Kickoff in KL

After a month of Eat, Play, Love in beautiful Southeast Asia, I’m baaack!!! Slightly congested (allergies? sick?), but my night swim battle scars have finally scabbed over and healed so there’s that (FYI nothing heals in SEA). Settling in has been quite sobering considering I managed to dodge all responsibilities Neo Matrix-style whilst abroad. So now I am sorting through the mess that is my life and dumping and unpacking and repacking for my migration westward. Fivel goes West, the sequel. It’s really extremely boring, so I’ve decided to distract myself and HERE WE ARE. Blog number one of my SEA travels. TL;DR scroll down if you want to skip to the videos!

Day 1
July 6, 2017

Doha, Qatar

I found the cheapest travel deal to get me to SEA. This came with some drawbacks, such as a 10 hour layover in Doha. However, thanks to Qatar Airways’ Travel Festival deal (and Hanbee C looking out for me—love you, girl), I got a RT ticket from Atlanta to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for only $660. Can’t complain!!

Just a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed backpacker

One of the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is Priority Pass membership, which gets you into any Priority Pass airport lounge (usually international terminals only). I finally got to test this out during my long layover in Doha. PSA: do yourself a favor and get in on this. Complimentary food, alcohol, and WiFi to boot? Cushy chairs and clean bathrooms?! I felt a bit out of place with my huge turtle shell of a backpack, Chacos, and purple fanny pack, but hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

Not pictured: large glass of vino to gulp this down with

Free food and alcohol, as good as it may be, can only entertain me for so long. Luckily, Qatar Airways and the City of Doha have paired up to provide a FREE 3-hour tour of  Doha for travelers with layovers ranging from 5 to 12 hours. This is done on a first-come, first serve-basis and at regularly scheduled intervals. I signed up for the 8 PM tour immediately upon landing to secure a spot. Complimentary visas were provided to us by our tour guide, and we proceeded through immigration and onto a bus for our grand tour.

Enjoying the air conditioned bus. Doha is HOT

We made several stops including the Museum of Islamic Art and Pearl Island, but everything was pretty quiet since it was late in the evening. My favorite stop was Souq Waqif, a traditional Arabian market. It was so culturally rich—from locals smoking post-dinner hookah, to vendors haggling over prices for spices and goods, to the vibrantly colored lanterns glowing in the alleyways. I didn’t buy anything; just ended up wandering around and drinking it all in.

Building across from Souq Waqif


My tour guide informed us that the man on the boats pictured below is Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the current Emir, or monarch, of Qatar. His face adorned much of Souq Waqif.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the eighth and current Emir of Qatar
Shoulda rubbed it the right way, honey
Feeling a little Alice in Wonderland vibes here

Shortly after taking this photo, I was approached by a local asking where I’m from, whether I was alone, whether he could buy me a drink (LIES! You smell like beef and cheese—the tour guide told me you can’t drink)… needless to say, I decided to end my self-guided tour of Souq Waqif and hightail it back to the group’s meeting point. As a solo female traveler, you can never be too cautious.

Seriously want to come here for home decor shopping
Pearl Island
Doha at night

The tour ended at roughly 11 PM, and we were shuttled back to the airport to kill time before our flights. So, I had a lot more wine and chatted with one of my tour mates in the Al Maha lounge until my 2 AM flight.


Huge ugly teddy bear in the Doha Airport

Day 2
July 7, 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I landed in KL around 3:30 PM and went directly to the SIM card stands. But Clara, shouldn’t you unplug and find yourself and be one with the jungle and save money, or whatever? NO. Trust me—the money and time you spend buying a coffee or pastry in order to access WiFi is equivalent to the upfront cost of a SIM card in Southeast Asia. I unlocked my iPhone before leaving and was so glad I did. At the UMobile stand I got a SIM card for 30 ringgits, which is roughly 7 USD. This SIM card provided unlimited data for 7 days, as well as 60 minutes of call time.  If I had a travel buddy throughout, then maybe I wouldn’t need data as badly, but being lost when you’re alone is no fun.

Jungle in the courtyard of KL airport

After getting my robot wired to KL data, I downloaded Grab, a rideshare app that is ubiquitous in larger cities of SEA. Uber is also fairly prevalent, but I try to avoid lining the pockets of misogynistic, immoral companies when I can. One of the biggest perks of backpacking (if you purchase the right backpack, that is) is not having to check/wait for bags—I highly recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40L. I skirted around the baggage claim mob and headed to the ground transportation area. My Grab driver took me straight to my Airbnb at Regalia, a swanky condo overlooking the KL skyline, to wait for my friend from my master’s cohort, Judifth.


Judifth arrived at the Airbnb at ~10 PM and we agreed we were both STARVING. Our friendship, like all of the best ones, was forged from food. Judifth has been living and working in Singapore for the past 3 years so I knew my stomach was in good hands. We headed to a street she mentioned called Jalan Alor to forage for our dinner. The street is lined with restaurants and street food carts, with all seating al fresco. Judifth recognized one of the spots she had eaten at before (name unknown), so we plopped down, cracked open some beer, and ordered away.

