tirsdag 3. mars 2009

Kuala Lumpur

So what did I know about Kuala Lumpur before I arrived? Practically not more than I had heard about the Twin Towers with the sky bridge between them, which I have seen on pics and in the movie “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherina Zeta Jones. And of course... I have been there. The entrance is free, but you have to register early to get a ticket. This time of the year it is not so bad, a short queue, I was there about noon and got a ticket for 4.45 pm. As you can see from the pics I wasn't blessed with the clear and sunny weather, rather foggy and rainy, so the view was as you can see on the pics (so don't blame the dummy with his camera this time).

As I can recall from the information ahead of the sky bridge visit, the towers are 442 metres above street level and the highest building in the world before some new building in Dubai was built (or maybe it is still under construction?). The sky bridge is about 170 metres above street level and this is about 70 metres higher than I – years ago - was building scaffoldings under the construction of one of the concrete platforms for the North Sea oil production. 

If someone has seen the movie with Connery/Zeta Jones and wonders... I kept myself on the inside of the sky bridge, since it was raining I did not feel for the Connery/Zeta Jones way of discovering the towers and the sky bridge

But Kuala Lumpur is definitely more... not so easy for a tourist to get around as in Hong Kong, the metro system is not as good and easy as in Hong Kong, but when you find out you get around easily. There are no tourist tickets so you have go by single journeys, and the different lines are operated by different companies with their own ticket system, so when you change you have to buy a new ticket. But the fares are very reasonable, between 2 and 4 Norwegian crones a trip, which means that if I have to change once I will pay about 4-6 crones one way. 

Not so easy to find out as a tourist maybe, but since the Malaysians are very friendly, helpful (I am really overwhelmed by their hospitality), you can ask anyone and he or she will guide you so you come to the right place. I have heard before that Malaysians are well known for their hospitality and I can just say that every word of it is true. You have to be a bitter and grumpy European or American not to like these people.

The first 2 nights I stayed at a very pleasant hotel not far from the National Bank, but later I moved to Heritage Hotel which is a hotel on the old railway station in KL (there is a newer central station not so far from this). This might be a little more poor, but has a great atmosphere, and you get more easily in touch with people here. Much less formal, and it is also very easy to get around as KTM Komuter metro stops here and one of the stations of one of the other metros is in short walking distance from here. Nearby that station you also find China Town.

Of course also KL has its China Town. Very different from what you see elsewhere in KL. If you go here you just have to pay it a visit. I don't know how many rolex'es I have been offered, and other exclusive things with a special price for me.. but anyway, this is what we are looking for we Norwegians when we get around, isn't it??

If you don't feel like going with the metros there are of course buses and taxis. Taxis should be metered I have been told, I haven't used it more than once myself and the price was pleasant. You can also walk to a lot of places in the central KL, and if you bring a canoe or something you might use the rivers running through KL. I haven't seen anyone doing that though. I have had a look at some of them, and from what I can see it might even be possible to walk on these rivers, even if your name isn't Jesus, but you should probably just walk downstream.. (anyone who has tried to walk “upstream” an escalator or moving floor knows what I'm talking about).

You can't leave KL without seeing The National Mosque. It is a mosque with a modern architecture, which was finished in 1965. This is in fact the first time I have been inside a mosque, and I would think that you will not find any mosque like this anywhere else. I guess you just have to look at the pics, but here you just see parts of it. 

As I was walking around without my shoes, I got in touch with a guy a little older than me who gave me a long and interesting lecture about the history of the Islam and the common history with Judaism and Christianity. He also told me the meaning of life here, to prepare for the next. And the preparation is to get to know the world and the people around, make sure that God knows where we are by praying, and make sure that he holds a hand over us in this life. We had a long discussion about life and religion, some we where obviously not agree about, but in many things our philosophy was not so different.

At the end we had a little discussion about marriage, men and woman (and kids.. I have 2 and he was superior here, as he has 5). I wondered a little about the sharia laws allowing men in Malaysia to have 4 wives. He only had one himself, or as he said, he was only blessed with one. I said I wondered if 4 wives would be a blessing or a punishment, and that my experience was that one is MORE than enough. He just commented that with a laugh... and then I had to hurry to reach my trip to the sky bridge I am sure we will have more interesting discussions if I see him again. By the way, I also learned from him that the arrows in the ceiling in the hotel rooms is indicating the direction to Macah (Mekka) and is not, as I thought, showing the way to the bathroom.

Yesterday a cs friend and her friend took me to the national museum, where I learnt a lot about the Malaysian history from the colonial period and to today's Malaysia. As I didn't read a lot about Malaysia before I came here, except for traveller's guides, this was very interesting and I am glad I made this visit so early in my stay here. Later in the evening I went even higher than the sky bridge, I went to the KL Menara Tower which is the 4th highest communications tower in the world, 421 metres above ground level. I went up to the observation deck which is about 270 metres above ground level. And here you get a wonderful view of the whole KL, and not foggy or rainy this day, as you can see from the pics.

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