7/26/2009

A Bird In Hand

On the 4th of July, I got to see brightly colored objects in the sky. Little did I know this year it would be birds and not fireworks.

KL Bird Park is advertised as the largest walk-in aviary in the world. Indeed, the facility, which is covered by a huge net of sorts, covers quite a bit of acreage. And for the most part, you are walking the same ground that numerous species of birds do, with some exceptions (obviously, allowing the hunting birds free reign would NOT be a good idea.)

I wish I kept track of the birds I took pictures of a little better, but here are a few shots of some of the often visually striking specimens contained within the park.






I suppose my favorite part of my visit there was the parrot exhibit. If you make a contribution to the facility, you can feed the various free-flying macaws, parakeets, and other similar birds within the exhibit. As you can see, I put the saying "A bird in hand..." to the ultimate test.

video

7/18/2009

More Blogs About Buildings... (Pt. 3 - And The Rest)

If one remembers the sitcom "Gilligan's Island", one might remember the original theme song referred to characters The Professor and Mary Ann as "the rest." This post covers "the rest", which includes not only buildings per se but also other similar sights I've encountered along my travels through KL here.

St. Anthony Catholic Church on Jalan Robertson:
The uniquely shaped Menara TM (on the right; said to be designed to look like a bamboo shoot) and two of its sister buildings:
The spiraling elevator shafts at the Suria KLCC Mall:
The exterior of the centralized (but not geographically, if one looks at a map) transit exchange point that is KL Sentral. Behind me are two major hotels, Le Meridien and the Hilton:
The mockup of Stonehenge, located near the National Planetarium:
The newly opened fountain outside of the KL Pavilion Mall, which is proclaimed to be the tallest Liuli Crystal fountain in the world:

Central Market near the Chinatown district. This former wet market, saved from demolition by preservationists due to its unique architectural styling, is now a mecca for souvenir-seeking tourists:
Menara Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka - the people who work in here provide oversight of the native language (Bahasa Malayu) in all forms of media:One of the long walls of the Pudu Prison. This prison, now closed and used exclusively by the police, has now badly fading painted murals created by prisoners on the sides of its walls:

7/17/2009

More Blogs About Buildings... (Part 2 - KL Tower)

I know, I know - there's a lot more to Malaysian architecture than what you'll see in this blog, but unfortunately only so much time to explore and limited energy to do so leads to a slightly truncated selection.

In any case, here's a few shots of the other iconic building in Kuala Lumpur - Menara KL, or the KL Tower. This is the neck-breaking view of the tower from below as well as a shot from farther out for a better view of how it stands over the city's skyline:


Here's a few shots from the tower itself from the observation deck, which lies a thousand feet above the Klang Valley floor, with the help of Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill) whose almost 400-foot-high base helps give the tower some extra elevation.



As you may have noticed from the pictures, the view is fairly hazy - this is a problem especially as the summer months approach because of fires that burn (purposefully and otherwise) in the neighboring country of Indonesia, or so I am informed.

If you ever do come to KL, I'd say the view from Menara KL is impossible to beat. Not saying you shouldn't do the Skybridge at Petronas (if you don't mind queueing early - the tix are free, after all; you do need to fork over approx. $20 US to get into KL Tower) but if you want to see all of KL from above, it's hard to top the 4th tallest tower in the world.

7/11/2009

More Blogs About Buildings And Food (Petronas Towers version)

According to a local I spoke with here, the term "menara" is reserved for buildings 20 stories or taller, "wisma" is designated for buildings 5 stories or smaller, and "bangunan" is for everything else.

It seems to fit with what I've seen so far of the buildings. Nevertheless, with that bit of trivia of the way, much of the focus on KL is directed at the iconic Menara Berkembar Petronas, or the Petronas Towers for most non-locals. Much has been written about the history, statistics, etc. for these twin buildings, so I won't bother to add my two cents except to say they are a distinct and eye-catching vision for this skyline, and would be quite the sight for almost any other cityscape.

Without further ado, here are some pics of the steel-clad towers. First off, a view from the nearby KLCC Park:

The fountains, located across the street from the main entrance, in the plaza in front of the towers:

The "crane your neck upward until it almost breaks" view

A unique view up one the sides of the towers (with Malaysian flag in view) from a third floor outdoor deck:

The steel beams that help support the skybridge, which connects the towers at the 41st floor:

A view looking down at KLCC Park from the skybridge - if you look closely enough, you can see the fountain show in action:

Finally, a ghostly view of Petronas, with the nearby Menara Maxis (Maxis Tower) also lit up just to the right:

7/05/2009

The Wonder Of Wander

Sunday I intended to check out one of the few Roman Catholic churches in the KL area. I took a wrong turn and ended up with a touch of the less cosmopolitan side of the city.

