Spring Break arrived, and of course, I used my week to check out a new part of the world. This time, I headed to Sri Lanka for a six day, whirlwind tour of the tiny, tear-shaped country.
We landed at noon on Saturday and trained into the city. The train ride took about thirty minutes and cost about 14 usd/55 myr per ticket. We later learned that a taxi is much cheaper if there are at least two visitors sharing the price, but it takes quite a bit longer and provides a larger hassle on exit from the airport. The train was easy to figure out, quiet, and absolutely spotless.
After a short taxi ride from the train station, we arrived at our hotel, Pacific Regency Suites and were graciously granted an early check-in. The hotel described on Trip Advisor as "Very Good Service and Standard" did not disappoint. It was a bit posh and was an extremely comfortable Western-styled room with tall ceilings and a soft bed. We dropped our bags off, checked out the pool, and then ventured into the city.
It became clear, as soon as we hit the streets, that Kuala Lumpur is very much NOT Ho Chi Minh City and for all the right reasons. Although I have fallen in love with Ho Chi Minh City over the past year and a half -- the people, the chaos, the sights -- visiting Kuala Lumpur offered a nice respite and the comforts of America without the expense of Singapore, my previous go-to escape.
Hungry, we decided to forgo dining on local food, although we had heard rave reviews, and opted, instead, for Chili's. Yes, I am humiliated to admit that we made this choice, but the thought of bottomless chips and salsa and free refills on diet coke won us over. (#comfortsofamerica)
After lunch, we checked out the Petronas Twin Towers.
And then we headed back to our hotel to enjoy the view and soak up the sunset from our rooftop pool. For dinner, we dined on some 7/11 snacks and juices. (Again, #comfortsofamerica)
On Sunday, determined to try the local food we had heard so much about, we headed to Central Market.
Founded in 1888, we found the market to be kind of like a cleaner, less chaotic, and quieter version of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It is also far less intimidating than Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Visitors and sellers are calm and merchandise is displayed in an organized manner. Malaysia is known for its wooden handicraft and batik cloth; several stands sold these beautiful traditional items.
We bought nothing but a delicious Thai meal (still missing out on the local treats somehow) and although we left empty-handed, we admired all of it and I definitely made a wish-list for future visits which will not end in a six day backpacking trip around a remote island. After the market, we continued exploring the city with a wander down Kasturi Walk.
And then through Chinatown which we deemed "the poor man's Central Market" -- a little more chaotic, a little less organized, and seemingly cheaper prices.
We indulged in some sweet drinks, admired the sights, and then headed back to the hotel to catch an hour long cab ride to the airport.
Kuala Lumpur was a surprise and a delight. Its affordability and short direct flight from HCMC puts it high on the weekend getaway list for me, and next time, I promise, I will actually try the local food!