It all started here...

It all started here...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

One Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia -- February 27, 2016
2016 HAL Volendam Asian Adventure, Day 12
Weather: Light air, clear, 32C/90F

We had another early start this morning with a group made up with cruise critic members. There were 10 of us on this tour with Tour with Locals. Each of us will share the $590 total for the bus and the guide for the day. Much cheaper than the ship excursions. Our ship won't leave dock until 11:00 PM that evening, so we were not worried about getting back to the ship on time.

This will be our 3rd time visiting Kuala Lumpur. The very first time was on a land tour to Southeast Asia, covering countries of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. The second time was when MOR attended a week-long conference there about 15 years ago. I was curious to see if there changes in this city.

For this early start, we ordered room service again. Quick and easy.

After meeting up with our group members, we walked off the gangway together and noticed the RCL Mariner of the Seas docked ahead of us. It was why our ship was held up from disembarking because they had to clear the Mariners first.

Many passengers came off the Mariners as we walked out to the terminal. Most of the passengers on the Mariners were from Indonesia.

Terminal at Port Klang, the busiest terminal that we experienced so far. It was very crowded and we almost got separated from our group.

Both ships docked side by side.

After meeting our guide, Ben, we were ready for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the city.
Ben is a very experienced and knowledgeable guide, he was talking all the way as we travel on the highways. He gave us lots of information and answered all our questions throughout the day.

Toll stop

Batu Caves
Our first stop was the Batu Caves in Selangor, north of Kuala Lumpur. This iconic site with Hindu temple and shrines is visited by thousands of visitors from around the world everyday. The huge statue of the Hindu god at the entrance of the 272-step climb up to the limestone cave is the main attraction. I have climbed up the stairs on our first trip here and I had no intention to do that all over again.

The small shrine right beside the parking lot.

And the bigger Hindu temple next to the shrine. Everybody needs to take off their shoes when stepping on to the tiles.

At the top of the temple.

With the giant statue.

MOR and Ben walking up the stairs and ChC probably was taking pictures of monkeys.
Notice the monkey hanging on to the young man? These monkeys are very aggressive. 

A calm monkey nearby.

As I was waiting for them to come back down, I got a chance to walk around the vicinity and found this pond right next to the stairs. Most people missed this pretty pond with a fountain. I also walked across the street to the vendors but did not find anything interesting or worth buying.

A cow in front of the public restroom near the parking lot. 
I think it was 50 cents per person to visit the restrooms.

Istana Negara (National Palace)
This 13-acre palace is located on a slope overlooking the Klang River. It used to be the residence of the King until 2011 when it was replaced by as extravagant new palace in town.

As we were driving down from the palace.

Petronas Towers
The crown jewel of Kuala Lumpur. Ben told us to follow him to the best spot to take pictures of the towers. Hence we walked the short distance after getting off the bus to the KLCC Park behind the towers.

Part of Lake Symphony

Ben actually lay down on his back and took pictures for us.

An old tree in the park.

Twin towers and the Suria Mall

Ceiling inside the mall

The fountain outside

Front Entrance

As we left the twin towers on our way to other parts of town, we past by Renaissance Hotel where we spent the week our last time here.

I think this is the Industrial Court of Malaysia across from the Dataran Merdeka (Independent Square).

The iconic flag at the Dataran Merdeka that marks the site of the first Malayan flag-raising.

The Royal Selangor Club

TMS Art Gallery and Textile Gallery

Music Museum
These buildings are all in the Independent Square area.

We went inside the textile museum where they have some unusual displays.

History of the different cultures.

Then we walked across the bridge to the other side of the Klang River to Central Market.

Around the corner of Central Market...

to the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple (仙四師爺) .
This temple was built in 1864 by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy who viewed Sin Sze Ya  as an important role in his ascension to Kapitan status in the 19th century. This is said to be the oldest Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur. It is also functions as a cultural center for the Chinese community in the city.

This temple is near Chinatown but we did not get a chance to actually visit Chinatown on this trip.

The statue of Kapitan Yap Ah Loy.

Central Market
This is a very touristy place in the heart of the city. It used to be a wet market but now it is a must-visit destination for tourists. The pastel blue art-deco building housed more than 300 shops and restaurants, with plenty of interesting merchandise and food offerings for your day experience of the true Malaysian culture. There are also a variety of art galleries in the annexes behind the main building but we did not go into any of them.

It's air-conditioned inside.

Ben took us to the Old Town White Coffee so we could have some lunch first. That was also the place where we met up with the group later on. This seemed to be the 'official' place where most tourists had their meals inside the market. They have colorful photos on the menu so ordering food and drink would not be a problem. Old Town White Coffee is all over the place in Malaysia, they even have one at the airport.

My laksa. I still think the best laksa we ever had was in Sydney--the Malay Chinese Restaurant on Hunter Street.

ChC's fried noodle

and buttered pineapple bun with pork chop.

MOR's noodle soup.

After lunch, we walked around the market and also went outside hoping to get to Chinatown but we just didn't have enough time. Back inside the market we saw someone having their feet 'cleaned' by little fish in a tank. He was OK with us taking pictures of him.

Outside the building, is the pedestrian walkway, Kasturi Walk, with many vendors selling local snacks and souvenirs. A fun place to explore but quite hot out there.

Thean Hou Temple (Temple of the Goddess of Heaven)
The last stop for the day was the Thean Hou Temple. This temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. It is built on top of a hill by the Hainanese community. Tian Hou is believed to be the goddess that protects fishermen. Besides Tian Hou, the statues of Goddess of the Waterfront, the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Di, and Wei Tuo are also included in the structure. Which means this temple incorporate Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism into one place.

There are statues of gods/goddesses out front.

Animals representing the zodiac.
The whole place was probably decorated for Chinese New Year with thousands of red lanterns.

main temple

The tortoise pond at the side of the building.

food court in the basement

At around 4:30, we have completed our day in Kuala Lumpur and ready to get back to port. The drive was fine, we did not hit that much traffic as warned by many people. After bidding farewell to our wonderful guide Ben, some people stayed in the terminal for free wi-fi. We went inside the convenient store for a quick look and then walked back to the ship. The Mariner OTS left port already and our ship did not leave until 10:30 that evening.

Much quieter now.

They were having the Asian Market on the Volendam that afternoon. Kind of like the street food or night market set up that is common in Asia. We went to check out what they were having but we didn't want to spoil our appetites for dinner so I did not take anything here. It certainly looked festive, good job, Volendam!

Cod and Shrimp Cake

Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup

Grilled Molasses Lamb Chop

Grilled Sweet an Sour Snapper

Opera Cake

Manchester Tart

After dinner, we took a walk to the top deck for some night view of the ship and the port.

We had a wonderful day in Kuala Lumpur. A city with old and new, modern and traditional. It was quite hot weatherwise but we really didn't feel it that much because we were mostly in air-conditioned places or inside the bus. Ben is an excellent guide. His experience as a guide and a teacher provided a lot of insights about the city. Request for Ben if anyone is using Tours by Locals. He said he also does tours in other cities.
We have one more stop (Malacca) before getting back to Singapore.