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Exploring Malaysia in 8 Days: Our Guide to Kuala Lumpur & Ipoh

Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
While many of our friends have been visiting Europe, we, being the offbeat/off season travelers we are, decided to visit Asia. This time, our travels took us to Malaysia, our first time in Southeast Asia.

Since my father was born and raised in Indonesia and I have taken a Malay/Indonesian class as an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, I thought it would be cool to explore and see southeast Asia for once. After all, both Malaysia and Indonesia do speak the same language (hence the course name Malay/Indonesian). In Malaysia, the people also speak English and Mandarin, thus, my husband and I also thought it would be easier to navigate since we, too, speak both languages. We decided to skip Indonesia this time around since my father wouldn't be able to join us. 

We spent about 10 days for our trip, including our flight in and out. We decided to split our trip between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. Kuala Lumpur had a lot of sites and places to visit. It was definitely bustling as well (as expected for a bigger city). Ipoh was quite the opposite. Ipoh, overall, is a quiet, sleepy town, and maybe we missed out on more on the busyness since we weren't out late at night. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find the city bustling during their Memory Lane market days. There are still lots of good eats and some sites to see, so it was still worth the visit in our books. 

We were aggressively bitten by mosquitoes despite applying deet. Our recommendation is to use the aerosolized (aka can't fly with it) Off Mosquito Repellant (link is to the type we purchased while in Malaysia). Just purchase a can as soon as possible. We had to spray ourselves down every morning before heading out. Because of my terrible reaction to mosquito bites, I was sprayed down airport security pat down style (ie. arms out to the side and legs apart). It truly works wonders, and we didn't get any additional bites after we started using it!

The weather was humid overall in late August/early September, and there were days or parts of days with pouring rain, which limited activities we could do or caused changes in our original plans. Our advice is to carry an umbrella with you -- just in case! Even then, do expect the rain to cause some light flooding and for your pant legs, shoes, and feet to get wet!

For transportation, we relied on their public transportation and downloaded their Grab app. Their Grab app is akin to Uber or Lyft, and the prices were very reasonable. Grab came in handy when we were in areas relatively further from public transportation or when it was late at night (and the public transportation options were not available). 

My husband and I really enjoyed our trip overall, and we were even mistaken for locals at times. We were pleasantly surprised to find that everything was relatively cheap there. Meanwhile, the quality of things were still very good. 

Our Itinerary

Day 1 - Transit Day

- Fly in from SFO to Narita to Kuala Lumpur
Our flight out was smooth without any hiccups to our plan. We first flew out to Narita (Japan), then transferred on a different flight to Kuala Lumpur. We lucked out on these flights with the row all to ourselves, and the first leg of our flight with exit row seats!

By the time we arrived to the hotel for check in, it was already midnight. Our room was on the 42nd floor, so you'll notice we didn't visit a tower of sorts on this trip like we have done on all of our other international trips. We're already staying in a tower! We stayed in their Bangsar Suite for the first half of our trip (5 nights). The room was more than enough for our little party of 2. On each of the floors by the elevator, there is a coffee machine where you can self-serve your coffee at any time of the day, and local Malaysian snacks you can pack in takeaway pouches, whether that is for your snacking on-the-go or if you just want to snack in your room. Each of the floors have different snack options, which we realized when we visited the floor below with the common area amenities (gym and pool). If you're looking for luxury, a break from small spaces, and a place that's conveniently located, we highly recommend staying here!

Day 2 - Kuala Lumpur

- Breakfast at street stall at Jalan Bangsar
We didn't really have breakfast plans in mind, since we had just arrived late the night before. We decided to wander by foot and see what's around. The hotel connects to a sky bridge that you can take to the metro station (or exit to the other side of the street). The public can also access the sky bridge via the elevator or stairs outside of the hotel. We took the skybridge to the other side of the street, and we spotted an unnamed street stall with a blue tent that had a long queue. The street stall is run by a couple. We crossed the street and observed as people ordered their food to-go and went along their way. Since the queue was long and there seemed to be repeat customers, we figured it would be promising and worth a try. 

We tried our first Malaysian dish nasi lemak (literally translated to buttery rice). It's a dish of meat and other toppings on rice cooked with coconut milk wrapped in a pandan leaf. The nasi lemak at this street stall wasn't served in a pandan leaf but was wrapped in parchment paper to cater to those who needed to eat on the go or once they arrived to their destination. They serve only nasi lemak and had different meat options and toppings to choose from. We got ours to go and enjoyed it back at the hotel. The curry chicken was so tender and juicy and the spicy anchovies provided just enough of a kick to the dish. The dish came all together with the rich, buttery, coconut-y rice. 

