About

Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.

Location

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A week in Kuala Lumpur (KL) Malaysia, and what to see

Written by Joshua Fuglsang on .

Tags

AsiaKuala LumpurMalaysiaTravel
A tram passing through a confluence of roads and footpaths
A tram passing through a confluence of roads and footpaths - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Introduction

The pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle fol­lowed my jour­ney from Tioman Is­land to Kuala Lumpur by fer­ry and bus. Read about it here.

In March 2018 I spent a week stay­ing in Kuala Lumpur, the sprawl­ing me­trop­o­lis and cap­i­tal of Malaysia. Dur­ing my time in Kuala Lumpur (lov­ing­ly re­ferred to by it’s acro­nym, KL) I stayed in Buk­it Bin­tang, a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for trav­ellers and Malay alike, know for its fa­mous eat­ing street; Jalan Alor; but al­so for its con­ve­nience to sev­er­al of KL’s hot tourist des­ti­na­tions. While stay­ing in KL I vis­it­ed sev­er­al of such tourist des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing: the Petronas Twin Tow­ers, the Pink Mosque of Pu­tra­jaya, the Bird Park, Jamek Mosque, Merde­ka Square, and Chi­na Town. Some of these I will write about in this ar­ti­cle.

The Food

Jalan Alor food street in Bukit Bintang
Jalan Alor food street in Buk­it Bin­tang - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

First off I have to say that the pre­miere rea­son to vis­it Kuala Lumpur is, though Penang may scoff, the food. Why? Be­cause it is eas­i­ly ac­ces­si­ble. In the tourist cen­tres such a Mela­ka, George Town, Langkawi, etc., it is hard to find gen­uine Malaysian cui­sine. The restau­rants that are cater­ing to tourists don’t need to be so com­pelled to cook the best qual­i­ty au­then­tic food, for they have new cus­tomers ev­ery day. The lo­cal restau­rants of Kuala Lumpur, how­ev­er, need to please their reg­u­lars. So, even if you are stay­ing in a place such as Buk­it Bin­tang or Chi­na­town, you on­ly need to walk a few streets away to find a prop­er Malay style eat­ing house or hawk­er cen­tre. So, this is what I loved the most about Kuala Lumpur. Cheap food with heaps of va­ri­ety and, for the most part, ab­so­lute­ly de­li­cious. I had one restau­rant which I came back to for a few days in a row be­cause they had a fan­tas­tic menu show­cas­ing many of the Malysian sig­na­ture dish­es, which I worked my way through.

Dish­es of note that I tried were: Roti Canai, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Lak­sa, Char Kuey Te­ow, Hainanese Chick­en Rice, plus a pletho­ra of Chi­nese and In­di­an dish­es. Malay food is ab­so­lute­ly de­li­cious, how­ev­er it is some­what un­healthy … to say the least. Veg­eta­bles were sore­ly missed from my pal­ette dur­ing my trav­els through Malaysia, but that’s a sto­ry for an­oth­er time.

Jamek Mosque

Alter in the Jamek Mosque
Al­ter in the Jamek Mosque - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

I have been fas­ci­nat­ed by Mosque’s since com­menc­ing this trip through Malaysia. Malaysia, which is a ma­jor­i­ty Mus­lim coun­try with 60% of its pop­u­la­tion prac­tic­ing Is­lam. Is­lam is in plain site in Malaysia. And it’s in­flu­ence on Malaysian pol­i­tics seems to be some­what of a sore top­ic. Re­gard­less, Mosques (or Masjid in Malay) are beau­ti­ful build­ings. They have a cer­tain el­e­gance to their aes­thet­ic with their sharp an­gles, sweep­ing curves, and de­light­ful sym­met­ri­cal. Step in­side and you will see peo­ple bask­ing in the peace of the struc­tures. Typ­i­cal­ly they have in­tri­cate car­pets, or tile floors, plain walls, and tall ceil­ings, which are of­ten domed.

The Jamek Mosque is no ex­cep­tion. Though it lacks the tall ceil­ings, it is still a love­ly build­ing. It was de­signed by a British ar­chi­tect in 1908, based on In­di­an style Mosques. It was built in the con­flu­ence of two rivers which, when viewed from the op­pos­ing banks, of­fers a love­ly jux­ta­po­si­tion be­tween the Is­lam­ic her­itage build­ing and the mod­ern con­crete jun­gle be­yond.

In­ter­est­ing­ly, I found out dur­ing my vis­it to the mosque that there are no writ­ten de­scrip­tions of Al­lah. When Al­lah came to Muham­mad, Al­lah pro­vid­ed no such de­scrip­tion. Rather, Muham­mad de­scribed Al­lah sim­ply as a beam of pure light. Thus, when you vis­it a Mosque, you will note that there are no idols on the wall, such as in oth­er re­li­gions. This again, adds to the sim­ple, clean, and de­light­ful aes­thet­ic of the build­ings.

Merdeka Square

A gaggle of photographers in Merdeka Square
A gag­gle of pho­tog­ra­phers in Merde­ka Square - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Af­ter vis­it­ing Jamek Mosque I won­dered across the bridge to Merde­ka Square. It is a beau­ti­ful build­ing, but some­what lack­lus­tre as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. While I was here a swarm of am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phers ap­peared with a team of free­lance mod­els. Fas­ci­nat­ed, I chat­ted to them about what they were do­ing. It seemed that they were an or­gan­ised pho­tog­ra­phy group who go on pho­to­shoots through the city with their mod­els. I joined them to take a pho­to of a la­dy wear­ing a beau­ti­ful Hi­jab in front of a vin­tage Vol­vo.

