Trip to Malaysia 2004
All travel reports are translated electronically although minor improvements are sometimes made.
Trip to Malaysia 2004
At the beginning of my trip I did not intend to go to Malaysia at all because I did not have time for it. However, when my Thai visa ended and I was heading south of Thailand, I thought it would be nice if I go to Kuala Lumpur and see the famous Two Towers – one of the tallest buildings in the world, and Malacca – the old port city. In this case Malaysia was the most convenient because I did not need a visa to enter there and on my way back to Thailand I was able to get a visa at the border. My short visit here was supposed to be a chance to see a few new things in the new country rather than the intention of accurately traversing it.
Kuala Lumpur – Petronas Towers.
My trip: Kuala Lumpur, Malacca.
(Description of the city, Chinatown, Petronas Towers, Merdeka square and other places)
To Malaysia I got a bus from Thailand. I quickly got a free stamp and was glad that I finally got here. I also have to admit that I was not stunned by the cleanliness, although the roads were good and the stops were at a higher level than in other countries in the region. I did not have much time so I wanted to get to Kula Lumpur as soon as possible. Unfortunately the road was long and tedious because I reached the capital of the country only in the evening and all the way the driver chilled all their air conditioning. The outside was hot and the coach was cold and the driver could not understand that the air conditioning was completely unnecessary. When entering the city, I first saw two towers towering over the rest of the buildings, the famous Petronas Towers. Finally, I got off the bus and accompanied two Scottish people to take a taxi to Chinatown, the place of cheaper hotels and a big bazaar. It was late, but the trade was still going on and the sellers lost my Scotts. I quickly found a very cheap hostel where I lived with a few people in the room and the running shower was on the other floor. Anyhow the price was more than competitive. The next day I left for China Town. It was a very loud and busy place where clothes were sold, cheap restaurants with street tables and fruit stands. One man wanted to push the “original” Chanel perfume for only 5usd and said it was so cheap because I wanted to buy it for Mom. I spit a little here, ate rice with additives and went out on the main street. Kuala Lumpur or KL as is often called this city, is always advertised and shown on postcards as the most modern and developed city in Malaysia where there are a lot of skyscrapers, luxury hotels and restaurants. All of this is of course true, but KL is also my city of syfu, and at least China Town. In the area I was living though it was very nice and the buildings were well maintained and the mown lawns, however the streets were quite dirty. When I went out on the main street of Chinatown-Petalling Street in the evening, I saw the biggest rats in life who were the size of small dachshunds and quickly ran from one pile of rubbish to the other.
In KL I really like the transport. There is a modern and fast metro and an overland railway that runs several meters above the ground and everything is very well organized. On my first day I went to the symbol of the city or Petronas Towers, which were just three metro stops from China Town. Metro arrives directly to the “dripping rich” shopping center located under the towers. It was nice and interesting for the first few minutes but then I was rather bored since this type of place is not mine. After a short while I went to the big terrace and there I saw twin Petronas Twin Towers close up, with their tips pointing up to the sky. Petronas towers are 451.9m long and have taken up to five years of planning and construction. They have 88 floors and between the 41st and 42nd floor is the bridge connecting the two towers. From the outside, they are designed in such a way that geometric patterns are characteristic of Islamic architecture. Over the years the towers in KL were the highest in the world but in 2004 in Taiwan, in Taipei, a taller building up to 509 meters and with 101 floors was built. The square on which the towers are located is very clean and well maintained. There are several shallow pools where children bathe (and me too) and a couple of fountains. These pools are a very good idea in this hot climate because people can always wet. There is also a large metal sculpture depicting a whale popping up from the pool, around well-tended gardens and ponds, a playground for children and of course a wealthy shopping center. I spent most of my time in the shade of the palm trees and in the pool watching the towers. As the only white man in the area I was also hired by a group of Hindu children and was a highlight of their day. In Malaysia I was in November, so I had to rely on the fact that the weather could change at any time.
