Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3° 10' N 101° 41' E
Oct 16, 2005 09:43
Distance 1643km

Text written in: English

Back in KL for a few more days

Greetings once again from Kuala Lumpur, city of (overhead) cranes......

Got back to KL last night in the poring rain and to air that seemed, well, cool-ish. I'm sure that it is all relative as the weather is, I'm guessing, still in the high 20's so it is cool (I can hear the tears for us from the folks in Canada as I type this). The flight out of KK left early again (about 10 minutes) as it did for the flight over to Borneo. We landed ahead of schedule but the timing of the pick up for us to get us to the hotel was not so great. We spend nearly two hours from the time that we landed until we ended up at the hotel. The KL airport is about 75 kms out of town so even a quick trip takes a while. But, we got back, there was a room awaiting us and we're set for the next few days of this part of the adventure.

We got a fairly slow start this morning, it was overcast and we got about 10 minutes away from the hotel and the rain started lightly, then not so lightly. At about that time we were near a monorail station so hid out in the station for a while. As it appeared that the rain was not about to let up at any time soon we decided to ride the monorail to where ever it terminated. The monorail system is quite modern looking and rides on a concrete rail about 30 feet or so about the road way. We rode it to the end, watched the rain come down and rode it back to the stop nearest the information centre. Got there to pick up some info and found out that it was possible to visit the Petronas Towers' transfer platform which is about half way up the towers (total height of the towers are 88 stories making it the tallest twins in the world). But, the tourist woman advised us, the tickets are free and only available on the day of use. She indicated that if you are  not there at the opening (8:30) there was little likelihood of getting a ticket. Being the blockhead tourists that we are, we decided to walk over to the towers see what our chances were (it being 11 or so  by this time). Voila! Tickets available for the 3:15 visit so that is what we did.

Walked around town for a while, had a bite to eat and then back to the towers for our turn. Certainly we have not seen a lot of Malaysia and can't comment definitively on the economic status of the country, but what we've seen indicates a country that is not particularly poor. Even some of the backwoods places we saw in Borneo had cars parked outside the buildings and there were a lot of satellite dishes attached to places that would otherwise be described as shacks.

KL gives the impression of a lot of money, the architecture in the new buildings is incredible. It would appear that if the design is conventional or apparently purely functional, it gets tossed. The buildings all have space age looks to them and even ones that are remotely square or rectangular have some twist to them that makes them look attractive. Probably the Petronas Towers are the perfect example of this. From afar they look rather plain but once you get a lot closer to them, they are anything but boring. There are construction cranes everywhere you look and to a certain degree, it looks like one big construction site in the downtown core.

The tour starts with the usual movie of the construction of the building. Watching it, I couldn't help but think of my father, a foundations engineer. As the building was progressing, the volumes, the sizes and the sheer massiveness of everything would interest just about any engineer and this would have been right up my father's alley. It really is quite impressive to watch.

The elevator takes you to the 41st floor (about 175 metres up) which is where the sky walk is located. The total time of the journey is about 45 seconds and ear drums are splattered all over the wall as the elevator rises. "This is a high speed elevator" we're told. No kidding!

The actual view from the sky walk is not as impressive as the one from KL tower which we visited last Sunday. The skywalk sits between the two towers so you lose the view at either ends. As well, the KL tower sits on a hill about 300 feet above the city so while it is not as tall (from ground level) you get a 360 degree view from higher up.

There are about 25 people in each group and we were escorted by a guide to shepherd us in and out (and to provide commentary and answer questions). Part of his job is to ask if people want photos taken of themselves which he did quite admirably. When he took our pictures, the conversation went like this .....

Where are you from?

Canada

Alberta? Kelowna (editor's note, Kelowna????)

Uh, Alberta, actually.

Edmonton?

The guy should play 20 questions, he'd ace it all. Mind you, he blew it after that "Is it your summer there now?" One gets the sense that the Albertans are taking over the country, no one from Toronto seems to be hitting the travel radar screen anymore.

So, that was the excitement for the day. Lots of walking and viewing but not much else. We walked over to the craft exhibition and like a lot of areas, you can spend a lot of money if the mood hits you. The area in which our hotel is located is just off the area known as the golden triangle which is a VERY upscale shopping area. We took a walk through the area but it is not something that holds either of our attentions for long. Lots of name brands of which even I recognize a few but nothing that is of any interest. We could be in just about any upscale retail area in the world so it is nothing, from our point of view, worth seeing. 

The areas around our hotel are more up my alley, rabbits' warrens of stalls and shops, smells and crowds. Tiring but I love it.

Last night we were flipping through the channels and noticed, as we did last week that English soccer is a real draw here. You can watch the matches and the paper is full of the scores, stories and gossip that make up that portion of sport. I like listening to the announcers from the UK, for hockey and football in Canada (as I recall reading once) the announcer has to be approved by the local club so the commentary tends to be rather antiseptic. Obviously it is not the same for the UK announcers. One short snippet last night was discussing one player's short comings and the comment "let's face it, X is not good enough to play for this club" seemed to be the conclusion of the commentary on that player. Try that one at home and see how long you (the announcer) are employed.

Should be a quiet evening, we got our bottle of Borneo white and will give it a test drive. The notes on the bottle state that it is a fruity drink enjoyable with spicy foods and should pair well with the jungle flavours. Mind you, the wording on the red wine was identical. Will have to get the next Wine Spectator and see what the rating of this one is! I'm not holding out a lot of hope for something out of the ordinary, I am at least hoping for a cork of note. I would love to add something like that to the cork table.

The internet site that I am at is painfully slow so won't be posting any pictures from here. I think that the hotel has some sort of site so will try that one out. I have a few more pictures that I would like to post from the last week so will try to get them done up before we leave KL. It is frightening to think just how fast this trip is moving on. Maybe we should have planned for two years....... 

Cheers!

Photos / videos of "Back in KL for a few more days":

Wendy and Keith on the sky bridge at the PetronasTowers For those of you who absolutely can't McWait....