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entrees, fish, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, mysterious ingredients, out and about, restaurants, travel

Making a KL-ing

01.24.10 | 5 Comments

Travel is all about doing new things, meeting people you never knew existed, seeing things you’d never even thought of. People, I have had a Kuala Lumpur revelation: I have seen fresh baby corn. For real! Who knew that stuff didn’t naturally grow in cans? Not I!

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Kuala Lumpur is not, in my opinion, a special city. Maybe I’m not seeing it from the right angle, or meeting the kind of people who will take me on back-alley adventures in search of the ‘real’ KL, or maybe I’m not spending enough money. I don’t know. It certainly is a nice city. The weather is fabulous—tropical year-round summer sounds pretty good to me. And they even use air conditioning!

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The people are diverse. It’s nice to walk around and see a mix of cultures, hear three or four different languages, not be sure where everyone is from. In the span of a few blocks blocks, you can walk from the Jamek Mosque, past the Burger King, through Little India where there are stores that sell saris and blast Indian music videos, wind past the Starbucks and suddenly be in Chinatown where vendors sell knock-off everythings and peddle foot massages. Diversity is the refreshing norm.

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Seeing a movie in the theater costs only 7-11 ringgit, or about $2.

There’s an amusement park built INSIDE the mall.

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McDonalds sells spiced curly fries. Grocery stores sell tortillas and English magazines. There’s pineapple year-round. The Internet isn’t censored.

And of course, there’s the food.

KL is a great place to eat. Cheap, good Indian food is abundant in places like this:

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A food court of stalls, where they hand you a plate of rice onto which you scoop as many curries and veggies and banana leaf-roasted whole fish as you like.

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I wondered about the cleanliness a bit.

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Especially with the ice cubes in the mango juice, as the tap water here is not drinkable.

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But I had no problems. And even if I had, the food would’ve been worth it.

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There are the street hawkers, and the streets on which they congregate.

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Jalan Alor has Chinese food or Thai food. On our first visit, we went to Cu Cha, a recommended restaurant of the Chinese nature. But this was not Chinese food I get in Huzhou. This was the winner: Salted Egg Yolk Deep Fried Prawn.

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Hot and Sour Squid:

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Crispy Pork and Sauce:

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Noodles Stir-Fried with Egg, Mussels, and Sprouts:

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Sesame Noodles with Pork:

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Turnip Cake:

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One will never starve for lack of options in KL. There are Persian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, and Japanese restaurants abound, and no shortage of a variety of Western cuisines.

And if you wanted something a bit swankier, there’s the Sky Bar.

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A bar, with a swimming pool in the middle, on the 35th floor of the Trader’s Hotel.

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With a perfect view of these babies:

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They make a nice mojito. For about $10. So my problem is definitely NOT not spending enough money.

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KL’s got the climate, the diversity, the dining. They even drive on the left side of the road, which we all know is what the sophisticated countries do. But in my opinion, KL is missing the charm, a je ne sais quoi. Maybe it’s the city layout, which is reminiscent of Kunming in its incoherence. Maybe because no one here rides a bicycle, which isolates the population in its private cars, or the fact that shopping is considered one of the city’s main attractions (just wait til I get to Singapore). It could be because I haven’t seen any outdoor markets, only grocery stores, or because I don’t feel totally at ease in a religiously conservative society where houses are guarded by electric gates.

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It’s a bit of a shame, really. I’ll admit that part of my five-week adventure is a litmus test to see if I feel like I ‘belong’ anywhere once my contract in Huzhou is up in June. On the surface, KL seemed like a contender. My feelings aren’t negative, and it’s nice to visit but I feel sadly ambivalent.

Maybe I should eat more. Time for John to expand his stomach capacity.

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