- Accommodation: The Explorer’s Inn (100 ringgits/night for a double, private room with A/C and shared bathroom). The Explorer’s Inn is located right near Chinatown in KL and it’s close to a LRT stop. Even though they only have shared bathrooms, they are really clean and the showers have hot water, shampoo and body-wash. I’ll take clean, shared bathrooms any day over a gross private bathroom! There are private rooms and dorms available. It’s a newer hostel and they’ve definitely thought everything through, perfectly suited for young backpackers. Definitely has a college dorm vibe. There’s free wifi in the common area and a few computers. There’s also a small kitchen with free coffee, tea, bread, jam, peanut butter etc. The laundry service is reasonably priced. It ended up being more than we wanted to spend, but Malaysia is more expensive than other SEA countries and we wanted to be centrally located to explore the city. Even though I learned to like small guesthouses better than large backpacker hostels, I would still definitely recommend Explorer’s Inn to anybody passing through KL and looking for a good base.
- Chinatown food stalls: In my experience they were very hit or miss. Try to find one with a lot of locals, which probably means it’s good.
- Sangeetha: Indian vegetarian restaurant located near the hostel, also recommended in Lonely Planet. The food was excellent and our meal was about 21 ringgits/person.
We took an Air Asia flight nonstop from Yogyakarta to Kuala Lumpur. With checked baggage fees and taxes I think it ended up costing about $100/person. The flight was really easy (about 2 hours) and we arrived at the LCCT (low cost carrier terminal) in KL, so we had to take an airport express bus to the center of the city for 8 ringgits/person. It took about an hour and it dropped us off at KL Sentral station. From there it was only one stop on the LRT to get to the hostel. The whole trip was relatively easy and everything was well marked. After settling in we explored the Chinatown night market and ate dinner at one of the outdoor Chinese food stalls. There was a bucket of live frogs and eels swimming behind us! The food was delicious but it definitely was not cheap. KL was proving to be much more expensive than I had anticipated, but still cheaper than most western cities.
The next morning we took the LRT to the KL Tower to get a good view of the city from the observation deck. The city is huge! Even though it was overcast we were able to see for miles. Afterwards we walked to the Golden Triangle area of the city where the famous Petronas Towers are located. The whole complex is very modern and the towers are stunning when they’re lit up at night. There is a large mall underneath the towers with every store imaginable in it. We got lunch at the food court one day and it was great people watching. Malaysians are quite an eclectic group – Chinese, Indians, Malays, Europeans. Most women were dressed conservatively with a headscarf and a long sleeve, floor-length tunic, although some were dressed in western clothing as well. Malaysians (or at least the ones in KL) seem to be a pretty prosperous group. In all, Kuala Lumpur is a very modern city. We did some food shopping at Cold Storage, a really nice grocery store in the mall. We were even able to find goldfish, teddy grahams and nature valley bars – some sustenance to hold us over on those long bus rides. In the afternoon we headed to Merdeka Square, which is the main green in the old part of the city.
The next morning we checked our email hoping we’d hear back from Deb, the booking lady for Pentani Beach Chalets in the Perhentians. Unfortunately we didn’t hear back from her, which was getting frustrating because we were trying to figure out our schedule for the next week. I was also worried about the weather in the Perhentians that time of year since the east coast of Malaysia was just coming out of monsoon season in March. I’d hate to travel all the way there and then have it rain every day. We eventually heard back from Deb who said that Pentani was fully booked, which was a real bummer because we had our hearts set on staying there. It looked so beautiful in the pictures. Most of the other budget options looked pretty average and a lot of reviews said there were rat infestations. I don’t care if they’re there, but I don’t want to see any traces of them. This one girl said that they chewed through her bag, crapped all over her bed and ran circles around her at night. No thank you!
Rosie finally found a place online called Bintang Chalets on Long Beach in Perhentian Kecil. It was pretty cheap and looked nice in the photos so we decided to go with it. While we were searching for a place to stay in the Perhentians, I stumbled upon a review of Phu Quoc, an island off the southern coast of Vietnam. It said that it has amazing beaches and is not very developed. I also remembered one of the American guys in our van from Bali to Java telling us how he had just been there and said it was really beautiful. I did some more research, and the more I read about it the more I wanted to go! So now we had to decide between the Perhentians vs Phu Quoc because we didn’t think there was enough time for both. We couldn’t make a decision so instead we decided to alter our Vietnam itinerary a bit so we could go to both!