A chain fruit shop located in the nearby subway station. Since we had to pass the subway station to get back to our hotel, we decided to pick up some fruits and try a smoothie. We purchased some fresh dragonfruits and longans. and a dragonfruit smoothie. The price was reasonable, and a bit cheaper than the fruits sold at some other markets/more touristy places. 

Our first stop of the day was Thean Hou Temple. Because we were relatively early, we made it before the crowd. This is one of them more popular temples, and it is definitely ornate and colorful, which is perfect for photos. This aside, there are several areas with statues to check out, most notable being the 12 zodiac statues (front of the temple on the side) and the statues depicting a character and story blurb of filial piety (back of temple). There is also a rainbow staircase at one part of the temple, but you have to walk around to find it!

Petaling Street Market was our next big stop. It is filled with lots of shops selling everything from clothing to electronics to bags and purses to street eats. They sell high quality, knock off items too. We tried our haggling skills at one of the shops and got away with what we thought was a fair price for some sport shorts for my husband. 

Our first stop within Petaling Street Market was Koong Woh Tong, a chain store that sells fresh grass jelly/herbal jelly. The grass jelly came served in a little pot (small or large size) and you can add sweetening syrup to your liking. They also serve different type of herbal teas and provide a description of the health benefits of each tea. 

My husband and I did a quick walkthrough of Petaling Street. There were many food stalls on the main street, but there was a side street that had a long queue of people that caught our eye. We observed and noticed everyone was eating the stall's noodle dish, so we got a plate of Hakka mee to share too. The dish was delicious between the minced meat and the al dente, chewy noodles. You won't regret stopping by if you can find this stall!

As we finished walking to the end of Petaling Street, Mon Kee Confectionary's egg tart caught my eye. My husband and I bought one each, and stood aside to enjoy the treat. The egg tart had an eggy, not-too-sweet custard along with a flaky, crispy crust. We just wished we had packed napkins to wipe the crumbs from our lips. 

- Air Tebu (sugar cane) stall on Jalan Sultan
On the outskirts of Petaling Street on Jalan Sultan, there is a street stall selling fresh air tebu or sugar cane drink. My husband and I were in for a bottle each and enjoyed staying cool and hydrated in the humid heat. 

We walked along the bridge area to the Masjid Jamek Lookout Point. It was a quick stop for us to enjoy the mini mosque with the words "Kuala Lumpur" in front of it. Some of the tall buildings on the side have art murals that are maybe Instagram-worthy. We really liked and were surprised that this place wasn't crowded when we visited. But, I suppose, people had enjoyed the view, took pictures, then moved on. My husband and I didn't witness any water show, but there is apparently one (per some reviews). 

Our walk led us to the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. It is a newer gallery and has exhibits where you can learn more about the history of Kuala Lumpur (although not all of the exhibits are 100% completed), and see some unique art pieces. The museum was free for all guests. The city gallery also has public bathrooms, which were clean and well maintained. 

- Walk around Merdeka Square 
We were excited to walk through Merdeka Square, since it is another main site to see while in Kuala Lumpur. We ended up not seeing or doing much because most of the square was closed off or being set up for Merdeka (Independence) Day (August 31st, 2022).

We next visited Jumpa at Sungei Wang Plaza, which is one (of quite a few) large shopping malls. The interesting thing about this mall is that there were some store fronts that were empty on certain floors. Perhaps there will be more stores to come soon. This was also home to the next two places we visited.

We took the escalator up to MinNature Malaysia, an attraction where you can see miniature regions of Malaysia, and Malaysian culture and history in an indoor, air conditioned mall. There are two main shows that are part of the attraction (hint:  keep a look out for the areas with seats). It is pretty much a self-guided tour so you can spend as much or as little time as you want enjoying and learning. 

It was about dinner time afterwards, so we headed to the hawker center to get our grub on. We first walked around to see which place(s) were popular. Then, we narrowed down our choices to a dim sum stall and a chicken rice/noodle stall. The dim sum was delicious and reminiscent of our trip to Hong Kong. Your food is steamed to order, and they had even sold out of certain foods on their menu. We also noticed a very long queue at a chicken rice/noodle stall. You have a choice of chicken with either noodle or rice. We went with rice, of course. They also included a side of tofu and soup. We had wished we started off here, then got dim sum if we were still hungry afterwards. 

We also found the Ching Han Guan Ipoh specialty snack shop, a shop selling cracker snacks of all kinds that is popular/local to Ipoh. We purchased a couple of local snacks including their traditional biscuit filled with meat floss and lotus paste and their biskut telinga, a cracker shaped like a mushroom cap/umbrella. There were so many crackers and snacks to choose from, it was difficult to narrow down the options. We had figured that we would be able to try more snacks and find the shop while we were in Ipoh.

