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A Stop Over in Kuala Lumpur

June 23, 2010

By Danielle Lancaster

Well here I am in Kuala Lumpur (more commonly simply referred to as KL) on route to Siem Reap in Cambodia.KL, with a population of well over 1.6 million people drawn from all of Malaysia’s ethnic groups, is the largest city in Malaysia. It is situated midway along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombek rivers. It is approximately 35 km from the coast and sits at the centre of the Peninsula’s extensive and modern transportation network.

As I exited the plane after a lengthy 10 hour flight, which did allow me to catch up on some well earned sleep, the first thing you can’t help noticing is the heat – it literally has you holding your breath as it hits you. Today KL welcomed me with a humid 32 degrees, rather different from the winter cool of southern Queensland where I have been stoking a fire every night since winter arrived.

I am staying at My Hotel @ Sentral, conveniently located to the bus and rail system. The bus ride from the airport, while an hour in length cost me a total of 8 Malaysia Ringgits which is the equivalent of $2.84 AUD. I was the only white woman on the bus, surrounded mainly by Indians here for a conference. It quickly had a few with their cameras out to snap the white girl in a sea of dark faces until the ‘friendly’ Malaysian authorities were tapping and shouting for cameras down and bums in seats. I immediately decided to leave my camera in its bag and enjoy the scenery.

KL is a city that has grown rapidly. On a walk around the few blocks from my hotel this evening, this was clearly evident. Within half a block obvious well off Malaysians and tourists dine and drink on beautifully prepared meals and fine beverages while down an alley no more than a few metres away homeless try to make themselves comfortable for the evening on cement walkways. The other evident thing, and you smell it before you see it, is the rotting stench of rubbish. With the growth, so has grown the rubbish piles and though not a problem related to just this nation’s capital, it is the odour that has my mind whirling to other regions facing the same fast-paced problem of ‘what to do with our rubbish?’

I decide to dine for the evening in a clean looking restaurant next door to my hotel and order Asam Laksa (a noodle based soup), iced coffee and a bottle of water. Total cost $6.00 AUD. It is filling, refreshing and puts fuel in my tummy and while sipping my soup a breeze starts to blow reducing the stifling heat and drying the sweat on myself and those dining around me.

Highlights for today include hitting the street and meeting the locals. I can’t speak a word of their language but they allow me to photograph them: tossing frying delicacies, repairing shoes and all sorts of other street activity. A young boy working a street stall with his parents and exercising his vocal cords drawing in the peak hour commuters to buy food from as he says the best family run stall in KL has me intrigued. He is happy to pose briefly and I show him an image I have taken of him. He screams with delight and lunges at my camera now wanting to take it home to show all his friends and family.

Another walk later tonight proves this is another city that night does not mean sleep. The cafes and restaurants at 11pm (I am 2 hours behind my fellow Australians) are still well patronised, buses and traffic are filling the roads, banks are open and cranes are still working building another concrete monster to fill the city skyline.

Here’s a couple of images from this walk – all unprocessed jpegs and hopefully I may have internet access for my second part in Siem Reap – one of my favourite ancient sites on Earth.

My little mate.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

KL street corner.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

Poverty can be anywhere.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

Asam Laksa
Image by Danielle Lancaster

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