Selamat datang means, “A warm welcome!”
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, also referred as Asia’s green capital. It is visualized by the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which stands 88 stories high, still the tallest twin buildings in the planet with a visionary example of modern architecture and structural engineering. Kuala Lumpur means “muddy confluence”, although it is strongly argued that the name is derived from an old but now forgotten name.
My bus ride from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur took about 5 hours, I remember falling asleep twice during the journey and actually felt good because I can’t even sleep well on flights. The bus stopped at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), a major transportation terminal in southern Kuala Lumpur at about 5pm – I took a taxi to BackHome hostel at Jalan Tun H S Lee near Chinatown, my home for the next two nights from 14th to 16th January. However, spending 25 MYR on taxi was something I regretted, while the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan was located next to Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT and I could have easily traveled on train to Masjid Jamek LRT station which is a 3 minute walk to the BackHome hostel.
BackHome backpackers boutique hostel stands tall in terms of comfort. The hostel truly has that “back home” ambiance with a cozy vibe and consists of two bridges on the second floor which overlooks at the common area under. It’s a short walk to China Town or the Colonial district, a longer walk will guide you to the Central Mosque and the Central Market. The next street is populated by South Indians with many of its great food corners, along with fried bananas, curry puffs, juices, and all sorts of cheap Indian food. There are many shops in the vicinity, including convenience stores, pharmacies and a McDonalds fast food outlet. Suria KLCC (at the Petronas towers) or Berjaya Times Square at Bukit Bintang (where a roller coaster runs about in the building) is easy reachable through public transport.
The hostel has won lots of awards because it’s very clean, very friendly, well decorated, the staff are well thought, approachable and ready to help you with anything you need. At the time I checked-in, the staff at the reception even escorted me to my dorm-room and made me feel very hospitable.
Something I noticed when I approached my room was, the names of the occupants in the dorm-room written on the chalkboard-style door. The rooms are huge and industrial funky, and the fort-like style of the hostel and the bedroom designs, it was like everything right at your arm’s reach. In addition to the much important reading bedside lights and power points for each bed also had a small shelf with sliding door and a common in-room sink for everyone.
Back Home provides towels for a small additional charge, but I carried mine with me. The breakfast consisted of cereals, toast and tea and coffee. It’s an amazing hostel, but I think the price is a little expensive compared with other hostels in Malaysia and South East Asia and it’s because the hostel had high ratings and great reviews on accommodation booking websites. Laundry is also expensive at MYR 10 per kilo. I was in a room facing the road, but I didn’t find the road traffic noisy at night and slept very comfortably, not to forget that the traffic and air quality in Kuala Lumpur is terrible. If you are with kids, you wouldn’t want them roam around the hostel without your presence, the staircase and walkways do not have railings.
The hostel also had it’s own coffee parlor next door called “LOKL”, they served espressos and local Malaysian coffee, hot sandwiches with a local twist, and cakes and pastries. It is housed in a bright airy space with an internal courtyard that’s shared with the hostel. Customers at LOKL and the occupants of the hostel were allowed smoking in the open-air courtyard.
I woke up at 6am on Saturday, January 16th and had a quick shower, packed my backpack and went downstairs for breakfast which start at 7am, I really didn’t have a plan – I didn’t know where to go. I surfed the net from one of the PC’s at the common area near the reception and decided to travel to Penang. I spoke to receptionist about how and where to take the bus, he advised me to take the train from Masjid Jamek LRT to Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT and a short walk to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan where I could buy the bus ticket to Penang. I grabbed my breakfast and was soon on my way with my unplanned little adventure.
Here are my expenses:
Taxi to the hostel ~ USD 6/-
Accommodation ~ USD 31.35/- (Two night stay at hostel with breakfast)
Food ~ USD 15/-
Transport ~ USD 4/-
Bus-fare ~ USD 9.24/- (Kuala Lumpur to Penang one-way)
Total ~ USD 65.59/-
Note: My two nights stay in Kuala Lumpur was fun and pleasant. I would like to thank my dorm-room buddy Conor McCormack from Dublin, Ireland for the good times we had and the crazy Irish injection rooms we talked about at the Reggae Mansion Kuala Lumpur. Thank you to Youness Msaadi from Bordeaux, France – we exchanged great travel stories, especially about Zagreb, Croatia. I also thank Shehnaz Pasley for the wonderful lunch, she was able to spare me a good two hours from her lunch break from work – learned about the Perhentian Islands, a lot more to see and explore about these beautiful islands in Malaysia hopefully during my next trip.