I took Spanish during my second year at college, and my professor was a charming Southern gentleman who would reference a French equivalent to me to explain a certain verb conjugation in Spanish. Little did he know that that would only add to my confusion, now in two languages, but it was like a secret handshake for being a teacher’s pet. He also told us a few times that he’d love to finish (or was it to start, I can’t recall for sure) the next great American novel called To Die in the Tropics. For the life of me I cannot remember my teacher’s name but every time I travel to any place near the equator I think of his book.
So about ten days ago I found myself back in Malaysia, this time in Kuala Lumpur, for a work-related conference. I’d written about KL many times in the past, primarily because one of my best friends, SL, lives there. We’d met up in Paris last year and finally work lands me in her backyard. And by backyard I mean a metropolis full of skyscrapers and congestion:
It’s as if I’d traded the LA traffic for the Malaysian one. And just as in LA, KL residents have tons of malls to loiter and escape the heat:
In fact, it was right there at the Suria KLCC mall above that I was feted by SL and another friend–can we do any better on venue than the Chanel boutique?!
It was there that I also got my first taste of the national dish, nasi lemak with the chicken substituted with shrimp, at Madame Kwan’s, which is a restaurant chain known for authentic cuisine:
My friends had these soups that looked similar to Vietnamese soups…
except that the amount of chilies they added to their soup would make a grown man cry.
After this fun and warm welcome, SL and I toured the grounds behind the KLCC…
and as I found myself melting from standing still even in the shade, we quickly headed back inside an air conditioned car to drop me back at my hotel. Which, by the way, had two very interesting views, one of the water park below that screamed for attention and third-degree burns,
and another of a city view that was more my speed:
I wondered out loud how late these shops and stalls would stay open so that I could wander around a bit should insomnia strike again. How silly of me. This is Asia after all. Does anybody ever sleep here?
Who needs sleep when there are magnificent cityscapes like this of the famous Petronas twin towers to encounter?
When I see a skyline like this, I can only imagine the potential. How exciting is it to make your mark in any big city; the possibilities are endless. Anyway, when I finally rolled into bed around 2am on my first night in KL, after 36 straight hours of consciousness…
I thought about my Spanish teacher again. He had it all wrong. It should have been called To Dream in the Tropics.