Although we were fighting the urge to heed the call of our respective beds to snooze some more, we stood up in anticipation to face another
day (well, just until the afternoon left to savor Kuala Lumpur before heading to Singapore!) of adventure in another country! After having a light breakfast in our backpacker’s hostel, Back Home, we immediately started our Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour and Adventure.
Taman Tasik Titiwangsa Lake and Gardens
We started off with the first spot in our itinerary: Taman Tasik Titiwangsa Lake and Gardens. We could not shake off our amazement with the Petronas Twin Towers the night before, that we just had to see it again! But we had to do it in the morning this time, and not in KLCC anymore. We decided to go to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa Lake and Gardens to see how the Petronas Twin Towers are beautifully reflected in the tranquil lake.
But before getting there, we were victimized by the Indian cab driver who took advantage of us by overcharging us at 4 ringgit per head. (Around 230 pesos for a distance of just around 2 kilometers). DEFINE ABUSE OF TOURISTS! My tip to future KL travelers: do not ride cabs driven by the Indians, ride cabs driven by the Malaysians themselves because they charge only by the meter (or better yet, walk or enjoy their train system).
But wait, there’s more.
Yes. We looked for John Lloyd Cruz in Titiwangsa. But sadly (and as expected) he was not there. Boo. If we must all recall: John Lloyd Cruz’s movie, Miss You Like Crazy, was shot in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. And Titiwangsa Lake and Gardens was one of the highlighted landmarks in the movie. And but of course, it was one of our inspirations in visiting this awesome spot! And yes, the movie justified the beauty of the lake rightfully. Taman Tasik Titiwangsa Lake Gardens was definitely beautiful and was truly relaxing. We embraced the tranquil atmosphere of nature as it mirrored modern Malaysia in its waters.
Masjid Jamek Mosque
Traveling to another country always means experiencing a part of their culture by immersing ourselves into their culture. And what better way to immerse ourselves in Malaysian culture than by experiencing their religion and religious practices. Hence, we visited a mosque– the first mosque I have ever visited my entire life!
We headed to Masjid Jamek Mosque in Jalan Tun Perak to explore Muslim culture and their religious practices. Masjid Jamek is the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur with its establishment in 1907. It is also the “Friday Mosque” in KL that’s why people convene and congregate in immense numbers during Friday where the people flood even up to the streets.
To personally experience this piece of culture, we took a cab driven by a Malaysian this time, and we did not regret it. We were charged by the meter and were filled with travel stories and travel inspirations from the driver.
It was a great feeling to try something new in a new country. Being my first time to enter a mosque, I knew I was subject to Muslim religious norms and codes of conduct therefore I had to abide by them. Since I was wearing shorts at the time of my visit, and Muslims are very particular with their dress code, I thought I was going to be denied entry inside the premises of the mosque. BUT Masjid Jamek Mosque was very accommodating to tourists that they made us borrow cloaks and scarves to don to cover all the flesh that may be seen on our bodies.
But because we were not Muslims, we were only allowed to stroll around the mosque premises but not enter the sacred ground of the mosque anymore. And we were definitely fine with that. Allowing us to enter their gates was already gracious of them already.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Just around the corner, and within close proximity to Masjed Jamek, we headed to Sultan Abdul Samad Building, one of the most prominent and distinguished landmarks of KL. And by gosh, the building definitely deserves its prominence as it left my jaw hanging with admiration. It’s always great to experience and remain witness to other culture’s architecture and design. I am no architect, but even normal people like me, a preschool teacher at that, appreciates good structures, cityscapes, and buildings.
The building was named after the then reigning Sultan of Selangor, Abdul Samad, during the time of its construction back in 1894-1897 during the time of the British administration in Malaysia. Its design was inspired from Moorish design, mainly taking after the design of a mosque, which explains the same resemblance of its physical appearance with the Masjed Jamek. But it’s worth to mention that it was really remarkable that the building is still beautifully maintained even at present time. It did not look like it was built during the latter part of the 1800s. It was definitely worth the walk and worth the visit!
And just across the street and right in front of Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the Dataran Merdeka, Malaysia’s Independence Square, and home to the tallest flagpole in the world (with a height of 95 meters). Since Malaysia’s independence from the British forces on August 31, 1957, Dataran Merdeka became the celebratory ground where people convene and celebrate their sovereignty.
