On July 14th we sadly left Crete. I’ve been thinking of our trip in terms of smaller pieces, each of which is defined by geography. The first piece was South America; the second was Europe (counting Turkey as part of Europe); and now on to the third, southeast Asia. Our first destination is Malaysia, a country neither of us knew much about prior to our research.
In order to get to Malaysia we had to fly from Chania, Crete, to Athens; Athens to Cairo; Cairo to Bangkok; and, Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur (KL). Due to a lack of sleep on those flights and the new time zone, we arrived exhausted and moved at a fairly slow pace during our four days in KL. We stayed in a great apartment in the busy Bukit Bintang district. The apartment had luxuries like a washing machine and access to a rooftop pool, and it was conveniently located for public transportation and some of the best food in the city. Incidentally, it also provided access to some of the best shopping, and in a hot and humid city, an air-conditioned mall isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon.
Rather than a play-by-play, I’ll just give the highlights:
Lot 10: Lot 10 is a shopping center with one of the best food courts I’ve ever experienced. It’s what I’d describe as a westernized version of the country’s famous street food. (By “westernized” I don’t mean any quality is necessarily lost, I just mean it’s in an air conditioned building with potentially higher standards of cleanliness, so it’s a good place for delicate westerners like myself to start exploring street food.) We only had two meals there before Rachel started agitating for a more authentic experience, but the highlights of Lot 10 included fried duck egg kuey teow (rice noodles); ho weng kee (curry noodle soup); and, ho kien mee (fried noodles with pork, prawns and mussels).
Jalan Alor: About a 10 minute walk away from our apartment was Jalan Alor, a street dedicated to open air restaurants and food stalls. My favorite included the skewers at Fat Brother Satay where customers choose from a huge buffet of raw ingredients–ranging from veggies like baby bok chow and corn, to meats like chicken and pork–then, the various people working there either start grilling your choices or boiling them at your table. The result is nothing short of delicious. My other favorite was the chicken wings at Wong Ah Wah– while I wasn’t expecting chicken wings in KL, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the best wings I’ve ever had. On a later trip to this strip we got a little more adventurous and tried the stingray at Cu Cha Restaurant. Stringy yet also tasty.
Little India: Rachel found great food in Little India at a place called Jassal Tandoori Restaurant. Incidentally, if you’re looking for someone to plan your next vacation, I’d recommend hiring my wife. I don’t know how it works but she’s able to comb through so much information in what seems like no time at all, and the result is great finds like this small place in Little India. It’s a mystery to me but I’ll take it.
In addition to the great food, Rachel tried the massage at Shujin Therophy Zone (not a typo), which is a shop employing only blind masseurs. While not the fanciest place, it was amazingly inexpensive and good enough for a return visit a few days later.
Malls: If you like shopping malls–whether it be high end or quirky low end–KL is the place for you. Down the street from Lot 10 is possibly the fanciest mall in the city, Pavilion, which houses a nice movie theater we took advantage of (Guardians of the Galaxy– really good movie, particularly if, like us, you go in with very little knowledge about it or expectations).
Along with offering lazy afternoons of wandering and movie-going, we found a bizarre but great activity at a small mall across from the Petronas Towers called Avenue K. On the top floor is a place called Breakout. In the game the participants choose from one of five scenarios– we were mad scientists trying to escape from the authorities. In our story, we had intentionally erased our memories to avoid giving anything away to the cops. We found ourselves in a room decorated like a scientists’ laboratory handcuffed to different work stations (the authorities had stepped out for a minute). From a serious of clues, we unlocked the chain to which we were handcuffed, then unlocked the handcuffs. Then came the complicated part– we had to find clues around the room (and in a secret room) in order to reconstruct our evil plans; then, most importantly, we had to escape within the time limit. We sort of succeeded.
Along with new foods and strange shopping mall activities, coming to a new part of the world means a new assortment of signs and advertisements that make us laugh. Here are a few that Rachel has photographed so far.
On July 20th we moved on to Tioman Island (packing the sunscreen but leaving the whitening serum behind).