Exploring Kuala Lumpur: Capsule Rooms, Virgin Cocktails and a Special Guest
Traveling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was a last-minute decision. I barely did any research before booking the ticket. I knew I needed to renew my visa, and flights to KL were cheap. Plus, I am always excited to explore a new country.
Surprise, I’m coming to visit!
My boyfriend, Cliff, booked a last-minute plane ticket to come to see me. It took him forty-forty hours of travel, but he made it to Kuala Lumpur. Five years ago, he didn’t even have a passport, and now he is traveling alone halfway across the world. I was excited to show him where I have been all summer. I was planning to stay in KL until August 7th, but I really wanted Cliff to see Bali. So we decided to fly back to Indonesia earlier than I planned. We did spend a few days exploring KL before we
missed boarded our flight to Bali.
For those wondering, based on my last blog, flying back early will affect my original visa plan. I did have to pay for another Visa on Arrival (VOA), and I will have to go through the full renewal process. Both are completely worth it.
Capsule Hotels: Sleeping in a morgue?
Capsule hotels are starting to gain popularity worldwide, but they originated in Japan in 1979 as a solution to a growing number of businessmen needing low-cost accommodations in the city. A traditional capsule room is essentially a wide enough box for a twin mattress and tall enough to allow a person to sit upright. When these boxes are stacked on top of each other, they resemble… a morgue. I know it doesn’t sound very inviting, but please have an open mind. Although capsule hotels in the past were very basic, new hotels have high-end bedding and a long list of amenities, including gyms, restaurants, and pools. I encourage you to read this article before you make your decision regarding a capsule hotel.
I decided to stay at Mingle @ Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur. A friend from Bali recommended it to me. I reserved a private twin capsule room. When I arrived, I discovered I had been upgraded to a queen capsule room. I am positive that the hostel is psychic and knew Cliff would be coming to visit.
Mingle is not a dedicated capsule hotel, but as many other accommodations have discovered, a capsule provides more efficient space use. The capsule rooms at Mingle are designed to give people a private room with a small “living” area. Essentially, the design consists of bunk beds with opposite openings creating two separate private rooms.
My queen capsule room had a queen mattress-sized “bunk bed.” It did seem a little strange to have a huge bed, but only a 7 x 4-foot area to “live in.” It was perfect for me, but I do not recommend it for two people. Or at least Cliff does not recommend it for two people.
Must See: Heli Lounge Bar
If you are ever in Kuala Lumpur, you must go to the Heli Lounge Bar. Every evening a bar is set up on a helipad that is still used during the day. It has amazing views of the city, including the Petronas Towers. The bar is a popular place to watch the sunset over KL. We intended to get there at sunset. But… squirrel. Is that a craft beer bar? It took longer than expected, but we eventually made it to the lounge.
I actually recommend arriving at the lounge after dark when all the buildings are already lit up. We were there on a Monday, and there wasn’t a crowd or a line to get in. Entry was free with the purchase of a beverage. Please do your research before you visit. I have been told that it can be really crowded and sometimes has a cover charge.
Are the Petronas Twin Towers a must see?
Even before Cliff actually booked his ticket, we had talked about what there was to do in KL. He was really excited about the Petronas Twin Towers.
I have been to many beautiful places in my travels, and I’ve also regrettably paid to see the “best view” at the top of some tourist attractions. I refuse to take another crowded elevator ride to the top of a building just to take a photo. A photo that is inadvertently photobombed by some girl trying to get the perfect Instagram shot.
Of course, when Cliff ended up in Kuala Lumpur, he wanted to visit the observation deck in the towers. So we did what all couples do… compromise. (Haha, I almost peed my pants from laughing.) Instead, I bribed Cliff with alcohol. For less than the admission price to the observation deck, we could have cocktails AND a view at Heli Lounge Bar. In the end, Cliff did decide to visit the less pricey Sky Deck at the KL Tower while I was working. So I guess we did compromise.
