Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2016Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, founded in 1857 at the confluence of two rivers for Tin mining (Tin? Wow... not even used anymore, eh?). Chinese prospectors built it up to a thriving community; apparently it was valuable tin. In 1874, the Brits took control, as was the style of the Empire. Kuala Lumpur grew and became the capital of Malaysia. Train service cemented the population growth. Ravaged in WW2 by the Japanese, it was still a British holding until 1957. Various troubles after that brought the Brits back, but now it's a massively huge and wealthy city in a very interesting dual system Muslim country.
The ArrivalWait, how did I get here? Oh right. I flew first class into Hong Kong then business class to Kuala Lumpur, called KL by EVERYONE within like 4000 miles of the area. (Only biz class, omg...). Then when I arrived, my good friend Chris picked me up in his truck and drove me the surprisingly far distance from the airport to downtown where my hotel was. (Yes, another JW Marriott; I know shocking, right?)
Traffic in the city was miserable. So much congestion. Chris dropped me off, and I was very thankful. He's a pretty good guy.
The CitySo, I stayed right in the center, and man it's built up, modern and upscale. A very expensive mall called Pavilion was right across the street. The Ritz Carlton was just half a block away. Nice area. Chris suggested I try a bar a few blocks away called the Beach Club. He said he saw a lot of foreigners in it all the time.
I checked in, got settled in my room, dressed up and then proceeded to walk over to this bar.
MISTAKE! It was full of foreigners because it was also full of Asian prostitutes. Say what you will, but that's just not my thing. Drinks were reasonable, but I wasn't interested in the rest, so back to the hotel it was. (I should have known when the bouncer tried to sell me Viagra. Lesson learned).
I even had one day where, in the morning, I was in a jungle in Cambodia, and that night I was dressed to the nines as a complete gentleman heading to a club in KL. This, is what I feel it means to be jetset.
Batu CavesNorth of the city is a Limestone Promontory called Batu Caves, a complex of natural caves, that has become pretty much the top pilgrimage spot for Hinduism outside of India. It's decorated in the very typical colorful style of Hindu shrines, and also contains various other caves that are natural or modified.
To honor Lord Murugan, part of the three-god pillars of Hinduism, it's understandably very holy to Hindus. A long climb up the stairs to the cave, covered in bastard monkeys (see Bali trip for my lack of love for these guys). The stairs are steep, long, and part of a sacrifice all pilgrims make to honor the gods. You can also help by bringing up building materials to the top in buckets for bonus kharma.
China TownWest of downtown is Chinatown, and it's been there since the inception of the city. They have everything Chinese. Tea, knock-off goods, prostitutes (I KNOW wtf? There are a lot of them for a Muslim country!??!), food, silks. It's a visual and pocketbook delight. In the markets, always HAGGLE!!! You can save 50%, easy!
Other AreasThe city is massive. On this trip, my friend Chris and my friend Teck (from Singapore) all met up and pregamed like MAD in my room before we went off to Club Zouk, a very busy and fun night club.
The botanical gardens are super nice, but I could only take a few shots before some kind of gnat bug was feasting upon me, and I had to GTFO.
SummaryKuala Lumpur is a very young city in the grand scheme of things, but it's vibrant. The two legal systems (Muslim and everyone else) works fairly well. The laws for non-Muslims are very reasonable. A lot is permissible. There is SO much I failed to see despite my many visits here.
Tips: Public transport is pretty easy to use, and it goes enough places to be useful. From KL to the airport is a haul, and if you have early morning flights, you will probably have to take a cab. Hotels downtown are very reasonable and have that Asia level of service that blows your mind. I have visited many times, and will continue to do so.