Verfasst von: rbontour | Januar 2, 2011

Holiday Season in Kuala Lumpur

After a phenomenal time in New Zealand and giving up life in a campervan, we made our way to Asia, but first we had a quick stop-over in Australia again (Sydney, Melbourne and a drive along the Great Ocean Road). In our point of view, Sydney is by far the coolest city in Australia – very colorful, vibrant and easy to get around. Actually a magnificent place to live with a great café culture, beaches, water all around and definitely a more inviting and attractive climate. We also enjoyed Melbourne, especially because we met Ben, an old friend and co-worker we know from Connecticut. We haven’t seen him since he moved to “downunder” (approx. over 1 year ago) and we had a superb reunion with great talks and lots of fun. Besides, Ben was a lovely tour guide and showed us around; thanks so much!!!

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia’s capital and also known as Southeast Asia’s retail and fashion hub, was different than we expected. We definitely anticipated the heat, the sticky air and the extreme humidity, which we very well know from previous trips to Thailand/Bangkok. It hit us the minute we stepped off the plane. What we didn’t expect though was to enter a city that is so advanced and modern. We even had wireless internet access on the airport train. BTW, this would be an unthinkable thing for Australian or New Zealand standards, where WiFi or getting stable internet connection can still be challenging in some areas.

KL really is a mix between an Asian and western city. On the one side you have some shady and dirty areas, there is a China Town of course, a Little India, massage places offering foot reflexology or fish spa treatments  and very cheap food stalls and markets, where you can pursue bargain perfumes, jewelry, designer handbags, watches and the like … all ‚genuine‘ of course! On the other side you have an imposing skyline with the Petronas Twin Towers standing proudly amongst other very modern buildings and in-between massive shopping malls selling the real Guccis and Pradas. Think of any brand you like – it’s Kuala Lumpur where you’ll find it. And describing these malls as “massive” may even be understated. They are monstrous! Not only once we got lost. You’d probably need 4 full days to explore one out of over 60 gigantic shopping complexes with about 10 of them located downtown. Worthwhile mentioning, and please don’t laugh, are also the toilets in these luxurious plazas, such as the Pavillion. One thing is for sure: What a progress to the bathrooms we had on our campsites recently! For a couple of cents you are entering the cleanest bathrooms ever with marble floors – lotions, body sprays, perfumes, little cookies, mint, and many other little delights inclusive.

Christmas spirit in an Islamic nation
Malaysia is primarily a Muslim country. Women are in burqas, mosques are scattered throughout the city and from our hotel room we could hear the muezzin start singing at 5 o’clock in the morning. Nevertheless, we noticed many different racial groups – Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs – and all of them seem to live together in harmony. Things in KL seem to be very open-minded. KL’s nightlife is busy; the city never sleeps and for a few ringgits (the Malay currency) you can party into the morning light.

Therefore, it was not too big of a surprise to encounter such a Christmas spirit in the city. Besides all the crazy lights and decoration all over downtown, we listened to numerous Malay choirs singing English Christmas carols and apparently, Santa, his elves and reindeers were ever-present no matter which shopping center we entered. It just didn’t end and we were stunned at how huge all the displays and the trees were. A true deco wonderland, a little over-hyped, but one which can definitely compete with New York City’s holiday vibe.

Not only the French drive like lunatics
There definitely is a war between cars and pedestrians in KL. To have a relaxed stroll is merely impossible in the 7.2 Million people city (Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley) and we soon recognized that it’s not a real pedestrian-friendly place. You get easily fenced in and overawed by six lane highways. While you are surrounded by hundreds of honking cars, you desperately search for the next cross-walk and end up walking forever until you find one. Ahhhh, streets and traffic are simply chaotic; at first it was overwhelming and we felt like young villagers visiting a big city for the first time in their lives. We certainly wouldn’t retire in KL’s madness, but we still loved exploring it! And finally, although places like Sydney may be a lot more glamorous, prettier and cleaner, exploring a Southeast Asian city is always more exciting, very interesting and memorable.

