Saturday, April 24, 2004

Final Stop

After eight cities in two weeks, I am at the last stop on my trip: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am a frequent traveller to KL, as I have worked with one client here for about a year now spending almost three months straight in one stretch. KL is a cool city with a vibe unlike anywhere else in Asia.

I snapped this picture of the PETRONAS towers about 5 minutes ago (my hotel is within 100 meters of the entrance). The towers used to be the tallest buildings in the world, before some Taiwanese building took the title in November. I work in the tower on the right, on the exact same level as the bridge that connects them together. That same walkway is featured in Sean Connery's Entrapment.

Malaysia is one of the few muslim countries in Asia and arguably the most religiously tolerant city I've ever visited. It is so totally different from the previous Islamic countries I visited (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai). Here Muslims (mostly from the Northern Malay states) and Ethnic Chinese form a diverse mix that actually works. You can have your nightlife, complete with loud music and drinking, but you also can hear the daily call to prayers and most restaurants observe Halal standards.

What I like best about KL is the lifestyle. Like most Muslim countries, people live late here. Since it's so hot during the day, people take full advantage of the night (and arrive at work late). It's not uncommon to see people just sitting down to eat at 10 PM or whole families out in the parks at midnight. This is perfect for me, since I like to eat late -- most restaurants are open to at least midnight.

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