Before my making the decision that Thailand is the place to run out my clock, I seriously considered retiring in Japan or Malaysia instead. Both countries are special to me though I am more than happy to have made the decision to retire in Thailand. Of course I still visit Japan often but I visit Malaysia even more frequently because it borders west of Thailand.
So why do I love Malaysia? To start off I’ve only been to Kuala Lumpur and Penang. I know, it’s a big country. But just those two areas alone has made a huge impact on me. To me KL is like New York City. It’s one big huge melting pot with people of different ethnicity co-mingling, sharing and eating some of the best food on the planet in one spot.
Also as I’m able to speak Cantonese which is used in Malaysia the country imparts a sense of homey feeling that I am glad to be in touch with. Plus living in Thailand my Cantonese is beginning to get rusty. So it’s good to head out to Malaysia and start conversing in the language of my mother and father.
Safety is a big concern for me while traveling, especially when my wife is beginning to enjoy traveling to different countries. She prefers road trips all over Thailand for holidays at first. If you don’t know many Thais you’d be surprised that many don’t like to leave their own nation. They would rather visit different regions of their country instead of getting out of the country.
I don’t blame them. After all Thailand is a beautiful country with a lot of natural beauty. So after coaxing my wife (more like nagging) for a year or so she decided to join me on my visits abroad. This was the first trip ever for my wife by the way and she was impressed by KL as well.
KL’s tourist centric areas meets my safety criteria for a populous city and I never had any concerns whether walking the streets day or night with my wife. And traveling around KL is easy. We mostly made use of the monorail system and the fares are not expensive. Taxis are not expensive also but since we were staying in the Bukit Bintang area we came across a lot of drivers who quoted us rates instead of using the meter. Those bastards. Though even with the quoted rates we probably paid a little over $1USD extra. Which isn’t much to cry about but it’s the principle right?
And simply walking around to get to the sights and attractions near our hotel is a cinch because there are plenty of signs in English. It’s a totally visitor friendly city with a lot of hotels in the 3 star range with affordable rates. And food in Malaysia is incredible. Indian, Chinese and Malay plus Middle Eastern food all in one corner of Bukit Bintang close to the hotel I always stay at. Man my waistline is in some serious problems if I ever stay in that area for too long.
And my wife was never too keen on trying out different food. Again, Thai food is equated with national pride, so no matter what, Thai food to a Thai is the best. Better than the best dishes a chef from Cordon Bleu can dole out. Anyways there’s a restaurant right near out hotel that sold falafel and I’ve been ordering falafels from there for the longest time. I let her try one and she damn near took the rest off of my hands. She didn’t say nothing as she merrily munched on my lunch but I knew from the twinkle of her eye she liked it but never admits it to this day
Then there’s this Indian buffet restaurant with so many trays of spiced meats, curries and vegetables with rice. The food so delicious I’d pay to live inside. Hell I’d pay to inhale the aromas coming off the trays of food.
As I mentioned whenever I’m in KL I always stay an area called Bukit Bintang. This place is filled with a lot of hotel choices and shopping centers. The hotel I stay at is called the Piccolo (today it’s called ANSA). It’s a 3 star hotel with no bells and whistles but if you want a clean quiet room with friendly hotel staff plus top location, the Piccolo will not disappoint. But I mainly chose this hotel and location because of the KL monorail is only a 3 minute walk. I use this train to get to Sentral station where I catch the cheap buses to the low cost carrier terminal because I always fly Air Asia.
Less than a minute walk left of the Piccolo’s doors is a big mall called Lot 10. Make sure you check out the food courts in the basement level called the Malaysia Gourmet Heritage Village. That’s the place to go to find a lot of Chinese/Malay foods to satisfy your cravings. A nice little supermarket is also in the same area if you need to pick up some odds and ends.
Then there are also two other malls which are even bigger nearby if Lot 10 doesn’t satisfy. There’s the Times Square Mall and the luxury shopping center called Pavilion Mall. Now I’ m not a big shopper. But my wife is though we noticed a lot of the items she was interested in she could easily pick up at a mall in Bangkok.
Of course there’s a lot more to KL than simply shopping. The city has plenty of attractions and side trip options like the Batu Caves.
So if there’s one place to see in while in KL it’s probably the Petronas. Now I’ve been to KL for many years and I’m sure if a Malaysian heard me say I’ve never been up their Twin Towers before they might say shame on me. And they would be right. In my defense I tried going up last year in 2012 but the visitor sections of the buildings were under renovation. So no visitors were allowed at the time.
However, this year since my wife came accompanied me on this trip it was as good a time as any to go up the mighty Petronas Towers. And I’m glad that we shared our first time together. Because it is a true marvel to be all the way up there on the Sky Bridge and Observation Deck and get a panoramic view of this wonderful city.
Since our time was short in Malaysia due to some business obligations back in Bangkok we couldn’t visit other parts of the city. Batu Caves on the outskirts of KL was a place I wanted to take my wife to but because it was raining a lot we decided to go up to Genting Highlands Casino instead. She really enjoyed the gondola ride up the mountain.
I love KL and Malaysia is truly awesome. I’ll be going back for years to come.