Monday, Jun. 07, 2010


By design or lack of populace, Kuala Lumpur is Asia's green capital, where monkeys scamper close to skyscrapers and the occasional boa constrictor slithers across six-lane traffic. Centered around a colonial inheritance of ordered landscaping and dominated by palm-lined freeways, K.L. offers room to breathe and to contemplate the meeting of cultures. And meet they do, with Malays, Chinese and Tamils augmented by an annual Arabian and Iranian invasion drawn by shopping and the Islam-lite atmosphere. The automotive merry-go-round can feel too suburban and downtown can seem sterile, but turn a corner and streets burst into exoticism and a riot of night markets. A restive art scene, driven by Malaysians' ongoing quest for shared identity, gives K.L. further heft.