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Malaysian Road Trip: Kuala Lumpur and Melaka

Updated on March 30, 2012
View of KL from the Menara tower
View of KL from the Menara tower

Day 3: A Day in Kuala Lumpur

This is the second article continuing our Malaysian Road trip from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, and back. We spent our third day in the teeming metropolis of Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it is known locally).

KL is a vibrant city full of contrasts, from the wealth evidenced by the gleaming twin Petronas Towers to the rich cultural heritage of Merdeka Square. From the spiritual Batu Caves to the highly commercial Petraling night market.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and is the nation's biggest city with a population of 1.6 million.

The Petronas Towers: Day and Night

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers from the Menara Tower
Petronas Towers from the Menara Tower

The Petronas Towers are 1,483 feet high (88 storeys) and, at the time of writing, are the tallest twin structures in the world. Designed by Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli (who also designed the Canary Wharf Tower in London), the towers opened in 1998. The building is named after Petronas, the Malaysian national petroleum and oil company.

Usually tourists are able to visit the skybridge on the 41st floor but unfortunately it was closed during our visit. Still eager to see the city from a high vantage point, we visited the Menara communications tower instead which is 1,380 feet high and, because it is built on a hill, it is quite a bit higher than the Petronas Towers skybridge.

The Menara Tower

Views from the Menara Tower
Views from the Menara Tower
The Menara Tower
The Menara Tower

The Menara Tower is one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world and provides an unparalleled view across the city.

We were pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it was to visit the observation deck (compared to visiting our own CN Tower in Toronto, Canada). We were able to clearly see the nearby historic Merdeka Square, the Petronas Towers and in the distance the Batu Caves (although somewhat hazy on the day we were there).

At the base of the tower is the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, Malaysia's oldest nature reserve. Visitors are able to view this small remnant of rain forest from three short walking trails.

Have You Ever Seen a Two-Headed Turtle?

Monorail in KL
Monorail in KL

Included in our admission to the Menora Tower was a visit to a mini-zoo at the base of the tower. The small menagerie of animals was fairly run-of-the-mill until we stumbled upon the world-famous two-headed turtle!

I wasn't sure if I could believe my eyes, and I looked carefully to make sure it really was alive. But, sure enough, it is the real thing!

For your interest, here is a Hub about other two-headed animals.

The Central Market and Petaling Night Market

The Central Market (or Cultural Bazaar as it is also known), has a bewildering array of arts and crafts shops that sell all of the traditional Malaysian items such as batik, wood carvings, pottery, paintings and kites. A little on the pricey side but haggling will get you a better deal.

The Petaling night market is a must see for any visitor looking for a bargain. The Jalan Petaling is a normal street until around 5 p.m. each night when it transforms into a vibrant night market specializing in selling knock-off designer goods such as handbags, watches, clothes, pirated CDs and DVDs, all sold openly. Again, haggling is essential to get the best deal and you won't be disappointed.

Day 4: KL to Johor Bahru

On the final day of our whirlwind road trip round Malaysia, we headed back to Johor Bahru via Melaka, dubbed by some as the Venice of the East because of the close proximity of houses to the river.

Further down the west coast of Malaysia, is the historic town of Melaka (or Malacca). Founded in 1400 by the Sumatran Prince Parameswara, and named after the local malacca tree, it was once one of the richest trading empires in the east.

Historic Christ Church, Melaka

Melaka is home to many historic buildings including Christ Church, which was built in 1753. Tourists are able to see the town on pedicabs decked in flowers, a very romantic way to see the sights.

Melaka: Venice of the East

The highlight of our visit was a cruise on the Melaka River which winds through the town and is bordered by brightly painted houses. Other sights on the cruise included a replica of a pirate ship, the Eye On Malaysia ferris wheel, the abandoned Cathay cinema and the old express bus terminal. There was also a replica of a waterwheel and a fort, complete with cannons around the walls.

To cap off a wonderful day in Melaka, we were lucky enough to see a giant Water Monitor swimming in the river!

Water Monitor in the Melaka River!
Water Monitor in the Melaka River!

The Final Leg

As we left Melaka for the two hour drive back to Johor Bahru, I was starting to feel relieved that I had survived my driving ordeal in Malaysia. But as we raced through the streets of Melaka (yes, my brother-in-law still wanted to beat me home) I noticed that the sky inland was pitch black. Just as we hit the main highway between KL and JB, the heavens opened and it rained like there was no tomorrow (which I began to think might be true). Not being used to Malaysian weather, I wasn't sure if this was normal, or if it was dangerously heavy. The large number of cars with four-way flashers on, and others pulled to the side, led me to believe that this was indeed one of the heavy ones. But, needless to say, my fearless leader ploughed (sailed) on into the distance and rapidly disappeared from sight!

Well, as you can guess, I survived to tell the tale. And when I questioned him afterwards, my brother-in-law was quick to assure me that it was nothing unusual and I was just a wimp! Oh well, I can hardly wait until next time so I can experience a real storm!

Thank you for reading this article. If you are interested, here is the first leg of the Malaysian Road Trip and other Romantic Getaway Ideas.

And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!

Happy Travels

Geoff

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    • geoffclarke profile image
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      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Yes, driving in Malacca was pretty interesting /intense! Near the Christ Church the streets are very narrow and funnel down to just two lanes (I think). We were held up when 'royalty' came through (we were there when Melaka Air launched their new air service on Nov 11th, 2011). At one stage, I got separated from my brother-in-law but spotted him turning left in the distance and managed to catch up somehow!

    • win or lose profile image

      win or lose 5 years ago

      I should have visited melaka..seems like there are lots of interesting things to look around. It's good to see some pics geoffclarke, thanks! gives me an idea of what the place looked like.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi geoffclarke..I didn't realised there's a mini zoo at Menara KL. Not been there for years now. So you survived the traffic in Malacca!!

    • geoffclarke profile image
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      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi kerlynb, Thanks for your comments. We enjoyed our visit to Melaka and would love to go back. Geoff

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      I've always been fascinated with Melaka :) Malaysia is near my country, the Philippines, and many Malaysians do look like Filipinos. Really, the country makes me feel at home.