Saturday, 17 December 2011

Burness Corner: The Petronas Towers

The latest in the series of snippets from the blog of my travelling companion, Burness, as well as a short interview, on his views on a World Wonder. This time: the Petronas Towers.

Burness's Blog

After we were finally settled [in our second hostel of Kuala Lumpur] we decided to check out the Petronas Towers. There’s a sky bridge linking the twin towers about a third of the way up. As a tourist this is as high as you can go, you can’t get to the top which seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Unfortunately when we were there the sky bridge was closed for maintenance. There’s a big shopping mall at the base of the towers, if you get the underground you have to traipse through it before you can get a view of towers from outside.

The first time I was in New York I visited the Twin Towers, the summer just before 9/11. I remember standing at the base of the Twin Towers absolutely spellbound, staring straight up with my mouth wide open, in awe at the sheer size and height of the buildings. The Petronas towers are taller, and I expected to have the same reaction when we finally made it through the throngs of shoppers and outside to inspect the view. When I looked straight up my mouth stayed firmly closed, I wasn’t gripped as I thought I was going to be and I was a wee bit disappointed.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen a lot more sky scrapers since I visited New York for the first time, or maybe the tapered design of the Petronas Towers don’t make them look as big and bulky. 

The location of the Petronas tower is pretty special. There aren’t any other giant buildings around and they stand out like a beacon, well a pair of beacons. Just outside the Petronas towers there’s a picturesque park with water fountains, ponds and various other water features. There’s a children’s play park and stage for various events. It’s like Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow, but slap bang in the middle of a city centre, surrounded by tall buildings including a pair of the tallest buildings in the world, with palm trees and no neds. 

We strolled through the park and this is when I started to appreciate the architecture of the building. It was partially government funded and they specifically requested for a design that would symbolise Malaysian Islamic culture. The Petronas towers have a very geometrical design which typifies Islamic architecture.  Jagged triangle edges and squares are in abundance on the exterior steel frame. They look modern and definitively Eastern, very unlike a typical sky scraper. They have the added advantage that they are a pair, linked with a sky bridge. This makes them a lot more unique and iconic. There was a particular spot in the park we came to where they looked magnificent glimmering in the sunshine.

Chris [Swiss guy we had met in Indonesia] recommended to us the Skybar at Traders Hotel for the best views of the Petronas towers. So, we went there for happy hour. Traders Hotel is on the opposite side of the park from the twin towers, and the view from the Skybar is spectacular. We liked it so much that we decided to check out of our Guest House the next day and stay in the Traders Hotel for one night. 

We chose a room with a view facing the Petronas Towers. We had a great view from our room, we watched at dusk as the lights came on, it was good to get a different perspective of the buildings as the night grew darker. I still wasn’t feeling great and we had a fairly early night. We went to sleep with the curtains open, Nev was in heaven.


Had you heard of the Petronas Towers before travelling?
Yes. Very famous buildings, seen them in photos and probably TV as well. I'd been to KL, well KL airport, before so i was aware of them. I did plan to visit them but work wouldn't allow it as I had to rush back for another job - I'd been intending having a day in KL.

What were your expectations?
High. I really like skyscrapers and the other comparable skyscraper I'd visited before were the Twin Towers in New York and they blew me away, and I expected the same with the Petronas Towers.

What was your first impression?
When we stepped out of the shopping mall and looked up... a bit disapppiinted. [Why?] I thought it was going to be bigger. I thought it was... I remember just looking up at the [New York] Twin Towers and going "jeepers creepers". Mabe I've seen more skyscrapers since then and it takes a lot more to make my jaw drop. But when we took a step back and looked at it from the park and I noticed all the geometeric design, I was impressed.

What did you like most about the Petronas Towers?
Unique, Arabic design. the squares and triangles, very different from typical skyscrapers, very modern. And I did like the Skybridge, though I didn't think it was.. I don't know, as essential as it was for you to make it iconic.

What didn't you like about the Petronas Towers?
Couldn't get up it. And couldn't visit the Skybridge [due to maintenance over a period of a few months].

Would you regard the Petronas Towers as a World Wonder?
Nah. I don't know... I like the old stuff. And I would say, maybe, the Burj Khalifa [tallest building in the world, in Dubai] might be up there but I don't think many skyscrapers will.

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