#ParisIsPossible: KL-Paris v/v for only SGD 709 (PHP 23k+)

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Getting discounted tickets from the Philippines to Kuala Lumpur is fairly easy, with two budget airlines (Cebu Pacific and Air Asia) flying to KL from Manila/Cebu, so Expedia’s discounted fare from KL to Paris and back is a pretty good deal.

Just go to Expedia and enter the booking details below. (I saw this fare via Skyscanner but it works just as well if you start from the Expedia page.)

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Booking details (Expedia screenshot)

 

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Total fare SGD 708.60 (Expedia screenshot)

 


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Sights from the GoKL bus

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Kuala Lumpur’s GoKL buses are a great way to explore the nooks and crannies of the city in air-conditioned comfort. They’re like hop-on hop-off buses but free. Intended primarily for Malaysians working in the capital’s central business district as a way of easing traffic congestion, these buses have also proved valuable for tourists who have more time than money.

Time, because the routes are rather circuitous. On our last day in KL, my friend Hershe and I found ourselves in KL Sentral early afternoon. Our next stop was the Petronas Towers. The quickest way there — short of taking a cab — would probably have been to take the monorail to Bukit Bintang and walk or catch the bus to the Petronas Towers. But we had time on our hands so we figured: why not take the long way? What would have been around a 30-minute commute extended to nearly 2 hours, including waiting times, as we jumped on the red, then the blue, then the green GoKL bus routes to our destination.

But we didn’t mind. We saw a lot of interesting sights and we got there in the end.

Interior of the GoKL bus

Interior of the GoKL bus

Sightseeing from the bus window

Sightseeing from the bus window

So near yet so far

So near yet so far

For some reason this building makes me think of bones

For some reason this building makes me think of bones

KL has a lot of beautiful architecture

KL has a lot of beautiful architecture

You can see the GoKL route map here. It’s still best to check the route maps posted on each stop, however, as I noticed that the buses we took didn’t necessarily stop at all the points marked on the route. And although the bus intervals are posted on the stops, those are probably the ideal, not the actual, intervals — traffic jams and so on — so be prepared to do a bit of waiting. Finally, I’ve seen some tourists complaining about how the GoKL bus drivers aren’t friendly and helpful when asked for information. The thing is, though it would be nice if they are friendly and helpful, these drivers are paid to drive, not to act as tourist guides, and the buses are supposed to be for locals, not tourists, so cut the sense of entitlement the drivers some slack. Just go with the flow and enjoy the free ride.

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Sights from the GoKL bus” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

There’s more to the Petronas Towers than the Petronas Towers

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Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers 02

I admit, at first, I wasn’t too impressed with the Petronas Towers.

On my first visit to Kuala Lumpur, in 2011, we’d stayed at the Furama Bukit Bintang, in a room that had a view of the Petronas Towers.

Our room at the Furama Bukit Bintang

Our room at the Furama Bukit Bintang

Furama Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers

And, off topic, but isn’t my sister pretty? 🙂

I suppose the fact that we’d seen it from a distance, and could easily see it within 5 seconds of waking up if we were so inclined, made me take the Petronas Towers for granted. When I returned this year to Kuala Lumpur, I actually put off seeing the Petronas Towers till our last day, when we didn’t really have anything else to do — no money to do it with — already. But, as it turned out, our visit there was one of my favorite moments from my time in KL.

That’s partly because, after alighting from the GoKL bus, we came across an unexpected patch of wood that provided a cool respite from the KL heat. The ground was concrete, yes, but the trees were tall, benches abounded, and there seemed to be several people who were really just spending the afternoon there. It was an interesting place.

Petronas Towers Woods 00

And then there were the Petronas Towers themselves, which were truly impressive seen up close. I especially enjoyed staying for a while in the nearby grounds and watching the towers progressively light up as the sky turned darker and darker.

Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers 01

Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers 03

Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers 04

But what I loved most about my visit?

People watching.

Seriously, if you ever feel kind of down in the dumps when you’re in KL, just head to the Petronas Towers and people watch. Notice the numerous antics people get up to in order to get a good photo. (For the record, I confess to lying on the ground to get a good shot. And I may or may not have spent an awful lot of time figuring out a way to take a decent selfie with the towers.)

And the poses!

People. People are the best attractions at the Petronas Towers.

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There’s more to the Petronas Towers than the Petronas Towers” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Walking Food Tour of Kuala Lumpur

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Food Tour Malaysia_10

One of the best and most satisfying ways to explore a country’s culture is through its food, particularly the street fare favored by locals. We got to sample Kuala Lumpur’s street food scene last April with Food Tour Malaysia and it was a very filling experience, in terms of the food we tasted and the things we learned about Malaysian life.

