Malaysia is truly Asia

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February 4th 2007
Published: February 18th 2007
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This is a truly amazing city. The busride from Penang to KL was a testament to how developed this country is compared to most of its neighbors. One great thing about the city is that it is nowhere near the tourist trap that Bangkok has become, thereby allowing me to find a bunk in a well priced dorm on my second attempt (booked my first choice for the next night). While the dorms in KL where a little pricier than other places (between $7-8.50) there were the best places I stayed the entire trip. Free breakfast, free coffee and tea throughout the entire day, internet right in the guesthouse, movie selection and modern widescreen tvs to watch them on etc. Plus, these places used a designer for the decor, so they were rather hip. I ended up spending a fair bit of time checking out the shopping malls in the city, mainly because there were so many of them, they were so huge, it was very muggy outside, and they had blasting aircon at the mall. Plus, I was ready for a bit a reimersion into western culture, so I spent about 6 hours on day just reading at Borders Bookstore. I did do all the must see sites of the city, except for going up to the petronas towers skybridge. I checked out the towers, but did not go up. I would have loved to, but because KL sandwiched my trip to Indonesia, the only day that I was there that was not on a weekend was my first, and I slept in missing the chance to get in line for a ticket before they ran out. The guidebook recommended not going on a weekend. However, since I loved the city so much, I imagine that this is one that I will be back to sometime, so I will go then.

Because I had picked up a guidebook for Malaysia, I now was armed with maps for doing walking tours through various parts of the city. This was a first on this trip, and may be a last. I think I am just not a walking tour person. A narration of how old buildings are and who first owned them just does not really do it for me. It was cool to see the neighborhoods, but ever since I went to China, seeing 'Chinatowns' was about the same is

#8 Guesthouse#8 Guesthouse#8 Guesthouse

A cool place to stay in KL
hitting 'slideshow' on my camera when I am lying in bed but can't sleep. I found another aircon respite from the sweat of the street in the form of the Malaysian National History Museum. Amazing how much 2 hours can do for ones basic understanding of a country. Let me say that for the duration of my time in there, I was very glad to have not been a citizen of Portugal. Wow, the Malaysians don't mess around with there labeling. A brief summery would be: Malaysia was a prosperous trading area until Portugal came in and imposed its imperial will on it, messing everything up, and causing poverty, starvation and spiritual oppression. Somehow the British got off easy, maybe because they came between the Portuguese and the WW2 invasion of the Japanese. Either way, wow. I am all for truth and forthrightness in museums, but some of the labeling was deserving of the label 'hate speech.' Oh, and they also charge to use the restroom, even though you now have to buy a ticket to see the museum. Just shows that after all those centuries of 'colonial oppression', some things were still not learned.

I tried putting my

Malaysian MoneyMalaysian MoneyMalaysian Money

They are really trying to promote the national airline. If you look closely, you can see it on the money!
Egyptian experiences in checking out Mosques to use, and found that they did indeed come in handy. I was in a fairly nondescript mosque looking at the layout, and a lay man came up to me and told me that I was not allowed to be inside. I told him that this was strange, since in Egypt (much more conservative) this had been no problem. I also added that if he ever had the inclination to visit a religious building of my faith, I would not be so rude as to try to kick him out. At this point, one of the caretakers (for lack of a better word) came up to us and asked what was wrong, after which he told the man that it was just fine that I was in the mosque and then seemed to say (in Malay) something along the lines of 'what the hell is wrong with you?' The man seemed rather embarrassed at this point and exited to say his prayers at another mosque. I chatted with the caretaker for a bit and then continued my tour of little India. This proved to be very interesting. I timed it just write to catch

a Hindu prayer service (before this point, I had only been in a Hindu temple once). Yep, that was an experiences. I was just checking out the temple when some guys dressed like the cleric in 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' came out of a hallway and started ringing bells and moving around doing stuff with the idols. At this point, some other tourists mentioned to each other that it must be time to leave. Heck if I was leaving! This was way cool. I just followed the Hindu faithful around for the better part of a half an hour, loving every minute of it, but totally lost as to what was going on. Something to add to the to do list once I get back to the states.

So, to recap, I didn't do as much as I could have in the several days I had in KL, but I loved the city for several reasons: 1, it was my favorite combo of affordability and modern comfort of any city on the trip. It was organized, and had basic safety signs over open manholes. It did have multiple ethnicity's contributing to the culture, was safe, and

had some very glitzy public spaces (such as outside the petronas towers. I also ended up hanging out at my guesthouse, not just because I was tired, but because it was a nice place to hang out. This contributed to my being giving a $225 backpack by a British Traveler who needed something he could lock. Such favorable experiences always lead to one enjoying a city more. Even though the Airport is at best 1 hour outside of town, the modern bus to get there is only $2.50, so at least they have a budget option of getting to their out of the way places. Having sampled the modern comforts of KL, it was time to take the bus to Singapore and see what a really modern clean city looked like.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


National MosqueNational Mosque
National Mosque

A really big, not too interesting place

23rd February 2007

old neighbor
Hi, Pete - Your parents put me on to your blog site. Just read your latest entry. Very, veryinteresting. Makes me want to go there. Lucky you. Good luck to you. Lyn
13th March 2007

Look deeper
Look deeper when you are in Malaysia and and you will see a country divided by politics and religion. Add corruption and abuse of power and you will surely admire these folk for living there. There is massive discrimination against non-Muslims. The Muslim elites extract a "rent" for each and every contract they sublet to the non-Muslims. That's really a form of Islamic tax that the extremists want to impose openly on the non-Muslims. Enjoy your visit but look deeper.

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