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MALAYSIA AND BORNEO – KUALA LUMPUR – PART TWO

January 29, 2016

 

FROM JULY 9 -27, 2015 LEONARD EPSTEIN  AND JANELLE BURGESS TRAVELED THROUGH MALAYSIA AND BORNEO

KUALA LUMPUR OR KL

Kuala Lampur  is the capital of Malaysia. Over 8 million people live within the greater KL area which is clearly noticeable by the huge and vast amounts of traffic that goes into the city every morning, and slowly leaves the city in the evening. Kuala Lumpur has many interesting attractions; like Merdeka Square, Chinatown, Petronas Twin Towers and much more. KL is also known as a shoppers paradise; there are are numerous huge shopping malls where you can literally shop til you drop.

Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL is the capital of Malaysia. The words Kuala Lumpur literally mean ‘Muddy Confluence’. The metropolis got this nickname because it was founded near the place where the rivers Klang and Gombak intersect (which you can still see just behind Merdeka Square). Over the years Kuala Lumpur grew into an important Asian city. Within Malaysia Kuala Lumpur is seen as the center of the country; ‘it happens all’ in KL. People from all areas within Malaysia come to KL to find jobs or do business.

The founding of KL was almost an accident. In 1857, 87 Chinese prospectors in search of tin landed at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers and set up camp, naming the spot Kuala Lumpur, meaning ‘muddy confluence’. Within a month all but 17 of the prospectors had died of malaria and other tropical diseases, but the tin they discovered in Ampang attracted more miners and KL quickly became a brawling, noisy, violent boomtown, ruled over by so-called ‘secret societies’, a network of Chinese criminal gangs.

As in other parts of the Malay peninsula, the local sultan appointed a proxy (known as Kapitan China) to bring the unruly Chinese fortune-seekers and their secret societies into line. The successful candidate, Yap Ah Loy (Kapitan China from 1868 to ’85), took on the task with such ruthless relish that he’s now credited as the founder of KL. According to legend, Yap Ah Loy was able to keep the peace with just six policemen, such was the respect for his authority in the Chinese community.

Loy had only just established control when local sultans went to war over the throne of Perak and its tin mines, marking the start of the Malay Civil War. KL was swept up in the conflict and burnt to the ground in 1881. This allowed the British government representative, Frank Swettenham, to push through a radical new town plan which transferred the central government from Klang to KL. By 1886 a railway line linked KL to Klang. A year later a new city was constructed in fire-resistant brick, and in 1896 KL became the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States.

The British surrendered Malaya early in WWII and KL was brutally occupied by Japanese forces. Many Chinese were tortured and killed, and many Indians and British prisoners of war were sent to work on Burma’s notorious ‘Death Railway’. The British temporarily returned after WWII, only to be ousted when Malaysia finally declared its independence in 1957 at Merdeka Square (Independence Square). KL continued to thrive, but its confidence took a knock in 1969 when race riots between Chinese and Malays claimed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. In the aftermath of the riots, thousands of Chinese were dispossessed of their homes and the Muslim Malay community consolidated its control over the army, police and political administration.

The city officially became the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur when it was ceded by the sultan of Selangor in 1974. Its mayor and councillors are appointed on the recommendation of the government, which is dominated by Malay politicians. There’s little accountability and a job on the council is largely seen by locals as license to print money, not least because KL is Malaysia’s most prosperous and populous city.

In 1996, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed approved the construction of a new political capital 20km south of KL at Putrajaya. Although only 50,000 of the 330,000 residents planned for Putrajaya have moved into their new homes, the budget for the project has already exceeded US$5 billion. Putrajaya was made the official seat of the Malaysian government in 1999. Since the turn of the millennium, Kuala Lumpur has been in the news more for demonstrations than innovation – city police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse antidiscrimination protests by thousands of ethnic Indians in 2007 and 2008, arresting many protesters under Malaysia’s draconian security  laws.

Here are some  places visited inin Kuala Lampur –

KL TOWER

The KL Tower is a 421m high telecommunications and broadcasting tower which actually appears to be taller than the Petronas Towers, because it is built on a hill. Amidst the city ofKuala Lumpur stands the Menara Kuala Lumpur at 515m above sea level.

