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I Love Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a city teeming with contrasts. Its motto is “Truly Asia” and it truly is Asia as I had been imagining it. Affordable luxury, mouthwatering street food, packs of scooters riding on the sidewalks, sumptuous shopping malls, heat, moisture, narrow streets, skyscrapers and a thousand other things make KL an extraordinary stopover on the way to/from Australasia…

The greatest thing about KL is food, of course. Streets are lined with numerous stalls selling all kinds of stuff ranging from the recognizable and delicious (like a bunch of fried shrimp on a stick) to the mysterious and delicious (like a slimy thingy resembling raw kidneys but tasting like coconut). Everything is inexpensive, strange and irresistible: KL is one big food adventure.

Walking through the city is an adventure, too. You regularly find decrepit dirty streets just around the corner from immaculate new skyscrapers that stretch to neck-craning heights. Lights on pedestrian crossings seldom work and there are always impatient drivers to watch out for. Malaysians smile at you, especially if you wander away from touristy areas and English menus and mingle with locals to blindly buy food you’ve never seen before.

The city center, or KLCC, could be mistaken for any Western metropolis. But the Twin Towers, the beautiful parks and the vast shops somehow cannot match the chaotic magic of Chinatown…

I should not forget to mention the rain forest reserve in the heart of the city (I went in right after a tropical downpour and quickly forgot that I’m in the middle of a huge urban area) or the Islamic Arts Museum which hosts an exquisite collection of Arabic calligraphy. And if you’re into that kind of indulgence, quite a few pretty girls on the streets of Bukit Bintang will hang at your elbow and smilingly offer very pleasant massages :-)

August 20, MMXII — Travel, Australia.