To be honest, we came here because it’s a convenient stopover between Europe and New Zealand—a way to cut about 24 hours of flying in half.
Other allures drew too, though, including the amazing Malaysian cuisine, an attractive exchange rate, and the welcome warmth of the weather and people.
What a treat it’s been. Our mega-star hotel splurge has spoiled us. The food has bowled us over with fragrances, flavors, and finesse. And the culture is clean and safe with people rich in smiles, if not possessions. The evidence of the “Asian contagion” currency crisis of fall ’97 is in your face everywhere: Holes in the streets; half-built skyscrapers with two guys pounding away (because they pay no property taxes as long as construction is “continuing”; unbelievably low prices from shockingly hard-working vendors.
For better or worse, the discomfort of travel-lag and the comforts of our hotel have kept us from seeing all the sites. But we’ve heard the life story of an Arab man who just broke off his engagement and is “honeymooning” here without his new bride. We’ve perused the streets and bazaars. And we’ve determined that we’ll certainly be back—and see not only more of this colorful city, but of the verdant land that lies beyond it.