Well, I have to say that four days of rest and relaxation in Kuala Lumpur was worth every second. It was a chance to recover from the outrageous heat of the Mae On District in Thailand and let my body recover from thrashing about in the vertical world for a few weeks. Sometimes you need to rest and there was no time like the present. It was also an opportunity to check out a city that I had heard great things about, but had never visited.
Arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and finding our way to baggage was an adventure, you have to walk about 1.5 kilometres from the plane to the customs officers counters . You just keep walking until you see a sign (or not in our case). We ran out of building because we went the wrong way. Someone decided to go to the toilet so everyone followed them.
After an hour and a half of baggage claim, organising a taxi and sitting in it of the 58 kilometres we arrived at our destination. Happy to be in the lap of luxury for the few short days. We settled into our nice 17th floor room in the Renaissance KL Hotel, overlooking the famous and truly marvellous Petronas Twin Towers. These majestic spires rise 452 metres above street level and are the centrepiece of the KL skyline.
Wandering through the streets of Kampong Bharu in downtown Kuala Lumpur was a real Surprise. These beautiful colonial houses are the remnants of the Malay culture that is rapidly developing and some would say fading. Ownership is a little vague it would seem, as the original Malay families did not keep wills. The houses are owned by multiple family members and inheritance is even more vague, making selling to developers a very complex and convoluted process.
In the evening after a fantastic tour of the Petronas Twin Towers we met up with a friend we had met in Chiang Mai a year ago. He was taking us to one of his favourite little back street eateries. Hidden in the bustling basement of an old building off the main drag was this bustling and bristly Chinese restaurant. It was a typical street food place, with red plastic chairs and bright yellow table clothes. Welcome to Ong Lai Restaurant.
Sitting down and catching up worth Yeo was great. Not much had change for him over the course of the year, but I could tell he was pleased to see us and also very excited to show us around. He was proud of the food that KL had to offer and was ordering for us, which to be perfectly honest was great. Saved us the drama of obscure outcomes. The food was good and flavoursome. I must admit the Hokkien noodle dish is still a mystery but all in all ok.
The next morning we were off again to eat in another part of town. It was about 11am and time for an early lunch. Yeo had taken time off work for this experience as it was “the place” to eat pork stomach soup. He also ordered three plates of Ipoh Horfan (flat white noodles from Ipoh) and for dessert we tried out Hum Jeem Peng (deep fired pastry with red bean paste inside it). I guess it was the Malay version of a jam and cream donut. Again an enjoyable meal with great company.
Finishing up with a coffee at VCR Coffee and Cakes was a treat. The coffee was fantastic and the atmosphere perfect. Nestled away in a little street filled with colonial terrace houses , this bastion of brewed bliss made me smile as we discussed the culture, politics and people of this ever changing place that is Kuala Lumpur.
A return trip to KL must be planned as the flow of this place is moving forward rapidly and will not remain the way it is for very much longer.