{kl} Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers, KL

Last week, we took advantage of the extended Khmer New Year holiday to check out Kuala Lumpur (a.k.a. KL), the capital of Malaysia. We've had three New Year holidays so far this year (Jan. 1, Chinese, and Khmer), and we actually found another one (India's New Year) while we were in Malaysia. Go figure - people love holidays around here...

What was surprising about this trip was how we went to a city and discovered nature. KL has so many green spaces and is the cleanest, nicest city I've seen in southeast Asia so far. We took advantage of Couchsurfing.org and were invited by a host to stay with him during our trip. If you haven't heard of it, Couchsurfing.org is an online hospitality network, where you can find hosts who put you up for the night, help you figure out the city, etc. You can also volunteer to host travelers in your home. All of our experiences with CS have been amazing, and we have learned far more about our destinations and had a much better time than we could have on our own. CSer's are some of the most generous, friendly people I've ever met. Ok, infomercial over.

Entry to Batu Caves

Our first day started out at Batu Caves, which houses Hindu temples tucked away in limestone cliffs north of KL. I don't think I've ever been in a city with such diverse, distinct ethnic groups living next to each other. The main groups are ethnic Malays, Indians, and Chinese, which translates to Islam, Hinduism, and traditional Chinese religion all living next to each other. At Batu Caves (batu means "rock"), we met up with a group of Couchsurfers who were also seeing the sights, and we spent the whole day with them. Considering the diversity we were seeing in KL, and the fact the group was made up of a Hindu Indian-Malay, a Christian Malaysian, two American Christians, an agnostic Iranian, and a Lithuanian-via-Chicago, we definitely had some interesting discussions along the way.

The long staircase up to the caves

Walking up to the main temple

We also took time for a tour into a different passage into the caves, led by a conservationist who discussed the importance of bats for our environment and for fruit trees. When I learned that certain fruit trees would not continue reproducing without bats, I felt my heart softening towards the ugly little creatures.

After Batu, we saw the famous Petronas Towers (but didn't go up - $20+ entry seemed a bit steep...) and the colonial district, where we snapped our photo by the famous I Heart KL sign outside the city art gallery.

Holding up Petronas Towers...

Our CS tour group

Chinese-Malay food at Mungo Jerry's Restaurant

The next day, we spent the morning at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), which is a large regenerated forest just outside of the city with multiple walking/hiking/biking trails and a canopy walkway. Another thing that surprised me about KL was the large number of green spaces within the city. You could spend a whole weekend trip just visiting different gardens and animal parks and never once having to set foot inside a shopping mall for entertainment.

As I said before, KL is extremely diverse, and different ethnic groups have their own neighborhoods in the city. So we decided to check out Little India and ended up spending the entire afternoon and evening there. 

Covered outdoor shopping bazaar

Eating Indian food - Andrew is one happy man...

Are we in India or Malaysia?!

While there, we spontaneously decided to pop into the cinema and catch a Hindi film. They had English subtitles, and it was a comedy (plus all the regular dancing and singing that Hindi films adore). I don't think we have laughed that hard in a looong time at a movie, along with everyone else in the theater! Basically our afternoon consisted of eating Indian food, walking around, watching a film, then eating more Indian food - dream come true...

Photos of the old KL railway station

On our last day, we spent time at the Islamic Arts Museum, which housed a fascinating collection of manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, weapons, etc. from all over the Islamic world - India, China, Turkey, Iran, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and many other countries. It was fascinating to see how the Islamic faith permeates every facet of a Muslim's life, and how they turned everyday objects into a reminder of their faith in an incredibly artistic, beautiful way. Andrew and I talked about how, as Christians, we can do the same in our daily life - allowing everything our hands touch and our eyes see to reminder us of the Risen Savior we serve. 

After the museum, we made one more stop before leaving KL at the KL Bird Park, which is basically a big zoo for birds. Most of it is an open aviary, which means you get to walk around with the birds and get close up and personal with them...maybe a bit too up close...

This is me saying, I think that stork is going to try to eat me...

What can I say, after this trip - I heart KL a lot and hope we come back soon...

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