The city of Kuala Lumpur, the national capital of Malaysia, embodies the ambiguities, promises and dangers of globalization and the state of our contemporary global world more than almost any other place that I’ve been.
Kuala Lumpur is known for its strange and vibrant mixture of loud China-town and its lazy coffee shops, colorful and incense laced streets, huge beautiful mosques, international banks and shining skyscrapers. That old culture – the open markets, the stalls lining the streets selling Chinese, Malay and Mamak food, old men in sarong – are still very visible in the city. However, men and women in business suits ride the wonderfully air-conditioned light rail train and Rapid-Transit buses to offices, passing the many shopping malls, the Hard Rock Cafes, and many examples of the ‘post-modern fusion’ that results in places like the “Thai Cowboy Bar, Tomyam and Steakhouse.”
The writing is on the wall.