Category: Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas towers.

pt2 A few people I know, had talked about a program on the National Geographic Channel called MegaStructures.I decided to record a couple of episodes and watch them when I wasn’t doing anything. The episode I watched first was about the building of the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur.

I wont spoil the contents of the program, but suffice to say I was astounded and inspired and I decided I would travel to Kuala Lumpur and stand in front of the Petronas towers.

Since I was already doing a trip to Borneo, it made sense to stop off for a day and a half on the way back.

I fly back from Borneo, land at KL airport and then store my large rucksack at the airport (I only needed a day sack, as I was staying in a pretty plush hotel, and during the day would just need something to carry water and a guidebook around in.Its 40km from the Airport to the city, so I jumped on this spotlessly clean and efficient train.

I was really looking forward to it. I was sorry to leave the Jungle and the Ocean behind me, but sometimes the city can be just as exciting.

firstlook I get a taxi to my hotel the Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur (booked through Expedia).As I head for my room, I get my first glimpse of the Petronas towers.

The Petronas towers are said to symbolise Kuala Lumpur’s self belief and focus, along with its slogan “KL can do it”.

I am a bit tired from my time in the Jungle, and having just got of a plane, I decide the best thing to do, is the 3b’s. Beer, bath and bed (I relax in the bath with a bottle of beer, then get some sleep).While in the bath, I have another quick read of my guidebook.

There is no clear protocol on mobile phones and its perfectly normal to hear a phone ringing in the cinema.

I had heard before, that a Muslim man can divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you” 3 times. I was astounded to read that Sharia law has extended this to text message.

Malaysian law also permits use of the Rattan cane, which civil rights groups are fighting.

Kuala Lumpur has a 100% Literacy rate and expects to be a fully developed City like London or New York by 2020.

curry I decide to spend the evening relaxing. The hotel featured an Indian restaurant called the Taj. Sounded a bit cheesy to me, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt.In reality, it had won the Malaysian tourist board award for best Indian restaurant, 4 times running.

The food was so good, that I ate a main course, than asked for the same 1 a 2nd time !.

Along with cold beer and this amazing view, it made for an absolutely fantastic evening.

On the ground floor was a Sports bar, with a few Japanese businessmen where I had a quick drink.

I surprised myself by spending the rest of the evening in the Piano bar, listening to a singer they had there. Off to bed, loads to do in the morning.

I wake at 7:30am. My bag is already packed for the day and my guidebook has scotch tabs so I can find maps and relevant pages quickly (preparation is key, when your trying to see a place and you don’t have a lot of time).I head for the Petronas towers and see a McDonalds (okay, a lot of people don’t like Macdonalds, but its ideal as a travel breakfast, it fills you up, is cheap and you can eat it in 6 minutes).

Kuala Lumpur had absolutely loads of cool electrical and computer goods. I saw this sign for Acer. You just wouldn’t see 30 foot high laptops in the UK, would you.

garden3 The Petronas towers are, as you would imagine, right in the middle of the commercial district, known as the “Golden Triangle”.The KLCC park (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) is amazingly well landscaped, and I found this small sitting area with a fountain where I stopped to rest.

There were people nearby practising Thai Chi, I decided not to photograph them without there agreement.

I arrive at the towers and wander around the entrance.I was struck by the elegance of its design when examined up close.

Running up to the entrance, on the right is a road and on the left a pavement. They have obvious boundaries for pedestrian and driver alike but when viewed like this, appear to merge into one.

pt1 The sign and entrance to no 1 Petronas Tower.Behind you can see some of the façades form corners and some form curves.

This is what gives the tower its unique shape.

Standing up close and staring at the base, you basically see a lot of glass and steel.

Staring up at one of the Petronas towers, tells a different story.Its traditional Islamic Geometric design is made up of two interlocking squares onset with small circles which form an eight pointed star.

Eight is homophonous with the word for prosperity in Chinese) and this is also reflected in the number of floors (88).

Built by Cesar Pelli, it took 3 years to build and is 452 meters high (it held the record for the worlds tallest building from April 1996 until October 2003 when the Taipei 101 was created which is 56 metres taller).

The main problem while building it, was the soft soil of its foundations. They got around this by digging deep into the ground, and pumping millions of tons of concrete, and then running steel rods into them.

There were also rumours that the Government ran out of money halfway through the project, but this is unconfirmed (its final completion cost was $1.2 billion).

One controversial decision, was to award the contract for construction of each tower to 2 different company’s, offering a bonus for the one that completed first.

Whilst this doubtlessly increased the fury with which each tower was built, its often argued that if they had both been able to work together and solve common problems, the whole thing would have been completed even sooner. We’ll never know.

klcc1 I wander further around Kuala Lumpur City Centre.A man made Garden, it features lakes fields tropical plants and even a zoo and aquarium.
The towers were so enormous, it took ages to find a place where I could be photographed in front of them.Its only from a distance that you can see the physical beauty of this monument as well as the architectural and engineering feat that it is.

I met 2 young girls, who didn’t speak a word of English (although were very friendly and helpful).

After 7 shots, they finally take this one.

kltower Having seen the Petronas towers, I decided to explore the rest of Kuala Lumpur. It was very warm and humid throughout the day and I had to keep drinking water constantly.

