The fact is that a lot of years had passed since we were last in Malaysia.
In our minds, our return visit last month was far overdue. That was one reason we chose its capital, Kuala Lumpur, as the starting and ending point of our recently completed Southeast Asian adventure.
|Downtown Kuala Lumpur was a happening place|
Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is often called, is 55 kilometers, or 35-miles, from its KLIA, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Our visit required four such rides; two at each end of the trip. Time and distance provided us ample time to visit with our cab drivers, all of whom spoke English well.
At some point during each ride, the conversation invariably went something like:
|Chatting with our cab drivers - Oh My GAWD!|
'So, your first time in KL?' asked the driver.
'No, we were here before. . .' one of us would answer, pausing, then adding, '. . .about forty years ago.'
At which point each of the cabbies -- who ranged in age from 40 to 56 -- nearly drove into the freeway barrier as his head snapped from focusing on the road to the rear-view mirror to get a good look at the talking fossils in the back seat.
The best verbal response was from the 56-year-old who exclaimed, 'Oh. My G-A-W-D! I was 15 then!!'
Each of the conversations ended with the driver telling us about his elderly parents who were in our age range but were still 'getting around' and how good it was that we were still traveling.
Coming of Age
|Street scene 2023 Kuala Lumpur|
We have aged, and hopefully grown a bit as well, since our first visit to Malaysia's capital city. But our changes pale in comparison with the changes to this cultural, financial and economic center of Malaysia.
The city looked much like the photo above during our first visit in the early 1980's. But those old storefronts are fast being replaced with towering skyscrapers offering condominiums, offices and retail space. The photo below was taken from our hotel room.
|Kuala Lumpur from our hotel window|
Back when we first visited KL it had a population of 1.1 million. Today's population is 8.6 million. Its population density and urban spread is evidenced by towering buildings of living accommodations that began to fill the skyline miles before we reached the city's center.
|Residential high rises outside city center|
What we found most interesting is that even with all the change, we were as taken with this new modern high-density version of the city as we were with the old charmer, we explored decades ago. Maybe that is because it still retains many of its historical buildings which were a pleasant contrast to the ubiquitous high-rise structures.
|A heritage building in KL|
The Old and the New
|Entry display at one mall|
Shopping malls abound in the heart of town. Our first stay was at the JW Marriott Hotel, which was part of a high-end shopping mall, and also across the street from yet another high-end mall. We could log our day's footstep goal with a single trip through one of the multi-storied malls.
|Coffee at one mall allowed us to watch video ads across the street|
We were bedazzled with jewelry displays, clothing, and cars. There's definitely another world out there! I had no more than said, 'Can you imagine these places at Christmas?' when we saw this photo:
|Christmas must be something else!|
Each of the three nights we spent at the JW, we were treated to a car show outside the front door in the valet parking area. This purple car won out for the color, but each day we found some breathtakingly expensive car parked just outside the door.
|Outside our hotel in valet parking|
We had one additional night and a full day in KL on our return leg of our journey. We chose to experience a bit of history and stayed in the heritage wing of its Majestic Hotel, located in another part of the city. The hotel, with a tall sleek conference hotel wing to one side, was originally built in 1932, just across the street from its heritage train station. It simply oozed with charm. . .the music playing as we stood in line to check in was Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade'.
|Hotel Majestic, since 1932.|
We sipped cappuccinos while others had High Tea in the old wing's lobby. We could have sat in the Orchid Room but will save that for 'next time'.
|Orchid Room - Majestic|
Happy Hour was held in the stately old bar where you could play a game of billiards or watch financial news on a flat screen television. The air was tinged with cigar smoke - just adding that perfect old gentlemen's club touch to the setting.
|Happy Hour at the Majestic Hotel|
The Southeast Asian Adventure
For those who missed the last post outlining this adventure, a brief recap:
KL was the first stop on a journey that would take us to Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Singapore. We flew from Athens to KL via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. We were reminded that it is a long haul to get to SE Asia no matter from which direction you fly. It was an hour and a half to Istanbul then 10.5 hours to Kuala Lumpur.
Most of our journey was completed aboard Oceania's Nautica cruise ship. We boarded that ship in Bangkok, Thailand after a brief stay there. And that is where our tale begins next time when we will be: Bangkok Bound.
Thanks for the time you've spent with us today and thanks to those of you who sent us travel suggestions and recommendations. All were appreciated!