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Author: A Potato in a Rice Field
Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Year ’13
Having travelled to Kuala Lumpur 6 times to date, you could say we are well-versed in the typical tourist protocol. In past however I feel we never made the most of these opportunities often following our hunger for street food, before commonsense. On this occasion we aim to place ourselves somewhere different, refusing to hazard further sleepless nights in the increasingly touristy Bukit Bintang area. In the past, regardless of where we stay in Kuala Lumpur, our first destination will always be KLCC and the Petronas towers… whether we like it or not. Wherever we are in the city, just the slightest glimpse of the towers changes our trajectory and we are drawn to the them like moths to light. So skipping this inevitable formality we instead base ourselves right next to them in the KLCC area with the best views of Petronas Towers from the Traders Hotel (Shangri-La). From the Traders Hotel the towers are captured perfectly, framed straight on, not too far and not too close and booking ourselves the Traders Twin Tower View Room we have front row seats to the majestic crown jewel of Southeast Asia. I can easily say, this was one of our most spectacular, and romantic hotel stays to date (note, if scared by shiny towers, look away now).
Call me weird, but I’m a little obsessed with big city lights (and this is why we live in Bangkok). To find them there are few better places than KLCC, up close and intimate. Arriving early we wait patient watching over the daytime skyline in anticipation for the night views to unfold. Our room sits directly above KLCC park which remains relatively quiet during daytime bar park caretakers, joggers, fountains and occasional orioles nipping between trees below. A serene scene in contrast to night. We pass time with a bottle of wine (as always) and haul the guestroom sofa to the front window (sorry Traders) where we sit, keeping watch, as the city lights begin to flick on. First the park below, then the neon shop fronts, next car headlights and the office buildings, all inevitably dwarfed by the views of Petronas Towers. As darkness sets the daily gathering of ant-like tourists gather by the foot of the towers where the scenes are brought to life by the ‘Lake Symphony’ with music, dancing fountains and shimmering lights. We no doubt have the best views from above accompanied by red wine, complimentary chocolates and fruit basket. Happy.
For three days Fanfan becomes increasingly bugged and bemused by the runners on the gym’s treadmills. “What are they doing?” “They’re on holiday. Why are they in the gym?”, “They’re at it again, like 10 of them…” Shocked every time she sees them. In ways this reflects our time at the Traders Hotel where we find a unique mix of travellers, different to our usual recreational travel lifestyle. At hotels we normally blend with the same bland crowds from one destination to the next, few out of the ordinary, or in anyway different. At the Traders Hotel guests are no doubt different, first in the elevator could be an Arab businessman, the next, western honeymooners. The hotel bring all sorts, from all walks of life, all gathering round these dazzling metal towers… and then there is us. This is what I love about travel, the obscure feeling of otherness, surrounded by big city lights and a fascinating mix of unfamiliar. If it weren’t for these unique experiences we probably would have given up long ago.
So our past Malaysian travels were generally focused on street food and exploring Malaysia’s unique and diverse food cultures. On this visit we fail to leave the hotel. While street food was coaxing us out, the onsite restaurants kept us held in. There were simple compromises with Suria KLCC just a buggy ride away, but this wasn’t necessary. Eating at the Traders Hotel is too good to leave behind and we make the most of every meal. For daytime eating we find ourselves lost in the seemingly endless spread at the Gobo Chit Chat buffet where, with similar all-you-can eat buffets, we would focus on one, maybe two tasty offerings, but at the Gobo Chit Chat we were dying to eat them all (and did our best). “You came to Malaysia to eat pork pie?”, “Leave me alone, I’m happy, and you’re eating sushi.” So this came commonplace in our stay with the Traders Hotel, Fanfan emptying trays of beef rendang during breakfast while I get lost in binges of cheese, cold cuts, smoked salmon, sushi, beef tenderloin… Then the evenings set up in the Traders Club Lounge with cocktails and high tea bites. Why leave?
After two nights, indulging in towers from our hotel suite, we decide to move higher to the 33rd floor and the Traders Hotel Skybar. This option is perfect for those not staying at the hotel as they bring the same intoxicating views of Petronas Towers only this time with serious cocktails and mixed bites served in buckets (as all food should be served). We nibble on a mixed platter of skewered lamb kofta kebabs, giant prawns and mixed satay with varying dips (the mixed grilled skewers bucket) and I find myself at my happiest. The Skybar cocktails are relatively cheap at 30Rm and up during normal hours, and again lower with happy hour promotions. Compared to Southeast Asia’s other famous rooftop bars they are no doubt a bargain (50RM at Lebua Sky Bar (Bangkok) and 65RM at Ku De Ta (Marina Sands, Singapore). The atmosphere is also more relaxed and easier to enjoy with a cool breeze from the central pool of the Skybar. If planning to visit be sure to book in advance (cabana tables) as the venue quickly fills up. To reach the Skybar there is a free shuttle service from the Petronas Towers at the Suria KLCC fountain area.
Kuala Lumpur is a simple city to navigate and the Traders Hotel makes travel even easier with onsite metered taxi ranks and a free buggy service to and from the Petronas Towers. The complimentary buggy service runs frequently throughout the day, every 5 minutes or so, beginning at 08:00am and ending at 22:00pm but a quick walk through the KLCC Park maybe the more adventurous option. If you’ve had your full fill of towers then taxis will bring you to the rest of Kuala Lumpur’s attractions and prices start from 6RM up (blue executive taxis). There’s plenty to see in the city; explore the temples and mosques in the heritage areas, a visit to the Hindu temples at Batu Caves or maybe an escape to the unspoiled nature of the surrounding Selangor area. There’s plenty to keep busy in Kuala Lumpur and the towers will always be there for your return.