Poverty and Nobility in Kuala Lumpur

Both of us were fast asleep in a bus to the city centre (from the airport, a mere 45′ ride, but we were tired). The last image I had in mind was palm forests everywhere, paradise for coconut oil producers. Then after what seemed only one second, traffic jam, honks and chaos. Eyes wide open. And we saw something. We saw a city that looked like if every American movie and tv series about apocalypse came true, a great mix of “50 years after the most powerful nuclear bombs“, or “That time the disease spread and killed them all” and “Katniss Everdeen living in a metropolitan jungle“. I’m not kidding. And coming from a profound and sacred state of REM to this drastic change is cray cray. For sure, the air smelled like atomic disaster. Cheers haze.

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There were some questions popping in my mind:

1.Are the buildings supposed to look so old and kinda falling to pieces? By the way, you get really used to decrepit places, in Asia.There is a poetry in everything. Even in mould surrounding everything.

2.How come that you can pay every place and turn its name in advertisement? Shout out to Bukit Bintang station, now Air Asia Bukit Bintang. No biggies, it’s just the shopping and entertainment district.

3.Is KFC the national sponsor? They seem to appear everywhere. Boi, they do love chicken.

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We summed up Kuala Lumpur with the 3 Ds:

 Disaster. Decadence. Discomfort.

 

There is this old Italian comedy, Miseria e Nobiltà (Poverty and Nobility, in English) where two poor men pretend to be aristocrats, a farce to convince a rich, educated man to marry the daughter. That’s a comedy, and KL can be that too. We got sometimes the impression that some “cultural” landmarks were a bit of a farce into tourist trails. But you can still have a good time in KL.

Some of the highlights:

  • Bukit Bintang, chaotic but lovely.Shopping street, food vendor stalls, massage places, plus many hostels in the area, ask for a room upstairs and avoid the trap to have to share your bed with another tenant. Mr. Mould.

 

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found by mistake in my camera the panorama option, here’s an attempt. (click to enlarge)

 

  • Petaling Street – Chinatown. Great for deals, food, and friendly chaos. Plus, fancy a new watch? Head there…

 

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  • The streets around Merdeka Square, Central Market and Triangle.

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  • Hearing the prayers from Jamek Mosque, before sundown. And see veils everywhere.

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  • Joyful Brickfields, also known as Little India.

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  • Of course, the Petronas Towers. Really wonderful at night. The only bad thing about the place, the amount of selfie sticks around.

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*This blog post is sponsored by a bottle of Dasani water, from the genius behind Coca Cola Company and its bad bad great multinational beverage corporation. Dasani, the only choice available in almost every corner of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

 

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Singapore, the Heat and the Haze

So here I am, waiting in line to get a stamp from immigration, hoping the employee uses a brand new page of my pretty-big-yet-pretty-empty passport. I am quite fussy about it. I hate in equal measure controllers who:

  1. open a random page in the middle and stamp it there;
  2. cramp page 1 because there is still 3mm left;
  3. think the stamp MUST go close to the nearest country.

I would like to talk to them, and not only staring at the camera or leaving my fingerprints, and tell them that I do care about my passport, moreover that the legacy of a passport lies in the space-time continuum, and grows within the ten years of validity, not within the wimp of a human decision. Let my passport be the timeline of my travel diary, not just bureaucracy. But it doesn’t go like that, and I’m left to reluctantly thank for the stamp. Time to collect the luggage, and get out of the airport, we’ve arrived to Singapore.

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We watch getting dark so early, so quickly that we decide to hit town. Little India, our home base for the stay, straight down to the Marina. From a colourful noisy neighbourhood to a colourful triumph of metal, glass and style. Hidden by the skyscrapers, colonial houses, or what remains of it.

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As time passed by, I try to win over my new camera, and I can’t tell if it’s inexperience, heat exhaustion, or simply jet-lag. Everything I capture looks blurry. I blame myself and carry on walking around some of the most magnificent constructions the man has ever made. Then there is a weird sculpture/fountain half a lion half a fish? “Half a mermaid” tells my cousin. I get a bit weirded out by that and its spitting water into the lagoon. Maybe it’s the heat, it must be the heat and tomorrow it will look magnificent (it didn’t, to be honest).

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As we walk through architecture and artificial lights, the show starts. I decide to jump on board of “I love time-lapses” club and make a ridiculous shaky video. It’s hot now, and we have no water. Eyes are burning too. It definitely must be the heat, I’m not used to it.

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I am spinning into lights and colours. I even take few blurry pics, because art. “It’s so beautiful in here”, I keep thinking, “it’s so freaking beautiful”. In that moment I decide to start writing down every aphorism I can come up during the trip, at least one for every city. The one about Marina came watching around and getting blinded by Christmas lights everywhere “Men are really the most intelligent yet most stupid creatures in this world”.

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Only at home I realise about the haze alarm, the main cause of the blurriness. Thanks Zeus my new camera is not broken (or worse me…).

HAZE =

it is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. (wiki)

My utter dislike goes for days to Indonesia and their constant burning toxins. People, what’s wrong with you? Get a grip! I keep thinking that in Europe this could not happen, and then it hits me that this beautiful, squared, clean city lies – despite some of its appearance – in Asia.

So we call it a night, time to sleep, that tomorrow we are going to explore what’s Asian in Singapore. Good night S’pore, and remember to switch off the lights.

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