Sunday, February 8, 2009
I traveled overland from Thailand into Malaysia. This was done by bus or train. I was amazed at the landscape: a sub-tropical jungle. It was a day following a big rain and the trees and vegetation were still soaking wet. Northern Malaysia is covered with mountains, where tea is grown. Also, similar to Thailand, Malaysia has some fabulous islands where people go scuba-diving. As we traveled further south and entered the capital, Kuala Lumpur, what struck me was just how big and modern everything looked. At the time, the Petronas Towers were the tallest in the world (passed only today by Tapei 101 and perhaps a "gleamer" in Dubai) and they were all the rage. I decided that my three or four days in KL, as it's known to the natives, would be a chance for me to recover from my sometimes exhausting travels around Bangkok - and Thailand, in general. I was not going to do budget here. I stepped it up a notch and got a fairly reasonably priced hotel. Near my hotel was a night market. Chinatown was also within striking distance. I had just a few goals: get a haircut, check out the Petronas Towers, and grab a Starbucks coffee and see a movie. I checked off this list and even added a few more things. I even visited a wonderful outdoor art gallery. Oh, another thing I did was meet up with a contact Carol and Jerry (from Tokyo) had. This lady was a native Malaysian who worked with Coca-Cola International. She took me to a local outdoor eatery where the food was scrumptious. Malaysia is a food lover's paradise due to the melting pot of Malays, Indians and Chinese who make up the country. It was actually in Malaysia when I started truly contemplating the fact that many countries in the world are multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Up that point I only had thought of America as being a melting pot, and that we were unique in this regard. Not true! My time in KL passed in a hurry. I did talk with a few locals, and even saw a movie with a lovely girl of Thai/Malaysian extraction. And, perhaps the most intriguing part was visiting a local barber, an Indian who was a master with hair clippers and a straight razor. His skills were so good that I made a return visit to his shop on my trip back through. The second go-round was the first time I had ever had my head entirely shaved! After my brief R & R in KL, it was time to go to Singapore. Off to the bus station.