Last time I visited Kuala Lumpur we didn’t become friends. I didn’t feel the vibe of the city and spent most of my 48 hours in bed sleeping off a cold. With so many people raving about KL and its food, I decided it’s time to give this place another go – a whole 5 weeks of it.
Our neighbourhood & accommodation
Our Airbnb apartment was located in Kampong Baru, a traditional Malay village which, despite being so close to the KLCC area and having skyscrapers in the background, feels worlds apart. A myriad of street food stalls and small restaurants plus the nicest locals greeting us as soon as we walked past them. I truly enjoyed our Kampong but at the same time, I was frustrated with it a bit (more about that in the next section below).
The apartment, on the 28th floor, had magnificent views of KL skyline and of the epic Malaysian thunderstorms. It was spacious, had a desk for working, big couch and super-duper-fast internet. There was also a pretty good gym and 2 pools – one on the 5th floor and one (infinity-ish) on the 33A. Yes, not 34. Every “4” was replaced with A – 3A, 13A, 23A etc. And we had daily visits from an eagle. Must have been its favourite morning flight spot.
All that would be awesome if it wasn’t for the constant plumbing problems which resulted in a lot of frustrations and terrible odour coming out from one of the bathrooms (so terrible, we stopped using that bathroom and never opened its doors).
Impressions about Kuala Lumpur – likes & dislikes
I love bacon and enjoy having cold beers (especially in hot, tropical weather) with my meals. Kuala Lumpur makes access to those a bit too tricky. If you want pork and alcohol, you need to go to Chinatown/Chinese restaurants or shop in non-halal sections of supermarkets. Bad news though – alcohol and hams are way overpriced.
I would be absolutely fine to deal with that for a weekend or a week but after 2 weeks it became rather annoying. By week 5 we were just frustrated. I don’t subscribe to religious dietary restrictions.
Deliver all the things!
In KL everything can be delivered to your door for very cheap or for free which resulted in us ordering most of our lunches and dinners as well as groceries. If it wasn’t for the gym we visited every morning, we would easily turn into couch potatoes.
Officially, there’s no special dress code until you step outside of your hotel/Airbnb (ladies especially, I don’t think guys have anything to worry about in this category) and feel all eyes on you.
I dress rather modestly, usually wear tees and not-very-shorty-shorts but still, I felt watched – when I visited last year as well as this year with Hubby. And it’s not just men – disapproving stares of local ladies in our Kampong made me feel as uncomfortable. I switched shorts for a long skirt and that made things better.
It, of course, all depends on the areas of town you’re frequenting – hotels, shopping malls and Chinatown are way more relaxed and if you’re sticking to just those parts of town, you shouldn’t have same problems as I had.
There is a lot of tasty street food in KL. I especially enjoyed it in Kampung Baru, without the crowds and higher prices of the popular Jalan Alor. Everything we tried was freshly prepared, piping hot and full of flavour. There was a great chicken stall across the road on a footpath, “banana man” selling beautiful fried bananas and our one-time discovery – sweet potato doughnuts.
KL is also performing well in the sunsets department. We had a wonderful vantage point for thunderstorms and sunsets from our windows and balcony which resulted in way too many photos. But how can you resist when the sky and clouds turn all shades of pink, purple, orange and red?
KL, much like Dubai, is not designed for pedestrians. You move everywhere by car, public transport or motorbike – there’s no “walk” option. If there’s a footpath, it will most likely be used as a parking space and you’ll end up walking on a side of a busy road anyway. Footpaths also have a tendency of ending abruptly forcing you to walk back to the nearest intersection – it’s that moment when you just want to give up and take a taxi instead.
Malaysian language, or Bahasa Malaysia, isn’t too familiar to us. While I knew some words in Bahasa from my trips to Indonesia, I didn’t learn much more during this month. The words I mastered were (as usual in my case) food-related.
I quite like how every written word is easy to pronounce for Polish-speakers. Especially the words coming from English – bas, teksi, grafik or muzium – make more sense to us written this way.
Other than that English is the way to go – websites, signs etc are in English and most people (except older ladies in our Kampong) speak it too.
In November 2018 100 MYR cost us around 33.70 AUD (at the same time, it would be around 23.90 USD).
Other than frying some bacon and toasting bread, I didn’t do any cooking in KL. Street food and all the deliveries were cheap and usually very tasty so I didn’t see any point in cooking at home. That’s why we didn’t shop for groceries much. But when we did it was usually Cold Storage. We also shopped at UO Superstore, Jaya Grocer and AEON Big.
How much we paid for our groceries? For example:
- 1.5L still water: 1 – 1.50 MYR ( 0.33 – 0.50 AUD)
- 250g pack of cherry tomatoes: 3.90 – 8.90 MYR ( 1.29 – 2.95 AUD)
- 150g of ham: 13.90 MYR ( 4.60 AUD)
- Butter 250g: 11.65 MYR ( 3.87 AUD)
- beer: 120 MYR for 24pk of 320ml cans of Asahi ( 39.84 AUD) – and that’s including all the possible discount codes for online shopping or 34.9 MYR for 6pk of 320ml cans of Tiger ( 11.59 AUD)
How much you should expect to pay for:
- one small flat white in a cafe: 12 – 18 MYR ( 3.98 – 5.98 AUD)
- for 0.6L beer in a Chinatown restaurant: 18 MYR ( 5.98 AUD)
- a satay stick: 1 – 2 MYR ( 0.33 – 0.66 AUD)
- fried noodles with meat and veggies: 6.50 – 15 MYR – depending on where you go (2.16 – 4.98 AUD)
How much we spent in 5 weeks (2 people)
Accommodation: 6187.48 MYR = 2115.63 AUD
Groceries: 632.51 MYR = 210.88 AUD
Eating out (we went out/ordered meals, snacks or ice cream 75 times): 2449.11 MYR = 812.97 AUD
Coffee: 403.43 MYR = 134.06 AUD
Alcohol: 1003.18 MYR = 333.18 AUD
Transport (public transport, Grab, Taxi): 695.30 MYR = 231.56 AUD
Entertainment (cinema): 74 MYR = 24.69 AUD
SIM (both): 96 MYR = 32.17 AUD
Total: 11 541.01 = 3 895.14 AUD
We noticed the censorship when we went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a cinema. All the “bad” words were cut off (and the film was 18+ in Malaysia while it was PG13 everywhere else). It was funny actually when we could clearly see the actor saying “Freddie Fucking Mercury” but hear only “Freddie Mercury”. The subtitles (in both, Bahasa and Chinese) showed just *****.
Road traffic rules
Marseille prepared us well for the “relaxed” traffic rules – it’s similar in Malaysia, only more intense. Green/red light means absolutely nothing and you need to be extra careful when crossing a road.
Things that happened this month
We got ourselves the Aeropress. I tested, fine-tuned and mastered a recipe for our favourite brew and we finally can have great coffee every morning without leaving the house. After a couple of weeks, I can do it not fully awake (on so-called autopilot).
Weekend trip to Ipoh
Last time, I really enjoyed Ipoh so naturally, wanted to show it to Hubby. This re-visit confirmed that I genuinely liked it and it wasn’t the fever I had clouding my judgement. We went to some of my favourite places and found some new, tasty ones.
Back to running
After not running in Germany at all and having completed only 2 or 3 runs in Marseille, we finally got back on it. Gym with the view we had helped in that. We were there every morning, 5 times a week (on weekdays). It was hard. Our fitness levels dropped rather quickly in the last few months and unfortunately, it’s not as easy to get back to better form.