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3 Thoughts about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I’m rounding out week three in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (or just “KL” for short), and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I could do here. We’re staying in the Maple Suites, and our workspace is a 15 minute walk to Bukit Bintang, a large retail shopping district. There’s even a, “Times Square,” nearby. This city feels like a well-balanced amalgam of Chinese, Indian, and ex-colonial British culture. It has miles of shopping malls, food stalls, and traffic. It’s come a long way from its, “muddy confluence,” namesake.

1. Food & transport are so cheap and easy.

After suffering through a lot of Eastern European pizza, KL is a delight for vegetarians. There’s tons of vegetarian Indian food, as well as Chinese food that’s often vegetarian-friendly due to Hindu beliefs. And if you’re sick of local food, you’ll find everything from McDonalds to TGI Fridays in KL. Our city contacts have been running food tours once a week, with each trip focusing on different local cuisine (Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, etc). There’s also a number of scenic, trendy places to grab a drink, like this helipad-turned-cocktail-bar:

Friday after work… On the Helipad. #nobigdeal #battuta #remoteyear #friday

A photo posted by Martin B. Smith (@martinbs3) on

After using local taxi apps and praying for an Uber pickup in Belgrade or Split, KL is also a pleasure to get around. There’s the KLIA Express to get from the train station to the airport, a local monorail, and set of convenient free bus routes. Uber has also been in KL for almost 3 years now, and it works great (and it’s very cheap!), as long as you’re okay with waiting in traffic. Driving in KL is really the worst way to get around during peak times, as it drags along at a very slow pace.

2. KL has a lot of culture.

Kuala Lumpur has a ton of local culture due to the mix of religions and ethnic groups living here. For museum lovers, Kuala Lumpur has you covered, with separate museums for textiles, telecom, Islamic arts, pewter, and a National museum. It has an orchestra, zoo, aquarium, and tons of buildings/towers with observation decks. You could spend weeks just checking out the rich cultural heritage of the area. There’s also festivals of all kinds throughout the year; we overlapped with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, over the weekend. We’ve also had events that explore the city’s parks, which are numerous and shady when you want to escape the heat.

3. There’s a lot to do nearby.

In addition to being a fantastic port for exploring SE Asia by air, there’s a number of local things to do nearby. I haven’t even started to tackle this, but I’d like to check out the nearby Batu caves and Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary too. And to go further afield in Malaysia, there’s options like Penang, Malacca, and Borneo. In fact, I might take additional side trips from Thailand and Cambodia back to some of these.

Check out the sunset view during our welcome event, at the Templer Park Rainforest Retreat:

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