On this day the sunny weather turned very quickly into the rain and the tops of the twin towers were already invisible and in the clouds. Within a few minutes I was wet and quickly started running to the mall. There were two interesting meetings. One with an oriental Malaysian with whom I ate dinner and who told me some things about her country. I saw this pretty creature in a quick service pub and asked if I could sit down. She agreed and told me some interesting things about herself and her country. During the meal I noticed the first thing that I did not like in Malaysia. At all prices are added tax so the price is unpleasantly higher. After dinner I had quite an unexpected meeting. I was hooked by a young Muslim woman in her traditional costume with a headdress. She wanted to talk to me and walk around asking questions about me. In a moment his brother came and after a while told me that his sister would like to have a white man. They wanted to exchange phone numbers with me and asked how long I would be in Malaysia, whether I was studying or working here. They were quite disappointed when I replied that I was in KL just passing by and would soon return to Thailand. This meeting was very interesting to me and I take it from him that Malaysia is an Islamic country, Islam in the Malayan edition is a bit looser than in the most conservative countries of the Middle East. After leaving the Petronas Towers I went for a walk around the city and got to the Menara Kuala Lumpur which is 421m high KL tower. It is next to Petronas Towers a tall building, built of concrete and a very good observation point for the city. In the evening after an eventful day I returned by metro at Petalling Street in Chinatown. Late tea houses and fruit stands were open. I turned around a bit, I sat in the cafe watching the surroundings and returned to my nice hostel.
The next day I went to the nearby Merdeka Square or Liberty Square. It was here in 1957 that the British flag was removed for the first time and the flag of the independent Malaya was founded. I will add that the flagpole is 100 meters long and is the highest in the world. In the middle of the square there is a cricket pitch, ie Padang and Selangoror club. It is a building that once served as a meeting place and as a cricket club. In the British era, Merdeka Square was used for games and sporting events, and today it is home to many exhibitions, cultural and sporting events. Merdeka Square is in close proximity to the river and mosque Masjid Jamek, whose prayers are sometimes heard in the square. The Sultan Abdul Samad building of 1897 was designed by a colonial architect, whose buildings are also located in Singapore. This property is a mixture of Indian and Muslim style and Gothic and other western influences. I think it is one of the most interesting buildings in Kuala Lumpur and the mixing of architectural styles is evidenced by the fact that, on the one hand, the roof dome is typical of the Islamic style and the clock tower has a European style but is completed with an Islamic dome. The mentioned clock tower is 41 meters long and is also called Malaysian Big Ben. During colonial times this building was intended for government offices and today it is the seat of the highest court and one of the most important landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. On the other side of the street you could not miss the big white building and the national history museum. The museum is a “nice refreshment” because it is free, and speaking seriously gives it a chance to get acquainted with the historic Malay heritage from ancient times through the Sultanate of Malacca and colonial times to the present day. In addition to the costumes and handicrafts from the space, I saw a sandstone 250 million years ago and a fifteenth-century eight-sided gold coin. Personally I liked the human skull most 40000 years ago. The entire Merdeka Square is warmly recommended and I believe the next Petronas Towers is the most important place in Kuala Lumpur. The place at Merdeka Square, where I spent a lot of time in the evenings, was a large fountain-shaped tree consisting of insectivorous plants (at least I think).
This is a very reassuring place that is the centerpiece between old KL and office buildings in its new part. That evening I was practicing and stretching at the fountain on the grass and then I went to my hostel in the Chinese district, before walking around the central bazaar. As usual, the pubs were open until late and large red lanterns illuminated the road. At the central point was the great Malaysian flag and the huge streets ripped through the huge rats. I’ve never seen such great things anywhere before. On the same day in the evening, however, I recognized that I had already enjoyed Kula Lumpur and felt that he was pulling me away. So I bought a bus ticket at one of the street stands and went to the nearby train station. I was a little surprised by the sanitary condition of the station as I was expecting more from the Malaysian capital. I will not complain about it. I just mean that the ubiquitous dirt and the conditions in which people slept on benches did not resemble the beautiful Kuala Lumpur postcard. On the same evening I left KL and as usual, even after leaving the city the illuminated Petronas Towers were visible from afar. This time I went on a five-hour trip to Singapore. I know I should have stayed in Malaysia and see other interesting places but the desire to see Singapore was stronger, especially since I had to count on time.
