Friday, August 22, 2014

Jalan Petaling in the Morning

My first morning in Malaysia wasn't terribly early--I just had a couple of hours of sleep the night before flying out and I was tired from the trip, so I allowed myself to sleep in a bit.  It wasn't difficult, as I was staying in a dorm room with no windows--it could have been any time of day or night.  I woke up about 9:30 and didn't rush getting myself organized and enjoying a breakfast of leftover Krispy Kreme donuts from the Bangkok airport.  

When I finally stepped out around eleven, it was into a brilliantly sunny--and brilliantly hot--Malaysian morning.  From my perusals of various guidebooks and websites, I had a mental list of what I wanted to see in Kuala Lumpur and a rough idea of what order it would make sense to do them in--a mental list I had tossed out the window (or, for a mental list, out of my ear?  nostril?) by the time I reached the end of the block.  




I knew that my hostel was in Chinatown, but I didn't realize just how well it was located. I had intended to turn right to hop back on the monorail to the city center, but glancing left I saw the entrance to the Petaling Street Market, marked by a colorful Chinese gate and a gigantic flat screen flashing advertisements (this is still Asia, after all--can't have any tourist attraction without a fair dose of tat and glare...).  I turned left and meandered through.  It was a nice enough market;  at each end were Chinese tearooms and restaurants and a few food carts, but most of the rest was generic umbrellas and flip-flops and miscellany, or Chinese souvenirs that I had no interest in carting back to China.  It seems the Chinatowns are often made a big deal of in guidebooks for southeast Asia; while they are nice enough, I think that they'd be a lot more interesting if you hadn't been to China and this was your one chance for a taste--as a resident in China, they just look either like my everyday life, or like Hong Kong in the 1970s (ahem, Bangkok).  



I had of course told myself I wasn't going to buy any souvenirs the first day, but that went out the window just about as quick as my mental itinerary when I found a few jewelry shops at the far end with all sorts of interesting pendants for cheap, so I had to add a bit to my collection.  The neighborhood at the end of the market didn't seem remarkable, so I doubled back to the monorail to continue my exploration of KL.  




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