A trip that was planned because I would see the Air Asia poster everyday. When a friend told me about domestic airfare shooting up, I had joked saying it is cheaper to go to KL. The next day I realised I had no reason to not go. I could take a few days off work, the airfare was cheap and I really needed a holiday. We booked our tickets the next day(from Bangalore to Trichy, and Trichy to KL- for the sake of cheap tickets!). The trip however, was split between KL and Langkawi - Three days in KL, three in Langkawi and one last day in KL.
AirBnB came to our rescue with great accommodation at throwaway prices(USD20 a day,a ten minute walk from KLCC!). The apartment was convenient and offered views of the Twin Towers and the KL tower from the balcony.
One of the most interesting things about Kuala Lumpur is the fact that you can experience several cultures in a day. KLCC,KL Sentral and all the other malls and Chinatown and Little India exist in perfect harmony and set each other off beautifully. Haggling at Chinatown is a must for anybody wanting to hear the dramatic,"You kill me, you kill my family".
I particularly enjoyed views of the city from Petronas. Marini's on the 57th is a bar located on the 57th floor of the KLCC, offering great views of the city and an introduction to the way the affluent live. It makes sense to go to Marini's at around 530pm and spend a couple of hours there to catch views of the city in daylight, dark and as the sun sets.
Batu caves are quite stunning.The Temple may appeal to the religious, but the sheer beauty of the light streaming in from atop the caves is a visual one would take back home as a cherished memory. The Thean Hou Temple is a beautiful representation of Chinese culture and architecture. Kuala Lumpur does not offer too many "touristy" places-to-see, that said, Just walking around, past the independence square, the Old Railway station, even around the streets of Masjid Jamek is an interesting experience.
Genting Highlands is probably the closest thing Malaysia has to Disneyland, only it also houses Malaysia's only casino. The cable car ride to Genting is picturesque. The entire setup feels like a huge market, casino, amusement park and mall all rolled into one, and while it is interesting, it lacks finesse and organization. It also houses a Ripley's Museum.
The second part of this trip was Langkawi. Located an hour away(by air) from Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi starts enticing you with the first bird's eye view of the islands that you catch from the aircraft. The island is known for duty free shopping(Ritter Sport and Hershey's enthusiasts can celebrate, great deals on perfume, branded shoes and alcohol too). Pantai Cenang,Kuah and the surroundings offer white sand beaches, black sand beaches, mangrove tours,water sports,flea markets, spas and everything else! The iconic bridge and ropeway appeal to all Shah Rukh Khan fans(Me!), the Eagle square is majestic and the waters beyond make for a beautiful visual.
Eating at the Thursday flea market was a happy accident. You can get all sorts of food at these make-shift stores be it Pizzas, Lebanese, local cuisine or just some fresh fruit and juice! Langkawi has a lot of fancy spas and several cheap fish spa parlours, they are both worth trying out. The Seaworld/Aquarium in Langkawi is cheaper than the one in KL and has the added appeal of penguins!
Thoroughly relaxed and satiated with the shopping and attractions, we left for KL, where we spent our final day in self indulgence - A fancy hotel, fancy food, a little more shopping. We also chanced upon witnessing local artists and bands getting together in the wee hours of the night around the bylanes of Bukit Bintang, playing music, face painting etc.
The first slice of Malaysia has been a fun, wholesome experience. Kuala Lumpur is a great city to visit for anyone looking for a slice of hedonism and just to simply walk around city, amidst the malls, streets, flea markets and skyscrapers. KL makes for a great base to go to Indonesia, Sabah, Sarawak and the Phillipines. Melaka, Ipoh and Penang sound enticing enough to revisit peninsular Malaysia before treading into the Eastern parts of the country, This wonderfully interesting city feels like the travelers' equivalent of comfort food, it is not outstanding, but just nice and sometimes, just right.