Kuala Lumpur has me by the heart and wallet, even though food is cheap and I’m not buying any clothes. I’m finding that KL – for me, subjective obviously – is one of the most livable stops for a digital nomad so far on our Remote Year itinerary. I explored why this is by writing it all out, so wanted to share with you!
Kuala Lumpur is known for its intense mall scene, which can be off-putting for some. But guess what? I’m a Jersey girl. I grew up in a mall. If you compare this to other Asian countries where I need to go to 4 different places to get food, socks, a phone charger, and a bottle of wine – this is a dream.
My coworking space was in a great location in Bukit Bintang. We were a stone’s throw from three (count em, three) malls. Our office space shares the building with a mall. Across the street? Big doozy of a mall. And a block down the road is another mall.
Admittedly, I did very little shopping, for two reasons. One, I’m spending my money on experiences not things, and Two I have no space in my suitcase for extra crap. But, looking at this city as a potential place to live long-term, the convenience of this city is very attractive.
Our city managers explained this well our first week in KL – when you say culture, in KL this means FOOD.
Jalan Alor is a road home to the coolest street food night market, which I lovingly call ‘food street.’ Here the food is ready to eat, cheap ($2 ish for a meal), and even though you might not know 100% what it is, it’s a ton of fun. The place becomes alive at night and stays open till who knows when, I’m in bed by then anyway #grandmastatus.
Now, I mentioned malls before. A favorite during my month in KL was the big doozy called the Pavilion, mainly because of its intense food court. This may be a more, shall I say, diluted experience compared to Jalan Alor, but you can get regional food freshly prepared for you for about $3-4. I enjoyed the curry hot plate, Mee Goring at the Indian/Malay spot, and really I can’t count how many other things I tried. I often forgot to take pics of my food but here’s a few.
Another great spot is the food court at the Lot 10 mall, which I stumbled upon by accident before remembering it was highly recommended by the RY city team. You go down an escalator to the home of a collection of delicious street food stalls. Fun fact: the owner of Lot 10 convinced the owners of these stalls (spread around the city) to open a location in his mall to attract younger generations to the traditional food, and to preserve longstanding cooking methods and dishes. Very cool.
I can’t even begin to touch on the amazing noms we had during our food tours, like hot bacon in Chinatown or banana fritters in Little India. There was so much to explore and I feel as though I’ve bearly scratched the surface!
Pro tip: flights from KL to almost anywhere else in Southeast Asia are super affordable. I went to Bali (I’m a brat, I know) for $130 RT and I could have done it cheaper had I bought the ticket earlier. Flights to Sydney can run $300-400. Singapore for $40. Bangkok for $70. Ho Chi Minh City for $80. This makes KL a great hub as you continue to travel. If home is where your big suitcase is, then make a place for yourself in Malaysia.
So this is certainly not a goodbye to KL, this is a see you later.