Hello all, just got back from a flying one day trip to Kuala Lumpur. It was my second time to the Malaysian capital, but my first one alone. I always find solo travel a different, but often better way to sample a city or country. Considering my last journey was far from pleasant, I was keen to give the capital a second opportunity to impress me.
Landing and arriving in KL is much the same as any other airport. KL is a decent airport; it has nothing on Singapore’s Changi, but there are a number of other Southeast Asian countries that it could give a lesson or two to. As always, the journey was full of people walking slowly, and me dreaming of a day when walkways are split into a fast and slow lane.
Moving out the airport, and into the city. One of the reasons I’ve always preferred Singapore to Kuala Lumpur for my frequent day trips is the distance between the airport and city. It is a rather formidable 50km. The travel by car would be expensive, and take a good portion of time from the trip. Especially when you consider that it would be both ways in a single day. As this trip, and destination was forced on me, I had no choice but to grin and bear it. I must, however, say that I was honestly surprised at the ease, simplicity, and speed that the journey from airport to city was made.
The KLIA Express makes the journey every 15 minutes, and takes approximately 30 minutes; going direct, without stopping to KL Sentral. There is also the option for the KL Transit, which stops at multiple stations on route. Naturally, this makes for a longer journey. I get the impression that the prices are the same, so unless your place of stay is on route, I’d suggest taking the Express. The cost, as of March 2017, was 55MYR one way. If you’re doing a day trip, like myself, it’s 100MYR for a return. It’s worth it, the 10MYR saved is almost an extra beer on Jalan Alor. Overall, I have to say that my concerns surrounding the journey to and from the airport were quickly alleviated. In fairness to Kuala Lumpur, the journey to and from the airport is quite similar to that in Singapore. Though it is considerably cheaper in the Merlion city. It is, however, about the only thing between the two that is cheaper.
It was on my trip to the KL Express, that provided one of the silly little stories that all trips, we hope, are full of. Deciding to use my fairly passable Indonesian language skills to help me get around, I was slightly alarmed at someone offering to show me where to rent a train, instead of where to board one. After a few minutes of intense confusion, I discovered that for train in Bahasa Indonesia – ‘kereta’ – is actually the word for car in Malaysian. It was at this point that I gave up using Indonesian to communicate. The two languages are incredibly similar; Indonesian being a form of Malaysian, but the differences were too much for me in my sleep deprived state.
Upon arriving in KL Sentral Station, I immediately went about finding my way to Jalan Alor. However, having found a ticket machine which would provide me with a ticket to a monorail station near to it, I quickly learnt that all my denomination were too large to use in the machines present. So I’d need a way to break some large notes. Somehow or another, this lead to me eating a McDonald’s breakfast. I probably should be ashamed of this, but I’m not going to lie; no regrets.
So the double egg Mcmuffin was demolished, I returned to machine, purchased the ticket, and went about finding my way to the correct form of transport and platform. It was at this point that I had my first, of two incidents, where KL transport employees, knowingly gave me wrong information. Anyone who has ever been to KL Sentral, will attest to the sheer labyrinth that it is. It is the point where all the transport methods in KL truly integrate; the layout, though, is mind bogglingly confusing. There are 2 or 3 methods situated close by to one another, but others are found further out from the centre. Naturally the Monorail system to Imbi, falls into the latter category. To find out where to board the monorail, I asked an employee on the subway station, where the monorail to Imbi could be found. They repeated my request – monorail to Imbi – and promptly pointed me towards the subway and to take the platform to the left. I entered and after finding no reference to Imbi looked for further assistance. I was then told the correct place to go to, but this did involve me losing my paid ticket in order to exit. Therefore, I had to pay again.
Finally, after much confusion, I found my way to Imbi station and from there I was faced with a small walk to Jalan Alor. So here’s my first top tip when traveling, both in KL or any city; utilise Google maps’ offline capabilities. If you know you’re going to spend a lot of time in a new city, anywhere in the world, then download Google maps to your smartphone, and download the city map to your phone. It can give you great advice on getting places, and can even provide you with your GPS position with your phone on airplane mode. It made the journey from Imbi to Alor very simple.
Jalan Alor was billed to me as ‘street food heaven’. And here’s the thing, I can believe that it’s true. Unfortunately, it cannot be said for during the day. At night, the street may come alive with the mingling of backpackers and locals looking for grub. During the day it seems to be half closed and more than half empty. It certainly has left me with a reason to go back. Regardless, I found an open joint and ordered some kwetiau goreng (Indonesian spelling yes I know) and a large bottle of Carlsberg. The fried noodles were more than a bit oily, I feel like the excess was enough to give my motorbike an oil change. That being said, it tasted good, and when you’ve got warm sun, and a good cold beer, then there’s always going to be good feelings felt. Unfortunately, such feelings can’t last for long on a flying day trip, so I was soon off to find the way to the Petronas Towers.
It was on the way back to the monorail that I found a street seller with Cendol. It’s one of my favourite drinks in Indonesia – a syrupy coconut milk drink that is normally filled with ice and green flour balls. It sounds odd, but it’s delicious. This one certainly was too… Until I discovered that it was filled not just with green flour balls, but also corn. Alas, I hate corn.
Ok, cendol diversion aside, back to the journey to the Patronas Towers. I knew already, from research, that I needed to take the monorail to Bukit Nanas, from there I should walk to the subway and get off somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the stop, and needed to ask for assistance. I asked another transport employee, which stop for the Patronas Towers, and they again repeated my question. The response? Get off at Pasar Seni. Now by this point, I was wary of bogus advice. So I checked my maps, and discovered that the area was closer to KL Sentral than the Patronas Towers from that location. It was during this map check that I realised that the stop was KLCC. Really not impressed with the KL transport employees though.
Ok, so putting the terrible guidance to one side, I was determined to have the highlight of my trip; the Patronas Towers. They are truly a world renowned marvel for a reason. You can’t help but be in awe of them when standing at their foot. Gigantic monoliths keeping watch on the city. I felt dizzy just looking up at them. I stopped for the obligatory photo session, and I am quite happy with the results there. Not bad considering I apparently forgot to charge my batteries and had to snap in a hurry.
From there is was just a simple task of jumping on the subway back to KL Sentral, and taking the Express back to the airport. I did, however, make one quick detour for a cheeky Nandos. There are no Nandos in Jakarta, and this is a crime.