I don’t live in KL but in Petaling Jaya, a satellite town, which was established when the KL population exploded. However, when I send out postcards to strangers via postcrossing, I always wrte “Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!” instead of “…Petaling Jaya, Malaysia!” I suppose I do this because folks would be more familiar with the capital city of a country instead of one of its secondary cities!
I go to the city centre of KL rarely. Traffic into the city is horrendous, although less so with public transit now. Still, there’s nothing to draw me to the city because I can get everything I need in Petaling Jaya or PJ (pee-jay).
When I was younger, an excursion into KL was a treat. Mum would announce during the week that we’d make a trip to a mall in KL and early Saturday morning, we’d dress in our best and get into the car for what felt like a long ride into the city. Eventhough, it really wasn’t. We’d spend half a day in KL and by the time we got home, would be happy and tired.
My relationship with KL grew when I was 18 and enrolled in an A-levels course at a government-funded college in KL. I felt like a fish out of water, relying on newfound friends who were more familiar with streets and neighbourhoods of KL than I was. To this day, those places in KL that I got to know during those two years of A-levels remain precious to me – Taman Shamelin (Shamelin Garden), the bus route from my college hostel into the heart of KL for ice cream, and so many other places that are etched in my memory.
This unfamiliarity with KL and its environs does present somewhat of a conundrum though when friends from overseas come to visit. I become like a tourist myself as I attempt to take them around the city of which I don’t know too well either. Some would say that I should be ashamed to not know KL as well as I should. I don’t think so. I know enough to pinpoint the tourist attractions and for me, that’s enough.
What do you know about Kuala Lumpur? Have you ever heard of this city before?