malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 - kuala lumpur (and malay food)

I arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last October 16 at around 11:30am along with 3 of the other Philippine delegates for the Malaysia Mega Fam 2015. This year's theme was patterned after the Amazing Race and would have us participants driving around Malaysia searching for clues at different tourist spots over the course of 4 days.

I didn't know what to feel after landing. Maybe apprehension was the right word. I was worried about getting homesick and driving all the way to Malacca on left hand drive.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
Thankfully, there really wasn't much time to ponder on those feelings since we where almost immediately whisked away to the shuttle which was hired to transport us to our official hotel...
The first thing I saw after stepping out of the airport was this and my mood was instantaneously lifted.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015

I began to get excited about the trip and all the culture I was about to experience first-hand.

It also helped that we shared the bus with Team Brunei whom we got along with right off the bat.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
En route to the hotel, our official tour guide for Kuala Lumpur began to brief us about the journey we were about to embark on and the places we should visit and try to fit into our schedule.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
After about an hour maybe, we finally arrived at Corus Hotel which is where we were assigned to stay for the first 2 days of our Treasure Hunt.

As I hopped off the bus, I noticed this little guy fluttering around the pavement:

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

I believe in signs and omens so I stopped worrying after I saw this butterfly. I took it as a symbol of assurance that this trip was going to be special and I was right.

Now that I' back home, I've finally had the chance to google its meaning and here's what I found:
If you’re not familiar with power animals, in many native eath based cultures, each animal was considered to bring messages from spirit
As power animals butterflies are magical and cherished. They represent spiritual rebirth, transformation, creativity, endless potential, vibrant joy, change, ascension, and an ability to experience the wonder of life. 
We'll talk more about that later on...

Meanwhile, here's a photograph of our hotel, The Corus, which I believe is a British franchise. I found staying at this hotel really convenient because it was right at the heart of all the first-rate shopping malls and just a block away from the infamous Petronas Towers.

They also have a really delicious buffet spread that combines the best of traditional Malay, Indian, Chinese and Continental food. Must try the saté, pasembur and curry.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
Accommodations were also up to par. The carpet, sheets and over-all feel of our bedroom felt crisp, fresh and clean.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

Size was comfortable and large enough to share between two people without getting into each other's way...

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
And the bathroom was modern and spotless as well.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
So if you're planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur anytime soon and want to be walking distance away from the best shopping areas, I highly recommend Corus Hotel.

It would've been nice to recuperate and enjoy the sanctuary of our rooms first but alas, we only had a few hours to spare until our welcome dinner so we decided to head out straightaway.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
These are photos of typical streets found in Kuala Lumpur. Unlike ours, you will hardly find any potholes here and the roads are quite wide.

And despite suffering from the occasional gridlock, I noticed that the drivers here still obey and respect traffic rules which makes it flow a little more orderly.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
I would conquer those streets in the next couple of days but for now, we had to rely on our legs for transport.

On our way to Petronas, I chanced upon a Wisma and decided to have my pesos changed into ringgit there first.

From my previous travel experiences, I noticed that money changers in these types of malls often offer a better rate.

I think it was .5 higher here than the one at KLCC.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
After a few minutes, we finally arrived at KLCC which is the mall adjacent to Petronas Towers.

We rushed through it to get to the outdoor garden on the other side for an obligatory tourist shot with the 2 giants while there was still light.

petronas towers
And here you go!

For some reason, we found it extremely hard to squeeze in the entire height of both buildings along with ourselves in a photograph. They were just too tall I guess...

But extremely majestic and impressive in person nonetheless.

The finish they used on the exterior of the buildings was superb and it glistened against the sunlight.


That was the best we could come up with despite my partner's best efforts and also, I didn't want to waste any more time.

At the Malaysia Tourism office in Manila, we were given complimentary "Hop On, Hop Off" bus tickets to see the city and I really wanted to utilize them.

Sadly, we missed it and according to one of the Teksi drivers there, the next one was still scheduled to arrive in 30 minutes.

