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Looking up the Petronas Towers

I gambled this morning and made it down to breakfast despite my tummy telling me that I would pay the price for it later but it was worth it as breakfast was as good as Stef had reported yesterday. We spent a couple more hours updating our website before heading out in the city. Outside it was hot, not as hot as it had felt in Cambodia and Vietnam but slightly more humid. We looked in a couple of shopping centres nearby to see if we could get a new lens for our camera. If we had a Canon we would have had no problem but shops in Asia are not very Pentax friendly. Ah well, Singapore beckons.

We decided to head for the Suria KLCC, yet another shopping mall but this time a very smart and swanky one under the Petronas Towers. Familiar brand names were ever present here with Marks and Spencer’s and Mothercare added to the list of names from home. It seems that KL is definitely the city to come to if you love to shop. There are many places ready and waiting to part you from your cash whether it is a few pounds, a few hundred or several thousand!

The city is much more modern and westernised than any we have seen so far in Asia. Everywhere we went people spoke English, almost it seemed in preference to Malaysian. The familiar sights of shops from home brought a reassuring and comforting feeling but even so, this is very definitely Asia.

We stopped for lunch at the KLCC at a Dome café, a chain that has a few branches dotted about the city. Sitting outside on a terrace looking out at the park we could have been in any major city anywhere in the world. There was a real mix of people here from western tourists, local families out for the day to the odd business person working at the weekend. Groups of teenagers were hanging around outside with the same “I’m bored but can’t show it in front of my mates” look on their faces that they have everywhere.

From the KLCC we had a hot and sticky walk down to the Menara, a four hundred and twenty one metre high communication tower, the fourth tallest in the world. Completed in 1996 it has been built in the Bukit Nana Forest Reserve, a small patch of tropical forest in the middle of the city. A lift whisks you up two hundred and seventy six metres to the observation deck from where you can see the city laid out before you.

It was a really good way to get a sense of orientation of the city. They have a short audio tour that guides you round each of the different numbered windows of the tower. At each one they point out the local buildings of interest from mosques to sports stadiums to old colonial era buildings. We just about managed to make out our hotel from the top before the clouds started to roll in setting off the daily thunderstorm.

A bank of masseurs hard at work kneading tired feet

I suspect it is just coincidence but the storm started to rumble at the same time yesterday. We were just walking up to the tower when the thunder kicked in, huge rumbling rolls and claps which spurred us both on to walk faster despite the heat. The rain starts slowly at first, almost giving you a ten minute warning of what is coming before the skies open and it simply pours down. You could almost feel the tower reverberate from the noise of the thunder and I have to say I was glad we were inside for the duration.

In the evening we headed up Bukit Bintang and turned left under the monorail just ambling about looking for somewhere to eat. Much to Stef’s disappointment I wanted to go for western and non spicy food and I hate to say we ended up in an Irish pub. It was a strange sight with lots of Brits coming in and out to watch the English football on the TV and to down their pints of Guinness. My Shepherds Pie and Stef’s pork chop were tasty enough but it never tastes the same as it does at home!