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Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her website www.ageing-hipsters-travel.com.

Click here to find out more about Rose.

A stopover in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Rose at KL zoo 1975
Rose at KL zoo 1975

Although KL is a youngster compared to other older Asian cities, Malaysia’s hot and humid bustling capital city captures the country’s multicultural diversity like no other.

You are just as likely to see a beautiful Malaysian mosque as you are a Chinese or Indian temple, and eat a spicy Malaysian or Indian curry as you are Cantonese dishes.

It began as a tiny shantytown mined for its rich tin deposits in the 19th century, but today it is a vast, sprawling metropolis that seemingly goes on forever.

I originally visited KL in the 70’s as I travelled the Hippy Trail overland through Asia to Europe. Lonely Planets’ “South East Asia on a shoestring (1977)” was our bible back then and TonyWheeler described KL as – ‘Since independence in 1957, it has rapidly become one of the most progressive, noisy, traficy, sky-scrapered, clover leafed towns in South East Asia.’
(I think Tony Wheeler made up some new words here)
What he says has some truth but even though it is all these things even today, I find it a great stopover or base for a holiday. I really enjoy stopping here and these days it is nice knowing where to go and how to get there.


On arrival at the airport, you will find it modern and easy to find your way around. They have two airports which sit side by side. One is for the budget airline Air Asia and the other for the many airlines that fly in and out of KL to many countries around the world. It is a very busy airport.

Getting into the city from the airport is easy. Catch the KLIA Ekspress train which takes 28 minutes which comes every 15 minutes and costs about $17 Australian dollars. If you can share a taxi it will cost approximately $24.
Ignore touts that may approach you: book at the official Airport Limo counters inside the airport. Note: if you catch the train they have a taxi desk at the city stop where you can pick from the different types of taxis. Safer to do this than to try and hail one outside.

Many travellers use KL as a stopover on the way to Europe or other places on that route. It is an easy city to get around and a lot of interesting places to visit whether you have a day or more, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
First on your list should be the hop on hop off bus. It takes approximately 1 hour to do the round trip. We usually stay on for the full hour and then go around again getting off the sites we are interested in.
Check out their site for costs and hours of operation.

Taking photos of a historical building on the Hop on Hop off bus
Taking photos of a historical building on the Hop on Hop off bus

There are so many places to visit and my favourites are listed below.

1. Chinatown – wander down interesting narrow alleys packed with cheap restaurants, stalls and coffee shops. Great place to buy brand copies at cheap prices. Watches, bags, tee shirts, shoes, jewellery and much more. Stalls inside or outside. I found the outside stalls cheaper but if it is a hot humid day you may want to shop inside where it is air conditioned.


Chinatown market and undercover market

2. Merdeka Square – Beautiful British colonial heritage buildings. Some stunning architecture. The square was originally used as a cricket pitch and later hosted the 1957 ceremony where the Union Jack was lowered and Malaysian independence declared. Take a free walking tour around the square with an English guide. Tour starts at the KL City Gallery and is conducted Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 9am to 11.30am and visits 11 heritage buildings.

3. Near to the square is the Royal Selangor Club and the Moorish-style Masjid Jamek mosque which is worth a look.

Mosque near Merdaka square
Mosque near Merdaka square

4. Free – Bank Negara Museum and Art Gallery, Police Museum – Art House Gallery.

5. Petronas towers – two modern stainless steel covered towers with 88 storeys (almost half kilometre in height). Tickets up to the Skybridge and observation deck costs $27 with visiting hours Tuesday to Sunday between 9am and 9pm.

Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

6. Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve – 11ha of tropical forest situated in the heart of the city situated alongside the Kuala Lumpur Tower (one of the world's tallest telecommunications structures). There are numerous walking trails and the trees and ferns are tall and thick, helping to preserve a fair selection of wildlife that includes a troupe of monkeys. Free entry.

7. Food – “if you had to pick one highlight of visiting KL then it would be the food. Malaysian, Indian and Chinese dominate the field. The Old China café is a great place to try, given its mix of excellent fare and old-world atmosphere.  Blink and you may miss the worn-out wooden swinging doors which mark the entry into a former pre-World War II laundry association guild hall. Once inside the retro ambience is almost as captivating as the mouth-watering smells that spill from the kitchen – much of the original architecture is still evident, complemented by framed black and white historical photographs on the wall.” (written by David Challenger Advertiser)

8. Batu Caves – A sight not to miss. 12 km’s North (you can easily get there by bus or train) of the city. A hundred metre high limestone hill which houses a vast cavern known as the cathedral cave. You have to climb 272 steps to get to the entrance. Tip: watch out for the monkeys as they will try to get your bags or anything you are carrying, like cameras, phones, bottles of water etc. They are ruthless and will bare their teeth at you. Also don’t wear short shorts or you will have to hire a sarong to wear. Shorts past the knees are usually ok.

Batu Caves
Batu Caves

9. There are many other places to visit, depending on how much time you have. We recently did a day tour to the Cameron Highlands and another to Malacca. If you want to visit Penang it takes a bit longer but flights there are quite reasonable.
Recently we spent a week in KL and there was always something to do. My favourite hotel is the Shangri-La which is within walking distance to most places and also close to transport.

Shangri La Lounge
Shangri La Lounge

Shangri La Room
Shangri La Room

Shangri La Foyer
Shangri La Foyer

Take it from me KL is a great place to have a stopover. For more information on what to do and see in KL visit their tourism site.

 

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

You can see more of Rose's travels on:
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