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Third time in Kuala Lumpur: local cuisine, couchsurfing and discrimination


Malaysia was my destination when I first traveled solo, so my heart jumped in glee when I set my foot in that country for the third time. Especially when I saw Petronas Twin Towers. They captivated my heart.

First-time couchsurfer

Have you heard of it? If not, I’ll give you an overview. Couchsurfing is staying at a stranger’s home for free when you’re travelling. Of course, you have to be careful about choosing your host.

Luckily, my host was a nice local of Kuala Lumpur. His place was more than what I expected. At first, I doubted that it was possible for two total strangers to get along with, let alone trust each other. But everything turned out great and fun. I was in good hands.  You may want to learn more about it here My first time couchsurfing experience .    ( this has also been posted on Tripzilla Magazine! )

Trying out local cuisine 

Unknown by many, Kuala Lumpur’s cuisine is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Most restaurants offer buffet at a relatively cheap price. Can you believe that the cheapest food you can find costs as low as 50 cents? You can find it at Restoran Sambal Hijau in Petaling Jaya. There is a wide array of sweets and drinks, too! Although I’m bad at remembering the names of the food I ate, I strongly suggest that you taste their mouth-watering dishes without hurting your pocket. Nazi Lemak is my best recommendation. It is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves.

( my breakfast before leaving Malaysia. It’s only $1.50) The coffee was sweet! I love it! )

The photo below is a just a snapshot of the regular scene at most restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. You’ll get really full without spending a fortune, trust me!

After getting stuffed with a delectable cuisine, my host Zikri took me to a nice cafe where some locals go to and find their quiet time.  Do you know that Petaling Jaya has numerous cafes too? And some of them serve local coffee.  Although this is quite far from the main city of Kuala Lumpur, you’d still feel the good vibes of the cafes that you usually find in big cities.

I stayed in Kuala Lumpur for only a couple of days. As I said, I’d been there twice. Unfortunately, on my last night, something unfortunate happened.


Experiencing discrimination in the most unpleasant way

Zikri and I were supposed to hang out for a few drinks at Reggae Mansions rooftop bar. At the reception, a staff was on the phone and two Bangladesh security guards (Bangladesh according to my him) stood there greeting guests. I smiled as I approached the security guards. I said we’d love to go to the rooftop bar. He said we couldn’t. I asked him why. He reasoned that the rooftop bar was open for guests only. It got me a little upset and asked him, “Since when?” He said that it was the management’s decision. I didn’t protest. Evidently, he didn’t want us to enter. He was grinning like a Manchester cat; it was a bit insulting. We left. As we stepped out of the door, we bumped into this group of white girls and guys.

Prior to that, we already bumped into them on the road while we were on our way to the bar. Probably, they were also looking for a place to hang out. As we went out, I wanted to inform them that they couldn’t go to the rooftop bar because they weren’t guests, but I stopped myself. I was expecting the guards would block them, but NO. As we strode to where we parked our car, I looked back at them and click! THEY LET THEM IN. HOW COME?

I didn’t go back and confront the hostel staff about what happened, because I didn’t want to make any scene. In my mind, maybe they had just changed the regulation, so that’s acceptable. Even so, I told my friend that I would send their management an email or a direct message on Facebook to confirm if that was true. As soon as we arrived at his home, I ran back to my room to check their website if there was any regulation stating that NON-GUESTS are not allowed to enter the rooftop bar. I DIDN’T FIND ANY. I sent a direct message. I got “seen” for a reply. I sent an email, too. I got no response at all. RACIST, AREN’T THEY?

I read on their website that they don’t accept online bookings from locals, but they can somehow walk in. That still depends on the availability of the room. Was that because I was with a local that night and I looked like a local because I’m Asian? STILL, NO.

I was disheartened to be treated that way by their staff, because I personally liked the hostel, and I had once stayed there during my second time in Kuala Lumpur.

After that night, I felt really bad because it was the first time I experienced such a disgusting treatment. Anyhow, I thank Zikri for looking after me. We just dropped by to see the Twin Towers, then finally headed back to his flat to have some drinks.  I hope you won’t experience the same incident and if you ever do, I hope you fight back and get the justice you deserve.

The next day, I took a bus to Singapore. I didn’t let the last part of my journey in Kuala Lumpur ruin my entire trip. This time, I had a better and amazing story.  That’s gonna be on my next writing. Stay tuned! 

