Thursday, 19 March 2009

architectural magnificence

i've been having a wonderfully busy time here in malaysia, though managing to get on the internet every now & then.

night before last we went to
putra jaya, the new capital city of malaysia. it's beautifully designed with impressive buildings and an amazing bridge. but the most outstanding feature is the putra jaya mosque, done in coral pink and simply breathtaking in its magnificence. i've been to visit it several times now, and it's a wonderful experience every time.

except for one little niggle, which i have for a lot of architectural magnificence. i often think that the money would have been so much better spent on the poor, on social programmes or simply on food. when i look at all the effort put into places of worship - temples, churches & mosques - it's hard not to think that the effort is misplaced. even architectural wonders of the non-religious kind seem to me to be nothing more than ego-trips for the corporations that commission them. many of the tallest buildings in the world are so suspiciously shaped like phallic symbols that methinks there are persons in the world who feel they have something to prove.

but having said that, i do appreciate the beauty and the sincere efforts put in by architects, planners, engineers, artisans and the other thousands of people employed to construct each project. is it possible to both be wowed by the effort and the artistry, but still be frustrated at the fact that those resources may have been better spent elsewhere?

after putrajaya, we drove out to kajang, where they make the best
satay. it's one of my favourite dishes, and the atmosphere was a distinctly asian one. it's also probably one of the healthier things i've eaten in the last few days, which shows just how bad my diet is at the moment! but the hours of shopping and walking around make me feel a little less guilty!

yesterday morning, we got into kuala lumpur early to visit the
petronas twin towers. see above for my thoughts on another architectural marvel! we got there at 8.20am, and there was already a queue of about 100 people. it was free to go up to the skybridge & look over the city, and very well organised. but we did have to pay by sitting through a 3-D promtional video about the petronas company. it was only 7 minutes long, so hardly much of a punishment.

afterwards, we wandered around the KLCC complex and only drooled over the prada handbags, gucci, dior and all from the outside. we decided not to embarass ourselves by going in and pretending we could actually afford that stuff! and then we walked over to the aquarium, which was also quite wonderful.

it was quite a wonderful feeling to be exploring the city by ourselves, making wrong turns and asking strangers for help. one of the strangers who guided us to the towers (she luckily happened to be walking the same way) happened to have an uncle settled in christchurch. and there's lots of stuff from nz here too - from nz cheese on iced doughnuts (ewww) to nz ice cream, nz lamb and nz mussels.

after the acquarium, we managed to find the underground and took a train to
jalan masjid india (more commonly known as "little india"). the shopping there is great, lots of stalls and bargaining. we tried some more local food, with nasi ayam (rice & chicken), murtabak (another favourite) and fresh watermelon juice (at least this was approaching healthy!). our feet were pretty sore by this point, but you can always walk a little more when there's the chance for a bargain!

we've got a much quieter day planned for today, which is a good thing. probably just a little more shopping in the afternoon & dinner out at a seafood restaurant built over a lake. i'm finally getting to the bit of my holiday where i can actually relax!

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