MelakaTim and I took a bus across Malaysia to visit the city of Melaka, en route to Kuala Lumpur. This proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. The Lonely Planet promised us a fascinating fusion of Indian, European, and Malay culture, coupled with beautiful architecture in the old city. The reality was an urban sprawl, bulging outwards from a small, quieter centre with colonial style buildings and an interesting Chinatown. Unfortunately, these areas were choked with traffic, making exploring them rather difficult, so after pottering around Chinatown, and doing a walk of the main sites (an 18th century church and a series of small walls), and we were pleased to head on to KL. We did have fun however, browsing through a fascinating antiques store, that was like a veritable Aladdin's cave, stuffed such treasures as antique Chinese slippers, enormous pieces of beautiful carved wooden furniture, gramophones and a wall of clocks, complete with clock maker. Tim and I both fantasised about sending some of these fascinating pieces home. There was also a pretty pedestrian walk along the quiet riverside, where we watched monitor lizards swimming, and a stunning, colourful Chinese temple. OK, so perhaps Meleka was an interesting place to visit afterall....Kuala LumpurTim and I were very lucky in KL to be able to stay with a friend of mine from home, Paul, who I know from the St. Endellion Festival of Music in Cornwall.Paul has played the timpani for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra for a number of years, and was an excellent host. It was so lovely staying in someone's real home, instead of staying in cheap guesthouses, and he made us feel very welcome.KL was an enjoyable city to spend a few days in. It was fascinating, seeing the cutting edge architecture of skyscraping office blocks and swanky apartment blocks (Paul's included!) contrasting with roads in need of some attention, with potholes, and large open drains. KL echoed Singapore with fancy shopping complexes catering for fat wallets or those having fun on plastic, and some gorgeous bakeries. The city also had a somewhat confusing transport network, including an underground system that didn't quite interconnect without having to surface onto the street and take a short walk to the next connection. Tim and I were seduced by Chinatown, and made no less than 3 trips there, taking in the atmosphere and browsing amongst the numerous stalls selling an array of fake designer watches, handbags, T shirts etc. Paul very kindly bought us tickets to see him perform a concert of Tchaikovsky, including excerpts from Sleeping Beauty. After Paul asked me if Tim had brought a suit with him (!) we were faced with the amusing task of trying to find smart outfits on a budget. I ended up with a dress that would not have looked out of place on Carrie from Sex in the City, and Tim was able to borrow a smart jacket from the concert hall, while wearing Paul's shoes stuffed with walking socks! A highlight of our stay in KL was when Paul took us to a very swanky, luxury hotel for the day, where he has VIP membership to their health and fitness suite. He treated us to the most extravagant breakfast I have ever had in my entire life. Tables were laden with home made croissants, pastries and donuts, cereals with granola and fresh or dried fruit to sprinkle on top, and cooked breakfasts to include curries, tom yam, soups, salads, roti canai etc etc. I had a 3-course brekkie including cereal, croissants, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit salad and even a juicy steak!! After this, it was all we were capable of to spend the rest of the day lazing by the outdoors infinity pool with spectacular views over the wealthiest part of the city, with looming skyscrapers backed by mountains in the hazy distance. Tim and I were struck by the impressive elegance of the city's Petrona's towers. These towers are the headquarters of the national petroleum company, and were the world's tallest sky scrapers until 2004.They are made out of steel and glass, and are also known as the Twin Towers, linked by a bridge on the 41st floor. They were a striking landmark by day, but by night, their true majesty shone. The towers were lit up in such a way that it looked like they were made of crystal. They were utterly breathtaking, and it was hard not to walk into other pedestrians as we craned our necks to admire them!!