Less than two weeks ago we were in Bangkok. We had decided to go for some beach time in Koh Samui. We looked at prices the day before we would depart, and at the last minute we decided on Krabi instead. So there we went.
We had two weeks at this point before we had to leave Thailand to renew our visa so that we could return for another month. We booked a week in Krabi with the idea that we would go to Koh Lanta for our last week. Koh Lanta is also Thailand. Again we changed our minds. We would just leave the country a week sooner than we had to.The plan was to go to Loas.
Again we waited until the night before to book a flight or a room. As we were searching flights we changed our minds.
Now somehow we are in Kuala Lumpur. What?!!!!
Never it my wildest dreams would I expect to be in one of the cities my father used to mention all the time when I was younger. I never wanted to hear his travel stories. Now I find myself in a new Kuala Lumpur that he never saw. A modern city full of malls, skyscrapers, highways and sky trains.
Walking among these buildings looking up to the top makes me feel dizzy. Apparently the buildings were strategically built and placed in a way so that the wind can travel through and keep things from feeling too intensely hot. This is the equator. It is still fairly hot, between 30 and 35 celcius. But I have to say, it feels the most comfortable of all the tropical places we've been in the last while.
My father was here before I was born. In fact he may have been here during or shortly after the country gained independence from Britain. He passed away twenty years ago so I can't asked him what I should have when he was alive.
I just want to say kids that if your parents tell you boring stories, take note so you don't regret it someday.
When I walk around and see some of the older buildings I just wonder if my father once walked here and saw the same buildings that would have looked newer at the time.
The country seems to be one of the most diverse Asian countries in world. I have never really thought about what Malaysians are like because you just don't meet many in Canada. Actually I don't recall any.
When you look at the crowds of people you see a mix of Chinese,Indian and I suppose the mix of indigenous and several other Asians. I really don't know but find it interesting. Perhaps there are some Thai people as well. There are several Thai restaurants here and the food is often a fusion of several Asian cuisines.
There are so many food choices that I wish I could have ten stomachs and just eat my way through the week.
The first evening here we were very tired from the trip to Kuala Lumpur and the travel from the airport. The International airport is around one hour by taxi. There are trains and buses that are less expensive but not worth the hassle if you have never been to Malaysia before.
When we got to our apartment we dropped our things and went to search for food as we hadn't eaten much all day.
Fortunately there was a night food court called Jalan Alor around the corner with all kinds of vendors and tons of restaurants with people in front competing to get customers in. They all assured us they had plenty of vegan options so we were very happy about that. We walked up and down trying to decide. Finally we went to a Thai restaurant which is funny since we just arrived from Thailand. We just chose a random place based on who tried the hardest.
We may have liked the food here more than the last place in Thailand where we had Thai food.
They assured us that the curry and the Papaya salad was free of fish sauce or oyster sauce.
It was really delicious. Of course after not eating all day, anything may have been tasty.
If I were dropped in this city without knowing where I was, I wouldn't really be able to guess what country it was. I may look around and wonder if I was in Bangkok.
I may turn the corner and see something and wonder if I was in India.
Near China town is a beautiful,colorful,ornate and epic Hindu temple called Mahamariamman Temple. The construction began around 1873.
It was founded by Tamils who migrated from South India to work building railways and in rubber plantations.
The china town is at Petaling Street and the whole area is bustling with market vendors trying to sell food, clothing,trinkets,scarves,shoes and much more.
There are only certain areas that have street vendors unlike in Bangkok where they are spread throughout the city.
I tried hot roasted chestnuts roasted in coffee beans. They were so good but honestly I didn't get a coffee taste. Than again, I'm not a roasted chestnut connoisseur.
Certain fruits like the dark rambutan are out of this world. The mangosteens are the best. They are so sweet and juicy it's unbelievable.I don't know how I can live without them when I return to Canada.
There is such a large Chinese community that if you didn't know where you were you just may think you were in China.
There appears to be a Middle east community here as well which adds variety to all of the wonderful food choices.
The main languages spoken here include Malay, English, and Manderin. There are probably many other languages and dialects as well.
The official religion is Muslim but there are also Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.
I was surprised at how many people speak English. That must be from when they were colonized by the British.
As vegans we were pleasantly surprised to see a number of vegetarian restaurants which have mostly vegan dishes. There are even vegan restaurants here. I didn't expect this at all but I was quite wrong.
The food here is very inexpensive not only in restaurants but also in the grocery stores. Over all I find that it is slightly less expensive than in Thailand without searching for good prices. The alcohol and wine prices are high, but the local beer is reasonable. A local beer in a pub is an average of 4 or 5 dollars Canadian.
We found a pub near Chinatown that has a Reggae theme. The place was absolutely packed with people enjoying a cold beer and other cocktails. I guess it was happy hour which tends to last all day and night in many places.
We stopped there and took advantage of a beer special. We had Heineken instead of the local Tiger beer which I quite like.
Later on that night we splurge when we were seduced by a promotion on a bottle of wine that was discounted quite a bit. This restaurant had Middle Eastern cuisine so we got excited about eating falafels.
The wine deal turned out to be red wine only. We wanted white but by this time we were already sitting and the place had a good vibe. We sat on sofas on the outdoor patio.
The wine was awful but we drank most of it anyway.
We ordered our favorite dishes which are automatically vegan. There was hummus, tabouleh salad and falafels.
The hummus reminded me of the hummus we got in Egypt years ago when we went. It was not quite perfect. Not lemony or garlicky like a Lebanese restaurant back home that we used to go to. We still enjoyed it. They gave us plenty of flat breads to swipe it up with.
The falafels were shaped like doughnuts and covered in sesame seeds which was different and kind of cute. They were tasty but not as perfect as the ones we've had before.
The tabouleh salad which is a mix of parsely, tomatoes and bulgar, was really nice and lemony like we like it. It could have used more garlic but I know many people don't like too much garlic so they are probably playing it safe
The area that we are in is one of the most popular. It's called Bukit Bintang. It's close to Chinatown, Petaling Market, and the Petronas Twin Towers. We can walk to either one in less than thirty minutes.
The Petronas twin towers used to be known as the largest twin towers in the world but it has been beat by others since. They were completed in 1996.
This city is quite fascinating. I can compare it to Bangkok but it has it's own thing going. It's very clean. There is pretty much no garbage on the streets whatsoever. There are more street crossing lights than Bangkok and hardly any scooters which makes crossing the street much easier.
What surprises me though is that some of the places like some malls and restaurants still have squat toilets. Even the airport had them. It seems so modern, than you walk into the washroom and you're surprised that it's there.
A word of advice for new travelers. Always carry tissues and hand sanitizer. You may or may not have it in certain places that you would never suspect. And try not to flush the paper down. They don't have the same sewer systems like in Canada and United States.
The city comes to life in the evening with street performers and crowds out walking. The people are friendly and it feels generally very safe.
I really am happy that we made this last minute choice, although I really would have liked to see what Loas would be like.
There is so much to discover in this world.