                                             Thanks for reading! ♡

Born, raised, and forever loyal to the Philippines. Catherine is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. She writes every day. She's in love with Africa, beaches, and books. Her favorite books are " There Is No Me Without you, One woman's Odyssey to Rescue African's children, and "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace. One School at a Time". And her ultimate dream destinations are Madagascar and Hawaii. Check out more of her stories on her blog.


  • neha

    Couchsurfing is no doubt an interesting idea.I would love to try it sometimes. seems like particularly popular in south east asia

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    I have read a lot about couchsurfing, but not tried it myself. I see you had a good host. I guess it all depends on the host you get. But the advantage is that yo get to have a local and immersive experience as you get closer to local culture.

  • Cai Dominguez

    Never experience couchsurfing and I’m not sure if I will. Maybe yes if my host love to drink and stay late hahaha. I love KL but I know a lot of racist incidents going around the city specially with the hostel industry. Some of my volunteer friends in Bangkok who went to KL to volunteer in a hostel was advised not to accept any asean guests of people from middle east. That’s so racist!

  • Jerny

    Disheartening tlga yang pagiging racist ng ilang bars. When I get back to KL, I’ll see if we could enter without being hotel guests. Haha, matry lang! Kung hindi tyo pinapasok, magiging viral tlga sila. Lol xD

  • Swati

    I can understand your frustration at the discrimination metted out but hey, look at the bright side. You had an awesome host who took you to experience the local scene. I am glad you enjoyed KL enough to be there thrice already !

  • Marge

    You were lucky with your Couchsurfing experience. As with me, unless I know the person I’m staying with I am no longer doing that couchsurfing thing. You know already why. But do you think you can introduce me to your friend so I have someone to tour me around? I will only be in Kuala Lumpur for a day.

    So sorry about your experience at Reggae Mansions. So far I haven’t been discriminated in a country, although I did get scammed. I don’t know what I would have done if it happened to me, probably I’d just let it go but I’m definitely going to write about it.

  • Swayam Tiwari

    I am sorry to be responding this late to this thread but here goes. You have poured out your heart in explaining what happened to you in that hotel. Let us give a benefit of doubt to those guards and be happy. For all we know, those white people maybe the personal guests of the management. Who knows? And in case, you are planning to come over to Delhi, please contact me. I promise there will be no racism at all!

  • Indrani

    Couchsurfing seems safe from your experience. I think it is a matter of luck too to get the right kind of hosts with whom you can connect. Too bad about the security guards not letting you in. Wish they take some action on this.

  • Colby

    I’ve always wanted to try couch surfing but for some reason never have. I’ve heard many people have really good experiences with it. Also, I recently met someone who said KL was their all time favorite place they’ve visited. I’ve only been there on a long layover and definitely want to go back as it seems like a really incredible place, sans the racism you experienced (I really hate to hear that, by the way).

  • Janine Thomas

    Whenever I am in KL I head straight to Petaling Jaya. You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to food in KL. Like you, I love the Nasi Lemak. It’s s;ways a good choice and very affordable for any budget.

  • Ambuj

    The blog post is truly enlightening. It was wrong on the part of the staff to not let you guys in however, that’s how many things go. Not much is in our hands except for raising an alarm about it! However, I have not been to Malaysia yet but I would want to visit the country and try its local cuisines!

  • Gillian Ong

    Ah, I spent a few years in KL for work and I still go back often! I’m so sorry that you had such a terrible experience at the bar – believe me, as a local I’ve experienced my fair share of racism too. Still, I’m glad that you had a good time.

  • neha

    You must love Malaysia so much. 3 times!! Although I have not been here so far, I can see from your experience how beautiful it is and how people get captivated by it. Will love to visit one day and yes, the twin towers will be my first spot.

  • Ami

    Nice to see that you had a gracious and warm host who took you around and helped you with some authentic Local experiences. I love your spirit of not letting that discrimination incident get to you. cheers to you for that.

  • Erica Poyauan

    Seem slike you are having a perfect time but ouch for that unpleasant incident. It sucks to experience discrimination! Hopefully I wouldn’t encounter one in my future travels. And I also hope, these situations wouldn’t stop you form exploring and trying out things you want to try in a foreign place! Good luck!

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