It also claims to house the highest McDonald’s in the World. This tower has an observation deck, where you  finally can manage to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
Menara Kuala Lumpur ranks fourth amongst the tallest telecommunications towers in the world and was constructed over a period of four years and completed in May 1996. Menara Kuala Lumpur is designed to withstand wind pressures of up to 90mph.

The KLTower‘s architecture reflects the country’s Islamic heritage with the construction detailing Arabic Scripts, Islamic tiles, classic Islamic floral and abstract motifs and soothing colour combinations.

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ENTRANCE TO THE KL TOWER

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ENTRANCE TO THE KL TOWER

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KL TOWER AT NIGHT AS SEEN FROM THE PETRONAS TOWER

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A VIEW OF KUALA LAMPUR FROM THE KL TOWER IN THE DISTANCE YOU CAN THE PETRONAS TOWERS

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A VIEW OF KUALA LAMPUR FROM THE KL TOWER

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National Mosque Kuala Lumpur (Masjid Negara)

The National Mosque of Malaysia is located at Kuala Lumpur. The mosque has a large capacity of 15,000 people and is surrounded by lush greenery which expands to a 13-acre land. The original structure of the mosque was the product of a team of three people from the Public Works Department. The mosque was actually built on the site of a church in 1965. The mosque has been standing firm on its grounds since then and is now deemed as an important symbol of the Islamic country of Malaysia.

The best features of the mosque are the 73 meters high minarets and its 16 pointed star concrete which is its main roof. There are many meanings to the design of the mosque. The main roof’s design was inspired from the idea of an open umbrella while the minarets were like a folded umbrella. The concrete main roof utilizes the concept of folding plates in order to obtain larger space at the main gathering hall.

Malaya gained its independence from the British government on 31 August 1957. Major development programs in areas of economy, social and architecture were actively implemented in line with the new government. The programs were also to portray new progressive culture and achieved democracy. Therefore, on 30 July 1957, in the meeting of the Federal Executive Council an idea to build a national mosque as a symbol of the country’s independence was mooted.On Friday, 27 August 1965, the mosque was declared open.

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NATIONAL MOSQUE OF KUALA LAMPUR

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NATIONAL MOSQUE OF KUALA LAMPUR (MINARET)

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NATIONAL MOSQUE OF KUALA LAMPUR – MAIN PRAYER HALL

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NATIONAL MOSQUE OF KUALA LAMPUR – A SIGN COMMEMORATES THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN AUGUST 2015

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NATIONAL MONUMENT IN KUALA LAMPUR

The National Monument (Tugu Negara) is made in remembrance of the fallen ‘soldiers’ during the fight for freedom to independence in Malaysia. It represents the fallen soldiers during the 2nd World War, when Japan occupied this part of Southeastern Asia (next to that also the repelling of communism is often mentioned).

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The monument is one of the largest bronze statues in the world, it is 15,5 meters of height, built in 1966 and designed by architect Felix de Weldon (has designed amongst others the famous Iwo Jima monument). The statue represents the general freedom in Malaysia; the national anthem (anthem of freedom) is typically associated with this. The statue consists of 7 soldiers carrying the Malaysian flag. Each of the warriors represents one of the seven qualities of leadership: command, unity, strength, wariness, suffering, courage and sacrifice. MONUMENT IN KUALA LAMPUR –

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NATIONAL MONUMENT MAIN ENTRANCE

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NATIONAL MONUENT CENOTEPH – The predecessor of the National Monument is an interwar-era cenotaph originally erected by the colonial British administration on a 10m flat grass-covered ground on a roundabout adjoining Victory Avenue (now part of Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin) and Raja Road, close to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and Railway Administration Building. Originally intended to commemorate World War I (1914–1918) and honour its war dead, the cenotaph’s inscription would later include fallen soldiers of World War II (1939–1945) after the conclusion of World War II and resumption of British rule. Names of the fallen are engraved on the plaques of the cenotaph as a token of tribute to their sacrifices. In 1964, the cenotaph was moved from its original location to the site of the National Monument in Lake Gardens before a planned flyover connecting Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and the Parliament roundabout was constructed over the original site. Transfer of the cenotaph was made possible by dismantling the structure into catalogued parts, allowing the structure to be transported in pieces and reassembled in its original form at the National Monument. Following its move, inscriptions were added to include fallen soldiers from the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) and an archaic Malaytranslation of “To Our Glorious Dead”, “Untok Mengingati Jasa Pahlawan-pahlawan Yang Gugor” (“To Remember the Service of Warriors Who Have Fallen”).

