Visa regulations can be a pain, but we all agree that they force us to do some interesting things. After all, our entire trip to South Africa was one long visa run, and it was fascinating. Thailand has an automatic 30-day “visa upon entry” for US citizens, which can be extended another 30 days at the immigration office in Chiang Mai. But after that you’ve got to do something different – as in, leave the country. We decided to go to Penang, Malaysia to the Thai consulate and get a 60-day visa for our next phase of Thailand. But we figured that while we were be-bopping around SE Asia we should see a few more places since we’re “in the neighborhood”. Therefore, this is our itinerary:
So here’s the first report from Kuala Lumpur…
Shermanos at the Mall
Shocking, I know. But we went to the mall on our first day in KL. Of course we did, it’s what we do! Malls are always so interesting to stroll around and see what’s new and what’s not new (from our world traveling perspective). You don’t have to worry about getting lost or run over by a taxi or scooter or getting caught in the rain, and you’re sure to find some kind of food for even the pickiest family member (read: Zoe, with Dan a close second). And every mall outside of the USA seems to have a grocery store in it, so we always finish our mall time at the grocery store, loading up on necessities for our Airbnb.
KL has some amazing malls. We’re happy about that because it’s been awhile since we’ve been in a major city with good malls. The girls (and me!) needed a few wardrobe updates. Turns out when you feed your kids, they grow! Poor Zoe was seriously looking like a ragamuffin and for a being such a fashionista, her current duds are borderline insulting. Haley was ready for some new clothes, too, but she was less concerned about it. So we spent a full day at two different malls. stocking up on clothes for the kids, getting Dan and Haley a haircut, seeing a movie and enjoying some familiar food (Johnny Rockets and Red Lobster) we haven’t seen in awhile.
For the most part, the stores were familiar or had shades of familiarity. We bought Haley some clothes at a store we first saw in South Africa. We found another store that was exactly like a store in Spain that we liked, and there we bought some clothes for Zoe that were a brand we used to buy in the USA. We like to think that even shopping is an international experience. We make a lot of connections to previous stops when we go shopping.
Haley pointed out that all the stores had categories up on the corner near their store sign, telling you what type of store it is. It’s in Malay, but we are finding Malay is close enough to English, or Spanish, that we can get the gist of it sometimes. So we enjoyed reading all the store categories and figuring them out.
Markets in Malaysia
Southeast Asia loves their markets and so do I. Most of the time they are night markets, or they open up early, then close from noon to 6 p.m., then open up again. This really makes sense from a weather perspective. And given that it’s rainy season right now in Kuala Lumpur, the rains usually come late afternoon but dissipate by early evening. So this makes sense for that too.
We went to a market that was inside, which was very easy to stroll through and get lost. There was some seriously amazing artwork that warranted my starring it on Google Maps so Dan and I can return someday and buy art for our eventual house after the kids are gone. (That’s the plan anyway.)
We discovered several food chains here that we have not seen in awhile, and many of them are our favorites from other places. We enjoyed a dinner at Johnny Rockets, which was one of our favorite places in Mexico (go figure!), we went to Red Lobster, Zoe ordered pizza from Dominos and the other 3 of us had Indian food. This all sounds very easy but trying to navigate food delivery in another country when you have no idea what your address is… well, it’s not easy. We eventually managed to get all our food, but Malay people must have some kind of crazy adaptation for spice because the old favorite Indian food we ordered was SPICY. Like, mouth-on-fire spicy. But we were already in our comfy clothes and settled in for the night so we ate what we could and Zoe shared her Dominos pizza with us, smirking that she was right all along in her choice of delivery. I had sushi 3 times in a row (lunch, dinner, lunch) and could have continued the streak if I had been given the chance.
Let the record show that I (Allison) attempted to have a “traditional Malay food” night, but it was rejected by the fam because Red Lobster was in the same mall. You really can’t compete with those stupid cheese biscuits when you haven’t had them in 3 years. The fam promised me that we have one more week in Malaysia (in Penang) and we will eat Malay food there. You heard that, right? I have witnesses.
Lest you think all we did here was shop and eat, let me tell you about the Petronas Towers. These are perhaps the most well-known part of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline. They are iconic and quite beautiful, even more so when all lit up at night. We have been up to the tallest building in the world in Dubai, but we figured this building was worth a look from the top as well.
The system for going up to the top of the towers was a well-oiled machine. First, they took us to the sky bridge where we had a nice view from either side. Then we went to the observation deck on the 87th floor and had a nice time walking around and trying to figure out where our Airbnb was located. We noticed a building under construction next door and a crane at work, as well as a worker guy standing on top of the building, seemingly on his phone. The binocular viewing thing-y was right there so we continued to spy on him through the viewer.
Someday the kids will see a picture of the Petronas Towers and instead of remembering a single detail of them, they will remember the shirtless guy on top of the tower under construction next door.
Stay tuned, we have a few more days in KL to tell you about!