Thursday, March 12, 2015


taken during our first trip to Kuala Lumpur in 2005, from afar

The home of the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur (KL) is the capital and largest city in Malaysia. The first time we were in this city was way back in February 2005. Ira was just 1 year and 3 months old, and we went for an overnight trip to KL with family members (two aunts from the US, my mom and brother from the Philippines) who came to Singapore to attend Ira’s baptism. Both trips have their pros and cons. I will try to make comparisons between the two visits as I write about our recent trip to the city.

Going back to Kuala Lumpur after almost a decade, we had mixed feelings and (un)certain expectations. We did a 2D1N (2-day,1-night) trip, same as in 2005. The main difference between our trip then and now was that I no longer had to carry Ira on my lap for the whole bus ride! At 10 years old, he’s old enough to be on his own seat. He chose to sit with his younger cousin for this trip. As the boys grew older, they don't need constant supervision nor mommy's company all the time, so hubby and I get to sit beside each other. That's 6 hours of chatting, sleeping, eating and looking out the bus together (just like our couple time before the boys came to our lives).

Pictures taken on board the bus on our first trip to KL
1st photo: Ira was amused with the lights and looked at it almost the whole time we were on the bus.
2nd photo: Me and Ira preparing for the long ride to Kuala Lumpur, with me carrying him throughout the journey.
3rd photo: with our travel companions, Auntie Pines (in red), Auntie Baby (in blue) and Kelvin (thumb-sucking and covered in blanket). Mama and my brother were on the other side of the bus.


We left home early, took the train to Paya Lebar Station and walked Tanjong Katong Complex where we were supposed to catch the bus. The place looked old so we were in doubt as to whether we were at the right place at all but other people were also waiting for the bus there so we knew we were in the right place. Not long after, the bus came and parked and someone called the passengers to board the bus. We went to our assigned seats (first few rows), settled the kids in, then the bus left at 8am. After 3 stops (one at the Singapore Immigration, another at the Malaysian Immigration, and finally, at Yong Peng) and some traffic jam closer to the city, we finally arrived in KL sometime early afternoon. We were dropped off near Plaza Rakyat where we spotted a Nando’s restaurant and we knew we’d have our first meal in Malaysia there. We walked to where the restaurant was, lugging our backpacks and trolley bags, a bit tired and hungry from the long journey.

Nando’s had 2 floors so we were hoping we could use the first floor dining area since we had a lot of things with us. Unfortunately, for some reason, they couldn’t let us dine on the first floor. We were ushered to the second floor which had a bigger space (the main dining area). Chicken, chicken, chicken galore. And there were some brownie dessert, too. The staff gave away a selfie stick which we were supposed to use to take a photo while eating at the restaurant and post to their Facebook page (or something like that). We did take several group selfies (group-fie?) but we kept it to ourselves.

Not far from Nando’s was Plaza Rakyat LRT Station where we took the train to get to our hotel. We stayed at Ibis Styles which was conveniently located near the Chan Sow Lin station, connected via a pathway through what looked like a new mall. Ibis Styles has a decent-sized reception with ample sitting space/waiting area. The room had a double bed, a sofa bed by the window (unfortunately, our room didn’t have a view), a desk paired with a uniquely designed chair. There’s also a flat screen tv, a safe, and a bathroom with complete toiletries. It had enough space for the family. I didn’t expect it from a room which cost less than S$100 per night. Thumbs up!

After settling in (by that I meant putting our bags down and napping for a few minutes), we headed out and took train to Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. They already had CNY lanterns up in December! There were several streets and stalls to explore so we split up and fixed a time when we’d meet again on the same spot. The kids went with their respective parents, just in case they found something interesting to buy.

The place was something like the Chinatown in Singapore but the stalls sold more variety of stuff like Mongkok (a night market in Hong Kong). There were bags and wallets (fakes, I presume), perfumes and watches, ladies’ and men’s clothes, selfie pods (with or without remote controls), toys and a lot more. What caught Ira’s attention were the football jerseys. He just got himself a set (half of the cost he paid for using his savings from his allowance) and was comparing prices. He asked us for the conversion rate and did his computations. Of course, prices were lower in that part of the country because, well, they weren’t selling the authentic stuff. He knew how to check it (sort of). After checking the quality of the material, he wasn’t that much convinced even if the price was lower. No shopping success for us there.

After an hour, we were back to our meeting place, just in time for dinner. There were food stalls around the area so we decided to try some of their local food (which was similar to that of Singap’re's hawker food). We ordered chicken rice (of course), noodles, different types of pork, and drinks (which we had to buy from nearby shops). After dinner, we headed to the train station then back to the hotel and called it a night (after playing a series of charades and heads up, that is).