We went to KLCC Park near Symphony Lake to catch their nightly light show, but it didn't happen due to technical difficulties. The light show occurs about every 30 minutes. Unfortunately, we waited in the rain for about an hour, then gave up and called it a night. We had wished they would have announced or posted something. Despite this, we did get a good viewing point of the Petronas Twin Towers and the best part was that the rain meant no photobombers!

- Pick up dessert at Nyonya Colors Suria KLCC 
We had to walk through KLCC to get back to the metro station, and we passed by Nyonya Colors. They had a mix of desserts and savory snacks priced at 50% off because they were closing at the end of the day. Some of their dessert packs for sale can be deceiving in price because you would think you're getting 50% off the pack. Instead, each dessert pack is made up of 3-4 pieces of a type of dessert. They charge you by the piece. We didn't realize this until the cashier rang everything up. The price was still okay, and we did want to try the various desserts, so we proceeded with the purchase. 

Day 3 - Kuala Lumpur

We started the day off very early and just had some of the Ipoh traditional biscuits and the dessert pack as our breakfast. Our first stop for the day day was Batu Caves. We were so early that there was only one other group that was there (aside from the people maintaining the grounds). The colorful stairs were quite the sight to see! I was afraid since there wasn't a handrail, some of the stairs were wet and uneven, and the stairs were overall very steep, so I only ascended the first set of stairs then made my way back down. My husband went all the way to the top and explored, then filled me in when he came down. He didn't run into any monkeys on the way up or down. Afterwards, we explored the rest of the grounds. There were lots of monkeys digging in the trash bins and looking for food. We also ran into a mother monkey carrying her baby! There is an area to see some other animals (peacocks, guinea pigs, rabbits, ducks, turkeys, etc) and walk along path on the lake for a small fee (5 ringgit). There were lots of mosquitoes here, and this is where we sustained all our bites (12 total for me, 21 for my husband; this was pre-repellant).

We stopped by these hawker stalls to try my dad's favorite dish -- char kuey teow and my favorite dessert -- ais cendol. Both were relatively inexpensive, and there were mainly locals frequenting these stalls. The char kuey teow is cooked to order. You can choose from a small or large size, and the type of meat you want. Right next door is Ah Keong's ABC ice cendol hawker stall. Here, you also choose between a regular and large size, and the type of dessert you want. There is plenty of seating since people come and go once they're done and umbrellas for sun/rain protection.

- Brickfields Pharmacy nearby for Off mosquito spray
Since the Brickfields Pharmacy was nearby (literally behind the street stalls) and both of us were in dire need of some mosquito repellant, we stopped in to see what they had available. They had quite a few options, from the natural kinds to some brands we've never heard of. The cashier stopped in to help us and pointed out that Off brand mosquito spray works the best. I was initially skeptical since the price of the Off brand mosquito repellant was maybe 2-3 times the cost of the other mosquito sprays. But, she was right! It worked wonders! We purchased one can and had used it up by the end of our trip! No more new mosquito bites for us! 

We went back to Petaling Street Market to pick up some snacks. 

This little unassuming mochi stall caught my eye, so my husband and I decided to see what they had to offer. They had several flavors of mochi available, and you can choose a single flavor or a mix of them. Me, I purchased a sampler pack with a mix of all the flavors (original, pandan, black sesame, orange, and matcha), so we could try them all. The mochi was chewy and fresh! You can tell it hasn't been sitting around since the exterior toppings weren't overly moist/saturated. 

- Kim Soya Bean stall 
On our walk through Petaling Street Market, we passed by Kim Soya Bean twice. Each time, there was a queue for their soy milk and tau fu fah (dessert tofu). I wanted some fresh soy milk and tau fu fah myself so we stopped in for some to-go. Both were delicious, fresh, and not overly sweet. I love that they were packed well, so we didn't suffer any spillage bringing them back to the hotel. 

A Malaysian dish we wanted to try was laksa, and we weren't sure which place had the best one. We saw an advertisement for Nyonya Tingkat and saw that there were quite a few people dining in, so decided to give them a try too. We wanted to try their nyonya curry laksa, but they were sold out. We ordered their nyonya asam laksa. The dish was definitely spicy and hot (temperature wise). It was full of spices and the mix of flavors just worked perfectly together. My husband and I did our best to enjoy the dish, but the spiciness really pushed us to gobble our meal as quickly as we could. Between the laksa and the water we drank to kill the fire, we were full for the night.

