Is Living in Malaysia an Alternative to Thailand?

I had to go to Malaysia for a visa run – Kuala Lumpur, to be exact. I was interested in going since I’d not been yet, and I heard they had better prices than Thailand for electronics. Here is what I liked and didn’t like about KL, Malaysia.

What I Liked about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

  • more people spoke English than in Thailand
  • Indian / Paki food everywhere you turn
  • walking around the streets, the sidewalks, crossing roads – seems much safer in Kuala Lumpur than Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand
  • prices were cheaper for Nikons – and they even had the as yet to be released underwater Nikon AW100 I’ve been frothing at the mouth over
  • I met some amazing people that were great conversationalists…. in English
  • wasn’t as hard to find my way around as I thought it might be


What I didn’t Like about Kuala Lumpur:

  • though more people spoke English – there’s still a LOT that didn’t at all
  • Indian / Paki people everywhere you turn. Out of all the people of the world that I’ve met – these guys rub me the wrong way – often.
  • most restaurants – the ones I found anyway, didn’t serve alcohol – nor did most stores except 7-11
  • the sidewalks had many uneven spots and strange pieces of metal sticking up to catch your foot – just like Thailand
  • though Nikon prices were cheaper, my “Visa” and “MC” debit cards from Siam Commercial bank were virtually worthless
  • it’s an entirely new language to get over
  • hotels are more expensive – for less value
  • some sections ONLY had Indian / Paki food, that’s it – nothing else for an alternative (I ate a lot of Indian food in 3 days due to the location of my hotel.)
  • local Malay food doesn’t compare to Thai food
  • picking up Western Union money takes an act of god – Mohammed – whoever is on duty – it’s a nightmare compared to doing it in Thailand
  • locals told me the corruption in Malaysia makes Thailand look like it’s well-run
  • the same caveman-like business mentality exists in Malaysia as it does in Thailand (see below for more on this…)
  • the coffee sucked just like in Thailand – I tried Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and some other place in the KLCC – the shopping place at the giant twin towers


Will we be moving to Malaysia anytime soon?

No, I just crossed if off the list during and after this trip. Though there were some positives, there were too many negatives and I just couldn’t see it as a place that I could spend any length of time. Maybe in the smaller areas – possible. However, all I’ve been to is Penang, and Kota Baru… neither of which were appealing either. Another thing… having great food – is necessary. I don’t want to go searching for great food – I just want to walk out the door – and it’s there in my face. Malay food is OK, and I could live on it if I had to, but I’m not really a fan.

One thing that irked me, because I was hoping it would be different from Thailand was how things are run in a business… One thing that got me… I walked into a hotel, there was a gay kid with a bright pink blazer on flirting with me as I tried to book into the hotel. He worked there, and was booking me in. They had 2 rooms – one 7 feet by 7 feet + a restroom – for 75 RM (about 750 THB). It was ridiculous… and so I took the other room – about 5 times that size for 1,250 THB – which was still 500 too much, but whatever, I was only staying a couple days.

They showed me room 214. I said I’ll take it. He puts me in 414. There was maintenance going on on 4th floor and the smell of glue permeated everything, but I didn’t notice until well after I’d destroyed the room with a shower and returned from dinner. Before I get in the door to 414 I tried the lock. It’s like a camera battery – round – on the end of a plastic keyholder type deal. It doesn’t work. I try 8 times. Doesn’t work. I go down the lift to the front desk. I tell him. He puts the battery thing on a charger and takes it off – says – it’s charged. WTF?

I go back up – it doesn’t work. I try many times. I go back down and tell him – fix it. He sends a maintenance guy up with me who uses his card to get me in my room, and takes my other card. I get in the room – the sheets are dirty – I’ve got Mohammed’s pubic hair on my sheets and there are dark stains on the white sheets. I call the front desk – can you send someone up to change the sheets – they’re dirty.

“Yes, sure,” they say.

I don’t see the guy with my key again, nor do they come to change my sheets.

I leave to go eat – they ask for my room key. I told him the maintenance guy has it. He didn’t give it to them. I don’t care I told them – go find it – and fix my key so I can get in.

I return from dinner. They give me a new key. I go upstairs – try it – broken.

I go downstairs… “Listen, fix this key, I’m tired of not getting into my room.” They fudge with it and try 5 different things. They give me the key and send a maid up with me. The key doesn’t work. Maid uses hers to let me in the room. I take the key for the room and keep it. My sheets are still not changed. I call them on the phone – “Listen, I told the girl 4 hours ago – my sheets need changed, can you send someone to change them?”

“Yes, sure!” The guy comes to change them in 2.5 hours.

I leave the next morning and return just before noon – they give me the same damn key and told me it works. I go upstairs to my room – try it – it doesn’t work. I go back down – they send a maid up with me – who uses her key to let me in.  And finally I checked out and found a different hotel to stay.

Oh, I forgot to mention – the squirter for the toilet had the handle part removed – in both the rooms in that place. The TV had 4 channels. There was NO refrigerator in any of the 3 rooms I stayed in.

So, that was a bit about my adventure in Kuala Lumpur. I think I had a bad experience, it’s probably better than what I saw of it. I did get the visa from the Thai Embassy – so that was cool enough. I did see a camera before it was even released. I did meet some amazing people. I did eat great Indian food.

What about you – ever venture to Malaysia and like it? What did you like or dislike?