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  • Writer's pictureErin Paulsen

Kuala Lumpur || Where the World Comes Together

Updated: May 21, 2020

I was sitting on the plane, reading my book when another western traveler sitting next to me decided to start up a conversation.

The guy asked about my trip to KL, as we were both flying from Bali, and it is super common for people to make border runs on this easy 3-hour flight.

I told him I was staying a few days in the city (he was back to Bali on the next return flight), and he turned to give me a sort of shocked and disgusted look, asking only "Why??".

Everyone that he knew apparently hated KL.

I don't know who these people are, but I have to totally disagree with them.

Kuala Lumpur is a culturally rich gem of a city full of faiths, traditions, and cuisines from around the world.

Due to its proximity to Indonesia, the languages are extremely similar. The majority of its people (around 60%) are Muslim, but there are also many Indians and other Asians who brought Buddhism and Hinduism with them to the city.

On top of this, there's also a good number of people from Middle Eastern countries, like Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

The days in KL were divided into exploring each of these different worlds within a single city.

Day 1:

The beautiful Wilaya Mosque, Jama Masjid, and the National Mosque are all exquisitely impressive and unique in their architectural designs.

Lunch consisted of Falafel, Hummus and Olives, while dinner was found down what I have named Shwarma Street.

Basically, it's a side road near Bukit Bintang where all of the Arabs have set up their shops, competing to get your business, roasting giant kebabs out front of their shops.

After dinner, I indulged in almost an entire box of Baklava in one go.

Delicious and I wish I had brought some back to Bali with me.

Day 2:

My second day in the city consisted of a walk around the Indian part of town. Not far from the Jama Masjid Metro stop, one can wander to find hidden little Indian restaurants, shops selling all sorts of Ayurvedic herbs and remedies, as well as streets lined with stores selling colorful saris.

I don't think there are many man-made items that can compete with the shining beauty of a golden-lined Sari.

I really want to own one, but I can't think of a single occasion on which I could wear one.

I also went back out to see the Batu Caves, a holy site in Hinduism that includes one of the tallest Shiva statues in the world.

Lunch was had at a not-so-tiny but still hole in the wall restaurant that served all of its curries from a giant buffet-style counter.

Since arriving in Bali some 6 months ago I have been dying for some good Indian food (I basically lived off of it while in Abu Dhabi), but there aren't really any good options around.

So, basically, I stuffed my face with roti and curry and decided to come back to the same restaurant a few more times before I left.

Day 3:


I love visiting Chinatown in any city, and the presence of so many Chinese in KL made this one feel really authentic.

I visited the Thean How Temple and was blown away by its beauty.

Its a relatively small temple when compared to some of the large complexes you can find in China, but its design and layout are truly wonderous and I was trying to catch my breath around every corner, the views even more stunning each time you turn and look.

Lunch consisted of noodles and tea in some small, crowded food court just outside the main market street.

If you're looking for a tropical SE Asian paradise, KL is not the place.

If you are interested in marveling at a city and community of people who have impressively learned to live and work and grow together, Kuala Lumpur is a must-visit.

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