Tagged: museum

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Pulling into Kuala Lumpur gave me the same thrill of crossing the GW Bridge and rushing down the west side highway watching the skyline from the passenger window knowing that I am home. I didn’t expect to like this city as much as I did. It’s the first Asian city I’ve been in that’s been truly multicultural. The three main groups that you see are Chinese, Islamics and whites. I had two different “trips” in the city. My first three days I was a backpacker and stayed at Birdnest 2 Hostel in Chinatown. The hostel was on the second floor of a walk-up but was designed to look like houses outdoors. Sweden and I shared a double room with a fan. There was no window and with temperatures in the 90s everyday we felt like we were being tortured.

Our first night we went to Nando’s, a UK chicken restaurant chain that basically everyone I’ve met raves about. I had the butterfly chicken breast extra hot. To be honest I don’t understand the hype. The sauce was creamy, not that spicy, and not that exciting.

After we went to Betraya Times Square, one of the many massive malls in the city, to catch a movie. All the movies we wanted to see (and that the theater website said it was playing) were not actually in theaters here. We ended up seeing The Wedding Ringer. I had never seen a preview but it was stupid funny, and perfect for our mood.

The mall had a roller coaster inside, like the mall or America. I got a euro-tart fro yo nearby. It also had a grocery store downstairs where I went bonanza.

The next day we got on the free public bus intending to take it all around the city. We ended up getting off to transfer and never got back on. We stopped at Dunkin and Starbucks for coffee (I miss regular black ice coffee) and then went to Forever 21 in the mall across the street. The Pavillion ended up being a massive middle/upper class mall. We got stuck enjoying the air conditioning and the western lifestyle. After shopping we grabbed a late lunch at Michaelango’s. I had the antipasto and a glass of white wine- my first glass of wine since Laos.

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That night we went to Mansion Rooftop, the bar on top of Reggae Mansion. There was a great view of the KL Tower from the roof. We played pool and didn’t drink beer (I can’t keep drinking only beer.) We thought there might be fireworks that night because it was the eve of Chinese New Year but there was nothing. It did start to rain though and we had a dance party outside.

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The next day was our official tourist day. We woke up and walked over a graffitied railway tunnel to the Islamic Arts Museum. I wasn’t sure what Islamic art meant but in this case it was mini replicas of the worlds most famous Mosques, old books, jewelry, clothes, weapons, etc. The museum architecture was modern and there was a nice view, but to be honest the museum wasn’t that great even though it’s rated #1 on trip advisor.

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Next we went to Masjid Negara, the National Mosque of Malaysia. We had to wear traditional Islamic robes and hijab’s. It was fun to see both girls and boys walking around the mosque in purple robes- this mosque’s color choice. The mosque wasn’t impressive; especially not after seeing the mosque in Abu Dhabi. There was a lot of open walking space and there was the prayer room, which was only open to Muslims. Other than that there was nothing to see and the artictecturhe was boxy modern. Nothing about it felt old or religious.

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From there we walked through the Hibiscus and Orchid Park. The national flower of Malaysia is the hibiscus. The flowers were mostly pinks which reminded me of my tattoo. I splashed myself in the fountain which felt incredible- it was over 90 degrees out. We went to the Butterfly park and I found the most entertaining long neck water turtle. He followed my GoPro around even when I forced him into the bubbles jet stream.

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We headed back home and stopped for dinner in Chinatown. We had figured since it was the new year that there would be celebrations but instead most of Chinatown for closed. I did managed to find shrimp with broccoli though so I was happy.

We went to Sky Bar that night at Traders Hotel. It’s a rooftop club directly in front of the KLCC towers so it provided the best view for photos. I got a Manhattan (because it was the only bourbon cocktail) and we sipped our drinks next to to pool staring at the view. A local invited us to his table where we sat for the rest of our time there. We danced to old music and sipped on Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks.

At 1am-ish our new friend drove us to Changkat, the bar street. I was expecting a backpacker street like in every other city I’d been so far, but instead it was a clean street packed with big bars. Very western but not backpacker. It was a real going out scene which thankfully we were dressed appropriately for. We went to one bar that was having a ladies night and had two free cocktails.

