Passing through Kuala Lumpur

Trip Start Oct 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Suzie's Guesthouse

Flag of Malaysia  , Kuala Lumpur,
Sunday, June 19, 2011

We arrived at KL LCC (Low Cost Carrier airline terminal) early evening and found the shuttle bus that takes you to the railway station in order to board the city centre train. The whole journey takes nearly 2 hours but is easy and cheap. Then it was a taxi to Suzie's Guesthouse, in China Town.

A door on the main street has code access through which you are buzzed if new and spotted on the TV. We went inside to find a steep flight of stairs to climb but first we had to take off our shoes and leave them on racks. Having completed this we were about to start hauling our cases up when a door at the top opened and out flew Suzie, (a young man), who fluttered down the stairs, batting his eyelashes and declaring in a welcoming falsetto, “ I am here, I am sent by God to help you”. I did not dare make eye contact with Jim as the cases were whisked upstairs without difficulty.

Another young man was also on duty and they seemed to be amused by something as one said to the other, “Ah, this is Mister James”, “Yes, Mr James”, whilst looking at us doubtfully. They showed us our room, which was tiny with space for 2 bunk beds and nothing else, not even a window. Then I realised they had decided we were too old to climb up to the top bunk. They asked if we would prefer a better room which had 2 beds adjacent on the ground, a little more floor space and a window. It was not very much more expensive and they appeared very relieved when we took it. Then Suzie looked at us with great intensity, leant forward and said emotionally, “This is your home, …. your home!”

Most of the rooms are very small, however they are clean, there is a long, well equipped kitchen/common room and it has a very friendly atmosphere. As we sit at the long table poring over maps to plan our next move people from all over the world volunteer recommendations and advice and share their experiences of South East Asia. Surprisingly, it does feel very much like home!

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia is a very modern city with a good infrastructure and a number of interesting colonial buildings, in places feeling very English. We went by bus to the Batu caves on the northern outskirts of the town where there are 3 caves with a Hindu temple inside. It was a steep climb up 274 steps but worth it to see inside the cave. It is protected by a giant statue outside. There are lots of monkeys around the steps, looking for food from tourists, and every few minutes a scream would ring out as one of them grabbed and pulled at the long hair of a visitor.

The modern buildings in the town, including the Petronas Towers and the KL Tower, are very attractive with individual character, in contrast to the apartment blocks in the suburbs which are the more mundane lego block constructions. There are very pleasant green spaces close to the town centre, housing the National Museum, the National Mosque, the Palace (Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy), a Planetarium, a bird park, an orchid garden, a deer park, lakes, and various other state buildings. We visited the museum for a morning and followed the history of the country from prehistoric times. There was also a temporary exhibition about the Orang Asli, the original people as they are called, describing their culture and beliefs. It was amazing how much of their healing rituals seemed familiar, not the medicines used but the psychological processes they were trying to use and promote in order to heal. A number of aspects echoed elements of the stress management techniques I used to train.

Travel and food is very cheap here. We have found, (thanks to fellow guests) a wonderful vegetarian South Indian restaurant where the food is amazing and unlike any Indian food we have eaten before. We shall miss it when we move up into the Cameron Highlands tomorrow but who know what delights (or disasters) we shall encounter up there? That is the joy of travel. So far, South East Asia is proving easier to travel in than we expected.

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