Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia’s capital city is a hub of cultural and religious diversity, with Buddhist shrines rubbing shoulders with Hindu temples, Islamic mosques and the odd Christian Church.
The population is made up of ethnic Malays, Chinese and Indian, with some Western faces to be seen also. It is brilliant to see the array of different religious sites and cultures all living side by side.
For us KL feels like Hong Kong and Bangkok mixed together – lots of luxurious shopping malls with all the designer names, sky trains and exotic foods. A bustling, skyscraper clad city.
The food here is heavily influenced from Thailand and India, which makes for a delicious curry and lassi (an Indian inspired yoghurt fruit smoothie).
The city’s skyline is impressive, and dominated by the Petronas Towers, which have 88 floors and stand at an impressive 452 metres tall. They’re apparently the tallest twin structures in the world.
Surrounding the twin towers are more impressive high rises, reminding you of the affluent metropolis that is KL.
Underneath these impressive buildings is one of the cities parks, which seemed to be a popular place for students and families. A nice place to grab some shade and take in your surroundings!
In contrast with these 21st century skyscrapers are the heritage buildings which surround Merdeka Square, which is where Malaysian independence was declared from the British in 1957. A huge flagpole stands centre stage, overlooking a green which used to be used by the British as a cricket pitch.
The surrounding colonial buildings strike quite the picture, especially with the skyscrapers in the background.
We also visited the greener sides of KL, one of which was the eco-forest park. This forest is an example of what covered the city before it became the metropolis it now is.
There are a couple of pathways through the forest, and some canopy walks too. The forest was in a healthy state, with many birds, squirrels, monkeys (although we didn’t see them), and bugs aplenty.
We saw our first centipede, and what an angry beast he looks like – definitely one to stay away from! Unfortunately our little jaunt was halted quite early on by the presence of what seemed to be the entire population of Kuala Lumpur’s mosquitoes. Indifferent to the copious amounts of mosquito spray we had applied, they set upon us straight away, with me even swatting one on Paul’s forehead (and no it wasn’t just an excuse to hit him)! We made a quick exit covered in angry red bites which left us itching all day!
A more pleasant trip was to the bird park, which is the world’s largest walk-in aviary.
We were thoroughly impressed! It covers a large portion of mature forest, and apart from certain species who were in separate enclosures (which were good quality) all the birds had free rein. The place reminded us a bit of Jurassic Park but without the lethal inhabitants!
One particular species of bird called the Milky Crane have a breeding programme there as they are endangered in the wild.
There was also a wild troupe of macaques raiding the birds food and some sneaky little mice who thought Christmas had come early by finding a bowl full of seed!
During our trip here the heavens opened – our first proper tropical thunderstorm. So we ducked into the Hornbill restaurant on-site, and had the company of the hornbill himself and some cheeky little birds who tried to sneak up on Paul to test his lunch out!
The restaurant is within the avairy, so you never quite know who you’re going to meet up there! So even though we got a little wet, we had a great time visiting the avairy, we are such bird geeks!
We now fly to Penang, where we will be volunteering at an eco-farm for two weeks, farmer Paul and farmer Gem here we come!