Old Friends and New Foods – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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We left the tropical rainforest of Taman Negara bound for Malaysia’s other major (urban) jungle in the buzzing capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

This would be my second visit to KL – as it’s called by the locals – the first being some eight years before for the wedding of my good friend Rizal to his wife Karina. So, it was with great excitement that I found myself traveling back to KL to catch up with Rizal and Karina, and meet the new additions to the family – their two sons!

Having missed out on any wildlife encounter at Taman Negara, we opted for the three-hour boat trip to leave the park. Unfortunately, we once again spotted nothing interesting, and rapidly grew bored with the scenery and sore from the hard seats in the dugout boat.

The river boat out of Taman Negara.The river boat out of Taman Negara.
The river boat out of Taman Negara.05-Jul-2011 09:02
 

A few hours later, though, we found ourselves rolling into Chinatown and ready to explore everything KL had to offer!

Two of the main attractions of Kuala Lumpur are shopping and food, and we went right to work on both of these. Our first delicious meal was a huge serving of Chinese-style barbecue chicken wings from the fabulous Wong ah Wah on Jalan Alor in the heart of the city.

Yum! Barbecue chicken wings, Chinese style.Yum! Barbecue chicken wings, Chinese style.
Yum! Barbecue chicken wings, Chinese style.05-Jul-2011 19:44
 

We followed this up by sampling the notorious durian fruit for desert (click for video). Definitely an experience!

Erik with a durian fruit.Erik with a durian fruit.
Erik with a durian fruit.05-Jul-2011 20:20
 

Afterwards, we strolled some of the massive shopping malls, including the amazing Low Yat Plaza – a huge multistory computer, camera, phone, and technology center filled with hundreds of vendors offering decent deals. We ended up buying a new Canon point-and-shoot camera while there.

KL - a shopper's paradise.KL – a shopper’s paradise.
KL – a shopper's paradise.10-Jul-2011 20:06
 

The next day, we met Rizal for (you guessed it) more great food – Indian, this time, at one of the famous banana leaf restaurants.

An Indian banana leaf lunch with Rizal.An Indian banana leaf lunch with Rizal.
An Indian banana leaf lunch with Rizal.06-Jul-2011 15:22
 

As a multi-ethnic, diverse country, Malaysia (and KL) has a fantastic array of cuisines, especially Chinese and Indian foods. Much of the best food is found in simple, streetside restaurants and hawker food stalls scattered throughout the city.

A hawker stall's huge array of meats and vegetables ready for the grill.A hawker stall’s huge array of meats and vegetables ready for the grill.
A hawker stall's huge array of meats and vegetables ready for the grill.11-Jul-2011 21:54
 

Rizal kindly intercepted a couple packages our parents had sent us, allowing us to restock some items that we haven’t been able to find outside the US (such as Gilette Power Bead deodorant and Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste). Thanks, Mom(s) & Dad(s)!

Products we've only been able to find from back home!Products we’ve only been able to find from back home!
Products we've only been able to find from back home!06-Jul-2011 18:14
 

The huge Petronas Twin Towers dominate KL’s skyline, and while there we were lucky enough to snag tickets for a tour of the buildings’ iconic skybridge (an enclosed bridge linking the 41st and 42nd floors of both towers) as well as the top floor observation deck.

The Petronas Twin Towers.The Petronas Twin Towers.
The Petronas Twin Towers.07-Jul-2011 11:58
 

The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004, and still hold the record as the tallest twin buildings.

Heather in the Twin Towers' Skybridge.Heather in the Twin Towers’ Skybridge.
Heather in the Twin Towers' Skybridge.10-Jul-2011 18:15
 

The day after our visit to the towers, the huge Bersih 2.0 rally took place, and the whole city was put on lockdown while protesters marched through the streets. We heard a lot of shouting and saw some protesters from our hotel window, near Sentral Station. But, as Rizal had predicted – the rally was over by dinner time and everything was soon back to normal. Still, we were a little worried that it would gum things up for us more than it actually did! We ended up having a relaxing day hanging out in the hotel and watching the news coverage on TV.

With the rally no longer an issue, we explored more of the city. One highlight was the Batu Caves just outside the city, an important sacred site for the large Hindu population.

Ready to climb the steps and dodge the monkeys on the way to the Batu Caves!Ready to climb the steps and dodge the monkeys on the way to the Batu Caves!
Ready to climb the steps and dodge the monkeys on the way to the Batu Caves!10-Jul-2011 12:32
 

While the caves and shrines were interesting, truth be told we spent most of the time here photographing the antics of the resident monkeys.

Monkeys everywhere!Monkeys everywhere!
Monkeys everywhere!10-Jul-2011 13:13
 

Some of the naughtier, aggressive monkeys stole offerings and food from people passing by.

This guy was able to swipe an ice cream cone.This guy was able to swipe an ice cream cone.
This guy was able to swipe an ice cream cone.10-Jul-2011 13:34
 

With Ramadan approaching, Rizal and Karina hosted a large dinner on our final night in the city. It also served as a little birthday celebration for just-turned-two Noah.

The birthday boy getting ready to blow out his candles.The birthday boy getting ready to blow out his candles.
The birthday boy getting ready to blow out his candles.30-Jul-2011 21:19
 

After more than a week spent back in the big, bad city, it was time once again to hit the jungles, this time heading for the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.

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