At 3pm-ish we headed back to Mansion Rooftop. Right away a guy from Dubai started buying me drinks and I my own personal grape/mint shisha. He was flaunting his money (literally wads of cash) in an obnoxious way so I had no problem taking advantage. All in all it was a great night- from high roller rooftop tables all the way back to the backpacker rooftop bar.

The next morning we checked out of our hostel and our local friend picked us up and brought us to Jump Street, an indoor trampoline park. We had to buy special socks with grips, and we paid for an hour access. We started at the Main area which was a checkerboard of regular trampolines. I haven’t been on one since I was a kid but our local was a pro and Sweden has one at home. We jumped here for a while, then went to the advanced section where the springs are bouncier and you can jump into an air bag. Then there’s the section where you can jump into a foam pit. I preferred this landing because it was softer. However, the advanced area was the most fun because here you can bounce the highest. Trampolines are a serious workout.

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After jumping we got dropped of at KL Sentral, the transportation hub. I took the subway back into the city and Sweden headed for the bus station.


The second three days of my trip I lived as a resident. I rented a large modern studio in the central of KL right near KLCC. The studio was Golden Triangle Suites by Mondo, part of Marc Residences. I was on the 26th floor and had a kitchen area (only a stove), large bathroom, washer/dryer, and a bed/ living room area with a large flat screen tv. It was everything I hoped for and needed.

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The building facilities included two outdoor pools, a gym and a computer room. One of the pools faced one of the KLCC towers.

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After checking in I went straight to KLCC mall to shop. I bought the new season of 24 on DVD, and then headed to Cold Storage grocery store. I went nuts with vegetables, and also bought hummus, brie cheese, seafood, and ice cream. I got other stuff as well but I missed these things the most.

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In the next three days I made pan fried dory, sautéed Chinese broccoli, Cajun shrimp, vegetable stir fry, and a lot of eggs and toasted toast using only a frying pan.

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I spent daytime in the gym and by the pool, and nighttime cooking and watching tv on the couch. I slept in late everyday and took long hot showers with my waterfall shower head. I jelled out to the max and enjoyed every second of it.

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Three days past and I took the sky train to KL Sentral, then the Kommuter train to Bandar Tasik Selatan, the big bus terminal. From there I got a bus to Melaka.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – NYE

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I arrived in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) on December 29th, a few days before NYE. I stayed at Vietnam Inn Saigon on recommendation. It’s a new hostel near the backpacker street, Pham Ngu Lao. The hostel is more like a hotel in a 9 story building. It’s modern and clean with a rooftop bar. Guests get free breakfast and 2 free beers a night which was pretty sweet for only $8 a night.

My first night I met a girl in my dorm from Toronto. We went out to dinner on Pham Ngu Lao with a few of her guys friends, and then we all headed back to the hostel for our free beers. A few of my friends from Laos/Cambodia joined and at midnight we all headed back to the backpacker street and drank at Miss Saigon.

My first official day me and Toronto went to the War Museum aka the America Sucks Museum. The exterior of the museum has US war planes, tanks, etc. The museum itself depicts the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective. It was interesting and sad but very one-sided. A few classes I took in college covered this and therefore it wasn’t too shocking for me; however, a lot of foreigners were horrified by the U.S.

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After the museum we walked downtown on “5th avenue” past the beautiful Spanish looking post-office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the opera house. We walked along the river during rush hour and almost became road kill, and then headed towards our hotel passing the Saigon Square mall (a clean indoor clothes/accessories market) and Central Market (the not so clean outdoor market.)

Saigon has beautifully manicured parks throughout the city. The entire city is incredibly clean and green compared to anywhere else I’ve been so far. The streets rumble with traffic and high end shops/restaurants are just as common as street food. Many parts of Saigon remind me of NYC- it’s the first place I feel like I’m home, which I loved.

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Some friends and I attempted to see the Water Puppet Show one night but the woman laughed at us. Apparently all shows during New Years week were sold out a while ago.

I found the most amazing tasting bun bo on the street one night. Bun, although similar to pho, has a more spiced broth and different noodles. I 100% prefer bun to pho.

