The Big Trip: Day 10: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Part 1)I only had one full day to explore Kuala Lumpur, so I wanted to make the most of it. I borrowed a Malaysian guidebook from my CouchSurfing host Angelo, and I had some idea of what I wanted to do that day. Unfortunately, my day started out as a comedy of errors.

I meant to wake up early to have enough time to do laundry and head to the Petronas Towers, get a ticket, and go to the observation deck. Unfortunately, my exhaustion from the day before made me wake up later than I had hoped, so I had to scratch the Petronas Towers observation deck from my plans.

I was further delayed by my almost comically bad attempts to make it to the nearest train station. I made it as far as outside the apartment complex when I drew a blank on where I was supposed to go. (That’s what I get for not paying attention when my host picked me up from the station and brought me to his apartment.) I made a wrong turn and walked further away from the station. To make things worse, when I finally figured out what direction I needed to go, I totally forgot that people drove on the side of the road opposite from that in the Philippines. So, instead of looking to the right before crossing the street, I looked left. Needless to say, the driver of the car coming in from the right was not pleased to see me walking down the street, oblivious to her presence.

The Kuala Lumpur rail system was quite possibly more confusing than the one here in Manila, probably because there were more lines and stations in KL than in Manila. I knew I had to switch stations and train lines at some point, but of course I couldn’t figure out where the other line was when I got to that point.

Once I had figured everything out, I ended up at Suria KLCC, a mall so huge they actually offered maps of the mall for visitors. (Maybe that’s something the owners of SM Mall of Asia can take a cue from. I still get lost and confused in that place.)

inside Suria KLCCAfter eating a quick breakfast, I began to look for Petronas Towers. I consulted my guidebook and my Suria KLCC map. I went outside, looking for signs and directions pointing me to Petronas Towers.

I should have just turned around and looked up.

Petronas TowersIt took me a while to realize it, but Suria KLCC was actually right beneath the twin towers of the Petronas Towers. So, when I exited the mall, the Petronas Towers were actually right behind me. I turned around, looked up, and marveled at the sheer size of the Petronas Towers. It took photostitching to get this next shot together.

Petronas Towers, photostitchedTo say that the Petronas Towers were tall would be a huge understatement. If I had leaned back any further to take a better look at it, I would have fallen flat on my back. Looking up at it definitely made me feel small. I tried my best to snap photos, but even going to the end of the little park/walkway in front of the towers didn’t help much.

dwarfed by the Petronas TowersI also decided to be a cheesy tourist and pose in front of the Petronas corporate logo, because nothing says “tourist” like a photo in front of a foreign corporate logo.

in front of the Petronas corporate logoAfter admiring the Petronas Towers, I decided to head to Kuala Lumpur’s other tall landmark, the Menara Kuala Lumpur, also known as the KL Tower. The map in my guidebook assured me that KL Tower was within walking distance of the Petronas Towers, so I made my way there on foot. People writing guidebooks must have a skewed definition of “walking distance,” because it seemed to take me forever to reach my destination. (To be fair, it probably would have been more confusing and time-consuming to take the train to KL Tower.) Thank goodness for the “You Are Here” maps scattered around the streets of Kuala Lumpur, or else I would have gotten lost, in addition to being exhausted and sweaty.

KL Tower from a distanceEventually, I arrived at the Menara Kuala Lumpur. The tower itself sat on top of a small hill, and I was worried that I’d have to do more walking until I spotted a terminal for the free shuttle service. I squeezed inside the van with two groups of Filipinos (they were speaking loudly in Tagalog the entire time) and went to the top of the hill.

at Menara Kuala LumpurKL Tower was another tall structure, and I wondered what the obsession Malaysians had with building tall structures. (I would visit a third tall installation, the flagpole at Merdeka Square, later that day.)

