I arrived at early afternoon in Kuala Lumpur.
The airport is about 50 km from the city and i made the trip by taxi. There is an express train that connects to the city. It was the transport used in the return. The station is Sentral.
I was tired. The connection from Dubai I did not sleep. A couple talk a lot on a volume that disturbed the neighborhood.
She came with a veil and came out with a gold necklace. She was much younger than she appear with the veil. The phone had a photo of the partner who was more than 30 years old. She should not reach 20 years.
I stayed at Invito Hotel Suites. The hotel was open recently and taxi drivers had difficulty to finding the way, despite it's being located in the Golden Triangle, one of the most commercial and tourist areas of the city.
The hotel has good quality, with large rooms and a wide view of the city. In particular on the 28th floor where I was taking pictures of the Kuala Lumpur tower ... Courtesy of the employees because these floors are reserved for apartments.
The reception is huge and next is a bar that works in the night like a lullaby to the hotel guests. But, it's nothing compared to the streets where there are more nightlife.
Too much heat and moisture increase fatigue.
A walk helps you unwind and you can discover the local atmosphere.
The streets are lined with restaurants, vendors and massage houses.
The night of Kuala Lumpur is exciting, particularly in the area of the Golden Triangle.
Everything is crowded. At 2h am there are queues of cars!
Locals and tourists go to the dining street.
There streets which are constituted by restaurants on either side. They are lit in an improvised way, with wires going through the streets and lamps in the middle with Chinese decor. The transit is in the middle with lot of people walking.
There is music everywhere. Amplified and, in some places, with musicians playing in front of the restaurant tables.
We can see the culinary specialties on the placards' photos with the name of the restaurant.
Most serves Asian food.
Despite the huge affluence the service is fast.
The first dining experience was rice with chicken in a cross street from Changkat Bukit Bintang. The first experience it wasn't positive. The chicken was barely fried. I was amazed with the price: 10 rupees, something like two euros.
The abundance and enjoyment of the night is not for everybody. Next to the restaurant is a poor young man (with one leg behind her back) that drags along the road while singing and pushes a sound amplification system. He will tour the alignment of restaurants, in a distance of several tens of meters.
In this street there are also many friedfood tents, kebabs, seafood, fruit and a paste made by nuts and a dark plant. I could not supply me with mangosteen because it's not allowed in the hotel. I opted for pitaya and jackfruit.
Kuala Lumpur is a densely populated city with lots of skyscrapers. There are few old buildings. In fact, the city is not very old. Its origin dates back to XIX century when population arrives for tin extraction. Half a century after it was destroyed by flood.
The reconstruction, with the British administration, avoided wooden houses and they had choose the use of brick and tile, typical of southern China.
The large urban area is dominated by the junction of two rivers and the literal translation of Kuala Lumpur is "muddy confluence".
Today, as a result of this past, the city has few green spaces in commercial areas and some are heavily polluted.
In the suburbs there are more green spaces, mainly with palm trees and areas with plenty of water. However, there are more little houses and ugly buildings.
In the city the highlights on the horizon are made by towers and rows of red and white lights of cars queued in the access to the center ..
This is the scenario from the Menara KL Tower, one of the best places to observe the city
I went up to the observation point without glass, 276 meters high.
To get here I had to do a long ride and it was a good option because I could stay to the sunset (KL Tower close at 22h).
Access to this part of the city is easy (which cost more was the ramp to the top of the Bukit Nanas park that preserves the oldest green area of the city) because the tower with its 421 meters stands out among the skyscrapers.
The tower was built in 1994 and is one of Malaysia's development symbols.
The sunset is the city make-up with artificial light. Petronas Towers are the preferred focus of cameras but is no less interesting filigree lights from buildings and cars lined up on the motorway.
The Petronas towers belong to the company with the same name, the largest oil company of Malaysia and one of the largest in Asia.
The construction of the two towers has been completed in 1998, and each building has 88 floors reaching 451.9 meters.
The towers have a steel structure and sealing glass which gives them a very charming and modern air. The architecture refers to Islamic art. They are beautiful and the link between the twin Towers introduces a security feeling.
