Friday, July 5, 2013

Photos from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Its Subtleties

Malaysia had big shoes to fill. I had just concluded a month-long jaunt in Yunnan, Southwest China, a trip I immensely enjoyed, when I landed in the rather drab low-cost terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I shed off my winter threads and shoved them well inside my backpack. I was clearly never going to use them in the tropical rainforest climes of Malaysia. I did not have high hopes, no, but in the one week I was in the country, Malaysia revealed its agreeable qualities very, very subtly.

The capital of the Federation of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL), was naturally my first stop. I thought it was a grittier version of Singapore. It had the same cultures and flavors, but less sanitized, which I liked. There weren't much spectacular, sweeping views in this Southeast Asia hub, and I was not expecting any. Maybe that is why I appreciated Kuala Lumpur as much as I did. Let me talk about how exactly in my next few posts. For now, here be a few photos of Kuala Lumpur, the same ones I took during my first few days walking around in the humid, drizzly, and balmy Malaysian capital.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
No other landmark of Malaysia is perhaps more well-known than the twin structures of the Petronas Towers. At 452 meters in height, the Petronas Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Walking out of Suria KLCC, the shopping center in the base of the twin structures, I slowly saw the Petronas Towers first-hand for the first time. I have to admit. It was quite underwhelming. Well, it was.

Heritage Trail, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
The shopping areas of KL City Center, which include Jalan Petaling, the Central Market, and this one, the Kasturi Walk, feature traditional architecture. The roof is the shape of a Wau Bulan, a traditional kite manufactured in Kelantan, East Coast Malaysia.

Heritage Trail, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is a historic structure with Moorish architecture inspired by the mosques of India, a former British colony like Malaysia. It was home to several offices, chief among which was the Federal Court. Today, it houses the Ministry of Information, Communications, and Culture.

Heritage Trail, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
I suddenly found a new appreciation for Mughal-inspired architecture walking around the Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trail, an area with historic building like this. They reminded me of the ancient monuments I saw in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, in India. Of course, these ones had a distinct modern British colonial twist.

Heritage Trail, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
One of the most attractive buildings in KL City Center, I think, is the Dayabumi Comlex. When viewed from above, this modern and commercial skyscraper, constructed in the 1980s, is the shape of the Arabic eight-pointed star.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Located around 13 kilometers north of KL City Center is the Hindu pilgrimage site—the Batu Caves. The temple complex is dedicated to Lord Murugan. A 43-meter statue of the god stands at the entrance.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves temple complex can be reached by climbing up 272 steps, a serious feat for the many pilgrims that visit the site. It is an important Hindu site in Malaysia and one of the most visited outside of India.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves temple complex is housed in a cavernous limestone formation in KL's Gombak district. The temple is the focal point of the Thaipusam festival (read: body piercings) held every January/February.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
There are a number of Hindu shrines within the temple complex. This one is dedicated to the main deity in the Batu Caves, Lord Murugan.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves are made of the save limestone karst seen everywhere in Southeast Asia. Halong Bay in Vietnam and El Nido in Palawan, Philippines are great examples.

Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
When I headed back to Chinatown in KL City Center, I realized I just had to try one of the Chinese eateries in the area, ideally one with untidy kitchen and plastic tables and chairs. While this sweet and sour pork was not exceptionally good, it was a great introduction to KL food. I'll write about that in my next post.


That's all of them. Let me talk about what I specifically loved about Kuala Lumpur in my next posts. For now, tell me. Have you visited a country right after you had some of the best travels in your life some place else? How was it for you?


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