KL capers (2)

As always prone to exaggeration, capers is probably too lively a word for today’s efforts. Although the alarm went early {for us – no jealousy please} at 8.30am it was not until 10.30 am that we emerged into the steamy heat from the air conditioned haven of our hotel. An undisturbed night’s rest had somewhat refreshed us and left us with a degree of zest, if not the necessary energy, to explore KL further. We set our sights on the Petronas towers and equipped with a rudimentary map and Eric’s well honed bump of direction we set forth to do battle with KL’s streets and the flowing traffic. The fact that they drive on the correct side of the road makes navigating road hazards easier but the ever present threat of scooters hurtling towards you from all directions, ignoring one way sections if it suits them, adds an extra layer of excitement. KL is a very clean, vibrant city. It is growing rapidly, especially upwards, yet there are still pockets of older buildings, some sadly abandoned and locked up, between the array of shiny glass and steel towers.

Our first stop was the Central Market, now a craft market, where we felt in need of morning coffee. It was an education to sample the 28p cup of the local brew which was made with condensed milk. Joyce found it a little sweet for her taste, therefore a better brew was needed. The central market is part of a drive towards conservation of the history of KL in partnership with concern for the natural environment as part of the Waters of Life project.

As we headed towards the Menara Tower (the telecommunications tower) we came upon St John’s RC Cathedral. Built in 1955 it is an impressive space with small but intense stained glass in the chancel apse. The lack of a choir means that the transepts create a more effective use of space for both small and large congregations.

We decided that we would not go for the Menara viewing platform but would head for the twin towers. Passing the HQ of Malaysia’s forest service, set into a forested hillside leading up to the Menara Tower and St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, inaccessible, not hid from our eyes just from our side of the busy road, we found our way into the modern central business district with its forest of sky scrapers.

We now had the Petronas Towers in view and after a photo call in the water gardens in front of the building, we headed in to buy tickets to ascend one of the towers. If Eric had actually done his research properly (IEHADHRP for future reference) he would not have been quite as surprised to find that visits are by timed ticket and the first available slot was 4.00pm, a 4 hour wait. This put a major crimp in Huxter tours itinerary for the day, but being nothing if not flexible an alternative plan was rapidly formulated and we booked for the 5.00pm tour. The receptionist was very cautious in her broaching of the fact that there was a senior citizen rate (over 55 apparently so I assumed she had recognised us as being around that age).

Given the change of plan we investigated the shopping mall behind the towers. A convenient location for outstanding conveniences {the free ones, not the 2RM ones) and for a better cup of coffee for Joyce. We then headed to look at Rumah Penghulu, the Malaysian version of St Fagans where a Headman’s hut from the turn of last century in Kadeh was rebuilt in the Heritage Centre’s ground. This building itself represents colonial history, being built in 1928 by an early governor. IEHADHRP he would have realised that the guided tours were at 11am AND 3pm, not between those times. However the very kind custodian of the heritage centre took pity on us and she gave us a potted history of both buildings, a look at the heritage centre and permission to walk around the traditional Malay building and also permission to take photographs. This accomplished we called in at the Royale Chulan hotel to cool off and to admire the sumptuous reception area, complete with interior waterfall and small garden.

From here was only a short step to the neighbouring craft centre when lunch comprised a doughnut and a juice in the cafeteria. The craft museum had excellent displays on local wedding customs and the master craftspeople and their methods. Having enjoyed the museum and a visit to some of the craft emporia, we headed, via the Royal Chulan, towards the Petronas Towers. En route we enjoyed a stroll through the KLCC park with its extensive children’s playground as lakes.

The visit to the 2nd tower was in two parts. We first went to the 42nd floor (175 m) to spend 15 minutes admiring the view from the skybridge linking the towers then we proceeded to the 86th floor, via the 83rd to change lifts, and its observation deck (350m) for a further 15 minutes or so. This is 2 floors below the top of the building and 102m below the tip of the spires. The views of the immediate vicinity are spectacular, although visibility further afield is spoilt by the haze. The visit is very well organised with professional care.

Feeling in need of sustenance we decided to have dinner at the Dome restaurant by the lake. We then looked for the circular bus to take us to Pasar Seni but there was no sign of the purple route, only the green. Luckily the local metro station proved to be on the Pasar Seni line and after playing with the video game machine, sorry the ticket machine, to win our tokens we were whisked speedily to or destination, with a superb view of the tunnel out of the back of the last carriage. From the station it was only a 50m walk back to the hotel.

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