I'm in Kuala Lumpur, probably for the last time in a while. It's a city quite a few people I know profess to dislike. My first ever visit here seven years ago got off to a shaky start when my overeager taxi driver started telling me his wife didn't understand him and asked me to come and sit next to him in the front seat as we sped in his battered Mercedes along a near-deserted highway from the airport, surrounded by jungle as far as the eye could see. As we raced past an exit ramp clearly marked "Kuala Lumpur", I clutched my mobile phone, which had run out of battery, nervously.
The cityscape here is quite different from other Asian locations such as Hong Kong and Singapore. As Malaysia more or less successfully keeps its inherent racial, ethnic and religious tensions under control, the architecture reflects the mix of cultures and the exigencies of the climate, albeit with a relentless mall-creep which is typical of Asia's successful cities. The extraordinary, gleaming Petronas Towers rise boldly above the city, visible from miles around and startlingly illuminated at night.
There are plenty of flaws: the religious police, the corruption, the terrible traffic, a constant prurient interest in western women on their own; but I always feel a sense of wonder, curiosity and interest here. The lack of uniformity in the buildings means there's constantly some new and interesting conjunction to observe of Islamic minarets, multi-inclined Imperial Chinese roofs, shiny shopping malls, colonial turrets, ancient shop rows and dirty shacks.