Alor Street by day, featuring a dozen crammed together budget hostels overlooking what promises to be a very tasty spread of insanity come nightfall. We’re looking forward to it.
Staying just two roads off of Jalan Alor opened a world of possibilities on foot. After spending our morning at the largest enclosed aviary in the world, it was time for a rest. Back at the hotel, Noe went down for a few hours in the bedroom and Lori kicked her feet up in the hotel atrium. I, on the other hand, had a small list of things to accomplish: Grab a coffee and lunch to bring back.
On the way, I came upon a Mac shop. I figured we’d encounter many of these in KL, but decided not to put off one important thing on our list: purchasing [what has become] a vintage power adapter for Lori’s seven-year-old MacBook Air. While this will be our third power adapter for this particular computer, it’s still less than a tenth of what a new computer would run us and Lori’s computer still serves her perfectly well (with the obvious and unfortunate exception of the power adapter apparently designed by a monkey on meth). Luckily, the place had one in stock for a reasonable price. So I grabbed it—and good thing too. We never encountered another Mac shop along our route for the rest of our time in Malaysia.
It took two trips, but I managed to secure everything on our list and then some.
Noe slept like a rock and woke up well-rested and ready to take on the city…or at least well-rested. Off to see the towers!
From 1998 to 2004, the Petronas Towers held the distinction of tallest building(s) in the world. It wasn’t so long ago that buildings got to hold on to that title for a while. For example, the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) held the title of tallest building in the world for 25 years, from its completion in 1973, until—you guessed it—these bad boys came along.
Nowadays, it’s tough being the biggest kid in the world, as it seems there are contenders shooting up every year in places like China and Dubai constantly battling for the crown. In the past 14 years alone, there have been 14 buildings completed that are taller than the Petronas tower, with many more on the way.
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With that said, Dubai’s massive, sailboat-inspired Burj Khalifa still holds the biggest building in the world title since 2010. I guess that’s what happens when you beat your next nearest competitor by nearly double! Yet, the Petronas towers should get special credit for having TWO towers (each 1,483 ft. / 451.9 m) compared to just one 2,717 ft. (828m) tower, right?
Some more fun facts about the Petronas Towers:
- Construction was a multinational effort, as each tower was completed not only by completely different companies, but companies from different countries—Tower 1 (the tower on the right in the below photo) construction was led by Japanese Hazama Corp., and Tower 2 (the one on the left) construction was led by South Korean Samsung C&T Corp. The towers were designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli.
- The Korean tower became the first to become the world’s tallest building, but when the Japanese tower got to the 72nd floor, it encountered a slight problem—the tower was leaning! Only an inch, but nonetheless, Hazama corp. went about correcting the lean by slanting the remaining 16 floors in the reverse direction by about 3/4-inch.
- The 88-floor towers are made largely out of reinforced concrete!!!—NOT steel like most high-rise construction in North America, due to the exorbitant cost of importing steel. What this actually means is that the buildings have better sway reduction and were much more cost-effective to build; however, the towers are TWICE as heavy as comparably sized steel buildings. This resulted in the largest concrete pour in history (470,000 cu. ft. poured continuously for 54 hours per tower) to create the foundation that would support the massive structures.
- The skybridge that runs between the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors isn’t actually attached to the main structure, but designed to slide in and out to factor in sway. It’s rumored that the skybridge was added as an evacuation device after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
The Petronas towers overlook beautiful KLCC public park with just about everything you could want in a public park—green space, huge (and free) playground and water park facilities, bike paths, huge shade trees, and a running track. But don’t think of trying anything funny with your sig-o.
Like most public spaces in KL, the park is patrolled by Morality Police! Armed with a whistle and a citation pad, most frequently we spotted them shooting a loud whistle warning and glare of death towards teen couples getting a little too close for comfort, but we also saw a woman sporting scandalous yoga pants and sports bra doing yoga on a berm get a stern talking to.
Fortunately, we did not incur the wrath of the officers, but there was one time I thought we might after my camera momentarily brushed up against Lori’s arm, by accident of course.
If you’re looking for a piece of the twin towers to take home with you to commemorate your visit, may I suggest tin boxes of Alfredo. They come in two flavors: Kuala Lumpur Twin Tower and Splendour of Malaysia. I prefer the latter, though I really have no clue what’s in them. Chocolate? Cigars? Commemorative bits of concrete? You’ll just have to find out for yourself, won’t you?
Noe was ravenous, and it was still another hour or so until we’d reach our dinner destination, so—snack time! We managed to secure some yogurt for the Mister in the KLCC shopping mall at the base of the Petronas towers, but there was literally no where to sit in the sprawling shopping center but for a tiny little section in the kid’s play area that was packed.
No worries, we found a nice little area down a lesser-used hallway where we parked ourselves and fed our hangry little bundle of joy…until the sitting police came by and told us we couldn’t be here and needed to find a place to sit. We explained to him that there wasn’t anything available and that’s why we were here. He basically ended by saying we couldn’t sit. So we told him what he wanted to hear and Asian squatted for the rest of the time…after being on our feet ALL day. Ugh.
It’s great to be able to communicate with people in Malaysia, but in these situations I much prefer Laos where officials basically just give up on you the second they figure out you probably don’t speak Lao. It’s generally not worth their time to try and pantomime your infraction unless it’s something very serious, and even then, it’s still probably not worth their time. Mind you, this is in a country where there is very little enforcement of minor laws and regulations in general, so people don’t get pestered a lot—and certainly don’t have to worry about needing to sit on the floor in a mall to feed a crying baby.
On the other hand, you won’t find these little puppies in Vientiane…
Had your fill of high-rises for a while? Good! Time to drink!
Happy Hour at Taps Beer Bar
It was happy hour, and mommy and daddy were thirsty. Lori’s taking her beverages minus the alcohol these days, of course, but preggo mommies still get thirsty for something other than water too! Luckily, even a place like Taps Beer Bar has something for everyone.
On our way up to the towers, we had passed a strip of bars with happy hour deals that we wanted to check out later. So, we did just that and were unimpressed with the offerings—how about a dollar-off-Tiger in a can that costs twice as much as anywhere else? No thank you. I mean, if the ambience warrants it, maybe, but the ambience at these places was nothing special. So, I hopped on Trip Advisor and was glad I did. One of the best beer spots in town was right around the corner!
Granted, Taps (and its current selection of taps) wouldn’t exactly stand out in a place like Portland, but in Southeast Asia? Places like these are a big deal. I do still love me some BeerLao in a rickety stilted bar hanging off the banks of the Mekong back in Vientiane, but this place seems downright exotic after eight straight months of being in Laos (ahem…18 months living in Vientiane, but who’s counting…).
So what did I have, you ask?
The Mornington Brown, from Mornington Peninsula Brewery in…Mornington, Australia.
I asked the kind server if he could direct me to some of their regional taps. I received a blank stare in return. I realize that craft beer is still in its relative infancy here in Southeast Asia, but I have had some phenomenal craft beers from Thailand, and thus was hoping on some level that they might have something representative of Malaysia (or more likely nearby Singapore)’s craft beer culture. No, not so much. I wasn’t really interested in sipping on ales from such exotic places as Newport, Oregon (i.e. Rogue), so I opted for the closest thing to a “regional” brew available…the Australian brown ale. And it was quite delicious…and, on happy hour.
With that, it’s off to dinner.
Jalan Alor [Street] Night Food Market
Welcome to Jalan Alor! KL’s former Red Light District, now the heart of the city’s popular street food scene.
Want Malaysian food? Check. Want Thai food? Check. Want Chinese food? Check? Want a combination of the three? Check, check, check.
We initially had a place we wanted to try written down, but as is often the case, it was closed for remodeling. So, we looked around for the place with a good crowd and good mix of Malaysian-looking people and foreign-looking people, and landed on Sai Woo.
Lori got a coconut and I ordered an Anchor beer. Yay! Finally a Malaysian beer.
For whatever reason, it’s next to impossible to find Malaysian beer at Malaysian restaurants, even though you can get Anchor (Malaysia’s most widely distributed beer) pretty much anywhere in Cambodia, and even Thailand. What do you find everywhere Malaysia? TIGER. Besides being just a really awful beer, it’s not even a Malaysian beer—it’s from Singapore. Yet, no matter how far out in the middle of nowhere we would venture over the next two-weeks, there it was—Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. You think it tastes bad ice cold? Wait til you’ve had it lovingly warmed by the equatorial sun.
But not tonight! Tonight, I sip on Anchor!
To my surprise, a very large bottle of it, too. Oh, how I miss my drinking buddy—lost, yet again, to baby-baking.
By the way, the food was amazing. We ordered chicken satay (always a winner) and pork spareribs (we’re saving the seafood and more exotic fair for Borneo).
What could Mr. Riceface be working on so intently?
After a delicious dinner, we head off to explore the night market.
Durian! Stinky, stinky, durian, everywhere. It’s got to be something like the national fruit of Malaysia.
Noe loved watching this guy do crazy and insane things to a simple ball of dough. Who doesn’t?
After a long day on the town, Noe more than earned his sliced mango. Needless to say, he went to sleep exhausted and happy.
Tomorrow, it’s off to Borneo!