“Bags packed. Tickets printed. Passports checked and double checked. Malaysia here we come”. (Well, that was a few weeks ago – and this is my review).
Flying with Emirates from Amsterdam to Dubai and then Dubai onto Kuala Lumpur is a real treat. From the moment you step on board the flight there is a welcoming atmosphere and a feeling of luxury. I knew I was going to enjoy the flight, even if it was to be hours and hours long. There is the uncomfortable moment, however, as you walk through the First Class section of the plane where you are given ‘looks’ from the rather smug looking passengers in their reclining seats. They sip on their complimentary champagne and give you the ‘you wish you were here in First too, don’t you’ look. Sheepishly, the Economy passengers, myself included proceed to our zone.
Seats with TV screens, or should I say ‘entertainment consoles’ are the highlight of the journey. Almost every passenger feels the need, even before take-off, to play with the remote control. There is so much choice that you cannot possibly decide how to be entertained first. Should you watch a film? Maybe a TV episode would be best? The music channels sound good too? But there’s also a relaxation channel…. Limitless.
Landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city, you find yourself in a series of ‘capsule’ gates. These gates are connected by a monorail which speedily carries thousands of passengers from one terminal to another. There is immediately a sense of organisation and cleanliness. Once through the passport control (and receiving the ‘okay’ from Immigration) you collect bags and join the queue for taxis at a special taxi office. They have the system worked out to perfection here. You tell one person where you would like to go, pay a standard fee (no meters used for airport runs) and then you take your ticket to the taxi stand outside. It was simple and stress-free.
The airports in KL are quite a distance from the city. The views from the taxi are of endless tropical plants and trees. Malaysia has palm trees growing in every available spot. They make a great deal of money from the sale of palm oils.
Kuala Lumpur nests amongst the hills and towers up from the ground. The skyline though is far from impressive with the exception of the Petronas Twin Towers. Standing proudly amongst some rather bland looking tower blocks, the Petronas Towers amaze by the day and simply stun you by night. With a skywalk linking the two and a huge shopping mall contained within the lower floors, it is a must-see in the city.
The number of shopping malls in KL is astounding. There are simply not enough shoppers to fill the shops themselves. You can easily find yourself wandering through a mall, then leaving and discovering one even bigger and more impressive five minutes away. If you like to shop then KL is definitely worth a visit.
Where KL boasts in its shopping choice it lacks in character and heart. It feels as though there is something missing when you travel through the city. There is no river or coast to give the city a focal point, something which can seem almost alien to the European traveller. In order to see the city there are a variety of choices available. You can attempt to explore on foot, but as I discovered KL is equipped with adequate pavements for pedestrians. The heat can be overpowering for anyone who wishes to tip-toe along the streets with unfinished streets. Taxis are everywhere and you never have to wait more than a couple of minutes to flag one down. There are city buses for tourists to take you to all the major sites, however it feels like an endless loop once you’re on board.
China Town and the old central market are really worth a visit once you’ve seen the Petronas Towers. KL can be explored in a day or two, but while you’re there you must enjoy a massage from one of the wonderful massage parlours (superb quality and great value). Manicures and pedicures along with any other form of relaxation treatment and pampering will make you feel wonderful (I know I did). Evenings are filled by enjoying cocktails and a wide selection of meals ranging from typical Malay, to Chinese, to Thai and more. The choice is endless.
Away from KL there are other sights which must not be missed. We arranged for a taxi driver to look after us for 1 day for a set price, something which is common amongst tourists. About 2 hours away from KL is the Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary. At the edge of a tiny village you can explore the sanctuary and meet some young elephants. Many of the elephants have been rescued from a variety of situations. After a video documentary explaining the work done at the sanctuary there is the possibility to feed the elephants and ride them. Some visitors are even brave enough to bathe with them.
Batu Caves is a surreal tourist ‘hot-spot’. A 42.7 metre (140.09 ft) high, the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, stands at the base of the steps. The 272 steps lead up into the limestone cave where Hindu shrines can be found. The steps and caves are full of monkeys which are far from shy. They leap from post to post and surprise many of the tourists (myself included).
My Malaysia Highlights:
- Elephant sanctuary
- Shopping at the Petronas Towers
- Batu Caves
- Cocktails at the skybar in the Traders Hotel (with great views of the Petronas Towers)
- Restaurant choice