We flew to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, following hubby who is here for work. As the international schools are still on holidays in Singapore it was a good opportunity to do the short trip, and I don't need much excuse to visit Malaysia.
Even though the flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is less than an hour long, the actual journey takes half the day. The traveling to Changi Airport, two hours at the airport before the flight, and then the hour's taxi journey from KL airport into Kula Lumpur all adds up to almost 5 hours. Some of my friends prefer the express coach service from Singapore because of this and I can see their point, although 5 hours on a coach with children is not my idea of fun. My sister and her family did the journey by train, but they were delayed by a train derailment somewhere north of Johor Bahru, and the journey took them 10 hours. Give me the air travel any day.
Anyway, we are here and staying a stone's throw from the Petronas Twin Towers. They really are very impressive; the scale of them is massive, but even so they look delicate and light. We wandered over today to have a coffee in the lovely Dome Cafe in Suria KLCC, then to the Petrosains Discovery Centre on the 4th floor. This sounded similar to Singapore's Science Centre, with lots of interactive exhibits to keep the children interested. Alas, it was bad timing and they weren't letting any more poeple in for another hour as it was full to capacity.
So we wandered around, the kids had a spontaneous haircut, and then we decided to try to visit they Skybridge which is the highest point the public can visit. Another disappointment. Times like these I kick myself for not doing a little research. If I had I would have known that we should have turned up at 8am(the ticket office opens at 9am) to line up for a ticket. The visit is actually free but you must come in the morning to get a ticket for a designated time later in the day. It is closed on Mondays and for Friday prayers between 1pm and 2.30pm.
By this stage I was eager to get out of the pristine air-conditioned mall and see something else of KL. A short taxi ride away is Central Market which has an interesting mix of tourist/art and craft shops. We liked the kite shop selling the traditional Malay kites as well as some beautiful butterflies and moths in frames (I would prefer to see these in the rainforest, however).
We also walked to Jalan Petaling, which is supposedly 'Chinatown of KL. We were heartily disappointed-Maya commented that the only thing Chinese about it was a few tatty lanterns hanging up. In fact there is much more Chinese here than that-fake RayBans, swatches, belts and DVDs. But there is little charm here and we quickly made our way out.
Kuala Lumpur is interesting this time of year because it is full of Arab tourists. It is their holiday season and there are a lot of newly-weds as well as extended families escaping the 50 degrees heat in the Gulf. Being a majority-Muslim country, Malaysia is seen as a safe family destination, so the hotels are very geared to these visitors (I had hummus and flatbread for breakfast). I have never seen so many women in full burka, with just their eyes peeking through. My children were wondering how they ate, were they hot, and in fact why they had to wear black all the time while the men wore western clothes. Sadly I had few answers for them. I find it hard not to stare, just from curiosity, and I notice them staring back. We are as strange to them as they are to us.