Malaysia is one of my most explored countries, I can’t even remember how many times I traveled there. What I like about Malaysia is it is oozing with attractions, both natural and man-made, and it is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
I recently returned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to attend a celebration called Keretapi Sarong, organized by LOCCO. This event was founded in 2012 by an NGO called Random Alphabet before LOCCO took over in 2017.
I flew via Air Asia from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, one of the most reliable budget airlines in South East Asia. Air Asia has daily flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur. The plane landed on Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2). And as soon as we passed immigration and collected our luggage, we hurried to get on the KLIA Ekspres train to the city center. It’s the fastest way to get to and from the airport in Kuala Lumpur, travel time is about 30 minutes. You can book tickets in advance online or buy at the train station.
KLIA Ekspres Train: BOOK HERE
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Where to Eat in Kuala Lumpur
Upon arrival at KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, we took a taxi to a Halal Izakaya Style Restaurant named Kingu Kongu in Chow Kit, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur. The restaurant serves really good Japanese style food and Muslim-friendly dishes. I have a picky palate when it comes to Japanese food, and this place didn’t disappoint There’s no alcohol here though, even though it’s Izakaya style because it is a halal restaurant.
- Kingu Kongu
- Location: Chow Kit
- Open Hours: Sunday (Lunch) 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM, (Dinner) 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
- Saturday – Sunday 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
- Instagram: @kingukongu.my
After dinner, we transferred to another neighborhood – Dang Wangi near Menara Kuala Lumpur to try the mamak. Chow Kit and Dang Wangi are both local favorites for mamak, a timeless cultural scene in Malaysia that tourists must experience. Mamak is like a modest, local eatery where you can try Malaysian comfort food and drinks such as the classic te tarik and roti chanai, mee goreng, maggi goreng, nasi candar, tandoori chicken, etc.
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Another place we went to for dinner during our stay in Kuala Lumpur is the Sky Lounge at Santa Grand Signature Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the 3 restaurants in this Peranakan-inspired hotel, which is strategically located in Dang Wangi area near Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower).
The Sky Lounge is situated beside the rooftop pool of this luxury hotel. What I like about this place is it has a scenic view of the city with 3 major towers of KL – Petronas Tower, Menara KL Tower, and Merdeka 118, the 2nd tallest building in the world.
For dinner we had the following:
- Starter: Prawns with lemon grass ginger flower on ngonya
- Soup: Creamy mushroom soup with garlic croutons
- Main Course: Braised deviled chicken roll grilled vegetable almond potatoes
- Dessert: Crème brulee strawberry compote
If you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur soon, check out Sky Lounge at santa Grand Signature Kuala Lumpur. You can book a romantic dinner here or a private function even if you’re stayin in a different hotel like us. But if you want to consider staying here so you can enjoy the pool and its scenic city view, check the rates and book through the link below.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
After a satisfying dinner, we headed to our hotel to check-in. For this event, I was booked at Momo’s Kuala Lumpur, a small but chic boutique hotel in Chow Kit. If you’ve read my latest Kuala Lumpur Itinerary Guide, I mentioned Chow Kit is one of my recommended areas to stay in the city. I just learned that Chow Kit was in fact once the commercial heart of Kuala Lumpur, before it was transferred to KLCC in the 1980’s. So long as you can find an accommodation that is walking distance to a metro/train station, you’re good.
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What I like about Chow Kit area it is oozing with street food culture that is not as touristy as Bukit Bintang. Here, you’ll find some great Tamil, Malay, Indian, and Chinese dishes.
Momo’s Kuala Lumpur is close to the Medan Tuanku MRT Station, so it’s a convenient place to stay in the city for solo travelers, friends or couples who are looking for a budget accommodation that is clean and chic.
Momo’s Kuala Lumpur has 3 room categories: Bunkies (bunkbed), Crash pad ( double bed), and crash pad for two (twin bed). I stayed alone at a crash pad with a double bed and my room has a good city view. It actually reminds me of some stylish budget hotels in Japan. The room is painted in white and looks warm and clean, and it is compact with just right enough for me to move around. The crash pad is equipped with TV and a safe, which I really need to store my laptop, passport, and hard drives. They also provide hair dryer, bottled water, and bathroom has good-smelling shower gel and shampoo.
If you’re interested in staying here, you can check the room rates and book a room through the link below. They also have a bar and restaurant here but since I never tried it, I can’t tell you much about it, except that it’s an Instagrammable spot.
2023 KERETAPI SARONG KUALA LUMPUR
On our 2nd Day in Kuala Lumpur, we attended the big event – Keretapi Sarong which happened on the big day itself – September 16, which is Malaysia Day or Hari Malaysia, the foundation day of Malaysia.
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Keretapi Sarong is an event where Malaysians converge to celebrate Hari Malaysia in their traditional outfit or sarong. This year’s theme was “Empowering the Unity Though Malaysia’s Ethnicity” which is organized by Locco Malaysia in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC).
From our hotel, we took the MRT to KL Sentral where the crowds assembled. Here, Malaysians that joined the flash mob sported their timeless sarong garment or traditional costumes. I wore a garment that I bought in Bali, Indonesia because I don’t have a Philippine traditional attire. I tried shopping for one at the mall but it was too expensive. It was a unique experience for me especially the train ride. It was jaw-dropping to witness several Malaysians, mostly the younger generation proudly wear their sarong and local costume in different styles. I like collecting indigenous textiles whenever I travel, so, joining this event really made my heart happy.
Sarong or sarung is a traditional textile typically tied around the waist. It’s believed to have been used by women and men in Southeast Asia long before the invasion of the colonizers. It’s not just a mere fashion piece or outfit, but also a cultural element shared by Malaysians and Southeast Asians.
In fact, sarong has diverse names in Asia, such as sarong or sarung in Malaysia and Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Singapore. It is known as Tais Mane in Timor-Leste and Longyi in Myanmar. While Thailand calls it nung loy chai. Here in the Philippines, sarong is also known as malong, patadyong, or tapis. More than just a textile, the sarong therefore symbolizes unity and co-existence despite varying culture and traditions.
Keretapi Sarong is truly an effective way of raising awareness on the importance of sustaining cultural heritage, preserving the sarong culture, and welcoming the creativity and diverse artistic and cultural expressions of Malaysians and other participants joining the event.