Memories in Malaysia

We only had a little bit of time in Kuala Lumpur, but there was more than enough to see and do while we were there. Here are some of the most memorable experiences, expressed as superlatives:

  • Highest flagpole in the world: Merdeka Square – there’s a great City Gallery free museum here as well
  • Most enjoyable souvenir-shopping experience: Central Market, where salespeople don’t haggle you
  • Most frenetic night market: Petaling Street in Chinatown, fortunately has many snack food stalls
  • Most versatile Indian food: Nasi Lemak
  • Essential drink for dealing with the spiciness: Teh Tarik
  • Most monkeys in a temple / Best Indian place of worship: Batu Caves
  • Best dish to have in pouring rain: Bak kut teh
  • Cleanest / Best Chinese place of worship: Thean Hou Temple
  • Worst traffic jam: The whole area around The Gardens
  • Best street for dinner: Jalan Alor, with dozens of excellent yet cheap restaurants opened up onto the street
  • Best shopping district: Bukit Bintang
  • Most variety in a food court: The food court under “Lot 10”
  • Mall with the most digital goods: Low Yat Plaza
  • Tallest shopping mall: Berjaya Times Square
  • Fanciest shopping mall: Suria KLCC
  • Worst new city attraction: KL CityWalk
  • Surprisingly unimpressive view: Top of KL Tower at night
  • Most fortress-like mosque: Masjid Jamek

Kuala Lumpur is diverse. People of Chinese and Indian ethnic backgrounds mingle seamlessly with native Malay and Australian/European expats, and they all communicate and understand each other perfectly fine. It’s quite a sight to behold – a melting pot with (seemingly) less tension and more harmony than I’ve ever seen in the US. Maybe they pull it off by all being taught the same languages; in school, citizens have to learn English and Malay in addition to the common form of their ethnic native language. If you happen to grow up learning Cantonese, you will likely end up knowing Mandarin, Malay, and English too – and being able to switch between them all within any given day. Very impressive.

Kuala Lumpur is delicious. With the diversity of people comes an astounding diversity of food I have never tried anywhere else. Even a dish with the same name (e.g. “nasi lemak” or “nasi goreng”) will taste completely different depending on whether a person of Chinese, Indian, or Malay ethnic background prepared it. The possible permutations of food are staggering.

Kuala Lumpur is the place for deals. This city loves to shop, and everything is inexpensive! The malls here vary from underground malls (like in China) where you can wander and wander for hours not knowing which direction you’re facing – all the way to the glitziest, most modernized shopping centers with all the latest European stuff. Truly something for everyone – and it doesn’t hurt that there’s always a snack or drink shop every few stores to keep you energized.

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