By this time, we only had a couple of hours to spare 'til our welcome dinner so I chatted one of them up and struck a deal asking him to be our driver and our own personal tour guide as well. He agreed immediately and only charged us 25 ringgit (about P280 pesos).

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
A funny thing happened as we began to make our way towards his teksi...

Several men approached me one by one asking if it's okay for me to take a photo with them. The first one was okay but I began to feel uneasy after the second. I thought I was about to get raped (hahahaha :P). Luckily, there was a Filipina worker standing nearby who saw the confused look on my face and explained to me that they thought I was Christine Reyes.

Wait, what?! Hahaha. I don't think I look like her and I've never been told that ever before in my life so I just started laughing out loud as I rode the cab with Rochelle to begin our first KL adventure.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
Due to time constraints we could only visit a couple of places.

First stop was Malaysia's "COCOA BOUTIQUE" or what locals refer to as "THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY".

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
This is located in MATIC (Malaysia Tourism Center) which I later discovered was a only a couple of blocks away from Petronas.

This place is a must-visit wether or not you have a sweet tooth.

When I hear the word chocolate, I always used to think Switzerland and Hersheys. I had no idea that Malaysia was popular for theirs too. It is suuuuper delicious and best yet, you get to TRY ALL THE VARIANTS FOR FREE at The Chocolate Factory.

There is no entrance fee. You just need to register on site after which you get a sticker and a guided tour and taste of the place. No photos are allowed inside but I managed to squeeze one in for you.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

The last place on our tight agenda was CENTRAL MARKET:

central market kuala lumpur
I only had a few minutes left to spare but I tried to make the most out of my short visit.

The key to shopping in CENTRAL MARKET is good haggling skills. If you play your cards right, most shopkeepers will drop their retail prices down for you significantly. And just like in most other markets, the more you buy, the cheaper you can get it for.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
Prior to my trip, I really had the intention of shopping for traditional Malaysian Batik and Pewter Mugs...

If you're on the lookout for the same things this is where you should get them.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

I was able to pick up 3 skirts for only 40 Ringgit each (about $8).

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
Instead of Pewter Mugs, I ended up getting several bags from this store on the 2nd floor...

I think they sold me 3 for only 100 Ringgit ($23) - I got an owl slingbag, an embroidered shoulder bag and a large backpack!

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
I skipped on the pewter because I didn't have enough money.

There were several choices with prices ranging from about 50 Ringgit onwards but the stuff I really wanted cost about 250++ and since we didn't have the luxury of time. There wasn't a chance for me to contemplate.

I set them aside for my next trip to Malaysia :P

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
While in Central Market, it began to rain really hard so we basically ran in the rain to look for a Teksi. The traffic build up was pretty bad. We arrived back in our hotel just in time for the shuttle to take us to our next stop:

D'Saji Titiwangsa for our welcome dinner.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

D'Saji is a buffet style restaurant that serves different types of cuisine from all over the world.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
After trying out several dishes, I decided that Malay was my favorite and that no self-respecting foodie's life will ever be complete without having a taste of the rich aromas and strong, bold and yet harmonious flavors of Malaysian cuisine.

I can still taste this Ayam Percik in my mouth! It was soooooo good. I need to try and recreate it at home.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
So while we're on the topic of food, why not discuss the length of it? :P

I LOVE MALAYSIAN FOOD! My first real taste was during a layover at Kuala Lumpur's domestic airport a few years ago.

I had Nasi Lemak from a tiny shop there and it was THE MOST DELICIOUS thing I have ever tasted! (and that was just at the airport.)

I used to be in love with Singapore and its dining establishments but now that Ive tried it where it all began, SG has slowly taken a backseat.

Malaysian food is to die for. And much like the Philippines, food is abound almost everywhere.

The people selling them are equally pleasant as well :)

I stopped while en route to KLCC to snap a photo with this vendor who smiled gamely and instructed me to do a peace sign with him for the photo.

(It's moments like this that make travel so intoxicatingly addictive and memorable for me).

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1
He was selling all sorts of snack items that are great for munching while exploring the city on foot.


