HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kuala Lumpur continued

My second "day" in KL was the only full day I spent in the city, and boy was it productive. I woke up around 8 and headed over to the Menara KL, the 4th-tallest communications tower in the world. Its location on a hill in Bukit Nanas, a forested park in the middle of the city, means that it actually sits higher than the Petronas Towers, so the observation deck at the top provides spectacular views. I got there just as the tower was opening and took the elevator to the top. I was worried that the views would be less than impressive because it was a very cloudy morning but, even with the low clouds hanging over the city, you could still see just how impressive KL is. The hills and mountains that surround the city were mostly obscured, but the huge skyscrapers, old colonial buildings, and tourist attractions were unmissable. KL is a pretty remarkable-looking city from several hundred meters up in the air.
Menara KL - "menara" means "tower" in Malay
Merdeka Square and it's British colonial buildings

Amazed by KL's verticality, I returned to the base of the tower and started walking towards the Colonial District. By now I had gotten used to seeing the Western mainstays that haven't made there way to Vietnam yet: Burger King, McDonald's, and Starbucks. I don't miss these places at all, although I should mention that McDonald's saved my dignity twice that day. Shortly after I left the tower my stomach suddenly decided that it no longer wanted to deal with all of the food I had eaten the previous night. Desperately searching for a bathroom, I spotted the Golden Arches and thought, "Yes! Surely they will have a normal bathroom!" I ran straight past the counter, threw open the door to the bathroom and, to my horror, saw that it was the typical "Asian" toilet - a hole you squat over and a hose to "clean" yourself off with after you do your business.

Allow me to digress for a minute. Whoever came up with this idea for a bathroom should be shot. I assume it came about at some point in the past when poor Asian countries had trouble producing paper products, or something like that, but the time has come to move past it. If a country can afford the freakin' Petronas Towers, surely they can afford to build Western-style toilets and a few rolls of toilet paper?! Even if you manage to take your crap without losing your balance, squatting like a monkey the whole time, how is the hose supposed to do anything? It doesn't clean as well as TP, and then there's matter of having a dripping wet ass! What do people do here? Just walk around with eternal swamp ass? I don't get it.

Anyways, back to the trip. Despite the nature of the toilet, I had no choice but to suck it up and squat down, since my digestive tract refused to wait any longer. After leaving the stall I was even more horrified to find that there was no soap! I would have to find a real bathroom at some point, but for now I finished my walk to the Colonial District.

This area is centered on the huge Merdeka Square, a cricket pitch during the colonial years and the place where Malaysians raised their flag to declare independence in 1957. Today the square is home to an enormous flagpole, the Royal Selangor Club, which is where the Hash House Harriers group was established, and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. That last one is a gorgeous example of Moorish-inspired architecture, and today it houses the Malaysian High Court. The confluence of the Sungei Gombak and Sungei Klang rivers, which KL takes its name from, is also in this area, as is the Masjid Jamek, the city's oldest mosque. It's a very interesting, photogenic, and historical area, and I spent a good bit of time simply wandering around taking in the sights and sounds.
Masjid Jamek and the "muddy confluence" - I was expecting the river to be a bit more dramatic

That's the Royal Selangor Club with the red roof on the left
the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and its famous clocktower
Malay for Merdeka Square
By now my decidedly un-hygenic bathroom break earlier that morning was causing some problems. I paid to use a public bathroom, but it was also missing toilet paper and soap. I was starving at this point, but I did not want to eat until I at least washed my hands. I was on my way to Little India when I came upon a newer McDonald's, and I was ecstatic to find both toilet paper AND a soap dispenser! I was so happy I almost bought something, but then I remembered it was McDonalds's and realized what a terrible idea that would've been.

I stopped for lunch at a very authentic vegetarian Indian place - I was the only non-Indian there and my gregarious waiter was from Chennai. He seemed eager to practice his English on me, and this was probably the most amusing interaction I had on the trip. He asked me where I was from, so I said "the United States." He responded with "of America or Canada?" Not realizing that Canada had changed its name since I came to Asia, I sheepishly replied "oh...America." Several times he came up while I was chewing and simply stood there until either he thought of a question to ask me or I was able to ask a question of him. He really wanted me to go to India: "Are you going to India after Malaysia?" "No, but I hope to go there sometime." "Maybe next month?" "Oh well, probably not next month, but someday!" When I finished my entree he asked if I wanted dessert, and I said I would look at options on display behind a counter. Apparently unhappy with my response, he went and picked something out himself, telling me it was "very nice." It was indeed.
Pink guava juice.

Rawa Masala - an amazing dish that I had never had before.

My delicious dessert.
I left the restaurant content, with a good meal in my belly and clean hands at last, and started making my over to the Lake Gardens area to visit a couple of major attractions. I'll have more on that when I continue, since this post is rather long already.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, We are so lucky to travel with You,
    Thank you