I crossed the border with Malaysia twice and the second time I got a boat from Sumatra to Malacca. After a two and a half hour cruise I got off the border and immediately liked it very much. Although the guards dealt with all very bitterly; they screamed and pushed people aside to make more room, one treated me with all the honors. As I was the only white person, they politely asked me to come out of the long queue and then sat down at the table and settled myself in the immigration form. In many countries I have already seen that white skin is always ahead. It is interesting that we do not impose it. We are just treated like that. When I went to the mainland, I was surrounded by palm trees and a bay. The closest gathering of people was the shopping center where Chinese people sold ginseng in elegantly framed boxes, which could also be hung like wall paintings. It was nice and clean, quite different from the dirty and poor Indonesia I had just returned from. From here I got on the city bus and drove to the city center. In other parts of Malaysia the main advantage is the beauty of nature, but here are historical monuments that are in close proximity to each other. The downside of my stay was that all cheap hotels were busy so being a tourist on a budget I walked practically the whole neighborhood in one day. In this small, quiet city you can see beautiful colonial buildings from centuries and from many parts of the world.
I think the best proof of the weight of history in Malacca are the monuments such as the Portuguese square from the beginning of the 16th century. Today there are many Portuguese shops and cafes. This is one of the better places in Malay to buy Portuguese products and see Portuguese shows. The fort is also interesting. Jana was built by the Dutch on the hill at the end of the 18th century. Walking around this part of Malacca and learning the history, it was clear that the Portuguese were very competing with the Dutch, for example when the Portuguese built the church. Paul in 1521 Dutch taking over Malacca changed some significant things. It was then that the corpse of St. Xavier (a Jesuit who taught Catholicism in Asia) was taken to Goa-another Portuguese colony. Interesting Portuguese fort or rather what was left of it. Porta de Santiago was destroyed by the British but the commander of the squadron spared the gate as he realized its historical value. Although the fort was built in 1512, the gate is marked “Anno 1607”, which is the date of expulsion of the Portuguese by the Dutch. The last object I saw that day was the Sultan’s Palace, which today serves as a museum. Together with the gardens that lead to the palace, this is another good way to get to know the history, this time non-European. By always describing all the places I have been in, I try to write very carefully. This time, however, I write generally and quickly, because that is how I visited Malacca.
In the evening after seeing the most important facilities I spent some time in the Indian and Chinese neighborhoods. It was a bit dirtier than the downtown area but every part of the city had its charm. I sat in one of the Chinese pubs and ate the dried fish and then strolled along the street and bought some fruit and fish crisps. Each part of the city retains its cultural distinctiveness and hence also culinary. Everyone lives in peace, and the proof is that here too, in the relatively short distance I have seen temples of many religions. After an eventful day, I arrived at the local bus station and then returned to Kuala Lumpur. This is the end of my short but informative visit to Malaysia as I returned to Thailand from KL.
I am very happy that I had the opportunity to come to Malaysia, especially since at the beginning of my trip I did not have her at all in the plan. I saw the capital Kuala Lumpur, whose modernity and cosmopolitanity intertwine with the most important period in the history of Malaysia, such as for example the regaining of independence. I was also in Malacca where colonial architecture and history hit every step and its multiculturalism is its consequence. Besides, I always felt good and safe here. Definitely my trip would be called culturally-historical though Malaysian peninsular has to offer a bit more. This time, however, I had to count on my time and budget, so I chose between natural values, similar to other parts of South-East Asia, and culture and history.