predominantly Muslim country we’ve ever been to and I saw hijabs everywhere. Drivers drive on the right side of the road. Their money, the ringgit, might be the prettiest paper money I’ve ever seen. It’s so colorful! And lastly, while South America had stray dogs and Vietnam has rats, Kuala Lumpur has stray cats.
As far as I could tell, there was much to do in Kuala Lumpur. One of the big draws appeared to be shopping. There was mall after mall. Ryan waited patiently while I tried to locate a few more teaching materials for my new job with VIPKID. These included things like flashcards (in English) and hand puppets and rewards systems. I even found a Sylvanian Families village and I am happy to report that I was completely well behaved.
One of the malls we went to (Times Square) had an incredible indoor amusement park. We didn’t ride the roller coaster but we did play an escape game. We were locked in a room for 45 minutes and our goal was to get out. There were many different scenarios to choose from. In ours, we were art thieves trying to steal a valuable painting. We did terrible, but we had fun. In the allotted forty-five minutes we didn’t even make it into the third room. Instead, we got arrested.
Other shopping opportunities included Central Market and the Chinese Market which we visited at night. Here the stalls were crowded and bartering was expected. I’m not very good at bartering, although I did my best to bring one of merchants down on the price of a pink kimono. In the end I’m sure I paid much too much but I’m happy with the purchase regardless. It’s so pretty!
Aside from the shopping, we did a lot of eating. Malaysia is a cultural fusion of Chinese, Malay, and India. As you can imagine, there were some interesting meals to be found. My only challenge was finding food that wasn’t too spicy. However, with the language barrier no longer a concern, I did quite well and survived the entire trip without a single case of food burn!
We also enjoyed exploring. The area around the Patronas Twin Towers was one of my favorites. This area has not only a great mall, but it also has an enormous park and an aquarium. I got very excited about the aquarium and we were on our way to check it out, but then we saw the price. It was $79 ringgits per person (which is about $18 USD) and we were running low on cash. We decided that since we both liked Kuala Lumpur so much, we would definitely be returning and we could visit the aquarium on our next visit after we’ve been working for a few months. It looks like a great aquarium. Kids can even come in and sleep with the sharks.
We did however get to visit the bird park in a different part of the city. Here we got to see some beautiful birds, which is no surprise. What did surprise me were the pesky monkeys hanging around. After the bird park we walked around the Hibiscus and Orchid Gardens. Then it started to rain so we decided to return to explore the botanical garden on the next trip as well.
I especially liked visiting the Mini Zoo at the KL Tower. The animals seemed to be well cared for and the staff were incredible. They took the time to talk to us about almost every animal they had. We got to pet a lot of the animals and pose with them in photos for no additional cost. The baby wallaby was probably my favorite, or the bat-eared fox.
The Upside Down House was a lot of fun. It took us a while to get the hang of the pictures, especially since I drank too much of the upside down drink. I tend to get a little greedy with the sweet things. But just like Charlie in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I let out a few good belches and it helped matters considerably. This is the part when I tell you that yes, I am completely joking. (I would never belch in public.) 🙂
Before we left, we took another train out of the city to see the Batu Caves. We climbed a lot of steps and saw a pretty impressive cave that reminded me of Danang’s Marble Mountain. One important difference was that the Batu Caves had monkeys! I enjoyed watching them for a while before we climbed back down and boarded the train to take us back to the city. It was a nice half day adventure.
In summary, it was a great trip and I’m very excited to return and see the aquarium and the botanical garden and eat more of the interesting food. Maybe next time we’ll be able to stay for a few months. Here’s hoping. Malaysia, I’m a fan!