04 Dec - 31 Dec 2008 Kuala Lumpur

28 Tengkat Tong Shin
Mutiara Villa Condos
Fully-furnished one-bedroom 700-sqft apartment (no. A-25-F) on 25th floor for MYR 1,750.- or US$ 483.- per month, with balcony and including free access to gym and swimming pool with Jacuzzi. Stunning views over the city.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Mutiara Villa Condos in Kuala Lumpur and for directions:

Turning into newly minted city slickers, exploring the multi-cultural big-city neighbourhood (the relaxed Malaysian Malay, the political power holders - being committed to the tolerant principle of Islam Hadhari, which enshrines the right to freedom of religion, and having no alcohol problems at all; the determined Malaysian Chinese, the movers and shakers of the economy - wearing talismans, buying lottery tickets, going to races, playing the tables, consulting geomancers in order to arrange the contents of their homes in accordance with the principles of feng shui, gorging fortune cookies, driving cars with 8008 number plates, making regular offerings to the money gods in their temples, but still mostly dying poor; the flexible Malaysian Indians, the eternal opportunists - being hierarchically divided into many castes with all of them being more or less united by their warm-heartedness and nosiness) of our new apartment in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur (near the trendy Bintang Walk, a half kilometre stretch offering over 3,500 shops) and discovering that the numbers which indicate the floors inside our lift follow a truly multi-cultural logic with floor no. 13 being officially replaced by no. 12A (for the superstitious Westerners, if there are any) and floor no. 14 being officially replaced by no. 12B (for the superstitious Chinese, a tautology anyway).

Enjoying from our 25th-floor balcony the most fantastic views over Cooler Lumpur's skyline (which extends from the world’s fourth-highest telecommunications tower, the 421-m high Menara Kuala Lumpur, on the far left, via the iconic 452-m high Petronas Twin Towers, less than 1 nm dead ahead of us, to the high-rising rectangular towers [with a helipad high on top] of the Berjaya Times Square, on the far right), whilst reading and getting used to Malaysia's nationwide English-language newspapers (The Star - “The People’s Paper”, The New Straits Times - “Established 1845”, The Malay Mail - “Your Voice For 112 Years”), albeit only with the little help of regular non-halal G&T sun-downers from the nearest Giant hypermarket, located in the basement of the Sungei Wang Plaza shopping mall (750-ml bottles of Kavarchi Dry Gin for MYR 19.80 per bottle, cautiously diluted with genuine Schweppes tonic water, both made in Malaysia).

Panem et circenses I: Savouring mouth-watering nasi padang/kandar (white rice served with a selection of curried fish, seafood and vegetables) and snacking on Malaysia's high-calorie signature food in-between our meals, thus putting on some weight: (i) nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut cream, wrapped in banana leaves in a pyramid-shaped bundle, eaten with dried anchovies [ikan bilis], spicy sambal gravy, fried peanuts, topped with boiled egg and slices of cucumber), (ii) roti canai (flaky unleavened bread griddled with ghee until crisp and eaten with curry and dhal) and (iii) mee/nasi goreng (fried noodles/rice with veggies and prawns, topped with a fried egg).

Panem et circenses II: Window-shopping without dropping in the many city-size malls of Kuala Lumpur - the Sungei Wang Plaza (the most popular city shopping, with many Manglish speaking Ah Lians), the Berjaya Times Square (with a looping in-door roller-coaster), the Suria KLCC Shopping Centre (which boasts some of the world’s most exclusive brands and attracts many buysexual Arabs who seek retail therapy), the Lot 10 Shopping Centre (offering upmarket styles and a wide selection of world-renowned designer labels), the Plaza Low Yat (a techno-lifestyle centre where we upgraded the memory of our laptop computer), the Mid Valley Megamall (one of Asia’s largest malls), The Gardens (a high and avant-garde shopping gallery where we listened to excellent Chinese Christmas Carollers) and the Pavilion (Kuala Lumpur’s newest shopping and lifestyle mall) - and realising the holistic brave-new-world functions of these malls: selling, buying, learning, entertaining, clubbing, socialising, educating, bonding, communicating, integrating, pampering and many more (... we loved them all).

Relaxing with the help of seasoned Chinese and Thai beauties who practice genuine Thai foot reflexology (60 min for MYR 28.- or US$ 7.80) and Thai body massage (60 min for MYR 60.- or US$ 16.40) in Kuala Lumpur at the Only One massage parlour +60143382498 right on our doorstep.

Exploring Kuala Lumpur's vibrant Chinatown with (i) fascinating Petaling Street, packed with about 800 hawker stalls, (ii) the many Chinese hole-in-the-wall shops which sell joss sticks and chop sticks, spirit money and old coins, traditional Chinese medicine and fresh Korean ginseng, ordinary and exotic teas, feng shui products and natural crystals as well as all kind of Chinese delicacies such as dried mushrooms, shredded shark fins, pickled abalones, crispy-skinned roast pork aka char yoke and canned sea cucumbers, (iii) the multitude of cheap and excellent Chinese eateries (our favourites: Restoran Zhing KongKedai Kopi Lai Foong and the many Chinese hawker stalls), (iv) the atmospheric, smoke-filled Taoist temples with their professional fortune-tellers and (v) the traditional clan houses of the Chinese secret societies, the forerunners of the modern-day sanhehui or Chinese Triads, referring to the trinity between Heaven, Earth and Man.

Visiting the National Museum of Malaysia +60322671111 (housed in a striking 1960s building styled after a Sarawak longhouse), watching Malaysian-Chinese wushu and Malaysian-Indian silambam performances by some youngsters from the Chinese and the Indian community of Malaysia and learning about the cultural meaning of the keris, the dagger (with its wavy blade and intricately designed handle and sheath) unique to the Malay world.

Appreciating the phenomenal growth of Kuala Lumpur from the 276-m high observation deck of the Menara Kuala Lumpur (the telecommunications tower of Kuala Lumpur) and spotting on the horizon some challenging travel goals for the New Year 2009: Peninsular Malaysia, Saigon, Singapore, Borneo, Brunei and Bali.

Click below and see more Konni & Matt Pictures
Photos 2008-09 Kuala Lumpur II

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