Hi there. Remember me? :)
I know it’s been a while. The short + simple answer is that I’ve been busy and focusing my time on freelancing work. The more complicated answer is that I’ve been uninspired to write and that because I’m spending most days working now, I feel like that there’s just not too much to write about anymore.
Which is unfair because I really do love Kuala Lumpur a lot, so there should be no excuse for not sharing all about it. (And I miss blogging too… though I think my mom misses it more :P)
So instead of coming back into Blogland with a long explanation of my absence (we’ll save it for another day), I’m going to talk a little bit about the city that I’ve decided to make my home for the moment.
I really knew nothing about Kuala Lumpur before coming here. And I had my own image of what a third-world capital city looks like (bad, I know). But everything I imagined about it was completely turned on its head and I was totally captivated.
Here are just a few of the things I love about KL, with some random pictures (I gotta say that KL is not a very photogenic city so I haven’t been taking much photos, but I may take some later and update this post).
Ultimate city of contrasts
Kuala Lumpur is the ultimate city of contrasts. Luxury high-rise condos with infinity pools are right next to shabby ramshackle shophouses. Girls in headscarves walk right next to girls in tiny tanks and shorts. It’s set in a strict Muslim country where I hear the prayer calls a few times a day from my room, but it’s a city where the alcohol flows freely and morals are loose.
I see it as an insanely modern city (in many ways, even more so than Los Angeles!) and yet still distinctively Southeast Asian with a strong local culture. There are ritzy skyscrapers and shopping centers, but also the night markets and streetside dining that make this part of the world so unique. There’s no doubt about it that KL is one of the most electrifying cities I’ve ever visited.
Malaysia is a melting pot of different cultures that beautifully (or maybe not quite so beautifully sometimes) coexist alongside each other. It’s made up mainly of 3 ethnicities: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. Each with their own set of traditions and religions.
This means that there are mosques with their minarets pointed high into the sky, Indian temples with colorful statues stacked atop each other, and Chinese temples topped with dragons. This also means that a numerous number of cultural holidays are celebrated every year.
And of course, this cultural diversity means…
Amazing food. Of all kinds.
KL is a food mecca. From the mamaks (Muslim-Indian eateries that are open 24/7) to Chinese coffee shops (this means a food court with different vendors), the local food is amazing with endless dishes to try. And then add on to that food from all around the world, and the options are literally limitless.
In most other Asian countries, foods such as pasta, pizza, eggs benedict, etc. are considered “Western food”. And yes when I travel, I get the craving for stuff like that occasionally, but unfortunately, most of them leave much to be desired (ahem… looking at you, Taipei). But because of the Western influence on Malaysia, those types of “Western food” are considered as just normal local food here, and are standard in pretty much all the cafes. And they’re done very well.
But it doesn’t just stop there: Mexican, Middle Eastern, Korean, Japanese are all easily found. And also due to its location in SEA, there’s an abundance of authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesia cuisine as well. There’s seriously nothing to crave because this city has EVERY kind of food imaginable. There’s even a very decent In-N-Out copycat (okay it’s from Taipei first but the one in KL is better)!
There’s also a huge variety of dining options, from outdoor food courts to sit-down restaurants to ultra-fine dining to hipster cafes where chefs churn out creative fusion dishes. There’s even a burgeoning gourmet food truck scene, which I need to slowly chase.
I’m serious when I say that KL is the MOST exciting and international city I’ve ever been to when it comes to food.
It’s a city that never sleeps
Forget New York City, KL is the city that never sleeps. Bars stay open until practically daybreak (not that I’m cool enough to partake anymore in that kind of activity… I’m boring). You can find food literally 24/7 around the clock, and not just the fast food drive-through variety.
But this kind of late night going-out is not relegated to only the young partying crowd. It’s not a strange thing to see entire families (with grannies and very young children!) having a full meal at an outdoors food court at 1 am. I still get a kick out of it. Don’t these kids have bedtimes?!
Hanging out in malls is everyone’s favorite pastime here. At first, I thought it was weird because there’s only so many times you can go to the mall before getting bored! But after a few months here, I understand why.
There are only two weather scenarios here: 1) hot, sunny, and humid, or 2) pouring torrential rain with thunder and lightning. In both of these scenarios, the mall is the best place to be in.
But the malls are pretty amazing places in KL. First of all, there is literally a mall maybe every 5 minutes (not even exaggerating) so you’ll probably have a hard time running out of new ones to explore. But there are only a handful of the popular big malls, and they’re some of the biggest in the world. Between the hundreds of shops (international brands and local), dozens of restaurants and cafes, bookstores, and movie theaters, you can easily spend a day there avoiding the heat or rain.
I find the shopping to be very fair too. Prices are on par with the US prices, so it’s not like that you’re going to be overpaying for an H&M shirt.
So yeah, hanging out in malls in pretty much my favorite weekend pastime now too, though honestly, only because there’s nothing else to do. If you’re from KL and happen to be reading this – what else is there to do on weekends??
This is just a quick little introduction to Kuala Lumpur to hopefully let you understand it a bit if you know nothing about it (like me before I arrived). I think if you’re visiting, you have to spend more than a couple of days here to get to really explore it and see it beyond just the Petronas Towers and Changkat bar street. It’s a city that has surprised me at every turn and I’m so looking forward to discovering new things about it. I’m already keeping a list of weird and wonderful facts I’ve learned so I will share it once I’ve gathered enough!
And lastly, thank you to everyone who left such encouraging comments on my last post. I apologize for the long absence and thank you so much for being patient while I sort things out and adjust to this new chapter in my life!