Kuala Lumpur (KL) is the capital of Malaysia and our first stop after Singapore. The city itself has 1.4 million people but the surrounding area has around 7.2 million. KL is the fifth most visited city in the world, more often than New York City and Hong Kong. It is not only the central business, economic, cultural and everything else center of Malaysia, it’s pretty much the only first-world part of Malaysia. A great deal of the national capital for growth and development gets put into KL. Despite this gentrifying trend, the city is very much Malaysian in culture.

Kristof and I bought our bus rides to KL at different times and ended up booking our rides for different times. I showed up three hours before him and waited it out at a McDonald’s nearby. When he got there we used the free McDonald’s internet (much better quality than in Australia or NZ) and found a hostel to stay at. We reserved a room at the Travellers Lodge via Skype and set out to find it. Night settled as we walked through downtown KL with only a vague idea where we were and basic directions for how to get there. On the way the Petronas Towers constantly loomed over everything. The Towers are a beautiful example of Arab influences in Western architecture and have come to be a symbol of Malaysia’s growth and development.

Eventually we found the hostel and in a moment of confusion walked into the hostel next door, the Checkmate. At night the sign for the Travellers Lodge looms brightly over the patio of the Checkmate. We didn’t figure it out until two days later. The host of the hostel was very nice though and we enjoyed our stay there.

As we would often find in Southeast Asia, KL has a coconut stand on every other corner. They hack off the top and stick a straw it for three ringgits (~$1 USD) and when you are done they cleave it in half to let you spoon out the coconut meat free of charge. Kristof was quite satisfied.

Walking around KL you can see thousands of little shops selling food or cheap souvenirs, among other things. This one was selling shark fins.

In KL there are some very upscale parts of town such as near the central business district and some of the condominium complexes are rather high-end, but you could also turn the corner and immediately see very low-income housing. This picture accurately depicts what most of KL looks like when you look around the corner. The one thing I found unusual in this shot is the Porshe.

The area of KL we stayed in is called Bukit Bintang. The main street is very gentrified and mostly classy with lots of shopping, although with a lot of massage parlors and knockoff goods markets. Off the main street near our hostel is a wide sloping street on which dozens of larger kitchen stalls with tables in front crowd the street.

There is a narrow area in the center for cars to drive down and everywhere else the servers aggressively pursue your patronage. One evening Kris and I sat at a table that was shared by several kitchens. Six servers immediately threw their menus on the table to get our business. Kris decided to leisurely browse through all the menus while the servers sweated it out.

We decided on plates of something or other, can’t remember what. The food all looks similar in Malaysia but it’s all very good. This time it might have been the squid on display.

In the adjacent room to ours in the hostel were two interesting Indian guys from New Delhi. We spent a fair amount of time with them and talked a lot about living and working in India and traveling through Asia. They invited us to stay with them when we get Delhi and we will most likely contact them when we arrive. That’s still a little ways away, though.

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