Petronus Towers ... From The Outside

29th November, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ian writes:

What's the first thing that visitors to Kuala Lumpur (aka KL) do first? Before 1998, I am not sure what the answer to that would be, but since that date a couple of very recognisable towers have graced KL's skyline and my betting is that the Petronus Towers is the first on the list of things to see for most first-time visitors to KL. Last night we got to saw them in all their dazzling brilliance against the dark backdrop of evening, glittering like a couple of jewels. Very large and expensive jewellery, I'd hasten to add.

This morning, we made our way into the centre of KL, and discovered that the shopping centre, the towers and the surrounding complex that was once part of the Selangor Turf Club are all part of what is known as KLCC - Kuala Lumpur City Centre. We also discovered that our planned trip up the towers - to the 'Skybridge' that links the two towers - was not going to happen. We had been unlucky to arrive on a day when this viewing area was closed for some kind of maintenance. We did learn, however, that it was free - something that's very unusual, given how many other similar towers we'd been to the top of where money had to change hands first - and that spaces were limited. From 8:30 am each morning, tickets are allocated for specific time slots during the day. They don't mind people coming up to take a look around, but only in manageable numbers. It's understandable, and I was glad that we at least had the luxury of being able to come back again at another time to try again.

We settled for taking shots from the outside looking back up at these massive structures. Not to pre-empt the experience of walking across the Skybridge, but I thought that, in all likelihood, the view from below would be better anyway. Besides, the Skybridge is quite low down the structure, under a third of the way to the summit. Or apex ... or whatever the correct term is for the pointy part up top. Not that I'm trying to make myself feel better for us having missed our opportunity to go up there or anything ...

Petronus Towers viewed from below, with the connecting Skybridge in clear view.

With our fill of photos of the grand building, we hopped back on the light railway (Putra Line) and made our way back to Masjid Jamek a few stops away. This was marked as a good spot from which to conduct a walking tour of some of the older parts of the city, in particular Chinatown. On the way to Chinatown we passed a very impressive-looking mosque, some dilapidated old Chinese shophouses and more than a few market stalls. But then we hadn't seen the market in Chinatown yet ...

Old Chinese shophouses.

This was nothing compared to the likes of Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, admittedly, but the market in Chinatown can still quite easily shave a few millimetres of sole off your shoes of an afternoon. We walked up and down all the stalls, back and forth a couple of times, comparing prices and so on for almost two hours. Was it worth it? Well, surprisingly we came away with very little - Manda had got just one bag as a present, while I had resisted the wily ways of the numerous dodgy DVD vendors who would jump on me, catalogue in hand, at every intersection.

Despite not actually having seen much today, we were both tired. At around 8pm we began to make tracks for home (or, at least, our temporary home in Petaling Jaya with Manda's auntie and uncle). There could be a whole lot of crazy nightlife out there in KL to be experienced, but you'll just have to write to us and tell us about it. We were beat.

A sign spotted inside a toilet. You see, westerners like a seat on their toilets while much of Asia opts for the 'long-drop' squatting variety. The problem arises in shopping malls that increasingly cater for western visitors by providing seated toilets ... which many Asians simply climb up onto anyway. Or at least I presume that this is what happens on account of a) the sign above and b) the many toilet seats I've spotted that were heavily scratched or showing signs of recent footprints!.