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Published: August 1st 2011
It’s fair to say that, given the choice, Amy and I would both prefer the quieter town setting for travelling rather than the big bad city. Arriving into the bus station in Kuala Lumpur, we weren’t sure what to expect from this capital. After our time in the Cameron Highlands, and given our excellent experiences in both George Town and on the Perhentian Islands, each gave us good reason to be excited about this particular city.
We were dropped off on the north side of China town, a few minutes’ walk from Petaling Street, the hectic centre of the Chinese district. Carefully weaving our way through the street side vendors, fruit salesmen and the beeping cab drivers (not to mention braving the various pungent smells), we arrived at our accommodation for the following three nights. After being shown to our dormitory, we discovered it was less a dormitory and more a corridor leading to other dorm rooms, that just happened to have bunk beds in it. Furthermore, given the narrowness of the building and its lack of space, there was no common area whatsoever in sight, almost forcing its residents out onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur whether they liked
it or not!
After dumping our bags (and by dumping, I mean I dumped my bags – Amy must get herself organised before she feels comfortable and so has everything she’ll need for every eventuality hanging like lanterns from underneath the top bunk over her own bed!), we headed out to explore the close surroundings of the city.
In the city itself, Chinatown and Little India are adjacent to one another, much like in George Town but on a far more frenzied scale, particularly China Town. Petaling street itself is around three hundred yards in length and simply packed full of market stalls offering to sell every fake fashion item you could possibly imagine. At night the centre of the street is also filled with market stalls, leaving two very narrow walkways either side of the street to fight through to escape its clutches.
After making our escape, we headed over to Little India in search of some food, but unlike our previous destinations in Malaysia, found that none of the Indian restaurants had any decent supply of vegetarian food (I’m pretty sure a few places offered to pick the meat out for Amy – how kind!).
Instead we gave in to the western machine that is McDonalds for our evening’s supply of nutrition! After dinner, we sauntered around Little India, enjoying the Central Market and all the various cultural products for sale.
The following day and we awoke to stifling humidity as we left our accommodation and headed to some of Kuala Lumpur’s more touristy areas. Our first stop was the Menara Tower, a large communications tower situated in gardens towards the more recently developed area of the city. Standing at 421m, it is currently the second largest free standing tower in the world. Like many things in Malaysia, the tower encompasses the different cultures which combine together to make Malaysia such an extraordinary place, from the western contemporary design to the Islamic decoration which adorns the summit of the tower and can be seen from the ground level. Despite the impressive nature of the tower itself, the cost to actually go up to the observatory is rather steep for the budget traveller so we decided to give it a miss and head for the ultimate symbol of Kuala Lumpur – the Petronas Towers.
However, it was still the middle of the day and
while we posed for the obligatory photographs beneath the towers, we also wanted to be around at night to see them in their famed ghostly glow. So, we decided to spend our day in the cinema saying our goodbyes to Harry Potter and friends, as the final instalment of the series had been released that very weekend. We were packed into a cinema screen together with fellow Potter enthusiasts for the final thrill – sad really, finally saying goodbye to such a ubiquitous presence from our childhood and teenage years but as they say, all things must come to an end!
Finally, night had fallen and we were able to glimpse the Petronas Towers in all their architectural glory. At night, they really are magnificent – twin testaments to man’s imagination and ability to create. It is not easy to describe concrete structures as beautiful but in their eerie light, they achieve such distinction.
Our final day in Kuala Lumpur, we stayed local and caught up on some much needed rest. After purchasing our train tickets for Singapore, we spent the day relaxing around Chinatown, with a bit of people watching mixed in (actually a really entertaining thing
to do in Chinatown, especially with Chinese men walking around with every kind of novelty hat and some pretty ridiculous attire adorned by some eastern European looking woman, whose sagging middle aged bum cheeks were literally hanging out the bottom of her sports shorts!). While Amy caught up on some rest back at the hostel, I ate dinner at a street food stall, where I was joined at my table by a 60 year old Malaysian man, who in the middle of our conversation, was only happy to hand out money to passing beggars. When I asked him why he did this when in England, many people feel beggars would use the money for alcohol or drugs, he said he felt it was his obligation as a “child of God” to give anything he could to help, and what these people did with the money was of no consequence – he had simply done his part as a good person – interesting perspective but I remain sceptical.
Overall our limited time in Kuala Lumpur was somewhat of a comedown from our experiences in George Town, the Perhentian Islands and the Cameron Highlands, where we were treated to some breath
taking scenery and enjoyed the best mix of cultures we have ever seen. Despite the awe inspiring Petronas Towers, we expected to be much busier in our three days in the capital, but almost felt as though we had run out of things to do at times – don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Harry Potter but I would rather not be in the cinema and shopping malls when I have only three days in a city.
Naturally, our next stop was another city...
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