A SENSE OF TRULY ASIA
Over the course of two weeks in July, we visited the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, the street art and food of Penang, and the endless island sunsets of Langkawi. Similar to our previous escapes, we've always had a penchant for more active plans early on in the trip before winding down in a more private and relaxing establishment.
This time around was no different. Malaysia delights the senses with its majestic landscapes to its infamous street eats, and I believe this is an ideal adventure for both the backpacker and the sophisticated.
Our first stop was in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, the city shows off its modernity with its sprawling air conditioned shopping centres, towering skyscrapers, and luscious green parks. Connecting them all are a highly developed intermodal infrastructure of driverless metro system, numerous pedestrian friendly foot bridges, and an intercity rail. Getting around via taxi was our main source of transportation given the humidity and cost.
Stay: We checked into the Ritz Carlton and the staff was friendly and the location was ideal. With the amenities including a walk-in closet, a large bath and shower, an on-sight gym, and a pool, the hotel is finished in an expected sense of modern five star luxury. Alternatively, look to stay at the Grand Hyatt if possible, as the city views offered from its higher floors are unparalleled.
Do: Go up the Menara KL Tower for breathtaking views of the city. The views in my opinion are much better than the one you can get up the Petronas Twin Towers as it offers a stunning panoramic view of the city, the twin towers, and its historical sites. Afterwards, take a 5 minute cab westwards to the Perdana Botanical Gardens for a relaxing leisurely stroll featuring variety of tropical fauna, rare fruit trees, an orchid garden, and a planetary observatory.
Eat: Having tasted a multitude of local cuisines both in the city and outside, at various price levels. I can honestly say if you're after authentic Malaysian food, you'll be hard pressed to find any in the city core that rival places we've tried outside of KL. A plethora of hotels offer poor and overpriced choices that disappointed. Whilst not terrible, they do not fully encompass the passion needed to deliver the wholesome flavour one seeks in Malaysian cuisine. In fact, you're better off going for the city's other popular eats which include a Taiwanese dumpling place called Din Tai Fung and some very interesting Japanese delights at the Isetan Shopping Centre.
Overall: What surprised me the most was how quickly the city has changed since I last visited over eight years ago. Whilst it is adapting many ill-advised western influences (soulless malls) in the process, one can continue to find solemn and cultural peace in the outer fringes of the city's historic parks and museums.