Thursday, March 13, 2014

KL, Day and Night

13 March 2014 

We've spent some time exploring the neighbourhoods to the east and west of our hotel, which is across the road from the central bus station (spelled "sentral" in Malaysian).

To the west is what locally is called Petaling Street (that's peh-TAH-ling), but also known as Chinatown.  Petaling itself is sort of a covered pedestrian and motorscooter street lined by shops, portable stalls selling just about everything, and of course restaurants and cafés.  The entire ceiling is covered with red lanterns, rows and rows of red Chinese lanterns.  

The salespeople hawk their wares by calling out to people passing by, trying flattery, wheedling, humour, sometimes even sarcasm as people mostly walk on by.  We're just here for the local colour and atmosphere, not really shopping for anything.

We bought more of my foot cream at a pharmacy, and the pharmacist gave us a great recommendation for a restaurant, Fong Yuan - we had a lovely lunch there.

And of course there are gorgeous things that we aren't sure what they are - we think these huge brass pots are most likely samovars, given the giant spigots and all.

Then, to the east of our hotel, is the area of Bukit Bintang.  All of those pretty lanterns strung along the streets are lit up at night, and the area becomes a lively night market.  Even the small pagoda-style shrines look prettier at night.  

Bukit Bintang has restaurants - everyone told us we'd eat well in Malaysia, and wow is this true.  There's wonderful Chinese food, of course.  We've seen restaurants with Middle Eastern food, all of which look wonderful.  There's Indian food available, which I love but Richard isn't crazy about.

Well, we discovered a French-style bakery.  Granted, it's an American company.  But wow is the food good!  Wonderful omelettes, salads, and of course croissants and pastries and, well, we haven't tried everything.  But it makes a wonderful stop on our way walking around Bukit Bintang, both for lunch when we arrive, and then maybe a snack and take away for the next day's brekkie.  And yes, day old croissants aren't as good as fresh croissants, but hey, they're better than nothing.

There are all kinds of shopping malls in Bukit Bintang as well - one had an interesting sculpture for International Women's Day, which was very popular for photos.  (For the artists among our readers, each letter was made of a three-dimensional metal armature, covered with fabric bows and ties in varying shades of reds and pinks.  Very effective!)

Yes, we've been hanging out in shopping malls.  What can we say, the weather in KL is sometimes gorgeous, as in the first photo posted today (taken on the 11th).  Other days, like today, the weather is horrendous.  Okay, maybe it isn't the weather, more like the air.  KL has a smog problem, exacerbated by the heat and humidity of being a tropical city.  Sometimes pollution, smoke from fires, ash from volcanoes, and other air-borne debris blows in from neighbouring countries.  So the air is greyish brown (taupe for you art friends), and breathing is difficult.  Our friends at Tous Les Jours gave us face masks to wear as we walked around, and while it made breathing easier, those little things are very hot.  Thus we spend time indoors, despite so many things to see in such easy walking distance.  (But, given the air pollution, we can't see very far!)

We may rethink our time in Malaysia, and possibly head in a different direction.

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