Friday, August 22, 2014

Flying around in Kuala Lumpur

Whale sculpture
I wish that I’d had a good deal more time to spend in Kuala Lumpur. The cultural and gastronomical diversity simply cannot be sampled in the couple of days I got to spend in this remarkable city.

Like Singapore, this city replete with public transportation. The light rail gave us access to most parts of the city while taxi service took us to places we simply couldn’t figure out how to get to with our maps. My two favorite places for taking photographs were the KL Butterfly Park and the Bird Park. Both of these parks were quite a bit larger than I had anticipated and were surprisingly open. In the butterfly park we wandered down trail after trail of blooming plants with literally
hundreds of butterflies floating around us. The butterflies enjoy life with no predators, plenty to eat, a multitude of places to make their journeys from egg to pupa to adult, and a number of small bubbling fountains and waterfalls from which to drink. What I did find perversely entertaining was that I have many pictures of ‘where the butterfly was’. Even though they live in this Eden, they are constantly on the move defying photographers to collect their images. During our visit I noticed that one of the Near-Normal travelers looked rather nervous. As a child she had been ‘attacked’ by a group of moths and even as an adult didn’t want moths or butterflies to land anywhere on her body. She, of course, captured best pictures of these critters. In one of the display areas were preserved samples of other insects from Malaysia.
Butterfly, water bird, crane
Some of these insects were highly colored beetles while others had evolved to look like twigs. The largest specimen was an approximately 12 inch walking stick from Borneo.  I never would have seen it in its natural habitat so good was its camouflage.

Our hosts at the Butterfly Park strongly suggested that we take a cab to the Bird Park because of the heat. We followed their advice, but quickly realized that none of us would have particularly minded the heat or the walk; the difficulty would have come in crossing the expressway. Much like the Butterfly Park, the birds are free to roam through the aviary visiting feeding, watering and roosting sites as they please. We humans enjoyed the pond area were we could sit on the rocks observing pelicans, cranes and other water birds. Several small children were splashing in this pond and one of the cranes took offense. When squawking and screeching didn’t deter the kids, it took several menacing steps toward them brandishing its needle-like bill. This prompted the mothers to put the kids back into their strollers and move on. After a nice lunch at the Hornbill Café, we strolled over to see the flightless birds. On our way a peacock decided it was attracted to us and displayed his tail to draw our attention. He then followed us all around the park. One of the keepers eventually convinced him to return to his normal area rather than trying to follow us out of the gate.

The twin Petronus Towers are an 88-floor icon for KL. Until 2004 they were heralded as the
Kuala Lumpur, Petronus Towers, flip-flop art
tallest buildings in the world and remain the tallest twin towers. At the foot of these towers is a shopping mall opening onto a rather large park. Stores in this mall include such notables a Toys-R-Us, Harrods and Swarovski as well as local grocery stores. In one store, flip-flops were arranged in large colorful flowers inviting us to come in and shop. There is also the ubiquitous food court with the names we all know. Even on a week day the mall was jammed with international shoppers; I’m guessing that it’s always crowded since it houses not only offices above the mall but also restaurants (beyond the food court) and hotels. Outside is a lovely park with fountains. We strolled around the pond admiring the towering banyan trees and snapping pictures of those impressive towers. In the pond was a wonderful sculpture of a whale; fountains in the pond and along the edges invited adults and kids to play in the water.

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