Day 4 - Kuala Lumpur

Because of my love of animals and birds, KL Bird Park was on our radar to visit. There are many sections to the bird park, and there's a mix of birds free roaming and behind enclosed spaces. There is an area where you can take photos with multiple parrot species birds. There is also an area where you can feed ostrich for free with the vegetables provided on the counter. The tough part is catching the ostrich's attention and hoping they're hungry for a bite!

Our next stop was the Lalaport Bukit Bintang City shopping mall, mainly because we were recommended to try Nam Heong Chicken Rice for their chicken rice. A local had told us that they have the best chicken rice in the area (particularly, the location near Petaling Street Market). We happened to be closer to this area and the rain had started so we were thinking the shopping mall location could be worth a try. The food did not disappoint -- the chicken was flavorful and juicy and paired well with the chicken broth rice. The bean sprouts we had were from Ipoh, based on the size and length of the sprouts.  

Fun Fact:  Bean sprouts from Ipoh are fatter and shorter, whereas the bean sprouts from Kuala Lumpur are skinnier and longer.

We walked around the shopping mall to pass the time, and eventually found the Team Lab exhibit resonating microcosms on the outside part of the topmost floor. Luckily, the rain had subsided by then. Since we went during the day, it was neat to see our reflections on the little irregularly shaped silver bean pods on the lawn. We were able to get some nice selfie photos because of our reflections from the bean pods. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get one without unintentional photobombers present, since it was such a popular attraction. What I learned too (after we had already returned to the states) was that there is a sound when you tilt the bean pod, and a light exhibit with the bean pods at night. 

We made our way to the National Mosque of Malaysia. The rain started to pour heavily at this time. Unfortunately, once we arrived, we weren't able to visit inside because they were not taking visitors at the time, per the sign. We also watched as another pair of visitors stopped in, talked with the lady at the information booth, and were turned away. 

We stopped by Jalan Alor next. It is best known for their many, many street stalls selling hot foods, fruits, durian, dessert, and more! Because it had just rained, there weren't too many people out and about when we visited. 

- Bamboo cane drink and coconut juice from street stall
You've heard of sugar cane, but have you heard of bamboo cane? No? Neither have we! We found a stall that had bamboo cane and coconut juice and bought one bottle of each to try. We found the bamboo cane didn't really differ much from the sugar cane drink, except that it was less sweet and more of a coca-cola color. The coconut juice had fresh, young coconut pulp in it. Both were refreshing, given the humid weather.

Our dinner stop was Restoran Wong Ah Wah. Despite how the street was not busy from the recent rain, this restaurant was almost a full house. We ordered their Hokkien mee, stir fried vegetables, and sting ray. When ordering, they charge by size and their menu shows what size would feed about how many people. The sting ray, however, is charged by weight. Their Hokkien mee had chewy, al dente egg noodles in a dark sauce, stir fried to perfection, and topped with chicken. Their stir fried vegetables were almost like something I could've made at home; nothing too special but it was a vegetable dish we needed for fiber. Since we have eaten sting ray before when we visited France, we knew exactly how to approach this dish. The sting ray was perfectly pan fried. The meat was not too dry or overcooked, nor was it too oily. Do expect that there isn't much meat on the stingray and be sure to flip the piece to the other side to catch any remnant meat pieces!

- Melaka Nyonya Cendol stall 
We passed by a cendol stall after dinner and stopped in. They had a couple of options that would include durian, ice kacang, and ice cendol. We decided to try their ice kacang this time. The difference that we noted was the addition of corn in syrup and some beans to the dessert, both of which were delicious additions! 

- Fruit stall (15 ringgit per Kg) 
We passed by three fruit stalls on Jalan Alor, all of which charged the same price per kilogram of fruit. Two stalls are on opposite sides of the street, and the third stall is closer to one of the two stalls. Since the price was the same and we were closer to one of the fruit stalls, we purchased 1kg of rambutan and mangosteen. They also had some pre-peeled and packaged durian and jackfruit at a la carte prices. Because we purchased a lot of fruits, they gave us a discount. 

Day 5 - Kuala Lumpur

We slept in and started the day with brunch at Madam Kwan's, which was recommended by my sister-in-law. The restaurant had a long queue, and the hostess was scrambling to seat people. Once seated, you should be sure to receive a QR code, which will allow you to place an order to be delivered to your table. Unfortunately, my husband and I didn't know the process and sat for a good 15 minutes or so. I started looking over at other tables and realized each table had QR codes and subsequent tables that were seated after us received a little slip with their QR code. It was difficult flagging down a waitress because of how busy the restaurant is, but we eventually got our QR code and got to ordering. We ordered their beef rendang, assam laksa, and their belacan kangkung. The dishes came out as they were prepared. The beef rendang was tender, juicy, and full of flavor. We regretted not ordering some rice on the side to soak up all the extra sauce from this dish! The assam laksa, too, was full of flavor and a wonderful combination of spices. You can really taste the tartness of the tamarind and the mackerel. The spicyness was just right for us, and we were able to really enjoy this dish! We ended up cancelling the belacan kangkung dish because it took a while to come out. We were already done with our meals and had waited another 20 minutes or so, in hopes that it would come out.

