Sadly, our trip is at it end. After one year and one month, we are preparing to return to Los Angeles. After our stop in Melaka, we headed back to the Kuala Lumpur for some final shopping, packing and sightseeing before heading home. Kuala Lumpur is a nice modern city and a good regional transit hub, with many of our SE Asian flights using the city as a hub. We were able to get one-way tickets to Los Angeles (via Tokyo) for about $700 US.
Now that Thaipusam is past (but Chinese New Year is right around the corner), we had more time to look at the standard sites in KL during our remaining days. We also continued to feast on the delicious food, especially our new breakfast favorite, roti canai and masala tea. We have really enjoyed the Indian food here, from great tandoori chicken, all kinds of dal and nan for great prices (not to forget our favorite roti canai).
One highlight in KL was the Islamic Art museum. Islamic art focuses on complex geometric designs, since the reproduction of images of people and animals is considered blasphemous to mimic the creations of God. The museum had some excellent metal, cloth, tile and ceramic art work. It also showed the complex mix of Arabic, Indian, Turkish and Chinese influence in the artwork.
The architecture in KL is also an amazing mix of colonial, Islamic and other types of art. We saw a historic facade that was left, but had a fountain on one wall to create a more interesting streetscape along an unused side of the block. It was an interesting way of avoiding dead space on the street while waiting for a developer (and a real estate market) with deep enough pockets to re-use the site.
We also visited a large national mosque and the National museum. Malaysia is a really interesting crossroads of cultures from its location next to a major strategic oceanic choke-point. The Dutch, Portuguese, English, and Japanese have all been involved in occupation and colonization of parts of Malaysia. The culture itself is a rich mix of Arab, Indian, Chinese and Sumatran (not to forget Malay) people, foods, religions and customs. The museum had a good collection of old Chinese porcelain in great shape, since it was found from intact wrecks in the areas around Malaysia. There are all kinds of wrecks on the floor of the ocean, since there has been ocean-going traders using the seas and ports around Malaysia for so many years.
At the beginning of out trip, we celebrated the start of our adventure in Lima with Pisco sours overlooking the ocean. In Islamic Malaysia, alcohol is not commonly served, heavily taxed and available only in certain areas. To wrap-up our trip, we had iced coffee in an upmarket shopping district in Kuala Lumpur. As then say, “When in Rome….” The shopping center where we had our coffee also had a really nice green-roof, covered with trees and racks of ferns and vines. The roof had trendy bars, cafes and a gym for people to enjoy the “Forest in the City.”
On our flight home, we are lucky enough to have a nine-hour layover in Tokyo. You might say “uggh” at the thought of a nine-hour layover, but we hope this is a just enough time to dash into the city for a quick look around and then back on an airplane to cross the Pacific and return to the United States.
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