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Kuala Lumpur street impressions

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  • Kuala Lumpur street impressions
    Browsing the streets of KL - a european perspective
  • What is so amazing about the streets of Kuala Lumpur? It is its diversity: from old, run-down, little shops to shiny, huge skyscrapers. KL has to offer everything. The impressive thing is that these different style are tightly integrated into an indistinguishable mix - the malaysian mix. Why is this so? For this, one has to better understand how Kuala Lumpur works. Several cultures and religions are tightly integrated here: moslems, hindus, buddhists, christians, taoist, and many more in the same spot. You will find some chinese temple next to a hindu one.

    And this is also how the people live here. A big mix of everything - if you think the US is diverse, then you really need to come here. The goal of this project is to capture some of this diversity, to preserve it and present it in an integrated way, similar to the level of integration that prevails in Kuala Lumpur. Of course this diversity also has bad aspects. There are many people here living in poverty and you are regularly reminded of this by begging people on the streets. However I decided not to take any pictures of those; it felt wrong. So I hope you can accept that I hid this aspect of diversity from you. 

    Technical details:
    All shots taken with a Leica Summicron 35mm f2.0 on a Sony-Nex 7 body. Shot raw and post-processed with Lightroom 4 beta. 
  • This is a very typical scene. The scooters are packed with bags and boxes for transporting any type of good. You will also often find smaller kids sitting on the handle bar. In the background on the right you can see one of those "corner stores". These are at street corners, however, made up of a tent like structure, they are not real stores.  
  • While many of the houses are in a devastated state, in particular around the bazars, on the bazars itself any type of luxury good is sold; here handbags (or knock-offs) from famous designers.
  • Phone booths. While many of us might not even remember phone booths as a serious means of communication, these little booth still represent an important way of communication, especially for the poor. 
  • Taxis are one of the most important means of transportation in Kuala Lumpur. But beware, if you are not careful and you look like a western tourist be sure that some of them will make you pay like a western tourist. It is not uncommon that people have been overcharged by a factor of 5-10. Usually you won't realize until later. Because taxis are so dirt-cheap (you will get about 8 kilometers for a dollar I guess) being overcharged still feels like a sweet deal.
  • Spices, nuts, seafood. Everything that can be sold in an open container will be sold in an open container. You will find an almost unlimited number of these small shops selling fresh produce. 
  • A typical street view. Run-down houses with weird cables coming from somewhere, going somewhere; ACs on every wall. Actually this reminded my a lot of Dubai Deira (the old center). 
  • While you are walking down the streets in run-down quarters you can see the Kuala Lumpur tower, one of the landmarks of Kuala Lumpur.
  • One of the favorite means of personal transportation. Fast, cheap, agile, and easy to park. You will see a lot of these scooters.
  • Diversity everywhere.
  • Traffic in KL is crazy. First of all, people drive on the left. So this is when intuition and learned pattern can easily kill you. I still do not manage to turn to the right side when looking for cars. Also people drive extremely aggressively. There is no doubt that whenever you enter a cab you shorten your life expectation by a couple of days.
  • What does not work well at all is the removal of garbage. You will practically find garbage bags everywhere and as you can imagine, given the hot weather the garbage smells pretty bad.
  • The Kuala Lumpur tower. From Wikipedia: 

    The Kuala Lumpur Tower (Malay: Menara Kuala Lumpur; abbreviated as KL Tower) is a tall tower located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its construction was finished in 1995. It is used for communication purposes and features an antenna that reaches 421 m (1,381 ft). The roof of the pod is at 335 m (1,099 ft). The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also contains a revolving restaurant, providing diners a panoramic view of the city. Races are organised yearly where participants race up the stairs to the top. The tower also acts as the Islamic falak observatory to observe the crescent moon which marks the beginning of Muslim month of Ramadhan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to celebrate fasting month of Ramadhan, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha. The tower is the landmark of Kuala Lumpur with nearby Petronas Towers.
  • The view from KL Tower reveals a lot about the design of the city. You can easily recognize different areas with different influences.
  • Typical Kuala Lumpur. Almost every skyscraper has a pool on the roof. No surprise, given the extremely hot temperatures and the extreme humidity, it is the pools that keep people cool and relaxed. 
  • The Petronas Towers also often referred to as the Twins. These two towers are my favorite landmark - I know, quite ordinary. Especially at night they have a very intense glow that radiates throughout the city. Go there at night and you will know why I love them.
  • A ruined set of chairs and table. The weather in KL is very aggressive to any type of structure. Usually it is very hot and humid and then on top of that expect heavy, tropical rain roughly once a day. No material is made for this.