Everywhere else that I’ve been during my travels, I’ve pretty much loved straight away. I mean, the second I saw that opera house glittering away in Sydney, I knew we were meant to be, in spite of the jet lag and the joys of gastroenteritis.
Kuala Lumpur wasn’t like that. My first experience of the Petronas Towers was underwhelming, as it was grey, rainy, and I’d spent an hour trying to find the bloody things (harder than you’d think). And then there was the shopping centres everywhere. Now, I love to shop as much as the next person, but we’re talking ten storey beasts of shopping centres aimed at people with ten times more spending money than I had. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was an ant. Now, I hate to use the term ‘bustling metropolis’, because cliche much, but I basically felt like an ant in fisherman pants amongst a load of other ants wearing Gucci/business suits. In that artificial light, I felt like I could’ve been anywhere, particularly as I saw a pair of old ladies scuttle past Marks and Spencer’s, clutching a meal deal, chatting about this ‘terrible weather’.
But then, after spending the first day/night wondering why on earth I hadn’t just gone to Bali and laid on a beach for five days, I ventured out of the hostel at night. And I realised that Kuala Lumpur comes into its own at night (resulting in lay ins until 11 for next four days). I’m not sure whether Kuala Lumpurians just don’t do mornings or it’s a ‘massive city thing’ but I fell in love with this crazy capital at night. With everything lit up, the city truly became a magical place, where anything is possible. I mean, I got the Naked 2 palette for £5 (knock-off), got called ‘pretty lady’ about a million times (followed by ‘you need a new handbag?’), and even got asked out for a drink, twice (by a club promoter looking to fill his bar). Truly a place of dreams… And that was only Chinatown.
It’s a strange city where the Islamic call to prayer can be heard whilst ‘happy ending’ massages are so readily available. But I feel like this is part of its appeal (not the happy endings, but the eccentricity of the place). Without a doubt, the most jaw dropping moment of the trip was the Batu caves, a massive temple carved into a cave for some reason that one day I’ll research. It’s pretty incredible, seeing such a holy place, and looking back to see Lord Murugan (a Hindu deity, apparently) keeping an eye on KL, but in typical KL style, despite it being such a holy place that all knees and shoulders have to be covered up, once you get to the top, you can buy an ice cream and a selfie stick. Just to, y’know, take in the holiness.
Despite my initial ‘meh’ness towards the city, I’m leaving today feeling pretty inspired by the place. I feel like, whilst the city is a concrete jungle by default, it’s a jungle with some cool stuff. Like the bird park, where I spent an afternoon watching a chick hatch from an egg, or Berjaya Times Square, a shopping centre complete with its own Central Park and theme park. Or Central Market, where I stumbled across an impromptu street dance show, and found a crazy display of street art. In short, KL has reminded me why travel is so important, and how lucky I am to be able to do it ❤️