MY JAPANESE FRIEND ARRIVES IN KL ON FRIDAY FOR A weekend visit. Normally, I’d be resting up and wouldn’t even be working today, but this time I’m prepared.
You see, my friend Shoko isn’t a normal Japanese woman. She’s 35, but has the energy of a 12-year old. She’s Hello Kitty with a digital camera, if Hello Kitty had the atomic energy of Godzilla on a weekend stomp through Tokyo. After one of her visits, I’m usually flat on my back in full recuperation mode, and the sleeve of every shirt I wore during her visit is completely stretched from her tugging me along to the next sight to see. Energy? She’s got it, and most of it is recorded in JPEG format.
What’s more, her smallish frame can humble any boasting I’ve ever done about my intake of alcohol. At one time, she worked as some sort of executive assistant; by her own account, this meant spending nights with the big-wigs drinking sake and writing down the ‘handshake deals’ that were taking place. Myself, but a mere recreational drinker, I am seven sheets to the wind before she’s any worse for wear.
But that was then, and this is now. In terms of consumption, her body told her to slow it down, for which we’re both grateful – I think my liver would reject me if we were to spend another ‘lost’ weekend in KL.
The bigger problem, however, is that this isn’t her first visit to KL, and she’s tugged my sleeve to virtually every corner, down every street, into every shop, and through every menu of KL. There’s little left to do, and she arrives on Friday fully expecting another grand tour of things to do.
As an expat, I’m sure you’ve had the same problem; a friend arrives in town and wants to see and do everything in a weekend. Oh, and let’s make sure to complement the trip with some great food and drink.
What to do… what to do…
Well, let’s start with the basics – the ‘must see, must do’ of KL. No trip would be complete without a trip up the KL Tower (www.menarakl.com.my). Standing 421m above sea level, it’s a great way to scout out the rest of your trip.
Another vantage point that you can’t miss is the Skybridge of the Petronas Twin Towers (www.petronastwintowers.com.my). Admission is free, though it’s wise to queue earlier for tickets. Visiting hours are 9am to 5pm daily (closed on Mondays and Fridays from 1pm to 2:30pm).
Those ‘must’ attractions have elevators, which is fortunate for the average visitor, but for me, it does no good in my quest to tame the energies of my Japanese friend (besides, we’ve been to both). On this visit, however we’re travelling just north of KL to visit the Batu Caves. She’s dying to see the natural limestone formations, and the 272 stairs should go a long way to tire her calf muscles.
We’ve been to the Lake Gardens. Yet another ‘must,’ but they’re far too serene and relaxing for my ulterior purposes. On the last visit, it was a pleasant walk through the Bird Park and a lot of fun watching Shoko play with the butterflies in the Butterfly Park. This time, however, we’ll indulge ourselves in a bit of picturesque history – Dataran Merdeka, site of the signing of Malaysia’s Independence in 1957. It’s a large open greenspace, and surrounded by the charms of the Selangor Club and the Sultan Abdul Samad building (as well as the square’s enormous flagpole), there’s lots of opportunities for photography.
And that means a lot of time spent outdoors under Malaysia’s hot sun. Even with a shade umbrella, it can be a tiring visit. Normally, I’d try to visit on an overcast day, but this time… it’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day.
At this point, it’ll be time to eat and have a drink, so I’ll suggest we skip over to Central Market (near the Pasar Seni LRT station). Also nearby is Petaling Street, which she’ll also want to explore, but I’ll tell her about the great food found inside Central Market. There is, but it’s just a ploy to get her in the doors. She’s a shopper, and having explored the upmarket selections at KL’s major malls, it’ll be equally enjoyable (and arduous!) to peruse the endless selections of handicrafts on offer at Central Market.
Having expelled so much energy, it will now be time to do something extremely quiet. On the last trip, we toured through Muzium Negara (www.museum.gov.my/museum), but we went at the beginning of the day, and thus it was but a pleasant warm-up to the rest of our day. For this trip, we’ll spend some time at Galeria Sri Perdana on Jalan Damansara (www.arkib.gov.my) at the ex-official residence of Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. It’s a fascinating look at the man, but the quiet air of a museum at this point in our day will go a long way to calming her down.
Hmmm… where to dine? She’ll no doubt be up for some Japanese food, and I can suggest any of the Japanese restaurants that advertise with us. Yoko’s is great, Iketeru at the Hilton KL is “Oiishi,” as are the rest.
“What’s that, Shoko? Did you just order water instead of Sake?” My plan seems to be working.
At least, that’s how I imagine it. In reality, she’ll still be firing on all Toyota-made, run-forever cylinders and still be craving for a bit of KL nightlife. Last time, we danced the night away at Zouk KL, but maybe, just maybe, she’ll enjoy something a little more subdued this time.
Bangsar. Nowhere else can I think of that offers a little bit of everything in terms of nightlife. There are Latin rhythms at La Bodega, the casual atmosphere of Flam’s, and a hundred other places to while away our night.
Perhaps I’ll even convince her to sit down.
Source: The Expat April 2006, article by Mike Street
This article has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com
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