Tuesday, February 03, 2009

(no) Kuala(s) Lumpur

If you are like me, then you are only vaguely aware that the world's second tallest structures, the Petronas Towers, are here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You probably have also noticed that Singapore was at the southern end of this peninsula named Malaysia. And perhaps like me, when you saw the name of the capital city, you were hopeful that there would be kuala bears. Alas, the bear is spelled 'koala' and none of them are extant in the city from my brief but manic and vocal search for them. It is perhaps due to this fallaciously anticipated excitement about our furry friends that I made the enigmatic error of applying the term 'marsupial' to a monkey in my last post. I laughed all night about that one.

After arriving late last night to our hostel, Hostel Cosmopolitan (which we like very much), we patronized a 24 hour outdoor food court with a view of rundown looking historic properties and the Petronas Towers dominating the skyline.

The best moment at this food court featured our waiter who spoke English fairly well as most Malaysians we have encountered. Azure pointed to an item on the menu, which was in Malay, and asked what it was.

Waiter: With chicken/beef/whatever you get mi.
Azure: Noodles?
Waiter: Mi.
Azure: You get noodles?
Waiter: You get mi.
Azure: Rice is mi?
Waiter: It is mi.

Azure got soup. Not sure exactly what the mi is, the plot thickens.

The short list of things I have learned about this place so far-

1. Three major ethnic groups make up Malaysia: Malays, Indians, Chinese
2. It was a Hindu/Buddhist region until the King in the 15th century converted to Islam and it is therefore now a Muslim country.
3. Kuala Lumpur, in addition to a train, has a functioning Monorail!
4. This city, and perhaps much of the country, is as 1st world as you get.
5. Head scarves seem to be more of a fashion accessory here than a means of displaying modesty.
6. The Malay language looks just enough like English to be frustrating and kind of funny.

Otherwise, at the end of a three week trip covering four new countries, Malaysia has taken on the quality of a mild tiramisu after a big rich meal consumed a bit hastily. Today was chillzville with the only real accomplishment being the National Museum which was rather small. Tomorrow, our final day, will be equally relaxed with a trip up the twin towers and a late flight home to the Northeast where I will post some pictures.


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