72 Hours In KL

See the best of Malaysia’s cap­i­tal city in just three days

Expatriate Lifestyle - - December The Team - Words by Caramella Scarpa & Nawaf Rah­man Photo by is­tock­photo

When trav­ellers plan their South­east Asian jour­neys, it’s usu­ally all about is­lands, trop­i­cal rain­for­est and cul­ture. The mod­ern, messy me­trop­o­lises that rule as cap­i­tal cities are just step­ping stones to the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. While some cap­i­tals like Bangkok and Hanoi are on the must-visit list, Kuala Lumpur has al­ways been a bit left be­hind.

But, if you look be­hind the façade of manic tr affic and con­stant con­struc­tion, the city re­veals its many facets. Next time you have fam­ily or friends vis­it­ing; fol­low this 72-hour trail en­cap­su­lat­ing good eats, cool bars, ter­rific shop­ping, cul­tural treats and the oblig­a­tory photo of the Twin Tow­ers!

Day 1

8AM Break­fast at Kedai Kopi Lai Foong ( Jalan Tun HS Lee) Get up bright and early and head to Chi­na­town for a lo­cal break­fast at Lai Foong, a Chi­nese cof­feeshop that has been in business since the mid 50s. Lit­tle seems to have changed on this cor­ner of Chi­na­town and the beef noo­dle stall is the main at­trac­tion here. Kuey teow (flat rice noo­dles) in a tasty beef broth will set you up for the busy day ahead. And who needs eggs Bene­dict when you can have that clas­sic Malaysian break­fast of half-boiled eggs, kaya (co­conut jam) toast and a cup of lo­cal cof­fee for un­der RM10?

9AM Shop­ping and tem­ples in Chi­na­town For­get about the huge shop­ping cen­tres and head to Cen­tral Mar­ket for lo­cal hand­i­crafts like pewter, batik and pot­tery; as well as kitsch sou­venirs for gifts. This is also the place to pick up the Kuala Lumpur Must Visit At­trac­tions Trail Card, which is a free trail card that will take you on a heritage trail around KL, and get your first stamp. Within the maze of streets that make up Chi­na­town, there are unique shops like

Kwong Yik Seng on Jalan Tun HS Lee where all man­ner of Chi­nese crock­ery jos­tles with cake moulds, vases and other uniden­ti­fi­able kitchen kit.

While here, visit the Sri Ma­hamari­amman Tem­ple, the old­est Hindu tem­ple in KL; the Sin Sze Si Ya Tem­ple which is the old­est Taoist tem­ple; and the Guan Di Tem­ple ded­i­cated to Gen­eral Guan Yu, oth­er­wise known as the God of War. Check out hipster cafés Mer­chant’s Lane and Chocha Food­store for a break be­tween tem­ples.

1PM Lunch at Yut Kee or Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery Here are your choices: a KL din­ing stal­wart serv­ing clas­sic Hainanese dishes since 1928 or a bustling can­teen at the back of a fa­mous Bud­dhist tem­ple . Food in these eater­ies is a study of con­trasts with one serv­ing its legacy dish of deep-fried chicken chop and the other of­fer­ing a smor­gas­bord of veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan op­tions.

Yut Kee on Jalan Ka­munt­ing of­fers the best of Hainanese (orig­i­nat­ing from Hainan Is­land and known for their cook­ing skills) cui­sine like chicken or pork chop, roti babi (lit­er­ally trans­lated as ‘pork bread’), Hailam mee and mor­eish roast pork on the week­ends. End with a slice of rich mar­ble cake and a cup of sturdy lo­cal cof­fee. On the other end of the nu­tri­tional spec­trum, the elo­quently named Dharma

Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery on Jalan Am­pang (walk­ing dis­tance from the Twin Tow­ers) has a stag­ger­ing ar­ray of veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan dishes. Get a plate of rice and add your dishes, pay (for less than RM10 you get a hear ty meal and a drink) and sit at long pic­nic ta­bles with an in­ter­est­ing crowd of city work­ers, back­pack­ers and peo­ple who re­ally like vegeta­bles!

3PM Heritage trail While you’re still in town, take the op­por tu­nity to visit some of the his­tor­i­cal land­marks that tell the stor y of how this cap­i­tal city and countr y came to be. If you picked up a trail card at Cen­tral Mar­ket ear­lier, many of these stops are cov­ered within – and you even get a cer tifi­cate for com­plet­ing the card!

Be­gin at Merdeka Square where in­de­pen­dence was pro­claimed in 1957 and where the Royal Se­lan­gor Club is lo­cated, then cross the road to the Sul­tan Ab­dul

Sa­mad build­ing, which is con­sid­ered an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of colo­nial and Moor ish ar­chi­tec­ture and was com­pleted in 1897 to ser ve as gov­ern­ment of­fices.

In the vicin­ity is Masjid Jamek, which was the first brick mosque in KL de­signed in the Mogul style by the renowned Bri­tish ar­chi­tect, A.B. Hub­back in 1907. The mosque is lo­cated at the con­flu­ence of the Klang and Gom­bak rivers, where Chi­nese tin prospec­tors set up camp in 1857 and named the city Kuala (con­flu­ence) Lumpur (mud).