As the towers are very close to KL Tower, the two structures appear to compete on the horizon.
Access to Petronas is easy. There are many public transport, the stop is in KLCC Station and another possibility is the KL Hop-On Hop-Off, tourist buses (the ticket for 24 hours costs 45 rupees and runs through the central part of town. If you choose this option, consider the sun and traffic).
In front of the towers there is a very large square, a base to tripods. In these days it's more for selfies.
Near entrance the security is discreet, cars have to move a considerable distance and there are a lot of people walking. In addition to tourists, the towers have huge offices and ground floor is occupied by a cosmopolitan shopping center.
At the entrance of the shopping center were two replicas of Mercedes' F1 team sponsored by Petronas.
I bought some jackfruit in the supermarket and take a break in a cafe. The employee asked my nationality. It was the second time this year I met a human being who did not know Cristiano Ronaldo (the previous one was in Bolivia).
Important note: on Monday there is no access to observation points.
Merdeka Square (it means Independence Square - in Jakarta there is another with the same name).
It was here that on August 31, 1957 was raised for the first time the flag of Malaysia.
What most captures the look is the Sultan Abdul Samad, a building with strong Arab influence. The clock tower is one of the photographers objects in Kuala Lumpur.
The building opened in 1897, in British administration, and served as headquarters to the empire. Now houses the Supreme Court.
Whit the same age is the Royal Selangor Club, another imposing building, the venue of the British colonial society.
The square is one of the most remarkable places in the colonial period and the architect of sultan's building, Anthony C. Norman, is also the creator of other buildings that surround the square.
More discreet is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral which is located in the northern part of the square and easily identified due to a garden in front. The cathedral was built in 1894 and today is place of worship of the Anglican community.
Another religious building, not very far is Masjid Jamek mosque.
The Islamic community is majority. I was surprised to see many women with veil and burka, particularly young people. It is unusual to see so many women dressed like those in Southeast Asia.
Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city, with intersecting ethnic groups and religions. The dominant ethnic group is Malay and there is a strong Chinese influence due to the immigration in the XIX century that had come to work in mines.
People are very friendly and helpful to any request for information. I had only one exception, when I photographed a woman, front a massage parlor. She gestured, seemed hostile ...
The Chinese community has a strong influence on architecture, arts and commerce.
As in many other Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur has a chinatown also.
It is on old town.
Colorful buildings parading in the streets, most of them with two floors. The ground floor is dedicated to trade. Shoe stores, clothing, watches, goldsmithery, hats, food ... forgery. The upper floor is intended to house or store.
In some of these buildings we find signboards indicating that they are hotels or hostels. The streets have a lot of traffic and a large flux of people. The roads are wide but due to the confluence of cars and people seems tiny.
The best known area is the Petaling Street, a pedestrian street, more vibrant at night.
The decor is typically Chinese. Paper lamps fly over the tents and part of the road has a metal cover to protect from the sun and rain. Lamps and much of the decor makes red the predominant color.
More difficult is to catalog the aromas. The great variety and quantity of food street vendors, stores of food and spice, cafes and open air restaurants, all this causes an immense variety of smells and memories. It's considered a commercial zone par excellence however, demand is due to fame that we will find bargains. Maybe. The guides say that, usually, the prices are inflated 15-30% and you have to haggle.
The streets are full of local people, Chinese and many tourists. Some go shopping but most are to visit.
Salesmen do not bother with photographers provided that there is business ...
Chinatown is more embellished in Petaling Street, while other streets are not unpleasant. Perhaps even more picturesque.
We can walk, discover without fear because there are no signs for alarm. Security is like in any other city.
You can discover and get in Buddhist temples. Smell the incense and contemplate the offerings to the dead, rituals without major ceremonies.
It's possible to discover a market in a cross street, they sell meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables and fish. Interestingly, fish is not sold as in southern China, not absolutely dead and inside a container with water. The atmosphere was gloomy, low light, stuffy. No wonder only be local people and not tourists.
Next door is Central Market. It's an old building and blue gives it a distinctive air. However, it's only a shopping center with some art galleries.