If you're wondering what air mata kucing is, we recommend you give it a try. It is a cold herbal beverage sweetened with monkfruit (luo han guo), and has both longan and wintermelon. The drink is perfectly refreshing and cooling, especially with the humid weather in Malaysia!

As we sipped on our air mata kucing, the very long queue at Oriental Kopi caught our eye. We observed and noticed a line for people wishing to dine in, and another line for people ordering to-go. We did a quick Google search on this place, and it seems they are known for their signature egg tarts, which was awarded as one of the thickest. Being an egg tart fan and foodie, I had to give these signature egg tarts a try! They had a buy 4, get 2 free deal, so we were in for 6 to-go. There were two orders ahead of us that also took advantage of this deal, and there were other smaller orders too. The egg tart was absolutely delicious and is most definitely thick on the crust! We highly recommend at least trying it once! Their custard was so creamy, rich and eggy. The crust was thick and flaky, but wasn't messy to eat surprisingly.

- Noodle shop from food court
We wanted to try to catch the light show again, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat from a noodle shop at the food court. I, unfortunately, didn't get the name of the noodle shop, but they were known for their wonton soup and is located at the ground floor. 

We went back to KLCC Park and successfully caught the light show. It was a beautiful sight with all the different colors and water fountain patterns. On one side of the lake, you'll be able to see the light colors much more clearly because it's against a dark background. If you walk around the lake, you'll be able to catch the colors of the light show against the Petronas Twin Towers. It is an absolutely beautiful sight to see! Again, the show comes every 30 minutes, so be sure to walk around and catch the different vantage points! My husband and I walked around the park once we finished the light show to work off the food from the day. 

Since we needed to pass by Nyonya Colors to get to the subway and there was a discount (50% off due to closing time sale), we decided to stop in and pick up a different selection of cakes that we could have for breakfast the following day.

Day 6 - Ipoh

- Train to Ipoh
We took the train from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. The train ride took about 2.5 hours. When you purchase your tickets, you'll be assigned a train and seat number. If you're traveling in a group, be sure to purchase your tickets ahead if you want to sit together. 

- Check in to the French Hotel
For our time in Ipoh, we stayed at the French Hotel. The accommodation was "just right" for us and the room was clean. Our room faced an alleyway, and was quiet with not much to see until Sunday when the Memory Lane market took place. This was not an issue, since we spent most of our time out and about exploring Ipoh.

Since about one third of the largest population in Malaysia is Indian, we definitely had to try some Indian food during our trip. We walked to Restoran Nasi Briyani Bukhara. At the time we went (about early afternoon), they were serving food cafeteria style, where you picked what you wanted from a selection of dishes on hot trays. We kept things simple with some rice and chicken curry. Both paired well and was just enough to keep us satiated and ready to continue with our day. The price here was reasonable too with a lot of locals dining in or getting their food to-go, despite the late lunch time!

We did our laundry at Principal Laundry, located directly across the street from the hotel. The hardest part was crossing the street. You will need coins to operate the machines, and there is a machine that can provide some change. You'll also need to remove your shoes (which is why the place is pretty clean inside). The price of the washing machine already includes detergent, which the machine will add into your load after you load the machine and pay. Instructions to operate the machines are available in English. 

- Walk around town
While our laundry was going, we took a walk around town. We didn't have anywhere in specific in mind since we had to make it back to move our laundry from washer to dryer. 

While walking around town, we found Funny Mountain Soya and Tau Fu Fah. Since I love fresh soy milk and dessert tofu, you bet we stopped by! This place had a queue, with people getting their orders to-go. We followed suit and got ours to-go too. We purchased a bottle of soy milk and one order of tau fu fah. Both were so delicious and fresh! It made me regret not buying more!