8PM Street food at Jalan Alor Af­ter all the ex­plor­ing, it’s time for a big feed and cold beers...or juice! By day, this is an unas­sum­ing road but as dusk falls, it be­comes a vi­brant food street full of stalls of­fer­ing de­li­cious lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties like chilli crab, grilled fish, chicken wings (re­mem­ber this name: Wong Ah Wah), nasi lemak, noo­dle dishes and even Turk­ish ice cream. And, if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to come dur­ing the right sea­son – durian will be avail­able!

11PM Bar hop­ping The bar scene in KL has a lot go­ing for it these days with quirky venues and some very in­no­va­tive drinks. Head to Pahit on Jalan Sin Chew Kee for all things gin, Bo­tak Liquor

Bar on Jalan Pe­tal­ing for novel cock­tails us­ing lo­cal, or­ganic in­gre­di­ents and Pisco Bar (an oldie, but a goodie) on Jalan Me­sui for cool mu­sic and Pisco Sours, of course!

Day 2

10AM Ex­plor­ing Brick­fields Boast­ing a colour­ful past, this is one of KL’S most vi­brant neigh­bour­hoods. A dev­as­tat­ing fire in 1881 de­stroyed many build­ings in town so a brick kiln was built to pro­vide ma­te­ri­als for re­con­struc­tion – hence the name.

Known as the Lit­tle In­dia of KL, ex­pect blar­ing Bol­ly­wood mu­sic and shops sell­ing ev­ery­thing from saris to In­dian snacks. Pop into one of the eater­ies for au­then­tic In­dian food in­clud­ing veg­e­tar­ian op­tions. While here, visit the Bud­dhist Pagoda, the Sam Kow Tong

Tem­ple and the Thean Hou Tem­ple, which is a short drive away on Jalan Syed Pu­tra.

1PM Ba­nana Leaf at Bangsar Ba­nana leaf rice (rice, curry and condi­ments served on a ba­nana leaf) fans all have their favourite spots but if you’re in the vicin­ity of Bangsar, try Sri Nir­wana Maju on Jalan Telawi 3. There will be a queue – turnover is pretty quick and it’s well worth the wait. Devi’s Cor­ner on Jalan Telawi 4 is an­other lo­cal ba­nana leaf in­sti­tu­tion and their ro­tis aren’t too shabby ei­ther.

3PM Park life There are sev­eral parks of­fer­ing respite from the bus­tle of the city and are great for kids. The 92-hectare Per­dana

Botan­i­cal Gar­den (Lake Gar­dens) is a prime ex­am­ple of how to ‘green’ a city. Take a walk round and visit the for­est tree col­lec­tion, herb and spice gar­den and the or­chid gar­den; there’s also a play­ground. The KL For­est

Eco Park is one of the old­est for­est re­serves in Malaysia and was gazetted in 1906. Fol­low the two trails and tr y and spot those mon­keys!

12PM Party a lit­tle…or a lot! TREC is a one-stop party hub where clubs, bars, pubs and restau­rants all jos­tle for your at­ten­tion. Su­per club Zouk is lo­cated here and is a war­ren of thump­ing EDM, hip hop, R&B and com­mer­cial House. If that’s all a bit much, there are smaller bars/clubs like Le Noir and Como with DJS and live mu­sic.

By day, this is an unas­sum­ing road but as dusk falls, it be­comes a vi­brant food street full of stalls of­fer­ing de­li­cious lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties”

Day 3

10AM Break­fast at Vil­lage Park Nasi lemak is one of Malaysia’s best culi­nary of­fer­ings and beloved by the pop­u­lace. Head to the sub­urbs of Da­mansara Utama where a slightly shabby eatery serves its fa­mous and ex­tremely pop­u­lar in­ter­pre­ta­tion of our unof­fi­cial na­tional break­fast. Co­conut flavoured rice is ac­com­pa­nied by ikan bilis (an­chovies), sam­bal (spicy gravy) and a choice of crispy fried chicken or beef ren­dang. Be pre­pared to queue!

12PM Cul­ture trip Kuala Lumpur is a young city and a good way to dis­cover its ori­gins and the many cul­tures that make it so unique is to visit a cou­ple of mu­se­ums. While Malaysian mu­se­ums still have a way to go to reach the stan­dards of other cap­i­tal cities, it’s still worth go­ing to the Na­tional Mu­seum for a guided tour. The

Is­lamic Arts Mu­seum near the Lake Gar­dens houses one of the best col­lec­tions of Is­lamic dec­o­ra­tive arts in the world and an amaz­ing re­con­struc­tion of an or­nate Ot­toman room.

7PM Din­ner at Re­bung On your last evening, a Malay feast is in or­der.

Re­bung is owned by Chef Is­mail, a fa­mous chef who reg­u­larly goes over­seas to pro­mote Malaysian cui­sine. Come here with an empty stom­ach and prepped taste­buds for an in­dul­gent meal of tra­di­tional Malay dishes from across the penin­sula. There are cur­ries, noo­dle and rice dishes, lo­cal salads, grilled seafood, street snacks and an ar­ray of achingly sweet desserts. You prob­a­bly won’t recog­nise half the of­fer­ings, but don’t worry be­cause us Malaysians don’t ei­ther! EL

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