First Impressions of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The KL Beach Club and the Petronas Towers

This is not a travel guide!

Earlier this week I spent two days in Kuala Lumpur. I flew in on Sunday afternoon and out again on Tuesday night. And I was working Monday and Tuesday. So I don't claim to know the place at all well. This hub is just my first impressions, together with a few snatched phone pics and some idle musings.

One twin tower

I to the frills will lift mine eyes
I to the frills will lift mine eyes | Source

Somewhere near the centre...

That's what I told the taxi driver at the airport. I'd slept overnight on the plane, fitfully, but well enough to feel human, was travelling light as I always do, and saw no good reason to waste time in my hotel. So this is where he dumped me, right in front of the Petronas Twin Towers, until recently the world's tallest structure and still the tallest twin buildings. Out of the taxi, the first thing I noticed was the weather. Warm, about 32C (90F), and very humid. Hazy sun through broken clouds. A very quick look around yielded no bars, so the next most obvious thing to do was go up into the tower for no better reason than to look down over the city. Visitors have limited access, to the skybridge only, but as I was due to work inside on the following day, it wasn't too hard to talk my way through security and up to the 60th floor.

Looking down

mountains, trees and water, view from the petronas towers
mountains, trees and water, view from the petronas towers | Source

Looking out, I was immediately struck with how much nicer the place is than Qatar. Distant blue mountains, plenty of greenery, public park land in the city centre, and even sensible spacing between the bigger buildings. Best of all, not a trace of desert sand - some things pall after a while.But there's only so long you can spend tempting vertigo and from somewhere sixty floors below I seemed to hear the forlorn call of a cold beer... 

beer, time and space
beer, time and space | Source

Don't knock the normal

In this totally new environment, it was obvious that I had to turn left, then right, cross two streets, dodging several kamikazi motorcyclists, and take the second left again, where there was bound to be a choice of bars. Years of travelling teaches you these things! It may be a simple one, but few pleasures compare with sitting in a street level open air bar, watching the world go by. You can't do this in the Middle East, where bars are mostly windowless and tucked away inside hotels. And in December, you can't easily do it in Europe either.

The Rum Jungle

exactly what it says on the packet
exactly what it says on the packet | Source

The particular bar I'd found was the Rum Jungle, well named because you couldn't see the inside walls or ceilings for creeping lianas. Above the bar, four or five good-sized baracudas were doing anticlockwise circuits of their huge glass tank. Below them, the painfully thin head barmaid kept her staff on the hop with shouts of encouragement or abuse, as required. She looked about 73, and probably was. Something told me this was a place to come back to in the evening. But having polished off some chicken satay and one or two beers, the long haul flight was beginning to catch up with me, so I found my hotel and grabbed a couple of hours much needed sleep. 

outside kuala lumpur beach club
outside kuala lumpur beach club | Source

Evening brought only darkness. The temperature and humidity were still the same. Being equatorial, there is hardly any variation all year round - a perpetual summer land, by Northern standards.But when I got back to the Rum Jungle, I found most of the street interest seemed to be in an almost adjacent bar called the Beach Club where a rock band were in the process of setting up. This place was, shall we say, lively. The band were excellent - a mix of Filipinos and Malaysians with a European lead singer, playing mainly classic heavy metal. Further entertainment was provided by the bar girls, many of them from Thailand. Very friendly, thoroughly gorgeous and entirely for sale. You can't and mustn't judge these girls by Western standards. Theirs is a different world, where life is lived differently. And as an alternative to the music, the beer and the girls, there was yet another tank of baracudas...

behind the twin towers
behind the twin towers | Source

Next day

The park behind the towers, which I'd looked down on the previous day, is very popular with the office workers, especially at lunchtime. Fountains and water features give the impression of coolness, though it's far from cool. The mix of people is wonderful. Apart from the local Malaysians, there are many from China, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and a few Europeans. It's a very cosmopolitan city. The country is Islamic, but very different from the Gulf States. The dress code is far more varied and casual, and headscarves, when worn, are mostly in brightly coloured silk. No black veils in evidence. 

The Towers, again

Because of the way they've landscaped the area, you can get great views of the towers from the park behind. They're very google-able for statistics, but what I picked up just from talking to folk is that there are 88 inhabitable floors and the skybridge is not anchored to either tower, to allow for natural movement. They are impressive, so I'll let them speak for themselves:

petronas twin towers
petronas twin towers | Source
Source
60th floor, petronas towers
60th floor, petronas towers | Source

Just a room

This is the room where I was working. Apart from the view, it's unexceptional. But it is the only room I've ever shared with a bolt of lightning. It's on the 60th floor, and in the evening, when the storm broke, just watching the rain was exciting enough. I could have done without the lightning literally coming into the room at ceiling height, wrapping itself round the main pillar, a bit like a brilliant white helter-skelter, and exiting at floor level. The static discharge stayed still for about two seconds before disappearing. Apparently it's a common occurrence and the building is designed to take it. Fair enough, but I'm glad I wasn't leaning on the pillar at the time...

