12 January 2009

Selamat Tinggal KL! (Goodbye KL!)

I leave KL with a heavy heart. Disappointed that I could not stay longer in this beautiful country; disappointed I would have to save the Skybridge for another time; annoyed at the bad tide in Koh Tao and the full train from Thailand to Malaysia that altogether cost me three precious days from my Malaysia contingent. Two days longer and I would have had another chance at the Petronas Towers, would have seen the photography exhibit there and seen the Petrosains Museum. It probably promulgates the virtues of the petroleum industry and hence attempts to legitimise Petronas. But then I hate to be a prejudiced, over-idealistic student who does ot even allow room to understand what good uses the evolution of petroleum has, even if the evolution of new, sustainable and just as powerful industry is long overdue. So, I would have liked to learn more about petrol in a dedicated museum. Allows you also to peek into Petronas, the company giant the building is named after.

Continuing on and concluding my earlier trail of thought, I was also annoyed that day to have slept until noon without realising it (my room's only two windows open into the corridor), thanks to a carried over train lag from Butterworth to KL. Shame. Else, I would have liked to go to the Orchid and Hibiscus Gardens (1 hectare! when do you see them all in their natural habitat in all their splendour?). Red hibiscus, by the way, is also Malaysia's national flower and symbol. For example you see it in the logo of the "Visit Malaysia 2007 - Celebrating 50 years of nationhood" tourism promo that still is to be seen around even two years after! In Penang, they had the red hibiscus as fairy lights hanging down from the street lamps, similar to when streets in Europe get lined with fairy lights left and right for Christmas.

So, on my final day, I strolled around the other side of my local area. I realised I haven't been to the Central Market (famous for arts & crafts from around the country) yet, even though it's on the other side of the street crossing under the Pasar Seni MRT station I have used a few times. Guess which word of Pasar Seni means "market" and which "central"! ;). I see many cool things, sarongs, batik bags, coconut masks, Congkak (a traditional Malay game that I'm sure many of you have seen without knowing it; see picture below that I borrowed from someone's travel blog) and some let's say less traditional stuff on display, like a Super Mario Brothers Mushroom bedside lamp and a square lamp shade made of semi-transparent Lego pieces, it's great!

I have some more Nasi Goreng (one cannot have enough Nasi Goreng!), with beef and sambal (Chili) and a special spicy hot sauce - awesome! I feel like eating up every available dish in Asia while I'm here!

Just when I thought I'd move on, it starts to rain, as in R.A.I.N., not some Londonish trickle as a sparse as their seasoning! ;) I run from the main building of the market to the annex and - ye, behold! - discover an ethnographic museum newly opened and hidden away at the last corner. I nearly ran past it because it is actually in an antiques dealer's art gallery. I should go through my pictures first before writing about the many things I learned from the owner in the one hour or more I spent in that small room filled with artefacts, mainly from Borneo. Soul ships, grave poles, headhunter's skulls (all monkeys', after humans were banned by the government), hand-woven garments, burial procedures, lots of shaman's masks... I feel like I stumbled into anthropologist heaven!

To my regret, I have to rush out after having every single item explained to me in depth, in order to see Merdeka Square (Independence Square) and ideally pop into the National History Museum before I have to catch my night train to Singapore. Merdeka Square is like a football pitch, and actually used to be the cricket green of the Royal Selangor Club on its West side, a former club for British colonial officials. On the North side you find St Mary's Anglican cathedral, the National History Museum right opposite and on the East side, in its impressive grandeur, the Sultan Abdul Samad building, interestingly built by an Englishman in moorish design in the 1890s (!). It used to house the Supreme Court (renamed Federal Court) until it moved to the new administrative capital near KL and today the building is used for the Commercial Division of the High Court. Next to the Court, 100m down the street is a big mosque, Masjid Jamek. What an interesting arrangement altogether, around the square where the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time in 1957 (the 95m flagpole is the highest in the world!) and were subsequently, the 50 year anniversary celebrations of independence took place in 2007.

Picture here, picture there and before I know it, I have to slowly make my way back, buying some mango and sugar cane juice on the way and - passing the HSBC building again. I can't help myself but have to pop into HSBC's foyer. Every country has foyers that are open after hours, only the UK refrains from letting people use a foyer! Anyway, it's beautiful inse. Most impressive are the large vitrines, displaying gifts you can get for free or purchase cheaper for reward points (!). Check out the wonderland catalogue here. You have the choice between grills, coolers, PC mice, a laptop and probably rice cookers and hair fans. The only thing I ever got for free with HSBC was trouble, haha! Until this day, I haven't even received my discount card I was supposed to get for opening an account with them.

2 courageous comments!:

Aike said...

Oh great you found the ethnographic gallery in KL! Me too! It was amazing, wasn't it?

How's life in cold London? Bali is lovely! :)

Heidemarie said...

Hi Aike!

I was just about to write you a longish email & check out news on your blog! Great to find people are actually following my catch up reports, especially as I am about to write yet another one in time before Chinese New Year (which actually happened this Monday but official celebrations are usually the first sunday after that and I'm going to China Town!).

YOU'RE IN BALI!!! I'm so envious now but wait for the bigger news... see email (later)!

Follow Clifford's tracks for me and take loads of pictures of the phalluses strewn randomly around hill trails! Also, beware of Sundel Bolongs (I blogged about them in http://heidiwitz.blogspot.com/2007/05/keep-spirits-up.html, the video clip is quite amusing! Oh and feel free to correct me on the religious stuff in that study excercise = procastrination post) and Lelembuts, then again they might be out of their territory in Bali...

Life in cold London is well... how shall I put it... cold. Trying to get hold of Ben again before he elopes with our friend Rani!