Tuesday, January 28, 2014

KL, yes and no.

In a way Kuala Lumpur and New York City are comparable. The skylines are similar, a forest of skyscapers. But that's it. Whereas it is nice to walk around in Manhattan this is next to impossible in KL.
On a first visit of New York City one is surprised by the relative calm and organised atmospere in Manhattan. It is easy to roam over the pedestrian sidewalks and, though there are many people everywhere and the traffic is busy, the level of noise and the nervous hustle are much less than you would expect. And a stroll, or a bikeride, in Central Park can even be romantic. Or nostalgic, as we experienced once in Strawberry Fields, a section of Central Park opposite of the block where John Lennon used to live. When we walked there we found a band playing Beatle songs. Elderly men of course (my age) and it was so moving to see and hear them play the songs of our youth.
It's hard to imagine such a thing to occur in KL. There are some parks and in certain parts there are sidewalks, but as usual in this country these sidewalks are not level, there are dangerous holes in it, there are shop racks, parked cars or motorbikes blocking it. In other parts there are no sidewalks at all. In the part where we stayed, near Raja Chulan-Jalan Ismail it was much better, but this is a good part of the city. China Town and Little India can be done on foot, these are the older parts of town. But try to visit the Museum of Visial Art, or the Botanic Garden without using a car. You'll have a hard time. Very often you are confronted with this spaghetti of motorways (and railroads), all very heavily used and built only for the automobile and motorbike. All other creatures are more or less forgotten. Not completely of course, but for them there's not much pleasure. Cycling is horror. Dave, our host, had sent his road bike back to England. Useless. We had been warned and hence our decision to leave our bikes somewhere else and travel into KL by train.
There are some sights to be seen, but spending more than 2 days is otiose. You need not put KL on your priority list. We managed to have some pleasant days here though. We went around, saw the Museums of Islamic Art and the one of Visual Art, Eveline did her jogging in the park of the Petronas towers and ticked KL as the next number on her list of world capitals where she has ran.

An ancient Koran in the Islamic Arts Museum

The greatest contribution to the pleasant stay came from our host Dave, in whose house we very comfortably stayed and with whom we had a good time. Warmshowers is wonderful. It seems that, being cycle tourers among each other, you're on the same mind level. Each time we have no lack of topics to talk about and this time our Warmshowers stay made KL a very good experience.

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