When in Kuala Lumpur you really should go and see the iconic Petronas twin towers. We’d originally planned this for our last day in KL. The plan for this particular day was going to be the Batu caves and its resident monkeys, but there had been a number of arrests the previous day for planned terrorist attacks on the temple at Batu caves. While it was most likely perfectly safe, we decided to swap our itinerary around andvisit the Petronas twin towers and KLCC park instead. This was to be followed by an afternoon of swimming and shopping out of the heat.
The morning started off with another pre-7am wake up from the kids, followed by a large buffet breakfast at the hotel. There was again another huge (and changed from the previous day) array of food. Anto and I feasted on curries and a variety of Asian dishes. The kids had apple lassis, cereal, fruit, waffles and pancakes with various types of sugar and chocolate-coated Madeleine’s on sticks, followed by an apple. I just turned a blind eye to the breakfast selection at this point in the holiday.
After the debacle with the trains the previous day, we thought we’d catch the monorail down to the city. The monorail station is also inside the train station attached to Nu Sentral mall, a very short indoor walk from our hotel. We quickly figured out how to buy tokens from the machine for the monorail and had time to watch the construction. KL is a strange city, lots of very tall and shiny buildings, with very old and decrepit looking ones in between.
The monorail stations had lovely automatically opening gates next to the tracks, but everyone single one was permanently fixed open (at every station). Given most of their ticketing gates didn’t work we shouldn’t have been surprised. Unlike the trains we didn’t have to wait long, and the ride was possibly faster and more scenic.
Within 15 minutes we were at the monorail stop closest to the towers. It was around a 900m walk but there was no need to check directions as you can see those towers from pretty much anywhere in KL!
Once we arrived at the towers we could verify that they looked even bigger up close! The towers are 88 floors high and were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004. They have now been demoted to the ‘tallest twin towers’ in the world, and only the 11th tallest buildings overall. They are a landmark of KL, along with the nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.
Before arriving at the towers we hadn’t yet decided whether we would go up, apparently the lines for the tickets and tour can be long and we hadn’t pre-bought tickets. We’d also read mixed reviews on the value of the tour. When we arrived at the tower it turned out that we could get tickets for about 30 minutes later, and Anto convinced me (with my dislike of high things) that I wouldn’t find it too scary. We also applied the ‘we are here, so we might as well’ principle and bought tickets for the next available tour.
You had to present to security 15 minutes before your tour time, which gave us 15 minutes to kill. With not enough time to do much we thought we’d go outside and check out the fountains again and the race cars attached to the front of the building. The bottom of one tower is a large shopping mall, but was mostly designer stores so didn’t hold much interest for us.
So it’s pretty hard to get photos in front of the tower with the whole tower in it, they are very tall! The kids enjoyed looking at the fountains but we had to restrain them from wanting to swim in them as it was already hot….
Pretty soon it was time to check-in to our tour. We were in the ‘yellow group’ and were assigned yellow tags with yellow stickers for the kids. There were around 20 people in each group, including a few kids. Before our tour commenced we had to go through a security screen (airport style) of ourselves and our bags. We then had an argument about our bag as it was deemed not to be acceptable but once I convinced them it was full of stuff for the kids (which it was, plus camera gear) we were allowed to take it in as they didn’t seem to want me having to come back down to get stuff for the kids mid-tour. We then had to pose for our requisite green screen photo (that we never buy) and watched a hologram introductory video on the towers, that did impress the kids.
The first part of our tour took us in the lift up to the 2 story sky bridge, which connects the two towers between the 41st and 42nd floor. We were quickly informed by our helpful tour guide that is the highest skybridge in the world and that the skybridge constantly moves to help stabilise the towers in high winds. The towers can apparently move over a metre towards or away from each other during high winds. The bridge is 170m off the ground and offers fairly good views of the city and the fountains in the adjacent KLCC park.
We spent most of our 15 minutes at this level checking out the synchronised fountains in the park and seeing which nearby hotels we could see into. It did feel quite high up, and you could definitely feel the bridge moving beneath your feet (it wasn’t even that windy). It wasn’t ideal for my vertigo! One of the towers is entirely occupied by Petronas and the other is rented to various other companies, but aside from the Suria KLCC shopping centre on the bottom floors, the buildings are all office space. I’m not sure I’d be a fan of working there but I’m assuming you’d get used to the movement pretty quickly.
When it was our groups turn to go up to the 86th floor, we were packed into another squishy lift. As you are ascending they show a video of what it looks like on the outside of the building, the footage is taken from the window washers. The lift stops at the 83rd floor where you are split into another 2 lifts for the final 3 floors. Once out at the 86th floor (the highest floor with public access) you get a briefing from a new guide who told us it was normal to feel quite a bit of movement in the building at that height and to feel dizzy. We were told to keep moving around as sitting or standing in one spot for too long made it worse. At this point my vertigo was pretty awful so I was not having a good time! The thought of being stuck up there for 30 minutes was not inspiring. Astrid, who is normally good with heights was even feeling a little queasy. This was her impression of the 86th floor……
Soren on the other hand, was trying to throw himself at the sloped glass windows to see what would happen, I was slightly horrified! You could absolutely see the movement of the building as you looked out the windows, it was rather off-putting. While we were higher than everything around us the views were probably not as good as they were from the sky bridge due to the haze. It was certainly an interesting perspective though, the city seemed rather small below us. There were plenty of models of the towers and the surrounding parks to look at during our 30 minute stay, but by the time our group was called we’d had enough of being quite so high up in the air.
