KUALA LUMPUR

On May 14th we travelled to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.  (Got a great deal from Japan Air Lines, too!)  We stayed at the Hotel Nikko (http://www.hotelnikko.com.my), owned by JAL, part of the reason why the fare & accommodation package was so cheap.  We guessed  that refuelling and reprovisioning must be cheaper in KL than in Singapore, as their regular Japan-Singapore flights carry on, mostly empty, to KL.  We were amazed by the KL airport, which rivals the new Hong Kong airport for size.   During the long taxi around the complex after landing, we saw very few other planes.  We were impressed by the shuttle train between the terminals though - especially when it went under a plane taxing along.  It took about an hour from the airport to get to our hotel. We went for a walk after settling in, and halfway between our hotel and the Petronas Twin Towers, we saw this storefront.  Needless to say, we felt we had to snap a photo the next day. (Hope you like it, Brenna!)
 

In case you couldn't quite make out the window on the right, here it is again.  The left advertises a Pre University course offered by the (to us) unknown Columbia International College of Canada.
 
 
 
 
 

On Saturday, we walked back to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, the shopping mall that joins the base of the Petronas Twin Towers (tallest building in the world, for a while).  Found a very nice Malay buffet there for lunch.  Noting the torrential downpour when we finished lunch, we decided to explore the mall.  If this photo looks blurry, that would be the rain!  Searched for any sign of public access to Petronas Towers, but didn't find any. Finally, the rain letting up, we took a taxi to the Central Market.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Had fun exploring the Central Market.  Picked up a few gifts.  You can find everything from traditional batik to plastic ashtrays here.  Had an ice cream and rested after our explorations before heading off to Chinatown and the beginning of the daily night market on Petaling St.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The moorish influence in local architecture is rather striking.  We passed this building with its blend of old and new on our way to Chinatown.  We got there about 4:30 p.m., and many merchants were still busy setting up their stalls.  Had to duck folding tables being carried through the crowded, puddle filled aisles.  Jen took care of the bargaining for the handbag and wallet we bought.  We walked on up to the Saturday night "pasar malam" (night market) in the back alley running parallel to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman (known as Jalan T.A.R.) This is local market, and is KL's longest and busiest street market.  Only saw 2 or 3 other caucasians.  Food stalls on one side (smelled great!) everything from teatowels to running shoes on other.  Definitely local -- hardly any copy watches!
 

Like many an expat before us, we had dinner at the Coliseum Cafe and Hotel.  Rubber plantation owners and tin miners fresh into town used to stay here, and while the bar does not perhaps retain it's 1920's aspect, it definitely hasn't been updated since the 40's.  But the scuffed vinyl covered armchairs were deep and comfortable, and the beer was cold, as we sat and waited for the hostess to call our names.  Like everyone else we had the sizzling steak, and it was great!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Soon we will have enough photos of Asterix for his own web page!  He is seen here with the Twin Towers and the KL Tower (CN Tower look alike to left), in the window of our hotel room.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday morning we headed to the National Museum, with its displays of traditional Malaysian costumes, customs, musical instruments, pottery, weapons and natural history section (the stuffed animals are looking a bit scruffy these days).  The building is supposed to be reminiscent of a traditional Malay house.  The murals to either side of the doors show traditional Malay crafts on the near side, and events in the country's history on the far side.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From the Museum, we walked up to the Railway Station, an imposing structure.  Couldn't get through, as you need a ticket to cross to the far platform, so we ended up walking along a busy main road paralleling the tracks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stumbled across a small park in-between busy roads with no sidewalks, erected to commemorate menhir site found and destroyed during oil explorations.  Asterix was right at home!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Having managed to find our way through a parking garage and along a pedestrian crossover above the railroad tracks, we were back on our route.  The Textile Museum is another imposing building dating from the colonial period.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If I'm reading the description in our guidebooks correctly, the building in the foreground is the former General Post Office designed in 1897.  The Sultan Abdul Samad building, with its distinctive towers, completed in 1897 is in the background.  Just after this shot was taken, the skies opened up again.  We wandered a little further along, then caught a cab to the KLCC, where we had a bite to eat.  We bought an umbrella, and walked back to the hotel to collect our bags and headed to the airport.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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