The first site of interest we attempted to reach was the Botanical Gardens - a site we utterly failed to reach and a starting experience that introduced Shenae to the pitfalls of my travelling style
. Walking and following my reckoning, we weaved down a couple of roads and found ourselves walking alongside a four lane highway that was bizarrely devoid of traffic, though the occasional runner in a blue singlet would pass by us. We continued alongside the empty road and slowly the flood of runners increased, until we found ourselves going against the stream of the KL Marathon. With Shenae's poor choice of footwear blistering the dickens out of her feet, we eventually turned around and joined the marathoners in the direction back the way we came, chatting to a volunteer along the way. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect - just after we got off the motorway the flood of cars was released and it returned to being a natural death trap for pedestrians.
With her feet in growing agony, my style of wandering randomly on foot was canned and we jumped in a taxi to head to the Central Markets. With footwear highest on the agenda, we were again thwarted by the discovery that the stalls were not going to open for a while yet. Leaving her to rest on a stairwell near the train station, I made a little explore around, sussing out the Jamek Mosque (closed), the end of the marathon (where hundreds were exhaustedly gathering) and an Indian market area with a shoe stall (also closed, but looking like it was being set up). Returning to the weary traveller, we hobbled over to the stalls and made a much needed footwear swap
. Shod in more appropriate footwear, spirits were raised and adventure was back on the cards.
Passing through the marathon crowds, we got into a heritage part of the city and had a gander at the beautiful Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the Jamek Mosque once more, the National Textile Museum and went inside the City Gallery to look at miniature woodcarvings and models of the remarkable architecture of the area. After a short period of enjoyment in the air conditioning (humidity was greatly on the rise) and the downloading of the city map into the internal GPS, it was time to do some serious walking in confidence.
We passed the 100m Flag Pole (quite tall, as expected), Merdeka Square that was still full of runners, a gaggle of heritage buildings in a variety of architectural styles and made our way towards the Botanical Gardens (for real) where we had a short siesta by a fountain. Wandering through the gardens was pleasant, though not as cool as we would have hoped, so we stopped for nasi goreng and a curry at the Hornbill Restaurant, attached to the world's largest covered aviary.
After a spot of food in an air conditioned restaurant the spirits were lifted and it was back on foot to seek out a massage
. With the navigation more reliable this time we returned to KL Sentral (spelt with an 's') and, after completing a survey for a tourism graduate, we jumped on the packed monorail to Bukit Bintang. After a quick walk around a local maze (made to look like a shopping centre) we strolled down a street packed with massage parlours and made a choice. We began with the Asian special, the fish foot bath - tiny (though these buggers were big) fish that nibble the dead skin off your feet. Now the jury is still out over whether it was good or bad, but once my feet were in the water they would basically ignore Shenae's - a ratio of 8:1 fish in my favour chomping down on the old wheels. Eventually I was kicked out of the tank so that she could at least have a little bit of experience before it was time for our second treatment, a full body massage. A rather vigorous thrashing by a mute Malaysian masseuse took place over the hour, and I can't rightly say if I was relaxed or beaten to a state of semi-consciousness. Either way, I stumbled out into the afternoon dazed and confused.
We took a brief stroll around the area before setting off for the Petronas Twin Towers, a very easy and accessible journey along a skywalk and down a few streets. The two spectacular twins loom over the city and glint in the afternoon sun, begging to be climbed in some form of impossible mission. After many photos (some of which we took for locals, others which we starred in - also with locals) we set off for the monorail once more to return to Bukit Bintang for dinner
. Now I know that one day in is not much of a challenge, but the Fried Black Pepper Beef took first grab of the illustrious title as "best meal on trip". With the curry bowl licked clean we jumped back on the monorail, returned to Sentral Station and - after another McDonalds wifi stop to wish my father a Happy Birthday - took the express back to the airport.
After two days in the same gear and a full day walking in the sweaty Malaysian heat, locating the hotel airport and grabbing a shower was an experience that would have made all the massages in the city pale in significance. Emerging clean and refreshed, we were once again human and ready for another flight. The long haul to Amsterdam promises some 12 hours in the air and take us into day 3 without visiting a bed.
We basically slept - or attempted to sleep - the entire flight, missing all meals/beverages except the odd glass of water. Arrival was easy, especially because our baggage was checked all the way through to Amsterdam, so we wandered through the essentially empty airport at 5am and jumped on the KLIAS Express train to the city. An easy 28mins later we were in the centre of KL, quickly realising the following two key things: it was still only 5:50 and we have no idea where we want to go. Settling down at a closed cafe, I amused myself by reading whilst Shenae went for an explore. She returned after a fruitful search and we both relocated to the McDonalds to grab a quick breakfast, which admittedly wasn't the most authentic fare, but did allow me to access some wifi and make a list of activities/sites for the day (I had done no research on KL and hadn't the slightest idea of what there was to see).