Sunday, 25 December 2011

Day 113: Christmas In KL

Merry Christmas from Kuala Lumpur.


Christmas 2011 and the accompanying holiday season sees me this year in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, where I am enjoying a short break from my travels. Burness has opted to go home for a couple of weeks, but I can't quite justify the costs involved, so instead find myself back in Kuala Lumpur. I'll be here until January 4th, when I will reunite back with Burness, in Delhi, India.

I'm treating this time as a kind of holiday, in which I don't intend to anything terribly exciting, but do intend to catch up on some writing and some planning for next year. This will mean a lot of entries here, as I have added five new Wonders onto my list, and two of them are upcoming in India and China and so will need previews. I'm a fan of lists (these entire travels are ultimately to compile a list) and may have a few lists for you. And if I get round to it, I may put up a bunch of photos from the last few months that haven't already featured - as this will take minimal effort from me, and as I know most of my readers prefer looking at pictures, this may suit everyone best.

Being Christmas Day, I was reflecting on Christmasses of the past, and the different places I've spent them. Naturally, the majority have been at home, in Dingwall, Scotland, and there is a degree of blurring between these over the years, but the blur is a good one, nay an excellent one, featuring everything you'd hope for in a Christmas - trees, being stuffed with food, presents, family, and Santa's jolly red face beaming down upon me (I'm not saying my childhood was without its traumatic moments). Outside of Dingwall, and excepting the first few unrecalled years of my life when I lived in the surrounding area, Scotland has hosted a few other Christmasses. A family one in Aberdeen, at a relative's home, featured great food and tons of wine that left me with a toasty feel I can still fondly and vividly remember, and the year I lived in a castle my mother and sister joined me for what was described as an "alternative" Christmas (it was great - my mother cleaned the whole place). Then last year, I had the joy of Christmas offshore, in the North Sea. Great...

Including the UK, Malaysia is the fourth country I've spent Christmas in. A few years ago I spent the day in a hotel in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, drinking a lot of gin, and for the three years before that I was in South Korea. Both these countries are, to some degree, Christian, and so both celebrate Christmas, and so to some degree the festive spirit was around. Christmas trees and Santas and an awareness of the season was there.

But I have to say, if I didn't know what day it was, I would never guess it was Christmas in Kuala Lumpur. I saw one girl wearing a Santa hat, and in Chinatown of all places there was some Christmas music playing, but not much else. No, I tell a lie, in the Petronas Towers today, there was a tree and a Santa, surrounded by some Indians taking photos. But not much feeling of Christmas. Which isn't surprising, given that this is a 60% Muslim country, with only 9% Christian.

As well as being a Sunday, and most people's day off anyway, I'm pretty sure it's a national holiday, and the city is as busy as I've ever seen in. Walking in the streets or in the Petronas shopping centre, people are everywhere, in massive slow-moving clumps. I guess that not celebrating Christmas means that this is just a holiday season to go out and shop, and enjoy a day off. I'm told by a guy I met in the hostel the other day that across the country the hotels and hostels are booked out - people aren't spending Christmas with their family, it's just a good excuse for a weekend break.

For me, I'm treating myself today. I'm staying in a hostel for the duration of my time here, but for today I've booked a fancy hotel, the Hotel Maya. I stayed here years ago when visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time, and wrote about it then. I've looked forward to coming back ever since. This time, as you can see from my opening photo, I've got a great view, and I'm enjoying the luxury of comfort.

I ate sushi for my Christmas lunch today, and have more sushi planned for the evening, which will also be spent phoning people from home, and sitting on my pink chez-longue and looking at the Petronas Towers.


While drinking the following:



The last is a 14.2% superlager I bought in a Chinese "medicine" shop. I'm not sure it will make me feel better tomorrow morning.

So, anyway, I hope everyone reading this has a Merry Christmas. Cheers.

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