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Friday, November 13, 2009

A 33 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpur

After less than 3 hours of sleep the night before, we woke up at 4:30 so we could make it to the airport on time for our 6am flight to Malaysia. What were we thinking booking a flight that early?! Luckily I slept from the minute we took off to the minute we landed.  After dropping our stuff off at the airport and planning out our day we headed to the Petronas Twin Towers, the 451.9 meter tall buildings, the world‘s tallest freestanding twin towers.(Used to be the world’s tallest towers until 2004 when one was built in Taipei.) In the basement between the two towers is a huge mall, of course we should have known. So we stopped and grabbed a bite to eat. When we got to the towers we were told that the tickets for the day were sold out! We were so bummed. We were informed that the tickets usually sell out by 9 or 10 am and we’d have to come back tomorrow morning at 8am to try again. Unfortunately we never made it up to the 41st floor of the towers where the sky bridge is located, and where you can see views of the whole city.  SO we just went outside and took some pictures of the towers instead. The architecture of the buildings is festinating, its made of all stainless steel and glass and shines.

Katie Standing in front of the Towers.

We walked to the KL Tower after this, but didn’t go up that one either, I think we’ve climbed enough towers on our trip!

Then is started to rain, both of us were without raincoats and umbrellas. I didn’t even bring a raincoat on the trip so good thing this is only the second time it has rained on us in 4 weeks. We went to Merdeka Square (Independence Square).  It’s a big field used for cricket games and ceremonies. The Sultan Abdul Samad building is across the street from the park. It was built for the Sultan at the time and I feel like I am in Saudi Arabia just looking at it! There is also a tudor-style building on the other side of the square, I’m not sure what it is but it is the only European building I’ve seen in the whole city and it looks out of place. The Jamek Mosque is right near the square too, we saw it but didn’t go inside. Many of the Mosques don’t allow non-Muslims to enter, and most that do have designated times that we can.

Merdeka Square & the Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Kuala Lumpur is not a very big city and it’s pretty easy to walk everywhere, which is a nice change. We walked over to Central Market, near Chinatown and our hostel. We found a fish spa there so we did that for 10 minutes and it only cost us 5 ringgit ($1.50). I saw this on Oprah once and we’ve seen it all over Asia. The fish are called ‘doctor fish’, and they eat the dead skin off of peoples feet. They are toothless so it didn’t hurt. Some nibbled harder than others though and I’m pretty sure they have to have at least one small tooth! And some just tickled! They also say that it helps with blood circulation, which I hope is true and would be great if it worked for me!

Katie and I at the fish spa with our feet in a tub full of hundreds of doctor fish!

We ventured out in the rain to find a place for dinner and drinks. Kuala Lumpur isn’t a very lively city, but we found a good place to eat dinner and hang out for a while. Since we only had one night I had to order some type of traditional Malaysian dish, so I ordered one not having any idea what I was going to get, I only remembered reading that rending and sambal are traditional dishes. When I got my food I was served rice with 3 slices of cucumber, chicken rending (chicken or mutton, I’m actually not sure, cooked in coconut milk with ginger, lemon grass, chilies, tamarind and tumeric), dried fish pieces, and vegetable and fish and squid sambal (a chili paste that is very spicy). I really liked the chicken vegetables and squid. The dried fish smelt awful and tasted even worse! It was the same type of dried fish that we saw all over China, gross!

Left to Right: Cucumbers, Chicken Rendang, Vegetable Sambal, Fish Sambal, Dried fish peices

We called it an early night because we were both exhausted from getting up at 4am that morning. I fell asleep right away and slept for over 10 hours, it felt great!

This morning we went to the Batu Caves, which are about 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur. We were told the bus ride there was only 45 minutes. But there was so much traffic that it ended up taking almost 1.5 hours to get there. We climbed the 272 steps up the limestone hill and went into the caves. They are about 100 meters above the ground and 400 million years old! Inside there are many temples and temple caves.

Katie and I at the bottom of the stairs in front of the 130 feet high statue of Lord Muruga, a Hindu deity

Inside the Caves

A temple inside the Cave

For the rest of the afternoon we walked around Petaling Street in Chinatown, which is full of shops and hawker stalls trying to sell you fake bags and clothes, I felt like I was in China again! There are so many fresh fruit stands here with exotic fruits, I love it! When I was in Costa Rica 6 years ago I had a fruit called rambutan and I have never seen it since. Well it is all over Indonesia and Malaysia! I was so excited to finally find it again.

So we bought some and I made Katie try it too. She’s not as adventurous as I am when it comes to trying new foods, but I’m trying really hard to get her to try at least one new thing in each country and most of the time she likes it! We had to head to the airport after this to catch our flight to Thailand. I had read that dried fruit is really popular here but I barely saw any. So when we got to the airport and there was a store full of every dried fruit you can imagine, I was excited! We were allowed to sample and taste as many as we wanted. I tried dried mango and a bunch of fruits I’d never heard of before. We even tried dried rose petals!

Now we are off to Thailand for our last 10 days of the trip. Thailand will be my 25th country visited! I had a goal to travel to at least 25 countries and all 7 continents before I turned 25. So I’m really excited that I’m actually able to do it, I just have to get to Antarctica in the next 3 years!

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