KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Standing as a symbolic — and literal — monument to Southeast Asia’s modernity and its growing presence as a global economic power, the Petronas Twin Towers loom over Kuala Lumpur’s skyline like a sci-fi dream.
Figuring out Kuala Lumpur’s mass-transit system was largely a breeze, despite its warning-heavy subway ads. The 88-story towers had their own clearly marked stop.
Walking inside the imposing steel-concrete-and-glass edifice, I was reminded of what it was like to walk into the lobby area of New York’s former Twin Towers. There was an air of importance to the lobby, sleek and no-nonsense. Heading to the elevators, I learned that tickets were needed to ascend to the observation deck. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, the only viewing times available were after 12 p.m., at which point I’d be headed to the airport to continue my journey to India.
Instead, I made myself content perusing the free exhibit that included a wealth of information about the 452.02-meter-tall (1,482-foot-high) structure. There was a lightning-rod exhibit that explained how the building was designed to deal with atmospheric electric strikes.
Probably the most interesting tidbit was how the the towers’ cross-section was based on an Islamic design, which was incorporated into the actual structure: A melding of cultural, historical and space-age elements to craft one of the world’s most distinctive buildings, exemplifying how respect for the past can beautifully coexist with aspirations for the future.
Perhaps my next visit will include more of this wonderful city and it’s architectural crown jewel.