Traveling the world as an airline pilot opens up wonderful new places to explore. However, often only for a short amount of time. Here’s my guide on how to make the most of your precious free time in Kuala Lumpur.
Acme Bar & Coffee
Hidden away behind the Intercontinental Hotel at the base of the Troika Tower, is a trendy little brunch spot, Acme Bar and Coffee. A thick jungle of foliage at reception gives way to exposed iron girders and large windows. As a result, this makes for a great location to enjoy the sunshine on your back as you take a break from the office. The coffee is rich and chocolatey and there’s a great range of smoothies and juices to wash down your Farmer’s Breakfast or Banana French Toast.
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Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
A visit to KL isn’t complete without a stroll down Jalan Alor to sample some of the street food it has to offer. If you have fond memories of the markets of Chiang Mai and Bangkok, as much as Jalan Alor is lively, you may be left a touch disappointed with the ‘streetyness’ of the food. However, as an introduction to South East Asian street food, this really is a great place to start. With a mix of classic food stalls lining one side of the street, expect to have menus waved at you from the established restaurants spilling out onto the opposite side. My advice would be to resist the lure of the chairs and cold beers and investigate what’s cooking on the individual stalls. You really can’t go wrong with the brightly coloured dim-sum and the satay skewers.
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Marini’s on 57
As I often get to see from the cockpit, the most iconic landmarks of a city aren’t best enjoyed from the site itself. The Great Pyramids in Cairo and Table Mountain in Cape Town are two that spring to mind. As a result, if you can’t view them from the air, the best place to experience them is from a strategic viewpoint close by. Marini’s on 57 provides just that location to take in the Petronas Twin Towers. Up on the 57th floor (obviously), it’s 13 stories higher than the Skybridge between the two towers. Furthermore, due to the glass walls and ceilings, you get an encompassing view of the towers, even when the rain is hammering down. With a Happy Hour between 6-8pm and lively music late on, Marini’s makes a great spot for a pre-dinner aperitif or a post-dinner party. Or both.
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The heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is the Petaling Street Market. Of the two famous markets in KL (Central Market being the other), this is definitely the weaker in terms of quality. Each stall sells much the same sunglasses, bags and watches as the next. However, if you make the effort, there are some hidden gems to be found. Keep your eyes peeled for the side alley on the eastern branch street. Down here you’ll find what seems like a proper Chinatown market. Ice beds full of weird and wonderful fish, stacks of fruits and vegetables and a couple of small food stalls. These are as ‘local’ as you’ll get, one of which serves an awesome laksa curry. Dark, dirty and delicious.
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KL Bird Park
Another great place to visit is the KL Bird Park, just a short taxi from the city centre. Here you can stroll amongst tropical plants and cascading waterfalls, as 3000 birds are free to soar their way around you. Since it is set in 20 acres of open terrain, it is probably the largest walk-in free-flight aviary in the world.