Our cab pulls into the Sunway complex at around 10pm after a long flight and we feel a bit like we’ve arrived in Vegas.
A million rainbow coloured lights strung along, around and over the driveway lead us to a very grand entrance, replete with golden prancing deer, elephants and other Asian wildlife in a very elaborate fountain. Themed restaurants line the drive on our left while the enormous shopping mall and hotel complex rises on our right. But this isn’t even half of it.
From our beautiful apartment we can see – way, way below – the man-made lake and theme park that Holly, my daughter, is looking forward to. After enjoying the view and devouring a late night snack (banana split) we rest up for a jam-packed day ahead.
7am Breakfast at the Atrium Cafe. The choice is baffling but as I’m on holiday in Malaysia, I opt for curry, dahl and roti. Holly has fruit salad.
8am Our guide for the day, Freddie, picks us up promptly and regails us with tales of the history and culture of KL, which he intends to show us geographically.
9am Our tour starts with the Tien Hou Temple, a colourful Buddhist temple decorated with intricate designs and surrounded by statues. In front are statues of each animal of the Chinese horoscope, and out back amongst a manicured herb garden are ponds full to the brim with turtles. We get distracted a while in the very reasonably priced souvenir shop.
10am Next stop, the National Mosque, a massive, modern, angular construction which never-the-less embodies traditional Islamic art and ornamentation. The blue roof is rather like a partly folded umbrella, and the grand hall inside can fit up to 500 people. It’s a very peaceful place and I feel hushed walking round it.
11am A short trip from here is the old post office – easily one of the most recognisable buildings in this city and situated at the heart of KL. Behind it, our guide shows us the joining of the two rivers that form the city’s birthplace, when in 1857 a huddle of tin miners crowded around the mosquito-ridden banks of the Gombak and Klang rivers. Kuala Lumpur takes its name from these origins, meaning literally; “muddy confluence”.
12noon From the banks of the Klang it’s a short stroll to Chinatown and the busy markets found there, where our guide politely leaves us for a couple of hours to have fun haggling and spending all our cash. T-shirts, jewelry, shoes, DVDs, bags, watches, clothes, flowers, and more bags. Holly’s in heaven. As she goes around planning how to part with her cash I try and teach her the art of haggling.
1pm Lunch is satay chicken from a hawker stall in the markets which we munch on while flicking through DVDs.
2pm After we’ve bought as much as we can carry we take a trip to Petronas Towers, 88 storeys and 452 metres tall. Top tip: Tickets to visit the Skybridge are free, but a limited number are handed out on a first come, first serve basis so it is recommended you arrive early. The ticket counter opens at 830am.
3pm The rest of my afternoon is spent luxuriously at Mandara Spa in the grounds of the Sunway Resort. An all-over coconut body scrub (especially good for inflight dehydrated and sunburnt skin) followed by a 90 minute Balinese style massage. Holly relaxes on the man-made beach by the man-made wave pool with vampire novels.
6pm For dinner we stroll across the road from the resort to a little maze of streets lined with cheap eateries. Dinner of vegetarian curry at a formica table overlooking a river of scooters costs about $2. Delicious.
8pm Our day ends back to our apartment for some in-house movies, DVDs and chocolates.
9am After a lazy breakfast (curry and dahl again) we slip slop slap and head for Sunway Lagoon Theme Park. We digest our breakfast while sunbathing on the beach and after a quick swim head for the rides.
This place is huge. To our right are the thrill rides and water park, and to our left, extreme sports rides including a flying fox that traverses the length of the park and a suspension bridge that takes us a good half hour to cross. Behind all this is the lake which you have a choice of paddle boats and kayaks, quad bikes with which to traverse impressive 4-wheel drive tracks and a zoo.
We start with the extreme sports and make our way over the rope bridge to the thrill rides and water park. We then explore the beautifully landscaped zoo.
2pm After a quick lunch of beef rendang in the food hall of Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall we devote our afternoon to shopping. There are over 500 specialty outlets here including all major brands as well as a 48-lane bowling centre, indoor archery, ice-skating rink and 10-screen Cineplex.
Our favourite corner of the mall is Asia Avenue. Jam-packed with outlets full of funky fashion, gadgets, collectibles, handicrafts and noodles. I could spend all day just here.
6pm After an early dinner at another formica table across the road, we check out sadly and head for the airport. We packed a lot into our two day stopover but it has left us wanting more. We’ll come again.
Getting there: Malaysia Airlines
Where to stay: Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa
(+603) 7492 8000
Persiaran Lagoon, Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia