Melting pot Kuala Lumpur
There are 1.7 million people living in the capital and it's the most populous city of Malaysia. Yet somehow this doesn't reflect in the streets at all. Kuala Lumpur is easily the most chill Asian metropolis we've visited so far. No traffic mayhem, no crowds, no noise or pollution (in Chinatown at least), reasonable priced food and accommodation - completely not what we expected. Interaction with locals is effortless and train- and metro transportation practically takes care of itself.
The other side of the coin is that Malaysia truly is a land of rules and regulations. And we liked the lawless ways of the other countries, they fit us. Even being from Holland, we're not used to this level of splitting hairs: we can't take a four-person taxi or rent a scooter. As for the fines: they're sky-high, but it's probably a real effective way to make people obey the decrees. For example: in the trainstation you see no-smoking signs, with the addendum of a 10.000 ringgit fine (2200 euro) or two years in prison, OR both. That'll make you fight your urge to light one up.
The first night we went to a back-alley for some unmatched nasi goreng (fried rice, they really know how to create the most delicious versions out of this simple dish), the boys got firecrackers so they could throw these with the other kids.
We took the train to the famous Batu Caves, a limestone hill containing caves filled with colorful depictions of many a Hindu tale and cave temples which could be reached through determination: climbing 272 steps. Also available: snakes to wrap around your shoulders. It was much more entertaining for our boys than we anticipated.
Also nice for the children: a huge, free playground in the middle of the business centre. Law enforcement kept themselves busy here too, getting the kids out of the water when the first raindrop threatened to fall from the sky, with shrill whistles. To get to this leisure park, we took the metro and walked underneath of the Petronas Twin Towers, getting dizzy looking up at them, standing at their feet.
The youngest one has been fed up with all the people trying to touch him for months already, he's mastered the art of ducking and diving ultimately to avoid their groping hands. Seems like he's got this special heads-up display so he can calculate in which angle to bend to dodge them, so he doesn't have to growl at them. Once in a blue moon, however, he makes an exception, in this case for a Malaysian couple in the subway, who asked if he would come sit with them. Willingly he let the man pinch his nose, cheeks, chin, pull the blonde hairs on his arms and legs and stroke his long mane.
Our hotel was located in Chinatown, but next to the Chinese we saw many Indians, especially at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple, which was right around the corner. So nice to see their beautiful, colorful malas and earnest Hindu devotion once again. Then there's the Malays, who are muslims by birth, but despite the headscarfs, their convictions seem very 'light': no one has frowned upon me, men and women talk openly with me. So there you have it: a true melting pot, we so appreciated getting a taste of it all.