***Full Malaysia gallery below***
Martha took a pass on all the mosques we came across in India, so visiting Masjid Jamek was a first for both her and Ashley. It’s been a really pleasant surprise in Malaysia that the tourist attractions (that is, places that happen to attract tourists rather than places designed with that as the sole purse) are generally hassle free and even free of charge. The Batu Caves yesterday had no entry fee, we went the entire day without encountering a single tout of any sort, and several of the shops were very quaint with interesting and reasonably priced goods. If the Batu Caves were in China, they would be a nightmare: huge lines to pay an inflated admission price and further charges for anything interesting inside, people harassing you for cheesy group photos, scammers and touts, swarms of tourists ambling in all directions, aggressive shopkeepers hawking garbage. In Malaysia though, the place made for a really relaxed, pleasant day. While several of the mosques in India we visited actually had admission charges, Masjid Jamek (the most notable mosque in Kuala Lumpur) had no admission fee and actually seemed very inviting to tourists. It was a real surprise to me. I have to say, Malaysia seems to be “missing the boat” somewhat on the tourist thing…. other countries try to squeeze every dime they can out of you for anything that might be interesting or worthy of group photos. I digress though…
We started out today running over to the Patronas Towers to get tickets to visit the observation deck in the afternoon. They only issue 1200 tickets per day so you need to get there early to be able to get them (another example of the contrast versus many other countries that would just pack people shoulder to shoulder endlessly). For the morning, we headed over to Masjid Jamek. Photos of the mosque were nice and all, but the main source of entertainment for the group was Martha and Ashley being required to don headscarves and robes. We mostly just strolled the grounds of the mosque being irreverent chuckleheads taking funny pictures.
Outside the mosque we hailed a taxi to take us to another market in the “Chinatown” of KL. The cab driver actually told us that it was a fairly short walk and gave us walking directions instead of taking us. WTF??!!! If this was any other of a number of other countries that cabby would’ve happily picked us up and drove us around in circles for a while to get a fare from us. Chinatown was…. well Chinatown. It’s always the same garbage, endless counterfeit goods and junky trinkets. Nearby was the “Central Market” though, which had some of the only vendors selling real Malaysian goods that we’ve encountered. I highly recommend that market as a first stop. Most of the shops you encounter elsewhere are only stocked with goods from other countries: Taiwan, Korea, Japan, etc.
Later in the afternoon, we visited the Patronas Towers. Beautiful buildings and beautiful views. As those sorts of things go, the experience was rather regimented and boring, but the price was reasonable and they didn’t waste your time trying to hard sell you on any other stuff like photos or whatever. The elevators are a bit cramped…. although for us they may have been made a bit more cramped by an Aussie couple with multiple unruly children. The father was holding a preschool aged boy in his arms as we rode the elevator and whispered into his ear (ok maybe not a whisper):
“You can fly. Spread your wings and fly!”
***Kid then spreads his arms out, knocking a few people in the head a few times***
I mean really? Maybe the kid is old enough to learn that birds (and planes) need open space to fly. Flying in a crowded elevator isn’t going to go well for anyone.
Well, that about wraps up our time in KL. We closed out the last night at the “Sky Bar” at Traders Hotel.