Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

29 May

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May 24, 2012 – May 28, 2012

Our days in Malaysia, as planned, were e a good melange of both down time as well as out-and-about time. As such my recounts of my Malaysian experience will be done according to place within the country, beginning with Part I of the time spent in Kuala Lumpur:

  • Jaime’s apartment complex has both a brand-new air conditioned gym as well as a relatively deserted infinity pool that happens to be the perfect depth for swimming lengths. J.J. and I took full advantage of these amenities, in spite of the dirty looks I received from a woman working out in a full saree. I assume the reason for the dirty looks was my attire: Lulu shorts, Lulu tank and Nikes. Seriously though, it’s a GYM and it’s HOT in KL, even in the AC!
  • The humidity in Kuala Lumpur is intense, as my sister would say, an instant sweat mustache is inevitable anytime you exit the cool relief of an air conditioned building or swimming pool.
  • I don’t find KL smells at all, but Jaime and Melissa swear it does. I feel like I may be de-sensitized after having been in India.
  • We went to Asia Café which is a collection of a number of outdoor food stands featuring any kind of food you could possibly be craving. From Malay to Vietnamese to Italian to general Western food, Asia Café has it all. Jaime, Melissa and I had the most massive glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice (no sugar) that I have ever seen while J.J. had the large peach juice slushy (with sugar) as we were actively trying to get him to experience brain freeze for the very first time. Our mission was unsuccessful and J.J. remains the only person I’ve ever known to never have had an ice cream headache.
  • Jaime and Melissa showed J.J. and I this little DVD shop just outside of Asia Café where you can buy nearly any DVD or Malaysian pop CD for a fraction of the cost back home. Kind of like Kensington Market or Pacific Mall only the footage is far more legit than some dude filming from the back of a movie theatre.
  • We had the opportunity to visit Jaime’s mum, a teacher at another international school about 20 minutes from where Jaime teaches. There, she showed us an impressive collection of art pieces she’d acquired on her travels around Asia.
  • We were invited to an end-of-semester pool party for the teachers from the schools where Jaime, Melissa and Chris teach. Here I learned how to play Tips, a seriously fun pool game that requires 2 teams and a Frisbee. Team 1 tosses the Frisbee to Team 2 who tries to tip the Frisbee as many times as possible before having another team member catch it. Points are awarded based on the number of tips before the Frisbee is successfully caught (before it touches the water).
  • We got to see the new apartment that Jaime and Melissa will be moving to at the end of June once Chris returns home to the GTA to teach Phys. Ed.
  • The Sunway Pyramid mall near Jaime’s apartment has a skating rink located in the atrium that is visible from any of the 5 levels within the mall. There we watched the finals of the league in which Jaime’s friends play along with about 10 other Canadians. The buzzer went off in this gold medal game with a tie score. In the weirdest one-team, single player shootout I have ever seen Jaime’s friends won.
  • The Sunway Pyramid mall has a restaurant that is totally themed around poop. The chairs are toilets (seat down), the tables are sinks, brown poops are the only wall décor and the food is presented to look like poop. Sorry if this is rude, Mum, but I still can’t believe a business proposal for such an eatery was approved.
  • Malls are everywhere in KL and it seems like the whole city is connected by them.
  • J.J. got a full-on pedicure.
  • There is a class system here that Jaime explained in the following way: If you were to get in a car accident and the person driving the other car was at fault the very first question a police officer would ask is “What was the race of the person that hit you?” If the answer is Malay, you shouldn’t bother taking them to court as the Malay driver will win. If the answer is Chinese, you have a 50/50 shot of beating the Chinese driver in court. If the answer is Indian, you will without a doubt win against the Indian driver in court.
  • If you have anything close to an Indian complexion but are not an Indian passport holder and you enjoy the occasional cocktail I would highly recommend carrying your passport with you everywhere in KL. Those suspected of violating religious beliefs by drinking risk being thrown in jail if they cannot prove that they are not Indian citizens. (This happened to 2 of Jaime’s Canadian co-workers.)
  • I was invited to a girls’ afternoon tea party that Jaime and Melissa were attending along with a number of their girlfriends that was being held at a downtown restaurant appropriately named Delicious. Everyone paired up and each twosome received a tea set which included a hot tea or coffee, 3 crust-less sammies, savoury scones, duck confit phylo pastries, chocolate truffles and the choice of 1 decadent dessert. (I highly, highly recommend the chocolate cake!) As the name suggests, it was Delicious.
  • We visited Central Market which is an indoor market where there are a number of vendor stalls set up selling everything from vintage cameras to local art. Jaime and I spent a good chunk of time wandering the gallery stalls looking at the various pieces, everything from black and white to a bright medley of colours in small 5”x7” prints to canvasses that would occupy an entire wall.
  • China Town was an awesome sensory overload that was Khao San Road (Thailand) meets Canal Street (New York City). Rows and rows of faux brand name bags, electronics, clothing, shoes, DVDs, toys, trinkets, restaurants, bars and travelling food carts. I did participate in some bargaining activity and Jaime has said that I rival my sister in that department, who has earned the nickname “The Closer” due to her ruthless bargaining techniques.
  • We walked through KLCC which is a very high end mall, so high end in fact that we were able to give J.J. the following directions to meet up with us: “Meet us at the corner of Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. If you pass Chanel you’ve gone too far.” OK, so it’s not that different from Yorkville but I’ve been backpacking for nearly 5 months now. These brands aren’t in my everyday vocabulary at the moment.
  • Jaime, J.J. and I took a moonlit walk around the base of the Petronas Towers and watched the light-up fountain show taking place in the water between the Towers and the Traders Hotel. We also saw a number of workers setting up for what looked to be a concert stage on the island in the middle of this man-made body of water.
  • Jaime, J.J. and I hit up Sky Bar for drinks. Our window-side table boasted an excellent view of both the hotel’s swimming pool as well as the lit up Petronas Towers. By gently leaning out the window we could see the KL Tower, similar to the CN Tower. Breathtaking city view for sure, but I couldn’t help but think that only days ago we’d been atop a mountain on the world’s biggest pass and how different that scenery had been!

All in all, I had a great time in Kuala Lumpur and much to J.J., Jonny and Tal’s surprise (insert extremely sarcastic tone of voice), I could live there. I’ve actually already recommended it to one of my teacher friends who has been struck by wanderlust and enjoys big-city living like nobody else (Ashley Dawson, I’m talking about you!).

We have since left Kuala Lumpur (though we will return for 1 more night before we leave for Indonesia!) and I write this entry from a coffee shop in the Cameron Highlands, a beautiful, cool and quiet area of Malaysia about 4 hours north of KL but more to come on that in the next few days…

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