With no itinerary or plans, our priority for our five days in Kuala Lumpur is strictly to relax and recharge following a hectic few weeks. Due to a number of factors, we knew we wouldn’t be making the long haul back to the U.S. in 2019, so three weeks in Malaysia between our time in Laos and Cambodia will also serve as this year’s annual leave.
Lori and I considered trips to Nepal and Myanmar instead, but ultimately landed on Malaysia, largely owing to the ages of the boys and cost versus benefit.
We would have loved to have made Nepal work, but simply couldn’t justify the effort and expense with a one- and three-year-old. Himalayan trekking was the main thing that we really wanted to do in Nepal, which just wouldn’t have been optimal with the boys at this stage (or much fun for them either).
Myanmar interested us, but involved long travel days (and honestly, seemed like a lot of what we had become accustomed to in Laos).
It also became clear that we wanted as much of a vacation as two little ones would allow for. Kuala Lumpur and Penang ticked all the boxes, so Malaysia it is.
And…there might not be any city on the planet better suited for young children than KL! The best part? Kid amenities and adult amenities are fully integrated with each other, so it’s easy to visit places that kids can do kid things without parents feeling like they’re sacrificing grown-up fun.
KLCC Park is one of countless examples of that.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park is one of the most amazing urban spaces you’ll find anywhere.
For starters, the skyline is hard to compete with, as the park sits at the foot of the Petronas towers as well as a collection of modern high-rises and landmarks.
In the center of the 50-acre park is a sprawling playground offering every imaginable play structure for every age. Adjacent to the playground is a large swimming pool and waterpark where locals come to beat the heat — all free to the public.
Yet, nothing characterizes KLCC Park more than its green space, comprised of acres upon acres of manicured green grass well-shaded by established trees.
On this particular Wednesday morning, we appear to have both largely to ourselves!
Despite what it looks like, Noe really enjoyed his morning. He just isn’t that into having his picture taken lately. I can’t say I blame him.
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A quick lunch before nap time.
Out and about on a lunch run for Lori and me in Bukit Bintang.
Al-Bukhari mosque and an austere mid-century apartment block, viewed from our 17th-floor apartment.
Century-old St. Anthony’s Catholic church and the HUGE 6th-floor pool, framed by both towers of the Robertson Residences, our home for the next five days.
Just slightly different digs than what we’re used to in Laos.
The very conspicuous 118-story Warisan Merdeka tower, with the infamous 25-year-old stalled construction project of Plaza Rakyat in the foreground.
KL Forest Eco Park & KL Tower
After naps, we took a walk to nearby KL Forest Eco Park, a 20-acre forest reserve in the heart of the city.
Set aside in 1906, the park offers hiking trails, a canopy walk for a birds eye view, and even camping.
Sadly, however, the canopy walk was closed due to landslide damage. It wouldn’t be the last time we’d encounter a closed canopy walk in Malaysia.
Fortunately, the main trails below were still open.
The park began its life about twice the size that it is now. Then, in the 1980s, they cleared a bunch of land at the top of the hill to make way for this…
Well, the upside-down house came much later, but it was built on the same land as…
…the KL Tower!
Everyone loves a big tower, right? Well, we usually do, if the price isn’t outlandish and/or there’s a restaurant or lounge so that you can at least put your money towards a cocktail rather than an admission ticket.
KL Tower failed on both fronts, so we decided to admire it from below.
A bit of a bummer, particularly for Noe, but he quickly got over it once he saw…
We encountered a small group of Macaques on the walk down from the tower who kept their distance and were more curious than anything.
Taps Beer Bar
On our way back from KL Tower, we stopped by Taps for a craft beer and some comfort food. So many choices…
Well, they do have quite the selection of taps and bottles, but not quite as many as the beer shrine on display in the front window.
Taps offers about a dozen craft beers on tap from all over the world.
