After a rather hectic day one, it was time for another equally as energetic day two. We really only had 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur to ‘see’, whilst our trip did technically span Tuesday – Friday, our flights in and out inhibited what we were able to do. After a day spending time doing the things we wanted to do out the outskirts of the city on Wednesday, Thursday was a full on day of walking through the city streets.
After flicking through our guidebook the evening before we decided the main area of our concentration would be Chinatown. There’s quite a lot to see and do around Chinatown, and close by to it, so after a lovely breakfast in our hotel, we grabbed a taxi and headed over to our first stop.
This was our first venture into a Chinese temple called Chan See Shu Yuen temple, and we stopped into many different temples – both Hindu and Bhuddist on this walk. Opened in 1906, this temple was opened for immigrants with the surname Chan. With hundred year old pottery lining the walls, this was a pretty temples which was particularly colourful out of the many visited, it was a quick 15-20 minute stop. (Free to Enter, donations were welcome)
We then walked our way down to the market in Chinatown (also known as Pentaling Street Market), from reading up on what was there – we kind of knew already that there wasn’t going to be anything that we were going to be shopping for, being mainly souvenir and cheap knock off handbag & clothes based. Never the less we did want a little walk through and were there a little early as the stalls were still being set up in some cases, and the streets weren’t as busy as they get around midday. I’d say a visit to Chinatown is worth it depending on what you’re looking for, we grabbed some kind of box of mystery cake whilst there, and there was some interesting looking eateries if we had been there closer to lunch, but there’s not much attraction other than cheap handbags and tshirts with wonky logos on. Overall we spent around 30 minutes walking through the grid of shops and stalls up and down, but it would probably take a bit longer if we had been there later as there wasn’t a wall of people to contend with.
We stopped into a 7-11 to grab some tissues, and most importantly a slush drink before heading to one of the places I was most keen to see. The Sri-Mahamariamman temple which turned out to be an interesting experience. As we got closer to the temple, cradling our slush drinks we realised there was something going on at the temple as there was a lot of police standing outside, we couldn’t from a distance work out whether it was trouble, or security – but as we got nearer and saw guests going in – it was clear there was a wedding on. We asked at the counter whether we could go in or not, and it turned out we could!
The temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia and also rumoured to be the richest in the country, the outside is quite spectacular, with colourful tiered figures stacking up high. I wish we’d had more space to stand back and admire it from a distance. Walking inside the venue was filled with hundreds of people which hindered our ability to see the room fully, however the room smelt so beautiful with flowers from the wedding cascading from every corner. At the back we found some shrines where people were not circulating to admire. We ended up feeling a bit awkward and didn’t stay too long, being stared at as clearly two quite under-dressed tourists for the glamourous occasion. (Temple was free to enter, there was a charge which equated to 30p per pair of shoes to leave them)
From here we just wandered, we came across some pretty squares that I have no idea the name of, and street signs were few and far between (which made getting around via a map that wasn’t incredibly detailed fun). We stopped in to a second Chinese temple which I can’t seem to find the name of anywhere – I think it’s the Guandi Temple, but there must have been more than one entrance as my pictures look different to googles! It was equally as bright and eye-catching as the first with bright dragons lining the front of the temple, with incense burning heavily at the entrance.
After asking many locals, and trekking down many wrong turns we eventually found the Sin Sze Si Ya temple, which is the oldest Chinese temple, built on the instruction of two immigrants – with a less than welcoming entrance with barbwire lining the walls. Compared to the first Chinese temple the oldest was a bit more dull in comparison, There were a few interesting carvings in this temple, and some rather pretty lotus shaped candles – but it was quite a quick stop again in and out. (Free Entry).
