Kuala Lumpur

The next station after Saigon was Kuala Lumpur. Martin joined me in Kuala Lumpur and we celebrated the New Year there. KL covered us with unreal heat and humidity. A twenty minute walk outside necessitated an hour long recovery in an air conditioned café. Consequently I don’t have many photos from KL.

Kuala Lumpur’s urban tissue is quite unusual – it is a city on many levels, with many skyscraper-like tall buildings, and yet it is not built up very densely. It seems generally conceived with cars in mind, but surprisingly you can also walk in the central business district. Of course in Chinatown the streets are very narrow and walking is literally the way to go!

Kuala Lumpur from the top of Menara Kuala Lumpur – a tall communications tower in the centre. You get a 360 degree view of the whole city, including the landmark Petronas Towers. They are smack in the middle of this photo.

The historical centre, to the South West of the Petronas Towers. The green field barely protruding between the buildings on the right is the Independence Square, or Merdeka Square in Malay. Better not to think of how this sounds in French 😉

A huge model of the city in the city gallery. You can see Menara Kuala Lumpur as well as the Petronas Towers in the centre.

Merdeka Square. I can’t help remembering the killer heat when I look at this photo.

We hid from the heat in the shopping centres, a place where I would not normally set foot of my free will. Inside the shopping centre below the Petronas Towers.

This particular shopping centre had a key advantage – it comprised a Royce shop. For those not yet in the know, Royce is the best chocolate in the world. It is produced by a Japanese company based in Hokkaido. Strangely in Japan itself you can only buy it in Hokkaido and in international airports, although everybody knows it. (I think the explanation is that you can order it by post for free to any point in Japan.) I discovered it during my previous trip to Japan and tried to find an outlet this time, without success. But in Malaysia you can buy it right in the centre of the city! They add some mysterious liquor to it, pack it in special packaging with ice, and the taste is incredible. This particular box is the green chocolate flavour, but there are also other flavours, such as champagne, calvados etc. We were joking that the Japanese analysts would pour over the sales figures and wonder what caused such a spike in Royce sales in SEAsia?

But the best impression of KL for sure is the street food. And no better place to try it than Jalan Alor street food market. It is full of endless street cafés where you can try any seafood thinkable and unthinkable.

Which we did. For example squid in spicy sauce:

In that market I also tried for the first time the notorious durian. Durian is famous for its indescribable filthy odour, something like a mix of rotten meat and raw sewage. The connoisseurs however consider it the king of Asian fruit. In Jalan Alor they sell durian flesh packed in cellophane. It costs just a couple of ringgit, so of course I bought it, opened it and we tried it. Put it on the tongue rather! You had to see how we run to the rubbish bin to spit it out! I laughed afterwards seeing the plate “No durian” in various Malaysian hotels and in public transportation. One such plate in a Kuching hotel:

We celebrated the New Year in KL. No fireworks pictures though, although they looked pretty good on the background of the shining Petronas Towers. I leave it to your imagination!

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