Monday, 25 November 2013

Sat 16th Nov - Kuala Lumpur for one night only.

I arrived in KL late in the afternoon, got on the cheap (8RM) public bus that takes an hour to KL Sentral (which is the main transport hub in the city), then changed onto the LRT for one stop. My hostel the Matahari Lodge, was opposite Pasar Seni light railway station close to Chinatown, I checked in and then began exploring.
These are the famous Petronas Towers, world's tallest buildings '98 to '04.
The centre of the old British colonial establishment is Merdeka Square, I sought it out, hoping for a nice cup of tea on the cricket pavilion, or perhaps more likely a Gin and Tonic on the veranda. I was disappointed in both regards. Dominating an entire side of the square was a booming exposition of boy racers and their cheap Japanese and korean motors, fitted up with very expensive trims, UV underlights and as many bass speakers as the could cram in. Each car was pimped to the max in a different manner, mostly unbearably gaudy, and many carried trophies of past wins in similar events. There was definitely a lot of competition for the loudest stereo system, which I wouldn't have minded had they all been playing one good tune. Alas, they were all playing different varieties of god-awful squeaky electro-pop.
I made a beeline for the opposite side of the huge square where I could see the mock-tudor Royal Selangor Club. My hopes of leather chesterfields, rattan chairs and cricket whites were short-lived. Being a private members club I was denied entry, and I scurried away paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Looked rubbish anyway.
Up the hill to the Jalan Alor area. (Jalan meaning 'street'). This small neighbourhood is where all the bars, clubs and cheap restaurants are to be found. Things were already getting a little rowdy with a drumming procession that paused every few yards to let off more rockets and firecrackers.

Later on, a few of the Fast 'n Furious rides seen earlier in Merdeka Square formed a blaring cavalcade of neon ostentation.
I retreated to the upstairs of The Green Man pub round the corner on Changkat Bukit Bintang, for a pint of cold lager and a peruse of the expat rag. I was delighted to notice England vs NZ starting on the screen, so joined a few of the gents for some pints and the only rugby fixture that I am obliged to watch. And what a fantastic game it was too. Both sides putting up a great fight, England producing a late comeback that wasn't quite enough to unseat the victorious All Blacks, giving a record undefeated season.
Take it from me, everyone of these charming British fellas had a Malay girlfriend who joined us later.
The plainest room I've yet booked. Taller than it was wide, the walls on either side were as thin as cardboard. It was clean and I slept well, mainly thanks to the All-Black victory celebrations.
Lots of building work going on in KL.
On the way to the airport on the express train, this is not native jungle, it's mile after mile of Palm oil plantations. Pretty much a mono-culture, unable to support much of the extraordinary bio-diversity that was once here. I hope Sarawak is not in a similar state....

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