Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kuala Lumpur

Those of you who followed the blog of the train from Moscow to Beijing might remember that we were joined in our carriage by a retired couple from Kuala Lumpur. The husband, Yee, volunteered to show me around KL and I gladly accepted. To be honest, I did not know very much at all about KL except it was a large city with the Petronas Towers.

Yee had arranged to pick me up from the AirBnB where I was staying at 10 am. There was some cloud cover and the temperature seemed to be in the low 80's. It felt quite pleasant. This is the view up the road. If you look in the other direction, you see the Petronas Towers.

Yee turned up right on time in his BMW and away we went into the downtown. We saw the KL Tower which is used for communication purposes.

We stopped at a traffic light and this is my photo of the Petronas Towers. The walkway between the towers is blocked by the tree. Yee advised against going up to see the view because it was one of those overcast misty days where you wouldn't be able to see too much.

We parked at an underground parking lot and emerged into the heat. We each had a bottle of water.

Since 60% of the population is Moslem and the British ruled here for much of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the architecture often has both British and Islamic influences.

The mock Tudor 'Spotted Dog'. 

The cricket pitch. You would have needed to be a 'mad dog or Englishman' to be out there playing cricket in that heat and humidity.

Old and new.

I was really taken with this modern building. 

Victorian Fountain. 

Whenever I go to a city, I often ask the question 'Why here?' KL is here because of this confluence of two rivers, the Gombak and the Klang. A little to the left you might be able to see the dome of the Jamek Mosque.

Downtown KL is a curious mix of old and very new.

Some of the tall modern buildings are really interesting.

KL has a lot of motor bikes and scooters, but there seem to be more cars. As I have mentioned in other blogs, Malaysia is a wealthy country compared to most other Asian nations. There is plenty of traffic, but it is not a mad house like Hanoi or Saigon.

We visited the Jamek Mosque. Since I was wearing shorts, I was required to don this robe to cover my hairy legs. Let me tell you it was really hot under that robe.

We could walk outside the covered area of the Mosque, but we were not allowed to walk inside until 11 am.

Another part of the Mosque. Since we could see from the outside what we would see from within, Yee suggested that we continue the walk rather than wait ten minutes for the Mosque to open. let me just say it was a relief to remove the robe.

KL has markets galore.

We followed this woman for a few moments. I have gained a new respect for Moslem women who wear robes like this all the time when they are out of their homes. I could only last a few minutes with the purple robe. They do it for hours, every day.

Cold drinks. Drinking plenty of liquids is essential in this hot and humid climate. Fortunately, juices are quite inexpensive here. Tonight for dinner, I had a watermelon juice which I had in Vietnam and is just absolutely delicious. I'll have to make some when I get back home in late July.

As in George Town, KL has the covered colonnades.

The roof of another market.

You might wonder why I have included this photo. It is not an accident.

Count the number of tiles between the column and the wall and you will see that there are five of them. The British had made a rule that all buildings had to have a five foot wide covered colonnade in front to protect pedestrians from sun and rain.

Many of the older buildings date from the early 20th century.

As we passed this old man in his shop, Yee remarked that this kind of traditional shop was disappearing along with the older generation. The younger people do not want to have a shop like this any more.

I often wonder how shop keepers survive, particularly when you never see any people in the shops buying.

Yee used to be in the pharmacy business and he told me this was the first pharmacy in KL.

This roof over the Kasturi Walk is in the shape of a kite.

Since it was hot we went into the nearby Central Market which is air-conditioned for a cup of coffee.

I tried Malayan coffee which is really strong. It has butter or margarine added which gives it a very rich taste. Malaysians typically add sugar but I really enjoyed it straight. Yee thought that typical American coffee was too weak and I would have to agree with him.

Yee also suggested I try the traditional toast with butter and kaya which is a sweet jam made from coconut milk and eggs. It was unusual but tasty.

While the majority of KL people are Moslem, there are large Indian and Chinese populations. Each group has their markets and places of worship.

We briefly visited this Chinese temple.

The stove is where you burn offerings, usually money.

An Indian temple.

Roasting chestnuts.

We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Yee suggested that we have the chick rice with some roast pork. The food in SE Asia is just so good. I tried some sort of plum juice that a a sweet sour taste and was very refreshing. I even had a second glass.

Not a Chinese temple but a kind of support club for members of certain Chinese families.

By this time we were both starting to get a bit tired so Yee suggested we take the mono rail and the LRT back to where he had parked the car. I was happy to comply.

Yea took me on a bit of a tour on the way out to the building where he and his wife Mai live. On the way we went past the enormous Lake Gardens. Next to it is a huge covered bird park. This would be something I would like to see the next time I am in KL.

Yee and Mai live in a very nice apartment in a tall building and have magnificent views over the city to the surrounding hills.

The Royal Palace. The King is an elected monarch selected from one of the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay States. He rules for a five year term.

Mai and Yee. It was great to catch up with them again and to talk about various trips that we have done and those to come. They have traveled extensively and for their next trip, they are thinking of driving down the west coast of the USA. I seem to remember doing that last year. It was really wonderful to have Yee give me the personal guided tour of KL and I suppose the best compliment I can give him is that I would like to come back and see some more.

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