My week in Kuala Lumpur (1-2-09 through 1-9-09) was chalked full of activities and things to do. On top the limited official meetings with MACEE, I was able to explore the city, tried out variegated delicacies, checked out the night life, and just had a great time. KL is quite the city and I will definitely be returning to it in the future.
The reason why I was in KL last week was to go through an orientation session with MACEE. Officials from MACEE, namely Jim and Meena, introduced us to the Fulbright program in Malaysia, what we should expect during our stay here, and put us in touch with the US Embassy. Although we had meetings every day of the week, we didn’t achieve too much. At least we were able to get an orientation to the country and take care of some of the more tedious bureaucratic issues that had to get done.
KL itself is quite an impressive city. There is fantastic architecture, all types of eateries, and people from all over the world. The buildings are well-designed and built to last. There is a wide-range of architectural styles, from Western styled skyscrapers to ornate Ottoman-esque mosques. The Petronas Twin Towers are the paragon of the fusion of East and West, with the distinctive Islamic touch.
Walking through the city you can find almost any type of food that you’re heart desires. Food is incredibly cheap in comparison to America and you can get an excellent meal for $5US. The native Malay cuisine is actually not that great. The biggest problem with Malay food is the overreliance on fish and fried goods. I figure that this diet coupled with a general tendency that most Malays have of not doing exercise contributes greatly to the v, but there is a wonderful collection of Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Western food places.
The demographic breakdown of the city seemed to be predominantly Chinese although there was a healthy mix of native Malays, Indians, and foreigners. KL is a truly cosmopolitan city and the epitome of what Malaysia is striving to be. Now whether or not massive development and a vibrant economy on the one hand makes up for the (the typical belief among conservative Malay’s) loss of identity and morality is an issue that is debatable. On the negative side, KL is pretty poorly designed in terms of a street layout and it seems that there was no central planning to the city as it evolved over time. The weather is crap—it’s ridiculously humid—but most people hang out in all of the building, which are fairly cold. Overall the city is quite nice and I could definitely see myself staying here for an extended period of time at some point.
There are lots of different things to do in KL. While most activities revolve around eating, there are actually a lot of sightseeing places. There is the Batu Caves which is a series of caves and cave temples near the city. For those more inclined towards the outdoors, there is a great jungle hiking trail through FRIM. I actually went on a nice excursion through FRIM and was able to climb through the thick bush in a nice long trek through the jungle. There are also many gorgeous mosques worth visiting, especially the awe-inspiring National Mosque. For those more inclined towards the night-life, there are plenty of bars and clubs to check out. If you are into meeting women, there are plenty of attractive Chinese and Indian women (the native Malay girls aren’t that great-looking).
KL is a city that holds many attractions and was a great city to visit. I’m sure I will be making my way back to KL as I spend more time in Malaysia.