KL, Kuantan, and caves

Kuantan skyline

It’s always a privilege to return to Kuala Lumpur, a city I first visited as a fresh-faced twenty-something backpacker (a very long time ago!) and later returned unexpectedly for an overseas work assignment in 2009. I’ve made many visits in the 15 years since.

Like many cities in Asia, KL has undergone significant changes over the years. It’s become more vertical, with the iconic Petronas Towers no longer the tallest in the city and not even the second tallest. The overall feel is more dense – more concrete, more highways, more condominiums, and of course, more shopping malls. Yet, I’m pleased to report that the food remains as formidable as ever. During my visit, I joined friends for nasi lemak, dim sum, Japanese cuisine, and Vietnamese pho (though not all at once – even I can’t manage that).

I met with two impressive co-founders of a digital health startup in Bangsar South, a shiny business locale that didn’t even exist when I first moved to Malaysia’s capital for work, and also spent time with the editorial team at Malaysian Business, a prestigious local publication.  

I also took time to recharge my wellbeing by hiking in Bukit Gasing, one of the city’s many patches of jungle, and travelled to Kuantan on Malaysia’s East Coast, a city I hadn’t visited since 2010. If you haven’t been, it’s just a 3-hour drive from KL and 5 hours from Singapore, and it boasts the best ikan bakar I’ve ever had – grilled fish in banana leaf, served with petai sambal and tamarind dip (oh, and you get to pick the fish yourself).

Finally, I satisfied my passion for tropical caves by ploughing through dense vegetation and the odd spider web to reach a cave entrance near Gua Kota Gelanggi in Pahang state, whereupon I discovered…well, not a lot really.

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