Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Is north of Singapore and less than an hour’s flight away. Ideal for a short break and visiting our wonderful friends.
Kuala Lumpur means “muddy confluence” in Malay and began as a small town in the confluence of the rivers Klang and Gombak rivers. KL, as it is affectionately known, is Malaysia cosmopolitan capital city with a road and flyover network to give even the most seasoned of travellers a challenge. It’s intertwined with 70 shopping malls, business buildings, apartment blocks and historic architecture in its 94 square miles. It has a population of 1.8 million and a motto of ‘Maju Dan Makmur’ meaning ‘Prosper and Progress’.
we enjoyed a relaxing day at the Suria KLCC 6 storey shopping mall with the KLCC park garden walk with a view of the Petronas Towers. The girls donned their swimmies to splash around in the water play area but security told them to also cover up in tops (which we didn’t have) and thus ended the brief sojourn in the water. Security is everywhere in the park. Lying down to read a book isn’t allowed and adults relaxing and taking calls in the children’s area also isn’t allowed. Strict age restrictions are enforced for the play equipment. Definitely a fun sponge atmosphere. It’s pretty enough with Gardens, fountains and play equipment but the security presence was somewhat off putting.
Heritage Tour of the historic heart of KL by Iain.
We started in Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka) with the Mughal style buildings with domes, minarets and arches surrounding the perfectly manicured lawn in the centre. The colonial birthplace of cricket in KL apparently. The mock Tudor Royal Selangor Club is really colonial and has a Long Bar.
There is a huge flagpole with a massive Malay flag flying, along with many other smaller flagpoles carrying the Malay flag as well. The flagpole was at one time the tallest in the world at 95m (312 feet). It looks quite impressive.
The Sultan Abdul Samad building was once the colonial administration centre and later the High Court. The style is ‘neo- Saracenic’ with three Mughal style copper domes. The clock tower is the Malay equivalent to the U.K.’s Big Ben Clock Tower in London and is used to usher in New Year’s Day and Independence Day.The building is now used by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture and the National Textile Museum.
We walked through the Living River area and over the humped backed bridge passing the former sessions and Magistrates courts to the Jamek Mosque. It has an onion shaped dome and sits on a piece of land where the two rivers meet. It was built in 1909 and is an oasis of calm outside encouraging quiet contemplation and reflection.
We walked through the Old Market Square which was frankly quite unimpressive and in need of some investment. There is an Art Deco small clock ‘tower’ built in 1937 to mark King George VI’s coronation. When we walked through there were a lot of men hanging around shop doorways and a few carrying large TVs. It wasn’t inviting so we moved on to Central Market. This is a covered building with a myriad of small stalls selling handicrafts, carvings, souvenirs, clothes. It was wonderful to walk around and look at all the beautiful and colourful items displayed. The girls had henna art done and I bought a handmade dream catcher from the stall opposite – which had so many it was difficult to actually stand in the shop! Amazing work on display. The flooring of this market was magnificent too – all old tiles.
From there we walked to Petaling Street for the Bazaar. It was just setting up for the evening trade when we were walking through and the jumble of stalls selling everything from fake goods and street snacks to mobile phone accessories and souvenirs. It was difficult to navigate through without many shoppers so I can’t imagine the bustle when it’s peak hours for tourist shopping.
The buildings behind the stalls showed the history of the area in the dilapidated architecture.
From here we walked past the old KL railway station, which has been modernised with walkways, to the Dayabumi Complex. This was the city’s first steel framed skyscraper and it is magnificent. It is 35 storeys high and has Islamic geometric motifs, arches and fretwork. It was completed in 1984 and houses the General Post Office – can you imagine such a magnificent building in the UK being used by the Royal Mail?!
The morning was a trip to the Batu Caves and temple which are 8km north of KL in limestone hills. As we approached, the enormous gold statue of lord Murugan comes into view. It’s 43m high and the largest of the kind in the world.
We stopped at the base of the hill and ate breakfast of rotis at the cafe. Super cheap and tasty.
We then climbed the coloured steps, weaving between the monkeys, to the cave temple. There are a variety of temples in the caves to various deities. The main temple cave is 272 steps from the base which has the shrine dedicated to lord Murugan.
The Batu Caves were ‘discovered’ by American naturalist William Hornaday. Hindus decided the caves were a holy site for Lord Murugan and began to make pilgrimages there. The Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple was officially established in 1891. Up to 800,000 Hindus gather annually at the caves for the Thaipusam festival.
The heat and humidity was quite something so we returned to base for a shower, swim and change.
In the afternoon we headed out for Afternoon Tea at The Tea Lounge in the Majestic Hotel. I was provided with a dairy free option so I was able to enjoy an afternoon tea for the first time in years. I was so happy and it was delicious.
This morning we drive to Sungai Lepoh Falls for a hike. It was tough going at the base in slippery mud and only a pair of Sketchers to help me out. About ¼ of the way up the mosquitoes attacked with a vengeance and the girls decided enough was enough and headed back down whilst the boys finished the climb. We enjoyed swimming in the river and lazing in a cabin instead.
In the afternoon we headed out to the Petronas Twin Towers, which were the world’s largest buildings from 1998-2003. It’s a marvel of steel, glass and concrete with breathtaking views across KL.
Security checks are tight and only small handbags are allowed as they cram you into the lifts, body to body, to move people up and down as quickly as possible. I even had to leave my metal straws with security. I’ve no idea what they thought I could have done with those.
The first stop in the lifts is to the link bridge between the two towers. There’s an allotted 10 mins to wander here and take pictures. Then we are gathered ( by coloured lanyard) back to the lifts to be taken to the top. After a short introduction we are able to wander around for about 20 mins taking pictures from all vantage points. We are then herded back to the lifts to depart back to ground and exit via the gift shop.
We headed to the gardens and ate outside in the Mama San restaurant whilst watching the music and light show in the fountains. A lovely end to our holiday in KL.