We can walk well and rear we find craftsmen with a aisle dedicated to portraitist painters. There are more paint shops. One of them had some works that woke my curiosity because there is no brush stroke. It's acrylic with the form like it way out of the tube.
A significant part of the stores are dedicated to selling women clothes.
The next street, the Kasturi Walk, is more recent (2011) and has the usual street shops. There are many restaurants.
The street is long (but shorter than the Petaling Street) and the entry has a metallic structure, butterfly type.
I prefer Chinatown.
At the end of the block from Chinatown and the central market there is a large square where stands the hotel Geo, an old building, tall and with an architecture that clearly marks this area.
Across the street should be one of the unlucky businessmen in Kuala Lumpur. It's a cafe that in front has a city tour stop.
Tourists go there buy a drink but, in the meantime, comes a bus and take all tourists. Some leave the package in the middle because it is forbidden to enter in the bus with drinks. Others customers also suffer the same fate. They just drunk a goal freeze and they have to put away the rest if they want to make the trip. It's frustrating to be a tourist!
Malacca - Melaka
The start to Malacca was at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), 10 km from the city.
The taxi transport is not expensive. The hotel employee spoke 50 rupees but the driver took 20 without taximeter. He was friendly, made recommendations and the main was not to forget to buy the return ticket. He was right. Many people is traveling by bus and almost all try to return in the end of the day.
Half an hour after buying the tickets I was traveling on Delina.
The trip is two hours and a lot of time is spent in Malacca entry that has an unbearable traffic.
On the other hand, the bus station is still far from the historic center.
There is an urban transport company, Panorama, but I didn't understand the circuit.
I opted for the taxi. 20 rupees and soon I was in front of the church, the Gereja Christ, and Stadthuys.
The busiest square in Malacca and with a strong brick red tone. It is the landmark of the city and with the mark of Dutch colonization.
The church, with the white cross and the bell tower is one of the nicest buildings of Malacca. It was built in 1753 to celebrate the centenary of the Dutch occupation.
Inside, the church is not very big, it still have many original materials, alluding to Christianity and evocative signs of significant figures in the Malacca society.
Next to the church there is a shopping street. With many tents selling food and clothing.
Across the street is the Stadthuys which also has a brick-red color. It was built before the church in 1660 from the ruins of a Portuguese fort when they were here between 1511 and 1641.
It is one of the oldest buildings of the Dutch empire in Asia, was the main administrative center and, from 1982, became a museum.
Evokes the main periods in recent history, from the Malay Sultanate to the Portuguese colonization, Dutch, British and even to modern times.
The architecture is typically colonial with large windows and large ported wood.
It has a staircase that leads to a garden where there is a balcony and several ancient objects, including a fire truck.
The staircase is often used to rest and a meeting place, a lot of people enjoy the shade.
On the other side of the square is a tourist information center (we have unshoe to enter) and passing the bridge, it's Jonker Street.
It is one of the best-known streets and also the busiest.
The tourist guides say it is a place of antique shops and bargains. In fact, it's only marketing.
The street is full of cars, motorbikes, restaurants, souvenir shops, street vendors, craft shops and, yes, there are antique shops also.
On the other hand, as the history of Malacca, it is a point of confluence cultures also.
This area was part of a Chinatown and the buildings and the Buddhist temple attest this presence. It's more evident in other street commonly referred Harmony Street, which still have a mosque.
Hulu is the oldest in Malacca, was built in 1720 and is very beautiful with traits that mix Moorish, Chinese and Malay architecture. The minaret has Pagoda format, a tower with multiple eaves. The mosque retains many of the original features.
The interior has an immense blue carpet, the ceiling is wooden with huge fans and several lamps.
In this street are two more temples: Sri Payyatha Viyanagar Moorthi (is beautiful but it was closed) and Cheng Hoon.
Unlike the Portuguese, who tried to eliminate non-Christian places of worship, the Dutch were tolerant and allowed the construction of temples and worship of various religions.
In another street we find the museum and some houses that replicate the delicate and exquisite homes of Baba-Nyonya, descendants of Chinese immigrants who have come to Malaysia and have created a very own culture: food, clothing, housing, language. ..
