Journal 24 Day 3: Malaysia
Today I plan on hopping aboard an open-top bus and shooting the town. Originally, I thought I would stay in KL for a couple days. But we will see how things go. It’s not really all that important to do the museum and shopping mall treks for me. My view right over the strip of the late night eats here in the hotel provided me with enough inspiration to carry me through at least the idea of getting some good photos of the town. At the minimum, I will try and get some shots of tomorrow night’s action from up here in the hotel room.
I got the cheapest room in the hotel. It looked like they reserved the room for workers to sleep when they had an overnight or early morning shift. But I was okay with that. It cost me about US$9, it was clean and even right next to the elevator. The bad news was that it was on the opposite side of the hotel from the restrooms – the only room without one. But the showers were hot and they had western toilets, so the comfort level made it worth the hike.
Singapore is coming soon. But I would also like to see the west coast. So maybe I’ll see as much as I can now and do the countryside on the way back through Malaysia. Or maybe I will head to Indonesia for the trip back north? I love freedom.
Okay, so this city is really big. Impressively so. I started off the morning with a tour of the city. Midway, I stopped just past the world famous twin towers (the ones in the action movie [title here] that have a skywalk connecting them) for lunch and sat in a mall the size of Mars and watched all manner of people walk past. The diversity as well as the new trends in fashion is really something indescribable. Even the Muslim women who are supposed to dress very conservatively with their head garb covering their most attractive parts, find ways (still within the rules) to make themselves look so exotic. This is an ironic and strange twist.
All over the place I am seeing these coincidental names. I started reading a book before I planned this trip by Nathan Mills. It’s called The Third Attempt and it chronicles a high speed thrill as several main characters interact across an international stage in an attempt to kill a mutual enemy and betray one another. It’s a pretty good book. I recommend it. But anyway, it talks about the same places that I am currently visiting. And if that wasn’t enough, the man everyone’s trying to kill, Azlan (the son of the Sultan of Melaka), shares his name with the first person that I see when I sit down to read the newspaper. On the front cover of The Nation, in a victory over Pakistan’s Khan in the men’s individual squash final, Azlan takes the gold in the Asian Games’ last match held the night before.
The descriptions in the book seem mostly accurate, though the author is careful to note that the bridge and river described in KL are fictitious. But nonetheless, the coincidence is still noticeable. I even came upon the book by accident, finding it in a “free” stack at the guesthouse in Bangkok where I was put up by the school I was interviewing to work for.
Couldn’t I have just as easily read this book earlier or later in life? Might I have simply chosen a different book from the “free” stack? The things I ponder…
I think I shot more than 600 photos of KL infrastructure. I shot mostly in JPG, deciding that I would take up the space of RAW files when I could find more intimate subjects.
I am noticing that fashion is much different than in Thailand – even in Bangkok. The economy is much better. The cars are nicer. The shops are higher class; Gucci, Este Lauder, Burberry, Prada, Cincere, Canali, Mont Blanc, Boss, Bulgari, Versaci, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Aignes, and on and on. These six-story block-mountains loom over their ant-like fund-raisers traversing the consumer network below.
And the major difference between these shops and the ones in Thailand is that they are legitimate. Their huge signs were actually sanctioned by their company chairs. In Thailand, anyone at anytime can put up any sign without fear of lawsuit. From Rolex to BMW, shops simply advertise whatever is popular enough to bring in customers. It is truly unreal. But here in the mega-mall that is Kuala Lumpur, the “anything goes” façade pales behind the diamond-glow of the true ritzy exports of the glamorous gems of the west.
I might be interested to find out the working visa requirements for Malaysia. The area seems nice wherever I go (north to south along the west coast so far) and the schools seem to be reasonably funded. But there is still a lot of work to be made in this still-developing country. In the news I am reading that, in Petaling Jaya, month-long elections closed in chaos. This sort of leaves me unsettled.
But still, there are a lot of other things that make news here which indicate that crime is still taboo. Heavy policing and censorship are common here, but even in the inside sections of the paper, they are talking about youth’s crazy driving being a nuisance for the status quo.
This is paired on the same page as a story of a Malay Fengh Shui Master who is called upon to act as principle consultant for the Malaysian Institute of geomancy to predict such popular items ranging from economic country status to general election outcomes. They sure have a different way of looking at things in the Far East.
More in the news today: Tamil exodus underway. Swarms of refugees from Sri Lanka are landing in Thailand on their way aboard merchant vessels-for-hire to Canada where they will seek asylum from the devastating scourge that is taking place in the tiny country off the south coast of India.
[Walking through the book store, I note that I want to buy these books when I get the chance: The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking (who might finally have his answer to the theory of everything), How to be Free, Tom Hodgkinson and others.]
Here’s a strange sight: Chinese Shaolin monks sitting auspiciously at the KLL Twin Towers. I am not sure what they are doing there. But they seem quite out of the ordinary. Perhaps monks take tours, too.