In all the excitement of the Asian Women’s Empowerment conference I did manage to experience a little taste of Kuala Lumpur. Forbes describes Malaysia’s growth as a “bubble economy”, due to a government and household credit bubble, but on the street level my taxi driver described Kuala Lumpur as “stable, it is growing all the time, the government is rich.”
The taxi driver then talked about driving the owner of the Petronas Towers one evening, how nice he was and wanted the driver to find a decent restaurant to eat at. My taxi guy reenacted his shock and horror. Me? How could I know where to take the boss of Petronas?? But he did and apparently the dinner was a cool $200 USD.
Tip, people: if you want to know anything about a place, strike up a conversation with your taxi driver. They see and know all.
What I saw of Kuala Lumpur was a different kind of richness, one in the form of hijabs, salwars and a set of shorts and a tank top. People of varying religious sects and ethnic groups sharing the sidewalk, eating at restaurants together or sitting close as friends.
Ethnic and religious violence hasn’t occurred here since the 1960’s, which is unprecedented to me. In India, those coals burn underneath the surface and singe every so often.
I wished there was more time to explore all of it. The alleyways, the markets and the food. Sigh. This will have to do.