Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We’re not generally big city fans, so unsurprisingly our reaction to KL was pretty negative. We visited the city four times as a stopover between other places, and we found it to be pretty unfriendly and expensive compared to the rest of the country. Only in KL were we really ripped off by food stalls, ripped off or treated badly by hotel folks, or fed pretty average to rubbish food.

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On our first visit we were just stopping over to get a visa pre-Indonesia, but we hated it so much we left after just one night in the city. The second time, we were there to catch a flight to Bali. Both times we just checked into the same pretty average Hotel Petaling (with the smallest rooms EVER… the door barely had room to open!) and ate at the same pretty nice ‘Nasi Campur’ (rice buffet with curry etc.) restaurant, which was just okay.

Creatures of habit, we repeated this cycle on all our visits, but ventured further afield to Little India, where we ate some pretty great dosas / curries, and drank some pretty tasty coffees, but otherwise found the area very stressful and full-on, with street markets spilling out on the streets selling nothing but fake plasticky fabrics and cheap knock-off wares. All the markets recommended to us by locals were basically just overpriced, unauthentic, and full of horrible cheap tat… not what we wanted for our last minute souvenir shopping! I cursed myself for not buying more in the impressive markets of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam!

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Sadly this was our last location before flying home, but by this point we’d grown a little nostalgic towards the city we’d visited so often, and our last meal at our local curry house seemed twinged with nostalgia and charged with emotion, especially given the fact it was accompanied by a torrential downpour that had all the locals standing on the side of the street staring out into the deafening thunder-clad sky, and crowding around hot coffees and food under the shelter the city’s cafes.

We’ve heard there are nice mosques and historical parts to the city, so perhaps this is an unfair review, but from what we saw of the bustling centre / Chinatown, the city – a bizarre mix of old streets and gleaming sky scrapers – lacked the real ‘soul’ that we found in other parts of the country, and mirrored the lack of ‘heart’ that we’d seen in so many other capitals in Asia.

Oh well. So, in an onwards trajectory from Malaysia, we next flew to Indonesia to meet our second group of buddies to visit from home in tourist favourite Bali!