We arrived in Kuala Lumpur this morning after staying in a small airport hotel last night. Taking the airport express train, we were carried from countryside through to suburbs and then briefly through the city until we alighted at KL Sentral, the main train station of the city.
After booking train tickets on to Ipoh for tomorrow, we found a taxi which took us in the central shopping and business area of the city, Bukit Bintang. It is also where we have reserved a room in a quaint guesthouse within sight of a large hotel we had been considering before our friend recommended otherwise. As we had arrived too early to check in, we left our bags with reception and set out to take a short wander around the locale.
It wasn’t hot outside, nor was it humid. The city held itself in a cool after-rain balm which had yet to be pestered by the afternoon sun. As it was early enough in the day, the streets seemed lazy and trafficless, but we knew better as the taxi we took on the way spent some time negotiating almost perpetually red-lighted crossroads. We made our way into a large shopping mall and wandered downstairs to explore the restaurants.
It may seem like a peculiar decision to do something like this, but after living in Asia for some time I find that food halls in shopping malls actually serve a function other than feeding the working and shopping masses. As a traveller, before you dive into the street food and corner restaurants pack with locals, a food court gives a base from which to approach other eateries. Invariably mediocre but never overpriced, food courts give you an idea of the variety of food on offer and also an idea of how much you should actually be paying for a meal. I always take a moment to explore all the small restaurants and consult their picture menus, then if I’m lucky I can come to a decision and pick up the courage to order something. Once I’ve eaten, I’ve had my fill of food courts and can feel more confident approaching local cuisine from local restaurants.
After eating, we wandered around a little more but slowly we made our way towards the guesthouse where we were to stay. On return, we checked in quickly and made our way to our room where we lay in the cool of the air conditioner for a while. I stepped out and made my way down to one of the communal lounges. As I sat there reading up on Kuala Lumpur it started to rain. A prompt and straight rain that the drummed heavily and incessantly on everything, while in the background thunder sounded like heavy goods vehicles hurtling down a country road. A stiff breeze blew in the wide open windows and cooled the room where I sat, and it is still the case now.
Since then the rain has lessened and some construction workers on the streets outside have returned loudly to their tasks. There is an occasional hiss of a car passing through puddles near by, and the the tap-tap-tap of rain here and there. We will go out soon, rain or no, and finish our first day exploring the capital city of Malaysia.