For the return trip we had to again split into the 2 small lifts, but this time we got to spend some time at the 83rd floor. This contained a display of the worlds tallest buildings. Everyone in our group immediately noticed the scale on the panels varied wildly, in order to accentuate the ‘tallness’ of the twin towers. This exercise also confirmed that there is no way I am going up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which has 163 floors. Being on the 86th floor of Petronas towers was more than enough!
After 10 minutes of staring at the list of tall buildings it was down to the gift shop for the end of our tour. We had already visited the gift shop before our tour and most things were really cheap (we scored some amazingly cheap good quality shirts). For some reason though the green screen photos of everyone were ridiculously expensive, lucky we didn’t want ours anyway. Overall we thought the tour of the towers was worthwhile. It would have been better if we could have moved at our own pace though.
Here is a view of Tower 1, standing directly underneath, yep they are tall!
It was back out into the heat. We’d been eyeing off the KLCC park from up the towers and we’d promised the kids a look at the fountains and a play in the playground. It was now 12.30pm and ridiculously hot (the apparent temperature was in the high 30’s) and rather sunny. KLCC park is adjacent to the towers and was designed to provide greenery to the towers and area surrounding it. It was past nap time and Soren was exhausted but we’d promised a visit to the park, and he wasn’t going to let us forget it!
There is also a 10,000 square metre man-made lake within the park, which contains fountains that can shoot water up to 42 metres into the air. The lake symphony is a choreographed fountain show that occurs at midday (we had seen this while up the towers) and in the evenings. There is also a 43 metre bridge that crosses the lake and offers good views of the towers and the lake. If you don’t want to go up to the towers then the views from KLCC park are the next best thing. The lake fountains are also worth checking out, the water formations change regularly.
Grumpy Soren had perked up at the sight of the fountains and the park. Any thoughts of sleeping were immediately banished.
A children’s playground with a public pool is located on the west side of the park. We could clearly see how enormous this was from up the towers, so the kids had been hanging out for a visit. The water play area looked rather inviting but we hadn’t brought swimmers for the kids. The water play area had strict rules prohibiting adults from wearing swimwear, and there were security guards enforcing the no shoes rule. It was extremely hot and the heat reflecting off the playground equipment didn’t help, but kids didn’t care. It was kiddy heaven. The playground area was huge so we had our work cut out chasing them around different bits as they climbed, rocked, slid and explored.
After around 45 minutes of play we dragged them off before we all melted. I think we could have easily kept the kids amused there for most of the day.
It was a reasonable distance walk back around to monorail station but we thought we had a vague idea where to go. We made our way through to convention centre, which is where the aquarium and science centre are located, both of which we had on our list to visit. We decided that the kids were a bit tired and we’d leave it for another visit. We did manage to find a security guard near the aquarium who we asked for directions to monorail. He looked at us like we were crazy and said it was over 1km away but did point us in the right direction. Again, the concept of a tourist walking 1km seemed a bit odd to the locals!
For once we got lucky and after couple of escalators we found a covered and fan-cooled walkway that took us most of the way to the monorail station. I had Soren in the ergo on my front to keep him awake (far less comfortable than back-carrying an almost 3-year-old) and was sweltering but we were thankful for the covered walkway and fans, and not having to cross many multi-lane highways.
Once we found the monorail it was only a short wait before a quick trip back to Sentral back on and up to our room. The kids were not keen on resting but eventually gave in as they were exhausted. It was in usual Malaysian afternoon style now pouring with rain again, so us adults were kept awake by the massive thunderstorms.
Once finally asleep the small children did not want to wake up from their naps, but we didn’t want them up all night so had to get them out of the hotel room. As it was still pouring with rain and we were all a bit hungry we decided to do an early dinner/late lunch (we’d skipped lunch, again).
Due to the plethora of great food options we went back to food court at Nu Sentral mall from first day. The grumpy kids were claiming not to be hungry but eventually decided on a char kway teow and a peanut noodle dish with prawns. After 3 days in Malaysia I had still not managed to find a vegetarian satay dish so settled for some yummy vegie curries and dahl instead. Anto had yet another Asian soup full of slightly gross things.
Despite their tiredness the kids eventually ate (and devoured most of my food). Again our meals were all really tasty, and dirt cheap. It was still pretty early so we wandered through various shops to pick up a few more souvenirs and got the kidlets an icecream for dessert.
It had been raining all afternoon but looked like it might finally have stopped. Our brilliant plan was another sunset swim and cocktails up at the rooftop pool. It had definitely been pleasant the night before. Unfortunately by the time we got up the rain had started again and was torrential, and there was lightning, so the pool had been closed for the night.
Astrid did not take the news well. This is the face of an unhappy 5-year-old who was missing out on a swim!
Since the pool wasn’t going to reopen, we convinced the kids we could go to the downstairs hotel bar where they might get dessert while Anto and I had cocktails. Yes they had just had icecream, but the thought of more dessert did distract them from the no-swim disappointment. The kids scored an oreo cheesecake and watched other hotel guests play pool while Anto and I had a mojito/beer. We also had some wasabi peas that Soren insists on eating despite continually freaking out at how spicy they were.
Full of cheesecake and wasabi peas, but minus a swim, it was off to bed (eventually, damn afternoon nap!) for the kids before the final big day of our holiday.
Statistics for Thursday the 1st of September 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – the temperature range was 24 to 32 degrees celsius, with humidity of 100% and over 50mm of rain. The heat index reached 43 degrees, it was another hot one! The total walking for the day was 10.25km.
Up next, the final 2 days of our holiday – a visit to Bukit Bintang and Perjaya Times Square and the trip home via Singapore.