Lot 10 Hutong Food Court, Kuala Lumpur · 2016 feeding time
Silence was a scarce commodity in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Good. Pull your surface inside out and wrap yourself around me, city, I said. The hostel was in a lanky house up a skinny staircase. In my room a bunch of dudes. Good ones. We were a Kiwi-chimneysweeper, a Chileno-Sandalero, a Japanese kind-heart, and a me. One gave me a gift, and one some South America, and one good words. There was liquor and laughter and maybe cigarettes on a tiny balcony I seem to vaguely recall, and a quick-dry bond held us together for some days before we parted ways.
What else… heavy, heavy rain, the size of water balloons, dropping from black thunder-skies, Dosas that were even cheaper than in India – Kuala Lumpur was suspiciously cheap in those days, somewhere around recession-cheap – and just as good, and a Quebecois who I surfed a wavelength or two with but never heard from again. We had talked the Chinese hostel owner out of being a racist when he refused a black guy who was an actor on a local soap, and we had talked about lost loves and such depths. Ah well. There was also a big old Texan guy and in my recollection he’s always sitting right in the middle of the lobby, all these backpacker-babies like satellites around him. He was in on the end of the world, a conspiracy king really, prophesizing that a meteor would hit Indonesia, or a mega volcano would erupt there or something, and the end was very very nigh. We had a couple of weeks. He blanked when asked why he had set up his expat camp in the immediate vicinity, but he knew of underground cities and trains in the US. I was in Kuala Lumpur on and off and when I came back a couple of months later, the doomsday had gone by doomless. When I found him dishing out a new apocalypse to new listeners in the old lobby, I asked what had happened to his old story and he was embarrassed. I felt bad. I liked him. Almost as much as the friendly burger man on the corner of Jalan Sultan and Jalan Pudu we frequented more than was reasonable by any type of measurement.
Kuala Lumpur was a most underrated hub, a node all lines and travelers went through without befriending it as a destination. There was no good reason for it, only a self-fulfilling prophecy – as a scandalously cheap Air-Asia hub it was too good a gateway to be known for anything else. For those who stayed just a little longer though, it had plenty of tricks, and green, and it was yummy, and young and old, and diverse, diverse, diverse.
glimpse: AF | Come sunshine or rain, dry or wet season – for better or worse, the tropics keep an almost constant solar angle throughout the year, making for eternal warmth. In the Köppen–Geiger climate classification this warrants an A, not for the best, but the warmest climate. Kuala Lumpur falls into the subcategory Af – tropical rainforest climate with no distinct dry season, which means the sun and the sky brew hot and humid weather all year round, serving almost daily rainfalls. Cloudbursts come without much of a heads up and when it rains, it rains.
glimpse: NEON BOX | There was a neon box, a consumerist shelter for junk junkies where they fed us pieces of ourselves. But, the more we begged them to fill that bottomless hole inside us, the less we were whole, the hungrier we got. Until the light went out.
I hadn't seen that one before, but I guess it's a reasonable method to keep a dirty chicken clean.
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 very open flame
places / stories
Kuala Lumpur / Time Travels
KLCC, Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 like day...
KLCC, Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2016 ...and night
Time travel in Kuala Lumpur was but a matter of steps. Embarking at the futuristic Petronas twin towers, one could walk back one century within minutes when headed toward Kampung Baru. Unperturbed by those metropolitan affairs all around, the traditional village just sat there in the heart of it all and stepping into it was like stepping out of time and watching it move in fast forward right past the fence. These Malay elders were old enough to understand the emotional limitations of money and the value of their lifestyle, and, sitting on billions underneath rotten porches, they didn't throw these investor vultures so much as a bone.
Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 what money can't buy
Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 little, beautiful collisions
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 building upwards
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 water eruption
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 Bonsai exhibition
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 skytrain
One day, we left the hostel cave to check out some sort of city Grand Prix and, wait, I’m reading on Wikipedia just now that that was the first and only time it was held. Lucky me who couldn’t have cared less about its existence or non-existence and a bunch of wheels going round and round and round and round in tenacious circles.
Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia · 2015 the first and last gran Prix
Batu Caves / When Your Favorite Monkey Is a Thief
Batu Caves / Malaysia · 2015 thieves
Who isn’t a sucker for a clever and funny monkey display? What most tourists didn’t realize was that this show worked both ways. These monkeys were thick as thieves, a band of pickpockets and con artists, as clever and skillful as they come. Any loose thing was a gone thing – food, sunglasses, purses – much to people’s amusement or amazement. The occasional anger fit just added to the performance. You had to applaud them.
Batu Caves / Malaysia · 2015 golden god
Batu Caves / Malaysia · 2015 connoisseurs
The Street Around the Corner
tripping over nothing in everyday streets
Not imposing any art on them or desperately extrapolating some moxie that isn’t there, I strip their description down to only one statement and this is final: these are streets. see more
Office Prison Symmetry
behind bars: office or prison?
Looking at it from the outside, I can’t help seeing bars in the symmetry that comes with the sterile and institutional blueprints of office buildings around the world. see more
crisp cultures, humble homes, beta blueprints
And if it really were deities who had made it all, they had done a wonderful job, freehand and with a wink. see more