I only had two and a half days to spend in Kuala Lumpur, so I wanted to try to see as much as possible while I was here. I’m also aware that two days is nowhere near enough to really get a feel for a city, but it’s a nice start!
First of all, I think that coming in to KL was a great way to start my trip – it’s big but not scary big, the transit system is pretty straightforward, most people speak English, and it feels pretty safe.
I was able to go visit Central Market, a pretty big market that sells crafts. I didn’t love it though – most of the stuff seemed pretty cheap and geared toward mass consumption. I’m going to wait until my friends take me shopping on Indonesia to look for souvenirs! And, speaking of mass consumption, I also went to Chinatown, once for dinner and once to buy a couple knock offs :)
I was definitely struck by the amount of money there is in KL! I didn’t realize at first that they’re part of the oil trade, but now it all makes sense that I saw stores like Chanel, Cartier and Tiffany’s yesterday. (Fun fact – gas here costs about 35 cents a litre!)
I asked a Malaysian guy about the super expensive malls I saw downtown, and his answer was “when people have money, they want to show it”. I also asked him about income disparity, and he confirmed my impressions – there are a lot of really rich people here, and a lot of really poor people. Something else he mentioned, and said that it’s not ordinarily discussed very publicly, is that there is also tremendous income disparity between races.
So, while yesterday was my day of expensive malls and beautiful modern buildings, today I was happy to go discover Kampung Baru, a small traditional neighbourhood right next to the modern downtown core. This neighbourhood is filled with beautiful old wooden houses, and is a complete contrast to the shiny high rises that tower over it.
I still haven’t had a chance to find out what life is really like for Malays and other residents of KL, and I doubt that I will since I’m only in Malaysia for another 2 days. But, for having spent two days here, i still feel like I saw a fair part of the city!