Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9 2011 - KL Tower and The Islamic Museum

On Monday I went to the KL Tower, a space-needle-like object that juts prominently into the KL skyline, with a bulbous observation platform on top.

Like the 101 building in Taipei or the Sears tower in Chicago, one of the best things about going up one of these towers in an unfamiliar city is getting to see landmarks in all directions and getting better oriented to where you are. That was definitely the case with the KL tower. You are handed a free audio tour as you enter the viewing platform and between that and the pictures with labels at each window, I was able to pick out quite a few items from the guidebooks.

It was a clear sunny day, and easy to see in all directions. Although the neighborhood where we are living, Mont Kiara, is quite hilly, most of KL is flat, with strange hills jutting up here and there, and small mountains in the distance. And although at street level it's somewhat decrepit in places, there are a lot of really beautiful governmental and religious buildings. There are a lot of nice rooflines in KL!

The KL Tower is right in the middle of the city, but it is surrounded by a well preserved old growth forest. After going up the tower I wanted to walk around in the forest for a bit, but once again I was attacked by mosquitoes and had to retreat. Well today I bought some repellent, so hopefully this problem will soon be in my past.

Instead of walking in the forest I had to settle for the cheesy little zoo in the basement of the tower. It actually had a fairly extensive collection of snakes, several large, grumpy looking lizards, a pen of turtles, planning their escape, and several monkeys that were having a fine time threatening one another and the guards.

Today I opted for an activity that didn't require stumbling around in the heat, so I went to the Islamic Museum. Our drivers, who are Indian, seemed puzzled about why I wanted to go to this particular museum. They said they had never had a guest want to go there before! I found this rather peculiar, since it is a highly rated attraction in the guidebooks and on Trip Advisor. I think they were a bit put out, maybe because I haven't been to Little India yet and perhaps they thought I was showing favoritism. I'll have to try to correct that soon.

But the museum was beautiful. The exhibits were interesting, but the building itself was the real attraction. Cool, quiet, with a glittering inverted dome, a peaceful courtyard with a blue tile fountain, it sits close to the bird park and the national mosque. I enjoyed learning more about the history of Islam and looking at the various artifacts. I especially liked the jewelry and the clothes. I don't know how someone could actually stand wearing one of those ornate headdresses or gem-encrusted breastplates. They looked incredibly heavy.

Now tomorrow it's off to Melaka. Wonder what that will be like!

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