One of the Baba Nyonya culture-sites whose visit is required is Cheng Ho Tea House.
A typical Chinese lounge with an indoor garden. Sublime, peaceful and tastefully decorated where you can enjoy a tea and / or learn a little more about the culture of tea and how is appreciated by the Chinese. Is on Jalan Tulang Besi.
In this area, across the river, which seemed more interesting was the architecture.
A Chinese watercolor with Dutch colonial details. Two-storey houses, very colorful, the ground floor dedicated to trade and few dedicated housing. Some have little arcades serving for sale or storage of motorcycles and bicycles. Wires and ads everywhere and some walls decorated with Chinese motifs.
Some of these buildings have been recovered. It's the case of Geographer Cafe that is in a corner and intended to maintain its original character, typically colonial.
Walking in the neighborhood reinforce the idea about fusion of cultures, a mix of different local people and with Western tourists.
This mixture is also itinerant and rickshaws are the instruments of this merger.
They are unusual and with a high demand by a large varied origins of Asian tourists.
Besides the variety of users the merger is also in the decorative motifs and music.
They have a hat for sun protection and are all furnished. With bright colors, lots of flowers and designs. Another feature: some have sound amplification systems that often echo at maximum volume. They do not pass unnoticed.
The place where there is a greater number is the Stadthuys and church square.
The route that are more often used is by a very wide track, cobbled and where is the Malacca Museum and, later, the wide Porta De Santiago, the entrance to the Famosa fortress. One of the oldest European defense structures in Asia.
Portuguese's work (and more 1500 slaves) after the conquest of this position by Afonso de Albuquerque to Malaysian sultan. The aim was to build a fortress on the hill near the river and with capacity to retaliate any offensive.
The structure had several vantage points, four towers, fire parts, housing for military, a hospital, several churches among which, St. Paul’s Church, on the top of the hill.
This position was conquered by the Dutch in 1641 and the entrance, the Porta de Santiago, was renewed in 1670, the date that is recorded on wall and is next the Dutch Company of the Indies icon.
In the XIX century the fortress changed hands, started provisionally for the British (to prevent the advance of the Napoleonic forces) but when it came time to return to the Dutch, British tried to destroy the fortress and dislodge many of the locals. Only part of the fortress was achieved.
In fact, today, there is little more than ruins.
The first degradation sign is Porta de Santiago. Some modernity was only give by two musicians playing guitar and some cannons next to the entrance, facing the river, which have been restored.
The entrance is very degraded, with walls full of moisture.
Below is a staircase towards the St. Paul’s Church. It seems short and fast. Mistake. The ramp is long and steep. As usual it was hot and very humid which makes it difficult to climb.
The church was built in 1521 and is in ruins also.
It has multiple ports that serve as a frame for photos towards the city. Inside are some visible inscriptions and stone pieces, tombs, which are evocations for the discoverers and Portuguese occupants.
At one extreme is one covered area that serves as a bed to a cat sleeping over the history.
The first church dedicated to Our Lady of Annunciation was built by the noble Duarte Coelho in gratitude to been save from a storm in southern China sea.
Then, they changed the name and became one of the symbols of the Jesuits after they had build the first school in Malaysia.
St. Francis Xavier arrived in Malacca in 1545 and was here five times. He used the city as a base for his missionary inroads in China and Japan and his remains were here temporarily - between March and December 1553.
With the Dutch administration the church became a Protestant temple and was named St. Paul’s Church, as well as the hill.
After the construction of the Gereja Christ, the St. Paul’s Church had less relevance.
With the departure of the Dutch, Jesuits had to leave the city and the church entered an accelerated degradation process, as most of this fortified area and even the tower was demolished.
This place was practically abandoned and only at the beginning of the XX century had began archaeological excavations, which were discovered the tombs, and restoration works of the church walls.
In 1952 it was placed a marble statue of St. Francis Xavier next the church but on the next day fell a tree and smash part of one arm. Until today.
The statue is situated in one of the areas with best view of the town and the harbor, which is far about 1 km.
It is one of the favorite places for the photographs and the holy is one mate.