We were not anymore able to make a thorough visit through the Dataran Merdeka since there was a big celebration going on at the time of our visit thus making it impossible to cross the street. But nevertheless, we just viewed it from across the street, and noticed the remarkably tall flagpole hovering over the big celebration.
But we could not take it any further as the sweltering heat of the noon sun was draining all the energy in us. We had to go back to the hostel to rest and to check-out from Back Home as well.
After checking-out, we found ourselves walking aimlessly and somehow stumbled upon Central Market. Oh, the joys of walking leisurely! I can now understand why Dora the Explorer loves to walk a lot, you learn a lot in the process! We found ourselves wandering in Central Market where we found awesome finds for pasalubong and souvenir items from KL. It was like a small Divisoria Mall or 168 Mall filled with different souvenir items from different parts of Malaysia.
Pao and I decided to have lunch at one of the nearby restaurants as we had the time of our lives over authentic Malaysian Food. Despite the presence of a somewhat food court inside the Central Market, we decided to go out and search for something authentic. We just wanted to have a sampling of authentic Malaysian food no matter what it takes. And then we remembered the advice of the immigration officer at the border of Singapore going to Malaysia.
If I can remember correctly, while we were getting stamped at the immigration counter from Singapore to Malaysia, Pao managed to create a small talk with the immigration officer as he asked what specific food we should not miss in Malaysia. Without batting an eyelash, the immigration officer immediately responded with “Nasi Lemak!” It’s amazing how Pao can get effortlessly charming with different people as he manages to strike any kind of conversation with any stranger. That’s his gift and because of that gift, we had to search for that Nasi Lemak, and was blessed to find and taste Nasi Lemak.
And we did find Nasi Lemak in a hole-in-the-wall eatery (similar to our local carinderia) just outside Central Market. Without any hesitation, we ordered Nasi Lemak and mingled with the normal Malaysians having their lunch. We also asked what other viands are recommended, and the owner immediately handed a viand that seemed very mysterious for me– but we ate it nevertheless. We also managed to try out their super yummy three-layered-tea called Rasa Nikmat, awesome awesome awesome!!
After lunch and some souvenir shopping in Central Market, we hailed a taxi to take us to Bukit Bintang (Malaysia’s very own Recto, Quiapo, and Divisoria in one junction!) We wanted to see if we can do last minute shopping before we headed back to Singapore via Aeroline at Corus Hotel.
Nestled in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle, Bukit Bintang is known as the shopping and entertainment district of Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps if we had more time on our hands, we would have exhausted each and every street that we can to scavenge and bargain for the best shopping finds. Name it, they have it! From clothes, shoes, perfumes, electronics, furniture, etc!
Within the shopping district are different shopping malls offering different kinds of finds for all types of consumers. Berjaya Times Square is the 13th biggest shopping mall in the world. Starhill Gallery is considered as perhaps the most upscale and most luxurious shopping mall in KL. Pavilion KL targets the middle-class consumers and houses diverse mall stalls addressing every shopper’s need. Fahrenheit 88 caters largely to homegrown, middle-priced retailers which is similarly compared to the Japanese retailer Uniqlo. Lot 10 also caters to middle-class consumers and was then Malaysia’s very own Harrod’s. Low Yat Plaza is every gadget geek’s heaven as it is the one-stop destination for electronic gadgets. Sungei Wang Plaza features Asian-inspired fast-retail fashion at bargain prices.
Define shopping right? But perhaps the shopping bug did not get to us much in Malaysia as exhaustion managed to creep in our tired bodies by late afternoon. We decided to call it a day after walking the entire day all over Malaysia. We headed to Corus Hotel to wait for our Aeroline coach headed for Singapore. I must say, Aeroline was definitely better than Transtar! It was like traveling on a plane (only that you’re in a bus).
Oh, it was such a long day of fun-filled sight-seeing and adventure! But the adventure did not stop there as the demeaning immigration from Malaysia to Singapore managed to suck in all the remaining energy that we had left by interrogating us as we became helpless Filipinos mistaken as Filipino drug couriers (just because we were Filipinos) as we got stripped-off our dignities in the process. And that experience very much needs a separate entry which I will detail in my next post.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed Kuala Lumpur. It was very much similar to the Philippines in some ways and new experiences in a new place would always excite me. I just hoped their immigration officers were nicer to us.