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Location 11,12: Kuala Lumpur & Penang, Malaysia

MALAYSIA | Friday, 13 May 2016 | Views [409]

Kuala Lumpur & Penang - Malaysia

Humidity showed itself in a whole new way when I arrived into Kuala Lumpur.  My flight from Phuket got me into KL around midnight and then it was a train and a taxi ride to my hostel.  I was completely exhausted, so once I checked in I went to bed.  I woke up my first morning in KL with no plans and no real idea of what the next few days would bring.  I ended up meeting another lone traveler early that morning and he and I took the monorail to the Batu Caves.  The Batu Caves are a set of two different caves carved into the side of a pretty huge mountain top.  The inside of the caves were pretty spectacular as they were just so massive and it is one of those times where you really are amazed by nature.  The largest cave sits on top of a massive staircase that is swarmed by grabby monkeys.  Once I finally reached the top (after soaking through my entire t-shirt) we were able to see the temple that resides inside the cave and just the vast openness.  Despite the horrible humidity it was definitely something I enjoyed being able to see.  We hopped back on the monorail and headed back to the hostel to change clothes.  The hostel is right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, so the options on where to eat are pretty endless.  We made our way to the indoor "central market", which is basically a large building filled with vendors selling everything you could image.  It had booths for jewelry, woodwork, clothes, food, etc.  We ended up eating at the food court, which consisted of all things Malay.  The interesting part of Malaysia is that it is a very blended culture with huge influences from China and India.  The majority of the country is Muslim, so you also see hints of Middle Eastern cultures as well.  I ended up going with standard Malay food and ordered a spicy vegetable Laksa.  In the evening we again got on the train and headed to the Petronas Twin Towers.  I was a huge fan of "Entrapment" growing up, so actually getting to stand outside of these towers was a pretty cool moment.  The skyline of KL is pretty incredible and the size of these two skyscrapers does not disappoint.  I am really glad I made my way over there in the evening because not only is it a nesting ground for locals and tourists alike, but it also is beyond impressive to see the two towers completely illuminated.  The pictures I got to take were awesome.  

Once we finished up outside of the towers we headed inside to the monstrous mall.  It has every store you find in a mall back in the states, plus some brands more specific to Asia.  It was unbelievable to me to see how crowded this mall was because typically shopping centers back home only look this packed on Black Friday.  We grabbed some food from one of the places in the food court and then got on the free bus to Bukit Bingtang.  Bukit Bingtang is the nightlife part of Kuala Lumpur, it is full of restaurants, bars and shops.  We found a spot that had a decent price on beer and just sat and watched people for an hour or so, since it was still super hot and humid late at night, I called it a night and headed back.

My second day in KL was similar to the first in that I woke up pretty early and headed out straight away.  It is much easier to get some activities done in the morning before the heat really kicks in.  My friend and I took a short walk to the National Mosque of Malaysia, which ended up being a pretty unique experience. Upon arriving we were asked to remove our shoes and to put on a purple hooded robe.  Once inside we were allowed to walk through each room, with the exception of the prayer room as that is for Muslims only.  It was a really beautiful structure and you can definitely sense the importance it has to the Muslims locally and globally.  Once we finished up at the Mosque I headed over to the major train station in KL to grab my high speed train ticket to Penang (for the following day).  Once I got back to the hostel I changed and went walking through KL's Chinatown.  It is massive and has more vendors than possible to count.  I didn't end up buying anything, but it is totally worth a walk through if you ever find yourself in this city.  In the evening I ended up back in the central market food court and got a great Indian spread.  

The next morning I woke up and headed to the monorail station to get myself to my train to Penang.  Penang is an island off the west cost of Malaysia that has a really nice, relaxed vibe.  Once I exited the train I took the short walk to the ferry station, where I got onto the ferry and over to the hostel.  Once I checked-in I began starting to get the lay of the land.  I found a few people in the hostel that were planning on meeting up with some others that evening for a final night before they took off the next morning. I had a blast getting their perspective on some of the other countries I will be going to and also suggestions on what to do in Penang.  The overall advice I got for Penang was to walk around a lot during the day, so you can eat as much as possible each day.  They weren't wrong! Penang has some of the best food I have eaten since being away and each meal seemed to get better than the last.

On day 2 in Penang I woke up and took the bus over to the other side of the island to check out the Batu Ferringhi, the tourist part of Penang.  I was a bit disappointed because the beaches in Penang really are nothing special.  They are inhabited by some really beautiful hotels and resorts, but the water itself was a bit underwhelming.  I hung out by the water for a bit and then walked across the street and got another awesome Indian meal.   I got back on the bus and took the hour ride back to the area I was staying in.  I grabbed my book and ended up just reading the rest of the afternoon, then that night I went and got some cheap dim sum.  The third day I woke up very early and headed to the Penang National Park.  It had two different treks and one of them ended with a stop at Monkey Beach.  I chose that route as it was a bit shorter and allowed for me to cool off once I arrived, figured it would be nothing too challenging…wrong. The humidity was so intense that within the first 10 minutes I was dripping sweat and having to crawl over fallen trees and ducking from hanging vines.  If I wasn't fortunate enough to see some seriously giant lizards and active monkeys I probably would have been pissed about the effort I put into make it to the beach.   Once I got to the water I was again disappointed by the clarity and the actual beach itself.  I waded into the water and hung out for about 10 minutes and then started the hour trek back to the entrance.  I took the bus back to the hostel and passed out till dinner.  I met up with a couple people in the hostel and grabbed dinner at another great restaurant.  

The last two days in Penang were pretty relaxed as I knew my next stop in Bali was going to be a very social/outgoing environment.  I ended up finding a coffee shop or restaurant to camp out in and read or use Wifi.   Penang was a great place to save money because the food was cheap and most of the things I did to entertain myself were essentially free.  

I just wrapped up a week in Bali and am heading to Wakatobi, Indonesia for a 4 day dive trip.  I will post about Bali and the dive trip soon, stay tuned….


See photos here.

Tags: beaches, malaysia, trekking


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