It may appear from my most recent posts that I have been living out an exotic existence on remote tropical islands exclusively, but that isn’t necessarily the case. In the last month, I had an opportunity for a Sunday day trip into Singapore while I was staying across the Causeway in Johar Bahru, Malaysia. I was in JB as a logistical stop to bus up to Mersing and catch the ferry to Pulau Tioman. Singapore was nice to revisit, but shockingly expensive (much more than I recall from 2014)
Also, after the week in Tioman, I bused back to Kuala Lumpur for two nights in order to fly out to Manila. KL has got to be the definitive retail tech capital of the SE Asia major stops. I always make a pilgrimage to Low Fat Plaza when I am in KL, six stories of shopping mall everything tech. Modern as can be, up to date, leading edge hardware. Aggressive and only slightly sleazy in a few corners. Buzzing.
KL also has emerged for me as a go-to stop for smelling good. I have taken a liking to Arabic and Indian fragrance oils like light to dark musk and sandalwood. There are a few small shops I have discovered that are pure and simple salons of fantastically wonderful oils. It is a great experience to go to these places and be catered to by the proprietors in the old tradition. You sit back on a comfortable couch, they bring out these large jars of oils and they apply swabs to your forearms and wrists. They offer a large open mouthed jar of coffee beans to inhale between swabs in order to clear your olfactory nerves and get ready for the next sniff. In addition to oils, there are large jars of various fragrant wood chips like sandalwood and others for sale, used to burn in ceremonies. It all feels like an ancient way of business that has survived relatively unaffected by time and economy. What is great is that in the end, you make your choices and the purchase yields you a year-or-more-long supply of oil that is so pure, so fresh, so intoxicating… and about $10 US! And you smell GOOD!!!
I also enjoy KL because it is so rapidly evolving as a world class city. Just in the two short years that I have been in this area, it is very apparent how fast KL has matured. I like to stay in the area around KL Sentral and there has been so much economic activity there that it is virtually unrecognizable from the area I first visited in June 2014. Here, you can get a good salad – so important in this area of the world where many of the cuisines have avoided any raw food historically. There is a great Indian section to KL that I enjoy, too. Good healthy vegetarian food and raw juices. Lots of attention in this area to good health and nutrition.
Malaysia has been an unexpected and pleasant discovery.