Malaysia was our last stop on this adventure. Per usual, we reserved a centrally located hotel because we love walking around a city. We quickly learned that KL is not a walkable city. To quote the travel website Travelfish, whose KL article is titled, Walking in Kuala Lumpur: Are you mad?: "Kuala Lumpur, with its energy-sapping climate, would be a tough place to be a pedestrian at the best of times. But combined with inadequate pavements, dangerous road crossings, and drivers who never, ever, stop for you, it can often be a complete nightmare to walk in the Malaysian capital." True that! Nevertheless, we persisted...
KL is the most culturally diverse location we visited, in terms of people, religion, food, dress, etc. One of our first stops was the Petronas Towers, which used to be the tallest building(s) in the world until 2004. Standing 1483 feet tall, we stood on the observation deck and walked across the bridge connecting the two towers to get a view of downtown KL, home to about 1.6 million people.
KL has a ton of shopping malls and markets, and we visited a lot of them! (Especially the air-conditioned malls...) Berjaya Times Square was the largest, similar to Mall of America but...larger. On the other end of the spectrum was Chinatown, an outdoor market area of several city blocks that had the sights, sounds and smells reminding us of China.
Because of the heat and crowding in KL, we spent a lot of time exploring outside of the city. One morning, we went on an arranged, half-day bike ride through the countryside. The early morning ride (we were picked up at 6:15am) allowed us to avoid the hottest part of the day. We biked for 45 km, around a lake and through villages. We encountered wild monkeys on the road, something non typical of our Lake Calhoun bike rides in Minneapolis. We also enjoyed Chinese steamed buns for breakfast, and Indian food for lunch - it was a fun getaway.
Another excursion was a Segway ride throughout Purtrajaya, the government capital of Malaysia. This planned city was specifically and recently built to house federal government, plus dedicates a significant portion of land to green space. Segway rides are fun! In the beginning, we learned how to mount, steer, and stop. By the end, we had confidently ridden our machines up and down steep serpentine garden paths, and on-and-off elevators in high-rise buildings! Putrajaya was a pretty city: it had diverse, modern architecture and lots of functional outdoor amenities, but no population! Apparently, the 2008 financial crisis halted a lot of the construction, and the Field of Dreams motto, "If you build it, they will come," does not work in Malaysia.
Another excursion was to the Batu Caves. Just outside of KL, this is a limestone hill with natural caves that were converted into hindu shrines. We climbed up 272 steps(!!) to tour the cave. The caves were impressive! They are also "guarded" by Macaque monkeys who steel food and drink from the tourists. We watched a monkey take a bottle of Gatorade from a tourist's backpack. The tourist tried, unsuccessfully, to retrieve it. In the War for the Planet of the Apes, bet on the apes!
We also toured a Batik factory, watching artists create patterns on silk, and toured the Royal Selengor Pewter factory, watching employees create pewter objects like goblets, vases and figurines. Unfortunately, one of their gift shop employees revealed the ending to Star Wars: The Last Jedi while Darcie was examining the pewter Star Wars figurines in the shop (!!!), so we had no choice but to see the movie. We loved sitting in a comfortable, air-conditioned theater and paying $4 for opening weekend tickets! Theater snacks were sized and priced like the US in 1980s, but KL movie snacks also include meatballs and and other savory dishes. We opted for popcorn. And...we didn't like Star Wars. No spoiler here but, nothing happens in the movie, the plot was redundant and the writing seemed amateurish.
But...back to our trip. KL was our final destination before heading home for the holidays. We loved the travel and are so grateful for this adventure of a lifetime, and we were ready to go home.