and diversity in the southern seas'
is a capital city caught in a metropolitan limbo. It strives to
be Singapore, but at times feels more like Bangkok (Thailand's capital)
and it is this tension between the clean, clinical efficiency of
Singapore, and the rough edges of Bangkok, that conjures up much
of the Kuala Lumpur's undoubted charm. In a moment you will be racing
across town on the recent monorail with the Petronas Towers,
the world’s second tallest building soaring into the heavens,
and the next you are dumped at street level among the hawker stands
and the nightmare traffic.
When poor tin miners first settled around the mosquito-ridden banks
of the muddy Gombak and Klang rivers in 1857, little could they
have dreamed that within a century and a half, Kuala Lumpur would
have become 1 of Asia’s most lively and exciting cities.
Kuala Lumpur, which translates into ‘muddy
confluence’, has rapidly grown with amazing speed since
the tin mining days. A growth that took on epic proportions after
independence and especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as
the ‘Asian Tiger’ economy fueled an ever-changing
skyline. The change has left old Chinese houses and faded colonial
mansions sitting along side huge glass and steel towers, while food
hawkers and fortune tellers walk the streets with businessmen and
One of the most admired aspects of this city is the level of tolerance
displayed by its residents. The ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians
and Europeans all living and working together with few racial problems,
far less than those experienced in Europe or North America.
To a number of Malaysians, the capital is the Ibukota (‘Mother
City’) and it is well treated with excellent reverence and
fondly referred as ‘KL’. The capital r has been
coming out from the crisis that gripped the area’s economies
in the late 1990s. Dozens of incomplete construction and infrastructure
projects are now getting done. The development of Putrajaya,
the new administrative capital, and Cyberjaya, the main part
of the new Multimedia Super Corridor, are currently bringing KL
back towards the goals set by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir
Mohamad. Much of the city's future depends on the new Malaysian
leader, Abdullah Badawi, who took over Dr Mahathir on 31 October
2003 after 22 years in power.
One thing you can always count on in Kuala Lumpur is the climate,
with warm daytime temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms, passing
instantly to leave the evenings cool and rain free.