A new country and a new adventure awaited us. We were about to find KL’s secret cocktail bar. Our planning phase never made it this far through the trip (especially as we thought we would now be in India), so we had few expectations and little knowledge, other than multiple people telling us that Kuala Lumpur was boring and we should get out as quickly as we could. Despite the advice, we stuck around for a couple of days.
Our arrival in Kuala Lumpur coincided with the arrival of two colds. It seemed the drop from 35 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius was enough to upset our antibodies. The weather, to us, felt refreshingly cool and we sniffled our way around the city streets. To be honest, it was a relief just to have pavement to walk on rather than weaving in and out of traffic.
One of our first stops was Chinatown, Petaling Street Market. The hawkers were intensely annoying and intent on selling us things we had no use for. We scuttled through as quickly as we could manage and stopped at a small food court. A woman took our order and told us to sit down. That’s when a young boy, around 12 years old, came over to sell us beer. Now, this kid was something else. His confidence and business pizzazz oozed and he would have fit right in on Wall Street. He pushed us to buy more beers, tried to swindle us in change (whilst winking and saying “sorry, love”), and yelled at the woman to bring our drinks faster. This kid has investment banking potential.
As all tourists do, we visited the KL Tower and then the Petronas Towers. We didn’t go up either, as we didn’t have spare arms and legs lying about. Along the way we had a look around a small mall, as a man in casual clothing casually wandered by with a chrome shotgun slung over his shoulder. No one was running away screaming, so I assume this is normal for Malaysia. For the afternoon neither of us had the energy for more walking, so we went to see Alien: Covenant at the movie theater. The movie was okay and I didn’t even fall asleep during it (success!).
On one smoggy morning we wandered to the Central Market and then on to the Butterfly Park. The Butterfly Park showcased multitudes of butterflies, followed by a live creepy-crawly exhibit. If I had known these bugs existed in Malaysia, I would have never left our hotel. The scorpions were the size of my fist and the tarantula, well, he exists and that is enough of a problem. There was also a large bug that resembled an army tank.
That afternoon we took the train to the Batu Caves. Now, the public transport system in Kuala Lumpur is pretty good in theory, but the practicality of it could use some improvement. The train station had clear signage leading us to our platform, but when we got there our train line no longer existed and our train was not on the board. The Chief Signage Engineer of KL Trains must have a pretty good sense of humor, because not only was our destination not on the board, but the destinations that were on the board were to locations that according to Google Maps either didn’t exist or didn’t have train lines. Despite this, the people around us all seemed to have figured out the cryptic puzzle that was the train’s destination. I bet they are good at Sudoku too. We had to succumb to the good old-fashioned guidance system of pointing at the train and asking people boarding if it would go to the Batu Caves. Eventually, someone said yes and we hopped aboard placing our faith in a confused stranger.
Luckily for us, the train arrived at Batu Caves 20 minutes later. The first cave we went into resembled a theme park and depicted the history of the cave using hilarious, colorful sculptures. We were so enthralled with the sculptures that Ben and I didn’t realize we were having two very different conversations with each other, which resulted in us nicknaming the cave Bizarro Jerry. The second cave was at the top of 280 very steep, monkey-filled steps and sat behind a ginormous gold Buddha‑ish statue. Dodging the monkeys and praying for the effectiveness of our rabies vaccinations, we completed our pilgrimage to the cave, which moonlighted as a temple. Once in the cave, the skies opened up with thunder. The thunder boomed in the giant cavern and echoed around us. This was then topped with prayer time at the temple, which involved a lot of bells and humming. The sound reverberating in the cave was deafening and surreal.
On the way home we decided to go out for a drink. Ben had read about a secret, underground bar not far from our hotel. We had only a rough idea of the location, and that there was a “no admittance” sign on the door. We walked up and down the street until we found some stairs that went under the shop level. At the bottom it looked just like exit stairs, but sure enough we saw a no entry sign on one of the doors and Ben sneakily poked his head in. Inside was a small, painfully trendy cocktail bar that smelt delicious, serviced by a waiter with a white shirt and bow tie. Inside I had the best cocktail I have ever had in my life (although to be fair, I don’t actually drink many cocktails) and I felt in that moment that I was the “coolest” I would ever be (although to be fair, I’ve never been very cool).
The next day Ben awoke with his first instance of travel-belly-itis. It seemed the tandoori chicken from the dodgy looking Indian restaurant didn’t go down as planned. With this on top of a cold that was steadily getting worse, Ben was a little rough around the edges. We had a bus to catch around midday, so we ventured out on the ridiculous transit system once more, which took us fairly easily to the TBS Bus Station. However, we were soon to learn that the Chief Signage Engineer of KL Trains had nothing on the Chief Bus Organizer at the TBS Bus Station. This guy ate trains for breakfast. Despite purchasing tickets online beforehand, we had to visit three different counters before being directed vaguely to the back of the terminal to print out the confirmation email. We even printed the part that says “you do not need to print this email”. Upon return, we were given a confused look before the girl at the counter got up and walked away. By the way they were acting you would have thought we had bought a bus ticket to Mars. Eventually she wandered back, crossed out the time on the bit of paper we had printed and wrote a new time 30 minutes later. For good measure she hand wrote “boarding pass” on the paper and again pointed vaguely into the distance. In spite of TBS Bus Station’s best intentions we did eventually catch our bus.
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