I arrived in Kuala Lumpur via Airasia at around 3:15am on January 22nd, the day of my birthday. I was about to board a cab going to Somerset hotel in Jalan Ampang when I was advised by a co-passenger who I became friends with, that it would be cheaper to go by bus, so I did. It was just unfortunate that my DSLR was tucked away in one of my bags that I couldn’t take photos while treading the roads of KL. What I noticed then was an important observation. The travel time from KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) to Somerset Hotel was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was partly because of this:
KL’s roads and bridges pretty much avoided the trees. It was very evident that street trees have become part of KL’s urban landscape. This has been a pretty consistent observation even when I visited Singapore, and coming from a city that is part of an agricultural country, I can only wish the same for my city, if not better.
It was only almost 5am when I arrived at Jalan Ampang. I didn’t request for an early check-in at Somerset so I left my luggage at the hotel’s concierge and decided to take my first early morning walk to KLCC to see the majestic Petronas Towers.
I wasn’t in for a selfie behind the towers. Imagine how many selfies I would have to take just to kill time till I am able to check in at Somerset, lol. Not sure if the ticket booth in Petronas accepted US dollars but luckily I was able to have some USDs exchanged to MYR, and I was able to buy a ticket to the tour.
Ticket booth for the Petronas tour opens at 8:30 am, so I had to wait for another 3 hours. Being an accidental early bird, I was 24th in a long line of people who were also waiting for the booth to open. I remember wearing a pair of wedge sandals, so with the situation I was into, I decided to sit on the floor and do some work on my laptop (Thank God, other people did the same).
Petronas towers has been dubbed to be one of the tallest buildings in the world. It maintained the record of being the tallest twin towers in the world from 1998-2004 till Taiwan 101 got the first spot. Being taller than the Tokyo Tower of Japan, Petronas is equipped with 40 elevators, has 88 floors and 2 skywalks (bridges) connecting the two towers at the 42nd and 43rd floors.
Being an acrophobic, I was finally able to conquer my fear by walking on this bridge from end to end on the day of my birthday. I guess my lack of sleep (plus my eagerness to get it over and done with) had a lot to do with it – not much thinking but just going through the motions, lol.
The tour ended at past 11am, so I decided to get some brunch in Suria KLCC. I had an early weird morning craving for Laksa but ended up with Nasi Lemak. I’m not a fan of fried peanuts or any kind of nut for that matter but was willing to try anything authentic. Of course it came with the classic Sambal and fried anchovies, clearly enough to compensate for my lethargic state and the energy exerted for conquering my fear at the Petronas tour.
Walking around Suria KLCC helped me burn the extra calories plus I got the chance to check out the shops in the establishment.
Signature shops dominated the whole of Suria. Name it and they probably have it. From women’s and men’s fashion, to children’s wear, to optical shops, to authentic leather goods, to furniture, to services like beauty salons, to restaurants…The list just goes on. And probably like me, your last stop before leaving the mall would be a resto, or at least a milk tea shop like Gong Cha to quench your thirst after a long walk.
Finally at around 2pm, I was able to check in at Somerset.
Just like in my other travels, it was nice to have a desk as I always bring my laptop to do some work before I step out of the hotel room again, to check out the city.
There was strong wifi and LAN access in the room, and downloads are even faster during wee hours in the morning (typical scenario in Manila). Just ideal to do my routine video conference call with clients and do some work updates.
In case you’re interested to know what kid of work I do, you can get more info here 🙂
While Somerset is classified as a hotel just like in Somerset Manila, it was in reality a serviced apartment, and it allowed me to pack light because of specific amenities ;).
Day 2 was a trip to Genting, where the first Resorts World Casino was established.
It was a beat-the-traffic day as the whole city was preparing for Chinese New Year. Going to Genting by bus would just mean spending almost half of your day, where else…Inside. The. Bus. I opted to rent a taxi instead to have the freedom to choose a traffic-free route. It was of course a bit pricier but with the limited 3-day stay I had, it was just practical for me to choose time over money. I felt I had a valid excuse anyway – It was my birthday *wink*.
The travel from KL up to the mountainous foggy Genting was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. I remember vividly seeing the fog trails from the back of the car as my driver and I were going up the hilly slope towards the entrance of Resorts World. It was as if it wanted to race us to the entrance. Also, as we were nearing the historical mountains of Genting, I couldn’t help but think in deep curiosity and amazement as to who was responsible for building a casino resort a.k.a theme park in the midst of wilderness…in a remote location… on top of a mountain.
I did bother to ask my driver of course and while he did give snippets of information on how Genting Resorts World came to be, he sounded like a father giving unsolicited advice on how to do moderate gambling. Of course he didn’t believe that I simply wanted to explore the place. In his Chinese accent, “No play too much. When you win, go home. ” In an effort to make him understand that I wasn’t into gambling, I imitated his funny accent (same way I would do when I talk fast to New Yorkers – they just get it that way). “Me no play. Me just eat and walk around…No money for play. Only money for food.” Unconvinced, he gave me a suspicious look to which I replied,” Me not stupid. If I play, me not go home.” At last, he smiled.
Like I said, going up to Genting was an unforgettable experience. It was a foggy and rainy day. Despite the weather, and because it was Chinese New Year, there were even more people who came, most likely trying their luck at the casino.
Going back to Resorts World Genting’s history, it turns out it was the idea of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, a wealthy Malaysian Chinese businessman and was once the richest man in Malaysia. Inspired by his business trip to Cameron Highlands back in 1964, Tan Sri Lim worked his way to building his ultimate dream resort. Formerly called Genting Highlands Resort, the development of RW Genting dates back to 1963.
After an exhausting yet fun-filled trip to Genting, it was time to buy some Malaysian beef jerky to bring home to both friends and family, as well as my own personal stash 😉
Petaling Jaya reminded me of Divisoria back in Manila. There were all sorts of stuff sold and displayed either on mats on the streets of Petaling or on makeshift tables. Some merchandise also reminded me of the ones sold in Greenhills, Virra Mall. Of course, I only went there for one thing – B-E-E-F J-E-R-K-Y!
My takeaways from this trip:
While Kuala Lumpur is famous for being one of the fastest growing cities in the whole of Southeast Asia, it cannot be denied that, like other cities, KL also started with A STORY. The history of Kuala Lumpur is quite interesting. Despite being known for its majestic skyscrapers, world-class architecture and impressive infrastructure, how KL started is an indicator that other less progressive cities – including where I live in – still have hope.
Kuala Lumpur is not only rich in man-made and natural resources. It is also rich in culture because of the diversity it adopts. Perhaps this is also because of its history, how it came to be…how it was founded. Rather, who founded it. Contrary to common knowledge, KL was, in fact, founded by Chinese immigrants. Yes, not the first Malays but Chinese. These Chinese were not even public figures to begin with. They were just common tin miners looking for sources and happen to stumble upon the city where the world’s tallest twin towers exist today.