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NATIONAL MONUENT CENOTEPH (DETAIL)

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NATIONAL MONUMENT MAIN SQUARE – You first walk across a beautiful wide stairway up the hill, after which you walk through the first part of the monument (here descriptions and other information about the monument itself and the history of the monument can be found).

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ASEAN SCULPTURE GARDEN

ASEAN Sculpture Garden is a uniquely landscaped garden is a collection of prize-winning sculptures in wood, marble, iron and bamboo. Exhibits are skilfully crafted by the ASEAN region’s finest artists. The garden is situated adjacent to the National Monument and in the vicinity of the KL Lake Gardens.
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ASEAN SCULPTURE GARDEN

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ASEAN SCULPTURE GARDEN

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ISTANA NEGARA

THE ISTANA NEGARA  (NATIONAL PALACE)  was the former residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme King) of Malaysia. It stands on a 13 acre site, located on a commanding position on the slope of a hill of Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River, along Jalan Syed Putra.

It was replaced by the new palace as the official residence of the King in 2011. In 2013, it was converted into the Royal Museum

The palace was originally a double-storey mansion called The Big House built in 1928 by a local  Chinese millionaire, Chan Wing. During the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, it was used as the residence of the Japanese Governor. After the surrender of the Japanese on 15 August 1945, the British Military Administration (BMA) commandeered it for a senior military officers mess from the rank of brigadier. With the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1950, the Selangor State Government rented the residence from the owners for Straits Dollars 5,000 a month until Merdeka or Independence in 1957. It was renovated to become the palace of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor. In 1957, the owners sold the property of 13 acres to the Federal Government at an agreed valuation of Straits Dollars 1.4 Million.The Federal Government then converted the residence into the Istana Negara for the newly created sovereign post of Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya which was about to achieve independence that August as scheduled. Since then it has undergone several renovations and extensions. But the most extensive upgrading was carried out in 1980, as it was the first time that the Installation Ceremony of His Majesty DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held at the Istana Negara. Prior to this the Installation Ceremonies were held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur with the first one held in 1957.

After the Istana Negara moved to the new palace at Jalan Duta in December 2011, it was later used for a royal exhibition called Raja Kita, in conjunction with the installation of Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2012. The exhibition started on 15 April 2012 and is later extended on 8 December 2012. Over 314,757 visitors, both local and foreign visited the exhibition between 15 April and 7 December.

From 2013 onwards, the two guards in Malay traditional attire will be stationed at the main gateway of the old Istana Negara to revive the nostalgia and tradition of the Malay Sultanate. Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim said the practice will help retain the old palace as a must-visit tourist destination. Several rooms and halls at the old Istana Negara will be open to visitors to learn of their use to the previous 13 Yang di-Pertuan Agong who lived in the palace. An inventory would be drawn up of the collections in the palace in the effort to conserve them. Rais Yatim requested the  Royal Malaysian Police and the Department of Museums to collaborate in managing the collections

The building is nestled within an 11 hectare compound with a variety of plants and flowers, swimming pool and indoor badminton hall. As the palace grounds are not opened to members of the public or tourists, the Main Palace Entrance is a favourite picture spot for tourists.

The whole area is fenced up and the Royal Insignia of His Majesty is placed on each steel bar between two pillars of the fence. At the front of the Istana Negara, there is the main entrance which resembles an arch. On each side of the arch, are two guard posts to shelter two members of the cavalry in their full dress uniform similar to the ones at Buckingham Palace, London. From 2013 onwards, the full dress uniform will be in Malay traditional attire as it was during the Malay Sultanate era.

