After our visits to both the National Monument and the National Mosque, we continued on our tour of some of the other sights of the city of Kuala Lumpur.
The next place on our city was the National Palace, originally built in 1928 as the residence of a Chinese millionaire. During the Japanese occupation from 1942-1945, it was used as the Japanese officers’ mess. After the surrender of the Japanese, it was renovated and used until 1957 as the palace of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor.
After that it was bought by the Federal Government to be turned into the Istana Negara for the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Malaysian King. The palace is not opened to the public and is fenced off with views like this of the Palace and the gardens taken through the fence.
At the front of the gate there are two guard posts where members of the Royal Calvary guard the entrance. This is one of the main attractions for visitors to the Palace.
The standing guards wear white uniform (jacket and trousers), and a so-called Songket wrapped around the waist. This is a shortish piece of precious brocade fabric, woven with gold and silver threads that make it stand out with a shimmering texture.
The mounted guards wear more traditional British-style uniforms.
From the Palace we drove on to the Batu Caves. I’d been there a couple of years ago, so I didn’t feel the need to climb the countless stairs up passed a huge golden Buddha to get to some smelly bat and monkey infested caves. To me, the No 8 coffee shop was a much more acceptable alternative. A strong coffee and a Kit Kat Cornetto ice-cream helped fill in the time while waiting for those who did climb the stairs to return.
A closer up of the huge golden Buddha.
There was one last place to visit and that was the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. I’d been here before also, so the big selling spiel didn’t go down too well with me.
Add to this, the 350 workers were all at lunch except for the one or two held back to demonstrate the making of a couple of items for us.
Pride of place in the Selanger Pewter museum is a ‘lucky teapot’ which had saved the life of a man called Ah Ham during World War II. The story goes that Ah Ham and other villagers raided warehouses in a desperate attempt to find food during the war. Just as the the warehouses were about to be strafed, Ah Ham noticed this tea pot on the floor. He bent down to retrieve it as shrapnel whistled passed his head. He kept the teapot and for many years he served his friends with tea as he told the story of how the teapot saved his life.
A wall of pewter hands.
After the factory tour, we were supposed to have lunch at a very ordinary, very over priced cafe at the factory. Another tourist trap! Some of our group ate there but I declined. I preferred to wait a little longer and hit Chinatown which was only a short bus ride away from the factory. There I enjoyed a chicken satay stick or two, a little more authentic and very much cheaper. I followed that with an average massage to fill in the afternoon.
Our guide, Alif, suggested that the boys could have a night out on their own. The girls were placated when they were told that they could visit a bar which served free drinks for ladies. There were no arguments.
The guys met in the lobby at 18.30 and walked towards Chinatown where we caught a “city circle” type free bus. We travelled for four stops before getting off and walking a short distance to a building Alif knew that had a roof-top bar called the ‘Helipad’.
Thirty-four floors up in the lift and then a walk up quite narrow steps for another two floors and we were on the helipad. Obviously there was nothing above us except the sky.
A beautiful, balmy tropical night with a beer in one hand was bettered by the view to see the Twin Petronas Towers glittering against the night sky.
In the other direction was the Communications Tower with its colourful light show. It was a very memorable place. The beers were expensive but worth every baht.
After a couple of beers we went back down to ground level to reboard the free ‘city circle’ bus to complete its run. This brought us back to Chinatown and another bar Alif recommended which featured reggae music. It was all a bit loud and smokey for my liking but when in Rome…. There were two pool tables so it was inevitable that some of the group ended up playing a game or two. The whole night was a whole lot of fun and one to be remembered by us all for a long time. More anon.
All photographs copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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