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Kuala Lumpur, Day 12, Wednesday

Written on: Wednesday July 18th, 2007

A journal entry from: Elective

Today was our first chance to properly see KL, and what better way than to take a tour? When you only have scarce time in a city, tours are the best way to make the most of things, and see as much as possible.

Pretty much everyone in our group joined the tour, except Jenny and Ellie, as Jenny has relatives in KL, so they were busy spending some time with her family. Our starting point was at the Batu Caves, some giant caves set into a hill, that are a Hindu religious site. After climbing the 272 steps (yes, you read right, 272!), and avoiding the snarling monkeys on the way up, we were rewarded with some atmospheric caves, complete with plenty of decorative statues. In one area, steps led up to a cave which was like a bowl in the cliff, with the sunlight highlighting all the best points. I happily snapped away with my camera, as usual, and got some great pictures that will remind me of the caves for years to come. The walk back down the hill was far easier, although we were shocked to see a man at the top clutching his hand, which was pouring with blood. Someone got too close to the monkeys, methinks.

After the caves, we drove over to the National Monument, a site dedicated to the three major wars that Malaysia has been involved in - the first World War, the second World War, and then a war between Malaysia and China lasting from 1948-1960, for ownership of Malaysia. See, I know my history! There were two statues, one columnal remembrance statue, and one depicting men on the battlefield in combat. We didn't get too close to the latter, as there was filming going on for some up-and-coming movie, that no doubt will never make it to England! On the way back to the bus, we noticed silver plaques set into the ceiling, in honour of all the battalions that fought in the wars. Imagine our surprise to discover the East Yorkshire platoon! It was very interesting, but we didn't pick up much of the history, as we had no guide to fill in the blanks, which would have enhanced the experience.

The buses then dropped us off at the National Mosque, which was an experience in itself! Upon approaching the Mosque, it was clear to us that we were going to be asked to cover up - shoulders and bare legs are not acceptable for a place of religion. We were provided with long (floor-grazing in my case), blue gowns, that reminded us of graduation gowns, to cover our clothes. That wasn't enough though, as it was necessary to cover our heads as well. Only the women had to do this; the men were permitted to enter without a headscarf on. So, finally kitted out, and with our shoes dutifully removed, we padded up the stairs to check out the Mosque. It was interesting, but we weren't allowed in the main room, so could only gaze in from behind the railings. The carpet was very busy, with bursts of colour, and swirling decoration all over. The walls were beautifully painted with all kinds of pictures, and once again, gold leaf had a huge part to play. However, other than that room, there wasn't really much to see, so we made our way back to the bus, trying not to trip over our gowns along the way!

Our next stop was possibly my favourite! We approached the Menara Tower via a series of circular roads, and stopped just outside the main entrance. The Menara Tower is the fourth tallest tower in the world, and we were permitted entrance to the observation desk for the fee of 20RM. The lifts were surprisingly quick, and we reached the top before we knew it. Stepping out onto the deck, the view was immense. It wasn't open air, but encased in glass, so there was no danger of me being clumsy and toppling over the edge (thank God!). The view over the city was incredible, and we could make out the Mosque where we'd just been, along with many other landmarks. Possibly the most famous landmark that we (easily) picked out would be the Petronas Towers. They looked fantastic from the sky, and I was certainly impressed by the architecture.

For those of you who enjoy a bit of trivia (Dad!), the following list details the tallest Telecommunication towers in the world, ranging from smallest to tallest, and as you can see, the Menara Tower ranks fourth tallest.

Menara Alor, Kedah, Malaysia, 165.5m

Euromast, Rotterdam, 185m

Telstra Tower, Canberra, 195m

Seoul Tower, Seoul, Korea, 237m

Donautrum Tower, Vienna, 252m

Barcelona Tower, Barcelona, 288m

Amp Tower, Sydney, 304m

Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand, 328m

Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, 353m

Fernsentrum, Berlin, 368m

Tashkent Tower, Tashkent, Uzbekhistan, 375m

Central Tower, Beijing, 405m

Tianjin Tower, Tianjin, China, 415.2m

Menara Tower, Kuala Lumpur 421m

Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai, China, 468m

Ostankino Tower, Moscow, 540m

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada, 553m

Perhaps that will come up on some random pub quiz somewhere, sometime in the future - who knows!

Once we left the Menara Tower, it was over to a chocolate factory, that was really just a glorified shop. We were told about five minutes worth of information about how chocolate is made, and then ushered through into the shop. It was great though, free samples of every single chocolate imaginable. I tried Tiramisu and Almond chocolate (nice), white chocolate and strawberry (really nice), chocolate and mango (strange), chocolate and potato crisps (bizarre, but strangely enough, really good!), you name it, they had it! The only chocolate I steered well away from was the durian chocolate. Nothing on this earth could make me touch that, as the durian absolutely stinks of onion, and I can't imagine it being improved much with a chocolate coating!

From the factory, we reached our last stop - a photo opportunity below the Petronas Towers. These massive, sky-high towers are joined by a sky-bridge on the 41st level, and were the site of filming for scenes in the Sean Connery film 'Entrapment'. They stretch 88 floors high, and apparently, the Prime Minister of Malaysia owns the very top floor. They were very impressive, and we stop agape for quite some time, before noticing the shopping mall at their base and heading in there!

The mall is known as KLCC Suria, and is absolutely huge - much, much bigger than the mall we were impressed by in Penang! We spent a couple of hours wandering, but once we'd spent up, we realised that we couldn't get any more money, as Sophie's bank had blocked her card - to prevent fraud in Malaysia. So, we headed back and had a rest before heading out for food.

We dined at the Chinatown Pavillion, which was pretty good despite it's less-than-perfect location just off the street in Chinatown. I ate my entire meal with chopsticks, which I was pretty proud of, although I classily spilt the first few mouthfuls onto the tablecloth. Such a lady!

After the meal, we caught a taxi over to the Traders Hotel to check out the revered Sky Bar. On the 33rd floor of the hotel, you needed to be well-dressed to get in, and even though we were by no means scruffy, I still felt a little inferior to the women dolled up to the nines in heels and fancy dresses. It was well worth the mild embarrassment though, once we got into the bar. Overlooking the Petronas Towers, the view was indescribable. Lit up on a night, they look even better than in the sunlight, and we literally sat with our mouths open for about five minutes, before getting the cameras out and attempting to capture the view. It is literally impossible to convey how beautiful it was. Think of all the adjectives you possibly can to describe something amazing, and even then it was a million times better. The photos do not do it justice. Absolutely out of this world. Have I raved about it enough to make you believe me? Hope so, because it was one of my best experiences during my time away.

The actual bar itself was pretty impressive as well, although the view did take away from it a little. It had a pool down the middle, with sofas spanning the far wall, and tables with sofas on the opposite side to the large glass windows. Fairly busy, it was buzzing with energy, and playing great music, and although the drinks were not cheap, they weren't enough to put us seriously out of pocket. We had an absolutely fantastic time, and went home feeling completely hyper! Kuala Lumpur has been my favourite place up until this point, but there is still more to come....


From Mum on Jul 22nd, 2007

Can't believe there was a chocolate that you didn't try!! Love Mum xxx

From Kate on Jul 24th, 2007

I couldn't stand the Batu caves - too many damn monkeys!