As you approach the unmistakable skyline of the city, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the striking Petronas Twin Towers punctuating the skyline, appearing to rocket skyward from the city below. The futuristic skyline is truly breathtaking, but to get to know Kuala Lumpur you need to fix your gaze a bit lower - for its at the street level that the city really hums. It’s here that nearly every corner, alley or junction in the city is home to delicious street food stands and kopitiam stalls (traditional coffee shops). The city pulsates with life as businessmen and women pour out of the train station to hurry to work and school children crowd local heritage sites on school trips. With a population comprised of Chinese, Indian, Malay and a growing expat community, it’s no small wonder that Kuala Lumpur’s wonderful diversity can be felt coursing throughout the city. It’s a city defined not by its many unique differences - in cuisine, in culture, in architecture - but by how these differences blend to create something new and distinctly Malaysian.
Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, the city’s oldest Chinese temple is a mere five minute walk from the ornate Sri Mahamariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in the city. Beautiful minarets and Mughal-style domes are sprinkled in the architecture throughout the city, and reach a crescendo at the incomparable Masjid Jamek, one of the oldest mosques in the city. In striking contrast is the futuristic architecture of Masjid Negara, the National Mosque. Two mosques that feel they could exist a world apart, yet are inseparable from the identity of Kuala Lumpur.
It’s a unique city where the sprawling traditional food market at Jalan Alor feels congruent with the glitzy Sky Bar, a towering cocktail lounge boasting a swimming pool and incredible views of the city. In a single outing you might find yourself escaping the heat in one of the city’s many glamorous mega-malls or ducking out of a brief rainshower for a haggling bout at the more traditional Central Market. Outside the city you’ll find the stunning Batu Caves, a complex of enormous limestone caves housing holy Hindu temples as well as mischievous monkeys roaming the grounds. Further afield, the glamorous Genting Highlands boast towering resort hotels, thrilling casinos and, naturally, a beautiful mountainside temple.
It’s a city of small details grown large, a place of constant discovery and experimentation. The city is a living blend of modernity and tradition, of culture and heritage, a land of skyscrapers jutting out from the jungle. It’s a city that seems improbable, a city that shouldn’t make sense - yet the longer you gaze into the whirling wonder of Kuala Lumpur, the clearer the picture becomes. As you gaze you can’t quite shake the feeling that you’re witnessing something really special - perhaps even the city of the future.