We arrived in Kuala Lumpur early in the morning (Air Asia flights are dirt cheap but seem to always be between 6am and 8am regardless of where you’re flying from or going to).
Our first stop was the central train station to drop our bags at Left Luggage so that we could enjoy a day’s sightseeing around the city without heavy bags. Surprisingly, we managed to fit everything into one locker (for $2) with space over. BigB wanted to see whether if he folded himself up enough he could fit into the locker as well.
From the train station we took the SkyTrain into the center of Kuala Lumpur – with the help of a friendly local who directed us around the construction works surrounding the station to the SkyTrain. This was one of many examples of overall helpfulness and generosity of the Malay people we met during our short time in Malaysia.
The downtown malls were festooned in red and gold rabbit-themed decor for the upcoming Chinese New Year. I had to wonder whether the retailers decorate for Christian holidays too?
With only a day to spend in KL, a hop-on-hop-off bus tour seemed like the best way to get a broad feel for the city in such a short time. Coming off a busy few days sightseeing in Singapore and an early start that morning we were all drowsy and crabby and Kuala Lumpur’s humidity was making everyone even more snappy. Given such circumstances the bus tour was surprisingly successful. No-one fell asleep and there were no major disagreements. We stopped about half way to visit the Butterfly Park. The short walk was just enough to keep us all awake and who wouldn’t feel calmer after sitting in a warm garden watching these beautiful creatures.
Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square was without question my favorite sight on the tour. It’s like a potted history of Malaysia in a single city block containing a mosque, the beautiful Moghul-inspired Sultan Ahmad Samad Building (above), an Anglican church and the Tudor-style Royal Selangor Club – with skyscrapers visible in the background. If I had had more time – and energy – I would have loved to visit the Museum Tekstil Negra. This candy-striped building with raised onion-shaped domes, close to the square, was visually arresting and my favorite building in the historical center of Kuala Lumpur.
On the last leg of the bus tour we met another American family who had just moved to Kuala Lumpur – on their first ever trip out of the U.S. Even if many of our family and friends praise us for traveling for a year with kids, I think this family is much braver.
The end of the day couldn’t come fast enough. The sleeper beds on our overnight train to Penang were a very, very welcome sight.