Monday, May 31, 2010

20 things I love about Kuala Lumpur

The immigration rules

I don’t need a visa and I can stay in Malaysia for three months if I want. Not that I’m planning to.

The old railway station

A British-built fusion of Moorish and European design.

The Malaysian Railways HQ

Opposite the station and if anything more impressive.

Nobody bothers me

There are beggars, certainly, but Malaysia isn’t poor by any means and so there isn’t that overwhelming air of desperation you get in other countries. I’m not offered a taxi or motorbike ride 400 times a day and when people stop me in the street it‘s because they genuinely want to talk to me or, if I‘m looking lost, offer me directions. I feel bad for regarding them so warily each time. Force of habit.

The National Mosque

Modern (it opened in 1965) but nonetheless very beautiful and serene.

The traffic

The roads are wide and uncluttered. The drivers obey traffic lights. It’s such a relief to be able to cross over without worrying that I'm going to, you know, cross over.

The buses remind me of home

English is widely spoken

Which always helps.


Fixed prices

Because haggling is such a bore.

Little India

The food hall in the Central Market

Handy and affordable.

Modern convenience stores

I was sightseeing from 10am to 10pm yesterday and felt grateful that wherever I went, a 7-11 was never far away. Drinks in the fridge. No haggling. Did I mention I hate haggling?

The military put on a display

Just as I was arriving at Merdeka Square, centrepiece of the Colonial District.

The architectural contrasts

Old and new, side by side, and it works so well.

How cool the KL Tower looks in photos

The airiness of St John’s Cathedral

There are two cathedrals. The Anglican one, St Mary’s, is like an English country church.

St John’s, which I assume is Catholic, is much larger and the doors fold back to let the light in.

The cartoon camel on the side of an office block


The Petronas Twin Towers

At 451.9 metres, these were the tallest buildings in the world from 1996 to 2003 and featured in that crappy Sean Connery/Catherine Zeta Jones film Entrapment.

It feels safe

As does Asia generally. Look at me, grinning away at 10 o’clock at night. Then again, if I was going to be mugged it wouldn't have been at the National Mosque.

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