August 19, 2012

Kuala Lumpur

After enjoying my first taste of Malaysia in Penang, I made my way to Kuala Lumpur. The delicious food, multi ethnic population, tropical climate, and solid transportation system make Kuala Lumpur a very livable city, but not a particularly exciting one. KL is interesting compared to the island sized shopping mall that is neighbouring Singapore, but nowhere near as fascinating as the Beijings and Bombays of the world in terms of tourist attractions, history, or atmosphere. Nor does it boast the exquisitely crafted beauties of the world's plastic surgery capital, Seoul.

A relatively new city, Kuala Lumpur began its life in the mid nineteenth century as a tin mining outpost. The iconic Petronas Twin Towers are the most eye catching of KL's landmarks, with its design based on traditional Islamic geometric patterns. Once the world's tallest structure, it now sits at fifth place in the ever changing rankings. They remain the tallest twin towers ever constructed. An upmarket shopping complex, movie theatre, art gallery, and beautifully landscaped gardens are all a part of the grounds.

In the old part of town, Chinatown, Little India, and colonial buildings can be explored on foot. Merdeka Square, where the flag of Malaysia was first hoisted after it became an independent nation, is a nice place to relax in between. To escape the heat I dropped into the free and air conditioned Textile Museum. The staff seemed surprised to see a visitor. 

At Masjid Jamek, I followed the example of those entering before me and respectfully donned a blue graduation type gown before going in. Men slumbered peacefully in the shade provided by the hundred year old mosque's pavilions. As I perspired, I realized that the gowns were only meant to cover up guys in shorts or ladies that were skimpily dressed.

During my remaining time in Kuala Lumpur, I wandered around the shopping areas of Bukit Bintang, stopped outside the King's Palace, and ate hairy crab with my former Beijing roommate and a Malaysian siren. At the Central Market, I went to a fish spa where the sea critters enthusiastically nibbled away on my dead skin.


"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." – St. Augustine