18.08.2009 - 23.08.2009
Maybe it's a slightly obscure place to be having such a thought about, when I've been to so many more historically famous cities, but never the less, when my bus pulled into this shiny modern city that was the thought that tightened my stomach with excitement. Maybe it was the obscurity; a name heard on the BBC, a place I never thought I would see, or maybe it was the multitude of skyscrapers glittering in the early morning sun. Either way I was glad to be here.
Along the way I've heard a lot of people slate KL, but I can't say I see why. There's loads to do here, cheap internet, shopping and cinemas for when you want to do nothing and though the street food is bad, the restaurants are delish!
The Petronas towers, once the tallest towers in the world, now just the tallest twin towers in the world, stand at an enormous 88 stories/1,242.1 ft tall and are connected at the 41st floor by a sky bridge. It's free to visit; you just have to queue early in the morning for a ticket. We queued very early in the morning and were rewarded by being in the third group up that day. At the base of the tower there's an interesting museum on the engineering behind the towers and a very corporate 3D film on all the good Petronas does for Malaysia (free eye tests for kids) and then finally it's our turn to ascend. The lift climbs astonishingly fast, reaching the 41st floor so smoothly my stomach doesn't even have time to back flip. The view from the bridge is wonderful, a panoramic vista of KL that is well worth the queuing.
So, what else is there to see in KL? There's the beautiful Masid Jamek mosque, built in 1909 from red brick and gleaming white marble; an airy building full of sleeping prayers that requires you to don a full tunic and headscarf to look around. There's the planetarium on top of a hill overlooking the city which proudly displays memorabilia from Malaysia's space travellers. There are many architecturally beautiful buildings; the old train station and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building for the old and the Menara KL Tower, with its viewing deck at 276mand all the rest of the KLCC for the new. And then, when you're tired of buildings, there are always amusement arcades. With an Indonesian student I shoot aliens and race rally cars. Crammed in a tiny booth between two six foot something Irish men we scream a Queen song into the microphones. And this was all before the drinking.
However one of my favourite things about my stay in Kuala Lumpur was not man made architecture of any kind but nature set loose amongst it. Every day come late afternoon the blisteringly hot sun and bright blue sky would become hidden by a layer of clouds, high up and far away. Then lower, more bilious clouds roll in and everyone has about 5 minutes to get undercover before the rain starts to pour down. As tower after tower is obscured by the incoming storm thunder rumbles in the distance. Lightning flashes in the distance, moving closer. Soon the cracks are right above, strobing the sky purple and white as the rain lashes down and the thunder crashes around the skyscrapers like the drums of war. The effect is awe inspiring.
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