From the beautiful green city Kuala Lumpur
to wandering around in the Cameron Highlands.
Kuala Lumpur was my first destination in Malaysia and after my month traveling through the big crowded cities of China. From 24 million people in Shanghai to 1,8 million people in Kuala Lumpur this city felt like the ultimate place to be. The first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of nature inside and around the city. The second thing: people could speak English again (in comparison with a lot of people in China) and they were so friendly and helpful! I stayed in a hostel close to the China Town area (China Town is an amazing place to grab some food somewhere during the day – try a clay pot once you’re there!) of Kuala Lumpur (only one metro stop away from the central station). It was a nice hostel with free (easy) breakfast and a nice common area to meet people. Another thing I absolutely love about Malaysia (and Thailand) is that you have to take off your shoes almost everywhere, so as well in this hostel. For me this gave me a feeling of being home.
Wandering Around: Botanic Garden, Muslim Museum & Petronas Twin Towers.
The first day I spent mostly just walking around together with two Germans I met in the hostel. I love taking a first walk in a new city because it gives you a little first glimpse of what the city has to offer and you feel a bit orientated. We bumped into a rehearsal for the National Independence day which was very cool and properly organized!
We continued our walk to the botanic gardens of Kuala Lumpur where we immediately saw some cute little monkeys (during my trip in Malaysia I discovered quickly that monkeys are definitely not cute at all). We walked through some beautiful nature, a deer park, saw some pretty birds and a varan (which is a massive lizard). My two German friends decided they wanted to go to the Muslim museum and I decided to tag along. I actually really liked this museum because you learn a lot about a big part of the Malaysian religion (more than 60% of the Malaysian population is Muslim, followed by Buddhism (20%)). After the museum I tried my first Malaysian dish: fried noodles with tofu and shrimps. And I can assure you I had it plenty of times after this time because it’s so good! At night time we took a free bus to the Petronas Twin Towers – there are some free busses circling around the city centre: make sure to understand their routes and stops because we got lost haha. The towers are beautiful and impressively high. They were the highest buildings in the world until 2003, but they are still the highest identical towers in the whole wide world. You can walk inside where you will find a big shopping mall.
The second day we decided to go to the Batu Caves. You can easily go by train for almost nothing but we decided to go by Uber because we were with four people so we could share the costs which made it still very cheap! The minute we arrived I was impressed by this place because of the enormous golden Buddha statue (24.7 meters) and the limestone rock formation behind it.
We then had to take 272 steps of the big stairs behind the Buddha statue. Because it’s a religious place for the Hindu make sure to cover your knees. I forgot this, but I was able to rent a piece of cloth so I could fix this. Besides the overwhelming Buddha statue you will be overwhelmed by the amount of monkeys chilling around there. And they are cheeky! If you holding some food or a bottle of water you will lose it in no time. I was lucky that one of the guys from my hostel is a dog trainer back at home (Perth, Australia) so he knew a lot about animal behavior in general. He taught me how to act around the monkeys so they would accept me in their little family. This resulted in a monkey sitting on my shoulder, monkeys holding my hand and playing with my bracelet, monkeys sitting around me and little babies playing under my long skirt. I absolutely loved this experience and I’m grateful I met him because of it!
Elephant Sanctuary & Firefly Park
The third day in Kuala Lumpur my Australian friend and I decided to rent a car for the day so we could explore the area around this pretty city. We start our day in a elephant sanctuary but it made us really sad. You could see the trauma in the eyes of the elephants and they were all standing alone in wooden boxes. If you want to visit a elephant sanctuary where they treat the elephants right, I had an amazing experience in a sanctuary in Chiang Mai – Thailand (I will tell you more about this in my article about Northern Thailand).
We continued our road trip to the place Selangkor where we had an amazing experience. When it was dark we went into a little boat for a trip over Selangkor’s river. Nothing special you would say, but at the watersides of the river there were trees with millions of fireflies in it. It looked like beautiful little sparkling Christmas trees and I absolutely loved it – it felt like being in the middle of a fairytale.
For me three days was enough in Kuala Lumpur. I didn’t feel I was missing out on something and I was ready for a new adventure! So I decided to take the bus to Tanah Rata, a small village in the Cameron Highlands, only five hours away by bus from Kuala Lumpur. Be prepared that this area is way colder than Kuala Lumpur or the Malaysian islands in the North because you’ll be way higher than those places – when I was there it was around 19 Celsius degrees. Tanah Rata has amazing Indian food, so if you decided to go here make sure to try some! Besides that there is not a lot to do here besides exploring the beautiful area. So the next morning it was time to do some hiking through the Cameron Highlands! During my travel time in Malaysia and Thailand I used the app Maps.me to use offline maps. You will find a lot of hiking trails on this app, but check with some locals or other backpackers which one you should take because some of then can be shut down. We experienced this with hike #1.
We hiked from the entrance of hike #1 all the way to the entrance of the Mossy Forest (>8 kilometers) which is a beautiful walk. We walk through tea fields, have beautiful views and cross some strawberry farms. The Mossy Forest is beautiful but very muddy because of the rainfall. We climb our way through a part of this ancient forest which is pretty cool (but you have to love a bit of a challenge and getting completely dirty). After an hour walking on our way back to the village we bumped into a truck who wanted to give us a little ride home. This was very fortunate because it started to pour heavenly! Completely soaked we arrived in our hostel. We took a shower, had some ginger tea and – of course – Indian food which made it a pretty good day at the Cameron Highlands.