Kuala Lumpur (A Rant and a Survival Tip)

We spent a week in Kuala Lumpur. I almost blissfully forgotten that the city was true to it’s name. “Lumpur” means mud in Malay.Behind the bustling backdrop of a city that never sleeps, lay the bodies of people who would be the poster faces of poverty. No they’re still alive, but they seem lifeless. When they are not sitting on the streets begging for coins, they are sleeping on any surfaces they can find that aren’t already occupied.

It’s hot & humid there. And dusty. And most of all dirty. At the back of restaurants we see scurrying rats and mice scourging for scraps, and street cats waiting to pounce on potential preys. Some cats are much smarter and come up to hawkers and open air restaurants and wait for diners or staff to throw them scraps.

Construction goes on 24/7. Since it’s everywhere no one complains about it and since it’s so many, who is going to complain? In a city like Kuala Lumpur, life is fun if you have the monetary capacity to afford comfortable living spaces, and an overall quality of life. You also have to live by night time.

During the day the heat is intense and dirty. The constant traffic of cars doesn’t help either. The heat amplifies when you’re walking closer to vehicles. It’s best to take the monorails or LRTs to get around. The network stops at most major places which are great if you’re there as a tourist and only want to go to those places.

By night time, it’s still warm but without the sun over-bearing it’s rays above you, it’s more bearable. We stayed in Kuala Lumpur for about a week and decided to escape to the highlands for some chill time. By that I mean Cameron Highlands, though before leaving there’s some highlights of Kuala Lumpur that are definitely worth sharing.

  1. Nearly every cafe has Wi-Fi (and sweet coffee) – If you don’t want to shop, or see tall buildings, this was one of our favourite ways to pass the time in KL. We own a web store selling our wearable art. For those that travel and work online this is what KL is so good for. You have hundreds of cafes (and I don’t just mean Starbucks) to pick from. Our top pick is the Old Town Kopitiam Sungei Wang for the friendly manager, choice of outdoor or indoor seating, large servings of special Malaysian coffee, good Wi-Fi & A.C, and powerpoints for your laptops and chargers. Also that interior! It’s old-school and so cosy! 
    Address: AS116, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Trading Hours: 10am – 10pm

     

  2. FREE BUSES – Paying for public transport and being stuck in traffic for it isn’t really everyone’s favourite things to do. So at least escape one. There is no way to avoid traffic on the roads of KL but the free purple bus (more lilac than purple) from the Pasar Seni train station will allow you to enjoy some A.C while en route to Pavillion & Starhill Mall. You may also meet colourful characters. We met an elderly Indian man with a funky personality who gave us a break down of our future and personality through the spelling of our names. It was great! Visit GoKL for other free bus routes. Image result for gokl buses
  3. CHEAP EATS – 14659438566_8b5e82a912_oOne of the things I miss greatly about being in Asia is how cheap it is to feed our tummies. Mind you they aren’t always the healthiest options, but I love my dirty Asian food! It can be pricey too depending on where you go but this paragraph is dedicated to, and in gratitude to the random street vendors that sell a huge variety of food. From kuihs (Malaysian style cakes) to fish crackers to street burgers. Breakfast costed RM2 each, the stalls in front of Low Yat, facing Berjaya Time Square had just what our tastebuds wanted. Large powdered donuts for Clém and fried vegetable pancake for me! Lunch were sushi train visits which obviously costed a bit more, and night time meant we got to visit the burger boys! At RM2.30-RM3 for a banjo (egg) burger made before your very eyes, how could you refuse? Look out for the Ramly burger stalls!

