Friday, August 22, 2014

Menara KL by Day

...And this is the Menara KL!  (Menara means tower in Malay, so it's rather prosaically just the "Kuala Lumpur Tower".) The tower was built in the 1990s; its practical purpose is its 1381 foot antenna, used for television and radio communications, but of course such a tower also has plenty of uses for collecting vast amounts of money from tourists. The pod, the top of which is 1099 feet, has an observation deck and a revolving restaurant. Menara KL is the 24th-tallest freestanding structure in the world, and the seventh tallest tower. According to wikipedia, there's a race every year up the stairs to the pod, for those who are both in good shape and crazy.  There's also an apparently quite popular annual event in which professional parachutists (is that a word?) are hired to base jump from the top.  
Malaysian friendliness crosses over into their customer service--the tower is on top of an already fairly steep hill, so they have a free shuttle bus up and down.  And they didn't skimp on the shuttle golf-cart train or city bus with people packed in like sardines and holding on to a strap.  This was one of the nicest fifteen-passenger vans I've ever been in.  Squishy leather seats, good music playing, and air-conditioning blowing at full blast, with lots of vents, almost enough for everyone to have their own.  I had to wait a few minutes for more people to come along to fill it up before we went up, but I sure wasn't complaining. In fact, I rather wished they'd take a notion to go on a long expedition for gas or something.  I really didn't want to get out at the top.  Even the dashboard looked like something out of the future as it was so new and modern.  
But enough rhapsodizing about the joys of sitting in comfort in air-conditioning...up the tower! As soon as I stepped off the escalator up to the main entrance, I was greeted by one of the uniformed employees and shown the options--I could go to the observation deck for one price, or both the observation deck and also the open-air deck up even higher than the ball for about twice as much.  Well...I hadn't really planned on spending that much, but I wanted to get high as possible and the pictures would be infinitely better if they weren't through glass.  It was so high up that those who opted for the outdoor top deck had to sign a release form that they weren't responsible if we injured ourselves or somehow fell off.  [This turned out to be rather overcautious in my opinion; you would have to go to a great deal of trouble to hurt yourself or fall--there is a thick plexiglass wall chest high all the way around, and only one bump in the floor that you could even potentially trip on.]

The view out over the city is amazing--I could see for miles from up there, even on a slightly smoggy day.  I made several circuits around the tower, taking pictures from all angles, especially of the beautiful Petronas Towers, gleaming in the afternoon sun.  Eventually I found the tall building across the street from my hostel, Chinatown, and Merdeka Square.  It was after five by the time I made it up there, so I decided to dilly-dally around until it got dark to see the city light up--I certainly wasn't paying that much to come up again!  After I had taken at least ten pictures of every possible view and tried out all the setting of my new camera, including the silly ones like fish-eye and miniature toy, I sat down on a step and typed stuff on my phone, waiting on dark.  Just as it was allllllmost dark enough and lights were just beginning to come on, an employee came out and rushed me back inside...there was lightning in the area, and it wasn't safe to be out.  


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