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On New Years Eve day Toronto and I went shopping. Our first goal was to find legit flat sandals. We went to the Aldo in the fancy neighborhood but little did we know what we’d be walking into. Everything in the store was 50% off and the store was a nightmare. The whole place was packed with Asians, the shelves were almost empty, and bags and shoes were scattered everywhere. People were pushing and yelling; it felt like a stamped. Nonetheless we attempted to find shoes. Unfortunately they don’t carry my size.

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The shoes here have American and European sizes but they’re different than elsewhere in the world. Normally I’m a 9/39. Here a 40 is too small and narrow. We went to a department store across the street and only one company carried above a 39. I lucked out but just barely.

We ate lunch at a BBQ outdoor garden where we cooked our own meat skewers. Then we got manicures (me white, Toronto black) with silver sparkles on one nail. And then I got a foot massage while she got her hair done.

Getting ready that night felt like being in a sorority again. For the first time since traveling all the girls properly dressed up (minus heels.) We lined up along the bathroom sink putting on make-up. I blow dried my hair, wore real jewelry and a nice dress that I bought for $11 that day.

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Toronto and I went for a nice dinner.
We got a massive sashimi boat and hot saki. The boat had all the usual fish plus a fancy oyster and a bunch of grape seaweed. The seaweed looked and felt like fish roe, popping with liquid in your mouth.

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Every backpacker made their way to our hostel for the countdown. We had an amazing view of the fireworks from the rooftop. We thought the fireworks were going to come from the harbor but they actually came from the tallest building downtown, the Bitexco tower. They were shot from the observation deck, the roof, and all around the sides. The building outline turned off so it appeared as if fireworks were coming from mid-air at times. They were incredible to watch, and my first NYE fireworks in a city.

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At midnight everyone ran out. We went to wander the backpacker street which was a mad house. There was a massive motorbike traffic jam and pedestrians were maneuvering through bikes to walk the street. People were spraying foam and there was gold confetti everywhere. We managed to make it into a small bar for some drinks and solo dancing. We actually didn’t stay out late, the crowd was too much to handle. I felt like I was in Times Square for NYE, which I would never do.

On New Year’s Day we went back to one of the fancy malls to buy flip-flops. We ended up finding a Chinese restaurant and had a dim sum lunch which is exactly what we had been craving. I had steamed shrimp dumplings and shrimp wonton soup.

Walking home I bought some papaya and an avocado. We went to our hostel lounge and watched Captain Phillips and snacked. After our free beer we treated ourselves (again) to an Italian meal. We split meat lasagna, penne with vegetables and bacon baked with mozzarella, and bruschetta. I dared to try the Bordeaux on the menu and it was good enough for a second glass. After dinner we stocked up on Haribo and chips and headed home for a second movie, Hurt Locker. We were not the only ones who had this idea. By the end of the movie the lounge was full of exhausted backpackers.

My last day in Saigon I went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were built in the 1940s before the Vietnam war. The tunnels were used by the Vietnamese Army. We saw a bunch of trap doors, and were able to climb through a tunnel. I only made it 20 meters because you have to climb on your hands and knees which hurt in shorts.

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After the tunnels our tour guide said he was going to take us to a real Vietnamese restaurant in District 4 (the tourist district is 1.) He explained a signature dish and said we must pre-order it, so we did. It’s a Shrimp Rice Pancake. The pancake is made from coconut flower, coconut milk and water. The shrimp is placed inside after 7 minutes of cooking, and then it’s cooked for another 3 minutes. When the pancake is done it’s cut and the bites are wrapped in lettuce to eat. When we got to the restaurant it ended up being a small tourist spot right next to our hostel. As usual it was a scam. The pancake was awful too- it was filled with sliced dried out pork, one shrimp and a million beansprouts.

After pancakes a few of us went for drinks on the backpacker street, then we went for some salmon sashimi (need my fix.) Later that night Toronto and I went to Chill Sky Bar. We wanted one proper night out at one of the rooftop clubs. The view was incredible and the crowd was Asian.

The next day I took a 7 hour sleeper bus to Dalat. My first sleeper in the daytime. This was the nicest bus I’ve been on. Individual seats for once.

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