We were on our way to a different restaurant for dinner, but the long (and growing) queue at Restoran Cowan Street Ayam Tauge and Koitiau caught our attention. There is a line for dine-in (the longer one) and one for take out (shorter one). Once we were in line, we were really at the mercy of how long people took to eat. The restaurant staff moved pretty efficiently to seat people, take their orders, prepare the food (which you can observe them doing as you're in line), then serve your order. They are known for their bean sprouts chicken, rice noodle soup, and chicken feet, so we ordered a plate of each. They charge by the size of the dish and can help make recommendations if you're unsure which size to order for your table. The poached chicken was tender and juicy with the dark sauce giving that poached chicken a savory, nutty flavor. The bean sprouts were definitely from Ipoh. They were perfectly crunchy, and the same dark sauce infused it with flavor. The rice noodle soup with a chicken broth was just the perfect homely addition. The restaurant was fully packed when we arrived. The queue after we had finished dining was even longer than when we first lined up. Our advice is to come early. Some reviews we read even state that people line up before the restaurant opens for dinner. It might be a bit excessive, but would be a good idea if you're pressed for time and want to guarantee a seat immediately.

Day 7 - Ipoh

We decided to visit a popular temple while in Ipoh, the Perak Cave Temple. The temple is notable for their giant Buddha statue. My husband and I started our day early, and were the first visitors there. The only people who were there earlier than us were the people maintaining the temple grounds. Because of the pouring rain overnight, the courtyard with the Guan Yin statue was flooded (but you could still get photos from the parking area). There are multiple altars as you explore through the cave and ascend the cave. Eventually, you'll reach a point where there is a single narrow staircase up to the opening of the cave. There is a certain "climbing time" for this staircase, likely because of safety as it can get dark at night. The stairs are steep and can be slippery (especially if it just rained); but if you're brave enough to make the trek up, you'll be rewarded with great city views. My husband and I went up the first flight of stairs out of the cave and to one of the pavillions to the side. We decided not to go up any further since we were still holding on to our burning incenses, and the stairs were steep and slippery (just rained the night before). They have self-serve tea with a seating area inside the cave if you want to sit and people watch. They do have restrooms here, and the restrooms are well-maintained and clean.

Our next stop was Let's Rock Restaurant for lunch. They are known for their soup, which you can choose to add fish, chicken, beef, or pork balls; tofu; or vegetables. You just need to seat yourself and your meal is cooked to order. We really enjoyed the simple soup and trying to figure out which meat we were eating, since everything was mixed together. We weren't sure if this place was promising, since we were the second or third party dining in. We later knew we chose a good place after eating the food and watching as the restaurant filled to capacity by the end of our meal.

After lunch, we beat the crowd again as we made our way exploring Mural Art's Lane. It is pretty much an alleyway (not sketchy though!) where there are art murals painted on both sides of the alley. There are quite a few that seem to be in good condition, and some where the mural is in need of some restoration. 

Fun Fact:  Across the street of Mural Art's Lane is an alleyway of homes painted in the colors of the rainbow! See if you can find this alley too!

We decided to immerse ourselves in a bit of history by visiting Concubine Lane. Concubine Lane itself has lots of shops and was very crowded when we had visited. It is easily a popular tourist site for foreigners and locals alike. We didn't get to enjoy shopping and looking around much, since we were packed like sardines and were trying to just "go with the flow/crowd." Our advice (hindsight) is to try going early in the day so you can avoid the hustle and bustle. In the Concubine Lane area, there is also a walking path you can take to look at the different murals scattered throughout the area. The murals show snippets of life in the past to modern times.

We tried to visit Kallumai Arulmigu Subraminiyar Temple, but it was closed.

Our dinner stop was at Restoran Naina Mohamed, so we can try some nasi goreng and roti canai. Because we had visited at dinner time, they had the option of cafeteria style, where you would choose from the selection on hot trays, or the option of ordering from the menu, where the food would be prepared in the kitchen. Our dinner ended up being ordered off the menu. The food was delicious! The nasi goreng (fried rice) had a bit of a kick to it and didn't interfere with our ability to enjoy the dish. The roti canai is a piece of flatbread, similar to paratha, served with a side of curry sauce. We highly recommend visiting if you want your fill of Indian food!

Day 8 - Ipoh

- Walkthrough Memory Lane market
Since our room window faced an alleyway, we were awakened Sunday morning by music and the mumbles of the crowd echoing in the alleyway. I looked out the window, and sure enough, the Memory Lane market was ongoing. There were tents on one side of the alleyway and spanning both sides of Jalan Horley. The shops sold a variety of goods, from vintage, to crafts, to random electronics (I even saw a pretty old and bulky Apple macbook for sale!), to toys and more. The market was pretty busy and crowded. It was the most bustling we have seen Ipoh overall during our stay.

Fun Fact:  The Memory Lane market takes place every Sunday.

Kek Lok Tong Temple is known for their cave leading to a large, open garden area with a small lake between the mountain. It was beautiful and seemed like a surreal place you would find in a storybook. They have bikes or boats for rent, or you can just simply walk around the grounds and enjoy. They have restroom facilities that were well-maintained and clean. 

