Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TBA Day 11: One Last Good Day in KL

This day started out with me deciding that there had been enough hiding out in my room, so (after watching Monday Night Football) I set out to explore the city a bit more. I mostly wandered through a few massive, absurdly fancy shopping malls (and bought a sarong for my upcoming island time). I kept thinking how much Midge would enjoy the window shopping, with storefronts for all these absurdly expensive brands I’ve only heard of on TV (with one notable row including Herm├Ęs, Versace, Prada, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Montblanc, and Burberry all lined up side by side). I was actually in this crazy mall looking for a pharmacy, and I finally tracked down a pharmacist to ask about my lack of appetite. She gave me this magical probiotic pill that’s supposed to improve your immune system, improve digestion, and increase appetite. Not sure if it was the magic pill or not, but by the time dinner rolled around I was at least able to eat something substantial (finally).

I had tried to use the laundry service at my hostel on Monday but the service never picked up my clothes so I wouldn’t have been able to get my clothes back before I checked out today. The people at desk sent me down the road to a hostel that has laundry service and the extremely nice woman there helped me out (I guess I’ll know for sure how well that went when I go over there in a couple hours to pick up my laundry before heading for the train), and I ended up striking up a conversation with an American-looking guy in the lobby who seemed to be about my age. Turns out he’s actually a Canadian, but still manages to be one of the more obsessive NFL fans (Vikings) that I’ve met in a very long time. We sat around talking about football for like two hours, and he ended up joining me for dinner as well (which rocked because it meant more foods to try… and also good company, of course…).

We went to Enak, which is an actual fancy-ish restaurant that I’d read a lot of recommendations for on Chow.com.
For appetizers he ordered the Satay (satay over here is immeasurable better than what you usually get in the US) and I ordered calamari with chili sauce, both of which were extremely delicious.

For main courses the waiter accidentally tricked him into ordering a third dish, so we ended up with Beef Rendang, a Chicken Curry, and… some other beef thing that was ordered mostly because it was the only other beef dish that wasn’t supposed to be super-spicy (Canadian-guy is a apparently a bit of a spice wimp) and which (despite being the least aesthetically pleasing of the three dishes) turned out to be the best-tasting thing we ordered.
The Beef Rendang was different than most I’ve had in Melbourne, but still pretty good, with (to employ wine-speak) a really lovely complex flavor on the finish. (I think I like the version I make better, but that’s probably just because my version is Emily-style and thus exactly suited to my tastes.) The chicken curry was nothing to write home about, but the random beef thing was seriously good. The meat was nicely charred to give a great depth of flavor. I’m going to have to figure out what it was called so I can try to make it at home. It was fun to put on some less scrappy clothes and sit in an actual restaurants (napkins and everything!) with some good company and enjoy a tasty meal on my last night in KL.

In the end I would say I don’t think I would necessarily come back here. I don’t tend to like cities that are too big and when I like them it’s typically because they are both flat and possessing a subway/lightrail system that can get you near almost any destination (like in Melbourne, Singapore, and Boston). When I’m forced to take cabs (or drive) to get anywhere, I end up feeling less free to explore the city and just don’t develop the same affinity for the place. The flat terrain, amazing subways, and general accessibility ( including escalators and elevators everywhere you encountered stairs on the subways) that made Singapore a big city I really enjoyed are things that just weren’t there in KL. It’s not a bad city, and I’m definitely glad I came… KL and I just didn’t make a connection the way Singapore and I did... Which is to say: it's not you, KL, it's me.

Day 12 will be spent almost entirely in transit, after which the adventure continues in Penang…

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