Feb 6, 2008
|We've arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 6th, for five nights, before we will head to Singapore. It's hot, but clean, with lots of trees.
Thoughts on KL - Nick writing
KL was a nice city, but it certainly won't make any list of our highlights on the trip. We ate well, we went to some big malls, we saw the Batu Cave Temples, we stayed at a nice hostel and at fantastic hotel using Aeroplan points, and we journied to the observation bridge of the Petronas Towers, but it really wasn't much of a city of note.
What made so non-noteworthy?
The transit system seems to have been created by a number of brilliant urban planners who hated each other, and who all had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There were six different rail systems, each which had been built by a different company. They intersected in the poorest ways possible - most of the time your ticket on one wasn't good on another, and to get from one line to the other at their "interchange" stations (I use the term lightly) you often had to walk outside for a half-an-hour. We were located close to the Masjid Jamek station, where two lines crossed. The Pink and the Green were the Light Rail Transit lines (not to be confused with the Rapid Commuter Lines, the Airport Express Train, or the Monorail), and were owned now by the same company. Yet, to go from one to the other, we had to exit the station, cross a busy road, walk down an alley, go down some stairs, then walk down a long corridor for 10 minutes that led RIGHT BACK UNDER THE STREET TO EXACTLY BELOW WHERE WE JUST LEFT. Build a freaking staircase that joins the two!
And along with all of these different light rail options, there were also six city bus companies or so. So not only did you need to know the number you wanted to take, you needed the company (denoted by a letter: U33, B11, etc.), and where they stopped. Because different buses used different stops. We'd be standing at one bus stop, hoping to take a bus, only to see dozens flash by us, to figure out we were at the wrong company's city bus stop.
The heat in KL was pretty bad, and seemed to be intesified by the concrete and pavement. At night huge cockroaches would emerge from the sewer grates on the streets. These were the kind of roaches that have myths written about them by small primitive civilzations. These were big roaches.
In our quest to escape the heat, and watch a movie or two, we popped in to a few different malls. KL has two incredible malls (the new Pavillion, and the Suria KLCC, located between the two Petronas towers), but it also has a bunch of confusing and irritating malls. It was in one of these that we tried to see our first movie, only to be told that the hand-lettered sign for the movies that night was wrong, and that nothing we would want to see was playing, and that by the way, the confusing food court was closing, so tough luck.
(In all fairness, the other malls were shiny, and their movie theatres were modern, clean, and not at all confusing. It's just that first impressions often colour the whole time in a city, and KL did not make a good first impression.)
Speaking of movies, pickings were rather slim while we were in KL. It could be because of the time of year, it could be because of the distribution in Malaysia, but our choices included CJ7, the new Chinese blockbuster, a half-dozen Japanese-style horror flicks, and Rambo, it seemed. We did see Eastern Promises, which was great, even with the Malaysian censors hacking bits and pieces off of the movie, and Meet the Spartans. More about that movie in the next entry...
So, all in all KL was an acceptable South-Asian city, but nothing spectacular. We were able to restock on toiletries, Kyla could buy some replacement clothes, and we saw some interesting sites, but it didn't jump out and grab us like Bangkok, or Istanbul.
Thoughts on KL - Kyla writing
KL was OK. The name sounds more exciting than it is.