Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 26th – 27th
It is May 26th and it is dinner time. I’ve switched hotels because the one booked was on my “low budget strategy” and I realized that unlike a beach hut in Thailand, this choice was really not in my best interest. I felt like I was under a highway. Which is because the hotel (notably with legit reviews on Trip Advisor) was basically under a highway. There was peeling wallpaper. Naked children ran through the halls. Quadruple no. Gotta go. And, in the words of Erin... Good Day. One Uber ride (uber!) and Jetsetter search later – I arrived at the Shangri La Traders Hotel, with a fabulous view of the Petronas Twin Towers in the city center. Visa, solving all of my problems, yet again.
Sitting in the Sky Bar - a destination recommended by the NY Times for its jazzy view - I realize that the Times has failed to mention that in addition to being the swimming pool for the hotel, this prime city viewing area, like the rooftop at the Gansevoort in New York’s Meat Packing District, turns into a full out club at night.
So, it might be May 26th and it might be dinnertime but 50 Cent is currently very loudly celebrating the birthday of someone named “Shorty.”
I am watching adult couples turn their back on this club to block out the miniskirts that come out at night in this Muslim town. Currently a grown man is leaning on one of the chairs belonging to my high top table. Is this the start to a conversation, I wonder? Pause. Pause. No, definitely not. His intentions are now clear as he pulls out his selfie stick... he was just waiting for the right moment to capture the action behind him. You should know that he gave a thumbs up to the camera.
Overall, this scene in KL feels a bit like Vegas. And because in Vegas, anything goes and it has been a long day, I go all in. “I’ll have the bottle of the French rose… and the burger, please.” (I am noodled OUT and am joyfully reading a description of a beef patty with avocado and pineapple.) This is met by a pause and then the waiter leaves. He comes back in about five minutes. “Are you sure you want that, the rose,” he says? “Why,” I ask. “Because it is a bottle. A very rare bottle. And you are alone.”
To be clear, it might be a rare bottle in Malaysia but I know this French wine and I know it because I consume it in the states. Frequently. For about $15.
It could be because this is a Muslim country, it could be because the wine is a French import, it could be because I’m alone but who really knows. Clearly, ordering this bottle of wine just doesn’t seem like the thing to do.
The judgement is real and so I do what anyone would. I lie. And I make up an imaginary friend.
“Oh, someone is meeting me,” I say. “So, I suppose I’ll just have a glass of the Sancerre, and we can see if they are interested in rose.” (WHAT?!)
The waiter nods, enthusiastically. This seems to temper his feelings of a lady having access to four glasses of wine that she might drink (gasp) herself.
I'm just a girl just trying to get a (few) cocktails in this town and to that I have resorted to making up invisible friends. I was in doubt and like a traumatized three year old, I created a buddy. Isn’t that neat? The jig eventually was up – with the joke totally on me - when I let the Sky Lounge, alone and under the nose of my server. Classy. Real classy. Not bizarre at all.
The next day I accomplished none of my plans to see KL, as the locals call it. Not one market or one mosque was entered. I did however get very acquainted with one of the many luxury malls that are all over the city. The term mall evokes a sad suburban feeling, so instead please imagine large towers like in Vegas. Malls here feel more like the Cosmopolitan, with seven levels housing everything from a Prada store, lovely cafés and a Sephora. How could I not touch and stare at all the goods after seven weeks on the road?
I pondered goods like the below and spent a lot of time petting soft, leathery items at Miu Miu.
After a day of examining items I didn’t buy and eating an Italian feast with another skyline view in front of me, I wouldn’t say I “did KL.” I more like coasted on its Westernized surface by googling things like "best restaurant in Kuala Lumpur" and then going there. Not to worry though, post Borneo, I’ll be back to sample the diverse food and peer at the mosques while planning the next segment of my travels.
See you in June, KL. I do hear your diversity, culture and Malay dining are fabulous, just like your H&M shoe section.