On my way to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam my flight was in transit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As a matter of fact, quite some flights to South-East Asia actually come through the Kuala Lumpur International airport (or Bangkok). And as I had more than 10 hours to spend there, I thought of making optimal use of my precious time. Every minute counts then.
First and foremost, I feel a little bit ashamed to say this, but I had no clue where this wonderful city was located. I initially thought it was in Indonesia even (way too the east even)!
Never been to Asia before, and the first impression in Kuala Lumpur was a very good one. Afterwards Vietnam turned out to be differently altogether, but I will come back to this in a later post.
So here’s why I liked it instantly.
On my flight, I met a Dutch couple sitting next to me in the plane. The guy’s sister has a company there. I am not surprised because the Dutch you can meet almost anywhere on the planet where there’s a commerce opportunity. We had a nice talk, drank some sodas at 7AM in KLIA. They helped me get to the city center, and it turns out that the best way to go to the city center from KLIA, is to take the tram.
On the way to the Kuala Lumpur city center, I noticed many palm trees, meadows and hills. That is very common of course for a beach city, but it was just awesome. Besides, during the ride I also came across a station called “cyberjaya”. I thought it was cool and I suspect it must be some technology park. I am especially interested in the offshore business anyway.
It was a beautiful day, and the first thing that I was confronted with was the heating sun. It was going to be a tough day for me ahead. Back in Amsterdam it was only 10 degrees and raining, so I had my winter jacket with me and had to drag it throughout the day. But no matter what, it wouldn’t spoil my good experience.
The best thing that I decided was to buy me a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus. Every thirty minutes there’s a bus and I can recommend it to everyone.
But before I hopped on the bus, I already immediately got overwhelmed with the Hilton hotel:
It was an exciting day and there were many attractions and it would take me too long to explain them all but there are a few that I want to share with you.
I don’t remember much from the bus on-board commentary, but what I do remember is that Kuala Lumpur is apparently only 180 years old (but then again, not so much younger than Belgium for instance). Apart from that, the newly built city is very diverse and colorful. And also, another charm is that you will find a lot people that speak English fluently. That is just amazing. I was even invited by a woman to talk over a coffee, but in the end I denied the invitation (I kind of regret this now as locals are the best way to get to know a new culture). Also prevalent in the streets are Muslim women with their hijabs on and bikes of course!
The city also invited some architects to construct some amazing artificial gardens.
If you want to get up on the Petronas’ bridge, you need to queue up very early and as you can guess, I was too late.
Also famous for its very expensive and huge shopping malls. The below one is in the Petronas itself.
Kuala Lumpur may be a business city, but it gave me the impression of a very sophisticated, open-minded and advanced society. And yet again, it is very different from Europe.
Jetlag or not, I had an amazing time but left the city after some 27 hours. But then, my jetlag was taking its toll and only a few years later I had to leave for my continued trip to Ho Chi Minh City!
For Kuala Lumpur, there will not be so much to remember but friendliness, banks, skycrapers and Muslim Asians. I couldn’t dive into the traditional kitchen, I didn’t visit any mosks but it was definitly worth the 10+ hours there!