3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 8: Jalan Petaling’s Night Time Street Fair

During the day, Jalan Petaling is already a busy place. It’s packed with tourists and locals as well as people trying to make sales on everything from PS3s to bootleg DVDs. As you walk down the street, you’ll hear “hey sir!” and “hey boss!” and “cheap deal here!” coming at you from every angle. At night, when the street is filled with portable, makeshift stalls, that madness is doubled.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a really big change. Almost every inch of space along the short stretch of Jalan Petaling is packed tight with street stalls. At these stalls, you can find all sorts of souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and toys. As you walk down the narrow paths the people running each shop will call out to you, making offers, and trying to pull you in.

The whole thing is loud, exciting, and fun, and if you know how to haggle you might be able to get a good deal. Before going, a friend of mine who’s been there before warned us that the initial prices being offered are meant to be a starting point. You can argue the price down a bit, and then if you’re not satisfied you can start to walk away from the stall and they will call out lower prices to you, hoping you’ll turn back and make a purchase. It happened exactly the way he said it would. The one time we stopped to look at something and asked how much it was, the guy’s opening price was 180 ringgit. We never intended to buy it and only asked out of curiosity, but as we smiled and walked away he called out “170! 150! Ok! 130, good deal for you!” Of course we kept going since we never intended to buy it in the first place, but it really illustrated my friend’s point perfectly. According to him, if you can get a price down to about 50-60% of the original asking price, you’re paying a reasonable price, or getting a good deal. If you’re not interested in making any purchases at all, the only thing I can say is look quick, keep moving, double back to look again if you have to, but don’t stop, and don’t make eye contact. Don’t Make Eye Contact! As soon as you do they come rushing towards you with offers, asking you what you want, asking if you’re interested in half a dozen things.  That can be very tiresome.

These stalls get set up around 6 pm and then get taken down around 11 pm, and I really recommend that anyone stopping by check it out at least once.

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 4: Finding Our Hotel

If you remember from the first post, we booked a place at Hotel Chinatown 2, on Jalan Petaling. One of the things that appealed to us about the place is that it’s near the center of town, close to a train station, and there are lots of shops around it, or so we had read.

Our hotel:

And, unfortunately, the airport:

I’ve never seen a city where the airport is as far away as it is in Kuala Lumpur. We were actually worried about the fare from the airport into the city itself. It’s a long way! In fact, the ride from the airport to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur wound up taking longer than the flight from Singapore to the airport there in Malaysia. Weird right?

Before we left, we’d gotten some directions from the hotel’s website and saw a list of what prices we could expect for the various means of transportation. We had a few different options, all of which were about 80 ringgit, meaning none of them were appealing. Luckily, Malaysia has a similar system to the Philippines when it comes to transportation. Private buses. As we wandered down the length of the airport we saw waiting areas with lots of buses pulled up to them. I got excited and we went on ahead to check it out.

Buses like these probably aren’t the safest mode of transportation, but we’ve used them in the Philippines and we didn’t see why we shouldn’t use them in Malaysia as well. The best part of the deal? The cost was 8 ringgits per person. So, 16 ringgits total for my wife and I to get to Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. That’s a lot better than an average of 80 ringgit.

After getting on the bus we worried for a little while that we’d been taken in, and that the bus wasn’t actually going past Jalan Petaling, but the guy seemed pretty sure, and the ticket he gave us looked pretty official. There was even an office address and a phone number. Just to be on the safe side though I asked the guy that sat down across from us if the bus passed by Jalan Petaling. He said it did, so we went ahead and kicked back and got comfortable.

The bus had great air conditioning and the ride was smooth, if a bit long. I think I dozed off for a little while, because I don’t remember some parts of the trip that I saw later on the way back. Thankfully, it went without incident, and after about 50 minutes the bus was making it’s first stop in town, about one block from Jalan Petaling. We actually went right past the entrance to Jalan Petaling, so we were sure we were in the right spot.

After getting off the bus, we walked down the street, over a foot bridge, and onto Jalan Petaling itself. As we made our way through the crowd, looking for our hotel, my wife told me she was shocked. I asked her why. She told me it was because she’d never seen so many white people in one place before. I looked around and it was true. The place was packed with foreigners, most of whom seemed to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed.  Australians perhaps?

After about a block we decided to stop and ask a police officer we saw for directions. His English was a bit rough but he was able to point us in the right direction and we found our way to our hotel.