After a very lazy first day in Kuala Lumpur, our second day was going to be a less relaxing affair with plans to explore the Perdana Botanical Gardens, which contain the KL Bird Park, a butterfly park and also a planetarium.
The over-tired small people finally gave us a sleep-in (of 7:30am) but they were so down on sleep that it was hardly a massive win! It was off to the Aloft breakfast again. Unlike the Marriott in Hong Kong the Aloft buffet seemed to change quite a lot each day. Again there was a huge variety of vegetarian curries so I had to indulge, since they certainly know how to make good curry! breakfast was finished off with banana fritters and crepes with caramel sauce. The kids enjoyed noodles and apple lassis, and then we ignored the fact they were eating rainbow cake with buttercream icing and banana fritters for breakfast. Holiday eating rules were definitely being enforced!
The Perdana Botanical Gardens were actually not too far from Sentral and our hotel, but getting there was not all that easy. There were a lot of large multi-lane highways between us and the gardens, so walking wasn’t a great option. We could get within 1.5-2km of the gardens by catching a local train a short distance, so that seemed like our best option. The public transport certainly wasn’t as organised or clear as Hong Kong, so despite the small distances, getting around wasn’t all that simple. One of our breakfast waiters had been trying to convince us to let him drive us around for the day and was perplexed that we were going to catch the train and walk. Apparently tourists don’t normally walk anywhere in KL!
The train station is in the mall attached to our hotel but despite extensive research we were still confused about which line to use and ticket purchases. Eventually we found which lines we could use to get us closer to the gardens and managed to buy tickets, which cost all of us about $1. None of the automatic gates work so you can pretty much walk in and we probably didn’t need to bother buying the tickets but were being good tourists.
Once on the train we sat there for quite a while, not moving, and then we proceeded to move at walking pace 1 stop down the line (about 2km) but it did get us over lots of nasty intersections so was worthwhile. Right about now we were missing the efficiency of Hong Kong public transport!
We found our way out of train station, an amazing old building, adorned in flags for Malaysian independence day and over the roads via the underground tunnels.
The 31st of August happens to be Malaysian independence day , and it was a pretty big deal in these parts, and a public holiday. Upon arriving into KL we had noticed the massive array of flags on every building and a rather conspicuous military presence. There had been military flyovers all morning, and around the train station there were constant streams of black vehicles with people in military uniforms and armed personnel. Families were out enjoying the public holiday and there seemed to be a lot of people wandering around with balloons. Much to her delight, Astrid was also given a balloon.
We finally popped out in front of the Islamic temple of Malaysia, which again was a very interesting building with a pretty cool fountain and some amazing mosaic work.
The Lake Gardens, known officially as Perdana Botanical Gardens, were KL’s first large-scale recreational park. Measuring 91.6 hectares, they are located in the heart of the city and were established in 1888. The gardens served as place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city during colonial times. Today they contains large sculpted and manicured gardens and a host of attractions. We knew we weren’t going to see all the gardens in a day, but we figured we’d see what we could fit in and the kids were very keen on both the bird and butterfly parks.
It was already rather hot and humid out but it was a relatively shady walk up the road and into the gardens in the direction of the bird park.
On our meandering towards the bird park we came across the orchid garden. I adore orchids, and have loved visiting the orchid gardens in Singapore. We pretty much had the orchid garden to ourselves and it was amazing. It was open air and easy to walk around.
From the garden you had pretty good views into the city, and you could even see the twin towers in the background. We also happened across more than a few red dragonflies (and I was again cursing the lack of my macro lens).
It was now getting rather hot, so we figured it was time to get moving towards the bird park. We hadn’t seen many people at all on our walk through the gardens and as we headed down from the orchid exhibit we saw streams of taxi’s rolling in to the bird park entrance. That seemed to be the popular way of getting to the bird park. We much preferred our meander through the orchids.
