Traveller's tales

Monday, June 05, 2006

Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas Towers

Traveling up from Singapore on the train, Kuala Lumpur comes as a surprise – mile upon mile of jungle suddenly change to suburb and then modern city.

Taking a room across from the modern rail terminal removes the need to look much further when you are tired.

Views across the city stunned us from our lethargy and we went out soon after we had showered and put our clothes in wardrobes and drawers.

The transit system in KL has got to be one of the best anywhere, and we took advantage of it to get around the city, always drawn as if by a magnet to the twin Petronas towers, looking much nearer than they proved to be from a neighbouring hill across town.

But we eventually found ourselves standing at the foot of them, with the inevitable foreshortening making us think they weren’t as tall as all that. The sheer bulk of them though is what impresses, that and the sheen of the exterior surfaces – so many shiny cans piled higher and higher, never ending, past the bridge, to the twin spires at the top.

Wondering as we gawped up, who has the office at the very top – whether it’s just a store room for the cleaners to leave their mops and their buckets after they stop their never ending chores.

The scale defies any attempt at guesswork where floor area is concerned – that top office could be the size of a circus or a table tennis table, we thought as we wondered and peered.

And finally, I thought how poorly the towers represented what we had just seen from the windows of the train, but then capital cities hardly ever do that – they are composites of affluence, preening spires that invite visitors to say how modern it all is. Who, if anybody, benefits from that, I wonder.

Robert L. Fielding

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