13 March 2009

Kuala Lumpur

As cities go Kuala Lumpur is fairly new and was founded in 1857 when Chinese tin prospectors came ashore at the meeting point of the Kalang and Gombak rivers. Kuala Lumpur translates into English as "muddy confluence" and is named after the picturesque spot where the two rivers meet.

Due to the large ethnic mix of people here it feels a lot like Hong Kong but with more of an Islamic twist. Islam is the state religion of Malaysia and its influence can be seen in a lot of the architecture and buildings around town, not just the mosques but office buildings and skyscrapers too. The city centre feels fairly compact and easy to get around on foot, which makes a nice change after the sprawl and difficulty of getting around Bangkok.

We're staying at a place called Trekker Lodge which is right in the middle of downtown KL close to the golden triangle. The golden triangle and much of the surrounding area looks as if it has been recently redeveloped and is chock full of swanky new hotels, bars, restaurants and a shopping centre, called The Pavilion, that feels uncannily like the new Bull Ring back home in Brum.

For our first full day in KL we headed out for a walk around Chinatown. I don't know if it was the heat and humidity but we weren't that impressed with it. It didn't feel anywhere near as atmospheric or vibrant as the one in Hong Kong or Bangkok.

In the evening we headed over the road to the GSC Pavilion Cinema to see The Watchmen, which was a great film. One of the things we have really missed doing since we left home (apart from eating wine gums) is going to the cinema. It was great to be able to see a film on the big screen again.

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