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.