We still visited the towers, and they are actually pretty cool. The outside features these crazy multi-faceted walls of perfectly polished stainless steel and glass. Even at ground level, the stainless steel had not one fingerprint on it. I am convinced there are Oompa Loompa’s secretly polishing the steel when no one is looking. At the bottom of the towers is the Suria KLCC mall. The mall is enormous. It has six floors and over 35 acres of shopping, including two huge food courts. It was the biggest mall I had ever seen until…
Berjaya Times Square
I had an appointment with a tattoo artist to get a new tattoo. It happened to be inside Berjaya Times Square. I had never heard of Berjaya Times Square and didn’t realize it was one of the world’s largest malls. We walked through the entrance of the building into an atrium that was at least nine stories tall. Every time we turned a corner, there would be another wing of stores. The mall contains a bowling alley, an Imax theater, a paintball arena, archery, multiple grocery stores, a police beat, a hotel, and an entire section called Tiny Taipei with narrow streets and shops to look like a shopping street In Taipei.
If that wasn’t enough, I saved the best for last. The mall contains an entire amusement park. Not just a few rides. A full-size amusement park with every ride you would expect to see at Six Flags, including a full-size rollercoaster. The mall is insane.
And, no, we did not ride the roller coaster even though Cliff turned into a little child at the sight of it. “Mom, Can we? Can we?” We soon discovered that we could not just purchase a ticket to the rollercoaster. We had to buy an admission ticket to the whole amusement park, which was really expensive. Especially for one ride. Who would pay the entrance fee for Disney World and just ride Pirates of the Caribbean?
I don’t think I have touched on this yet. In Bali and Malaysia, alcohol is expensive and hard to get due to religious reasons. Many restaurants only serve beer. And by beer, I mean one brand of beer. One positive is that you don’t have to agonize over what your beverage of choice will be.
Be Warned! Restaurants will advertise “Happy Hour: 2 for 1 mojito.” These are VIRGIN mojitos. I repeat. These are VIRGIN mojitos. Don’t be fooled. And don’t be that person who says, “I’m wasted.” No, Ma’am, you are not. You were drinking a virgin, organic, vegan mango smoothie. There are plenty of places you can still imbibe. Just expect to pay close or even more than American prices.
Ok. That’s fine. At least I can get free, unlimited alcohol at the airport lounge. NOPE. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) has only one Priority Pass lounge airside that serves free alcohol. And only Carlsberg beer. That is it. For anyone headed to KUL, head to the Plaza Premium Lounge in the klia2 terminal. It is located airside on level 2 of international departures. The lounge is located next to Gate L8. Be careful. There are five Plaza Premium Lounges at KUL. Choose Wisely.
I am sure at this point, someone reading this post is waving their finger at me. They are concerned for my well-being. Questioning why I am so concerned with the lack of alcohol in Kuala Lumpur. Questioning why drinking at the airport is so important…
Oops. I made us miss our flight.
Cliff and I missed our flight. It was completely my fault. I wasn’t ready in time, and we missed the bus to the airport. I am pretty sure this is the first time I actually missed my flight, which is pretty good considering the amount of traveling I do and the fact that I am always running late. It was destined to happen sooner or later. Thankfully my boyfriend is the most easy-going person in the world and wasn’t even fazed.
Even though it was my fault we were running late, I think we could have made the flight (or at least Cliff could have) if it wasn’t for the AirAsia employees at KUL. I have flown AirAsia before and have not had any issues, but I do not recommend flying with them out of KUL. If you do, plan to arrive at the airport at least five hours early.
When we arrived at the airport, the check-in line for AirAsia was roped off. A large number of other travelers were standing around trying to figure out where to go, and the AirAsia employee was refusing to help anyone. She was just standing there blatantly ignoring people. It was like we didn’t even exist. She finally decided to speak and said that everyone had to use the check-in kiosk to obtain luggage tags and then drop their bags off at the drop-off only counter. Since we were running late, the kiosk would not let us check-in and said we needed to see an attendant. I tried to tell her that, but I did not get any form of a response. Anyone we tried to ask would point us in a different direction. Finally, a bunch of passengers, including me, ducked the rope and got in line.
By the time we reached the check-in counter it was too late. The agent checked us in but said my bag would not make the flight. No problem, I thought. It can go on the next one… False. AirAsia requires you to fly with your bag. Cliff, who only had a carry on, tried to make the flight but the door closed as he arrived to the gate.
We both ended up having to purchase new tickets at full price. Finding the ticket counter went as well as trying to check-in. I am starting to think AirAsia intentionally slows down the check-in process. There seemed to be an abnormally large number of passengers that had missed their flights and were required to purchase a new ticket. Finally, after buying new tickets, we were on our way to Bali!