The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is a 20.9-acre public aviary, adjacent to the Perdana Botanical Gardens. It is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the country, receiving an annual average of 200,000 visitors. It is the home to more than 3,000 birds of approximately 200 species of local and foreign birds. Having been to the very highly regarded Jurong Bird Park in Singapore (twice) we weren’t sure what to expect at the KL Bird Park.
Despite being still early in the day, the park was quite busy – full of families out enjoying their public holiday. It was still fairly easy to move around though. The park is divided into 4 zones; Zone 1 and 2 make up the free-flight zone; Zone 3 is the Hornbill Park and Zone 4 is where the birds are placed in separate cages and mini aviaries.
In Zone 1, 2 and 3, birds are let free in the aviary which closely resembles their natural habitat. This means you can easily get up close to the birds and watch them as they eat, rest and clean themselves. The kids had a ball saying hello to lots of pretty parrots and water birds (and giant fish in the ponds).
The KL Bird Park was very different to the Jurong Bird Park, where there are less birds roaming freely. The birds in the KL park were obviously very well fed, and they were extremely friendly. We also particularly loved the owl exhibit. Most of them were sleeping as it was the middle of the day, but it was amazing seeing them so close. They weren’t actually tethered (they seemed to be sitting on their tethers but could have flown off at any time, had they not been lazy and sleeping).
Around the back of the park there was a huge waterway with lots of birds living in it. Nearby there were some very cranky ostriches and a heap of peacocks just roaming around looking pretty.
Around near the monkeys there were quite a few birds wandering over the paths, trying to eat and get to the water. There were some idiot tourists taunting them, resulting in very cranky birds. We weren’t feeling very sorry when some of the main offenders got bitten!
It was getting rather hot and humid and it was almost time for the bird show so we decided to head in the direction of the amphitheatre for a sit down and some entertainment. If you’ve been to the bird show at the Jurong bird park, well this one is both very similar and a somewhat watered down affair. The amphitheatre is about a quarter of the size, but that did mean you get to sit a little closer. There was the usual opening parade of birds (ducks) and then macaws and cockatoos doing various tricks including, counting, going down slippery dips and anwering questions.
Then there was the main event, macaws flying through hoops, first held by the trainers and then by random audience members. Despite having a lot of people in the way I did get quite a few good shots of them flying straight at us!
The kids loved the show, giggling the whole way through and gasping with excitement as the birds almost flew into our heads. It was certainly good entertainment for a 2 and 5-year-old. A bit predictable for the adults but we had fun nonetheless.
As the show ended it started raining hard, a nice tropical downpour. As we were already out of drinking water we took shelter in a nearby cafe (along with most of the park) and stocked up on cold drinks. The storm was over as quickly as it started, so we were able to venture back around the section of the park with the parrots and a waterfall. Many of the birds were out sunning themselves after their shower, some of them looked quite silly laying on their cages drying!
After another half an hour of we had seen most of the park, except the flamingo exhibit, that we had skipped to make it to the bird show on time. It was very hot and the flamingoes were on the other side of the park so we decided not to walk back around and headed out, via the gift shop. With the exchange rate being in our favour the kids scored a few souvenir t-shirts which made them happy!
All morning Soren had been asking for butterflies, so off to the butterfly park it was. KL certainly don’t have the standard of signage for tourist attractions that Hong Kong does, and we had to ask for directions to check we were headed in the right direction.
Despite hearing non-stop all day about the butterflies from Soren, he was well over-due a nap and of course fell asleep in the ergo on the walk down to the butterfly park. It was ridiculously hot and we were all dripping in sweat, so the thought of going into a humid butterfly enclosure wasn’t all that appealing (unlike in Vienna where we hid in the schmetterling haus to escape the snow outside).
We have visited quite a few butterfly enclosures around the world and the KL one is pretty good in comparison to many. It is a rather old building and enclosure but it was well maintained and had an excellent variety of butterflies and an abundance of beautiful plants and flowers. It is significantly better than the Singapore butterfly park (on Sentosa Island) and is probably even better (certainly much bigger) than the one at Melbourne Zoo. We spotted a heap of butterflies in colours I’ve never seen before.
