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From KL to KL

From Ko Phi Phi, I said adieu to Constance and set my sails to rejoin Anne, who seems to always be one island ahead of me. It reminds me of the famous paradox whereby if an Olympic runner is 10 times as fast as you, and you have a 100m head start, after he runs 100m you will be at 110m. When he gets to 110m, you will be at 111m. When he gets too 111m, you will be at 111.1m, and so forth. Conclusion: he'll never catch you. Sometimes, just when I think I've caught Anne, she moves with the alacrity of a golden fuse, blazing twin concentric circles around my person.

This is the part where I am suppose to write that the jaunt to Ko Lanta was uneventful, but as the monsoon season approacheth, the seas produced 1.5m whitecaps. Our boat was listing more than the Village Voice "Escort Services" pages. No, our boat was listing more than a Chinese phone book. Wait, hold on. Our boat was listing more than falling stock indices on Nasdaq. Yeah that's the one.

Anyway, it was time to get back to basics. We stayed in a bamboo bungalow room just off the beach, with crashing waves sending us off to sleep. This, after our nightly ritual of curry, french desserts, and, when we had power, an episode of The IT Crowd from my hard drive (a quirky British comedy about IT workers -- does "quirky British" smack of redundancy?).

Anne's two best friends were her hammock and her Canon. To be fair, she claimed I was a close third.

Thailand turns your skin brown faster than a Gene Wilder - Richard Pryor comedy. Again, I have no idea what that meant. Anne went from half-Asian to half-Comache Indian. I went from Scandinavian-Jewish to Italian-Turkish. In everything, there are levels.

Anne considered pulling a Thelma and Louise, but like Tom Hanks, I talked her down from her Castaway moment.

Here's a lighthouse. This is one thing North Carolina does better than Thailand. Others include frech morning biscuits, paved roads, potable water and petrol that is not sold in old Johnnie Walker containers (though unconfirmed, I suspest that the Black Label is a higher octane than the Red Label).

**Sorry Americans. Petrol means gas. I promise you can slap me in a few weeks if I refer to pants as trousers or diapers as nappies. By the way, why would diapers ever come up in conversation? Oh yeah, because at last count there were about three babies, three more inseminations, and a clean half-dozen betrothals since I have been away. All this and still no invitations for sendmoneyplease to be a ring-bearer.

Anne braved it on the back of my motorized steed, despite my full disclosure about the Zeppelin-esque Vespa incident from the Zanzibar leg. She snapped off this shot while in motion - no bigger professional than her. And look mom - a helmet!

Are you guys ready? Here comes my Pulitzer shot.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.


But of course it is no match for National Geographic's June 1985 pièce de résistance, and personally one of my favorite photographs:

But with no refugees to capture with my lens, I settle for what Thailand does best, and that of course is sunsets. There were daily, some would say nightly.

But after a few days of lazy Ko Lanta life, it was time to leapfrog Anne for once. I had been jonesing for Cambodia since my last visit to SE Asia, and I had two choices - backtrack to Bangkok or fly through AirAsia's other hub, which is also the answer to the trivia question posed by the previous blog. The multicultural city of Kuala Lumpur was correctly guessed by one Denny Heaberlin, who also wins the  award for most frequent poster on these pages. Well played, sir. Oh there'll be no money in it for you today, but on your death bed, you'll receive eternal consciousness.

So the other KL, full of contradictions and incongruity, is most famous for their huge goalposts. I had thought that Catherine Zeta Jones performs a high-wire act, but that must only be at the turn of each new milennium.

The Petronas Towers, once the largest buildings in the world, reminded me of the doomed Twin Towers of our country, and it made me miss seeing them. I can still remember seeing them fall, from my roof in Brooklyn.

KL is super clean, air-conditioned, easy to get around, and with good people. A congenial mix of Chinese, Sri Lankan, Indian and Malay culture, cuisines and language mix in relative harmony. My favorite food was cucur bawang, sort of a hish puppy with a healthy concoction of local spices. Besides the local man who asked me to join him for coffee, whereupon he proceeded to assail Western culture and our dating habits (and it became clear he despised the preference local women had for Western men), the city's residents were very pleasant.

Here's a view from the park at the base of the Petronas Towers:

Kuala Lumpur also sets the non-Dubai standard for shopping malls. The most famous, also at the base of the Petronas Towers, boasted these stores, in order of their location: Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Mikimoto, Versace, Moreschi, Hermes, Chanel, Salavatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Piaget, Cartier. Needless to say, most locals walked around without many shopping bags, save a to-go order from Burger King.

The mall also hosted a fashion show, with models striking their typical disinterested look, which must be contractual and which seemed an awful lot like the face I had walking into my freshman year anthropology class. These bipedal green beans looked about as enthusiastic as Maddoff during an audit. Two other curiosities struck me. One, the muslim women, many covered in head scarves and a few in burkahs, stopping to view the Miss Sixty summer collection. And two, of the eight female models, I counted exactly one Asian, and she was as light-skinned as they come. Most adverts also feature white women. So maybe, former President Bush, they don't "hate us for our freedom." Maybe they hate us for our white skin. Oh wait, you wouldn't know what they think. You never traveled before being elected.

Here we see Nicole, who is sporting a Miss Sixty tunic and Prada scarf. The jeans are 7 for All Mankind and the heels are Manolo Blahnik (the bag is Fendi, but you already knew that I'm sure):

Before going to the top of the Petronas Towers, visitors must sit through a 15-minute video espousing the benevolence of Malaysia's largest oil company. It was so over-the-top it reminded me of the film noir "Thank You for Smoking," and Aaron Eckhart's obvious blowhard as he lobbies for Big Tobacco. Still, visits are free, which was far from the case from our former Twin Towers.

Here's a view from the catwalk (crossbar) connecting the two towers (uprights). No word on whether the towers had a stanchion.

What's that? Don't remember a stanchion? This will jog your memory -

Also, if you are hankering for some more pictures from the Thai New Year water fight, check out Grant, the mad Welshman's blog -

As for me, it is almost time to ride of into the sunset. Thanks for sharing the journey thus far.. There are a few more adventures to come, but soon they will involve you, I hope.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Thank you for the priceless gift. Hopefully I don't obtain it for many years to come!

They 17th just wasn't the same this year without you.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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