Willfully Lost in Kuala Lumpur

This is an excerpt. For the full article, read the first issue of Footsteps.

Kuala Lumpur is a magnificent city that’s rough around the edges, but it has become home to me after two meaningful visits. Here, I recount my journey of exploring her remarkable attractions and walking her loneliest streets while getting lost in the process.

Getting Lost

What I love about staying in KL for an extended period of time is that I can do whatever I want and get lost in the process. I love getting lost because there’s a sense of liberation and fearlessness when you do. The best thing about it is the wrong turns you’ll make that can ultimately lead you to great destinations.

Unexpected Destination #1: The “Urine” Underpass

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Moments after surviving the underpass

I searched the web to know how to go to the Old KL Railway Station. It said I needed to alight at the “Kuala Lumpur” station. I did, with Mark and Kent (a friend of mine who visited me in KL), only to find out that it’s connected to Pasar Seni station, which was actually nearer to us (my bad).

After exploring the old railway station, we kept walking until we reached the National Mosque. We walked past its picturesque architecture and found a playground where we stopped for a few minutes to play and be silly. We then decided to go down an underpass because the highways were big and nobody else was crossing. The underpass was deserted and reeking with the smell of urine! It was so disgusting so we just ran as fast as we could to get to the other side. After a few wrong turns, we finally made our way to Pasar Seni and decided to eat at KFC (it was bad). Since it was Kent’s first time here, we toured him around Central Market, Petaling Street, and MyDin before going back home. We got lost once more, but at least we discovered new streets!

Unexpected Destination #2: Imbi Market

Technically, what’s unexpected was the journey going to Imbi Market. We didn’t know the exact location of the place, so I used Google and my near non-existent sense of direction to find it. Fortunately, we found it after only one wrong turn. The roads we passed by to get to the market were really interesting because of two things: the street art and the hawker center.

The most memorable thing about this visit, and not in a good way, was the sticky rice. There are plenty of food shops in Imbi market, and my research said I should try the Hainanese coffee and egg tart. I tried and loved both. There are actually a few more recommendations, but most of the shops were already closed because it was almost noon when we arrived.

After I ordered, there was this Chinese woman from another store who was roaming around to invite people to try their food. Since I love trying the unfamiliar, I just said yes to everything she offered. The first one turned out to be their version of asado siopao, which I don’t eat (I always order bola-bola) but had no choice. The next one was what she called sticky rice, so I thought it was going to be a dessert similar to bico. Unfortunately, it tasted like adobo, only the rice was, well, sticky and the sauce and meat were mixed into the cup of rice. It tasted funny so I only had two bites and couldn’t take it anymore. Yep, sometimes you just have to try the weird things people eat all over the world, even just once.

Unexpected Destination #3: The Weird Mall

During my last week, I decided to ride the Red Line GoKL Free Bus because I haven’t yet. I was supposed to go down at the National Museum (Masjid Negara) bus stop but it was raining and I had no umbrella, so I didn’t. I ended up at the Medan Mara bus stop to switch to the Blue Line bus. However, I got curious because there were plenty of buildings, so I decided to stay awhile and roam around the streets and malls.

Outside the mall, a reporter tried to talk to me but I immediately backed away because she caught me by surprise. I was actually willing to be interviewed, because sayang ang exposure in a foreign land! Haha. Funny story, there was a Chinese woman who also tried to talk to me during my first night in KL. I was walking with my friends and she said, “ni hao.” I replied “no” without even pausing. I felt bad because my response was so rude when she asked so nicely. My friends teased me all month long about that incident. I should really work on that reflex!

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