Kuala Lumpur : The two glittering towers.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

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‘Beep-beep.  Beep-beep.  Beep-beep.’  Alright, alRIGHT already!  I know, I know.  It’s time to go.  A small group of us shuffle out into the darkness, backpacks in tow.  A crazy-early mini-van ride to Kuala Lumpur, but at least it means we’re gonna be there in good time.  We’ll be hittin’ the big city by 10.30am.  And a fascinating city it feels too on the approach.  Heading further south by degrees I’m heading into genuinely sub-tropical climes and environments now.  As we zip over and under vast concrete flyovers and along the outskirts highways of the city Kuala Lumpurs mass of modernity blooms out of its jungle surrounds.

The modernist low-slung dome and angular minaret of the National Mosque
  Metal and concrete and palms and vines and glass and lights and trees and creepers and advertising hoardings and chrome and long grasses twining together, reaching into the air.

My hostel (Red Dragon) is right in the heart of Kuala Lumpurs Chinatown, perfectly situated - I hope - for some of the Chinese New Year festivities that will be rolling out in a couple of days time.  I dump the bags and decide to go on a little walking tour of this area of the city.  Glimpsed very distantly during our descent into the city, and to be glimpsed far off later again, the Kuala Lumpur Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers are the dominant landmarks of the city skyline but I am determined not to introduce myself to these megaliths of modernity until they’re at their magnificent best after sundown.

Lots of angular and impressive high rise architecture in KL

First off the much venerated Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple but its main architectural features and adornments are entirely masked by sheeting for restoration works.  Next the Museum of Islamic Art - situated near the National Mosque - which I’m quite excited about as previous such museums on my travels have either been closed (Cairo) or not yet open (Doha).  It’s a very well put together, tended and informative museum.  A fabulous introduction to the Islamic architectural styles, mosque designs and constructions and the spiritual and design ethos behind them.  History, theology, culture, weaponry, handicrafts, clothing, ceremonial behaviours of Islamic communities from around the world; Malay, Middle Eastern, African, Indian, Chinese etc.

Old and New : The KL tower viewd through derelict window
  There was also a special photographic exhibition ’Islam in Britain’ by Peter Sanders, however I have to say I did not find this very illuminating both in terms of the approach to the themes and its visual representation of them.

In the museums vicinity are found the Orchid and Hibiscus Gardens (1 Ringgit entry).  The Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia and this garden is an attempt to house a large number of them in honour of this fact.  I get the impression though that, like me, they’re all looking a little worse for wear for being subjected to all this heat and humidity.  Their red blooms, a little sparse and beleaguered, languidly dripping from their stems, thirsty maybe, towards the ground.  The weather today is extremely humid.

KL and Petronas Twin Towers seen from far off from the Orchid Gardens
  The most humid I think I have ever experienced.  Sweat is just evaporating by the gallon from my body, even when I stand still in the shade.  The atmosphere is so close and breathing so laboured.  In my mind I liken the sensation to what it might feel like to have a bunch load of those hot ‘freshen up’ towels you get on airplanes placed over my mouth and being asked to breathe through them.  Not pleasant. 

The Orchid Garden is a far prettier affair than its Hibiscus counterpart with a wide range of colours and shapes for the eye to rest upon.  Also a vast network of water-sprinklers and hoses throw water about the grounds, this sweltering tourist only too happy to ‘accidentally’ get caught in their watery trajectories!  From here, again, far in the distance the KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers loom, looking almost unreal, framed here by the foreground green palm fronds of the Orchid Garden.

THE RAINS AT LAST!!!!!

A walk through the city park.  A large monitor lizard crosses my path.  Humidity is increasing.  I take refuge under a shaded pagoda and read some Sherlock Holmes.  Clouds billow beautiful and pregnantly up into the pale blue early evening skies.  Could it be so?  Will it happen?  Are the rains a-coming?  You can almost taste it in the air.  I sort out some practicalities, tickets and suchlike in anticipation of my flight back to Bangkok in a week or so’s time.  Then head back to Chinatown where the market madness is in full flow.  Shoes, belts, handbags, wallets, T-shirts, luggage, jackets, knock-off perfumes.  The usual roll call of tat.  More worth the stroll for the experience of the crush, noise and bustle of humanity in these places.

