Thailand Fling - Part 10... Bright Lights, Big City
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia January 2023
Our ears popped as we were whizzed up to the 43rd floor of our apartment complex in a matter of seconds. It had been over a decade since I last visited Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur and I was astonished at the masses of high-rise developments that had sprung up everywhere.
We soon discovered that many of these housed huge (and I mean HUGE!) shopping malls, and we promptly got hopelessly lost in the one adjacent to our building – and we only went out to get a pint of milk!
There were massive, and quite impressive Chinese New Year displays on every level – this is celebrated more than Christmas out here – and considering that there seemed to be a giant mall on every corner, they were packed to the rafters with shoppers. It appeared that the Global recession hadn’t reached this Asian outpost.
The complexes were linked by a series of bridges so that you could flow seamlessly from one to the next without getting hot or wet, and we found ourselves in the colossal Berjaya Mall, which incredibly contained an indoor theme park compete with a miniature train and even a roller coaster!
Although we love a white-knuckle ride, we decided that our trip to the top of the Petronas twin towers would be enough excitement for one day. The last time I visited KL I missed the opportunity to visit these iconic skyscrapers due to bad planning on my behalf (we were there on the one day they were closed!), so I was quite excited as we entered the lift which would shoot us up to the observation deck on the 83rd floor.
Famously featured in the film “Entrapment” starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery, they were at the time the tallest towers in the world. They retain the record of the highest “twin towers” and we were suitably impressed with the views from the double decked skybridge which spans them. I was slightly perturbed however, to discover that the bridge isn’t actually attached to the main structure but is designed to slide in and out in case of high winds!
The following morning we set off by coach to the Genting Highlands (what is it with Malaysians and “heights”??), an hour outside of the city. Billed as a kind of Las Vegas in the hills, the weather was certainly nothing like Nevada, as the rain and clouds set in, making the outdoor theme park pretty uninviting as we sailed over it on the cable car. The relatively modern Buddhist Chin Swee temple on the way up was nowhere near as impressive as the other cave temples we had visited and was swarming with visitors taking selfies amongst the gaudy figurines. Although, at 4600ft above sea level it made our ears pop, if not our eyes, and sadly the reputed views over the Titiwanga Mountains were all but obliterated by the low cloud.
The Genting Skyworld resort was home to yet another huge shopping complex and also the Skytropolis indoor theme park as well as multiple hotels and a casino. It was buzzing with people still celebrating the Chinese New Year, but after an hour or so of wandering around this mega complex, we decided it was all too overwhelming, and took the bus back to KL.
Yearning for a bit of culture the next day, we visited the ILHAM contemporary art gallery and spent an agreeable hour or so appraising the thought-provoking exhibits.
The following morning a strange light appeared in the sky…we’d almost forgotten what the sun looked like! Lounging by our 33rd floor infinity pool, I had a pleasant couple of hours reading my book whilst taking in the city skyline.
One of the final stops on our “to do” list was Merdeka Square, the historic site where Malaysia declared its independence, and the famous Petaling Street Night Market in Chinatown. But as we set off the heavens opened and we were treated to another deluge. Opting to head straight to the market as it was partially under cover, we dodged around the stall holders desperately emptying their canopies of rain water and managed to pick up a couple of bargains after the obligatory haggling. We then made a dash to the wonderful “art deco” old Central Market which now contained arts, craft and antique shops and stalls.
The rain gradually eased off, so we took a chance and crossed the Klang River to watch the excellent “River of Life” light show along the waterfront. This ambitious project turned what was a polluted waterway into a vibrant and inviting part of town, with street art, bridges and wonderfully lit heritage buildings leading to the famous square. A better-than-expected end to our visit to this lively multi-cultural capital city.
Next Stop: East meets West
More photos: WARNING: Anyone who suffers from vertigo may want to skip some of these images!