South East Asia, a place where Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, and Chinese cultures are married together and have borne something so exquisite and unique, you must experience it for yourself in order to truly understand it at its full capacity. But no amount of time will ever truly be enough for an outsider to breathe it all in.
Kuala Lumpur was the first stop on my trip. As soon as I got off my flight I was starving, for food and adventure. After a train from the airport I found myself in Little India for breakfast. Happiness found me in the form of a plain dosa, a paper thin pancake like dish that is dipped in several different chutneys, served on banana leaf. Accompanied by Teh Tarik tea, this was my perfect start to the day. My favorite thing about Little India other than the onslaught of vibrant colors and smiling people, was the hustle and bustle of it all that so closely resembled the packed streets of India.
The next stop was the Batu Caves, a Hindu temple inside of a mountain. A climb of what seemed like a million steps brought me into the cave. While the cave itself was magnificent I was disappointed by the amount of litter I found on the ground. It was supposed to be a respected holy place and I found myself becoming upset by the amount of disrespect it was shown.
My fondest memory of Kuala Lumpur is, late on my last night there I was out walking with no destination in mind. I found myself walking in a neighborhood sitting in the shadow of the Petronas Towers, ominous and looming in the night sky. As I walked I thought about the lives of the people who filled those houses. Who were they? Where did they come from? Are they happy? As I kept walking I found a family owned restaurant to have a late meal at. There was something about the fold out table and plastic stool, being wrapped up in the humid air that made me realize that this was how I wanted to live my life. I wanted to keep moving to the next city, walking down streets I don’t know the name of with no destination in mind. It was then I realized that my happiest moments were when I was in a new place, faced with utter confusion and having to force myself to give up control. I am happiest when I am strolling down unfamiliar streets, my eyes feasting on the sights around me, my heart being filled by wonder, and my soul becoming lighter because I am experiencing new, fantastic things. I have successfully gotten away from the norm, the monotony of everyday, even just for a moment.
I once wrote how the travel bug was a malignant virus, one that can never be cured, and the more you feed it the worse it gets. Travel will always be my constant, my home, my safe place. The kind of euphoria that is felt when walking through history of a foreign place is unlike any other. I find comfort in the unknown, diving in head first, embracing any and all experiences. The good, the bad, the ugly. The more you see the more you grow as a person. I wish everyone understood that traveling is so much more than your five-star vacation. Creating memories well within my comfort zone is not for me. I have always wanted more for myself. While some have argued that it’s selfish, I see nothing selfish in doing things that make you happy. I have vowed to myself time and time again that I would see the world. Not just through the lens of comfy hotel rooms and Michelin star restaurants, but also the parts others don’t want to acknowledge. Which are arguably the most important ones.
Kuala Lumpur is a city with a little bit of everything. It’s the kind of city that has an image that will evolve based on the traveler. Everyone has a different experience, everyone remembers a very different KL.