This is by way of very late entry, the stop we made on the way home. From Sydney we flew to Kuala Lumpur (KL) for a few days before going on to Heathrow. It was one of those ‘felt like a good idea at the time’ sort of decisions.
Kuala Lumpur feels like the pit stop to the world. It opens up Europe for Oceania and vice versa. We stayed at a beautiful hotel ‘ The Shangri La, which was on the outskirts of the main city ring.
We expected to either use public transport or shank’s pony to get around, but found both had their limitation. The Taxi’s whilst cheap, also had their adventures!
After settling into the hotel, we took the free bus that circles the city. We had wrongly assumed that this was geared towards tourists. It was in fact a workers bus, taking the mostly migrant workers from Bangladesh took to their various work locations. So we did a loop around the back of restaurants, hospitals, office blocks and many other spots. We stood out in our bright holiday clothes amongst the sombre attire of the workers. Many spoke little English, but there was one man who was very welcoming and wanted to help us and gave us lots of smiles. A generous act when it was clear we were the interlopers.
The next day we decided to walk to the nearby shopping mall. Only 10 minutes up the road – what could go wrong? Well apparently a lot! The first thing you have to deal with is the heat and humidity which saps your energy with every step. Then the dodgy street signs, which start off in earnest showing you the way and then seem to get bored and give up half way through.
The road junctions are a law unto themselves. There are pedestrian crossings, but the pavements below you is either so broken up it’s hard to cross at the junction, or the traffic is rapid and not giving you confidence of its willingness to stop, so a 10 minute walk turns into a 30 minute adventure.
KL centre seems to be about big architectural statements and shopping malls. The Petronas twin tower was a towering piece of architecture. The streets had a mixture of run down and broken building, alongside vibrant colours. The big attraction seemed to be the shopping centres and I wondered as I walked around them, who were all these shops for? Certainly not the locals, many of whom would struggle to afford even the smallest item here.
On the Sunday we went to the KL Bird park, billed as the largest open air aviary in the world. And the size and space where impressive. We seen a great range of birds.
Yet beyond the apparent open air nature of the park, we saw some small enclosures with little in the way of natural habitat or growth and some birds that did not look happy. An emphasis, was for entertainment, with many left out for picture opportunities or to fly to the staff on demand. It was perhaps not different from the many other animal parks and sanctuaries we had visited over the previous few months, but somehow it felt different. To be fair to the KL Bird staff, I did write to express some of my concerns and they did write back. I won’t be there to see if improvements are made, but perhaps others will.
One of the unexpected visitors to the bird park where the monkeys who somehow have managed to live and thrive in this metropolis. They had a way of getting through the net at the top of the aviary and come in for plentiful supply of food.
Four days felt like long enough in KL and we were happy to be heading back to London when the time came.