Well, arrived in Kuala Lumpur just like James Bond likes it: shaken, not stirred. The last few hours of the flight were a mere turbulence which didn’t help in reducing the coming jetlag. Even tht stewardess managed to spill the drinks on me. Worked as refreshment, though.
It turned out that the airport is pretty far out of the city so we had some long cab ride with the local GRAB driver (Uber substitute and cashless payment app). This is always a great opportunity to get some local insights and tips about how things are going. And while the country is immediately feeling more developed and organized than expected (blaming my superficial knowledge again), I had to come to some conclusions about a few things:
1. the religion is important here… and there are quite a few (among others): muslims, christians, hindus, buddhists and chinese. Almost all people who we talked to in informal situations have managed to state what do they believe in. With some remarks about the others. This shows a bit of cultural tensions here and there. However all people were kind, helpful and spoke English on adequate level to get us going further (another new thing for me).
2. There are obvious tensions between the neighboring countries, Indonesia being mentioned all the time as the bad neighbor.
3. Related to #2, there are (rain)forest fires in Indonesia, painting the malaysian skies grey and make people wear masks on the streets. There it goes, fires outside Brazil get much less exposure these days. This might be a temporary thing but very bad sign.
I owe an apology: earlier I wrote about this trip lacking luxury. We stay in Kuala Lumpur for a night for several reasons: working off jetlag, exploring a bit and stocking up in local, reef-friendly sunblock and mosquito repellent. We took a pretty central, not exactly cheap hotel with an infinity pool on top.
The view was amazing but shown that the combination of forest fire smoke and humidity can produce lots of haze. As part of exploring the inner city during the evening we also experienced a nice rooftop bar onlooking to the famous Petronas towers. At least we could take an even better view of the modern city which is an interesting mix of modern skyscrapers, highways, really lush rainforest-looking parks and modern transportation like a monorail system (there are definitely others, too, but was not really visible during our evening) together with asian style street markets. While spreading across quite big area, the city has about 3 millions of inhabitants so it’s far not as big as common counterparts. In overall, it feels like how the future was imagined in the 80s, could have filmed Blade Runner here.
We had a great seafood dinner in a typical hot and humid food market on the street. On the way going back to the hotel we also experienced unexpected things: saving a kitten from the middle of the road (he could hopefully get away after) and a muslim lady who told herself to be a single mom…. a combination that I thought didn’t exist.
Next day plans are visiting Batu Caves and departing towards the eastern coast so we can board the small ferry to the Perhentian islands.