Here we have a better understanding of the breadth of the city. The length of the river that connects the new to the old town and classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. A look at the port who never had great development despite the trading post claim. The Portuguese and the Dutch wanted to have a monopoly and did not allow free trade. In turn, the British gave preference to Singapore.
The Jesuits and St. Francis Xavier is a historical and religious landmark in the city and the Jesuit community returned at mid XX century, expelled from China, and are a strong Catholic community in Malacca.
One of the signs of this vitality was the construction of the St. Francis Xavier church in 1961.
It is a neo-Gothic building, very beautiful, lightweight colours with two huge towers and the compass rose in the middle. The church is on a quiet street, just after the Gereja Christ and not very frequented by tourists.
From St. Francis Xavier's church we have a great view to the river and a row of very colorful houses almost glued to the water.
The best way to discover the area is on a cruise.
The start point is in Muara Jetty pier, which is accessed via a pedestrian street, near the Maritime Museum.
The cruise costs 15 rupees, it takes about half an hour and it's interesting.
It allows a different view of several points of the city. Ancient architecture coexists with modern towers. A long pedestrian walkway along the river, adorned with flowers.
In some places the walls of the houses are painted with different perspective but always in strong tones.
We discover many wooden houses, some with a small staircase in front, decorated.
Toward the end comes a more modern urbanization, with office buildings. Here there is a little change of the atmosphere, with modern building materials, but is still a harmonious spirit.
There are pedestrian bridges and lot of people walking.
It seems to be the intention of the whole area being adorned, clean (the river has brownish color but not dirty) and available for picture postcard.
Another way to discover the river is by a walking tour.
It's better perceived the interaction of the local people with the river, particularly in places with higher tourism pressure. This was also my choice, a coffee-restaurant with a terrace to the river.
The kitchen was dark and a woman was cooking with local and rudimentary artifacts. The man was sitting at a table with three partners.
I chose a lime juice but, after what I saw in the kitchen, I was five minutes looking to the glass and reflect ... On other table, two German women drank Coke with ice. The bad luck would be collective.
In Malacca old town smoke is forbidden. There is only a small space next to the main square where smoke is allowed.
However, on the terrace, there were ashtrays and traces of cigarettes.
I asked permission to coffee owner, he did agree with a gesture and then commented my cigarette or anything else.
I asked to one of the men if I could take a picture. He reacted with scorn but I took a picture.
The city is full of tourists.
Malacca is one of the leading tourism destinations in this region. There are many posters in Malaysia to publicize the city, airline brochures, bus companies pamphlets and travel agencies in other Asian countries put Malacca as a reference destination.
The main old town points are crowded and many tourist come by road.
I followed the Kuala Lumpur taxi driver advice and I bought the return ticket to 18.30h. Around 17.30h every return ticket were sold.
The return trip was an express, cost more three rupees but was irrelevant. The traffic was immense and I arrived around 21h.
In Selatan I walked to the railway terminal, I tahe the train from the airport to Sentral station and then a taxi.
Before the station exit we must pay the taxi. The price varies depending on the target area. For Invito hotel the rate was 13 rupees.
Easy and effective.
The problem was the driver that ignore the path to the hotel. Began to drive, he asked again the hotel name, but ... nothing. I got the Invito card and passed to him. He refused and asked me to call. I replied that I had no phone. Then he picked up the phone and asked me to read the hotel phone number. Now, the difficulty was mine, even with the glasses I could not read the numbers. Or the mistake was made by taxi driver when he was dialing the numbers? The truth is that always the call was wrong. After some minutes he stopped the car. I realized it was on a dark place near a highway.
We had the same problem, can not read the numbers. I tried to give him the card but he refused. Probably he should not know to read. He talked and talked. I knew nothing of what he was saying, I just understand that I must be cry out of bad luck.
Finally, a deep breath and he asked me if I knew the street name. "Ceylon". "Ah,"he said with great joy, "Ceylon, just before the tower." Then he calmed and said he knew the street, not the hotel because maybe it was new.
When we arrived he found the right way to the hotel entrance. He asked lots of excuses. "Not important, I learned that it is mandatory a visit to the ophthalmologist!".....