After yet more wondering we ended up at Central Market, a Art Deco building built in the 1930s – with shops both inside and outside – after wandering through the stalls on the groundfloor, and buying a few cheap trinkets after some heavy haggling – we decided to head up a level to where the food court was. Whilst there was lots of interesting places to grab some food from outside we needed somewhere to escape from the heat and rest our legs after about 4 hours of nonstop walking. We opted for a Thai restaurant called Gin Ger – which we went totally overboard on the dishes, but it was all delicious so #noregrets. After another little wander we headed on our way once more to try and find the famous Malaysian delicacy – Durian, a fruit that smells like rotting cheese but supposedly tastes like heaven.
We miserably failed to find any fresh Durian – we started walking again – stopping for a needed break in a air conditioned Starbucks for some iced teas! I spotted my first pharmacy called Watsons – and went in to peruse the makeup but was unlucky with the samples which were there and ended up leaving empty handed and having confused everyone in store with what the hell a Chulip was (see honeymoon haul for details). Our first breaking point which we had planned to enter was the Masjid Jamek mosque, we had planned to enter but arrived during prayer time, so it was only open to people praying. The Mosque looks very new with perfect brickwork and plastering from every angle on the outside, so I was surprised to learn that it was actually built in 1907. The mosque sits at the meeting of two rivers and we were told it’s one of the most visited mosques in the city.
We were starting to get pretty worn down after two rather active days. I dragged my feet to a rather gorgeous Merdeka Square which was surrounded by lots of lovely buildings. Central to the square is a lovely covered sitting area which was kept cool by the surrounding fountains, there was lots of people taking a nap on the shaded benches and I can see why, it was relaxing! There was a large green with a cricket pitch in the middle. The square saw old buildings which were ex-courthouses which now house the centre of Malaysian Tourism, The National Textile Musuem, the First (I’m sure it was first) Christian Church as well as a sports club bar which overlooked the cricket field founded by the British when Malaysia was still apart of British India. The whole area was lovely, but I was getting rather moany, I needed a drink pronto and somewhere cold as it was getting quite hot by mid-afternoon, so I sent Ben to find a taxi, which he did quite quickly.
KLCC Shopping Centre & Aquarium
From here we went back to KLCC shopping centre and where we found somewhere to drink, I went into Guardian pharmacy, did some damage, went next door to Sephora did some more damage – whilst Ben headed of to Uni-Qlo, returning looking a bit bewildered after a group of school children recognised him as Ed Sheeran and started pointing at him saying Ed Sheeran, Ed Sheeran!
Ben was keen to visit the Aquarium as it’s supposedly one of the best ones in the world, and by this point it was raining – so trekking about outside was off the cards for a little bit. It was around £12 each to get in – and it’s probably on par with a crap Sea Life centre (a chain of aquariums if you’re not from the UK). My cameras battery was on it’s last legs by this point and I only managed to get a few picture s.
We were told that there was going to be a live Piranha feeding and if we waited 20 minutes in the lobby where the Piranha tank was, we were going to get a good show. She hyped this bad boy up and after staring at basically a starfish (the only other thing in the room) for 20 minutes we took or stance ready to see the most underwhelming experience ever. Takes a group of savage Piranhas a lot longer to eat another fishes carcas than you might expect. After about 60 seconds I declared to Ben I was leaving and found some cute otters around the corner who were infinitely cuter and more interesting.
The majority of the tanks were pretty mediocre, there wasn’t a huge selection of colourful fish and nor were the tanks anything that you could consider better than average. The main star of the show is the overhead tank travelator walkway with a shark and turtles in. Whilst yes this was good, it was spoilt by annoying kids running up and down. I couldn’t help like I’d seen everything before – there’s an overhead walkway with a shark in my local Sealife centre I remember going on a school trip to when I was 7 or 8.
Overall it was an okay experience, but nothing truly impressive – it’s maybe something that’s better to do with kids who are more easily impressed, or not as a seasoned zoo and aquarium visitor. However as something to do to escape a heavy rain storm if you were in the right area for 90 minutes and didn’t want to shop then, yeah it was okay. After this we walked along the skirts of KLCC park, but had to get a shift on to get back to the hotel and freshen up for the evening as we had tickets booked for visiting the Petronas Towers, but more on that in the next post!