Birthday Celebrations in KL
I had been really excited about our trip to Kuala Lumpur, we had decided to stop off here as a good midway point between Vietnam and Indonesia and we had both been looking forward to exploring the city.
However, the most exciting part of our two days in Kuala Lumpur for me was that it was Shaun’s Birthday whilst we were here and I had taken full charge of the planning and organising in order to give him a surprise birthday celebration in KL (I’m also a control freak, so taking total ownership of planning meant I was in my element).
As part of the Birthday weekend, I wanted to book us some nice accommodation, we had just spent 2 weeks in dorm rooms, so staying in a hotel felt like a luxury. However, I wanted to keep the hotel as a surprise, so the entire flight was spent convincing Shaun that I had just booked a modest Airbnb.
We stayed in Capri By Fraser, now under new management and called Invito Hotel & Residence. Shaun’s face was a picture as we pulled up to the hotel (I must have done a pretty good job of convincing him we were staying in a cheap Airbnb). As a further surprise, I had been able to book us an executive suite on the top floors and Shaun shot me a look of shock when we stepped into the elevator and he realised which room was ours.
Crackhouse comedy club
The evening before Shauns Birthday, I wanted to do something fun and make the most of the fact we were in a city and therefore had a greater selection of activities available to us. I had found Crackhouse Comedy club online, which claims to be Malaysias first and longest running full-time comedy club.
Shaun and I watched the line-up with some beer and bar food (which was pretty tasty) and really enjoyed the evening!
Day at the hotel
Typically when Shaun and I go away, we simply view our accommodation as ‘somewhere to sleep’ and don’t spend much time there. However, I had not paid all this money for a hotel with lots of perks, not to use them! So on the day of Shaun’s Birthday we decided to hang out at the hotel.
Much to Shaun’s delight the hotel offered unlimited breakfast, one of the biggest struggles for Shaun when travelling was that he ate significantly less than he would typically eat at home, so he really went in on the all you can eat breakfast!
Once we had let our mammoth breakfast go down, we made use of the hotel gym, which was another thing that Shaun really missed whilst we were away. I truly think, if I had told him his birthday present was a trip to a gym, he would have been happy with that alone! Needless to say, this activity was for Shaun’s benefit not mine, however the gym did have great views over the city which made the treadmill a little more bearable for me.
We spent the rest of the day at the rooftop pool relaxing, sunbathing and playing cards.
Dining in the Dark
Truth be told, I love to try anything quirky and unusual, even if at times a little bit gimmicky, so when I heard about the dining in the dark experience I knew I wanted to go and try it.
A bit of background on what makes this restaurant unusual, well the clue is in the name… Diners eat their meals in complete darkness, whilst served by staff who are blind or partially sighted, the theory is that the loss of sight enhances the other senses such as taste, which results in a unique dining experience. I wasn’t sure how convinced I was of this, but I figured we would have fun finding out!
At the restaurant, whilst we were waiting to be taken into the dining room, we were given a game to play by the staff to heighten our senses. Firstly, whilst blindfolded we had to search for paper clips in a bowl of rice, then we were given a mocktail and asked if we could identify the flavours in the drink.
Once we had completed the games, it was time to be seated for our dinner, our waiter for the evening led us into the dining room, we had to hold on to each others shoulders to be guided into the room (like a conga line). Our waiter would click his tongue and use the noise to navigate his way around the room. It was quite amazing to witness!
Once we were seated, our waiter talked us through where the cutlery was, where our plate and drinks would be placed etc. As silly as it sounds, but at first I couldn’t believe quite how dark it was, you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face and I actually started to panic a little, I didn’t think I would be able to sit in the darkness for the entire duration of the meal. However, I closed my eyes and Shaun and I started chatting and I eased into it.
We were served 5 courses in specially adapted plates which made is easier to eat blind (and not make a mess everywhere). It felt like learning a new skill, eating in this way but it got easier as the evening went on. I was actually quite hesitant to start eating at first, because the thought of putting something in my mouth which I couldn’t see freaked me out felt quite unnatural, but after some reassurances from Shaun that it tasted great I was tucking into the food.
