The plan for today… green space.
Kuala Lumpur’s botanical gardens have been open since 1889, created as a respite from hectic colonial life. After several name changes, they’re now known as the Perdana Botanical Gardens.
With the Masjid Negara, otherwise known as the National Mosque, on the doorstep, the Gardens seemed like a great place to spend the day.
Briefly on the Mosque, it’s a beautiful building and opened on the 27th February 1963 so its anniversary was yesterday. This may be a clue as to why there was a food festival being set up by the gates as I passed by.
The Mosque is described as a tribute to Islam, the national religion of Malaysia and there is room in the central courtyard for 15,000 worshippers.
As it was Friday today, the Mosque isn’t open until 3pm for non-Muslim visitors but it was pleasant to wander around the grounds before continuing to the Perdana Gardens.
Among the tourist attractions located here are the deer park, Hibiscus garden, Orchid Garden, Kuala Lumpur Bird Park and the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park (25MYR).
I wasn’t sure how many butterflies I would see being, as ever, I was covered from head to toe in mosquito repellant.
As expected they floated close by and then darted away as fast as their wings would carry them.
The latest stuff I’ve smothered myself in did seem to be doing the trick. No bites in 48 hours. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a new world record.
Though relatively small, the Butterfly Garden is filled with stunning plants and there are plenty of shady spots in which to sit and relax.
There’s also a sizeable insect museum filled with equally sizeable insects and spiders. This was not information that I felt I needed and was not comforted to read where some of these creatures live.
And just when I thought I was through the ordeal, the next challenge loomed: the gift shop.
It’s almost the same size as the garden.
The Bird Park was opened in 1991, and features more than 200 species of bird. It is billed as the world’s largest covered bird park.
While I was tempted, as I walked up to it, I noticed there was very little to no shade in there. That did not appeal, just yet. Possibly later. Assuming I didn’t get distracted by something else.
I headed into the Botanic (Perdana) Gardens (free) where the festival I’d seen setting up at the Mosque was continuing.
Stalls were setting up like an expo, similar to what I’d seen in Ulaanbaatar but visitor numbers were very low which was a shame for the band performing a superb mashup of Wham’s ‘Careless Whisper’ and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black‘.
The gardens themselves were lovely but as the day heated up I once again set off in search of air conditioning.
The Gardens are also home to the Malaysian Space Agency and the National Planetarium. Perfect.
The Space Agency was established in 2002 and the first Malaysian astronaut went to the International Space Station in 2007.
In the grounds are examples of ancient astronomical observation structures from China, India and even a replica of Stonehenge.
The Planetarium itself was quiet… I was the only one there for almost an hour. Security clearly thought it was pointless screening me for Coronavirus with nobody else in.
Malaysia appears to be screening at venues frequented by tourists – museums etc – rather than locals. It appears the focus is o screening the people who are most likely to have travelled outside of the country.
I haven’t seen any screening at places that could be considered part of day to day life.
The attractions continued to be quiet today though the train into town was busy today – possibly because I was moving as people were heading to work.
I also arrived at the Planetarium in the middle of the break for Friday prayers so that may have contributed to the lack of people around.
Though many of the exhibits seemed to be under repair, it is a great little museum – I am in no way swayed by the fact that it was free.
The best section is the one focused on the first Malaysian astronaut – all about the selection process, the training and life in board a space station.
You can feel the excitement and pride about this achievement… though I couldn’t spot any clues about the astronaut’s name.
I headed out as a school trip arrived and went down to the Bird Park – now that it wasn’t in the direct glare if the sun, which Pub Quiz Fans I have learned is called matahari in Malaysian.
For some reason, I can’t make ‘thank you’ stick, ‘hello’ (selamat pagi) is ok but I’m very confident of my ability to remember the word for the sun. That is going to come in so useful.
The Bird Park (63MYR) was superb.
It is advertised as the world’s largest Bird Park where the inhabitants can fly free. Not all of them, thankfully. With the exception of the owls, the birds of prey were behind bars.
The peacocks wandered freely and I think some of them have been watching to much ‘Lord of the Rings’ as demonstrated by Gandalf here.
The parrots’ enclosure was fun as the birds landed on people’s shoulders.
It was a beautiful place to work up an appetite for a curry. I was off to Brickfields again.