Sunday, February 21, 2016

High points of Kuala Lumpur

On the weekend between my visits to the International School of Kuala Lumpur (first middle/upper, then lower school), I got high in two ways.

First by elevator—34 floors.

Then by foot—1,312 feet.

On 2/20/16, I went to the Heli Lounge Bar, a pleasant 10-minute walk from my hotel. By night, it’s (you guessed it) a bar—with minimal protective railing. By day, it’s (you might’ve guessed it) a helipad—with no more protective railing than at night.

As guests marvel at the 360-degree view of the city, they sit in simple plastic chairs right on the spot where choppers land.

This demands to be in panorama:

Some people recommend getting your altitude fix here rather than up in the more famous Petronas Towers or KL Tower because from this bar, you get a wild view of both of those landmarks.

Petronas as the evening wore on:

Sorry for the selfie onslaught. I am man alone here.

Spot the moon:

These images were taken between 6:45 p.m. and sunset at 7:30 p.m. (times approximate).

On the way out, I tried to capture the height of the roof—apparently, until sometime relatively recently, you could walk right to the edge.

Now they have a barricade—stanchions, like you see at the bank.

The following morning I woke at 4:45 a.m. to see the sunrise at Broga Hill, a 40-minute drive from the city.

Why so early if it is not that far? Because first you have to hike up to the top. Why so long if it’s not that high? Because a) it gets so steep at times that you need to pull yourself up by installed ropes (kind of like stronger, more vertical stanchions) and b) it is crowded. Trip Advisor warned of this but it’s quite another thing to see it in person. It was a steady stream of people the whole way up, and some parts were single file, meaning your pace is at the mercy of the person in front of you. You pass two lower viewing stations but I wanted to go as high as possible, both for the better view and for more legroom. However, at the top, which I reached when it was still pitch-black, I was quite limited in my choices of where to stand to wait for the sun.

There were two dominant characteristics of the climbers: young and Asian. I was one of the oldest people I saw—and one of only three Caucasians. Most women wore a hijab (Islamic headdress that seems the most modest of styles).

Lights of hikers ahead of me eerily rising up in the distance:

Awkward to take a selfie when you must also provide your light source:

The “you made it to the top” sign again, in slightly more light:

Looks almost like Scottish highlands, though I have not been there:

What I brought up Broga Hill in my new ultra-light travel day pack ($30):

(Bolded items went unused.)

  1. water—three bottles (drank less than one)
  2. dried apples
  3. mosquito spray
  4. sunscreen
  5. huge flashlight borrowed from hotel
  6. micro-fiber towel
  7. wipes
  8. towel paper
  9. pad and pen
  10. hat
  11. extra T-shirt
  12. earbuds
  13. salt (in case of leeches)
  14. business card of concierge
  15. cash (to pay the cab driver, who waited for me for three hours)

When I say
“ultra-light,” I mean this: it packs up to a nugget a little smaller than a computer mouse.

A portion of my gear:

Began hiking about 5:50. Reached top 6:30. Began descent about 7:45. Back at cab 8:30.

Here are three sights on the way up compared to on the back down, starting with a simple food stand near the base:

Once in daylight, the scope of the foot traffic was amplified by the parking lot—it was a few cars short of a Taylor Swift concert crowd.

It was a shot like the following that drew me to Broga Hill. The real thing delivered.

Speaking of early morning, I heard Sheryl Crows “All I Wanna Do” on the radio and, this being a country with a large Muslim population, the beer part of the line “I like a good beer buzz early in the morning” was buzzed out. (Muslims commonly refrain from alcohol.)

Going up.

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