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Published: March 30th 2008
011 - Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur
03/20/08 - 03/24/08
After leaving the Perhentians we headed into Khota Baru for one final night at one of the friendliest guest houses we've stayed so far, Zeck's Guesthouse (run by Zeck and his wife Marium). Afterwards, it was off to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia's capital city.
KL (like the rest of Malaysia) is characterized by three main cultures and their religions: the Chinese Bhuddist or Taoist, the Indian Hindus, and the Malay Muslims. It is amazing to see these vastly different cultures living (mostly) peacefully together in such a big city.
Our 'hotel' (a hostel really) in KL was crammed into a building on the main street of Chinatown. It was crazy, the second you stepped outside the hotel doors, you were mobbed by aggressive merchants trying to sell you sunglasses, wallets, and knock-off apparel. Oh, and our elevator... I mean hotel room... was the absolute smallest room we've ever stayed in. Basically, it was an 8 foot cube of a room with two bunk beds and not much else! Comedy... but it was cheap!
One of our primary mantras of this trip is to 'do it like the
locals'. Well, we were in for a treat in KL. One of Hannah's good friend's nephew, Peter Walker, lives in Kuala Lampur. Peter was kind enough to meet up with us and invite us out for a few evenings with him and his local friends. Both Hannah and I really enjoyed his company and were stoked to be hanging out with some locals from KL.
A little bit about Peter. Originally from the States - most recently in New Mexico, Peter is a film director currently involved in the startup of two international shows (still in pilot stage) that are being produced. One of the shows is travel based and focuses on food, music, and culture, and the other is an art competition that aims to find the next 'da Vinci' artist. Great premises if you ask me! Here's a link to Peter's site:
And his TravelBlog:
During the weekend we were in KL, they had the annual Formula One race just outside the city. This attracted many tourists from Europe and there was quite a bit of hype all around the city. Since neither Hannah or I (or the rest of America for
that matter!) are big F1 fans, we decided to skip out on trying to get tickets to the races, but still enjoyed seeing the hype around town.
One night, Peter invited us to an acoustic concert at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) just outside the city. This was a small grass roots event with about 100 people in attendance and was neat because we got to see some of the local music talent. I found it interesting that all four performers (1 Chinese and 3 Malays) sang the majority of their material in English. And they were quite good at it! Afterwards, we went out for some tea and snacks with some of Peter's friends who also work at KLPAC. Again, I found it awesome that his friends were of all three of the local cultures.
One morning we woke up early and headed over to the Petronas Towers. These are currently the second tallest buildings in the world (the Taipei bulding is taller) and are quite the sight. We took a tour up to the sky bridge on the 41st floor (about halfway up) and learned that Petronas is actually the main Mayalsian oil and
gas company. At the base of the towers is an excellent shopping mall with designer brand stores like Prada, Chanel, etc. (too rich for our blood but still neat to walk around in). Speaking of malls, the Malays love them and they're popping up everywhere now days.
On our last night in KL, Peter invited us to his salsa dancing class. We got to see some neat moves and also met the instructors (both Indian) and some of the students. We even received a short merengue lesson. Good times! Afterwards, (WARNING: this is not 'doing it like the locals'!) we satisfied a HUGE Mexican food urge I was having by getting some nachos at a spot Peter knew of. Mmmm... nachos... Thanks to Peter for being such a great host!
Next stop is the port city of Melaka, Malaysia, about 2 hours south of KL, and a former Dutch and British colony used as a hub for international trading.
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