Our first pastor – Carl Seyffert, bless his memory – was a tour bus operator in Niagara Falls before the Lord called him into ministry. He never lost that tour guide enthusiasm. Everything was great, everything was interesting, every new thing was worth learning. I just love that attitude in people. Maybe that is why I was so happy to take some of the newbies on staff – Shelley, Jim, Michel and Amy – around town for the first time. It was great to share their enthusiasm for this place.

KL Railway StationBy now I have a pretty good little route mapped out. We start at the old train station. Not KL Sentral, with its overwhelming busyness, I leave that to the last. But the original train station built by the British in colonial times. Spacious in its Victorian splendor, with delicate minarets at the corners in deference to the host country in which it was built, it is a fitting start to the day. From there we walk to the Central Market for a look at the local folk art in masks, kites and batiks, and fuel up at the food court noted for its variety and cleanliness. Then it is across the river at the Post Office, with its modern take on the Western/Muslim fusion of architecture, the Dayabumi Tower. We take a short hike down Jalan Raja to Merdeka Square, the place where Malaysian independence was declared. On the one side is the Royal Selangor Club, an Edwardian-style building that was the hub of colonial social life. On the other side of the square is the former administrative offices of British rule, now renamed after the Sultan Abdul Samad, which housed the Malaysian Supreme Court until just recently. Although Moorish, rather than Asian, it too shows the deference of the British for Muslim sensitivities.

merdeka1Then we walk past the funky and organic picture plant sculture/fountain and the Masjid Jamek, the oldest mosque in Malaysia, also built by the British for their Muslim hosts at the spot where Kuala Lumpur was founded. A short hike up Jalan Melayu brings us to Little India where we do some bargaining for ‘designer’ perfume, watches and handbags. On Jalan Tuangku Abdul Rahman we stop at at the Colliseum Cafe, the oldest restaurant in KL for a much needed drink and cooling off. We need it on the next leg, a hard slog in the sunshine without much shade, to the Malaysian Tourist Centre, point of origin for the Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour and the native Malaysia dance held daily on this site. From there it is a short walk to the magnificent Petronas Towers, where we spend a happy half-hour gawking at the Gucci and Cartier merchandise on display.

merdeka4
We exit on the south-east side into the City Centre park, alive with tourists like outseves and Malaysian families relaxing for the afternoon. We mark out the Aquarium for a later visit, but do go into the Jewelry Exhibit in the Convention Centre where Shelley demonstrates an amazing knowledge of gemstones, which can’t be a good thing for Jim! Then it is on to the Trader’s Hotel, site of the SkyBar, arguably the best view of the Towers anywhere in the city. We relax by the pool sipping coolers while the lights come up on the towers and the fountains begin their dance in the park. Weary from walking, we take a very reasonably priced taxi van to Chinatown for a seat in an outdoor hawkerstall restaurant that allows up to do some serious people watching while getting a really good nosh of Chinese food.

Sky_Bar
Another short hike brings up back to KL Sentral, a lot quieter in the evening, where we catch a cab for a twenty minute ride back home for 18 ringgits. Split three ways that comes to about 2 bucks each. I made a few wrong turns in the day and led us to a couple of dead ends, but I got it mostly right, and the newbies ended up with a favourable impression of their new home in Asia; one that I hope will help to balance out the workload and the sense of homesickness that gets to all of us from time to time.

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