New images: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A minibus picked us up at the guesthouse and dropped us at the main bus station. The trip took about 5 hours as planned, but when the bus arrived, I could not identify the surroundings. Instead of stopping in the centrally-situated Puduraya bus station, the bus dropped us far in the countryside ! As we took a taxi to central Kuala Lumpur, I realized that we were at least a dozen miles away from the city center. Later, I understood that the Puduraya bus station was closed for renovation. The highway traffic was total gridlock, one of the worse I’ve seen, making the San Francisco Bay look tame in comparison. It took us 3 hours to cover the relatively short distance. I wished I had persevered in making the train reservation. Even though we had hired a taxi, finding the Hotel China Town Inn wasn’t straightforward. It is situated on Jln Petaling street, which is taken over by the busiest street market in the city in the afternoons and evenings: no vehicle traffic, thick crowds, and a jumble of stands stood in the way as we looked for the hotel.
Past this longer than expected trip and chaotic arrival, Kuala Lumpur proved to be a vibrant city full of contrasts. We had just time to make it to Menara KL , one of the world’s tallest observation towers. We took a walk in a well-preserved tropical forest right below the futuristic tower. The observation platform at the top offered a great view of the city, revealing its surprising amount of greenery. I arrived just a bit in advance of dusk and claimed a spot facing the iconic Petronas Towers. I was able to use my tripod, but I had to shoot through glass windows. Thanks to the great Dryclime jacket from Marmot, that I was carrying in spite of the tropical heat because it has a velvet-like black liner, I was able to block reflections from the inside lights for daylight and dusk shots, however, by night, the reflections caused by the double glass could not be overcome.
The next day, below the skyscrapers, I explored the ethnic neighborhoods which offered a mix of temples, street markets and food stalls as bustling and multicultural as anywhere else in Asia. However, what struck me most in the city was the diversity of the buildings, brilliantly illuminated by night, which reflected the fascinating mix of Chinese, India, Malay and western influences making up the country.
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