Feeling the Ups and Downs of Travel in Kuala Lumpur

While Tyler typically writes a top 5 post for the capital cities we visit, we decided to switch things up for Kuala Lumpur. After falling sick almost as soon as we arrived, Tyler didn't feel he could comfortably write about a place he saw so little of. Though we explored the city and walked around its neighborhoods, he was never really there because of physical pain and sheer exhaustion. So, it'll be me this time, recounting our five days in the city.

Our time in Kuala Lumpur didn't start in the best of ways. After noticing a big red patch on the back of Tyler's neck that clearly wasn't a sunburn, we ventured out on the first hospital visit of our trip. We quickly found out out that he'd contracted a form of herpes (really, it was shingles) because of... “bad personal hygiene”, according to the doctor he met with. Herpes? Poor hygiene? I don't think so. Tyler and I are together almost 24/7 and I can tell you that it was not poor hygiene but most likely, stress and fatigue. He drove around the entire country of New Zealand solo and our visits to Australia and Bali had been fast-paced, to say the least. Regardless of what caused it, he had it and it hurt. On top of that, his stomach remained unsettled so when he wasn't letting loose (you know what I mean), he was in pain from simply moving his neck.

In order not to drain Tyler but still do some sightseeing, we kept our time out of the hostel short and sweet, only seeing a few places a day. After our hospital visit, we walked around our neighborhood, which included the very busy, very touristy, Petaling Street in Chinatown. Neither of us were interested in buying cheap knockoffs so the continuous shouting from sellers was unpleasant. Another day, we went out to eat at the legendary coffee shop, Yut Kee, before checking out the Petronas Twin Towers and the malls around them. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Mosque the next day for the few short hours it's open to tourists as well as the Islamic Arts Museum. The museum was one of my favorites. It did a wonderful job of explaining the history of Islam throughout the years and around the world while showcasing beautiful pieces of art, jewelry, paintings, etc.

On our final day, I took the train out to the Batu Caves and did a bit of sight-seeing on my own. I rode in the women's coach, which wasn't necessary but a nice option. I conquered my fear of monkeys and went up the 272 steps while they jumped from side to side, slid down railings, stealing food wherever they could. Truth be told, I wasn't as impressed by the Batu Caves as I thought I'd be. Though the statue of Lord Murugan was incredible to see at 42.7 meters high (!), the caves themselves didn't offer much but empty space with a few shrines here and there. I'm sure it's a different story during the Hindu festival of Thaipusam when more than a million devotees make the 15 km pilgrimage from Kuala Lumpur but on any other day, I didn't see the magic of it. In fact, I liked my visit to the Dark Cave much better. I arrived only a few minutes before the next tour started. Thankfully, they had one spot left – I guess sometimes it's nice to travel alone! – and I was off into the darkness almost immediately. The cave sure lived up to its name. Armed with just a headlamp each, our group followed the guide along the slippery path, while taking in the limestone formations and the many bugs. Though we didn't see the rarest spider in the world, the elusive Trapdoor Spider, we managed to spot quite a few of its friends. It was a fun visit and one I would make again as I'm sure you get to see new things every time you go. A hard place to take pictures though as they don't keep any lights on inside, something else I really enjoyed. They tried to respect the ecological system as best they could while educating people at the same time.

All in all, though we enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur, Tyler's sickness definitely put a bit of damper on our visit. We were also still getting used to the humid heat of SE Asia. Walking outside for hours was hard on us and we usually came back tired and moody. Taking that into consideration, I'm not too surprised we didn't fall in love with the city. At the same time, maybe it's just one of those places that left me unimpressed. You can't love every single place you see and every single thing you do and Kuala Lumpur definitely reminded me of that. I would still like to go back someday and give it another visit. Until then, I'll leave it towards the bottom of my list of SE Asia capital cities.

Note: Tyler will cover our accommodation in his wrap-up post. Stay tuned!