Menara Kuala Lumpur, AKA KL TowerI was making my way to the observation deck when something caught my eye. There was a booth for AJ Hackett Malaysia right beside the entrance to the tower itself. AJ Hackett is a New Zealand-based adventure company specializing in anything and everything involving heights. They were operating a flying fox at KL Tower. I was intrigued. After passing by their booth two or three times, debating whether or not I should do it. I decided that I would take the plunge and do it.

I have a fear of heights, or more precisely, a fear of falling, so doing the flying fox was almost completely out of character. After all, I was that person who, back in my college military training course, screamed and screeched all the way while rappelling down a relatively low wall. I suppose I saw this as an opportunity to face my fears and hopefully not be a baby about it.

about to take a leap on the flying fox at KL TowerThe operators from AJ Hackett put on my gear and briefed me on what I was supposed to do. My heart started to race as I was standing on the ledge. I suppose it wasn’t so high up and the course didn’t go too far, but the mere fact that the whole thing involved stepping off a ledge wasn’t very comforting. After a few deep breaths (and a quick prayer), I stepped off the ledge and let the flying fox take me down.

just after stepping off from the platform on the flying fox at KL TowerAfter a bit of nerves, the adrenaline rush took over, and I began to actually enjoy the rapid descent down the line. Soon, over almost as quickly as it started, I stepped up on the platform at the other side.

getting ready for a second run on the flying fox at KL TowerI was glad that there were two “rides,” because by the time I started to really enjoy myself, I was nearing the end of my first “ride.” On my way back up to the starting ledge, I noticed a small crowd had gathered to watch. They told me that, for my next run, I should let go of the cable; after all, the harness would still be holding me in place, plus it would be more fun that way. I asked the operators if I could do that, and apparently, I was supposed to do that anyway. It made me a little nervous, but if I wanted to make the most out of the experience, I was going to have to do it. So, for the second time, I stepped off the ledge, and after a couple of seconds, I let go of the cable. It was a brief yet exhilarating experience, one that I would never forget.

finally letting go of the cable at the flying fox in KL TowerAfter catching my breath, I decided it was time to go up to the observation deck. The observation deck of Menara Kuala Lumpur gave everyone a wonderful 360 degree aerial view of Kuala Lumpur. Naturally, there was a “professional” photo booth stationed right next to the window with the view of the Petronas Towers. I wasn’t going to pay for a photo of myself with a view of the towers at a distance, though. I was happy enough with the photos I was able to take, even if I wasn’t in any of those pictures.

view of Petronas Towers from KL TowerThere were other attractions included in the entrance fee at Menara Kuala Lumpur apart from the tower itself. There was supposed to be an F1 simulation, but unfortunately, that wasn’t in operation when I was there. The alternative offered was a ride on a pony, but I didn’t want to overload the poor animal with my weight. There was also Winter Park, which was some sort of winter wonderland thing, but that was a huge disappointment. The most intriguing attraction was the KL Tower Animal Zone, a mini-zoo that included some snakes, monkeys, and raccoons. I never realized how big raccoons were until I finally saw some live ones. No wonder they’re known to knock down trash cans in the United States!

raccoons at KL Tower Animal ZoneAll this activity was making me hungry. There was a revolving restaurant at the tower, one floor above the observation deck, but one needed a reservation, so I wasn’t able to go there. None of the restaurants in the area really interested me, and most were out of my price range, so I left Menara Kuala Lumpur in search of food.

My hunt for food led me to Bukit Bintang, a major shopping and entertainment district as evidenced by the many shops and restaurants in the area. Jalan Bukit Bintang is the road that goes through it. Along Jalan Bukit Bintang is Bintang Walk, which allows one to walk along the road and explore the many establishments in the area.

at Jalan Bukit BintangI was enjoying my little stroll on Bukit Bintang while searching for a good restaurant when it started to rain. I ducked into the nearest decent-looking restaurant and had my lunch there as I waited for the rain to ease up. I would continue my walking tour of Kuala Lumpur after lunch, and after the rains.