We were happy at the Explorer Guesthouse (hot showers, clean facilities – SOLD!) but all of the private rooms were full for the weekend because of the base jumping festival AND the KL city marathon, so we moved on to a new place: Backhome. Although a little pricier ($27 per night) we had a beautiful, spacious room with a wall of windows and in the center of the hostel was a wonderful outdoor courtyard.
We were so pleased with our first meal on Jalan Alor that we returned twice more for dinner. Walking down the road you have a choice of Chinese, Thai, Malay, Japanese and all variety of BBQ seafood/meats. On our second visit we thought, let’s branch out – try a new place! This time we choose a Chinese/Thai food stall at the end of the road, which always seemed to be full of diners. We were shocked when the food wasn’t that great and nowhere near as tasty as our first dinner at Lim Kee. Sadly we learned that all food stalls on Jalan Alor are NOT created equal. At one point during dinner, a chef at a food stall across the road from us added chili pepper (dried?) into the hot wok. Before the smell even hit us, people in the st began coughing (almost choking) and covering their faces from the smoke. It was crazy how the chili smoke took over the entire street – we wondered (through our coughing) was this the amount of spice the Chef intended??!?
Though we were street eating, the cost of a meal for us was running closer to $30, more than we wanted to be spending. Our new guesthouse was in ‘Little India’ and we checked trip advisor for the best rated Indian restaurant since they looked the same to us. We settled on Sangeetha (65 Lebuh Ampang), which had good reviews, was supposed to be cheap, and around the corner from us. We walked in and took it as a good sign that we were the only non-Indians. The dishes were listed by Indian names only on the menu, with some pictures on the side. Thankfully it was purely vegetarian food, so we picked the basics (Naan, Samosas) and the waiter basically selected the rest of the dishes for us. Dishes came out as they were ready and each one was more delightful than the one before it. Not only did they each have a very distinct flavor but the textures also varied quite a bit (Yuuuumm crunchy, fried cauliflower). James, a happy meat eater, declared that if all vegetarian food was this tasty and diverse, he could become one! We wound up coming back with a few adventurous eaters from Backhome for another dinner, so they could also enjoy the deliciousness.
Although we didn’t really have big expectations for Kuala Lumpur, this stop was definitely a highlight of Malaysia! I explored the KL bird park one afternoon but came away with mixed feelings. The birds that are "free" to roam around the park seem happy enough and its fun to be so close to them but to see nearly extinct birds (hornbills and owls) in crappy metal cages was heartbreaking. Seriously, set them free instead of subjecting them to such misery!! James connected with a local skater who invited him to a shoot for Redbull at the National Monument. That skater never turned up (!) but Sukeats, owner of Wheel Love Skateshop, was very cool and didn't mind the surprise audience. This city has so much to offer. We really enjoyed plugging back into a big city with incredible dining options, strolling the air conditioned malls (though we didn’t shop), exploring different neighborhoods, and the hostels were fantastic. I just hope as KL develops it retains its character and doesn't turn everyplace into a luxury mall.