Southeast Asia, Day 13: Eating and drinking my way through Kuala Lumpur

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Last night LaiYuen and I were out very late in Kuala Lumpur, so we made a promise that today would just happen as it happens.

When the morning came, I decided to sleep until 11am, since I had the whole day ahead of me and this place appreciate late risers as most shops and restaurants are open very late.

LaiYuen’s mom was angry about the fender bender and therefore we aren’t allowed to take her car to Melaka today. We look at bus options but they are too long, so we make a new plan to just hang out in downtown KL instead. LaiYuen picks me up in her car and we first head to brunch at a place called Village Park Restaurant in Demansara.

LaiYuen explains the food here is typical Malaysian fare. As it’s out of the city center, the only people inside and outside are locals. The place is paced, despite our late start causing us to arrive off typical peak hours at nearly two o’clock.

Nasi Lemak

assam laksa

nasi impit thuah harang

The service isn’t too great due to the disorganized nature of the place and the crowds, but since LaiYuen is a local, she can properly tell off the waiter if things are taking too long. LaiYuen first ordered us some “the o ice limau,” or an iced lime tea that is slightly sweet and perfectly refreshing in the heat. For us to share, she gets us “nasi lemak,” the Malaysian national food, with fried chicken. This is by far my favorite thing. The fried chicken is crusted with coconut and served on rice boiled with coconut milk. Surrounding it is a very sweet yet spicy chili sauce, peanuts, fried anchovies, sliced cucumber and a hard boiled egg. For herself, LaiYuen gets the “Assam laksa,” a noodle dish with fish broth. I give it a try but it cannot top the fried chicken plate. Finally, we were pretty full from our dishes but the waiters delayed in bringing us the final one, the “nasi impit thuah harang,” which is just rice with a rich, chunky peanut sauce poured on top. I adored the peanut sauce on my sandwich yesterday and told LaiYuen about it, so she made this suggestion. It looked delicious but I was just too full.

We return to LaiYuen’s car and she’s blocked in completely by someone double parked perpendicularly behind her. We are in front of a strip mall so there are loads of people that it could be. LaiYuen pulls out her phone and says she is going to call the driver. I am confused… how does she have their number? She points to the dashboard and there’s a laminated card that reads “sorry for blocking you, please call me,” and provides a phone number. Apparently this is a common occurrence. As soon as LaiYuen begins the call, a woman runs out of a store, apologizing, and moves her car.

As we get in her car, LaiYuen explains that cars are cheap, as is gas, so a lot of locals drive everywhere. It explains why there is little motivation to improve the transit system, because no one really uses it. Everywhere we have been with her car is absolutely packed, no matter the hour. And she says that she, too, has a similar card in her car for when she blocks someone in, which often happens due to lack of parking space available.

Off we go to Chinatown, which is back near my hostel. The stores are so cheap and have loads of cute little Asian stationeries and accessories that I can hardly believe I didn’t spend all my money right then and there. I ended up holding myself back and only buying some stickers for the kids at my school, but I wanted to spend money on cheap makeup, cute luggage tags, travel USB fans, travel toiletry bags and more.


We then walk over to Central Market, where LaiYuen says I can find souvenirs. It is a massive mall filled with little vendors selling local goods and souvenirs. God, does Malaysia love their malls. This is massive for what it is—essentially, a souvenir mall. But here it was, jam-packed and making money.

We stop for a coffee at Old Town Coffee, where they are known for their white coffee, which is a coffee roasted in palm oil and served with condensed milk. I get a less sweet coffee (this is actually on the menu as most things are super sweet) and some steamed brioche with coconut jam.

Bamboo street art

The "river of life" wasn't looking too alive today

After our snack, we walk around the historical area near Merdeka Square, where the architecture is magnificent. There’s a red “I heart KL” statue for tourists to take pictures at, and it even has velvet ropes to prevent others from jumping in your photo, almost like you’re lining up to take pictures with Santa. Each person takes forever, since everyone is taking about a million pictures. LaiYuen asks me if I want to look at the pictures before giving the next person their turn, and I refuse. Picture’s taken, let’s move on!

Fountain with the Sultan Abdul Samad Building behind

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

We hop back into LaiYuen’s car and pick up Paul, whom I met the night previous, and we all head off to Mid Valley Mall, where LaiYuen explains locals mostly go, as opposed to exists or tourists. It is just another massive shopping mall, and on my shopping list is contacts.

Back in the states, you need to bring a prescription to buy contacts, and to get a prescription, you of course have to book an eye doctor appointment, which is not free. I remember back in Russia how contact lenses were available in a vending machine in the grocery store. I asked LaiYuen about contacts and she said I’d be able to just buy them at the store. Perfect!

At the mall there were several eyeglass stores, and after price shopping and asking if various stores carried my brand, I found a place. I wasn’t completely positive about my prescription, but no worries! The woman just took me in the back and did a full eye exam to check my prescription, and then grabbed boxes off the shelf. Six pairs cost 264 MYR, and the exam was free. The woman even threw sn extra pair of contacts in, along with a contacts case. So, an eye exam, seven pairs of contacts and a lens case cost me only $69 USD.

After shopping around, we got sushi at Sushi Tei, a sit-down restaurant in the food court where I got maki and a specialty roll for about $8 USD.

We went to the grocery store attached to the mall so I could explore the foreign foods, and I bought some nice lychee tea, since Vanuatu has limited tea options and the fancy ones (fancy could just mean chamomile… basically anything that is not Lipton black tea) cost over six dollars.

It was now 10pm, the time the mall closed (!), so we headed out, and LaiYuen dropped me off at my hostel, bidding me a final farewell, as we won’t be able to meet up tomorrow.

Custom cocktail at The Deceased

At my hostel I debate what to do with my night. I never truly checked out The Deceased, the cocktail bar above my hostel, so I decide to finish the night there. On the menu, below the list of fancy cocktails, there is an option to get a custom cocktail that the bartender whips up for you, and despite this being a super hip place that requires reservations and a secret password to get in, I have privileges as a hostel guest. I order the cocktail, which costs a mere $11.50 (for a cocktail, that's expensive, but for a CUSTOM cocktail at a hip bar, that's cheap), and is created to my liking. Although, they never asked what I liked. Thankfully, it was exactly what I liked. Perhaps they work on aura readings or something. It was a mango and vodka drink, topped with a lemon slice sprinkled with lime dust. I was instructed to lick the lemon then sip the drink. Fancy cocktail places are places where you get instructions.

I sat and observed the crowd, and at the large table beside me, a drunk girl spotted me ("Is that girl drinking alone? NO ONE CAN DRINK ALONE!") and pulled me into the group. I quickly befriended the group of about a dozen expats (and three Malaysians) who live and work in KL. I didn't connect with them as I was leaving tomorrow, and wouldn't be able to hang out with/meet with them again. It was still fun sitting and chatting with them as they contemplated ordering another "I know what you did last summer" cocktail or a custom one instead.

As the group all called their Grabs (Asia's version of Uber), I headed off to bed. Tomorrow is my last day in KL before heading off to Bali.