We decided to visit an area of Ipoh known for having several temples in the same vicinity, and each with their own unique architecture and style. Ling Sen Fong Temple was the most busy one and first one the street. It was also the most colorful one where we encountered the most monkeys. It did rain at one point during our visit, and our recommendation is to stick it out until the rain subsides (because it eventually does). They have an area where you can try to toss coins (amount of your choosing) into certain targets. They also have area where you can write a wish to the god of love and hang your wish to a tree or chain.

This was the next cave temple we visited, and they're known for their viewing area (balcony) where you can see other temples in the area. 

This was next on our temple visit route, and this temple is known for their turtle pond as well as their "Mystery Temple" (a large Asian-style building in the middle of the mountain). You can feed the turtles for a fee. There were other temples in the area, but we didn't continuue on. 

We wanted to try some Malaysian food, so we went to Restaurant Haji Yahya. The restaurant was busy, with large groups reserving tables ahead. The food is cooked on hot plates, and you self-serve your food and seat yourself. Once seated, a waitress will come to your table and give you a paper slip with the tab you'll be due. You pay after you eat. I ate some fish, beef rendang, chicken thigh, and coconut rice. I recommend trying the different food they serve here because there is such a variety of flavors that come with each dish. I found the chicken thigh to be dry, and recommend skipping that. 

While in Ipoh, we've seen a lot of advertisements about "white coffee." We decided to give white coffee a try at Addon White Coffee. The coffee tasted really good and rich, but was also very sweet. We definitely recommend trying it at least once while you're in Ipoh! You can learn more about Ipoh white coffee by reading the Wikipedia article here. Since my husband hasn't tried kaya before, we also ordered a side of kaya with steam bread, so he could try it. Kaya is a rich, creamy, coconut-y spread that goes great on toast or steam bread. 

- Street stall across the street from Addon White Coffee
We were planning to eat dinner at one of the stalls of the food court across the street. The original place we were planning to eat wasn't open yet, and there was another stall that was open and forming a large crowd. The stall sells thin, crepe-like rolls filled with vegetables, noodles, and meat. It looked similar to run bing (潤餅), a snack food we've had when we visited Taiwan. This stall was very popular, and everything was reasonably priced. The also close once they sell out, so it is definitely something to try to catch if you visit Ipoh! The person preparing the dish will ask how many rolls you want, whether or not you want some spicy sauce on it, and whether you're dining in or taking it to-go. If your order is to-go, you'll get your order earlier than those who are dining in, at least that was our experience. We're lucky we opted for to-go when it was our turn!

After every good meal comes dessert. This time, we set our eyes on Tong Sui Kai or the sweet street. This street is almost like a mini night market with food and dessert stalls on one side of the street, pedestrians in the middle, and cars parked across. The toughest part was picking the "right" place to go for dessert. After researching reviewed, we decided to visit stall #27, and they turned out to be a solid option because we beat the crowd again! To order, we first needed to have a table (we didn't know about this so didn't have a table). There were limited tables at the front of the shop, and more in the back covered by the tent. The cashier (and waiter) helped us take a look at the back, but all seats were full. Luckily, a table in front had just finished and left. You bet we swiped those seats even though the table wasn't wiped down yet. The waiter took our order, then we began our wait for the dessert. As we waited, more people had lined up and had their orders in queue. We shared an ais kacang dessert. The dessert had much more toppings that other ones we've had on our trip, and it was a refreshing treat for the humid night!

- Man with bicycle and candy
Be sure to keep your sights out for a man with a bicycle and a flat, deep circular baking sheet, and listen for a ringing bell! He is selling gula ketuk, a candy traditional candy from the Johor region of Malaysia. The man uses a small chisel and hammer to make little candy pieces from the candy sheet. Their original candy flavor has a nutty, ginger-y flavor to it and has specks of sesame seed in it. They also have a second flavor, but we just went with the original. We recommend trying the candy if you happen to see him! We saw him while at Tong Sui Kai and again at Ming Court Hong Kong Tim Sum. 

Day 9 - Ipoh/Kuala Lumpur

We started our last full day in Malaysia with dim sum at Ming Court Hong Kong Tim Sum. The restaurant had a long queue, and probably had the longest queue of people of all the restaurants we've been to on this trip. They are known for their good food price and quality, which is probably why they have customers willing to wait. If you decide to dine in, be sure to get a number from the lady with the microphone and wait outside until your number is called. You can also go in to order food to-go. If you are in a smaller party (like us), they will seat a party of 2 with a party of 3 at the same table, so be sure to get comfortable sharing half the table. The food was good and very reminiscent of dim sum we had when we visited Hong Kong. The portions were just right for us, as we tried some of the usual siu mai, har gow, shrimp cheong fun, and char siu bao (BBQ pork bun). They do have a menu you can order from, and you can also order directly from a wait staff if you notice that a dish you want hasn't been brought out. There is a hot water self-serve area for when you run out of tea. 

