I love Kuala Lumpur

Hard to explain what I like about this place (the food, of course, but so much more than that) and why. I have missed a lot of things since leaving almost three years ago, but it’s not merely nostalgia. The feeling here in the city is very positive, optimistic. Something new seems to be in the air — I would like to think it is the rakyat, the people, coming into their own. People look good, the streets look good, there’s spiffy new signage in English and Arabic (brilliant, since they get a lot of Arab tourists in June and July), and today I saw a bunch of new magazines — locally written and produced, in English — that weren’t here three years ago.

I think there’s a changing of the guard, and it’s not the political parties so much as it’s the next generation stepping up to claim their birthright — which is a real multicultural Malaysia for all Malaysians.

Crowded train - doors closing

Today’ favorite photo: I couldn’t get on the LRT at KL Sentral because of the crowd!

Last night (Tuesday, May 13) I was treated to a delicious dinner (no photos, sorry) by Julian and Anita of Trinetizen, a local multimedia training outfit. A friend of theirs from The Star, Kamatchy Sappani, joined us too. We talked about journalists and online and training, naturally, but also about elections and racial politics and the Fulbright Scholar program (Kamatchy was a Humphrey Fellow in 1998-99) and the higher education system here in Malaysia.

We are eating cendol

Eating cendol: It was hot, and there was a truck selling icy cold, sweet, delectable cendol, and it was great.

Today I met up with Milton again, and her friend Adilah, and we tried KL’s Hop-On, Hop-Off bus (38 ringgit for me, 17 ringgit each for Malaysians). The full circuit took two hours to complete. There are 22 stops on the route, and it includes all the major hotels, making it a very convenient way to reach some of the city’s pain-in-the-neck locations such as the big telecom tower (Menara KL) and the National Museum, which is cut off from the walking world by eight-lane highways circling it. We rode the Eye on Malaysia ferris wheel and capped off the day with a visit to the Islamic Museum, where there was a special exhibition about women in Islam.

Char Kuey Teow

Lunch lah: Char kuey teow, rice noodles with prawns, chili, bean sprouts, scallions … yum!

I’m trying to remember to photograph as much food porn as I can, but as for the cendol — it doesn’t really look like much, and besides, you have to eat it fast because it’s melting fast.

Finally, went to KLCC tonight after the rush hour(s) because I didn’t think to acquire a grounded power adapter for my MacBook. Doh! Not a big problem to find it — KLCC is an absolutely gi-normous multi-level shopping mall, and I think you can find almost anything there. Went to the Kinokuniya bookstore and bought some of those shiny new Malaysian magazines. Looked at electronics prices — no bargains at all (the new iPod Nano actually costs MORE here than in the U.S.). I even felt happy to be in the shopping mall, for heaven’s sake! (I hate shopping malls!)

More photos here.

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