The first time we came here in 2018, I was disappointed they didn’t offer any local craft beer. Since then, the craft beer industry in Laos has exploded (meaning, it’s gone from one to three reliable craft brewers). None of them are particularly great, so this time around I was looking forward to something exotic and tasty.
Taps did not disappoint!
Noe likes coming here for the hip brewpub scene, which features music strictly from the ’90s.
And Riley likes Taps because they offer reading material that speaks to his lifestyle…
River of Life / Merdeka
The next morning, we made our way slowly down to Merdeka Square and Masjid Jamek (mosque), the oldest mosque in KL. There’s a nice walking path here which weaves its way through the River of Life, an eight-year river restoration project.
The focal point of the walk is at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, offering a great view of the mosque and many of the cities famous landmarks.
Water levels were very low this time around — not nearly as photogenic as April 2018, which surprised us, given that Malaysia was coming out of the rainy season (and we were still getting heavy rainstorms almost every afternoon).
A view of KL’s famous Jamek mosque, across the river. We dared not enter, lest we get kicked out like last year.
Much of KL’s British colonial heritage has been razed to make way for new development. But the area around the River of Life and Merdeka Square is one of the few areas of town where the architecture of that era has been preserved.
Since we landed in Malaysia, Noe’s been collecting one-ringgit bills for being a good listener, not murdering us in our sleep, etc.
Until now, we haven’t been crazy about the idea of financial incentives for our three-year-old, but this is a big transition time for him. And desperate times…
He seems to have really taken to the scheme, and 1 Ringgit is the equivalent of $0.25, so it’s not breaking the bank (yet).
We’re not sure what his options will be for buying things yet, but I’m sure we’ll think of something in the next three weeks. Or, more likely, Noe will.
Sunday, we’re taking the high-speed ETS train up to Georgetown on Penang island. I tried to purchase train tickets online, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.
Young children ride free, provided that they sit on a paid passenger’s lap. Knowing our train overlapped with nap time (and tickets weren’t expensive), we preferred to buy four seats together instead.
The interwebs simply won’t let you do such a preposterous thing, so we made a stop at KL Sentral station and in a matter of minutes walked away with four roundtrip tickets (i.e. four seats) to Butterworth station (i.e. Penang).
(By the way, if you’re wondering how to say “ticket counter” in Malay it’s kaunter tiket…).
We’re excited for this journey.
I don’t say that ever these days when it comes to spending four hours in transit with little ones. But trains are different. And ultra-modern high-speed trains are even better!
Noe’s very excited to ride the choo choo, and it will be Riley’s very first train ride.
Back to Robertson Residences, our digs for our five-night stay in Kuala Lumpur. We’re in the south tower, which is the 46-story thing on the left.
Jalan Alor Night Market
Our third day in KL ended back at Jalan Alor Night Market. But we weren’t here to stroll. Nope. This time, we were here to eat!
And what better place than Restoran Sai Woo, by many accounts the best local eatery on the strip and the one that blew us away in 2018.
We’re all about trying new places (that should be evident), but we also believe that when you find something great, you stick with it. Or at least go back on your next visit!
Unlike 2018, it’s the tail end of rainy season and we’re getting dumped on tonight. Not really a problem since Sai Woo is mostly covered and has got some massive umbrellas (which a small army of workers magically made disappear the second the storm cleared out).
Riley is the least bit fazed of all of us with his fan club.
Noe got the Malaysian booster seat treatment (they do this everywhere in Malaysia for Noe — no clue why we never thought of this, ourselves).
It was nice having the place mostly to ourselves. This place is extremely popular, and sure enough, once the rains let up, the crowds filed in.
We basically ordered what we had last visit, which is something of a culinary sampling of Malaysia’s most famous street dishes: chicken satay and nasi lemak (if you haven’t had nasi, you HAVE TO HAVE NASI), with fried prawns thrown in for good measure.
And Noe, of course, got his coconut.
18 months ago at the same place…
Now we know what Noe can use his Malaysian currency on.
Man on a mission.