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Long route home Our trip all the way home, trying to catch no planes and stay on the ground like civilised people. It's taking us via India all the way to Europe from Japan, the furthest of the Far East...


MALAYSIA | Friday, 6 August 2010 | Views [1753]

One of the joys of travelling is to be able to revel in being in a jungle or on a remote island, and then move on before the lack of electricity, road signs, hot water or ATMs spoils the fun.  For us, KL was a time of plague and pestilance (well, the computer got a virus, Oli had a fever and Emma's blisters were delightfully pus filled after too many weeks of being wet, hot and walked on...) We were happy to be in a one place, catch up with people and chores. So happy in fact that we stayed quite a few days longer than planned.

The Colosseum is another hotel famed for faded grandeur and eccentricity. It was more faded than other similar institutions, the bar/cafe downstairs a popular hang out for gentlemanly drinking and smoking, and the various staff ranged from cantankerous to crazy. In short, exactly our kind of place!  A great snippet of conversation: "Ah, you're English, don't you despair at the falling standards of your language in young people? I have taught English and helped to set up syllabuses around the world, and my friends laugh at me for insisting on pronouncing things correctly".  It was curiously like staying at a tiny school filled with eccentric old folk instead of kids.

We did manage some sight seeing, though much of the joy of KL is just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. The Islamic Arts Museum was a treat, with crisp white walls, domes inside and out, and blue tiled fountains. The display of Islamic architecture complemented the view of KL's unique umbrella mosque outside, though the ideas on Palestine and the spread of Islam were predictably biased.  The aquarium was nicely done, though we'd been hoping to see some of the fish we'd encountered diving. Clever use of space and great signage made it a fun place to be. The Bird Park was a disappointment. It seemed at first to be one huge netted cage that visitors could walk through with birds all around in the trees, avoiding the poo. Sadly there was little control over other guests who thought it was OK to chase, harass and feed cheesey crisps to the birds. Oli knew more information than the signs provided, and the bigger birds (like the Hornbill we'd seen in the jungle) were still confined to tiny cages.  The National Museum gave us a swift walk through Malaysia's history, from pre-historic to today's 1Malaysia, complete with life sized jungle and a replica fort. Next door was a special exhibition on coffins and funeral practices designed to attract and delight any pre-pubescent kid, with lots of bones and stories about local traditions.  The towers, which curiously don't dominate the skyline, were a bugbear.  We arrived at 11 the first day to be told in no uncertain terms we were far too late.  The next day we returned around half eight and found a gigantic queue which was already closed to newcomers.  Upon learning that it would have to be before seven AM we reluctantly eschewed the idea, despite them being top of the list, due to fever etc.  Still, they are indeed most wonderful up close and in reality.

Internet cafes and WIFI were strangely scarce, many places purporting to be net cafes are actually semi legal online gaming centres, people love to stop and help (as with much of Malaysia), whether you asked for it or not, and the public transport/pedestrian options/connections were atrocious. Oli wrote to The Star (a delightfully authentic tab - jut like back home!) to comment, which was sadly not published before we left.  Despite the car-centred attitude, the city is incredibly green - a real garden city.  One thing that was especially apparent in KL was the Malayan obsession with records - everything was the longest/tallest/biggest in Malaysia/world.  Examples included the world's biggest mall-based indoor rollercoaster, which can't have too many competitors.  KL is a funny place - much more expensive than the rest of Malaya but with a bright future indeed.  It's sad that their future includes so much petrol and so little public-mindedness but there it is.  Without a doubt it's one of the few places so far on the journey one could see oneself enjoying a life in.  There was a burgeoning nightlife there that we had to skip due again to illness.

Oh, and no batfans, we did not go up the Petronus towers.


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