Leaving London, Paul and I began the impetus for the entire trip – to visit my uncle and aunt in their homes in Malaysia and Indonesia. Saying goodbye to London on a day with the best weather yet, we made our way to Stansted Airport. London has 5 international airports – Stansted is the 4th largest. From there, we boarded our nonstop flight to Kuala Lumpur, the often forgotten capital of Malaysia.
One surprising thing about Malaysia (and Singapore) is the notion of shopping malls in the public psyche. In the US, if someone said they were going to have dinner at the mall, you would think they were going to have a greasy slice of pizza at Sbarro’s or some MSG-laced orange chicken. Here, in southeast Asia, the opposite is true. “Going to the mall” implies you are going to have a quality meal. The food courts can hardly be called “courts” – instead, they are like giant complexes with people mulling in all directions. The malls are packed, a tribute to their status in Malaysian society. Naturally we ate here often.
Kuala Lumpur lacks a lot of “must-see” attractions. Beyond the Petronas Towers, there is little else to “see.” But that is what makes KL a very interesting city. The food culture, based on street vendors of every variety, is unlike anywhere in the West. When people think of Southeast Asia, maybe they think of Singapore, or beautiful beaches in Vietnam, or perhaps Ankgor Wat in Cambodia. Few think of Kuala Lumpur. That’s too bad, as the city itself and its inhabitants are the attractions to see. And, of course, to taste their delicious food.
Departure board for Terminal 2 in London-Stansted for our 13-hour nonstop flight to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.
At the Pavilion Mall. Out first meal in Kuala Lumpur, the national dish of nasi lamek, consisting of coconut rice served with any number of sides like chicken, duck, beef lungs, eggs, and assorted vegetables.
Unusual tea with unusual seeds - the menu was in Mandarin so I just pointed at the picture
A great food night. What is locally known as the "food street" is 2 blocks from my uncle's apartment. Restaraunts and streetcar vendors sell amazing food for incredibly cheap, at least by US standards. Spicy beef and pork with a fried egg = $1
While Malaysia is a developed country, there still is a fairly large portion of the population that lives in shanty buildings like this.
Making our way to Chinatown. We have no idea what this says.
A Chinatown street. It's very odd for KL to have a Chinatown - the city is almost 50% Chinese.
Drinking a coconut along Jalan Petaling, Chinatown's bustling artery
Another view of Chinatown
KL, unlike neighboring Singapore, lacks a lot of the original local and British architecture. This is one such extant example, a giant mosque complex for an "officially" Muslim country.
KL's mass transit system is very odd. Back in the day, the city planners gave grants to anyone willing to build mass transit lines. Today, the city is covered in several lines, but they do not connect nicely and its a combination of LRT, monorail, and a subway.
Side of the monorail
The land transport station for moving about Malaysia, KL Sentral (the word for "central" is Malay is spelled with an "S").
The KL Tower and the famed Petronas Twin Towers in the distance
Another, though of unknown purpose, Islamic building
Old British buildings remain in the main historic square of the city
Another view of the top of the KL Tower
The Petronas Towers
The central pivot of KLCC, the main mall in Kuala Lumpur located at the base of the Petronas Towers
Inside a crazy Japanese bookstore (found all over Asia) - the books were packed very tightly!
Most food in Malaysia is deemed Halal, the term for objects and food prepared under Islamic law
Eating more nasi lemak and some crazy fruit and tapioca smoothie in KLCC at the base of the Petronas Towers
The Malaysian flag looks, at first glance, a lot like the US flag. They are adorned at the base of the Petronas Towers.
Looking up at the Petronas Towers
Me in front of the the Petronas Towers and KLCC at the base. The Petronas Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and the 3rd tallest overall buildings in the world.
Walking through Little India - many Indians, Sri Lankans, and Bangladeshi make KL their home.
Action shot - people in Little India making some Indian sweets
Leaving Little India, we discovered more British buildings
Flowers frame a view of the river and downtown.
Downtown + cool sign
Hello, KL Tower...again
Oh, herro monkey. He wanted to go inside!
That evening, we were able to climb as far as we could up the Petronas Towers to the skybridge.
As the rain started to fall on the Petronas Towers skybridge, a view of the sprawling city
The other side from the skybridge
Our final meal in Kuala Lumpur before we left for Singapore. This is gado-gado, the national dish of Indonesia, consisting of rice, vegetables, various meats, and a trademark peanut sauce.
More great Indonesian food