Wandering Around Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers and KL monorail

Petronas Towers and KL monorail

My first few days in KL were spent mostly on my feet. I love walking around cities; I feel more connected to the place, as if by walking I become part of the landscape instead of simply looking at it. As Paul Scott Mowrer wrote in his autobiography, The House of Europe, "There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast." I read that the city wasn't built with walkers in mind, but I had no problem marching my way through the city. Armed with only a basic map, care of my Lonely Planet, I made a number of wrong turns and a few mad dashes across roads that were busier than I would have liked, but I found my daily strolls to be quite enjoyable. The first thing I wanted to do was ride the monorail. Very Gotham City, I wrote in my notebook. Watching as the buildings and streets passed by below me, I rode the rail towards the Butterfly Park. After the monorail ride, walking for a while, getting lost, and eventually taking a taxi, I finally made it there.

At first the park seemed empty, but finally I started spotting them. I usually saw their shadows first, then used those to find the butterflies they belonged to. There were butterflies so big they looked like paper birds, and others that were so colourful they glowed.

The park had a small museum that I wandered though. The shadow boxes of spiders caught my attention, and I took some time to study the locations of the various spiders throughout Malaysia. I noted that, of the 19 shown, 11 (including three tarantulas and one "giant-sized" bird spider) are found in the Cameron Highlands. Note: Cameron Highlands can be missed if I'm running out of time! I wrote. To get my mind off the spiders, I checked out a shadow box labelled: World's Most Beautiful Butterflies. Most of the butterflies were a metallic, luminescent blue and were absolutely stunning---definitely deserving to be on the list.

The perk of travelling alone is being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Could I go to a butterfly park and a bird park on the same day? Of course I could. And I did.

The next day, I woke up early to get to the Petronas Towers. There's only a limited number of tickets every day to the Skybridge on the 41st floor---the highest level visitors can go---so arriving early was a must. There was already a line when I arrived and the wait was long. When I finally made it to the booth, the tickets were being sold for the 11.45 elevator ride---2 hrs later. Though, when I stated I only needed one ticket, they bumped me to the last ticket for the 10.15. Another score for the solo traveller.

The towers were more beautiful than I had noticed before. Each floor is wrapped with silver beams---practical in that they shade the windows from direct sunlight, and beautiful in that they look like ribbons. The shape of the towers themselves are also very symbolic. They were originally designed to be 8-point stars, called Rub el Hizb, which look like two overlapping squares. This shape is a very important symbol in Islamic culture, prevalent in Malaysia. Extra circular sections were added in between points to add floorspace, but the symbolism is still clear. At 170 metres, the Skybridge is half the height of the CN Tower's glass floor and observation level, but the view was impressive anyways. I love seeing cities from above, where you can see everything happening all at once.

Up, down, and out of the towers, I headed to the bus station to find a bus south to Singapore.