Reunited and it feels so good~
Our feast at Jalan Alor!!!

We ordered a LOT. These were supposed to be small plates… lolol. We ordered (clockwise from bottom left of the above picture) shellfish similar to clams, black pepper squid, Hokkien Mee, braised chicken wings, and stingray. The total came out to 39$ for all of that PLUS several beers!! And everything was beyond delicious. By far, one of the most memorable meals in SEA.

My “ultimate skinny margarita” (AKA tequila, soda water, & lime) at Suzie Wong’s Cocktail Bar

After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we cabbed over to Suzie Wong’s, a cocktail bar recommended to us by one of Judifth’s friends. It was pretty bougie, which turned out to be the theme of this weekend. Cocktails were good, service was excellent, and the swings hanging inside were pretty cool. There’s also a club/dance area attached, if you feel inclined to ramp up the night a bit.

Can’t believe it’s been 3 years since we graduated our master’s program
DJ stage in the club area of Suzie Wong’s

We kept it pretty low-key. I think my favorite part of being over 25 is the end-of-night shuffle. It’s a fun tango where you and your posse pretend you are down to wild out like the old days, but really are dying inside and want to curl up in bed. You eye each other for the first sign of weakness and try to hold out so you don’t seem like the lame one. The first person to bring up going home loses and is an old grandma. That night, I think it was a draw. We both admitted defeat and hit the old dusty road back to our Airbnb.

Day 3
July 8, 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Early to bed, early to rise means a girl gets to drink a tequila sunrise! Breakfast of champions!!! Judifth and I woke up, put on our swimmies, snagged some adult beverages from the convenience store, and headed up to the rooftop pool. Did I book my Airbnb solely because of this pool, you may ask? Why yes, yes I did.

Strong 10%! Where can I find this in the states?

Early morning swim was the way to go. It was already somewhat crowded, and I can only imagine how much more crowded the pool gets as the day progresses. Obligatory infinity pool photo shoot ensues below.

Tinder profile picture!
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Instructing Judifth to shoot in landscape mode
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Casual morning swim
Love this girl. Shoutout to our IG boyfriend for taking some quality shots!

Feeling refreshed and hungry after our swim, we ventured out for lunch in KL. I let Judifth take the reins once again, and she led us to Sun Fong for bak kut teh, a Malaysian dish of pork ribs in herbal soup. This dish is served with strips of fried dough called char kueh, which you dip/soak in the savory broth before popping in your mouth. Soy sauce, chili, and minced garlic are served together as a dipping sauce for the fall-off-the-bone pork ribs.

Yum yum!! Bak Kut Teh

After lunch, Judifth and I headed over to our Thai massage appointment she had booked at Erawan Wellness Massage. Like I said, bougie. Hehe. An hour of kneading melted my 30-hour travel stress right off.

Treat yo’ self

Refueled and rejuvenated, we headed to the shopping malls to do some damage. This is pretty much what KL is known for—cheap, tasty food; beautiful skyscrapers; and shopping, shopping, shopping. We planned to go out to a night club, so I needed to buy a dress and heels. We spent a few hours perusing stores and enjoying the A/C. Once we were sick of shopping and the sun had gone down, we headed outside to take the typical tourist pictures in front of the Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers
Lady Rainicorn & BMO, Wine Wednesday warriors

A day of shopping and sightseeing works up quite the appetite. My parents had visited Southeast Asia a few weeks before me, and raved about a mushroom soup they ate in Kuala Lumpur. They saved me the receipt so I could taste it myself. Unfortunately, I lost the receipt and don’t recall the name of the restaurant. But it was good.

KL Hits me like a rock_Moment
Slurp slurp
Malls and traffic galore

After dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb to get ready for our big night on the town. Once we were all dolled up, we decided to head up to our condo’s rooftop bar to pregame. We were seated immediately and were one of the only two tables in the house. Judifth and I decided to splurge on a huge bottle of cold sake. (Pro tip: don’t order house alcohols in SEA, especially not in predominantly Muslim countries. Pay a little more for imported, good quality alcohol). We asked the server to take a picture for us, not knowing that it would evolve into a full-on photoshoot.

Heart balloons belong to the angry, demanding birthday girl seated to our right. Added a nice touch
The servers know all the best photo op spots
KL night skyline ❤
Our server AKA the man behind the lens

So, after downing our bottle of sake, Judifth and I did the 25+ tango again, where we tried to see who would throw in the towel first. Needless to say, we both did not really want to go to a club and ended up just talking all night at the rooftop bar of Regalia. This was a perfect way to kick off my SEA trip, with enough bougie packed in to balance out the dirty backpacker lifestyle to come. Overall, I would say KL was not a huge cultural experience—more of a place to enjoy the luxe life, but with really affordable eats. I put together some of the GoPro footage from Doha and KL, which are linked below (sorry for the shakiness—still a GoPro n00b). Check ’em out! Stay tuned for my next post on the islands of Thailand and remember—appreciate the little things, always.

Music credit in the KL video: CSS – Hits Me Like A Rock (Dillon Francis Remix)

3 thoughts on “Kickoff in KL

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