Lot’s of travelers have not-so-very-nice things to say about Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia in general, so my expectations were not very high. But surely it HAD to be better than Delhi, the biggest cesspool I have seen to date, right? Really all i wanted was a good pharmacy (you have no idea how exciting it is to be able to choose from more than one brand of shampoo, toothpaste & deodorant… oh, you do? well, ok then, nevermind) a shopping mall where i could perhaps buy a new pair of shorts & a shirt (my clothes are a little grotty) and some high-speed internet. I had pretty simple needs.
But Kuala Lumpur you surprised me. And while I know we only just met & it’s too soon to say “I love you”, I will say “KL, I am totally crushed out on you”.
Here are 5 reasons I am all atwitter over KL
1.) IT’S A REAL CITY. I know a lot of people loathe big cities, especially foreign cities, but I love ’em. (well, except for you, Delhi. Delhi, you are not a nice place)
2.)SHOPPING. Ok, I’ll admit it: I am a bit starved for retail therapy, but that aside, there is amazing shopping here. There are 4 HUGE shopping malls within walking distance from my guesthouse. I spent one afternoon in a Guardian (the Malaysian equivalent of a Boots or Walgreens). I went up & down every aisle. I sniffed shampoo, I sampled lotion, and contemplated what kind of moist towelettes to purchase. and the best part? it was all right there for me to touch! I was used to valuable things like shampoo being behind the counter. I was giddy as left with my bounty.
I was also able to purchase an entire new wardrobe! and by wardrobe i mean 4 pair of underwear, one night shirt, 2 pants & 3 shirts.
3.) FOOD. ok, seriously. the food here rocks. Malaysian food has an influence of Chinese, Indian, and indigenous local food. Lot’s of noodles, too.( and we all know how I feel about noodles). Food stalls are everywhere, and the Malaysians are snackers. I love this kind of eating. Hungry? wander a few feet & chances are there is someone cooking something yummy. Oh, and the malls, they have the most amazing food courts…. so I could combine shopping AND eating.
4.) NICE PEOPLE. For a big city, people are unbelievably friendly, helpful & courteous. I have yet to encounter a sourpuss. or of of these rascals
5.) IT’S GOT A KOOKY ELEMENT. So it’s not everywhere that you can see a woman carrying an Ipod, while shopping for a Prada bag….. in a burka! Burkas still freak me out, especially when the husbands are wearing shorts & flip flops, but I have to say it provides an element of WTF?, and I like places & people that make me ponder.
I was also privy to democracy in action. Today there was a big demonstration near chinatown. I wandered down to chinatown in search of a big plate o’ noodles & found myself smack in the middle of a demonstration. you know, crowds of yelling people & police in riot gear.
A man smiled & came up to me to say thank-you for participating (thinking i was there on purpose and not the hapless tourist that i was). I said, “uh, what is it we are protesting, exactly?” He told me that the government was corrupt and elections are rigged and that the people just want fair & honest elections. He asked me where I was from & when i said America, he said “oh, the birthplace of democracy” and then he said “Obama is a good man, I hope he gets re-elected” me too, pal. me too.
I left before the tear gas & water cannons came out. I hope the people of Malaysia get the government they want & deserve. Democracy is messy, but it’s better than the alternative.
Tomorrow I head to Penang, which is the foodie capitol of the country, I am going to try to eat myself silly.