Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City At Glance

Kuala Lumpur is a sprawling, modern concrete jungle set right in the tropical heart of a verdant, living one.

Transport: KL central is the hub of a rail-based urban network consisting of the KTM Komuter, KLIA Ekspres, KLIA Transit, LRT and Monorail systems. Unfortunately the systems – all built separately – remain largely un integrated. Different tickets generally apply for each service, and at stations where there’s an interchange between the services they’re rarely conveniently connected. This said, you can happily get around much of central KL on a combination of rail and monorail services, thus avoiding the traffic jams that plague the inner-city road.

Season: Temperature ranges from 21’C to 33’C and the average humidity exceeds 82 percent. Although there’s rain throughout the year March to April and September to November are the wettest months.

In the city, pas t and future meet and co-exist in a hot, humid present. Crumbling, graffiti-strewn shop houses perch on prime real estate, alongside soaring skyscrapers wrought from steel, glass and concrete. Like the traffic, things sometimes crawl at a ponderous pace, and beneath its shiny veneer, you glimpse a raw, chaotic and slightly unnerving energy.Kuala Lumpur is old Southeast Asia meets new, with all the haphazard, unruly charm of the former wrapped in the glossy trappings of modernity, it is where stunning street food with sometimes dubious hygenie is par for the course, and makeshifts markets spill over with sights, smells and sounds. It is where cars drive bumper to bumper o super highways; where the nightlife is vibrant and for some, decidedly racy, and the gourmet scene is gearing up slowly and surely.

But even as you debate these contrasts, a far more striking one dances in your peripheral vision as you descry the urban sprawl encroaching on the lush green – or is it the other way round? No doubt about it, Kuala Lumpur is a contradiction in terms, and gloriously so.

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