Monday, November 07, 2011

In front of the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, remember the scene from James Bond where he had a running battle  across the walkway between the towers.
We had a wonderful tour to Kuala Lumpur.  We were on a first class bus with a great guide. The guide was very informative giving us a good overview of his country. Malaysia has a very active “Silicon Valley” where microchips are manufactured, as well as booming small appliance industry.  They have a very employable work force with a high literacy rate, as a result many multinational companies set up factories here.  We saw Toyota, Hyundi, Dhiatsu and many other car manufactures. Palm oil is a major crop, the refining of which is responsible for the fact that we can’t catch the rain water, it is too polluted, and our boats are gross, covered in the grimy residue from the air. Their rubber plant industry makes the best latex for surgical gloves. At the moment the government is encouraging young people to take up market gardening because industry has become so important that Malaysia has to import a lot of its food.  Malyasia also has approx. 10 % of the world’s oil with wells on the eastern side of the peninsula.  The majority of the population is Malay with Chinese being the second largest ethnic group and then people of Indian descent. Muslim is the dominant religion but Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity are all tolerated. For the first time we saw Muslim women dressed head to toe in black with only their eyes showing.  There have been some fundamentalist trying to get a toehold in Malaysia but our guide explained when they began agitating they were quickly rounded up and put behind bars.  The word Malaysia comes from the Himalaya mountains, the end of that mountain chain runs down the spine of the Malay Peninsula. Enough information!
The giant Hindu shrine at the Batu caves.

This picture does not do the caves justice, they were amazing.

Making roti, or an Indian style of bread, they served it for breakfast with curry. 

We started our tour at the Batu caves. It is a marvel of nature where a huge Hindu shrine has been built.  I bought a post card that shows the steps covered in pilgrims when they have the festival to honour this god. There were 257 steps to the top and we trucked up there and were amazed at the interior of the cave. It was hard to get a good picture but the rock wall was very steep with overhangs and there were monkeys that clamored up and down the walls with ease. We also visited a Buddhist shrine that was to honour the goddess of the sea, how very appropriate.  We headed to downtown KL where we saw the gorgeous architecture that the British built during their colonial days here.  Basically colonization started when the  Portuguese first settled here, Marco Polo stopping in Malaka and identified it as a spot where the India Chinese and Middle Eastern traders had been stopping for years. The Portuguese settled and took over for awhile until the Dutch came into prominence, then the British started sticking their oar in. Eventually the Dutch and British came to an understanding, the Dutch got Java, the British, Malaysia.   Malaysia achieved their independence after WW11 without any fighting, the British setting up a government structure and staying around until it was running smoothly in 1957.  The Communists under Mao tried to take over the region but the Commonwealth countries brought in troops to help the Malay government and Malaysia remained a democracy. ANYWAY, I loved the fact that the very British Cricket Club building still stands on very prime real estate in downtown KL.  It was very unusual to see brick buildings built by the British with very Arabic features, the windows, the domes and arches were a pleasure to the eye. The Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world, our guide told us how much they swayed in high winds and explained that because Malaysia is out of the cyclone zone and not in the Pacific Ring of Fire (earthquake zone) it was considered a safe bet, geologically speaking, to build them.  
A beautiful horse and rider guarding the King's palace.

The tallest flag pole in the world.

Must be a rugby mascot, right in central KL.

The Cricket Cub right across the street from the picture below, interesting they would preserve this building and the pitch which is no longer used because the ball would disrupt the traffic it they had a good whack at it.
The old British architecture with the fourth highest free standing structure in the world, the guide said the CN tower was the tallest but we thought the Russian's had us beat.

We spent the night in KL as we had to visit the Canadian High Commission in order to renew our passports.  We spent our first afternoon running around getting our passport photos, we spent an hour and a half traipsing around a ten level mall searching for a shop.  Barry says all the stores were selling pretty much the same stuff, they had a spa floor, a high tech floor, a roller coaster, like West Ed mall, etc. etc. That evening we went to Chinatown looking for a nice meal.  There were the usual hawker stalls but these sold knock offs.  Apparently there are A, B and C knockoffs.   We needed a second umbrella so I got a Louis Vitton umbrella for 15 ringats, equivalent to $5.00 CND, yippee.  Wendy and Ken from Cop Out were with us and Wendy and I nearly bought matching Prada handbags but reason prevailed when we looked at all the metal bits on the purses and figured that they would rust REALLY quickly.  We found a wonderful spot for supper, a young gentleman who owned a video place showed us the way on the condition that we visit his emporium on our way out.  He checked on us twice and was waiting when we exited the restaurant.  Needless to say he made a few sales!!!! 

The nest morning we hightailed it to the Canadian High Commission, filled out all the paper work and headed back to Cat’s-Paw IV in Port Dickson.  We are motoring, motoring up the strait to our next destination, Lumut where we will stay at Pangor Marina.  We have about 2 weeks until we have to be at the next spot so it will be nice to hopefully do some cruising around Lumut. 

Durian is a fruit which apparently stinks like hell but taste like heaven, this was posted in our hostel.

List of do's and don'ts in the LRT. 

Riding the monorail, it was very civilized at this time.