With only one full day to spare in Kuala Lumpur before escaping to the cool and verdant surroundings of the Cameron Highlands, Charles and I decided to spend our first two nights in a labyrinth of chaos where the disarray gets more interesting the deeper the night goes. KL’s China Town is home to a number of budget accommodations (especially the cheap and nasty kind) mainly targeting backpackers and those who don’t mind a windowless jail-sized room or sporadic disturbances from nocturnal creatures.
Since this would probably be our last backpacking trip together before succumbing to the wholesomeness of family travel (which we reckoned would somehow lift our standards when choosing hostels) we both agreed to scour the cheapest guest house in each place we visit or at least stick to the bottom end of the price scale. We more or less adhered to our self-imposed criteria during our 3-week Malaysian trip, staying in 3 types of places – “cheap and nasty”, “cheap and cool”, and “cheap and fantastic”.
Getting to China Town from LCC-T (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) Airport
After successfully getting past the immigration despite my passport problem, we immediately made our way to the Skybus waiting area near the domestic terminal. Tickets for the Skybus could be pre-booked with Air Asia but we bought ours at the airport kiosk for RM9 each. We made it to KL Sentral bus and train station after an hour and half and took the KL LRT (RM1) to Pasar Seni Station (just one station away) where China Town is located.
With Charles’ amazing map reading skills, we made it to the quite obscure Wheeler’s Guest House along Jalan Tun HS Lee without resorting to my impressive “asking skills”. China Town was the perfect location for us because it was a short walk away to Puduraya Central Bus Station where buses leave daily to Cameron Highlands and the East Coast – our next destinations after cancelling altogether our trip to Cambodia.
KL China Town at daytime
Wheeler’s Guest House: A Willie Wonka Experience
We walked to Wheeler’s Guest House from Pasar Seni Station and if not for this friendly chap who was handing out leaflets outside, we would have surely missed it. There was only a small sign high up and the entrance itself was obstructed by a mini store. We were led into a narrow corridor with walls littered with graffiti giving us an impression of a dodgy car park and an abandoned building and left us with little doubt on what to expect on the top.
We took an old rickety lift to the 3rd floor (which we never used again during the duration of our stay) where the receiving area was located. To our great surprised, our cheap and nasty impression of the guesthouse quickly shifted to cheap and strangely cool.
It was somewhat bizarre emerging on a floor of colourful walls adorned with Chinese lanterns and plants (both real and plastic crawling vines) trying to pose an outdoor-like atmosphere. Huge pebbles adorning the pots of plants on the hallway made their way on its limited space as well as a mini aquarium and a guinea pig cage. Floors are made of wooden slabs perched over pebbles at the reception area.
Amenities = one table, fan and trash bin
It was only RM33 (about 10 USD) for a double room with shared bathroom and even cheaper for a dorm so we decided to stay here on our first night. Our room was windowless and very basic but with a free buffet meal waiting for us on the rooftop, our stay here was now bordering to cheap and fantastic deal. The hostel hosts a free weekly dinner for its guest every Friday and we were lucky enough to arrive at the right time. I thought the buffet was a fitting welcome for the stressful day that was.
It was around 7-ish when we joined the rest of its mostly Caucasian guests at the rooftop. It was still bright at this hour but the crowd in China Town was starting to thicken and we could also see the changing lights of Menara Tower while enjoying a cold beer.
It was airy and quite pleasant on the rooftop especially right after coming from our cell-like room. The food was good and we were quite satisfied with the choices. There was fried rice with mixed veggies, chicken in oyster sauce (a bit like adobo) chicken curry, sweet and sour veggies and another vegetarian dish.
Later that night, we checked out the shops and stalls of China Town. Petaling Street was now blanketed with stalls selling all manner of fake goods and a deluge of people looking for the best fakes and gastronomic delights. We managed to squeeze in some fresh fruit and nibbles along the way and decided to come back the next day to feast on its sumptuous street food. We capped the night with one drink at the popular Reggae Bar opposite our hostel before retiring to our
Trying out the locals’ favorite Mata Kucing (Cat’s Eye)