Wednesday evening/Thursday: Last day in Malaysia 2/7/2007 and 2/8/2007
Final greetings from Malaysia! Today's journal actually begins with last night, when Miss Fan, the owner of the first music school I visited Tuesday, came down with two of her teachers, Cindy and Joyce, to take me out for dinner. We went over to KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, just down the street from my hotel. This area is highlighted by the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world and quite beautiful. At the bottom of the towers is a huge shopping complex, happily for me not so young and frantic as the ones I experienced in Penang. Some really beautiful shops, including some art/handcraft ones, like Royal Selangor pewter, batik stores, wood craft places, etc. Good restaurants too, we had a tasty dinner at Little Penang Café. Then some exploring in the mall, they pointed out some of the stores where I might like to shop on my free day, and we went outside to the park area where we could look up at the towers – beautifully lighted at night. Silly me, I didn’t bring my camera with me this time (I was so tired of lugging around my laptop, a computer projector, totebag full of music and other accessories, and my purse, I was more than ready to go out with a light load!) But Cynthia took a photo of me in front of the towers with her camera phone, and hopefully she’ll be able to email it to me.
Then we went on a driving tour of the city. Let me tell you, this city doesn’t go to sleep! We started our drive at about 10 PM, and the traffic was horrendous. Some streets were totally gridlocked, and there were tons of pedestrians out. A lot of outdoor cafes and street hawkers, lots of music blaring, quite a hopping place! The Sultan Abdul Samad building, currently housing the Judicial Department and the High Court, was especially beautifully lighted, with all the lines of the building edged in white lights; the domes covered with closely-spaced columns of lights, etc. Also, trees tend to have many long streamers of lights hanging down from them. Very artistic and quite lovely. We drove past Chinatown and through various districts; saw the KL tower (looks a bit like the Seattle Space Needle), and various other places. They tried to find me some satay too (I haven’t had any since I’ve been here, apparently in Malaysia, where it originated, it’s only night-time street food) but traffic, closed streets, and general complexities made us give up on that. I’ve had it before in various countries, but I had hoped to try the original! Ah, well, a small loss.
So, it was a fun evening. I so appreciated Fan, Cindy, and Joyce’s enthusiasm in sharing their city with me. After all, we just met yesterday, and only for a couple of hours!
Now, Thursday! Finally a free day for me, unfortunately totally on my own. So I had to be courageous and go exploring. Not an easy city to navigate. Maps are outdated and incomplete, the government recently started a nationalism campaign which largely involves putting lots of street signs and other forms of guidance in Bahasa instead of English, roads are narrow, congested, and constantly winding, so it’s not a small matter to go out there.
But I had some good tips from my new friends here, and I struck out – walked from my hotel down to KLCC where I could catch a metro train, figured out that system and got myself over to the Central Market area. This used to be a ‘wet market,’ that is, a meat and vegetable market, but it has rather recently been turned into a crafts market area instead. Tons of vendors inside the Art Deco building, everything from pewter, to gold dealers, wood carvings, batiks, baskets, kites, musical instruments, etc. It was really fun! Most of the shops expect to bargain, which I did (though I think my WASPishness kept me from getting the really good deals). Finally found Malaysia T-shirts, including one for myself that’s hand-painted by the man from whom I bought it. And a variety of other things. I encountered things much like what I saw in Indonesia (such as the shadow puppets, virtually identical), other things more reminiscent of Thailand (wood working styles), a lot of Chinese things as well. It was really a trip through Malaysian culture to spend time there. Got to watch a musician playing what I believe was a set of angklungs – a big vertical bamboo frame, with lots of individually-pitched bamboo pipes that are shaken or tapped with the hands to make a striker hit the pipe. Interesting to watch and hear!
If I’d had a guide, a good map, or at least a companion, I would have tried to find Chinatown and explore a bit there, but it was just too difficult and confusing even for me. So I eventually took the metro back to KLCC, where I did some more shopping, watched a couple of craftsmen doing demonstrations (wood work and pewter shaping), looked at the buildings by day, and enjoyed some people-watching. And finally back to my hotel, serendipitously avoiding a torrential rainstorm.
Tomorrow I leave quite early to catch my plane to Bangkok. So this closes my time in Malaysia. It’s been a good and busy 8 days!!!
Stay tuned for Adventures in Thailand!
Love to all,
Last updated 12/07. Copyright
2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to email@example.com