Kuala Lumpur 7

This morning I went on a free heritage walking tour. We left from the KL Gallery around 9:15. Our tour guide was Marie and she alternated between funny and stern; giggling at her own jokes, and reprimanding stragglers or shhing passing schoolkids. She was full of information, and over three hours led us around parts of the gallery (free entry with the tour, normally 5myr), textile museum, some industrial buildings with history, and a private club facing Dataran Merdeka. The KL Gallery contains a scale model of the whole of Kuala Lumpur. It's seriously impressive. In clear plastic are skyscrapers yet to be built; the government is planning 300 new buildings over the next 5 years, including a 118 storey one in Chinatown. KL gives the impression of being in constant repair, chaotic construction disrupting footpaths and roads. But from the tour I learned that it's all part of a Plan, and there's meaning amongst the madness. In five years, this will be a different place. Particularly the river, for which the city is named (Kuala Lumpur means muddy estuary). Right now the banks look awful, concrete, diggers, trash, inaccessible. Turns out this is because there's a major restoration project ongoing and by next year it will be a beautiful recreation space with grass and cafes and peddleboats, and hopefully people will then stop dumping rubbish into it.

According to Marie, KL has only 60 years of history. What she's counting from is when Malaysia got independence from the British in 1957. Before that is super interesting history about the reasons parts of the area were settled and developed, by Chinese traders first, and then the British, mostly due to tin. Lots of key individuals who came to seek their fortune as teenagers have left lasting legacies.

The Spotted Dog remains to this day an exclusive membership club, but we were allowed inside as part of the tour. Except for the bar, where women aren't allowed under any circumstances.

This is among many buildings which were built in the 1800s by British architects for specific purposes. The first printing house is now the KL Gallery, and the old train station is the textile museum. After the tour I checked out the music museum, and the parts of the gallery and textile museum the tour missed.

Tour route on Runkeeper.

I got lunch from a vegetarian street vendor I found in a dark alley. I knew to look there thanks to HappyCow. A huge pile of rice, vegetables, tofu and soy meat (self serve) for 7myr. I was also handed a plastic bag with a straw in it full of what appeared to be hot rice water. There was lots of rice (or barley?) floating in it too. It was a tiny bit sweet. I later googled it and apparently, according to Chinese lore, it is a miracle cure for lots of ailments. I also picked up guava, lychee and lemongrass juice from one of the stalls by Central Market, and took the lot up to the slightly airconditioned food court in the upstairs of the market to eat.

Then I spent a couple of hours at the library, and back to the hostel when it closed at quarter to 7.

Later that evening I walked to the night market with P (Colorado) and R (Germany). Noted reduction in catcalls to zero (from every five minutes) when walking with two 6+ feet tall guys. I wasn't super hungry. Drank papaya juice while the guys ate real food at one of the market restaurants. Compared to less touristy areas, the portions were small and the prices high. I couldn't find veggie bao, but picked up some hot sweet potatoes. None of us had yet tried durian, so we decided to share this important life experience. We bought a little pack for 10myr between us. P and R had one bite each and decided it's not for them. I ate the rest, and am still undecided. It transitions between this smooth creaminess to being foul and oniony. I hate onion flavours, but the creaminess may be good enough to ocmpensate. The hostel has a no durian policy, so I had to finish it before we got back. I suspect it'll be like natto, which I liked for a while but the more I ate the less it appealed.

Night market route on Runkeeper.

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