The sheer size of Kuala Lumpur (KL) shocks us at first sight. Coming from our historical wooden boutique hotel with just eleven rooms in George Town, Penang (pop 150,000), to the modern “Hotel Stripes,” in the center of Malaysia’s capital city of 8 million-plus, throws us into a bustle. Quite the change of pace.
In KL, like everywhere in Malaysia, everyone has a job. Malaysia’s employment thrives thanks to their well-developed infrastructure, well educated work force, and inexpensive cost of living that is able to support international and national businesses alike. As a result, Kuala Lumpur is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia.
It does not take long for us to relax. Our fancy digs feature a rooftop infinity pool and pub, alongside a good gym with bird’s eye views.
Yes, we have grown a spare tire around our waist that needs worked off. The full-strength beers and all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets containing foods from three different cultures (we must try them all) have taken their toll. No more excuses. A gym sits right in front of us. Staying in reasonable physical condition while traveling long-term makes traveling all the more enjoyable. But, working-out on the road presents challenges. One needs to exercise to compliment strenuous walking, as it proves the only way to burn off over-indulgences and keep strong for continuous adventures.
Finally, a bit burnt out on Malaysian food, we decide to explore the multitude of other options offered in KL’s huge federal territory. At the Chinese restaurant Mojo, we roll up barbeque duck in rice wraps as if rolling a cigar.
Craft beers, salmon with vegetable, and with Japanese rice (stickier than regular rice) on the menu pulls us into the Gavel restaurant next door.
Restaurant Yarl, also nearby, serves northern Sri Lankan food. It will light-up your taste buds and turn on the head sweat. So good that we eat there twice.
Ouch, the morning after working-out yesterday we stroll around countless buildings, like the famous Petronas Towers, with every muscle group screaming to let us know that they exist.
Thankfully, an elevator instead of stairs lifts to the observation deck of the KL Menara, which is not as high as the Petronas Towers, but offers better views.
Going back to the gym with aching muscles takes a bit of will. No, it does not come easy but pays off big eventually. After this work-out, today is designated “lounge by the pool day” from the rooftop.
Or just admire the view from our room. Oh yeah babe, the big needle lights up at night for special occasions, such as Chinese New Year.
Time for a side trip to the Batu Caves.
Hindu temples and shrines hide inside these limestone caves at the top of two-hundred-seventy-two steep steps.
Faithful devotees lug samples of their favorite things in life up the stairs as gifts to the gods. Some of them climb the stairs on their knees while chanting. We feel like crawling up as well, due to gassed leg muscles from squats and lunges!
The Hindu deity “Lord Murugan” stands guard near the Temple Cave and is the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia, as well as the third tallest in the world.
Opportunistic monkeys perch on bannisters and snatch whatever looks like food from unsuspecting climbers. Apparently, Lord Murugan allows them.
Back at our modern hotel, sitting at the rooftop bar, we agree that KL is a great place to relax and regroup. A tropical rainstorm makes it that much greater.
What we have experienced in Malaysia has been interesting, thought provoking, and stereotype smashing. In this country, full of tasty food and friendly people who seem to be constantly cooking and eating, how do the majority of them remain thin? Maybe because all the food that they cook is fresh. Free of preservatives and other chemicals found in many of our foods back home. Then again, do chop sticks instead of forks slow down the eating process? Deep thoughts.
Next Stop is Vietnam! It has been over 20 years since we first visited Vietnam. This time, kicking back on a familiar beach in Nha Trang for one-month beckons us. Might as well, since we sold our home back in the United States last summer and have been living like nomads (with good friends and good credit) ever since.
We now look forward to gorging on fresh seafood, Banh cuon, Pho, Banh mi, and other dishes that we neither understand nor can pronounce. Guess we better find a fully equipped gym to continue our quest to get back into shape, or to at least break even.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!