Bukit Bintang, Cebu Pacific, Fr, Giordano, J. CO Donuts, KL Hop-on Hop-off, KL Monorail, KL Sentral, KLIA Express, KLIA LCCT, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Menara KL, Nasi Lemak, Pavilion Mall, Petronas Tower, Sky Hotel, Sticky, Suria KLCC, Truly Asia, WOW Philippines
… or Welcome to Kuala Lumpur in English.
My sister purchased Cebu Pacific promo tickets way back in February and after months of waiting, my sister, her boyfriend Arman, and I finally flew to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. I’ve been wanting to visit Malaysia ever since I saw their Malaysia, Truly Asia tourism campaign which, in my opinion, is at par with our WOW Philippines campaign. It made me curious as to why they claim that their country is Truly Asia.
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur half an hour past 1 in the afternoon, 20 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival. I knew that we’d be going through the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport so I didn’t expect much from the terminal.
A random thought that popped into my head was the time zone Kuala Lumpur was in. When we landed in KL, the flight attendant announced the time and told us that there is no time difference between it and Manila. If you check the map of the world, KL is farther than Jakarta from Metro Manila and yet the time in Jakarta is an hour behind. I wonder why…
Anyway, as with other international flights, we had to go through immigration first before being able to get out of the terminal. I noticed that there were tarpaulins with instructions regarding their immigration process for foreign passport holders. They had a finger scanner that’s similar to the one in Beijing Capital International Airport and then they placed some sort of stickers on your passport after having your fingers scanned. The immigration officer didn’t ask me to place my fingers on the scanner and just stamped an arrival mark on my passport, no stickers on my passport. I rushed to my sister and Arman to check their passports – both had stickers. I went back to the officer and asked why I didn’t get a sticker but he just told me that there was no need. Err, okay, I was pretty much worried all throughout the day just because of some stickers.
We passed by the Malaysia Tourism booth to get a map of Kuala Lumpur before going out of the terminal. It was already past lunch time so we headed to McDonald’s to grab a quick meal. It was a good thing that we exchanged our Pesos to Ringgits before leaving Manila, saving us the hassle of having our money exchanged in KLIA.
Rather than hailing a cab to reach the city center, we rode the KLIA Transit instead. Knowing that the airport is more than 50 kilometers away from the city center, it would be very expensive to ride a cab all the way to the city. We asked around and we were directed towards the KLIA Transit bus which will bring us to the KLIA Express Train that goes all the way to the Kuala Lumpur Sentral. For 12.50 RM, you’d get a fast and comfortable ride to KL.
When we arrived at the Salak Tinggi station of the KLIA Express Train, I couldn’t help but feel envious about how progressive Malaysia is. Seriously, the Philippines was way above all other Southeast Asian nations before but now, it is lagging behind its neighbors. I hope we see that changing soon. Anyway, we headed to the platform and waited for the train to arrive.
All three of us were pretty much impressed by the train. I guess the controversial North Rail was supposed to be something like this, connecting Metro Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark which is being geared to become our country’s premier international gateway. The train had a nice interior and comfortable seats. There were only a few seats inside but I guess the extra space was needed for the luggage of the passengers. The views while inside the train were fantastic, we passed by what I presume is a palm tree plantation as well as Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital.
The trip from Salak Tinggi to the Kuala Lumpur Sentral took less than 30 minutes, very quick I must say. KL Sentral is a fairly recent development in Kuala Lumpur that aims to become KL’s transportation hub and financial center. It is Southeast Asia’s largest train station and it is surrounded by commercial buildings.