In the grounds of the palace is a guard house for the members of the Royal Malay Regiment, one of the two Household Division units in the Malaysian Armed Forces (the other one is theMalaysian Royal Armoured Corps Mounted Ceremonial Squadron). There is also a six hole golf course, tennis courts and a lake in the far end of the grounds.

The Balai Rong Seri or throne room is located in the East Wing and was used only for official and customary functions. These include ceremonial occasions of taking the royal pledge, the installation rite, and the appointment of a new prime minister and the federal government which included investiture ceremonies and the taking of oaths by the government ministers and state governors. This is also where the presentation and acceptance of foreign diplomatic appointments are held. It sometimes serves as a banquet hall.

The second hall on the first floor is the Dewan Mengadap where the King receives honoured guests such as Head of States and foreign dignitaries. This hall doubles as a resting place of Sultans and Governors during the Conference of Rulers. The other rooms are Bilik DutaBilik Permaisuri and Bilik MenteriBilik Duta is where the King grants audience to the Prime Minister and also where honoured guests are received. The Queen receives her guests at the Bilik Permaisuri while the Bilik Menteri is the rest room for guests.

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE GUARD POST

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE GUARD POST

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE CAVALRY GUARD

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ISTANA NEGARA – NATIONAL PALACE CAVALRY GUARD

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BATU CAVES IN KUALA LAMPUR

Located approximately 11 kilometres to the north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is a limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones. Considered one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions, this 100-year-old temple features idols and statues erected inside the main caves and around it. Incorporated with interior limestone formations said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.

Cathedral Cave – the largest and most popular cavern in Batu Caves – houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100-metre-high arched ceiling. At the foot of Batu Hill are two other cave temples – the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave – which houses numerous Hindu statues and paintings.

Batu Caves is the focal point of the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam, which attracts thousands of devotees and visitors. Usually held at the end of January, the procession begins on the evening before the Thaipusam Festival at the Sri Mariamman Temple in KL city centre.

The procession more often than not, arrives at Batu Caves in the wee hours of the morning the next day; the entire celebration commences then and is a colourful event that lasts a total of eight hours. In the past the festival has attracted more than one million pilgrims, making it one of the largest gatherings in the world.

Many disciples carry their offerings – containers of milk – to the Lord Muruga on large, brightly decorated ‘kavadis’. Kavadis are two huge semicircular ornate pieces of wood or steel which are bent and attached to a cross structure that can be balanced on the shoulders. These frameworks are also usually combined with various metal hooks and skewers which are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue. The kavadi is decorated with flowers and peacock feathers and some can weigh up to as much as 100 kilos.

Some disciples also fulfil vows that they have made to the Gods by having their bodies pierced by hooks, needles and even skewers and visitors are often fascinated by the dedication of devotees.

The truly amazing feat is when followers begin the arduous climb up the 272 steps to the top of the caves – the trek requires a stunning amount of endurance as they often have to work against the press of the bustling masses. Priests wait at the top to sprinkle consecrated ash over the hooks and skewers piercing the devotees flesh before they are removed.

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ENTRANCE TO T HE BATU CAVES WITH THE MURUGAN STATUE – Standing at 42.7 m (140 ft) high, the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, aHindu deity, is located outside Batu Caves, near the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The statue, which cost approximately 24 million rupees, is made of 1550 cubic metres ofconcrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from neighbouring Thailand.

 

 

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ENTRANCE TO THE BATU CAVES

 

 

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ENTRANCE TO THE BATU CAVES

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ENTRANCE SHRINE AT THE BATU CAVES

 

 

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BATU CAVES – LORD HANUMAN SHRINE

 

 

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BATU CAVES – IDOLS

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Royal Selangor Pewter Factory- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

The Royal Selangor name began back in 1885 with a young pewter-smith by the name of Yong Koon, now a four-generation company. Originating in Malaysia, where the abundant supply of tin made the makings of pewter so easy, it now has a large factory in Kuala Lumpur with smaller visitor centers also in Penang as well as in Singapore. It is world renowned and in fact is the world’s largest pewter maker, specializing in personal & corporate gifts, tableware, wine & beer accessories, christening gifts, and much more! In more recent years, it has also purchased a silver company as well as a jewelry company, which both nicely compliments the brand.

