Monday, 27 January 2014

My adventures in Kuala Lumpur

On my way to New Zealand I spent a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Staying with a friend to the family at their fantastic residence and getting treated like a total princess, I had a great time despite various physical distresses.

Located at two degrees north of the equator, Kuala Lumpur is a hot place even now in the slightly cooler wet season. Apparently there was a cold record the other night, at 22 degrees celsius (17 outside of town, gasp!). And I just left a freezing Sweden, so in my world this is complete and utter madness. But despite fever, a cold and some probably-dryness-induced nausea I survived the place, and also managed to investigate a bit and have fun.

I went to the national museum and learned that Malaysia as a country declared independence in the 1950's. From the 1500's and up until then the place had been a colony under Portugal, Holland and Britain, in that order. And since long before that the place has played an important role in trading for both Africa, Europe and Asia, not least the town of Melaka. Now the three main ethnic groups in the country consist of the aboriginal Malay, Chinese, and Indians. The biggest religion is since several hundred years back islam, but hinduism and buddhism are also represented. The Malaysian language (of which I haven't learned more than a couple of words, probably soon to be forgotten) is its own, but there appears to be no problem getting around on English, at least in Kuala Lumpur. I also went to the Islamic arts museum, which was a beautiful and at times jaw-dropping experience. I am a big fan of calligraphy, and since islamic art tends to be non-figurative there have been produced positively stunning examples of it throughout history, so I had a great time looking at those illuminated old books.

I went to a butterfly park, where a myriad of little pretty flying creatures with wings were fluttering around. They were charming to look at, and one of them landed on my head! *squee* They appeared to be well cared for, but not the poor turtles in their tiny aquariums (what are even turtles doing in a butterfly park, anyway?). I heard that awareness of facts such as that animals have feelings is slowly on the rise in Malaysia, though. I certainly hope so, but as of now things look rather bleak.

I spent quite some time swimming, resting, eating interesting fruits and just watching the scenery while trying to recover from my body's various malfunctions. A splendid view indeed, Kuala Lumpur, both by day and night. It's a rather green city between the interestingly-shaped houses and skyscrapers, which makes it surprisingly quiet for such a big place (population barely 2 million people). Through the light-pollution and general mist I also managed to see a few stars, and even though I know what the sky is supposed to look like at the equator it still felt rather surreal to see Orion lying flat on its side and the moon rising straight up in the shape of a happy smile.

My favourite thing was to visit a tropical rainforest just outside town for a few hours' hike. Hearing the screeching, chirping and never-ceasing sounds of birds, insects and gods know what other animals while sensing the smells of trees and flowers and watching and feeling my way across paths and over stones and by tiny waterfalls, I enjoyed myself immensely. The durian had a particularly strong, almost pungent, smell, so there was no doubt about whether such a tree was nearby. I got to climb up and walk across some hanging bridges which were suspended between the trunks of some particularly tall trees. There one could look down on the canopy, and also see the city of Kuala Lumpur off in the distance (though it was mostly obscured by the mist that enveloped it the entire week I was there). I loved every second of it, taking in the beauty of the forest around and below me. And I didn't feel the slightest tinge of vertigo! How did that happen, I wonder? I used to be terrified of heights. I suppose I got cured of it to a large extent on La Palma. Oh, La Palma. The rainforest made me think of the beautiful forests on the north side of the island, which were a bit quieter, less hot and humid, and less... well, tropical, but otherwise quite similar. Here are some pictures from the rainforest. Taken by me with my humble cellphone camera, so please excuse the (lack of) quality. Click on them to enlarge if you wish.

All in all I had a fun and interesting time in Malaysia. I could for sure fancy going back there sometime to investigate the land more thoroughly! But now it's time to head on towards New Zealand, the land of my dreams since such a long time. More adventures await! Oh, I'm such a lucky bastard.

Love and hot forests,

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