There were plenty of areas with water and it meant we came across quite a few dragonflies, it was obviously the day for dragonflies, I have trouble getting decent photos of them at home, and here I was without my macro lens and surrounded by them!
We happily wandered around for awhile and found plenty of butterflies to admire and got a few to sit on us. I didn’t want to wake Soren as he was so tired, but he would have been rather dirty with us if he didn’t see the butterflies. I was also melting with him on my back and was desperate to take him out of the ergo! Just as we were debating whether to wake him, he woke up and was thrilled when he managed to get a butterfly to sit on him. Day made!
As you exit the butterfly enclosure there is a really good insect exhibit. There were large collections of horrendously huge (and scary-looking) beetles, scorpions and millipedes. They were alive and while I was happy to look at them in their glass tanks, I wasn’t taking photos of them. The kids were impressed though! We also found some more very cute butterfly souvenirs on the way out, our bag we’d been lugging around all day was getting rather heavy…..
We originally planned to explore much more of the Botanic gardens and visit the planetarium but it had been a long day of walking and we decided could we were in need of a swim and a sit down, so it was time to return to the hotel. All the things we wanted to see were in the opposite direction to the train station and the sky was looking ominous.
The butterfly park wasn’t too far from the train station, and we easily made our way back and made it inside before rain started bucketing down.
Again no one was checking tickets and the ticket selling machines were broken so we had trouble even buying one. We were only 1 stop from Sentral and it looked as though pretty much every train should have been going through to Sentral, so in theory it should have been a short wait. However, no trains were appearing and when one eventually did, us and every other tourist tried to get on and we were told it was the wrong train and to keep waiting. It was now after 4pm and we had been out in the heat all day so we just wanted to get back to the hotel. We would have probably tried walking the couple of kilometres (highways and all) but the huge thunderstorm meant that there was no chance of not being immediately soaked. In the end we just had to wait. There were countless locals sitting and waiting for very long periods and none of them seemed fussed so they were obviously used to the somewhat dodgy public transport.
In the end we waited well over an hour to get a train back 5 minutes down the line, a very long wait with tired and hot kids! We had kept them amused with more cold drinks and gummi bears purchased at the train station. When a train finally arrived it was rather packed and we ended up having to sit in the ‘ladies only’ carriage (most of the trains have them) while Anto had to go and find a spot to stand where he wasn’t going to offend anyone with his maleness.
When we got off the train at Sentral, the mall was going off! Public holiday + thunderstorm and you couldn’t move! We made the quick walk back to our hotel through the mall and quickly got changed into some clean, dry and better-smelling clothes before heading out for an early dinner. We had been eyeing off a Japanese restaurant in the mall, about 15m from our hotel entrance, so Japanese it was.
We had skipped lunch again, so we were all hungry and looking forward to some food and a sit down in air-conditioning. All a bit hungry we went crazy ordering food, and it was all really good. We feasted on seaweed (that the kids adored), soft shell crab, tempura vegies and some sushi. All was good until Anto managed to spill his hard-earned beer everywhere, tonight it was him making the mess not the kids…..
With an abundance of very cheap food options on our doorstep, the Japanese wasn’t quite as cheap as what we could have eaten for but it was extremely good and a fraction of what we would have paid for the same meal at home, so we were all happy campers.
Dinner done by 5.45pm we decided that it was time to go for that long-awaited swim in the rooftop pool and indulge in some cocktails. The rain had finally stopped and it was extremely pleasant up in the pool.
Floating around in the water, it was finally a lovely temperature and we got to watch the sunset with all the city buildings stretched out before us. Definitely a good way to end a great day in KL!
Statistics for Wednesday the 31st of August 2016, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – the temperature range was 23 to 32 degrees celsius, with humidity of 94% and the heat index reaching 35.4 degrees. It was a rather sticky day! The total walking for the day was 12.0km.
Up next, the Petronas twin towers and KLCC park…….