Yoshisato Esaka / Sin Heap Lee - Marubeni Sdn. Bhd.
Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is commonly known as KL. The first unusual thing that you notice upon arriving at KL International Airport, is that signs and directions are provided not only in Malay and English, but also in Japanese. Malaysia's "Look East" policy dates from the Mahathir administration, which sought to promote a group mentality and work ethic among Malaysians like that of the Japanese people, and as a result, the people of Malaysia are very interested in and welcoming towards visitors from Japan.
Moreover, since it used to be a British colony, English is understood almost anywhere in KL, but because of the influence of the Malay language, there is a special custom of adding "Lah" to the end of every English phrase. Not only the Malays, but also most of the Chinese and Indian elite, and even those who have spent time studying abroad and can speak fluent English, accent their English in this unique manner, so that when you first hear it, you think they must be speaking some other language. These days, when I talk with people from Europe and America living here, I find myself saying "OK Lah!" to them too.
Malaysia is an oil exporting nation, and the new major city of Putrajaya, as well as KL's landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers, are symbols of its prosperity. The city boasts a rich array of designs and styles of buildings, ranging from modern shopping malls, buildings with exotic Malay or Islamic style domes or arches, ceremonious European-style architecture left over from the period of colonization by the British, to a China Town and an India Town which brim with "Asian Power".
Malaysia's population is made up of people of ethnically Malay, Chinese and Indian backgrounds, but due to the difference in religions there is little intermarrying between these groups. However, one of the special pleasures of living in KL is coming into contact with the various food, clothing and home-making cultures that result from the unique fusion of the varied lifestyle customs of these peoples. Although Malaysia is an Islamic country, it is possible to obtain not only the halal foods which are permitted by Islamic law, but also to relatively freely enjoy pork and alcohol, as well as authentic Chinese and Indian cuisine. Particularly famous is the pork stew of Bak Kut Teh (consisting of meaty pork ribs in a complex broth of herbs and spices) which was invented by Chinese immigrants here.
Malaysia is a country of tropical rainforests, and lunchtime temperatures usually exceed 32 or 33 degrees Celsius. However, there is a lot of greenery in KL, and since temperatures fall to 22 or 23 degrees Celsius in the evenings and the early morning, there is some summer- retreat style relief to the intense heat. It is said that KL is now the Number One destination in Asia for Japanese people living abroad long-term. Why not come and indulge yourself with the golf, gourmet cuisine, and health spas of this vibrant city resort?