Capturing Kuala Lumper

Melanie Cahill 16 April 2018
Leaving behind the multi-cultural city of Georgetown, Penang left me eager to see what the capital city of Malaysia was going to offer. The modern skyline of Kuala Lumpur, dominated by the Petronas Twin Towers was a sight to behold, and my first glimpse of this city left me hungry to discover more. We arrived and checked into The Majestic Hotel, a colonial structure built in 1932 documented as a national heritage site due to its fame as an icon of Malaya’s booming years leading to WWII. The hotel became the place to hold social gatherings, governments receptions and a place of residence to many prominent international visitors. Located with easy access to the city, this stunning hotel did not fail to impress. Walls seeping with glamour and stories, my second glimpse of this city left me eager to emerge myself into Kuala Lumpur’s rich history and its modernity.

Eager to explore the streets of the capital, our first adventure took us along the heritage trail where we visited some well-known sights including the Train Station, Merdeka Square, KL Visitor Centre and the Central Market. This tour brought us to the centre of Kuala Lumpur’s historic heart. Many monuments and sights dated back to Malaysia’s colonial period where the city fell under British authority who rapidly developed the city’s infrastructure until 1957 when Malaysia demanded their independence after 151 years of British rule. Experiencing the fine attributes of this heritage trail opened our eyes to the rich and interesting history of Malaysia and its capital. In a fascinating contrast to this history lies the Petronas Towers which represent the modernity and futuristic vision that Malaysia beholds. These twin towers, that took six years of 24-hour construction were finally finished in 1996. They stood as the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 and remain the world’s tallest twin towers.

These distinctive towers are connected by a sky bridge on the 41st and 42nd floors and is open to visitors. So of course, we had to battle any fear of heights and see this bustling city from a bird’s eye view. This experience was incredible and seeing the towers lit up at night was rather exciting. That evening we were incredibly lucky to dine in the orchard room, and as the name suggests the whole room and even the walls were covered with orchards. As the story goes, the restoration of the hotel was ongoing and one single orchard stood proudly during these renovations and therefore the hotel dedicated an entire room that is hired out for exclusive functions. Suffice to say the scents and colours of this room were simply astounding. Kuala Lumpur has excellent shopping facilities. From small markets like Merdeka square selling hand crafted items to massive malls featuring all the major designers and then Petaling St. Malaysia’s famous, vibrant Chinatown area, It really was a shopper’s paradise. It was amazing to see central markets right next to luxurious shopping malls, and visiting the shopping mall in the Petronas towers is a must do as most brands are around 20% cheaper than at home. And of course, like all great cities comes a great nightlife. Visiting Healy Macs Irish pub is one for your must do list. This Irish Pub was voted the best Irish pub in the world by the Irish Times and Diageo, and it is easy to see why. From great atmosphere, food and music it’s a perfect stop, just located a few minutes away from the Petronas Towers.

We had the privilege of seeing Ireland win against Scotland in the six nations ruby and as you can imagine the craic was mighty! We also had the opportunity to visit Malaysia’s national mosque. This incredible mosque can hold over 15,000 people and welcomes all people of different ethnicity and religion. The amazing dome is certainly a centre point of the mosque which symbolises unity of people, meaning that an umbrella can hold everyone no matter who they are throughout rain and shine. Both men and women are required to cover up when entering the mosque, but only women are required to cover their heads, robes are available at the entrance. Overall, I loved Kuala Lumpur. I loved the vibrancy of the city and I loved the contrasting difference between history and the modern world, the markets next to luxurious malls and of course the huge mixing bowel of cultures and different ethnicities. If you are looking for a taste of Malaysia then I would highly recommend a visit to Kuala Lumpur and of course this is only a snapshot of what this incredible country had to offer.