Kuala Lumpur

It is only a short flight from Surat Thani to Kuala Lumpur. On Friday afternoon we touch down at KLIA2, the international airport for budget airlines in the Sepang area. Kuala Lumpur (in all of Malaysia invariably referred to as KL) is not yet in sight, so we arrange two tickets for a bus ride to KL Sentral, the central transport hub in KL, followed by a monorail ride and then a short walk till we find our guesthouse.

In Malaysia we set our watches back one hour, the time difference with the Netherlands is 6 hours. Although it is about one hour later compared to Koh Tao and Surat Thani it is getting dark already. The ride to the guesthouse took longer than expected, so: dinner time! Malaysia is more famous for street food compared to Thailand. Around sunset the night-markets start to come to life, streets are closed for traffic and filled with food carts, tables and stools and the tastiest and strangest dishes are prepared under the watchful eye of a hungry crowd.

The Petronas Twintowers are emphatically present from almost every neighbourhood in the city and one of the must-see’s in KL. We decided not to climb the towers; the skyline of KL is not very spectacular except the Menara KL tower. But the architecture of the Petronas Towers is impressive enough to return in the evening to admire them glooming against the black sky. Just as we decipher a menu and order something to eat, we get to know the tropical Malaysian rain showers, we would later synchronise our watches on the downpour: three hours, every day, without exception. Furthermore, in that same eatery we were introduced to a monkey, who came to have a bite with his owner!

In the mega-bookstore Kinokuniya we buy our Rough guide to Malaysia and we poke between the racks of travel guides, who knows which books we are going to buy this year! We stroll through the nicest districts of KL: Chinatown, Little India, Brickfields, Chow Kit, ‘The Golden Triangle’ and discover the ‘banana leaf meal’, a banana leaf on the table serves as a plate, while a small army of Indians serve the tastiest rice, vegetables, sauces and soup from pots, boilers and buckets. And like the Nepalese Dal Baht, the leaf is refilled if you do not pay attention and let it know with clear language and gestures that you have had enough. When we buy a bottle of water at the 7 Eleven, a tasty jar of Nutella peeks around the corner from behind a rack at the back of the store, which we had not seen for almost three months! The Nutella jar accompanies us and Ruben eats almost a bag of toast bread with Nutella for breakfast.

Since Malaysia is an Islamic country, a visit to the Masjid Negara – the national mosque – should not be missed so we have to dress appropriately. Shoes off,  covered arms and legs, and a headscarf for Nadieh. The mosque itself is not very impressive, but the way in which Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions coexist in Malaysia is a nice thought to end this story with.

The last day in KL we printed some photos for Nadieh’s logbook and made plans for the coming weeks in Malaysia. We buy two bus tickets to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands for the first real rainforest of our trip and … even more rain!