It was quite strange how much being in complete darkness, really prompted us to make conversation over dinner. I’m super nosy so will often get distracted during meals taking in the decor, or looking at other diners, trying to figure out their life story (which Shaun tells me off for a lot). But, I didn’t have any of those distractions, so we talked non-stop the entire meal, which was really great because when you’ve spent 24/7 with someone for two months, conversation can run a little dry sometimes (sorry Shaun).
At the end of the meal when we were back out in the bar area, we had to guess what each course was before being shown the actual menu, I was pleasantly surprised by how many dishes we correctly guessed!
Central Market has been around since 1928 and is a popular tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur.
When we first arrived at the market it looked very similar to many of the others we had encountered in South East Asia. However, the further we headed into the market we noticed lots of beautiful local arts and crafts.
The market is split into several sections, the aim of which is to show the diverse variety of races and ethnicities in Malaysia.
I must admit, at this point in our trip we were starting to feel a little apathetic towards markets as we had come across so many already. However, the thought that has gone into sectioning this market means that even though we weren’t planning on purchasing anything we could still walk around and learn a lot about the culture.
The evening of our second day, we found ourselves at Kuala Lumpurs China town located on Petaling street.
Much like London’s China town, I had expected to see rows of Chinese restaurants and temples. However, when we arrived we were instead greeted by a bustling flea market selling clothes, perfume, makeup, electronics etc.
We were definitely in the right place, as we had seen the sign upon entering the street and it was decorated ornately with Chinese lanterns, but it just wasn’t what I expected! Since researching the area I know that the temples and restaurants are indeed there and the area is well know for it’s flea market. However, during our time there the market felt all consuming and we could barely see anything around it.
Perhaps there are better times of the day to go and see the non-market related sites of China town? I’m sure if we had done specific research beforehand, we would have known where the sites were, but for tourists who stumble across it like us, they are easy to miss!
The Petronas Towers have become an iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur and a major tourist destination, and rightly so – these towers are pretty impressive!
Once the tallest building in the world an now holding the record for the tallest twin structures, the Petronas towers stand at a staggering height of 1,483 feet!
Shaun and I stood at the bottom of the towers along with a large crowd and admired the mammoth buildings, we visited at night and I truly think this is the best way to see them – the towers are lit up and the lighting really highlights and accentuates the architecture of the building.
Interestingly, the building was designed to pay homage to Malaysian identity, and is therefore shaped to resemble Islamic symbols.
Perdana Botanical Garden
At the end of our two days in Kuala Lumpur, before getting our flight to Bali, we visited the Perdana Botanical Gardens.
Located in the city centre it is the perfect way to spend an afternoon and catch a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Shaun and I found a pathway and followed it around the park taking in the views and learning about the various greenery and wildlife at the park.
From the botanical gardens you can see the tall city buildings surrounding on the periphery, which makes for a really interesting view when contrasted against the greenery in the park, a sight that vaguely reminded me of being in Central Park!
During our travels I was mostly eating vegetarian meals, so when I came across Ganga Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant serving south Indian cuisine and saw that it had amazing views online, I nagged Shaun to go.
Shaun is a meat lover and will usually turn his nose up at the suggestion of an entirely vegetarian meal as for him, the best part of any meal is the meat. However, my persistent nagging worked and he agreed that we could come for lunch.
Upon arriving I noticed that the restaurant was very humble looking compared to some of the higher end establishments on the street. However, I think this really ties into their no-nonsense, simple, good food and service approach.
Shaun and I ordered their standard Thali which included rice, 3 veg, 2 dal, rasam, salad and a papadam for just RM10 (or 2 British pounds!!!). It was the first time either Shaun or I had eaten Thali and it was so amazing. I felt pretty smug when I could tell Shaun was enjoying it just as much as me.
After finishing our Thali I noticed that there was gulab jamun on display, I had eaten this dessert a few times years ago, when I worked at a restaurant with Indian owners when I was 16 and I remembered them being so delicious. We shared a portion and I was pleased to find out that they were just as amazing as I remembered and Shaun shared my love for them.
The Ganga Cafe has gained a great deal of social media buzz for it’s Vegeterian Sunday Buffet, whilst Shaun and I didn’t visit on a Sunday, based on the food we had I can understand why the buffet is such a hit!
Whilst we only had two days in Kuala Lumpur, I think this was long enough for us to get a sense of the city and see the main sights, and It was really nice to be able to spend Shaun’s Birthday in a new city, I would love to come back to Malaysia to see more of the rest of the country!