Pasembur at Corus Hotel Buffet.

It's a Malaysian salad with beancurd, shredded turnip, bean sprouts, prawn fritters, spicy fried crab, served with a sweet and spicy nut sauce.

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

Pronounced "Chendol".

Available almost anywhere, cheap and extremely refreshing. I practically had this everyday. Similar to Halo-Halo but with less ingredients. You can customize to suit your taste but I mostly had mine with just shaved ice, syrup, condensed milk, corn and cendol which is a green jelly made with coconut milk and rice flour. Yummm!

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1

The next few items on my list (actually, I think it's more like 90%) I owe to my Bruneian friends who did an awesome job of educating me about Malay food, traditions and culture.


I've had Sate before but not this kind of Sate. The way they do Sate in Malaysia is different from here and the flavor is 10x better! (OMG)

malaysia tourism hunt 2015 day 1 

A sour and spicy stew usually made with fish or seafood (which I am badly craving for as I write this). We had ours at RESTORAN ASAM PEDAS JR which is located just across the trishaw station in Malacca.

We had it both with lobster and freshwater fish.

Prices here are extremely cheap. Only paid about 50 Ringgit for 2 Nasi (plain rice with egg and cucumbers), 1 large order of Asam Pedas Fish and a spicy Mussel dish.

***update - I couldn't help it, googled for a place in Manila with Asam Pedas and found "Cili Padi". Trying it later, let you know if it's as good.

hawker center malacca


I'm really more of a coffee person but the Bruneian boys kept going on and on about Teh Tarik which is basically a malay version of milk tea and is the national drink of Malaysia. According to them,  a good Teh Tarik shouldn't be too sweet and you should still be able to really taste the tea. I ended up loving it and would even choose it over coffee on more than several occasions.


malacca nyonya restaurant 
This is another fun place to visit in Malacca because they don't just serve food but they also have several other attractions which I will share with you in another post as well as some fun tidbits about the history behind the name.

Nyonya is basically a marriage between Malay and Chinese food:

(everything delicious :P)

melaka nyonya village

So that ends my first day in Malaysia for the Tourism Hunt.

Took me 2 days to write this! So much happened in a single day. Hope you don't find this post too long. I wanted it to be as informative as possible and I also wanted to try to make it as experiential as I could via writing.

I honestly hope you enjoyed reading this post.

Day 2 coming up next! (Hopefully shorter post this time :P Hehe)


And lastly, saved and uploaded "MyStory" on Snapchat (add me @sarahtirona) for your viewing pleasure (or not. haha) :)


Nheng said…
You should try Roti Canai with Teh Tarik! Its the best!
Charleys Mommy said…
Wow! Vacation galore!! Enjoy your trip! :) Thank you for sharing, :)
Charleys Mommy said…
Wow!! Vacation galore! Enjoy your trip! :) Thank you for sharing, :)
Pearl Paguio said…
This looks fun talaga hehe. I love the Amazing Race theme of your adventure. I also believe in some signs. Buti na lang di black butterfly yung nakita mo hehe.
islesgilian said…
wow. Such a great travel experience! :)) I love looking at the photos for travel posts. :) It's as if I've been to Malaysia.
Lorly said…
haven't been to Malaysia but I bet you had utmost fun!
Maan Laxa said…
Gah the food photos are enough to convince anyone to go to Malaysia! I want to visit that chocolate factory too!
Amazing photos as usual! Hope one day I could visit Malaysia with the family. Thanks for sharing!
sarah tirona said…
omg the chocolate factory was so yummy! couldnt leave without getting a few boxes to take home. its the reason why my luggage made putok! hhaha
Looks like you really had fun in KL. I hope I can visit too one of these days.
sarah tirona said…
i did! but the real fun happened in malacca, will share soon :)
Wow! Great pictures! It seems a blogpost or two wouldn't suffice to encapsulate all the fun times and memories you had at Malaysia. ^_^ You're such a lucky girl! ^_^
levy said…
I wish we could visit Malaysia soon too. My son wants to go to Lego Land.