This past week I spent 5 days in Kuala Lumpur workshopping and conferencing with practitioners of the International Baccalaureate program. I was sent on a fact finding mission by my school and through the course of my surveillance I learned quite a bit. A summary of my findings which I did not chronicle in the executive summary I prepared for my Board are listed below.
1. With all of the flavours of the orient at my disposal I ate out twice, once at the Hard Rock Cafe and the other time at Malone's Irish Pub. Before you tell me how pathetic that is, you needed to walk past street vendors selling decimated fish stocks before you judge.
2. Inside the Petronas Towers shopping centre Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton are a mall brand. I never bought a thing but I did hit the Haagen Dazs shop....twice.
3. Malaysian people are incredibly friendly, every time I pulled out a map and tried to find a street, random people would stop to orient me or walk me to my destination and all with a friendly smile.
4. Kuala Lumpur is amazingly multicultural, astoundingly so in fact. It also contains a dizzying array of architecture with more tall buildings on the way I counting over a dozen large cranes in the CBD alone.
5. Back to the Petronas mall; in spite of the multicultural dynamic of the city every piece of advertising contained a picture of a western model who look like she had just stepped off the train in Manhattan or Paris. Weird.
6. Still at the mall I have an indelible image of a woman in full Burka trying on 3,000 dollar Gucci shoes. It is still - all about the shoes.
7. I really have to get out of this mall!
8. To the city planners in KL did you really have to put the airport 75 minutes away from the Business District?
9. Malaysian airlines did not have it's finest week. A botched takeoff on Sunday night had us returning back to Sydney to grab a new plane (not that they had one)...bad start. Lines were long, service was slow and they were never ready receive our plane at the gate when we landed. Never again....
10. No complaints for the Renaissance Hotel in KL. Good service, a solid breakfast buffet, a nice workout space and a big pool.
11. Kuala Lumpur was made for air conditioning, it was so hot and sticky every time I went outside I felt like I had been dipped in a bath full of boiling honey.
12. The opening keynote of the conference was given by a Futurist. How does one qualify for that job? His favourite saying was Yeah, I know.