Malaysia, truly Asia *

There are no direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Bali so we had to make a stop-over somewhere. We’d already been to Singapore and Jakarta didn’t seem like a very exciting place to see so we settled on Kuala Lumpur. Let me kill the suspense before it becomes unbearable: there isn’t much to do in KL. Of course there are the usual suspects of shopping and eating. But once you’ve seen the Petronas Towers and walked the skybridge, you’ve exhausted about 50% of the cultural allure of the place. We had two more days to kill.

Luckily for us, there are a few gems you can stumble across if you try hard enough. (And I mean that literally. Walking in this city is not easy because there are no straight roads from A to B but instead you have to navigate at least two overpasses, one tunnel and a highway and just in case that wasn’t enough to deter you from becoming a pedestrian, the pavements are spectacularly bad with slanted or broken tiles and missing manhole covers every block.) We chose to hit the streets anyway in lieu of the monorail because it mainly leads to places we didn’t want to go to.
Eventually we found our way to the Islamic art museum which at 3 EUR a pop is an air-conditioned bargain. We learned about the Chinese Arabic script called ‘Sini’, a beautiful fusion of Koran verses and Chinese calligraphy. The exhibition about Islamic architecture, i.e. minarets and mosques was very interesting as well. And of course there were loads and loads of Korans exhibited, most of them beautifully illuminated and creatively designed:

We also walked through Chinatown and Little India, two quarters full of temples and good street food. Little India was in the midst of decorating their streets and temples because it was the day before Deepavali (Dewali), the Hindu festival of lights.

Last but not least, we also made it up the Petronas Towers. It’s not that easy getting in because there is only a limited number of tickets sold per day and if you want to get one, it means showing up no later than 7:30am to get in line. We finally inched our way to the ticket counter at 10am and managed to get tickets for the 5:20pm time slot. Lucky shot because the towers close at 6.

Since we had put so much early morning energy into this purchase, we opted for the ‘fancy tour’ which includes the skybridge as well as the observation deck. If you ever go to KL, make sure you do the same because the skybridge isn’t bad by itself but it’s only on the 41st floor while the observation deck is at the very top of the towers on the 88th floor. Slightly more exciting views.

Mouse over the image to see a miniature version

If you are looking for a desktop version for your computer, I would go with this steady surgeon like hands night shot.

Click on the image for a higher resolution 1920 x 1200 version.

Finally we stocked up on some beach reading and chocolate for the coming days and headed on to island paradise: Bali.

* If you’ve ever been stuck at an airport and watched more than 10 minutes of CNN, you will have seen those ads from the Malaysian board of tourism with the slogan “Malaysia, truly Asia”. Not sure if we can pass judgement on that after only visiting the capital.

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