    There are also plenty of shawarma places around the heart of the city and roti canai (Indian flatbread) is abundant @RM1.50 per serving. We once had a night out with drinks and devoured 8 pieces of roti canai with some really good dahl curry. This was at 5am by the way, this city never sleeps! Below is what RM1.50 will get you, one roti and 3 dfferent curries (fish, dahl and chicken).

    roti-canai

 

4. Natalie’s Guesthouse – 59583897In the midst our accomodation hopping, trying out all the affordable accomodations to find one that feels like home, Natalie’s Guesthouse hits the spot. It’s not luxurious, it definitely falls in the cheaper budget accomodations @RM40 per night for a room with a fan. It was RM60 for one with A.C. Bathrooms and toilets are shared and are located with the communal kitchen where guests can opt to cook healthier meals if they wish to get away from street food. Towels are provided and coffee & tea are on a self-serve basis. There’s also Wi-Fi and you get reasonable security; guests are given a code to key in for entry after business hours. You can request a laundry service or handwash them yourselves. There’s soap and a bucket provided. It was super old-school style! I just loved it! The Filipina that looks after the place is really lovely and will dote on you like a mother. The place is really basic and can get quite warm but being born and raised here, it just reminds me of my grandmother’s house in the village and I thought it was something really special to find in the heart of KL. Also they had a promotion on Booking.com @ RM36 per night at the time! P.S they also have a rescue cat who sometimes cosies up into your room if you leave your door open.
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There’s also a laundry area and chill out/smoking area with murals at the back. We are definitely going back there when we return to K.L!

Address: 135, Jalan Petaling, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, KL, Malaysia
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Journey to France: Day 77

To everyone who is travelling/considering travelling,  I just want to share with you a very,  very overlooked but important tip.

Please never leave your backpack unattended by yourself.  Even if you are in an area with authorities.  Even if you are in a crowded place where you think everyone will be able to see something suspicious happening.  Even if you ask a friendly fellow traveller to watch it.  Even if you have left your bags unattended before and nothing happened to them.

Just don’t do it,  it is not worth the loss of anything. Be it something of value or even if it’s just your underwear. Never give anyone the opportunity to take what belongs to you.

I had my Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet stolen a few days ago.  I packed it in an underneath,  zipped compartment on the top of my backpack.  To access it one needs to undo both clips and flip the top over. To anyone who is familiar with that model tablet will know it doesn’t come cheap due to its fast processor,  high memory and of course the brand.

We had previously left our bags unattended or in the hands of others before and we never had any issues prior to this.  In Dumas port, Sumatra we left our bags with a family at the port while we went off to buy our ferry tickets.  By the time we came back the family had already left to board the ship and they left our bags vulnerable the waiting area! Nothing was stolen at that time however.

Another time we left our bags unattended, the same day my tablet was stolen,  was at KL Sentral station,  at the KTM interstate ticket counter. We had 50 people before our turn and thought we would walk around at the floor below to pass the time.  We were confident with so many people around,  no one would try to take our bags so we left them at the back against the wall.  Plus, they were both about 15kg each in weight. When we returned our bags were as they were.

With took this confidence with us to the waiting platform for our trains. We left our bags again at the back against the wall and went into the newsagent next door to pass the time.  Next to where we left our bags sat a Caucasian lady who also was a backpacker. So we were sure no one would come up to our bags with people so close by.

When we returned it was time for our train.  I lifted my backpack onto my shoulders and the sounds of the undone clips clacked,  the top flipped onto the back of my head. I didn’t think much into it and asked Clem to help clip them back for me.

When we were about to pass the gates to our platform I suddenly thought of doing a quick tap in my bags to make sure my tablet was still with me.  I grabbed a fistful in my small bag, nothing.  I tapped the top of my backpack.  It felt very deflated. 

I asked Clem to check if my tablet was in the top sack so I wouldn’t have to take the backpack off.  He said it wasn’t there. I felt a lump in my throat and my heart suddenly felt heavy.

He ran all the way back to the cafe we last stopped at.  He had 10 minutes before the train departed to run about 3 blocks and back.  I was so sure he was going to come back with my tablet but he didn’t,  but he made it back in time for the train.

I had the 3 hour journey to Ipoh to undergo the stages of grief for an inanimate object; denial, anger, detachment,  seeking replacement and finally acceptance.

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