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Sorry folks, I’ve been spending much of today working my way through all the pictures I’ve taken this week which means the long blog about my rail trips being delayed. I’ve still got a lot of picture captions to do as there’s not much point blogging about the trip if I can’t identify the locations of some of the pictures. I’ve decided to have another day working from home here at Bigland Towers KL branch in order to clear the decks of everything I need to do.

To be honest, it’s been lovely not to be under pressure. I was up at 06:00 and pottering around soon after as I had a load of washing to get sorted. Clothes don’t get particularly dirty here, but they sure get sweat-soaked, so a constant rotation of fresh clothes makes life much more pleasant – both for me and anyone in my vicinity! At least stuff dries very quickly in the 30 degree heat…

Having done my dhobi duties I went for an early morning wander around Chinatown which is very quiet that time of day as most businesses are still shut. The empty streets gave me time to explore and look up and around which is how I realised just how much damage Covid has done to the Malaysian economy. Several very large high-rise hotels are now derelict having never reopened after lockdown. Some of the smaller ones succumbed too, including a few backpacker hotels and the associated bars frequented by their customers – like the well known ‘reggae’ bar. My tour through the backstreets showed me gaps where little stalls have vanished too. There used to be an old Chinese street barber on Jalan Sultan. He had a mirror fixed to the side of a building and a barbers chair bolted to the pavement and little else other tan a tiny metal sheet roof to protect his mirror and clippers from the rain. In truth, he was a miserable old bugger, he had a big sign up saying ‘no photographs’ and he refused to cut foreigners hair, but he’d been here for donkey’s years. Now he, his mirror and his chair have vanished. But then so has much of the trade. Tourists are reappearing but the area’s so much quieter than it used to be. The Chinese are starting to return, but the Russians are otherwise occupied at the moment and even the numbers of backpackers (or more likely ‘flashpackers’ nowadays) and European tourists are well down.

None of that prevents me feeling happy to be back and relaxing into life here. I spent a lot of time here 10 years ago as I was trying to get a lens repaired – but all the spares came from Thailand which had been devastated by floods, so it took weeks, but then I was working for the International Railway Journal then so took time to organise an interview with the (then) President of Malaysian Railways and spent an interesting couple of days with himself, his Senior Managers and other KTMB staff. Happy days!

So I feel quite at home here and I’m looking forward to wrapping up the bits I need to do before spending some more time exploring. In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from today showing life in Chinatown.

This is where I eat. It’s a great Malaysian street food place on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, just around the corner from the famous Jalan Petaling. It’s run by a delightful Malaysian bunch like this woman who’re only too happy to talk you through what’s available. A massive mixed plate of rice, vegetables and a meat or fish dish will cost you around 7 ringgit 50, or £1.40! The food’s delicious. You’ll never go hungry here.
The alleys off the side streets are some of my favorites as you never know what little businesses you’ll find tucked away in them. Here’s a traditional Chinese food stall getting ready for the day (and they work long days) with the chap on the red stool cracking on with the washing up from the night before.

A sight that’s become very common nowadays is pavement bric-a-brac stalls like this one as people sell stuff to help make ends meet.

A shot from this evening’s perambulations. 10 years ago this street would have been chokka at this time of night…

If you’re interested in seeing older pictures from Kuala Lumpur that I have in my archives, click on this link. Don’t worry, they’re not all of railways – honest!

I’m going to call it a day as this point in order to get back to picture editing. Expect more stories from KL tomorrow.

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