Kuala Lumpur: the Muddy Confluence

Fri 12th July 2013

We awake late with the KL sun streaming into our room.  Andy has dedicated today to be with his family so Phil, Sue and I go into KL to browse around the city and the shops.  My it is hot – about 40C and hotter in the sun.  We walk from Andy’s parents’ flat into the centre of KL.  Kuala Lumpur means “muddy confluence” named in 1857 by Chinese Tin prospectors at the meeting of the Kelang and Gombak rivers. This towering city manages to hold on to much of its historic appeal.  The green square of the Padang (the old cricket ground) is overlooked by the mock Tudor of the Royal Selangor Club, just across the road from KL’s bustling China town. The grand art deco railway station and the Petronis towers, two tall buildings linked by a bridge at the half way height, are now as much a symbol of this city as the Eiffel tower is of Paris.

We are forced to seek shade and air conditioning in a shopping mall and stop for an iced drink. We window shop idly as does, it seems, everyone else. There is floor after floor of it. Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabana, Louis Vuiton, Parksons, Versace, Gucci, Miu Miu, YSL, Chanel, Michael Kors to name but a few.  The trouble is that they are all empty of customers, just bored-looking sales assistants sit or stand, waiting to pounce.  Perhaps the margins are so high that one sale a day pays for everything – wages, rents, stocks.  I think not and wonder how all these shops make a living.  The amazing thing is KL boasts at least 6 of these giant malls and they are remarkably similar. Dubai is a similar oasis of plenty in a desert of desire. Our one purchase is from the Royal Selangore pewter shop, a gift for someone.  We take the metro back to Andy’s parents’ house and return home for a shower (for we are hot).  A family gathering is called and we are whisked to a European style restaurant for a somewhat hilarious meal with Mum, Dad and a brace of niece. We are decanted into bed very late.

David stays up to write this diary while Sue is in the arms of Morpheus.  Tomorrow we shall regroup, tidy up, pack our bags and prepare for another (ugh!) very early departure for the airport and home.  I shall muse about all this on the 12 hour flight back and write a valedictory paragraph on our return as well as add some photos.  Cheap bandwidth. Yes!

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