Kuala Lumpur, or KL as everyone calls it, is easily one of my favorite cities. It’s hard to sum up in words, but I’ll try. It’s a progressive city, but it retains many aspects of its heritage. Its a modern city, but food stalls selling everything from delicious satay to tasty desserts can be found on corners and alleys around town. Its in the latter stages of development, but the city doesn’t have the pollution and cubic concrete architecture of other developing cities of similar size, like Bangkok or Bombay. Rather, modern Islamic design inspires the artistic and creative designs of the city. Joylani likes it because the city’s artistic patronage is evident in everything from its buildings to its gardens.
I enjoy it because it’s a diverse place moving in a positive direction. For the first time since Switzerland, we’re in a truly international country- that is, a non-homogenous population. Chinese and Indians are everywhere, although they also have geographic enclaves within the city- Chinatown and Little India. Its great; where else can I get an Indian shave and haircut, then chow down on some satay with chai? Or was that rotis (here, rotis are the same as Keralan parotas- mmmm, so good) with pearl milk tea? Either way, the fusion of three cultures produces an excellent mix of food and social dynamics. Its kind of like Fremont, in that all the groups of youngsters are combinations of Indians and Asians. Aside from diversity, which I place a high value on, I like the atmosphere of KL. It’s not a trendy place like Paris or Bangkok, where shopping and weird clothese seem to be the norm. People dress normal, which to me means like home. Jeans and t-shirts, suits, polos and khakis. Not third-world quality and not obnoxiously “fashionable” either. Just normal.
Jalan Sultan, the street our hotel is on and a major night market area
It seems that the focus in KL is on commerce. People are building their businesses and focusing on opportunity. Every interview I’ve read with the PM recently has talked about building investor confidence and attracting commerce. As part of its “Vision 2020” (Malaysia has a goal to be officially classified as first world by 2020), KL is being groomed as a business center. The “multimedia supercorridor” is being constructed, with new towns like Cyber Jaya popping up. Another town is being built as the first “paperless” city. Which brings me to my last point: Malaysia is not developing at the expense the environment or certain parts of the population. Building is undertaken with environmental awareness and city signs indicate 500 ringit fines for littering (150 USD)! I’ve also read quite a bit already about how all Malaysians should get to contribute and benefit from Malaysia’s development. People are concerned about health and social issues, not just money. Malaysians seem to understand that a nation is made up of the sum of its populace and the diffusion of responsibility regarding social ills (that we’ve seen in every other country) is oddly absent here. Malaysians are concerned about their country, work for it, and are proud of it. It’s awesome to see a place developing responsibly, unlike the so many developed countries in the past and nearly every developing country today.
Petronas Towes, the tallest twin towers in the world and incredibly cool looking
To sum it up, KL’s got good food, cool people and vibrant atmosphere, its modern, visually appealing, and its on its way globally speaking.
the water fountains and park at KL City Center, where we hung out a few nights
Merdeka Square, where Malaysian Independence was declared and a good example of a the mix between park area, colonial, and modern buildings that compose beautiful KL