malaysia - kuala lumpur - backpacking around the world in 333 days
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around the world in 333 days

REPORT 12 - Dec. 2000

Kuala Lumpur

With the traditional turkey and stuffing put on hold this year, we prepared to spend the festive season in Malaysia's mythical sounding capital, Kuala Lumpur. KL (as the locals call it) receives, at best, mixed reviews so we arrived expecting little but were pleasantly surprised with what we found. Towering skyscrapers mix with a lively China Town section to make this city frantic, yet fascinating and with some interesting sights to-boot, this up and coming city some how manages to remain obscure whilst teetering on the brink of greatness.

We stayed in the China town district, where most of the budget accommodation is situated, and received a lively introduction to Malaysia when we walked out that evening right into the heart of one of Kuala Lumpur's famous night markets. The packed side streets were alive with noise. Wonderful smells of garlic and ginger saturated the air as chefs cooked furiously for hoards of hungry customers cramming the pavements on plastic tables and chairs. The market was extremely busy as tourists snapped up the counterfeit CD's and watches while the fruit sellers were doing a roaring trade with the locals. We had a meal at one of the restaurants and just sat watching the world go by - an experience not to be missed!

The next day was Christmas Eve and we set about sight seeing. Our first stop was the famous Petronas Twin Towers, nicknamed the 'metallic corn on the cob' by some. The towers, the worlds tallest, were very impressive, a soaring symbol of Malaysia's economic boom. Whilst at the towers we did a bit of Christmas shopping, as the bottom floors are host to the largest mall in the country. A short hop away the KL tower stands a little overshadowed but we went to the top all the same for a spectacular view of the city.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a few beers at the night market and the next day continued our sight seeing. It really didn't feel like Christmas, it felt strange that all the shops were still open, just like any other day. We went up to Merdeka Square (or Freedom Square), the site of Malaysia's independence ceremonies in 1957. The Square is host to the largest flagpole in Asia but is really just a large patch of grass; it does have the impressive High Court bordering it however.

On our last day in Kuala Lumpur, we relaxed in the expansive Lake Gardens in the South of the city. We hired a boat on the lake and wandered around the beautiful and colourful gardens. Unfortunately it was the rainy season, and we were caught in an afternoon downpour and spent an hour sheltering under a tree missing attractions like the dinosaur museum and bird garden. Once the rain stopped, we went to the Central market where traditional Malaysian art and crafts can be purchased, we had a browse around the stalls but the prices were pretty inflated.

In Kuala Lumpur, we were back in the heat and humidity of the big cities, and Jon immediately went and got all his hair shaved in desperation. Apart from the heat, we enjoyed our first taste of Malaysia although Liz did admit to feeling quite homesick at Christmas. One thing that struck us, apart from that you see more Manchester United shirts than you do in Manchester, was that the Malaysian flag was everywhere, no car was complete without its 'Proud to be Malaysian' sticker. As a nation of mixed cultures, with a third of the population made up of Chinese and large Indian community, Malaysians seem keen to grasp their nationality and are rightly proud of their country. It seems that Kuala Lumpur, so colourful and yet so modern, may be about to rise to prominence.

Jon & liz
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Twin Towers


The High Court

KL Tower

more pictures below

The Beginning 14 - THAILAND Bangkok
01 - INDIA Delhi 15 - THAILAND Bridge Over the River Kwai
02 - INDIA Agra Taj Mahal 16 - THAILAND Chang Mai - The Long Necks
03 - INDIA Jaipur 17 - AUSTRALIA Kakadu National Park
04 - INDIA Camel Safari 18 - AUSTRALIA Ayers Rock
05 - INDIA Mount Abu 19 - AUSTRALIA Great barrier Reef
06 - INDIA Goa 20 - AUSTRALIA Fraser Island
07 - INDIA Mumbai (Bombay) 21 - AUSTRALIA Sydney
08 - HONG KONG 22 - NEW ZEALAND South Island
09 - PHILIPPINES Boracay & Panglao Island 23 - NEW ZEALAND North Island
10 - PHILIPPINES Bohol Chocolate Hills 24 - USA Hawaii Oahu Island
11 - PHILIPPINES Banaue Rice Terraces 25 - USA San Francisco
12 - MALAYSIA Kuala Lumpur 26 - USA Washington DC
13 - MALAYSIA Penang, Georgetown 27 - USA New York
  28 - UK - THE END
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