From our first moments in Kuala Lumpur, it was increasingly clear that it would come to be everything that Bankok was not. The modern city scape was a stark contrast to the laid back and touristy Thai island that we had just departed. Immediately, I was drawn in by this city. It was ultra modern but still very Asian. While Bangkok is both of those things, it seems to lack the integration that exists within Kuala Lumpur. In Bangkok I can see how it would be easy to live a completely old-fashioned life and, completely separately, a modern one. In KL it’s much more seamless. You don’t come across streets that have been left behind in terms of technology or civilised behaviour. There’s no need to remind people not to spit on the floor of trains or use their phones in the cinema like in Beijing or Hanoi.
The Food –
KL is famous for it’ s buffet-style food courts and they are everywhere! While almost everything was way spicier than I would have liked, there was one dish that caught my attention. Traditionally a breakfast dish, Nasi Lemak is steamed coconut rice with a variety of toppings. Mine cost just $3 and came with fried chicken, sambal, fried peanuts half a hard-boiled egg and some other weird stuff. Having gone on a mission to find it (which was really easy), then tried it, I have to say, I didn’t hate it but that about where it ends. Also good for mutton curries, fish, seafood and snails!
The Skyline –
Kuala Lumpur is no doubt famous for it’s Patronas Twin Towers and associated sky deck, however, this was not the way we chose to view the skyline. The thought of shelling out $50 from our seriously waining budget, straight into the pockets of an oil company, just so we could visit the 46th floor was just too much. Instead, we took the Karl Pilkington approach and spent $18 on the Menara KL Tower. As Karl not so eloquently explains in this clip: An Idiot Abroad – “better off living in the hole”, It’s always better to live in the hole with a view the a palace than live the palace with a view of the hole. Now I’m not in any way saying that the Menara KL is a hole but when you think Kuala Lumpur, you think Patronas Sky Deck… it’s just a fact. In this case, however, we sided with Karl, spent less money, went higher and saw a fantastic (if a little hazy) view of the twin towers. The 6th talest telecom tower in the world, Menara, at 421m, is also the tallest tower in Southeast Asia.
But don’t worry, I’ve only seen five of them with my own eyes. ( 😛 )
Menara is also home to a pretty rubbish F1 simulator, a mini aquarium, a forest and a 100 year old tree. Apparently when the tower was being built they spent $41m and had to alter construction plans in order to save this poor old tree… Having seen a couple of 1,000 year old trees in lowly church yards, I have to say, I wasn’t too impressed. I also can’t help thinking that in a country that has a serious problem with deforrestation, that $41m could probably have been used to develop sustainable re-forestation programes rather than save one single tree… but never mind.
At Street Level –
From Little India to Brickfields, Central Market to Sentral Station, KL is a wash of activity and culture. The mega malls and luxury shopping districts blend seamlessly into the food courts and hijab stalls that feed and clothe everyone from business people and tourists to teksi drivers and schoolchildren. The technicolor ribbon of graffiti, that runs parallel to the river, expertly mirrors the life of this otherwise concrete jungle.