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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Surviving Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur: Paper Plane Hostel, Thean Hou Temple, Sky Bar at Traders Hotel, Tom Yum Campur and more

I know how it is like in HK on Lunar New Year, it' s crazy! Loads of Chinese mainlanders swarm the small semi-autonomous territory and going around pretty requires lots of patience and will-power. It is exactly the opposite in Kuala Lumpur ---the city is next to being dead -- as the significant majority of Malaysians with Chinese blood and locals alike move out of the capital and into their hometowns. That means less traffic but it also means less businesses open and therefore less choices to enjoy.


So what the hell was I doing here on a Lunar New Year? Well, I just thought of trying something different since I was also on vacation. It was not a bad move after all since less people means less hassle going around. To be fair, at least public transportation in Kuala Lumpur was as efficient as ever.




I left Manila via Air Asia. Weather was good but since I flew alone 3.5 hrs to KL was a hit rigorous for me. I noticed Air Asia got new in-flight meals on offer and they have wifi on-board too! That's cool for a budget airline. Going through immigration in KL is no hassle. They are far less strict there than our immigration in Manila. I was even directed by one security officer to pass without putting my bag on the X-ray machine. Maybe he thought I am Malaysian. Since I have been in Malaysia a couple of times, I am already familiar at where to exchange Ringgit and which bus to take to the city. I was at the city center in no time.



PAPER PLANE HOSTEL

I am very glad I found this place online coz I heard they opened only last quarter last year. I find it really posh. Good job for transforming an old two-storey link house (row house) into a modern interiored, artsy, spotless hostel it is now. White walls a perfect choice so as give a more spacious and clean feel. The drawings on walls indeed very artistic. The wooden floor at the 2nd floor where I stayed I love walking barefoot on.

Room locks including that of of the hostel maim entrance door are high tech, airconditioning very efficient and toilets always kept clean. I stayed for three night with first two nights in a private bunk room with only 1 bunk bed and high ceiling and the last night in a twin room with queen size bed.


I loved my first room and the 2nd one indeed a celebration. The brick wall accent is really pleasant to the eyes. The rooms were always smelling nice and fresh. Wifi superb on both ground, 2nd and 3rd floors. The rooftop open space I love too. I remember staying there often just relaxing and enjoying the skyline of KL.

Paper Plane Hostel is right behind Swiss Garden Hotel and Swiss Garden Residences so it is easy to find, not too far off the main street but still comfortable enough away from the busy and noisy main street. I was welcomed by one of the business owners (Kenny) on the eve of Chinese New Year and I was surprised at how warm Kenny is. He is friendly and natural. I felt home instantly after stepping inside the hostel. I will keep coming back here whenever in KL.


Tom Yum Campur

Since my hostel is in an inner street, and perhaps because it was Chinese New Year, I couldn't find any food shops immediate the vicinity. So I had to walk a few blocks to the main street and good thing there is an Indian restaurant open 24/7. I am no fan of Indian food. All that remains in my mind is a picture of greasy food or meat floating in oil. But in Kuala Lumpur, Indian restaurants offer a kind of Tom Yum that you might enjoy. I did.

They also call it tom yum and then add another word depending on what kind of tom yum it is. For example tom yum seafood for seafood and the ultimate being tom yum campur which is a mix of seafood, beef, and vegetables. Really very much the taste of tom yum in Thailand except that this one is super spicy. So spicy I had difficulty finishing a bowl each time. But this food kept me alive in KL. And it made me crave for it even in the middle of the night.




Thean Hou Temple

Opening Hours: Daily: 09:00 - 18:00
Address: 65 Persiaran Endah, Off Jalan Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2274 7088

Thean Hou Temple is a stunning six-tiered Buddhist temple which commemorates Tian Hou, a goddess said to protect fishermen as well as Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Situated along Jalan Klang Lama Road, it is one of the oldest and largest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia as it was constructed in 1894.

Offering ample photo opportunities, the temple is fitted with contemporary architectural styles and traditional designs with intricate embellishments, ornate carvings, and hand-painted murals. Also known as Temple of the Goddess of Heaven, it houses a Chinese medicinal herb garden, tortoise pond, well, and a sacred Bodhi tree.


Read more at: http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws/magazine/5-must-visit-temple.htm




This temple is indeed interesting. If there are show caves, this one is a show temple fully retrofitted to accommodate tourists. The main stairs will lead you direct to a convention room. Fully airconditioned and with a big stage for shows. And since it was lunar new year, there was an ongoing show during our visit. Some magic and humor that got us paying attention for a few minutes before finding our way to the side stairs towards the main temple at the upper level.

This is where worshipers go. And it is really lovely here. Despite the flood of people, I could feel the more serene ambiance, yung temple feel talaga. Red lanterns adorn the temple ground and it is indeed photogenic.



We observed worshipers offering their prayers. We also entered the main temple and observed further. We found this section where people drop sticks in a tin can and get the corresponding reading on the side of the can depending on the number of the stick that protrudes after you drop the set. You then get a piece of paper on the side and that's your reading. If I explained it badly please refer to the photos below and you will have an idea.


I was with my friend Riz, a Filipino expat in KL who I met in the Philippines a few years back prior to leaving for work in KL. It was a little past lunch when we finished going around the temple so we decided to go somewhere else to chill.

Walked past many food stalls on our way down to the main road. It felt like fiesta. So.many street food to choose from and some unique ones too like this bun shaped like a female private part. Cuteness! Ahahah


I was with my friend Riz, a Filipino expat in KL who I met in the Philippines a few years back before she left for work to KL. It was a little past lunch when we finished going around the temple so we decided to go somewhere else to chill.

Sky Bar at Traders Hotel



I have always been fascinated with skyscrapers and Kuala Lumpur definitely has one of the best skylines on Southeast Asia. It is not just because of Petronas Tower, the financial district with KLCC at the epicenter is adorned by many ither buildings of unique architecture. What is good about KL is the space. Each building beautifully spaced so as to breath life and beauty on their own. Each building with its own character. Something Manila lacks kasi subrang compact so dina maka hinga ang mga buildings dito at mahirap mapansin. 

The public park also serves as good breather for this urban jungle and they made a good job landscaping it and even putting up a public pool. Cool diba. And wht better way to witness this beauty than in the Sky Bar of Traders Hotel where me and my friend Riz stayed for a few hours chatting, enjoying the view and the nice ambiance by the poolside while drinking beer. Me kamahalan ang beer pero all worth the experience.
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I am so glad Riz and I were able to catch up on each other. Daming kwento daming laughter. We walked past the crowd before it got dark and into KLCC. Bought a few snacks and Highlands Coffee for pasalubong and parted ways. She went home while I went somewhere I cannot disclose here. That's me and Riz's little secret. Lol



Meeting Friends
The next day I didn't feel like rushing. Woke up late and was out again by lunchtime. This time to visit another friend who has been an expat in Kuala Lumpur longer than Riz has. But before going to Ryan's place, I dropped by a shopping mall recommended to me by the hostel manager as I asked him for a place where I can buy cheap shirts. It was a comfortable 10-minute walk from the hostel, unfortunately, it was closed for the holidays and even the surrounding small shops were closed so I failed to buy any item. Dropped by a little sidewalk bazaar around Masjid Jamek before heading to Ryan's place.


This was not my first time to visit Ryan in KL. Last time he was living in another building in the same apartment complex directly opposite Bukit Jalil Stadium. Even after moving to another building, his balcony still affords a very lively view of the stadium which was under renovation for 2027 Southeast Asian Games.


Ryan cooked some snacks and we drank beer and had small chit chats. Unfortunately I couldn't stay long as I had to go somewhere else for the night and he couldn't accompany me because he hurt his right ankle a few days before I arrived. Too bad. But still, it's always a good feeling catching up with him.


This particular trip to KL was indeed a bit different. More of a slow-paced travel so less stressful and more of connecting to old friends and it really made me feel good. Lunar New Year indeed makes Kuala Lumpur a bit boring but it afforded me different experience which I will always remember.

Till next time Kuala Lumpur!


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