Since we booked 4 bedrooms, the kids ended up staying with their “Lolo” (grandfather) for the night to bond while the couples had their respective rooms to themselves. Talk about a brilliant plan! Knowing Ira though, who is used to sleeping beside me, we had to have an “emergency” plan just in case he decided to go back to our room in the middle of the night. We told him he should give us a call first before leaving Lolo’s room so we could meet him outside (safety first). Well, what do you know? A few hours later, I was awakened (more like startled) by a phone call from Ira in the wee hours of the morning saying he wanted to move back to our room. That’s it for the all kids night with Lolo.


We had free breakfast at the hotel, packed our bags, left the big ones at the hotel (for pick up in the afternoon) and took the hotel free shuttle service to the Petronas Twin Towers. The first time we were in KL we hired a van, the driver of which also served as the tour guide. He brought us to different attractions around the city but was not able to bring us closer to the tower. A bit disappointing but he did mention that it was already too late to go up the tower anyway since there would be a long queue. This time around we made sure we could get as close to the tower as we could and take photos with it. The water fountain feature in front of the towers was the best spot to do so. Be ready to compete with other tourists for the location though. If you're early enough you may still be able to avoid bus loads of crowd and don't need to wait for long to get a clear shot of the towers.
Happy to be at the foot of the twin towers

the Petronas Twin Towers, up close


the kids having fun avoiding to get wet
photo op with the family before we headed inside KLCC

We had lunch at the food court inside KLCC. There were so many people going for the last minute Christmas shopping I think. We were lucky to find tables during lunch time. There were a variety of food to choose from. Some of us went for the local delights, others craved for western. Chicken rice was the safest bet for a picky eater like Ira so we had to have that. Mark tried the Old Town Coffee, cold. After having lunch, we were supposed to bring the kids to the Petrosains, a Science Centre, while the other adults go shopping. We inquired in the counter when we saw a very long line of people inside. Apparently, visitors were ushered in by batch, and at past 230pm, the people in line to enter the place were those who were supposed to be on the 130pm schedule! Even if we bought tickets for the next entry schedule we wouldn’t have enough time to explore the place since we had to make it to the airport 2 hours before our flight. We dumped the Petrosains plan but we did make use of the facilities and exhibits where the kids had to design their own paper planes and make it go through a circular hole on the wall. Not all of the designs were that accurate in hitting the target but they did try.  
this one also captured the interest of the kids. Made them doubt the things they see.The kids brought home a few sets to play with :)
Guess which card is bigger? Leave a comment and I'll show you the answer.
Once done with some window shopping, by 4pm we were out of the KLCC and on our way to the airport. We took the LRT to KL Sentral and transferred to the KLIA Express. We compared the prices of the KLIA Express and normal train (RM35 for adults and RM15 for children). Since there was no price difference and the KLIA Express would bring us to the airport faster, we opted for that. Each of us got our KLIA Express tickets, tapped them in the gantry and we were on our way to the airport (while the others had to go back to the hotel to pick up left luggage) and off to Langkawi.

And we've concluded yet another short visit to the city. Kuala Lumpur isn't really in our list of favorite cities, sad to say. Maybe it's because of the familiarity of things - some similarities in culture and environment with Singapore. Maybe because we haven't explored some of it's natural attractions yet? Whatever our reasons maybe don't let it dissuade you from visiting the city. You may find it more interesting than we did.

Anyway, here were some of our photos during our 2005 trip to Kuala Lumpur. I felt we saw more of the city back in 2005 but we hired a tour van then. 
a view of the city's skycrapers
went up the Menara Tower

tried the local transportation and visited Berjaya Times Square.
Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed 
since it was the week of the Chinese New Year.



Travel Tips of the Day:

My sis-in-law helped us in booking the following for our trip to Kuala Lumpur:

Bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur: KKKL.
SGD31.50, including booking fee.
Tickets can be purchased via

Hotel in KL: IBIS STYLES, KL Fraser.
RM114.84/room/night (3 persons/room), discounted rate for members.
I found the price very reasonable because the amenities were good, the room was comfortable and clean, and we even had free breakfast.
Kompleks Metro Pudu (Metro Mall)
1 Jalan Metro Pudu 2
Fraser Business Park
552200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

If you don't have enough time in the city and want to see more of its sights in a day, hiring a van with a driver cum tour guide to bring you around the city may be the best option. You can take advantage of the driver's knowledge about the city - the famous tourist attractions, its history and some insider's info. Beware though of those who may bring you to arts/crafts shops and force you to buy stuff, or those who may rush you while you are trying to enjoy the scenery or take in the beauty of some of the attractions. Go for one that is recommended by your hotel tour desk, if any.

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