All of the Remote Year cities on the Southeast Asia leg of my itinerary were repeats of cities I had previously visited on my post-Bar trip a few years ago when I graduated law school. I was excited to return to many of them and see what changed and see how I might appreciate them more with the benefit of thirty, rather than three, days in a place.
Our first stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There wasn’t much sightseeing I wanted to do in KL, but there was a lot of food to eat (Jalan Alor for street food, Oribe for sushi and Din Tai Fung for dim sum were a few of my favorites). The speakeasy scene in KL was unexpected but pretty good – check out PS150, Omakase & Appreciate and 61 Monarchy if you find yourself in Malaysia’s capital city.
The sightseeing that I did do consisted of visits to Kuala Lumpur Tower for one view of the city and the Petronas Twin Towers for another. I also made stops at Central Market, Merdeka Square and the Islamic Arts Museum.
The Batu Caves are one of Malaysia’s holiest Hindu shrines and are located a little outside of the city, but worth the Uber ride to see the large golden statue of a Hindu god and the impressive limestone caves (just beware of all the monkeys).
The highlight of my time in Kuala Lumpur was definitely stumbling into an underground dance party when trying to find one of the aforementioned speakeasies. We walked into an office building and down a stairway filled with graffiti into what turned out to be a club called U9. For most of the night my friend and I seemed to be the only non-locals in the place and it was incredible to watch what seemed like a break dancing scene from “The Get Down” – not to mention everyone had on Kangol hats and Adidas track suits!
My only trip outside of Kuala Lumpur was to Penang Island, right off the coast of Malaysia. On my previous visit to the island’s main city, George Town, I had what was the best samosa of my life and fell in love with the region. This trip was different not just because of who I was traveling with, but because we tried different food (this time I had the best char kway teow of my life) and explored a little further from downtown, but George Town is still as charming as I remember.
We visited Penang Hill at dusk, strolled the streets of George Town, had drinks at sunset overlooking the water, visited the Green Mansion and Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in Southeast Asia, and walked through the Chinese Clan Jetties. It was a quick trip to Penang, but a great visit; ditto for my entire month in Malaysia!