The Royal Selangor name came about because the pewter that the royals purchased had become so popular with the Malaysian Royal family, they ended up granting them their exclusive pewter makers, thus, Royal Selangor. Today, not only royal families desire pieces from this all handmade collection, but also US Presidents, celebrities, tourists, and more!

 

 

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Royal Selangor Pewter Factory- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

 

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Royal Selangor Pewter Factory- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

 

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Royal Selangor Pewter Factory- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

 

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The statue of Royal Selangor founder signifies safe guard, protect and oversee the workers in the factory.

 

 

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The world’s largest pewter tankard, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, was made by Royal Selangor in 1985 to commemorate its centenary. Currently displayed at Royal Selangor headquarters in Setapak, it is 1.987 metres tall, weighs 1,557 kg and has a capacity of 2,796 litre. The giant tankard has travelled around the world to places such as Canada, Australia, Singapore and China.

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KUALA LUMPUR RAPID TRANSIT OR METRO

Kuala Lumpur’s metro or rapid transit system consists of 6 metro lines operated by 4 operators. Among the 4 operators, Rapid Rail and KTM Komuter are the most important rail operators in Kuala Lumpur where Keretapi Tanah Melayu alone carries 30,934,651 passengers in year 2005. Metro lines in Kuala Lumpur are categorized into different types: rapid transit, commuter rail and monorail. Others such as the Intercity rail and the airport express are obviously not metro systems. It may even be argued that commuter rail services from Kuala Lumpur cannot be considered a metro system because it extends far beyond Kuala Lumpur and its immediate surroundings.

 

 

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ENTRANCE TO THE KUALA LUMPUR METRO

 

 

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ENTRANCE LEADING TO THE METRO STATION UPSTAIRS

 

 

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A MODERN FOOD STALL IN THE KUALA LUMPUR METRO

 

 

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A SHOP IN THE KUALA LUMPUR METRO

 

 

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ESCALATOR TO THE TRAIN PLATFORM

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PETRONAS TOWERS

 

The iconic Petronas Towers located in Malaysia’s capital are the tallest twin structures in the world and they make the 5th tallest structure overall. They are the vision of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and master Architect Cesar Pelli and are a depiction of Malaysia’s ambitions and aspirations.

The towers feature 33,000 stainless steel and 55,000 glass panels, 29 double-decker high speed elevators which can transport personnel from the basement to the top in just 90 seconds.

The connecting bridge on the 45th floor is the first stop on the tour. A golden photo opportunity, the tour allows more than enough time to get that perfect “Look! I’m flying!” shot. The views of the city in both directions are breathtaking; there is nothing but a sheet of glass between you and an endless horizon.

Surrounding skyscrapers in the area rise up to meet you, and you begin to appreciate the city itself in a new way; from here, you get a whole new perspective of Kuala Lumpur and appreciate its natural beauty and industrial progress simultaneously; a synergy the city is particularly proud of. This bridge is the reason you paid the extra 20 bucks for the fancy camera.

 

 

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PETRONAS TOWER SEEN FROM THE KL TOWER

 

 

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A VIEW FROM THE 45TH FLOOR SKY BRIDGE OF THE PETRONAS TOWERS

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A VIEW FROM THE 45TH FLOOR SKY BRIDGE OF THE PETRONAS TOWERS

 

 

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A VIEW FROM THE 86TH FLOOR OF THE PETRONAS TOWER

 

 

 

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A VIEW OF THE PETRONAS TOWER SEEN FROM THE OBSERVATION TOWER

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A VIEW FROM THE 86TH FLOOR OF THE PETRONAS TOWER

 

 

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PETRONAS TOWER 86TH FLOOR OBSERVATION D

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PETRONAS TOWER 86TH FLOOR OBSERVATION DECK

 

 

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PETRONAS TOWER 86TH FLOOR OBSERVATION DECK

 

 

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AVENUE K SHOPPING MALL NEXT TO THE PETRONAS TOWERS

 

 

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AVENUE K SHOPPING MALL NEXT TO THE PETRONAS TOWERS

 

PHOTOS:

LEONARD EPSTEIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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