So here we are. Almost 22 hours after departing Vancouver at the ungodly hour of 2:00 AM, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur a few days ago. Stopping for a quick layover to take care of banking issues and have a look at the country’s capital city, we take one last short flight to Penang tomorrow and begin the Experimental Expat House Hunt. Normally, I’d write a rather lengthy and descriptive post detailing what we’ve seen and done in my usual storytelling mode. Unfortunately, I have to admit that we’re beat and still getting used to living in tomorrow so please accept my apologies for the lack of text.
Keeping it brief for now, I must say our first opinion of Malaysia is very favorable. Everyone has been friendly and helpful, the people are respectful, and the lack of efficiency I read in so many posts has not shown itself to us in any meaningful way. Granted, this is Kuala Lumpur, a metropolis much bigger than Penang so perhaps this will change but so far, we love the country and look forward to getting settled in before partaking in various adventures. Although we spent much of our time in the main office of the bank with our incredibly cool relationship manager, we did have time to eat some great food and partake in some tourism so I’d like to share some pictures with limited text. Staying at the luxurious Traders Hotel in the city centre and know as KLCC, the beautiful Petronas Twin Towers soared right outside our window. Promising better stories later, please bear with us while we transition into life in a new place. For now, here’s some of what we did, saw and ate:
Similar to Singapore, Malaysians love to shop and three luxurious shopping malls surround the downtown core. Suria, one of the largest boasts seven floors and sports at least 50% American chains. Being Ramadan, the mall’s food court fills with Muslims anxiously awaiting the fast break just after 7 PM.
Proving the grass is always greener on the other side, it took only a few minutes of strolling the mall until we found various “San Francisco” themed stores. Ridiculous by nature, the store called “San Francisco coffee” sold average roasts having nothing to do with SF, whose main coffee choice is Starbucks. Also found in a store was a New York Apple, which was actually an Empire Apple grown in upstate NY.
Sure enough I proved myself wrong a few minutes later when I strolled through the local Cold Storage store in the mall and found several types of salami, sausages and other goodies I made fun of not being able to get once in Malaysia. Maybe there really is a market for salami laksa.
The next morning we Googled a local popular outdoor food stall place and asked a taxi driver to take us there but somehow he misunderstood and dropped us at the authentic Chinese wet market where no tourists are found. Suiting us just fine, we discovered that in KL, the Chinese is all Cantonese and Diane was able to communicate easily with the merchants rather easily. Choosing the stall with the biggest line, we enjoyed some Chee Choong Fun that tasted incredible along with some popium, similar to dumplings, and the best char siu bao I’ve ever tasted.
After our appointmet at the bank, we moseyed into an Indian restaurant recommended by our banker and enjoyed some delicious mutton burayni and naan.
Normally walking everywhere, we opted for mass transit for our return to the hotel. Navigating the city’s LRT wasn’t very hard and the clean, modern system efficiently blows away the obsolete and antiquated crap that passes for mass transit back in The Bay Area
Visiting the Petronas Towers observation deck later that evening, we marveled at the beautiful architecture and enjoyable displays stressing Malaysia’s diversification. As world’s tallest twin towers, they are now the seventh tallest building in the world.
Unlike Singapore where shopping is the national sport, Malaysia has more to offer so we decided to spend some time at the KL Bird Park. Boasting the title of the world’s largest outdoor free open air aviary, the park features an awesome collection of birds, mostly from the Eastern hemisphere and is well worth a visit.
Already feeling the difference between Canada and Malaysia, all our dinners came to under $10 USD and we haven’t even hit any hawker stands yet. Enjoying done favorites like Hokkien Mee, curry Mee and pork clay pot, we quickly learned that the giant prawns that look so good are not inexpensive by Malaysian standards and we got stuck paying $13 one night by mistakenly adding one to our meal. Generally speaking, the food is incredibly cheap and amazingly tasty. Avoiding all western good for now, there are just as many burger joints as noodle soups and they even push California Mexican food for Ramadan specials.
Having everything go relatively smoothly, we’ve enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur as tourists but it’s time to move on to the hard work of searching for a good place to live in Penang. Please be patient and bear with my less than amazing storytelling for a while as we attempt to get settled in Penang. Promising to share as much as possible as time allows, I’m signing off for now to get some sleep.
Cheers from KLCC