This early Sunday morning was probably like any typical day for the folks of the Pudu district. Many were leisurely having their breakfast at the numerous sidewalk cafes, probably talking about the week gone past, or the week to be, as the streets seemed to still be waking up this clear but humid morning.

A couple turns this way and that and I ended up near one of the light-rail lines nearby in a residential area. Some kids were playing football in an apartment parking lot as I took a little side trail that really didn't lead to much of interest to the typical tourist, but it did give me a hint of why the Klang river doesn't look so pretty at times, as a stream of what looked to be untreated and fairly foul-smelling water cascaded in the viaduct beside the roadbed. Also, motorbike drivers pretty much don't follow whatever traffic laws may be in place. Several motorbikes roared down what is ostensibly a pedestrian path, and woe be the walker who doesn't have their head on a swivel traversing anywhere in KL proper.


I still wanted to try to locate this church, so I tried to retrace my steps, which by chance took me to one of the largest wet markets in the city. At the beginning, I found what seemed to be the home aquarium vendor section. Varieties of fish you probably wouldn't find in your typical Petco back home fluttered around big buckets of water, as well as any piece of equipment you can imagine for those who want a touch of the aquatic for their living quarters. But the offerings weren't restricted to fishes - frogs and other legged animals that might find the water to their liking were also available at seemingly bargain-basement prices.

Then came the heart of the wet market. What to seemed to be mostly people of Chinese descent marketed their wares, from live animals to those which seemed freshly killed and prepared for home cooking. Fish of all varieties were also on display, as well as a cornucopia of vegetables and fruits.

The stalls lay close together, leading to narrow pathways and a somewhat claustrophobic feeling as you tried to wend your way through, avoiding both other patrons and vendors toting their wares from one place to another.

A little backtrack and a turn up the road led to a little area of shops that specialized in IT and computer products, a la the more famous Low Yat and Imbi Plazas in Bukit Bintang. There were quite a few stores specializing in lighting fixtures and fans as well, which reminded me a bit of the souks of Damascus, where shops specializing in certain goods or products would be generally clumped together in one spot. I also had my first encounter with a little foodie thing I had read about - the Ramly Burger, which is a essentially a Malaysian street food hamburger, but alas the stand was closed for the day.

It was about this time when I realized that I had done just a little bit too much physical activity for the two-days-plus, as the dull pain that made itself known prior to my appendicitis attack re-emerged, a seeming little reminder that I really wasn't too far removed from the surgery room. I eased my way back toward my temporary home for the moment. I traversed near a park with a grand view of the KL Golden Triangle skyline, including the iconic KL and Petronas Towers and sidled into Berjaya Times Square to a local branch of Krispy Kreme.

As I sat there practically alone relaxing under the shade with a donut and an ice cold coffee, I just realized how lucky I was. I had still managed to make it to KL, and although I was a little tired from the weekend's festivities, plus the still not-quite-completed adjustment to local time, I really couldn't have imagined a better way at that time to come back to the cushy, more tourism-board friendly version of KL.

7/03/2009

The Recovery Goatee

In the past, I've always kept my facial hair relatively short; I've thought about a full goatee at times, but I've always come to the conclusion that I have don't have enough facial coverage to make it work.

But ever since the surgery, I've been really letting it sprout. I've tried to keep it relatively neat, but it's been otherwise pretty much unfettered growth.

For the most part, this was a little show of defiance from me, a little message that, "okay, appendix, you made your painful point, but you're history now...heh!"

And maybe the grow-out was also inspired a bit by the story of Detroit Red Wing Jonathan Ericsson, who scored a key goal in the second year of this year's Stanley Cup only four days removed from an appendix removal. Many athletes going through playoff runs often sport what's called the "playoff beard" as much out of superstition as it is a sign of solidarity with other teammates.

But that's a whole another level from even regular weekly athletes, which I consider myself to be. Even after the doctor said I no longer needed to see him, he essentially mandated about 8 weeks of avoiding a lot of the stuff ranging from the rare to not-at-all these days (basketball, tennis, etc.) to that which I need to do more of I've determined (core work, weight training, and flexibility improvement.)

I kinda' thought personally he was playing it cautious. However, his words ran through my mind after my first full weekend in Malaysia. A full night of partying on Friday, followed by a full day of tourist doings, and then a longer than intended walk Sunday morning was too ambitious, as a dull soreness had begun to radiate from the area of the surgery.

Okay, fine - I DO have to watch myself a little more closely for the next couple months. But I can still grow out the goatee without limitations...