Notes From: Malaysia

It’s not that I had never heard of Malaysia but I didn’t know much about it. That seems to be the situation for most people I know. When they heard Kuala Lumpur was on the list they always asked, “Where is that?”

It is the home of the famed Petronas Towers, which you’ve seen in movies like Entrapment

In that movie, Sean Connery arrives to Malaysia for a job and is told not to worry because there won’t be any surprises. To which he responds, in that perfect authoritative accent, “Trust me, there always are surprises.”

He was right about that. 

Jungle Mountains

The country is definitely green. It has the oldest and one of the most dense jungles in the world with wild tigers and orangutans. (We saw neither.) 

We enjoyed taking the cable car up to Genting Highlands, which is a major establishment at the top of nearby mountains. They have two amusements parks and a casino and the most rooms of any hotel in the world, but we mostly went for the cool mountain air.

As the cable car climbed up past the clouds, Jane got so excited saying, “I hope some of that cloud will come in here.”

Batu Caves

The Batu Caves is a Hindu shrine built inside a very large limestone cave. In order to get there, you need to climb 272 brightly colored steps. The steps were only recently painted like a rainbow. It was a bit controversial but has proven to bring many, many more tourists to the area.

It wasn’t a simple climb in the heat, but thankfully there are hundreds of monkeys around to keep you entertained. They were all over the place, totally comfortable with all the people, and absolute snipers for food. We’d watch them observe unsuspecting tourists and sneak attack their bags of food. Before you know it, we were at the top of the stairs. 

Thank you monkeys.

Culture and Community

The city is a heavy mix of Asian cultures. The population is Malay, Chinese, and Indian people mostly. We enjoyed meeting many of them and especially enjoyed eating all of their foods.

The variety of people was especially prevalent in the small branch we attended for sacrament meeting. It was such an inspiring mix of members and missionaries. It was the scheduled branch conference which means some area leaders were also attending. In the meeting, they sustained the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I could see the relief of a Prophet even from 8000 miles away. 

Other Malaysia Highlights

Each of the countries bring new flavors of familiar foods. I’ve made it my duty to try all of the Snickers varieties. (Someone has to do it.)

Until this point, the leader was Snickers Butterscoth found in Australia. But now, Snickers Oats is the undisputed champion. Believe me, I’ve gone a dozen rounds with it so far and it’s for sure the winner. 

We’re still heavy into Chinese New Year around here. They celebrate the Year of the Dragon for 15 days. On the 8th day, fireworks were used heavily and it turns out they fly about 13 stories up AKA the exact height of our condo. There is nothing like waking up to fireworks every 15 minutes when they are exploding on the other side of your window. 

You know that giant screen you see on social media where a 3D looking ad plays like water or animals are coming out of the building? It turns out, that screen is in KL as well. You can see it in this photo, right above the Tutti-Frutti which served fantastic frozen yogurt despite its name. 

A gamble that paid off

Six months ago I only knew the name “Kuala Lumpur” and nothing else. We mostly put it on the agenda because it had a cool name. As we now fly to somewhere else, we were happy that it turned out to be a pretty great place to pick. 

In an ironic twist, Candace and I ate at Haleb Gate Syrian restaurant in KL. Our waiter, a very nice man, asked us where we were from. We told him “Las Vegas.” Usually when you give that hometown they will smile and say something about casinos, or Pawn Stars, or parties, or Elvis. He said nothing. 

I asked him if he had heard of Las Vegas before and even showed him a picture to see if it was familiar. He had no idea about our hometown. In all my world travels, he is the first person I’ve met who doesn’t know Las Vegas. 

I guess it’s only fair.

Notes From” is a series where I share observations from recent adventures. You can read more of these in the “Notes From” category.