Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

On route to London, we had to make a stop, so we decided to spend a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We arrived in the evening and ate a pretty mediocre meal at a nearby restaurant. The hotel was average – it had two rooms, making it really spacious, and the beds were comfortable. However, the bathroom was a bit grubby and little things like not having breakfast included, and the tax being added onto the quoted price, meant that it could have been better. But still, nothing to complain about too much. There was also a pool, and we took our first dip that night.

We booked a free shuttle service for the next morning at 11.30am, so we had a lazy morning. We arrived in the city centre, and popped in the Pavillon, before walking to find some food. We ate a cheap but quite tasty. We managed to walk to most places that day, and we spent a lot of the afternoon at the Menara Tower. We went to the observation deck, and although it was quite misty outside, it was still cool to walk around. 

We had a pack of activities with the ticket, which included a 6D cinema experience, a F1 driving game, an aquarium, a zoo, and an up-side-down house. The best part of this, aside from being quite fun to do kiddy things, was seeing such a wide variety of fish, and holding parrots! 

Next we walked to the Petronas Towers, though we didn’t go up. We walked around the park, which was really nice. I had expected Kuala Lumpur to be similar to Singapore, having spoken to another couple about it. It wasn’t quite as swish and shiny, and it felt bigger and not quite as easy to get around (but still walkable) but it had a relaxed vibe to it that I liked. We ate in the mall and also had these delicious fruit smoothies! 

We then tried to figure out the trains, which are easy enough… if you can find the station! We eventually got to it but the hotel had given confusing information, so we ended up walking around the wrong station. Eventually we made it back and knew where to go the next day. We had another evening pool session and another late night.

The next morning we started only slightly earlier than before. Maybe I’m getting a bit tired travelling around so much, but it feels like my capacity for long days is lessening, and I woke up with my feet still aching from the previous day’s walking. We got the train to Masjid Jamek with the plan to walk from there to park. Sadly, around the mosque was under construction, so we were unable to get a close look, but it looked more traditional than the ultra-modern architecture of the National Mosque. 

We walked through Merdeka Square, where we stumbled upon what looked like a big rehearsal for a dance routine. My boyfriend was approached by a man who asked him to speak on camera and wish Malaysia a happy 59th Independence Day, telling us that it was oh forefathers who had colonised them. My boyfriend had found this out on the taxi ride from the airport, but I had read up on it previously… To be honest, there’s probably not many countries that the British haven’t colonised, and being faced with it in such an up-front way was a stark reminder, but an important one. I’ve often found that people will address my boyfriend before me, and have even spoken as if I’m not there, saying complimentary things, but nevertheless, in a way I’m not entirely comfortable with. 

My boyfriend was embarrassed by the whole situation, and joked that I would have been better to ask to speak. As someone who performs poetry, I couldn’t help but agree, bug instead I stood there silent, as he introduced both of us to the camera, and I fought back the urge to chime in and force them to do a third take. It felt strange to stand there like a magician’s assistant, for my boyfriend to be addressed as “sir”, and for him to be told things such as “she’s pretty, like a doll”. Culturally, it gets into that sticky situation whereby you’re faced with your white privilege, and when my boyfriend tells the girl complimenting me that’s she very pretty too, something I may be a tad jealous about otherwise, I am glad and wish I had said it myself, but then I’m a bit awkward in those situations. 

We walked on towards the park and got to the Islamic Arts Museum. It was highly rated in my guidebook, and though interesting and informative, it wasn’t as extensive a I expected. The highlight was the photography exhibition upstairs, which included a range of pieces, some that wet visually stunning, some creative and humorous, and others extremely emotive, such as one piece with a family breaking fast at their ruined house on the Northern Gaza Strip, taken by Nidal Alwahidi, which had me choking back tears.

We carried on into the park, but by then we were extremely thirsty and so once we got to the other side, we caught a train to Chinatown, where we ate a cheap meal and spent sometime tasting Chinese tea at a tea shop. We walked through the market streets, and I bought a couple of pairs of loose trousers to replace the two that were ruined over my time travelling. We were pretty tired by that point, so we headed back on the train. 

I had a swim in the pool and read a bit outside; though it wasn’t sunny, it was still warm. I felt a bit awkward because the women covered up when they swam, or sat on the side fully-clothed. Still, I think that would be the same if it was the other way round, if you were covered up whilst others were not. It’s mostly in your head. In the light of the Burkini ban news in France, I think everyone should be able to wear what they want. Though I became paranoid when I noticed the hotel had put up an extra sign about appropriate swimming attire. Though there was a dad who was swinging his trunks in the air and laughing the other night. And the award for most embarrassing dad goes to… 

I used to cover up my thighs with a skirt and never showed my stomach, but I got to the age of about 19 or 20 and went on holiday with friends for the first time and it felt like it would be more strange for me to cover up than it would be for me to just wear what everyone else wore. It was my first time in a bikini. So, for me personally, wearing a bikini is somewhat empowering, even though that might seem silly to others. To me, it reminds me that our bodies are just bodies and not inherently sexual. I love seeing a range of shapes and sizes in bikinis because it really works at dispelling the myth of the whole beach/bikini body thing, and there’s something really humanising about it… I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I’m too tired to think.

Anyway, we had a meal at a great find called The Bad Boss, which actually has a punching bag and is supposedly a place where workers can let of steam. The food was great and the dark hot chocolate was delicious! We actually plan to go there again tomorrow before our flight, and I’ll see if I can get up early enough to fit in one last swim in my bikini! 

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