It just so happened that our second weekend in China fell on Mid-Autumn Festival, a nationwide holiday that most businesses shut down for. It worked out well for us since we went into this trip with the intent to make the most of our time in Asia, as best as we could.
There were a handful of spots we could fly direct to from Wuhan, and Kuala Lumpur was one of them. (Tokyo was also one, and as tempting as it was to go on a sushi-eating weekend bender, the flights were surprisingly pricey for such a short jaunt over the East China Sea). A few Pinterest searches confirmed it had seemed to have enough cool spots to keep us entertained for 3 days, so we booked a couple seats on the ol Airbus.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, a majority of flights around Asia seem to be overnight. Which left us landing in Malaysia around 5am. Even though we had only racked up a week in China, I took in the Kuala Lumpur airport like a kid in a candy store. Dunkin Donuts! Garrett Popcorn! Popeyes Chicken! Signs in English! People could understand what I said to them! Sadly at that hour, not much was open and Tate drug me out of there without even a chicken biscuit.
After a leisurely (read: terrifying at 90mph) taxi ride to our hotel we were politely smiled at and informed our room would not be ready til at least noon. Bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived we hunkered down on a lobby sofa and pulled out our laptops to log a few hours of work, since America doesn’t feel the need to celebrate mid-autumn. I think the front desk gal took pity on us, and sweet-talked a housekeeper into turning a room quicker for us. Either that or our gauntly, unshowered selves were not the Instagram-perfect lobby scene they were going for. By 8:30 she was handing us keycards and by 8:35 our heads were hitting the pillow.
In an effort not to waste our limited time, we rolled out of bed around noon and knocked out a couple more hours of work. Then we hightailed our bright-eyed, bushy-taled booties out of the hotel and onto the streets. We wandered our way over to a park just beyond the Petronas Towers and proceeded to sweat through every article of clothing we had on. Let me tell you …. there was something special about that Malaysian heat. Being a Hoosier, I’m well-versed in our NOTdry heat… but KL was a whole other level of that. I swear the outside temperature couldn’t have been more than 78 or 80 degrees Farenheit, but it literally felt like trekking through a sauna.
Like the rest of Asia, Malays love their shopping malls and we soon found ourselves inside one of the many. I’m not sure if it is the shopping, or just the fact that you can escape the heat in some AC but I secretly think it’s the latter.
I had booked us a room at the Journal Hotel and we really enjoyed it. Desperate to get a break from the humidity, we hit up the Swimming Club. The rooftop pool had a lot going for it, even as the air pollution all around Southeast Asia did everything it could to try to ruin our views.
We found ourselves at the Rum Bar that evening, relishing in the ability to easily converse with bartenders and waitresses again, something we had missed out on in China. (Side note, nearly every bar and restaurant we went to in Kuala Lumpur, and also later in Singapore and Philippines, all used metal or bamboo straws.)
After getting our fill of tropical drinks (caipirinha for me!) and a few tapas style snacks, we spent the evening wandering around Changkat Bukit Bintang. It was a fun little street near our hotel that’s a lot like a lesser-commercialized Time Square, a ton of bars and restaurants all with outdoor seating, and the road is blocked off to traffic.
That afternoon I had set up a little walking tour via AirBNB for the next day. Aside from food tours, walking tours are our favorite way to get a quick fix of a city if we’re only there for a short amount of time. We woke up Saturday and grabbed breakfast at FEEKA then wandered some more on our own before meeting up with our guy. We got caught in an INSANE downpour shortly after breakfast, which we later learned was because they had been cloud-seeding all morning trying to clear out the pollution. Apparently it was due to the burning of forests over in Indonesia that the palm tree growers routinely do, and it just floats over in a thick mass blanketing Malaysia, Singapore, etc etc.
Alvin took us through Chinatown, showed us some hidden street art, around beautiful Taoist and Hindu temples, along the National Mosque and ended at the Botanical Gardens. We loved the chance to chat with a local, and see life from his point of view.
On the walk back to our hotel, he took us to the food stalls but it was SO crazy busy we decided the Chinese Hubu Alley experience last week was enough for us for the time being.
We walked somewhere around 9 miles that day. After quick showers, we headed back to Changkat Bukit Bintang to grab a bite to eat then barely held our eyes open long enough to stumble back to the hotel.
We had the best intention to wake up SUPER early Sunday and catch a cab to Batu Caves, one of KL’s most ‘famous’ sites, but honestly we were drained. I turned off my alarm clock and proceeded to snooze until mid-morning. In retrospect, I really wish we had made more of an effort to get there, I hear it’s beautiful. But it just wasn’t in the cards. After going 100mph in China for the past week and a half, coupled with jetlag and the weariness of adjusting to life and work on the other side of the world, a lazy morning in bed was exactly what the doctor ordered.
We had a flight to catch early afternoon, so after showering and repacking we checked out of the hotel, had them hold our luggage and then (shocking) went to the closest mall to find some brunch/lunch. We stumbled upon a place called GravyBaby that was not only adorable, but had delicious drinks and pretty good food to match.
The weekend flew by, but all in all I really enjoyed KL. I wish the sky would have been a bit clearer, but I guess that gives me an excuse to go back!
Off we went, back to China!