Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rainy Days and Fun Days in Kuala Lumpur

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In my windowless room I sat propped up in bed, a pillow wedged between my back and the wall. Outside, a late season monsoon pounded the hostel’s tin roof like a herd of galloping horses. Determined to use the inclement weather as an opportunity to catch up on writing, I balanced my laptop on outstretched legs and tried to ignore the cacophony. Thirty minutes later a blank screen still stared back at me. Frustrated, I jiggled my legs awake and reached back to plump the pillow. It was soaking wet. What on earth? I jumped up and discovered the seat of my pants was also soaked. Rainwater had silently run down the wall behind my bed, soaking the pillow and mattress. Worse, the hostel had no other room available. In the deluge I packed up and moved to the hotel next door, happy to have found clean and dry accommodations with fast wifi, despite having to pay triple what the hostel was charging.

Kuala Lumpur's famous Petaling Street, in the center of Chinatown

Kuala Lumpur’s famous Petaling Street, in the center of Chinatown

I had scheduled this five-day stopover in Kuala Lumpur in order to get my two-month visa for Thailand, however the previous week I had discovered it was just as easy to do so in Istanbul, so when I arrived in the Malaysian capital I was fancy free for five whole days. It was not my first time in KL, but on all my previous visits I had been just passing through on my way to or from somewhere else. This time I was looking forward to seeing some of the city’s sights. The rain slackened enough that first evening for me to venture out into the Chinatown neighborhood where I was staying. Seeking shelter beneath the high canopies that arch over Petaling Street, I browsed through market stalls and fended off hawkers until the sun finally set and hundreds of crimson paper lanterns were set aglow.

Chinatown's Petaling Street by night

Chinatown’s Petaling Street by night

The following morning dawned equally dismal with spattering rain and leaden skies. I whiled away a couple of hours over breakfast in the hotel’s lobby restaurant, hoping for a change in the weather. Unfortunately, my prayers to the weather gods were not sufficiently specific. The weather changed – for the worse. By mid-morning, sprinkles had become Niagara. Glumly, I headed back to the room, telling myself that I needed to write anyway.

David Hogan Jr. from Malaysia Asia blog joined me for dinner in Penang three years earlier

David Hogan Jr. from Malaysia Asia blog joined me for dinner in Penang three years earlier

By the third day the rain was making me stir crazy. I had to get out. Fortunately, David Hogan, Jr., a friend and fellow travel blogger who authors the blog Malaysia-Asia lives in Kuala Lumpur. I alerted him that I was in town and a couple of hours later he pulled up and whisked me off to the Little India neighborhood. Struggling to keep our balance on slick tiled walkways, we dodged fat raindrops and ducked into a local Mamak stall, where the delicious aroma of Indian spices made my mouth water. Many of these tiny eateries started as street carts and evolved into permanent restaurants that serve traditional South Indian cuisine brought to the west coast of Malaysia by Tamil immigrants in the 10th century. David ordered up plates of Dosa, a thin crepe made from pounded rice and lentils that is fried golden-brown on one side only, along with a variety of sauces for dipping. Over the next three hours we compared notes about blogging and brainstormed ways to attract more readers while stuffing our faces and washing it all down with endless cups of tea.

Making offerings at the Guan Di Buddhist Temple in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

Making offerings at the Guan Di Buddhist Temple in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

There was little respite the following day, but by that time I was reconciled to drizzly skies. Following on the heels of the previous day, I emailed yet another travel blogger who was in town, Juno Kim, author of Runaway Juno, and we arranged to meet later that afternoon. With a few hours to kill, I walked around Chinatown and stopped into the Guan Di Buddhist Temple to make a quick offering, followed by a stroll through the Central Market.

Kasturi Walk at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur

Kasturi Walk at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur

Juno arrived soon afterward and we hopped aboard the rapid rail, bound for Petronas Towers, perhaps the most iconic building in the capital and the one with which it is most associated. Soaring 1,483 feet high, these twin towers are 88 stories high and contain 5.5 million square feet of space, including a multi-level shopping center. Between floors 41 and 42, a Sky Bridge connects the towers and acts as one of two observation decks, the second being located on the 86th floor. I had every intention of taking the tour of the two observation decks until I read that the Sky Bridge is not attached to the two buildings. Because they can sway several feet in high winds, the bridge was designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking. Between this and the $27 ticket price, I contented myself with the view from the ground level.

The iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The rear of the Twin Towers face Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park, a 100-acre development filled with tropical plants, lagoons, fountains, a jogging track, children’s playground, and children’s pool. Thankfully, the rain stopped long enough for Juno and I to stroll through the park, where we found a shiny stainless steel orb that reflected our image and was custom made for “selfie” photos like the one below.

Selfie in a silver reflecting globe with Juno Kim of RunawayJuno.com at Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers

Selfie in a silver reflecting globe with Juno Kim of RunawayJuno.com at Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers

The sky was turning positively black but Juno insisted we couldn’t leave before seeing the towers from the front, so we hotfooted it back through the shopping center, out the front doors, across the street, and down to the end of a long flower-framed plaza, from where we could just see the top of the spires that crown the towers. Click, click, click – we snapped photos hurriedly, but not fast enough. Halfway back the heavens opened up and poured down, soaking us to the bone in a matter of 20 feet.

Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park

Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park

Laughing hysterically, we tore back inside and plopped down onto plastic chairs at the closest coffee shop, where we gossiped and people-watched until we had dried out. I saw precious little of KL, as the locals call it, but what little I saw I enjoyed immensely. I credit that to the great company; things are always best when shared with friends, especially in the pouring rain.

If you’re considering a visit to Kuala Lumpur, my favorite site for finding the best prices on accommodations is Booking.com. I earn a small sum if you book by clicking on the image below, which helps keep this blog free for you to read.

Booking.com

Booking dot Yeah!

18 Comments on “Rainy Days and Fun Days in Kuala Lumpur

  1. I had that leaky hostel room problem happen to me too, only in Malacca – two days in a row, a torrent of water leaked down the wall from the roof, covering my floor in a couple of inches of water. Thank God my computer and valuables were off the floor each time!

    • I had the same reaction, Adam. Thank God I noticed it before the water seeped through the sheets to my laptop, which was sitting on the bed.

  2. It’s always fun being able to meet up with online friends around the world. Totally unrelated to this post, I’ve got to tell you that I love that photo of the Bean! My husband is from Chicago and we get back there every so often to visit his family.

    • LOL Jennifer. I’m also from Chicago, so I thought it was entirely appropriate for the header on my posts.

  3. It’s an amazing blog. I really like it. Image and stuff used is really very good!

  4. I was laughing while reading this post. I stay in Malaysia, near Kuala Lumpur, and I have to say the weather is a bit unpredictable over here. LOL! As for the Sky Bridge, do not worry. It won’t fall off haha!!

  5. KL looks like fun. Have you been to Singapore? I haven’t been to either but was wondering how they compare…

    • Hi Carmen: I visited Singapore in 2007. I liked it a lo – very safe, lots to do. However unlike other SE Asia countries, Singapore is a very controlled country. It’s against the law to chew gum on the subway, and if you jaywalk you’ll get a ticket. They have fines for everything, so I never felt as free there as in other SE Asia countries.

  6. I’ve lived in KL off and on since 2010 (and visited the city several times before that) and I’m kinda missing the place right now as I’ve had to postpone my return by 6+ months for various reasons, so thanks for the nice write-up! I really enjoyed this. :)

    And yes, it does rain a LOT in KL – you get used to it after a while… :)

    • Glad you enjoyed my article Harald. KL is an interesting city and I’m sure I’ll return at some point to explore more of it.

  7. Just having gotten back from Malaysia and Singapore myself, my big question is what is up with windowless rooms! Yuck. Double yuck. Yes, we were fine, but I have to say it was a bit claustrophobic. Now when I’m booking places, I’m making sure a window comes with it! Love your post!

    • LOL Corinne: The windowless rooms don’t actually bother me much, unless it’s also a VERY tiny room. But I know a lot of people don’t much like them.So glad you enjoyed my story, and that you’ve gotten to visit Singapore and Malaysia. I love SE Asia.

  8. Can we trade lives for a little while please? You surely do see the world, don’t you? It’s fun discovering the world through the lens of your camera and the stories you share. Looking forward to learning about Thailand with you.

    • Hi Libbie: I’m so glad you enjoy armchair traveling with me. I’ve been to Thailand so many times that I’ve last count, so Ive written many things about the country. If you’re interested, check out http://holeinthedonut.com/tag/thailand. There’s a lot of photos in that stream, but also many stories.

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