Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day three Kuala Lumpur

Starting the day with a bowl of "porridge" with dried oyster and peanuts soaked up with rounds of you tiao (Chinese fried bread) has much to recommend it. We even stayed around long enough to enjoy a cup of Nanking tea this morning too - which is a very dark strong tea, specially brewed for us, and served with Carnation milk (for an extra nice Chinese touch!).

Well fortified we headed out then by monorail to Chow Kit station on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the main thoroughfare of this older KL district which has been settled predominantly by Malay people. This was the view from the overhead monorail station at Chow Kit.

It was very clear that this is a poorer area of the city, but with touches of modernity and development just starting, in stark contrast to the original buildings .

The Chow Kit wet market is very extensive and well known in KL. It was very crowded today even at 11.00am when we were wandering around. By the women's dress we could tell it was a Muslim neighbourhood, even if we hadn't known the majority of people living around here were Malay.

We'd never seen these brightly coloured dried foods before.

Although there were few surprises with any of the other food on sale. It all looked a lot like what we saw in the wet market in Denpasar, Bali.

We'd never seen this before in Hindu Bali though. Look closely (below) that is a cow's head and hooves - all halal too I am sure!

The only smells in this market were of delicious fresh fragrant food. Even the seafood section smelt sweet like the sea. Everything was fresh and as clean as could be under the circumstances.

Darren told us the other night that many Malay people have not been able to access opportunities for education and employment in the past (even though Malay people have gained greater representation in government). We certainly saw many young men around this market area today doing menial and unskilled work, more like in the villages of Indonesia than in the CBD areas of KL.

Although I admired the diligence of these two cheeky young men creating beautiful displays of banana bunches and jackfruit in this fruit stall.

Rob was very brave ordering and eating food at the market granted his experience in Bali. Nine hours has since elapsed since he consumed the (delicious) food and nothing untoward has resulted so I think it is all going to be good.

Back in the CBD this afternoon we joined the bulk of KL residents on a Sunday afternoon, inside the shopping centres. This one (below), the Berjaya Times Square, was Rob's worst nightmare: ten floors of tacky shops, constructed around three separate huge wings, all very crowded and with a cacophony of noise as a constant backdrop: drums and cymbals backing the lion dancing displays on centre stage and a different version of banal Asian hiphop music broadcast from every shop. Aaaah!

It even had a theme park in one of the wings. This picture shows the roller coaster ride in full flight complete with roars and blood curdling screams to add to all the sound effects.

Opposite Times Square was the Low Yat Plaza; seven floors all devoted to the latest ICT technologies. There were a lot of very excited and interested looking males in this shopping centre.

We walked back to the Parkroyal through the horribly tizzy and down market Sungwei Plaza which meant that we'd had a look at all of the significant shopping plazas surrounding our hotel in the past three days. We've decided eating and shopping are the dominant interests of Kuala Lumpur residents.

Earlier in the day I took these shots from the window (on the 15th floor) of our room at the Parkroyal, looking north along Jalan Sultan Ismail. Tonight it's been great to see from our window all the fireworks celebrating Chinese New Year's Eve - a huge night for the very large Chinese community in KL. It's a public holiday throughout Malaysia tomorrow in recognition of the significance of the day.

..... and this closer view of the hotel's (under used) swimming pool (takes away too much from shopping time!).

The weather in KL has been relatively kind to us - around 31-32o most days and only one or two heavy storms. Not too stinking hot and not wet enough to stop us doing too much.

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