Apr 17 2011

Kuala Lumpur: What’s not to like?

Published by at 9:39 am under Sightseeing & activties

Falling in love with a city is very much like falling in love with a person: it has very little to do with logic, and everything to do with subjective sentiment. There’s no use trying to explain why one face makes your heart go giddy-up, while another one leaves you cold, that’s just the way life is. When I first came to live in Kuala Lumpur, some four years ago, it was for work, not personal reasons.

KL skyline

But while the job turned out to be a considerable disappointment, my new home proved to be quite the reverse. What surprised me, was how few of my colleagues felt the same way I did about KL. Many of them were outright haters. According to them, KL had no history, no culture, rubbish public transport, terrible drivers, cheating taxi drivers, overpriced booze, stifling weather … you get the picture.

While there was more than a kernel of truth to each individual complaint, as far as I was concerned, together they never added up to a convincing case against KL.

Sure the public transport system leaves a lot to be desired, but you soon find ways to make it work. The weather could do with being a little less hot, but without the heat, al fresco dining would be an occasional treat, not the norm. And of course it would be great if KL drivers stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the road, but running for your life to avoid being run over is great exercise.

Tradition squeezed by modernity

More importantly, the haters appeared to ignore, or not even see, the long list of good things about the city: the wonderful food, the friendly people, how much greenery there is, the ethnic diversity, the widespread use of English, the vibrant nightlife, the overall quality of life, to name just a few.

For nearly a year and a half, I led an increasingly unsustainable double life. I was thoroughly miserable at work but remarkably content during my time off. My wish to remain in KL became the biggest factor in putting up with my job. And then I had a moment of clarity: leaving my job did not mean I had to leave KL — well, apart from visa runs every three months that is, and even they are a good excuse to travel in the region.

Saying One Malaysia with flowers

KL is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But despite its flaws, or even partly because of them, it’s a place I have come to love. I hope you do too.

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4 Responses to “Kuala Lumpur: What’s not to like?” ...

  1. tanyaon 18 Apr 2011 at 12:54 am

    I love KL too! It’s not perfect and residents know that and would love to talk to you about it over a cup of teh o limau ais… try telling a Singaporean that this place has flaws!

    – tanya

  2. Linaon 18 Apr 2011 at 6:46 am

    I love cities in general but have to say that I’ve never been too taken with KL the few times I’ve been there. I’m glad that your blog is up and you can show us the things about it that you love (and that we may have missed).

  3. Qasemon 28 Nov 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Well said!

    There’s so much to do for the foreign tourist who like plants and food and museums and art

  4. Matton 07 Feb 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Cons: There is a fundamental mistrust in kl, or it may be a cultural thing, but at a lot of places they can be like “You’ve stayed month, but its 5 past 12 either pay to extend the room in the next 5 minutes or get out” Its like hang on, I’m not suddenly going to have no money, why the attitude? and they totally don’t get it, this nonsense even extends to paying for each individual drink and food item on Jalan alor, even when its quiet.

    Next negative thing is some of the hotel staff can have a serious attitude which I would best describe as hostile, this can exist in all different budgets of hotel.kl is also a nosey place and you will undoubtedly be spied on.

    cheap accommodation and food, everything a modern city has to offer is available, despite the cons I do love kl

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