Where should you go when travelling to Southeast Asia? Thailand and Vietnam are perennial favourites for backpackers and more well-heeled holidayers alike. Some fancying a city break might go to Singapore lured by the luxury hotels and food, maybe even the excellent museums. Malaysia still reels in a good number. Some visit the East Coast and the Bornean states appreciating their natural beauty and perhaps seeing orangutans. Others go to the jewel-like isle of Penang which offers not just natural beauty but also Georgetown with its World Heritage city centre and famously good food. Some might even trek up to the Cameron Highlands, an old hill station from the days of British rule, to witness a strange imperial fantasia where you can stroll among the tea plantations, play golf, and then settle down for tea and scones.
If you suggested to a tourist in Malaysia they might profitably spend a week in Kuala Lumpur they would likely look at you a little strangely. Really? Kuala Lumpur? Sure, it is convenient to fly into but what do you do there? Much of the old city has been bulldozed, making way for skyscrapers and multi-lane motorways that bisect the city. The Petronas Towers were once the tallest building in the world but no longer, and once you have goggled at them and maybe visited the mall inside you’re done. When one finds out that the city’s name simply translates as “Muddy Estuary” the last tinge of tropical romanticism slips away.
That might all be true but there’s more to Kuala Lumpur than meets the eye. While much of the old town is sadly gone beautiful areas still remain especially around the centre.