KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - When I last visited KL, nearly 10 years ago, the city seemed like a garden. Looking out from more than, say, 10 stories up, one saw a canopy of green tropical trees. Many of the trees are still there, but as evidenced from SkyBar, the breezy rooftop bar on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel, the city has recently sprouted a forest of new highrise buildings.
There are, of course, the brilliant Petronas twin towers - 88 floors high, shaped like two electronic wands or twin ziggurats, connected at the 41st floor by an enclosed metal-and-glass walkway. Since I last visited, the towers have gained some company. Not least is SkyBar itself - graced by spectacular views and cooled by a swimming pool that runs down the center of the space. It draws a hip crowd of spiky-haired individuals at night, hotel guests splashing about in the water by day. Traders, coolly stylish and very well-appointed business hotel, opened in January 2006, and is joined at the hip to the 2-year-old Kuala Lumpur Convention Center. A vacant lot far down below is set to become a Four Seasons Hotel. Also nearby is another high-end hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, also a highrise.
But if development has changed the face of central KL, there are still many trees, some with bright, flaming flowers. The tall buildings near Traders surround a small but fine green park and small lake. Families stroll there on weekends and the occasional hardy jogger, plugging away in KL's smothering tropical heat, is also to be seen.
Me, I relaxed over chicken satays and duck egg rolls with a Tiger beer, watching the city lights come on. A DJ was scheduled to spin and scratch later that night, but I didn't stay to see the place morph into a trendy club, which it does in the wee hours. And not solely for Traders guests -SkyBar is a popular destination in its own right. It was enough to chill out with a drink and watch the nightime haze swirling between the Petronas towers. I half-expected the Batman logo to materialize, projected on the nighttime sky. Maybe with another drink.