Goat tongue soup, you say? Why yes, I partook of this delicacy in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. I got off the plane from Auckland and went into a convenience store and didn’t recognize a single product and couldn’t read any of the labels. I’ll be totally honest about how I felt: relieved. I was so glad to be out of western society. I guess the unfamiliar has become the familiar.
I took my super awesome hostel’s food tour, which was only about $15 USD and quite possibly my favorite thing! Our lovely guide said his goal was to feed us so much that we were mad at him by the end. And good Gravy, did he ever!
I eat, and love, chitlins and pig feet and ham hocks and turkey tails and beef tripe, so who am I to scoff at other people’s food? Hint: I don’t. I’m always game to try anything that doesn’t involve insects or an abundance of raw onion. I’ve discovered innumerable delicious dishes by being an adventurous eater.
We got to go to a local market; there was even a covered tent-like structure where the butchers were; if you ever had a thing for looking at severed heads and baskets full of squelching organs and body parts dangling on hooks, this was your spot. It looked like something out of Silence of the Lambs. I thought it was kinda cool, in a way. …What does that say about me?
For the record, durian is GROSS. Not gonna lie, this was roughly my reaction. It was the combination of the overripe banana/custard texture, the sweetness and the onion taste that did me in. Ugh. Here are more pictures of…not that stuff.
The above is from one of the neighborhood eateries that opens in the evening and doesn’t really get crackin’ until two am. You can come up to the counter and order whichever dishes you want a la carte, along with a portion of white rice wrapped in a banana leaf which doubles as a plate. Enjoy family style. Delicious!
Disclaimer: I’m not sure of a more delicate way to put this; the food did have me on the toilet. Like, with cramps, diarrhea, and the whole nine. Every day. It took a lot out of me (no pun intended?). I was definitely dehydrated.
This is the reality of traveling when you go to a different region- especially Asia or South America- for those of us from the United States. Sometimes food isn’t handled as sanitarily as at home, and sometimes, there’s just different bacteria that your body has never encountered. You’ve built up an immunity to the stuff you’re exposed to at home, but not here.
I also learned the hard way that my digestive system does NOT like spicy food. I’ve always been a spicy food wimp, so I guess now I have a “medical” excuse to stay away from it. I’m gonna be in trouble when I get to Korea! They love the spice!
Another cool stop is the Batu Caves. You take the KTM Komuter train line from KL Sentral and get off at Batu Caves Station. Once you’re off the train, you’re there! The price of public transportation is dirt cheap, by the by.
You pass through a gauntlet of souvenir offerings, and then on the left the above green guy (Hanuman the monkey god) shows you where the museum is. Beyond the large but half-hearted displays are stairs that lead to…well…nothing. A small landing with gate with a spilled garbage can behind it, literally. It’s a tourist trap but the good news is it only costs like $1.25 USD. If you really need to satisfy your curiosity it won’t set you back much, but I wouldn’t waste my time.
The real draw is farther down! Climbing up to the temple area is free. There are two hundred and some-odd stairs with no real handrail, so be prepared for that and be careful going both up and down! While it was beautiful and mystical, it felt somewhat anticlimactic- possibly because of the human tampering element of it all. Much of the floor was paved over, and I’m not sure if it was done as part of the temple set up or because of the tourist activity, but it seemed to disrupt the natural beauty of the inside of the cave. I also think there were a few too many people touristing-up the place for my liking, and the souvenir shops set up at the mouth of the cave cheapened the experience.
You can also nerd out on the cave tour, about $8-9USD. You get to trek through and see incredible rock formations, experience complete darkness (a mind f*$% if there ever was one), and see the creatures that make up the fragile ecosystem inside. For less than $15 for the whole trip, I call it worth it!
My awesome new hostel friends invited me along for a night out at Kuala Lumpur’s famous Sky Bar. It was a good look, y’all. Upscale with a dance floor, swimming pool, and most important a killer view of KL’s Petronas twin towers.
We didn’t pay an entrance fee because we got there before 10pm. For table service we had to spend a minimum of 700 Ringgit. Not a problem. We had two mixed drinks and a shot each, plus a couple of appetizers. One US dollar = 4.29 Malaysian Ringgit as of the publishing of this post. We spent 833 ringgit, which amounted to $194 USD for eight people; $24 per person. I can’t get table service in lil’ old MN for prices like these. Consensus: I’d recommend it. Why the heck not?
Food and clubbing are not the only awesome things Kuala Lumpur has to offer; stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll be talking about how I (accidentally) went rock climbing hundreds of feet up a mountain!