Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I’ve wanted to visit Kuala Lumpur for as long as I can remember. I never really had any reasons why, I think I liked the name when I was a kid and the desire stuck around all these years. After spending a month in Indonesia learning Bahasa Indonesia, I was excited to head north to Malaysia to see the city with the cool name and practice my Bahasa. I asked some locals in Bahasa where I should visitand they recommended I visit four places – Taman Tasik Perdana also known as the Lake Gardens, China Town, Batu Caves, and the Petronas Towers. After this I accidentally offended these new friends. The Malaysians are very proud of their country and their language and pride themselves on not being Indonesian. I was speaking my Bahasa Indonesia with them (since the spoken languages are effectively 95% identical and becoming more similar by the year) and one of them asked when I was going to learn Malaysian. I told them in Indonesian that I spent the past month learning Indonesian and that because of that Malaysian should be easy. While I figured out how to say “So I will be learning it soon” my new friends seemed very offended and started swearing at me and stopped talking to me. Confused, I asked my Indonesian friend Astri who used to live in Malaysia what the heck I said wrong. It turns out the Indonesian word for “easy” is slang for “pedestrian” or “low class” in Malaysian, and I had just told them that I learned Indonesian (which they consider low class) and subsequently told them that Malaysian was the low class one. No wonder my new friends got so mad at me… and here I was trying to be nice :/

Taman Tasik Perdana

It is the oldest park in Kuala Lumpur, massive, and very popular. The massive park was full of joggers, lakes, rivers, stunning nymphaea, exotic water birds, playgrounds full of ethnically diverse children, and beautiful smaller parks: orchid gardens, butterfly parks, bird parks, and more. Many areas were completely devoid of people and I often felt like I was walking through a game of Myst.

Go forward three times to reach the road.

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Turn the wheel three times to the right to open the grate.

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Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

Camera in hand and seeking shade I stumbled into the Kuala Lumpur bird park – the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary.

Stunning plumage on these Western Crowned Pigeons.

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Peacocks are not to be messed with…

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An impossibly red bird stands proudly in the trees.

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Oh evolution, you so crazy.

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I even made a few new friends with some hornbills!

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Chinatown

The second place my new Malaysian friends recommended was Chinatown. Naturally, I skipped most of the pirated DVDs, leather wallets, tourist shirts and made my way to the local street food.

I found a bunch of delicious of meats, seafoods, and vegetables on skewers but the menu totally confused me:

Kangkong (kangkung in indonesian is morning glory / water spinach). So far so good.
Toothpick. Do they mean a skewer?
Red colour, no colour, pink colour, black colour, blue colour, green colour… are these foods?
Duck leg roll. Aha, finally, food I recognize! Duck leg!

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Mmmm okra.

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Tasty giant prawns for the BBQ.

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A local prepares the rice portion of clay pot rice chicken, a favorite in KL.

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The chicken is getting ready to be added to the clay pots.

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Roasted chestnuts are a common sight in Southeast Asia but these loud clanky constantly smoking machines smell like burning tar. Not appetizing at all.

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On my way out of china town I caught a glimpse of some very real flowers dyed very unnatural colors.

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I met up with some friends in Chinatown that I met back in Indonesia, our paths just happened to be crossing. I learned that they had never had Indian food in their lives so I found a good Northern Indian restaurant and introduced them to naan, bindhi, paneer, masala, chai, and many other wondrous joys of Indian food. In exchange they taught me a few more Swedish words.

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Petronas Towers

No trip to Kuala Lumpur is complete without visiting the Petronas towers. Little did I know that there were huge pools, parks, and playgrounds in front of them! These cute muslim girls were playing in the pools in their head-to-toe swim suits.

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These bathing suits don’t look too comfortable but the girls were having a blast.

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Much of my trip was rainy and I had only a single cloudy night to photograph the towers themselves. Security kept harassing me before I could even set up my tripod but I managed to grab this shot hand held while it was drizzling.

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Petronas also has huge malls in the base of it, and the escalators could be truly intimidating at times.

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Batu Caves

Yes, I visited the caves but didn’t post any photos from inside the caves. So sue me, the interior was lit up horribly with artificial lighting.

This was the entrance to the famous Batu Caves – a sacred Hindu site in the limestone hills outside of Kuala Lumpur. Stay classy, Kuala Lumpur tourism board…

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I had no guides here and I admit I don’t know much about Hindu deities and the like. This sea-green man was goatseing™ his chest to reveal two more figures.

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Amazing, why doesn’t my religion have sword wielding lion horse headed gods?

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The almighty Ron Jeremy with his massive snake.

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And finally the entrance to Batu Caves. The hike up had most people stopping and panting to catch their breath. You can really see how massive this statue is when next to the people on the stairs. I ate lunch at an amazing indian street food restaurant in the patio here and spent half an hour gawking at the sheer size of this thing.

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Once in the caves there was a religious ceremony being put on… possibly for the sole benefit of tourists.

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A cute Indian girl prays with her mother.

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Another man taking part in the ceremony. He wasn’t just giving me this face, he was making this face the entire time.

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On my way out of the cave I was greeted by dozens of Cynomolgus Monkeys. This one stole my pork bun from me then burned his mouth on it. That’s what you get, monkey!

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A fight breaks out nearby and a smaller monkey looks surprised…

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A monkey reaches out to his mother, just outside of the frame.

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Fun monkey-related fact. I saw the “orangutan” spelled “Orang Hutan” on a sign in Malaysia and my brain read it as “Forest Person” since I had just picked up a bunch of Bahasa. Orang is person and hutan is forest. I chuckled to myself at the coincidence before doing a double take and realizing that orangutans are likely from this region of the world. A later wikipedia search confirmed it! The more you know…

Koc Wanita

I took the monorail and subways everywhere and was a bit upset when I saw Koc Wanita (coach for ladies). Interesting “wanita” sounds a lot like “juanita” in spanish and both mean the same thing. Probably a portuguese language influence.

It turns out that the center car of most subways are for women only. I thought it was because the Muslim men wanted to keep the women in a separate car and felt bad about the sexually oppressive behavior. I asked some of my local Indonesian and Malaysian Muslim friends and they said the opposite was true – the women requested the coaches because the men wouldn’t stop verbally and physically sexually harassing them and they wanted a place where they could ride in peace.

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Kuala Lumpur was fun but definitely not a highlight of my trip. The park was spectacular and I could spend days reading books, jogging, and exploring the butterfly, orchid, bird, and other parks within. On the other hand, the food, culture, people, and city were unfortunately unmemorable. Perhaps I’m just spoiled by my month in Bali?