Kuala Lumpur

February 2014

Kuala Lumpur wasn’t on my radar when I went to Asia in autumn for the last leg of my 3-month sab­bat­ical. I planned to read a lot and recharge bat­ter­ies in remote south­ern Thai­l­and, then go north, pos­sibly to Myanmar. But after a week near Krabi looking down a lovely beach I had to admit to myself that I was mildly bored and thirst­ing for input – sand, water and palms were beau­ti­ful indeed but somehow repet­it­ive. Malay­sia being just around the corner I booked a (one hour) flight from Krabi to Kuala Lumpur.

KL in one sen­tence? Not a beauty at first sight, but one of the more fas­cin­at­ing places I’ve seen so far. Kuala Lumpur city centre won’t rank high on a lovely­ness scale, mostly due to a reck­less spread of sky­scrapers, office build­ings, malls and condos that took place in recent decades. What makes this city so special is the patch­work of sur­round­ing, very diverse neigh­bor­hoods reflect­ing Malaysia’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural DNA. Malays, Chinese and Indians, to name only the biggest groups, live next to each other. Same goes for reli­gion: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Con­fucian­ists, Chris­ti­ans and (very, very few) Athe­ists share one city.

It goes without saying that eating in a diverse city like Kuala Lumpur is a fant­astic exper­i­ence. Like in Bangkok I ended up explor­ing chinese food most of the days – 哦 我的上帝 sums it up best. 

From a journalist’s per­spect­ive I thought more than once that Malay­sia would be so worth­wile to cover. The tec­tonic ten­sions are notable – not only in terms of eth­ni­city and reli­gion. Press freedom is in very poor con­di­tion. Wealth is dis­trib­uted unequally, to put it mildly. 

So many stories.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Fried rice, wantan, chicken w peanut dip

Sam Kow Thong Temple

Islamic store in Little India, Kuala Lumpur

Chinese cemetery, Kuala Lumpur

Imbi Market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang), Kuala Lumpur

A happy couple, shopping

Guan Di Temple, Kuala Lumpur