Food Tour Malaysia_01

Case in point: the tour started in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur’s Little India, where the ladies in the group were given a strand of jasmine flowers to be tied around our wrists. According to our guide Charlie, Indian women traditionally used these sweet-smelling garlands to keep fresh throughout the day. It was a nice touch and a practical one too, as throughout the 4-hour tour we navigated a maze of Indian eateries, Chinese noodle houses, dry and wet markets, and numerous streets under both the hot sun and a sudden downpour.

I’m not going to repeat everything that was discussed on the tour — well, I couldn’t anyway, because I wasn’t religiously taking down notes, I was too busy eating! But also because you really have to try the tour yourself if you’re ever in Kuala Lumpur. Suffice it to say it was a fantastic experience, one of the highlights of our 10-day trip. The topics ranged from Malaysia’s different cultural groups (the main three being the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians) to the monthly minimum wage in Kuala Lumpur (around MYR 2,000) to how most Australians don’t actually say “g’day mate.” (And while we’re on the topic, most Filipinos don’t really say “mabuhay” in normal life, either.) The range of nationalities in the tour group was pretty broad as well, including English, Aussies, Dutch, Filipino, and a Swiss girl who was on day 2 of her round-the-world trip.

Food Tour Malaysia_07

Food Tour Malaysia_08

Food Tour Malaysia_09

Most important: the range of food! I’ve always loved Indian cuisine so they had me at the first meal, a mash-up of dishes from an eatery in Brickfields where we were the only non-locals around. And, to be honest, I’m just saying “dishes” because I don’t remember the names of the food we ate; I just remember how good they were! My other favorites from the tour were the curry puffs, deep-fried lentils, and cendol, which is similar to the Philippine halo-halo. But the best thing ever was actually accidental: the black tea + ginger + condensed milk concoction that we decided to order while taking refuge from the rain inside a restaurant that was not one of the food tour’s usual stops.

You can book the food tour here or through Urban Adventures here. Highly recommended.

Food Tour Malaysia_12

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Walking Food Tour of KL” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

 


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Early birds

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On our second to the last day in Kuala Lumpur, we rose early, determined to get to the Batu Caves and walk the nearly 300 concrete steps up to the main temple before the sun became unbearably hot. We wolfed down our free breakfast of coffee and kaya-on-toast, said a hasty goodbye to the hostel receptionist, and hurriedly navigated the detours caused by the massive construction in the middle of Bukit Bintang.

But then I saw this from the entrance of the monorail station, and I just had to stop to take a quick picture:

_KL2015_old ladies crossing the street

Isn’t that the cutest sight? Five old ladies, similarly dressed, most of them with handbags matching their clothes, taking an early morning walk together.

Oh, I know there’s probably a staid story behind it — probably going to a free orthopedic clinic, my friend said, or maybe collecting their senior citizen allowances and getting an early start to beat the queues. But I like to imagine they’re just off to have fun. I like to think they decided, just for that day, that they’ll leave their responsibilities at home, ignore their aching joints, and just have a romp ’round the city. Adventurers grow old too, but why shouldn’t their hearts remain young?

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Early birds” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

KL and Bali in the air!

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For someone who thinks travel planning is [nearly] half the fun, I uncharacteristically have made few plans* for my Bali trip — only several days away now. For the first couple of days, we will be staying in the heart of Ubud, using it as a base to explore Bali’s other regions. Going on tours seems to be the most practical way of seeing the sights; walking, my getting-around method of choice, does not seem to be feasible outside of Ubud as attractions are scattered throughout the island. I figure it’ll be easy enough to sign up for tours when we’re there (though if anyone has tour company/guide recommendations, I would love to hear them).

* Update 3/29:
I’ve now booked two tours in Bali! Yay!

Our route is actually Cebu – Kuala Lumpur – Bali, and we do have a plan for Kuala Lumpur: eat! We are purposely staying at a hostel near Jalan Alor and we fully intend to eat our way through the famous food street (and back). And, as if staying close to the foodie action isn’t enough, we also signed up for a walking food tour on our first full day in KL.

Image courtesy of www.urbanadventures.com

Image courtesy of www.urbanadventures.com

These days, I am always a bit torn in two when I leave. Travel is always a welcome breath of fresh air into my life, but I also feel deep in my heart that there’s really nowhere else I would rather be than home with the people I love. I can’t wait till I can take my entire family to all the places I’ve dreamed of showing them.

In the meantime: Bali. And Kuala Lumpur. With friends. Yay!

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KL and Bali in the air!” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.