So that's it. First impressions of KL. Definitely a place I'd recommend for a visit and certainly one I'm hoping to go back to.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments, newest on top 58 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

I managed a second visit just before Christmas last year. Still too short but it was great to be back!


outoftown profile image

outoftown 4 years ago from For now, I'm really far away from where I actually come from - I'm someone out of town~:)

I've been to Malaysia before, and I love it! I'd love to go back there someday :)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Elexis - The food was great. In fact, I generally find Asian food better than European. (Especially Thai)


Elexis 6 years ago

Hi im a Malaysian but im not staying in KL.

Btw after u visit the twin towers...u should go around KL & maybe somewhere nearby.

and...take my advice,

Malaysia has the bEST FO0D in the world!!!

well depends on ur taste.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Lilian - I know that mine was a superficial impression formed in only two days, but I do hope to get back for longer at some point.


lilian_sg profile image

lilian_sg 6 years ago from Singapore

Glad you had good first impressions of KL. Do stay longer the next time you are back. The other states are pretty interesting too!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks James - I'm not much of a holiday person, but I consider it a privilege to get to see so much of the world through work. KL is one place I would happily go back to if the opportunity arises.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Very interesting. I enjoyed the journey through your perceptions. It would be great to go there myself but I doubt I will. So, I'll have this memory, thanks to you.


Gorgeously profile image

Gorgeously 6 years ago from United States

seems like a nice place to me.. thanks for posting this hub


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Nur_S - I hope so too. Thanks for visiting :)


Nur_S 6 years ago

Good to know that you like KL, hopefully you'll get the chance to visit the islands like Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman and Perhentian and write great hubs about them too! :)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Lilian - next time I will, but this time I didn't have the chance as I had to be somewhere else the next day.


lilian_sg profile image

lilian_sg 6 years ago from Singapore


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Neil - thanks for commenting :)


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

It has all been said - you write a "Travel Journal" with a nice touch. One can picture themselves in your shoes.

Love this hub


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

yes - a fine place :)


jacky 6 years ago

hey looks nice place to visit


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

If I get another chance to go there I'll try to take more time to look around. This trip was just before Christmas so there was no chance to extend it.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

very nice indeed, didn't have the chance to go there though (very near to the island Mindanao in the Philippines), but I have phobia of high places..(been to Financial towers--Hong Kong) and Eiffel, whew....that Twin Tower, wish to see it and be there too...


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

rancy - compared with the Gulf states, KL is very relaxed, and certainly there are many bars with frontages open to the street. I think that away from the city it might be less free, but I did not have the chance on my short trip to explore further.


rancy 6 years ago

i dont believe there is a "RUM COUNTRY" in the most populous islamic country. Just wondering what kind of restrictions they have over there ?? can you drink rum publicly ???


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

probyte2u - Thanks for the suggestions. I hope my next visit will be for a longer period.


probyte2u profile image

probyte2u 7 years ago

Good hub ! Interesting to know hubbers view about KL.

Other tourist spot you might be interested would be Pulau Langkawi for the beach and the scenery.

Penang for it's heritage buildings and food.

Other islands that I would recommend would be Pulau Tioman, Redang and Sipadan.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Paul - It's certainly on my list of places to revisit if I get the chance. It's very different from the other Islamic countries I'm used to, in the Gulf region.


Paul Marshall profile image

Paul Marshall 7 years ago from Australia

WOW !! What a great hub. You were only there for a short time, but you learn so much & take note of so much. I also was only there for a short time, see a little more {No work commitments at the time} & loved the place. I can only recommend that you have a better look when you have the opportunity.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hyugim - and that's it??


Hyugim 7 years ago

Malaysia Damn...........................!!!!!!!!!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Islam - It is certainly more advanced than the Gulf States!


islam 7 years ago

it is the most advanced muslims country.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Boris - with any luck, KL will be on my tour of duty again sometime this year. I'll try to arrange to have more spare time this time around :)


borislw profile image

borislw 7 years ago from MY

Come again, there are some place like Redang island at the west coast of malaysia have cool place too


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

My pleasure, Raymond


raymondphilippe profile image

raymondphilippe 7 years ago from The Netherlands

thanks for this great read


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Tuah, Kennooo, Wanderlust - thanks for the read & comments. Hoping to be back there next year, but for a longer visit.


