Awareness is key to our fulfilment. The day that you become aware of what you eat and change your diet without being socially conditioned, that you discover where all your habits come from and radically change them by giving your own meaning, that you give up your biggest vice, that you are aware of your posture and the way you walk so that you can change them and relax autonomously, that you stop being afraid because you know that it is a disease created by society in order to limit your freedom, that you accept that the past is the past and that the future will always be nothing but your imagination and you start living the present as intensely as possible without being a slave to your ambitions, that will be the day you wake up and you will no longer be a puppet, but the master of your own life, and will really discover how far you can go.
I decided to begin my day with an unusual breakfast: some new tropical fruit. I went out to the streets of Chinatown and almost immediately found a stall selling fruit that was already cut and ready to be eaten. I chose a jackfruit, which is shaped like a giant green bean, grows on trees and is also found in southern India and Sri Lanka, and a dragonfruit, red and apple-shaped. The first was disgusting but I managed to finish it, the second was good, but nothing special.
I had the whole day to wander around Kuala Lumpur since the first of two trains taking me in 36 hours to Bangkok, the hot and exotic Thai capital, was leaving at 11pm. I left my backpack at the hotel reception and made my way along the modern roads in the muggy weather of the Malaysian capital. The temperature was high, but it was the 90% humidity that made the heat nearly unbearable. Chinatown, a lively colourful district, extends mostly along two pedestrian roads full of with stalls selling clothes, watches, knives and backpacks. There were also various kiosks, from which smoke was rising, selling food and drink at all hours. The area is multiethnic, with Malaysians, Chinese and tourists. In the short amount of time I spent in Kuala Lumpur, this was the district that fascinated me the most.
In the morning, while walking over a bridge in the city centre, I saw by chance a graffiti contest (video 1). On the banks of the small river flowing through the city, a multitude of young graffiti artists were bringing the walls to life with the lively colours of their spray cans. There were many of these artists and the contest seemed to have already been going on for a few days. Just above the eastern riverbank, a group of skaters were practising on a two-metre-high ramp. A Malaysian told me that a television program had organised a festival that week with concerts, breakdancing and various sport activities.
On arriving in the city centre, I was stunned by the ultramodern buildings and skycrapers that dominate the skyline, such as the majestic Petronas Towers. There are certain spots where it’s hard to see the sky, the roads are well asphalted and divided into several lanes, but above all there are shops and malls. After India and Sri Lanka it feels strange to be in such a modern developed city, and this is another positive side to my way of travelling, because it allows me to focus in depth, like a magnifying glass, on the differences between the countries I visit, thus continuing to understand these cultures better even after leaving them.
This is now the monsoon season and the first storm broke, so I rushed inside an eight-storey mall. After passing several fashion shops, I came to a floor dedicated to restaurants and discovered a true community involved in catering services. One after another, a series of international restaurants - no country missing - gives the name “Food Republic” to that level of the mall. It was really difficult to choose between so many options and they all seemed to make good dishes, but in the end, in line with my new diet, I went for a Thai dish of vegetables and noodles. While looking for the way out, I noticed a bakery selling focaccia just like in Italy, except that this was coated with sugar and labelled as “Japanese pan”!
It rained all afternoon and evening and I wandered around the city, soaking wet. I noticed that many Malaysians ride motorbikes with their jacket back to front, maybe because of the heat, maybe because of the rain or maybe so that the wind would not make it swell up. When I started making my way towards the train station I found that the roads were flooded because the sewers were overloaded. I walked across the same bridge under which the graffiti artists had been writing that very morning and was shocked to see how the river had completely overflown its banks and a good part of the walls (video 2). The power of the river, just a few hours before not much more than a stream, was impressive. I stayed on the bridge under the downpour, attracted by the water carrying everything away, not bothered by the fact that I was wet through.