Published: December 16th 2010May 4th 2009
OK, Kuala Lumpur!
Should begin with the fact that I'm one of those people who aren't hugely interested in going to the big cities. They're overcrowded, you don't usually meet many people because everyone is in a rush. They're also hugely overpriced etc etc etc....
But, I love this place.
After the rush to make a decision to fly to KL instead of going back to Bangkok, the panic of not being able to book a flight online (for programming incompetence) and need of good fortune to get a ticket at the airport (even after being overcharged for the flight) it was a massive relief to land in the middle of nowhere...
KL airport is about 75km from the city ya see! Getting through the airport was as smooth as it should be in a modern country and we headed quickly towards a McDonalds for dirty, greasy taste of the Western world (no BK, sob). Next was the 75km trip into town, this led to a general 'wow' as we sped along roads in a decent bus that cost only 8 ringots and got there in a time which compared to the past 2 months of 3rd
world, seemed unreal! During this trip, approaching the city, the skyscrapers start and then you catch a glimpse of the Petronas Towers in the distance. It's one hell of a vision.
Anyway, we split at KL Sentral station, Alex and myself off to Chinatown, Emma and Rick off to a proper hotel with his birthday money. Alex and I marvelled at the fantastically easy to navigate rail system and got ourselves a room in Chinatown with no problems at all.
We didn't do much this first day other than a quick walk through Chinatown's market place, but this in itself is a great experience. Having been through some of India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos between us we have seen a lot of different Asian cultures. Here in KL all of them collide in a kaeidoscope of civilisation.
Hindi's, Buddist's, Muslim's, Sikh's and so many more cultures live together and bump into each other constantly. Unlike so many other more tragic places, here everyone gets along. They are no funny looks at anyone from anyone, people are free to follow their relgions. Burka's, Sari's, Robe's, Ladyboys even - everyone is just a person. It's a good place.
One of the oldest mosques in KL.
It's also fantastically interesting to sit an observe. We sat outside a Chinese diner when a Malay pair set up electric guitars and started performing Western hits. Some crazy tall guy with an 'Undertaker' hat on with barely any pupil visible kicking around a plastic balls he's trying to sell. Monks in robes carrying their alms jars trying to sell trinkets to tourists. It's pretty mad!
Anway, first morning there I set off on the trains to find the hospital and after a struggle using Lonely Planets notoriously appalling map of KL I made it. Finding the reception was a struggle as there aren't too many English signs, but eventually a man with a broken arm sent me in the right direction.
Was charged 15 ringotts (3 quid) to see a doctor and was told to wait outside room 12. A few minutes later I sat at a table to have my blood pressure and temperature taken before returning to my seat. Another few minutes later I went in to see the doctor - almost no time at all. It is definitely a habit to compare every place you've been to every other place, and compared to
a British hospitals usual wait of 4-6 hours, this was unbelievable to me. I figured I'd finish my book and read the guidebook whilst I waited!
The beautiful Indian doctor told me I probably have a bowl infection (oh joy) and sent me packing to the pharmacy where I got given 3 different sets of drugs to take (15 pills a day!) and these were also amazingly included in the initial 15 ringott price - amazing. I should also add for fairness, that this was the goverment hospital, not private. Makes it even more incredible.
After this I went back to Chinatown to meet Rick and Alex just in time for the Hatton match which started just after 11am on my time. That was obviously over pretty quickly leaving us with lots of time to do something in the afternoon.
Alex and I headed off to the KL Towers (we planned on going to the Petronas Towers, but couldn't get tickets AND you can't take photos from up there AND the view from KL is panoramic). Disturbed by the cost of 38 ringotts (almost 8 quid, I'm a backpacker that's a lot to me!) we almost retired
the idea, but decided we had to go up really.
The efficency, attitude and friendliness of the staff was staggering and we were soon up top. I don't think I need to comment on the view, just check out the photos.
Back down we discovered our ticket price also included going to 'Winter Park', a truly bizarre little place! The little Pakistani girl in the picture was brilliant. On leaving she turned and waved to a penguin model at the entrance, 'Goodbye Mr. Penguin!' Unfortunately her baseball cap caught the breeze from a fan and got blown off and whilst waving her finger at it, 'Oooo, naughty Mr. Penguin, byeee!'
Following this we also went to the included wildlife park, which was also pretty good except that most of the animals had fairly minimal space.
Last of all we went on a 'nature walk'. In the middle of KL next to the tower is an area of preserved jungle, very strange! Monkeys play and through the gaps in the trees you can see the skyscrapers, very surreal!
Went to the towers this morning, but they're closed to public on a Monday so this is the
best I can do!
This morning the others left and today I am left still trying to get better, but in good spirits and trying to decided whether to go north with my Irish trekking buddy Ciaran, or to follow the others to Jakarta and Indonesia. Any suggestions are welcome!
Best Wishes and enjoy the bank hol!
There are more photos below