Kuala Lumpur : Several times sky high
Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog› entry 108 of 268 › view all entries
Start where I left off yesterday I guess. You find me once more, standing in awe, of the Petronas Towers. This time by the light of day. I’m in the bowels of the building, queuing for my free ticket up to the ‘Sky Bridge’, the umbilical walkway that spans between the two towers at the 41st and 42nd of its 88 stories. As this attraction is free and extremely popular you have to get there pretty early to ensure that you get one of the tickets. Trips up to the Bridge are between about 9.00 and 18.00. Your ticket is time specific and all time slots/ all tickets are usually full by about 10.00am. Mine’s scheduled for 15.00ish or something but as I’m a lone traveller they seem to take pity on me and kindly squeeze me onto the next available lift-load of cityscape gawpers.
Okay, Petronas Towers, the facts : The tallest twin towers in the world at 452 metres; 88 storeys, construction completed in 1996 after foundations laid in 1993. 2,000 workers worked 24 hours a day in 12 hour split-shifts with one storey being completed on average every 3 and half to 4 days. 33,000 pieces of stainless steel and 55,000 glass panels form the exteriors cladding, 29 double-decker highspeed lifts, 765 flights of stairs, each tower weighing 300,000 tonnes.
The ‘Sky Bridge’ trip is a fairly brief affair. Zipping up to the 41st floor in a gigantic lift whilst a lady gives us a low down on some Petronas facts in the 40 seconds or so the lift takes. You only get 10 minutes or so on the Bridge but this is all you need really.
I stroll around the park to the rear of the Towers by day taking some snaps. Amongst the other usual suspects of a highly developed urban-economic mecca, a Starbucks coffee house is resident here. And I cannot tell you with what unnatural level of desire I am craving a mug of crummy Starbucks coffee and a glazed doughnut today! With unseemly levels of need. I know it’s not right. I know it’s trivial. But every now and then, as part of my duty to blog transparency; to painting an accurate picture of the (oft lonely) traveller, I feel these little snapshots of human frailty; of human mundanity help to break up the endless parade of relaying to you experiences of vistas and views; of journeys, sights and architecture etc.
I had a good solid nights sleep last night, but there is a very noticeable dull ache behind my eyes today. Fatigue? Emotions? Illness undetected? The close, humid barometric atmosphere in KL? Either way the twin budget bullies of body ’n’ mind have taken note of Starbucks and are crying out for it! Mercilessly. Relentlessly. I know what it is. It’s happy associations. Familiarty. Memories. Easy time spent with friends. Nothing to do with the particular perceived ‘quality’ or desirability of Starbucks product for which I do not wish this blog to be construed as a promotion! Home comforts… and memories of New York. Yes, the last time I was in a truly impressive metropolis was NYC, December 2007.
But I won’t give in! I won’t. I won’t. I won’t! I am trying right now to get a lot more budget disciplined. No, this is not a reaction to having recently seen my bank balance and keeling over with shock. On the contrary, I’ve not dared to glance at it for a couple of months now. Ignorance is bliss… or something like that. If I had, yep, maybe I would have keeled over with shock! But if this journey is to last anywhere near as long as I would like it to or as was intended then restraint on all levels is required.
I don’t know how much a Starbucks costs here.
For afternoon fun, it’s the number 11 bus someway out of town (45 mins or so) to the Batu Caves, a site of high Hindu veneration and quite one of the more unusual temples I have ever visited. The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam is located high up in a large natural cliff cave that is reached via the traversing of 272 steps! Stood imposingly by the base of this gigantic stairway is an absolutely humungous golden statue of (I think?) Shiva… but I could be wrong. It’s another hot, hot muggy day and the walk up the stairway is murderously hard work. I’m not feeling 100% today for some reason and I have to stop every 15 steps or so to catch my breath and calm a rising feeling of dizziness.
At the top of the stairs a large cave complex opens up before you. A few stalls reside hear selling the usual array of super-tacky loosely religious (or not) paraphernalia. A walk through the cave and up a further flight of steps and a modest temple is found where small girls and boys, and some men, appear from within, their heads shaved and with something like turmeric paste rubbed over their scalps. An unusual collective of roosters, pigeons and a monkey scrabble around amidst piles of rocks, shattered coconut husks and other human detritus that fringe the temple ground.
After this I pretty much head home and collapse for en enforced siesta.
[ The next day, the 26th was also spent in KL and in much excited anticipation of Chinese New Years celebrations, but sadly KL just doesn’t appear to be the place for such festivities. Try as I might, even right here in China Town, and elsewhere in the city there was nothing to be seen of New Year on this particular day… so I shall fast forward to Melaka ]