Posted by: danguard | June 26, 2009

Days 16-18 – Petronas, Luna Bar, and meeting the Admiral

Hello again. Sorry I’ve not been on the blog for a few days now, been quite busy. Will now try and fill you in.

Tuesday was my meeting in the Petronas Towers. Despite some confusion over the purpose of my visit at reception, my contact came down to collect me and we went up to his office on the 48th floor. To put this into context, tourists who want to go up the towers to get a view of the city would normally have to queue from half 7 in the morning (only 800 tickets are given out daily), and then they only get as high as the 41st floor. To be honest, the view was alright, but I couldn’t really make out any of the other main KL landmarks, the landscape surrounding the city isn’t that significant to speak of, and then a haze frequently descends over the city from Indonesians burning forests for palm oil. You have to have said you’ve been up the Petronas Towers if you’ve been to KL, but I’m glad I hadn’t got up at the crack of dawn and queued around for over an hour especially for it. What was cool though was the executive Mitsubushi meeting room we used. My conact, Mudzaffar, was a lovely man with a clear passion for the subject and gave me some useful leads to work on. In the evening my Eastern European friends and I went to Zouk, a big SE Asian nightclub, however this was tempered by the urban music they were playing and the overpriced beer I bought. It wouldn’t have been so bad but I have a tendency here to mishear ‘ty’ for ‘teen’ and vice-versa, so you can imagine what happened. Anyway, it was ladies night, so we only stayed for the girls to drink their free drinks which they kindly shared to offset my grave miscalculation, and moved on to some other bars.

Luna Bar, KL

Luna Bar, KL

Wednesday I ventured out to the Ministry of Defence library. I was told that there was lots of material I could use there, but sadly, most of it’s in behasa melayu. The language barrier is more of a problem here than I’d anticipated, and I caused a bit of a scene at the army base which I walked into by mistake and couldn’t explain where I’d intended to go. There was some material I was able to take from the trip but it’s not worth going back. It was a little bizarre to be sat in the library reading and to suddenly hear a military band pipe up on the parade ground outside. That evening was Ruta, Monika, and Maceij’slast night in KL so we met up for some final drinks, along with a local German travel writer and photographer, Herry, who took us all to the most amazing bar I’ve ever been in my life. Called the ‘Luna Bar’, it’s on the rooftop (34th floor) of the Panglobal hotel. The main bar you walk into has a pool in the middle and is surrounded by private booths where you can lie back and look out across the city, and there’s also an upper-deck to step out onto. Lit up at night is definitely the way to see KL, and it was a great way to say goodbye while sipping a Singapore Sling.

Thursday was my big interview with Tan Sri Thanabalasingam (‘Tan Sri’ is the Malaysian equivalent of a knighthood), the first Malaysian chief of the navy. We met at the Royal Selangor Club with my other two contacts out here, and after a spot of curried shark for lunch (with ray substitute as they can’t harvest shark now – tasted a bit like haddock) and a couple of drinks to establish some ‘rapport’ we set down to the interview. I had optimistically said it would only take an hour but it was quite clear we were going to overrun and it ended up lasting closer to two. We managed to cover most of the points I wanted to go over, though there’s always a couple of questions you wish you’d had a chance to ask. At the end of the day though, I got a lot of good material I can use, and have created a great original resource with perhaps the most influential man in the history of the Royal Malaysian Navy that future historians after me will be able to benefit from for years to come, which fills me with satisfaction. Afterwards there were a few more drinks before Hamid, the World Veterans Federation President who helped set-up the interview, drove me to the exclusive golf club here for a tour and one last drink. He’s been fantastic to help in the way he has, and will definitely get an acknowledgment in the book!

One more thing to note. Though I like KL, I feel constantly suspicious and untrusting here. There are two prices – the right price and the white price – and if you’ve got white skin and appear to be a tourist people will constantly try and scam you. You can’t avoid taxis here as the public transport is so poor, but though it’s still cheap compared to Britain, you end up paying twice what the locals do. I also don’t trust eating in any of the street stalls here, or buying anything from the bazaars for a similar reason. It’s a shame, because I feel unable to throw myself fully into the local culture if it’s only going to hurt my wallet. Maybe some of my dad’s tightness is finally rubbing off on me!

Finally, RIP Jacko. Despite your dubious morals and sanity you made some cracking tunes. Remember, ‘it don’t matter if you’re black or white’, unless you’re ordering a taxi in KL that is…

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Responses

  1. Kudos on the catch Dan, this dood you interviewed certainly sounds like a big fish.

    That bar looks amazing also, but how come you photoshopped out the strippers?


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