First Impressions of Kuala Lumpur

I am now in Kuala Lumpur. It is a hot destination for many outbound tourists nowadays, KL, Singapore and Bangkok are the most favoured foreign destinations for Indian tourists nowadays. I had never visited it earlier; my foreign travel has been very restricted.
The gateway to this city is the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I have not yet seen the Changi Airport, which , they say , is one of the best in the world. but this airport was absolutely fabulous. The terminal is all that an international airport could wish for, including, incredibly a train to take you from the Arrival terminal to the Immigration and baggage area. The Immigration could have been more efficient, but connectivity to the city ( the airport is some 60 odd kilometers from the city proper), is excellent. There is a choice of a train service which takes you through these 60 kilometers in an incredible 28 minutes. Alternatively you can take taxis, coaches and a slower train that will stop at many stations in between KLIA and the KL Sentral, the main station in town. I was suddenly reminded of the train service to Sealdah from the Netaji Subhash Airport, I believe there are three services a day , and you have to walk almost a kilometer to the train station. Our official babus and politicians travel widely ( at our expense). But why do they come up with such idiotic alternatives to the facilities elsewhere.
To tell you the truth, I was I for a culture shock as we drove to town. The highway was as big ,if not bigger than those in the West that I had seen during my vacation last summer. The layout, the traffic conditions and the fleets of cars and rest stops at regular intervals forcibly reminded me that I was now in a reasonably developed country. This country has left the third world tag behind and has moved onto the developed side. The highway to the Bangalore Airport, which had seemed so modern and well designed suddenly seemed to be so provincial. I wonder what visitor s make of the VIP road when they enter it from the Kolkata Airport? The road was modern when it was built when I was a schoolboy. But since then there has been no change, and there never will because the sides are now lined by well heeled supporters of the ruling dispensation who have legally and illegally occupied all of it.
I have settled in at my apartment which is walking distance from my company’s office in Technology Park Malaysia. This is another government built facility to accommodate the modern technology companies and consists of large buildings well designed and futuristic in conception. There is a college of technology here, as well as research laboratories, recreation areas and the entire place is studded with walkways and trees; it is really a park.
There are a lot less people. You don’t get the impression of a teeming numbers which is the hall mark of all the South Asian countries. The roads are full of cars from all over the world. Like in India, Korean and Japanese cars predominate. However there is a Malaysian company, promoted by the Government which is also prominently represented, Lots of women are driving. This is nice to see. And why should they not? The roads are wide, there are no , or few two way streets without dividers and though the traffic can be horrendous, especially in the centre of town in the busy hours, here near Bukilt Jalil where we live, it is a lot better and well controlled.
There are large supermarkets. The major chains are well represented. Carrefour, the French retail giant is here as is Tesco. There is a large Malaysian chain 7/11 which has a store in the condominium where I live. I do not see WalMart. I don’t know why they are not here. Have they been denied entry or are they not interested? However the first impression one gets is that multinationals play a much larger role here than in India.
So much for first impressions. More on this new country later.
I will have to reluctantly change the name of my blog. My friend Nipon is very definite about it. I am still thinking about it.


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