The Pertonas Twin Towers, of course need no introduction!
  As I sit down to a large, steaming bowl of hot ‘n’ sour soup, finally, after all these months in the ceaseless sun, the heavens open and a cloudburst of quite spectacular force descends upon Kuala Lumpur.  I’m happy enough here though, sipping my (very hot!) soup as the rain clatters on the canvas restaurant rough and splashes up off the road.  People running and squealing for cover, umbrellas held aloft.  The rain lasts only as long as my meal, perfect timing.

After a rest and freshen up it’s time for the highlight - the high lights indeed - of the day.  Time to make good on my overdue introduction to the Petronas Towers.  The architectural jewel in the crown of Kuala Lumpur.  And what a finale they prove to be!  The Petronas Towers really have to be one of the absolute top works of architecture I’ve ever seen.

  In fact, so far in my experience, only the Eiffel Tower remains of more grandeur in my mind.  I honestly never thought so much metal and glass, on such a scale could impart such a sense of lightness and elegance.  All lit up with arc lights and neons, creating quicksilver ribbons from its stainless steel cladding, throwing rings of light around its superstructure from earth to sky.  A beautiful monument to human design that aspires here, reaching for the skies, for a little something of the divine.  A giant sculpture carved seemingly out of ice or solid glass with inspiration and electricity.  Magnificent!

The towers front a large, high end shopping centre within which at the moment hang many large red Chinese lanterns in preparation for the New Year.

  “Gong Xi Fa Chai”.  Happy New Year China emblazoned everywhere.  To the rear of the Towers/ Mall complex is a park containing a couple of decorative lakes.  Here at night huge numbers of Malays and tourists congregate to sit on the steps and watch the choreographed water-jets and fountains pulsate up and out and back down into the lake waters.  All the while the incredible backdrop of the Towers lit up behind.

mightor20 says:
will be here in June! :)
Posted on: Feb 21, 2011
Stevie_Wes says:
Finally booked some tickets then Noel?!! :)))
Posted on: Jul 19, 2010
vodkaphix says:
I'm going here - December 2010!
Posted on: Jul 18, 2010
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The modernist low-slung dome and a…
The modernist low-slung dome and …
Lots of angular and impressive hig…
Lots of angular and impressive hi…
Old and New : The KL tower viewd t…
Old and New : The KL tower viewd …
KL and Petronas Twin Towers seen f…
KL and Petronas Twin Towers seen …
THE RAINS AT LAST!!!!!
THE RAINS AT LAST!!!!!
The Pertonas Twin Towers, of cours…
The Pertonas Twin Towers, of cour…
Statue frieze at Hindu temple.
Statue frieze at Hindu temple.
Slightly disappointing photographi…
Slightly disappointing photograph…
The vertiginous KL tower
The vertiginous KL tower
A beautifully orante copy of the K…
A beautifully orante copy of the …
Dome inside the museum of Islamic …
Dome inside the museum of Islamic…
Planr (abstract)
Planr (abstract)
Hibiscus : Malaysias national flo…
Hibiscus : Malaysia's national fl…
The Hibiscus Gardens
The Hibiscus Gardens
Orchid
Orchid
Kuala Lumpur Orchid Garden
Kuala Lumpur Orchid Garden
Orchids (abstract)
Orchids (abstract)
View of the Prchid Gardens
View of the Prchid Gardens
Helping mom (again)
Helping mom (again)
A small girl helps mommy get ingre…
A small girl helps mommy get ingr…
Tree Print (Kuala Lumpur)
'Tree Print' (Kuala Lumpur)
Dried leaf (detail)
Dried leaf (detail)
Monitor Lizard in Park
Monitor Lizard in Park
the bark of a tree attempts its in…
the bark of a tree attempts its i…
Clouds gather over KL.
Clouds gather over KL.
Eveing clouds and jet stream : KL
Eveing clouds and jet stream : KL
Chinese Lanterns inside shopping g…
Chinese Lanterns inside shopping …
Strevies first proper sight of ra…
Strevie's first proper sight of r…
KL Tower at night
KL Tower at night
Petronas Towers (detail)
Petronas Towers (detail)
(Dark Petronas) Muju [www.mujuworl…
(Dark Petronas) Muju [www.mujuwor…
:D I love dictionaries.
:D I love dictionaries.