We just had to get our final fill of soy milk and dessert tofu, so we visited Funny Mountain Soya and Tau Fu Fah again. This time, since we were relatively early, we were first in line. I ordered their dessert tofu and gave their cincau (grass jelly/herbal jelly) soya drink a try. Their cincau soya drink was a delicious pairing and neither the herbalness of the jelly nor the soy milk flavor overpowered one another. 

- Train from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur
We took the train from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur. Although we tried to book tickets online, we ended up needing to sit separately due to limited availability. The train ride itself took 2.5 hours, and we were back in Kuala Lumpur, ready to enjoy the rest of our last full day in Malaysia!

- Late lunch at Hawker Chan 
Although Hawker Chan originated in Singapore, we decided to give the branch in Malaysia a try since we're already here. We tried their soya sauce chicken noodle dish, char siew rice dish, soya bean sprouts, and papaya tea soup with pork ribs. Because it was an off time (too late for lunch, too early for dinner), we were the only ones enjoying our meal at the time. Their soya sauce chicken and char siew were flavorful and not too salty. The rice and noodles were just rice and noodles, but they complemented the meats well. Their crunchy soya bean sprouts were also similarly flavorful. The dish we were most impressed by was actually the papaya tea soup with pork ribs. We didn't think papaya would taste good in soup form because papaya is usually sweet, but the sweetness of the papaya was perfect juxtaposed to the savory, meaty broth flavor. The meat from the pork ribs was tender and fell off the bone. We highly recommend giving this place a try and to give their soup a try too for the perfect, well-rounded meal!

- Train to Titiwangsa to visit Taman Tasik Titiwangsa 
We spent the rest of the evening at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. It is a large park with a lake area where you can catch the skyline view of iconic Malaysian sites (ie Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, etc). You can also rent bikes (single or tandem) to go around the perimeter on paved roads or just walk around. We did about 30 minutes of bicycling, and some walking around afterwards. We were able to watch the sun set and the lights of the iconic building come on. On the outer perimeter, there are lots of different street stalls selling food and drinks. 

- Jalan Alor for dinner at Fat Brother BBQ Street Stall 
For the last bit of stomach space we had, we decided to head back to Jalan Alor and try some satay. There were a lot of people visiting Fat Brother BBQ street stall, so we gave the satay a try too. We picked different meat/veggies that were already skewered, and they cooked them to order. The price is based on the color of the skewer stick you pick, and there is a chart that shows what each color costs per skewer. As they cooked our skewers, we took a seat and people watched. The tables had 3 different sauces we could use for our satay:  a sweet sauce, a savory spicy sauce, and a peanut sauce. My husband and I found that we liked the sweet sauce best. The skewers were cooked perfectly, and we were pleasantly surprised that they could remember our order!

- Musang King Durian stall at end of Jalan Alor
While we did try some durian during our last visit to Jalan Alor, we surely didn't try their specialty -- the Musang king durian. We found a stall at the end of Jalan Alor, and noticed a lot of people purchasing from there. We figured the price must be relatively reasonable, so we stopped in too. How it works is you pick the grade and size of durian you want, then you are charged per kilogram. The price per kilogram depends on the grade, and the person helping you can show you their chart. They also have a guarantee -- if the flavor isn't good or if the durian is found to have bugs inside, they'll give us another one in exchange. We decided to go all out and get an "A" (highest) grade durian and chose a small one (since it would be just us two enjoying it). We paid and took a seat. The durian was served once it was cut. The durian was a beautiful, bright golden yellow color and the smell was fragrant (and not "stinky" like some other kinds). The durian was so rich, and creamy/buttery, with a subtly sweet taste and a texture that was custard-like. It was absolutely delicious, and we wished we had eaten more throughout our trip (although that would hurt our wallet!). This is another "must-try" we recommend when you visit Malaysia!

Day 10 - Transit day

- Kuala Lumpur - Narita - SFO
Our flight back home was just as smooth as our flight out to Malaysia. We lucked out on rows to ourselves (mainly because they were in seats of 2) and didn't have too many issues getting enough rest during our flight. 


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During our trip to Malaysia, we've had the luxury of being able to try some exotic fruits local to the area, one of which both of us have never tried before. When in Malaysia, we recommend trying the following fruits:  snake fruit, dragonfruit (pink inside), durian, rambutan, mangosteen, jackfruit, and longan. Can you guess which fruit neither of us have tried before our visit to Malaysia? Can you guess which one(s) were our favorites? 

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