The Pink Mosque of Putrajaya

The Pink Mosque, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur
The Pink Mosque, Pu­tra­jaya, Kuala Lumpur - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

An­oth­er Mosque, but this one is spe­cial in that it lives right along­side the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in Pu­tra­jaya. I’m not ex­act­ly clear on the in­flu­ence of Is­lam on the pol­i­tics of Malaysia. They say that they are a democ­ra­cy and not bound by the laws of Is­lam, how­ev­er the fact that the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice has a Mosque built next to it im­plies oth­er­wise. Re­gard­less, again it is a beau­ti­ful build­ing. This one in par­tic­u­lar is far more spec­tac­u­lar than the last. It is a sol­id pink build­ing, as it’s name im­plies, with a sin­gle enor­mous dome far over­head.

The Ceilings on The Pink Mosque
The Ceil­ings on The Pink Mosque - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

While vis­it­ing here I had a long chat with a vol­un­teer about Is­lam. He ex­plained to me that all Mosques are point­ing to­wards Mec­ca, and that when pray­ing you must pray in the same di­rec­tion. So, ev­ery Mus­lim coun­try pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the cor­rect di­rec­tion of prayer. It is fas­ci­nat­ing to think that all Mosques in the world are fac­ing to­wards a cen­tral point. The vol­un­teer too got me to put a pin in his map of na­tion­al­i­ties, say­ing that I am the first Tas­ma­ni­an to vis­it. Woo.

To get to Pu­tra­jaya I need­ed to catch a lo­cal bus for 1.5 hours in each di­rec­tion from Buk­it Bin­tang. How­ev­er, I was hap­py to do this for the Mosque is breath­tak­ing and is square­ly off the tourist trail of Kuala Lumpur, un­like this next item …

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers by Night
Petronas Twin Tow­ers by Night - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Ah, the Twin Tow­ers of KL. Ev­ery guide, ar­ti­cle, and video on Kuala Lumpur men­tions these tow­ers. From 1998 to 2004 they were the tallest build­ings in the world. Though since been over­shad­owed, pun in­tend­ed, they are still a mag­nif­i­cent pair and are the pride of KL with­out a doubt.

The de­sign of the build­ings in­cor­po­rate Is­lam­ic mo­tifs such as repet­i­tive ge­ome­tries and arabesques. Each tow­er is based on two in­ter­lock­ing squares which cre­ates an eight-point­ed star shape, said to rep­re­sent the Is­lam­ic Prin­ci­ples: “Uni­ty with­in uni­ty, har­mo­ny, sta­bil­i­ty, and ra­tio­nal­i­ty”.

To build the tow­ers on sched­ule two con­struc­tion com­pa­nies were used; the west­ern tow­er was built by a Ja­pa­nese con­struc­tion con­sor­tium, and the east­ern tow­er was built by a South Ko­re­an con­struc­tion con­sor­tium. The South Ko­re­an built tow­er came to be the tallest tow­er in the world at the time, how­ev­er it was soon found that the build­ing was lean­ing by 2.5 cen­time­tres off ver­ti­cal. They rec­ti­fied this is­sue by lean­ing the sub­se­quent floors to the op­po­site di­rec­tion by 2 cen­time­tres. In to­tal, the tow­ers cost $1.6 bil­lion to build.

The Bird Park

A Proud Peacock, Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
A Proud Pea­cock, Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

My fi­nal out­ing in KL was to the Bird Park. I am deeply in love with the world of our feath­ered friends. Birds, I be­lieve, are beau­ti­ful crea­tures who have at­tributes that we can nev­er hope to achieve. They have a lev­el of free­dom which is unattain­able to hu­mans, they are beau­ti­ful, and they are el­e­gant.

So, I de­cid­ed to pop by the bird park to learn more about some of the dif­fer­ent species that they have on show. Af­ter all, the park is said to house the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary.

A caged bird in the KL Bird Park
A caged bird in the KL Bird Park - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

The park looked af­ter tou­cans; many va­ri­eties of horn­bill; a vast ar­ray of par­rots; some large land birds such as emu’s and cas­sowaries; cranes; and fi­nal­ly the ev­er pop­u­lar pea­cock. Though some of the birds looked hap­py and well looked af­ter, some didn’t. In par­tic­u­lar the pea­cocks seemed to be poor­ly treat­ed. This is due I be­lieve to the fact that peo­ple can touch the birds di­rect­ly. Ac­cord­ing­ly, some of the birds had more than a few of their tail feath­ers plucked.

Conclusion

A model poses for a photo in Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur
A mod­el pos­es for a pho­to in Merde­ka Square, Kuala Lumpur - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang
Lady garbed in a beautiful hijab
La­dy garbed in a beau­ti­ful hi­jab - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Thanks for read­ing! I am sur­prised to say that I en­joyed my time in Kuala Lumpur. Most trav­ellers don’t like it, and skip through at first light. Even the lo­cals don’t like it, say­ing that the best thing to do is to go shop­ping at one of the many, many malls. How­ev­er, I liked it. Good food, in­ter­est­ing Is­lam­ic her­itage, and pleas­ant peo­ple. Of course it’s not a per­fect city, but no city is. But if you give it a chance, you will find some­thing in it to en­joy.

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Tags

AsiaKuala LumpurMalaysiaTravel

About

Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.