Menara Kuala Lumpur (popularly known as the KL Tower).

This telecommunications tower rises above the Bukit Nanas.

I didn’t have enough time to go up in the tower, but I read that it has one of the fastest lifts in the world.

Many people think it is taller than the Petronas Towers.

This is a natural illusion that occurs because the KL Tower was built on a hill.

Whilst wandering around the tower I spent some time in the Bukit Nanas forest recreational Park.

I thought it was cool the way there was a rainforest and jungle you could walk around, right in the middle of a city centre.

I followed the 3 short educational walks there, which show all kinds of plants and animals.

I was really looking forward to it. I was sorry to leave the Jungle and the Ocean behind me, but sometimes the city can be just as exciting.

colbuilding Right next door to the Bukit Nana were 2 very old and distinguished Schools, the Convent Bukit Nanas and St John’s institution.

I continued walking and found this row of old Colonial houses.

I head for Merdeka (Independence) Square.

On the left is the Royal Selangor club founded for colonials to drink stengah (whisky soda in the long bar). Times have changed and today it is frequented mostly by lawyers although women are still forbidden from entering the long bar.

The Field in the centre of the picture is the Padang (it means field in Malaysian).

In 1892 when administrators recruited based on skill at Cricket, Ernest Birch was stationed in Kuala Lumpur.

He dried out the field outside the Selangor club and started organising matches. Cricket on the Padang has been an institution ever since.

flagpole Also in Merdeka square, is this flagpole.

At 95 metres, it is the 2nd tallest flagpole in the world (the tallest flagpole is one I saw in Aqaba, Jordan.

Still in Dataran Merdeka on the other side of Jalan Raja is the Sultan Abdul Samad building.

Prior to the building of the Petronas towers, this was the “must see” sight of Kuala Lumpur.

Built in 1897 as the supreme court (a role it still performs today) and built over 3 years, an entire factory had to be built, to supply to bricks to construct it.

2rivers The Klang/Gombak river convergence. It was here that Chinese coolies originally began prospecting for tin and arguably where the City of Kuala Lumpur Began.

It forms one “point” of the Golden Triangle.

In the background, is the Jamek Mosque.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a very good picture of the Mosque.

Built in 1909 by Arthur Benison Hubback (also responsible for the Old KL Railways station, featured later).

It was the City’s first brick mosque and the first in the Federal Territory to sport an onion-shaped dome.

clock The old Clock tower at old market square.

Built to commemorate the coronation of King GEorge VI in 1937, it features an art deco “sunburst” at its base.

I head into Chinatown. The Chinese community makes up %40 of the residents of Kuala Lumpur.

The famous Petaling Street.

Inside is one of the city’s oldest traditional “wet” produce markets.

As with all Chinese shops, the sales staff were very dignified and polite and didn’t mither or hassle me as is common in other parts of the world.

petaling2 I headed towards the Petaling Street Bazaar and bought a couple of presents and stuff like that (and the ubiquitous miniature of the Petronas towers).
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple on Jalan Tun HS Lee.

This street has temples from many different faiths represented on it.

My favourite was this, the Sri Maha Mariamman, the most famous Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur.

The Gopuram (gateway tower) rises 23 metres above the ground and has hundreds of carvings of Hindu Deities on it.

yal The story of Kuala Lumpur is never complete without the mention of Yap Ah Loy, a Hakka immigrant who arrived in Malaysia aged only 17.

Nominated community leader of the Coolies (Kapitan Cina) he rebuilt the City at least 3 times.

He was mayor, police chief, property developer, judge, tax collector, opium den operator, casino owner and brothel keeper (he also ran a hospital and prison) all rolled into one.

A Chinese account of him said “He was not very big or tall but when he spoke his voice was sonorous. His temper was like fire and he had the strength of an elephant”.

He was said to have been able to lift 60kg with his hands stretched forwards.

This small street, is all that remains of his empire (its the shortest road in town, only 80m long).

The old railway station. Designed in the Mughal style, its as photogenic today as in 1911 when it was completed.

Inside there are loads of old trains and stuff like that to look at, but sadly it just looks rundown.

The only trains that stop here now are luxurious trains travelling to Singapore and Bangkok.

Inside the Railway hotel which would have once housed kings and prime ministers is now a backpacker hostel.

maj Rundown and derelict, the once proud Majestic hotel across the road from the station, was the largest hotel in the City and comparable to Raffles in Singapore.

Whilst I had to admire the amazing new buildings and parks in Kuala Lumpur, I couldn’t help feeling the its heritage was being “let go”.

Bangunan KTM Berhad (the headquarters of the Malaysian Railway) across the road from the station.

It features various architectural motifs such as Mughal minarets, large Gothic windows and ancient Greek column.

Unlike the station the inside has been completely refurbished. It survived a bombing in WW2 and a fire in 1969.

sm Merdeka Stadium where Malaysian Independence was declared on the 30th August 1957 (it was especially built for the occasion).

The image of the country’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, punching the air and shouting “Merdeka” seven times is one that is familiar to every Malaysian

It was also the place where Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner fought for 27 rounds during their 1975 boxing match.