Food poisoning… again
Well, we all know about the fact that as a Westerner you should eat or drink with care in Asia and pick meals wisely. And as we already experienced some very unfunny moments with food poisoning in Krabi/Thailand (2003), both of us are overly careful when it comes to food or picking our restaurants (don’t order something with ice, avoid less crowded restaurants, meat, eggs, etc.). Unfortunately, being overly careful doesn’t help all the time. Shortly before we left Malaysia, Brigitte got food poisoning again after having a drink in one of the most upscale (!!) bars in Malaysia with view to the Petronas Towers. We don’t need to explain the rest… it wasn’t fun for a while, but hey, everything is back to normal and both of us are healthy!

So far, we didn’t see any other places in Malaysia – the real rural Malaysia. We planned to spend Christmas on one of the many islands along the west coast, but the weather wasn’t really on our side. Hence, we spontaneously decided to fly to Thailand… and if we still have time (and money left) we’ll just return to Malaysia at a later time.


  1. bis auf die komischen Eier (da muß man ja krank werden :-)) wieder mal schön anzusehen und zu lesen. Dickes Bussi Ma

  2. Hello Brigitte & Robert, its always great to read your journalistic reports of your world trip. I really enjoyed it this morning sitting outside in Fort Myers and read your newest web update of your trip. The Sydney comment sounded great and generated something that I think sooner or later I need to get there as well…..even at least to see Ben our old/young friend. Kuala Lumpur reminded me to my first trip to this interesting city, it was around 1995/96, had same feeling like you explained but most probably much more advanced like it has been at this time, I agree 100% and didn’t you see many young people there, this is what I found out, people from around the world were targeting and even working in Kuala Lumpur. The Christmas hype is interesting, looks like a money maker around the world. The 51% are astonishing me and I just can say it made me speechless, but I learned to accept any other culture, all is fine. I really can believe you don’t want to retire in Kuala Lumpur but maybe go shopping there from time to time :-). The food poisoning sounded awful and I’m glad you are back to normal. Wish you a great continuation of your journey, keep on posting this news. Good health to both of you. Love Dad
    PS: great pictures, I understand now the part food poisoning, most probably it was the eggs on picture 012 🙂

  3. Brigitte and Robert!

    Amazing stories! I always enjoy reading your posts, it seems like you guys are having the time of your life! Enjoy and try to stay safe! Happy New Year!

  4. Hello Brigitte and Robert!

    I found your link when i was searching for something on the net.

    This is indeed a very inspiring review of Kuala Lumpur especially coming from a couple of world traveler like you two =)

    And yes, I am a local Malaysian, who’s among the 7.2million population living in the City Center.

    Despite the lunatic drivers (of which I can assure you, I am not one of them…erm…sometimes perhaps :p But i never honk!), the food poisoning, the city not being pedestrian-friendly or any other unfortunate experiences, do come again to visit our place. We are always, and more than happy, to welcome travelers from all over the globe to our small country, with open arms and open hearts =)

    On the requirement to hire at least 51% Muslim employee, that is totally inaccurate information. Each and ever corporation are at their liberty to hire, regardless of the religion background. For foreign companies, there is a requirement for the shareholding of it to be owned, for X amount of shares, by Malaysian nationalities so as to give the company a recognition of being a local nationalities. I believe the same is applied worldwide. But there is no such restriction for them to be Muslim. So long as they are malaysian citizen, that would do. Whereas for local companies, there is no such issue. There are fully owned Malay companies, Chinese companies, Indian companies as well as 1Malaysia companies i.e mixed companies (like the one I’m currently working!)

    Best regards,

    • Hello Ben,

      thanks so much for your kind email and it’s nice that you took the time to respond.
      We really apologize for publishing wrong information about Malaysia on our blog. When you travel you meet so many different people (local people) – this, for sure, is a wonderful thing, but maybe we have to be more careful in the future. We may often hear slightly inaccurate things or „half-truths“ and we can’t guarantee these things. We always try to add phrases like „according to a local we spoke with, we learned, that…“ but maybe it’s not enough…

      Again, sorry for the wrong information – you can check our website again, we deleted this one incorrect sentence completely.

      All the best to you and many greetings to KL!!!

      Kindest regards,
      Robert & Brigitte

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