We’ve already planned how we’ll reach our hotel while we were on the train so we thought we were good to go. The plan was simple, transfer to the KL Monorail after arriving at KL Sentral. Apparently, it wasn’t that simple at all. The KL Monorail’s Sentral Station is not connected to KL Sentral. We asked for directions and the lady at the information booth told us that we had to go out and walk a bit to reach the KL Monorail. We had to go down to a tunnel-ish area where a lot of buses were in line and walked until we were able to see some sunshine. We followed the covered walkway and saw a sign that the KL Monorail was straight ahead. We followed the sign and walked some more, passing through a not-so-rich neighborhood until we saw the tracks of the KL Monorail. After a few more minutes of walking, we finally saw the KL Monorail station. But wait…
We ended up not in KL Sentral Station but in Tun Sambanthan Station, the station after Sentral. Yes, we walked that far. Apparently, we should’ve followed the covered walkway and turned right rather than going straight, darn that KL Monorail straight ahead sign! Anyway, there was nothing we can do since we were there already so we just bought tickets to the Imbi Station where our hotel was nearby.
When we reached Imbi Station, we had no clue on how to reach our hotel. Thank goodness for Google Maps! Arman used his iPhone to navigate and we were able to reach our hotel in one piece. By the way, our hotel was Sky Hotel, a new hotel in the Bukit Bintang area. The location of the hotel is great since it’s really near Bintang Walk and a KL Monorail station. Also, the rooms there are really nice especially for the price. Just a heads up though, the hotel’s entrance has this really strong ginger smell coming from some incense. I had no problem with it but my sister and Arman didn’t like the smell.
We settled down and rested for a bit before beginning our exploration of Kuala Lumpur. One of the things that I liked about Sky Hotel is that they have computers where you can access the internet for free. I went there as soon as I found out that it’s free and logged on to my Facebook account to update my status, haha.
After resting for an hour, we headed out to Bintang Walk to check out what’s happening in one of KL’s lively shopping districts. As I have mentioned earlier, our hotel is in the Bukit Bintang area and going to the Bintang Walk from Sky Hotel is very easy. We walked along the long stretch of road heavily populated with shops, hotels, restaurants, and massage parlors.
It was already dinner time when we started exploring Bukit Bintang we looked for a place where we can eat. Not wanting to repeat our Beijing experience wherein we subsisted on fast food (read: non-Chinese), we scouted Bukit Bintang for an authentic Malaysian restaurant. We stumbled upon a restaurant-slash-cafe called the Heritage. What attracted us to it was the number of foreigners having some drinks there. We checked out their menu and went inside.
The menu says that they serve authentic Malaysian cuisine so at least we knew we were going to have some local food. I checked the menu items and noticed the absence of pork dishes – oh right, Malaysia’s dominantly Muslim so pork is a no-no. I focused on the chicken dishes since I’m not really a beef or seafood fan. Actually, I can eat chicken all my life and not get tired of it, which is good if I plan to travel a lot since chicken’s generally a religious-neutral food.
Since I had no clue about Malaysian cuisine, I just looked at the photos and chose the dish that looked the yummiest. Curry, curry, curry, oh, something that resembles Chicken Inasal served with rice, half of a hard-boiled egg, crackers, sambal (hot sauce), peanuts, vegetables, and fried dilis (anchovies, or ikan bilis in Malay), I’d get that one.
Nasi Lemak, which means fatty rice in Malay, is considered to be Malaysia’s national dish. It’s rice soaked in coconut cream and then the mixture is steamed. It is served with a plethora of side dishes, some of which I have mentioned above. It was love at first bite for me. I just loved how everything went together and the chicken they served was really good. I could not determine how the chicken was cooked but I am quite sure that it was not fried. The meal costs 15.00 MR before taxes, which is around 210 PhP.
After our delicious dinner, we walked along Bintang Walk a little bit more. We stumbled upon a Giordano outlet and looked at their marked-down clothes. They had really cool “I ❤ MY” shirts that only costs 89 MR for 3 pieces, which is around 400 PhP a piece. We thought that it would be cool to wear them on our way back to Manila so each of us chose a design and bought the shirts.
We went back to the hotel after purchasing the shirts from Giordano. Along the way, we passed by a convenience store to buy water. The strong ginger aroma of the hotel’s lobby greeted us when we arrived so we hastily entered the elevator to escape it. My sister and I went to the internet station first to do our research for our next day in KL. After finalizing our plan for our second day, we headed to our hotel room for a good night’s sleep.