In life, we encounter many firsts. First steps, first words, first loves, first everything. This is about my first trip outside the Philippines. Destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Last June 2011 marked the first time my passport was stamped. I hitched the trip with Kaye and her office mates to Kuala Lumpur, home of the tallest twin towers in the world, the Petronas Towers. I was particularly excited about the trip since I was the only one who didn’t have prior overseas experience (spell noob).
We boarded a Davao-Manila flight during the afternoon and had the Manila-Kuala Lumpur flight at night-time. The flight lasted over 3 hours and went fairly smoothly. We arrived at KLIA budget terminal (LCCT) at around 1:30AM and immediately rode the bus to KL Sentral. The airport is far from the city center as the bus ride took an hour. From KL Sentral, we took a cab to Swiss Inn, our home for the duration of the trip.Tip: You may want to exchange for enough Malaysian Ringgit (for the bus and cab fare) at the airport since KL Sentral isn’t 24 hours operational. However, money changers along Chinatown or Bukit Bintang offer the best rates.
Swiss Inn is located at Jalan Sultan beside the famous Chinatown bazaar. The street is surrounded by food stalls and convenience stores so location is top-notch. Rooms are also spacious and provide decent amenities (cable TV, wi-fi, etc.), not to mention the clean bathroom. The hotel offers buffet breakfast (rice, bread, viands, pasta, etc.) which is a really good value, especially since you need much energy touring during the day. Our rooms were also reasonably priced, I might add (booked via asiarooms.com).
For the first day, we decided to take the Hop-on Hop-off (Ho-Ho) tour. The tour will take you to more than 20 popular spots in the city for an affordable price. The bus tour privileges last a full day, so you can hop on and off to any of their buses on designated drop points. Luckily, fronting the hotel is one of the drop off points. Tip: For complete tour details and ticket prices, check out http://www.myhoponhopoff.com.
Our first stop was the Istana Negara (National Palace). This is sort of their Malacanang counterpart, where the Malaysian monarchs live. Nothing much to see here except the gates and the horse-riding security personnel guarding the premises.
Next, we passed by Little India. The place is filled with colorful monuments and landmarks which are very depicting of the Hindu culture.
Then we dropped by the KL Sentral to get lunch since we were getting a little hungry. KL Sentral is an integrated transport terminal where the trains, MRTs and buses can be found. There are also various fast foods, convenience stores, shopping boutiques and money changers around and this proved to be very convenient especially for first-time tourists.
Next up is Kuala Lumpur National Museum which could only mean one thing: picture-taking!
We passed by the Sultan Abdul Samad building which is a strip of Islamic-inspired structures. Apologies for the picture quality. A small rain occurred that afternoon which caused the water smudges on the windows. The shots were taken from inside the bus, thus the photo imperfections. Pesky rain.
Another spot where the bus stopped for picture-taking is Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) which is a very vast park. It’s also very well maintained as the ground was filled with lush green grass.
Here we headed to see the KL Tower, one of the tallest structures in the city. The tower is situated on top of a hill, giving it extra height overlooking the city.
We didn’t drop by KLCC that day (where the Petronas Towers are located) since we were saving the date for next day. Instead, Kaye and I decided to split with the group and stroll around Bukit Bintang, which is one of the busiest places in KL. It’s the shopping hub of the city after all.
We had dinner at the Starbucks near the inn as I figured that a good piece of souvenir from Malaysia would be a Kuala Lumpur Starbucks tumbler. We also strolled at Chinatown for a while then went on to sleep to end a very tiring yet productive day.
For Part 2 of our KL wanders (Genting Highlands and Petronas Twin Towers), click HERE.