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Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, a rapidly-growing, forward looking city, is beginning to attract a growing number of young travelers intent on seeing the sights and experiencing the cultural milieu of the city's multi-ethnic population. K.L. - as the locals affectionately refer to it - once one of the provincial backwaters of South East Asia is today a prosperous, bustling, place that is full of surprises. A place where the old and the new blend so well and appear to live in harmony.


Budget Accommodation

If you are traveling on a budget an important consideration is where to stay. Fortunately it's not hard to find reasonably-priced lodgings in K.L. Genuinely affordable places include several in and around Chinatown such as the China Town Inn in Jalan Petaling and Hotel Malaysia in Jalan Hang Lekir. In the Brickfields district there is the YMCA in Jalan Padang Belia and Hotel Florida in Jalan Thambypillai. The Kowloon Hotel in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is centrally located and Hotel Nova in Jalan Alor is in the favored entertainment area of Bukit Bintang.


Cheap Eats

For travelers on a budget, it's nice to know that some of K.L.'s best local food is to be found at one of the open-air eating stalls that crop up all over the city or in a spartan coffee shop. If your preference is for dinner out in the open air then stalls at Jalan Campbell or Jalan Masjid India are great places to head for. Here you'll find everything from simple noodle dishes, stewed duck porridge, chili crabs, mutton soup and the famous satay - that's best described as barbecued skewers of meat such as chicken or beef which are dipped into the bowl of thick chilli and peanut flavored sauce that comes with it. Usually cucumber pieces, onions and cubes of rice are also served with the satay... these too should be dipped into the piquant sauce.

At many of the stalls in Chinatown you will soon come across steamboat which is a charcoal burner, on the top of which is a ring-shaped container into which you dump skewers of meat, liver, fish prawns, squid, quail eggs and vegetables. These all boil along merrily and when cooked are dipped into the various spicy, sweet, sour and salty sauces. There are various permutations and a Chinese friend can take you to steamboat stalls where you could try such delicacies as cuttle fish, snails, fish bladder and a few other exotic morsels.

Unsurprisingly the most common offering at the Indian food stalls is curry; multi-racial, cosmopolitan, K.L., though provides a rich stamping ground for the curry fanatic and all sorts of variants can be enjoyed. Mee curry (curry noodles), fish head curry, chilli fish head curry are just a few of the fiery dishes you can be sample at the stalls.



Inexpensive Sightseeing

The sights are plentiful. Spend some time checking out the attractions in Suria KLCC located at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers - the world's tallest building. There are numerous shops, coffee houses and it's a great place for people watching. Entrance to the National Art Gallery is free and there is also the Kuala Lumpur Memorial Library which houses pictures and artifacts on the city. If you like lush, verdant, greenery make tracks for the Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana), there's also a Bird Park, Deer Park, Butterfly Park and an Orchid Garden to explore. Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin is good for sightseeing. Begin your journey at the Moorish Railway Station and Malayan Railway Building. They feature arches, domes and minarets. The Sultan Abdul Samad building is another gem. It's now the seat of the Supreme and High Courts. Another city landmark is the Dayabumi, a huge glistening white structure that blends Moorish-Byzantine architecture with modern styling.

Chinatown, a noisy vibrant city within a city is well worth visiting, especially at nighttime. Close by is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple that was built in 1873 and is regarded as the most elaborate Hindu temple in the country.

Out of town attractions include the religious shrine at Batu Caves, the Bukit Cherakah agro-forest park and the verdant Templer Park.

Good Buys

If you are prepared to bargain than head for Chinatown where you can buy the likes of Malaysian T-shirts, batik, costume jewelry, 'instant' antiques, and a wide array of curios. The Craft Cultural Complex in Jalan Conlay is a favorite stopover for reasonably priced souvenirs and handicrafts including embroidery, beads, carvings, brassware and pewterware. Other good buys include electronic goods and watches which are non-dutiable and rice-straw pictures. There are several night markets in town such as Kampung Baru: here you are expected to haggle and if you are good at it you can come away with bargains.

BUDGET HOTELS
China Town Inn
52-54 Jalan Petaling
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-238 4034

Hotel Malaya
16 Jalan Hang Lekir
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-232 7722

YMCA
95 Jalan Padang Belia
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2274 1439

Hotel Florida
71-73 Jalan Thambypillai
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2260 1111

Kowloon Hotel
142-146 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
50100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-293 4246

Hotel Nova
16-22 Jalan Alor
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-243 1818