For those of you thinking I didn’t enjoy Kuala Lumpur, please don’t worry as I can assure you I did. It might not have been all it could have, but believe me when I say that KL is an amazing city to get lost in. You can believe me because getting lost here is also another of those unplanned activities I managed to fit into my three days.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places which now includes four continents, but the Malaysian capital has to be the most unique. For a start it was the most foreign, but in more ways than you’d think; as much as I was one of the few white people surrounded by an Asian population, I use the term Asian in a general sense rather than Malaysian, as it was populated by those from China and India just as much as Malaysia itself. It’s one thing to have read this in my guide-book before I arrived, but quite another to see such an array of ethnicities living together as one community, with no tensions or problems (at least that I could see) arising from this. There’s sitting down and people watching, and then there’s peoples watching.
As much as I never got to see the KL tower with its more luxurious surroundings, luckily Kuala Lumpur has plenty to do indoors, such as the roller coaster I mentioned previously. I figured that just because I’m stuck indoors, it doesn’t have to be boring and this time I would actually ride it, but technical difficulties on the monorail line soon meant I had another change of plan. Luckily it had stopped raining by now (although I can only assume it was the rain which had caused the difficulties in the first place), and in an effort to explore some of the city on foot rather than public transport, set off back to my hotel. Figuring out which side of the road stations are situated is obviously not my strong point, as it was here I set off in the wrong direction. I had my suspicions about this not long after, but it wasn’t clarified until a passing stranger pointed out that to get to Chinatown I had to take the foot bridge I would find just past the monorail station I had come from.
One attraction I did get to see was the Petrosains (pronounced Pertro-science) museum, which is dedicated to various sources of energy. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an attraction owned by Petronas there was a heavy influence on oil, and it was highly fascinating. The exhibits are hugely hands on and interactive, but only once you get past the hordes of families and school children playing with them. Not that I minded really as it was pretty much geared to their age group, and I can only imagine I would have been the same if I had a classroom this exciting. Plus it had a singing Tyrannosaur, which is always a bonus.
By far the highlight of my short stay came on my last evening however, when I headed back to the Petronas Towers, fully confident in how to find them, only this time in the darkness of the evening when they were illuminated by as many flashes from cameras as actual lights in the building. This time I also manged to find a kind German tourist who, by crouching at the bottom of the stairs I stood atop, at a nice distance away, managed to get a photo I could only have dreamt of during my daylight attempt. So happy was I at the fashion in which my too short a time in this fantastic city was ending, I headed straight to the food court for an authentic Malaysian meal. Upon discovering the still pink pieces of chicken and finding what I could only identify as a spinal column that put a similar experience in Tijuana to shame, I soon headed straight to McDonalds, but you can’t have everything.
By the time I left Kuala Lumpur I was more than satisfied to add it to the growing list of cities in which I have gone in completely the wrong direction (others include Bremen and New Orleans), even if I hadn’t been able to see as many of the sights and attractions as I’d hoped. But when you’re somewhere as exotic as Kuala Lumpur, there’s so much more to savour than mere tourist hotspots.