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 7 years ago from New York City

Never been, but would love to go. Kuala Lumpur is my list of must-visit places. Thanks for a good hub.


kennooo profile image

kennooo 7 years ago from Tokyo

I was in KL a few years ago and I would agree the towers are great but there are some other really great stuff to see as well. When I went there it was only during a stop over but I really want to get back there soon and see more. thanks for the good Hub


tuah profile image

tuah 7 years ago

fascinating article! thank you to share such a nice pictures..ya that's KL.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks TMG - I'm hoping to spend more time there next year.


TheMoneyGuy profile image

TheMoneyGuy 7 years ago from Pyote, TX

I love Malaysia and KL especially,

Thank you for bringing back some good memories.

TMG


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Laringo. This week, it's London and Washington DC (2 days each). Maybe I'll try a repeat performance. But London won't be a first impression - I know the place pretty well already :)


laringo profile image

laringo 7 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

Paraglider, thanks for sharing your experience in Malaysia on your 2 day business trip. You were able to capture more than enough for a very good Hub.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Quicksand - first and foremost, I'm a walker. When I fly into a new place (for business) I tend not to want to venture further afield until I've exhausted its walking potential. Yes, I'd like to see Singapore, but there's no rush :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

Next time you visit KL make sure you do a side trip to Singapore by coach. Takes 5 hours. Starts from Chorus Hotel, within walking distance from Petronas. A coach leaves every three hours.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

SweetiePie - I do enjoy visiting new places. I just wish I could spend longer and see more, but that's life.

Sgjerome - thanks for commenting. Are you from Malaysia by any chance?


sgjerome profile image

sgjerome 7 years ago from Singapore

KL is the capital of Malaysia where all the financial hub are located even the governement office are there.

Petronas Twin Towers are the Malaysian proud


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Paraglider,

You have an interesting job in that you are lucky enough to be paid to go to all these interesting locations. Malaysia looks like a very interesting place.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Quicksand - you forget I'm fashioned entirely out of wood...

Lgali - yes, well worth a visit


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

looks nice place to visit


quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

Betta getta blood test! [wink] No offence meant. :)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Melissa - the camera I use for casual shots like these is very crude. It's a 640x480 (only307 kilo-pixels!) Motorola L6 phone camera, very wide angle and no zoom. They always come out very 'sat up' with flare but I put them through the Google Picasa 'I'm feeling lucky' process which gives them that odd 'graphics' look. Very artificial, but I like it, in a strange way. My 'good' digital camera is not half as much fun! And yes, do try the bar location trick, but not in the Middle East where it just won't work!


Melissa G profile image

Melissa G 7 years ago from Tempe, AZ

I don't have much to add to what everyone else has said, but there's something about the way your camera handles natural sunlight that makes a few of the photos look like something out of a virtual reality game. "Behind the twin towers" especially reminded me of a still from Second Life or some type of video game.

With that said, I agree that this is a very entertaining and informative read, and I'm glad your job provides opportunities to visit such interesting places. I didn't know about the current location to bar navigation code, but I'll need to test that out sometime. :)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

VioletSun - For all my travels, New York is somewhere I've never been to. I'd like to say it's on the list, but I only travel for work, and so far there's been no reason to go there. Maybe some day I'll take a holiday!

Shalini - thanks for the suggestions. I'd very much like to see more of the country. Even from the plane it looked special. Maybe next time!

Thanks Amanda. Next week, London and Washington DC (One of which I know very well already!)

Hi Aya - I was running a few training sessions. I was the only one impressed with the storm. The rest were quite accustomed to it.

William - I only made it to the 60th floor (out of 88) but even there it's way above anything else in the city. Some of my favourite photographs are of the Empire State Building under construction. You probably know the collection.

CWB - I certainly enjoy the opportunity to see new places and I know it won't last forever. Another few years maybe, then I'll hang up my boots and stay home.


ColdWarBaby 7 years ago

Your life is in many ways an enviable one Paraglider. Thank you very much for sharing with us homebodies.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

This is better than a travelogue, Paraglider. Kuala Lumpur looks wonderful, and your short time there was obviously well spent. The twin towers are impressive. In the 1960s, I worked on the 30th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, but I'd love to take an elevator to the top of one of those twin towers and take a good look around (and then have a beer at the beach club.)


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, very plreasant travelogue. BTW, what sort of work were you doing in that room when the storm broke?


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Fantastic descriptions, Paraglider, and as always, very readable.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

If you were to write travel guides Paraglider, they'd be great hits!

If and when you stay longer, I'd recommend a few days away from KL at Langkawi, Turtle Beach and Sipadan. That's if you like the beaches. The Cameroon Highlands are also incredible. Maybe avoid the touristy Genting Highlands :)


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

This was an entertaining hub on a country I have never seen, so for me it was a treat; the buildings are impressive structures. When I worked at Citigroup in Midtown Manhattan in NY, I loved looking out the 33rd floor and see the city below filled with yellow cabs.

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