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Published: March 7th 2009
Room with a view!
View from our budget window at the back...but inside is fine!
Kuala Lumpur: KL is Knockout Lovely!
Friday 6th March 2009 (our daughter-in-law’s birthday - “Feliz Cumpleanos“, Mam)
This is a great city! It is noisy, crazy, jammed with traffic, hot and humid, twenty-four hours, totally manic and just what we expected! The journey here yesterday was a breeze. Coach travel in Malaysia really is first class. The coach was comfy and air conditioned. The motorway was just like those we have in Spain i.e. smooth, fast and beautifully planted with bougainvillea down the central reservations and not crowded. It is 145 kilometres from Melaka to Kuala Lumpar and the fare is just 12 ringgits (just over two pounds sterling).
We are staying in famous Petaling Street, in the heart of Chinatown. In the daytime it is just an ordinary street, well more like a pedestrian bazaar, lined with shops, stalls and food carts. At night time, however, every inch of the road is filled with stalls so close together that it is really claustrophobic walking between them and difficult to make it to the pavement to enter the hotel lobby. Crazy place! As for the hotel, well, if you like buildings with lovely old facades (built in1910) yet
Peterling Street (quiet day time scene)
Our hotel with red sign on left hand side
with all mod cons inside (good en suite bathrooms, efficient air conditioning) in the top end of the budget category, in a great location, then the “D”Oriental Inn” is a great choice and we can recommend it without reservation; nine pounds each per night including a buffet cooked breakfast is pretty good for Kuala Lumpur (we only paid seven each in Melaka).
We spent all of yesterday afternoon and evening exploring Chinatown, including the Central Market, which is not just a market but a cultural centre for the promotion of the arts, crafts and performances of multicultural Malaysia. It is a grand building, built as a market in1888 (a deliberate lucky Chinese date with three eights) and its décor has been carefully preserved and restored.
Today, as a complete contrast, we went uptown to the KLCC and the sensational iconic twin towers of the PETRONAS building. This giant structure, a temple to wealth and the power of the Malaysian oil company, PETRONAS, is mind boggling. No expense was spared in this construction; designed by an American, the exterior is banded with stainless steel ribbons, the interior gleams with polished granite, marble and steel, the shops inside include Hermes,
Chanel and Bulgari and one can pay two ringgits to go to the “Premier’ loos (there are free ones as well). I paid two ringgits and it was great; a lady presented me with moist tissue, smoothed cream on to my hands after washing and sprayed me with perfume! She didn’t seem to mind at all that I was in a very old t-shirt and shorts whilst my fellow loo companions wore their designer labels.
The PETRONAS, largest structure of its kind in the world, is 88 floors of beauty; it shimmers in the sun light and the fountains that dance below sparkle through a sequence of shapes and patterns. A “sky bridge” joins the twin towers at level 41 and this is the highest point accessible to the visitor. It’s high enough! In fact, it is the world’s highest sky bridge. After collecting a ticket and seeing a 3D film about the construction of the towers, one is whisked up to floor 41 in just 41 seconds, which makes the ears pop, and then the whole of Kuala Lumpar is laid out like a miniature village below. It is a very impressive tour, organised with military precision (including
airport-style security screening) and it is completely free of charge. This is a “must do” for any visitor to KL.
After the PETRONAS experience, we started to walk towards the old colonial district around Merdeka Square but soon gave up in the afternoon heat and flagged down a taxi to complete the journey. There are several interesting buildings here, including the mock-Tudor social centre of the 1890s, the Royal Selangor Club, the Jamek Mosque and the National History Museum, but the finest is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which houses the law courts. From Merdeka we made our way back to our hotel to rest our aching feet and recover in the air con.
This evening we had one of the best meals on our travels so far. We ate at a restaurant that specialises in “Nonya” dishes. Nonya cuisine, evolved over more than a century, originally in both Melaka and Penang, is a marriage of Malay spicy dishes and Chinese cookery. In Melaka the Nonya was also influenced by Indonesia and in Penang there was a strong Siamese influence from Thailand in the North. The result is food that is jammed with rich flavours, for example a
simple dish like sweet and sour chicken is made with chicken that has first been honey roasted and the sauce has added pineapple, saffron, cumin and even jasmine, giving a really unusual taste. The Beef Rendang, full of coconut and richly marinated spicy beef is so tender and the coconut rice is delicious. For starters we had “Pie Tee” which are little rice wafer cups, called “Top Hats” accompanied by minced chicken and vegetables to stuff inside them with chilli sauce. For dessert we had sago pudding with honey and palm sugar and also an unusual pudding made with yams, sweet potatoes, coconut and palm sugar. All of this food cost 53 ringgits (less than ten pounds) and the bottle of Chilean plonk cost 90 ringgits! ‘Thank you” to the “Lonely Planet” because without their recommendation we would have never found the “Old China Inn’ tucked away on the bottom of Chinatown in a dingy side street and, as promised by the book, it really is very good authentic Nonya. We might just go there again tomorrow!
Tot: 2.803s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 23; qc: 99; dbt: 0.0678s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb