Families could spend weeks exploring all that Kuala Lumpur has to offer for children. We went a bit light on culture in KL and more on kid oriented amusement mainly because there is just so much of it. The kids are also at the right age–Mathilda does not get scared like she used to, and presently, Merle seeks a little more thrill in his life. Asia is riddled with amusement parks representing various levels of taste and quality. It is hard to avoid subjecting yourself to them for the sake of your kids. Since ours are only 3 and 6, they were not picky, remained easily entertained and enjoyed much of the same activities.
Asian amusement parks seem to come up with the craziest ideas. For example, Berjaya Times Square’s big attraction is actually inside a mall. Though a bit cavernous and surreal to us adults, the kids had a great time meandering around its carnival-themed space. Berjaya makes our local festival rides seem very old, dirty, and in a scary state of disrepair, not to mention, highlights how frighteningly inept the one-eyed, half-awake cretins are who operate them. Not at Berjaya; all operators seemed to be mild natured, clean cut young adults, perhaps students, with their brains intact. The kids are at a developmental sweet spot to fully enjoy a place like Berjaya.
One year later, I think Merle would have been bored with the kiddie rides, but that is when he would be tall enough for the bigger kid rides anyway. Luckily, since he is naturally more of a cautious child rather than a risk taker, he was not too phased when he could not go on Berjaya’s enormous roller coaster.
Another great place to take young children while visiting Kuala Lumpur is KidZania. Representing a growing trend in amusement parks, KidZania is an “edutainment” center where the kids can go wild and crazy but also learn something. Here, it is all about how to happily participate in a consumer based society by working and subsequently getting paid so you can spend money. Set up like a mini-city, complete with a theater, restaurants, hospital, chocolate factory, shops, radio, police and fire stations, at first, KidZania seemed ingenious. Participating in the fashion show was a great entry point for the kids. With their first Kidzos (the local currency) in hand, they were ready to make more money. Dollar signs started to form in their eyeballs, if you know what I mean.
Equipped with electronic trackers monitoring their location, Merle and Mathilda went on to work as painters, window washers, and gas pumpers, all in costume. No parents are allowed at work, to give children a chance to learn and do it on their own. Great idea, fostering self-reliance and independence. After all, we need to break this cycle of helicopter parenting, anyway, right?
Merle also got “certified” as a travel consultant, laptop repair man, and secret agent, the latter being his favorite. After several hours of wandering around the “city” looking for more jobs and more money, we were all overstimulated and exhausted. Is this what life is all about?
Apparently, one has to work even harder than ours to have the purchasing power to buy something truly worthwhile. With her stack of money, Mathilda had only enough for a face painting session and Merle could only afford a measly pencil sharpener.
However, once again the kids proved to be at an age which is perfect for a place such as KidZania. Otherwise, much younger it might be too complicated and much older, too simplistic, and quite possibly, simply annoying.
As I mentioned in my last post, we loved the Discovery Center at KLCC. Their featured exhibit was called “The Ewww Factor,” right up our alley. We learned about optimal pooping, the texture of snot and puke, and the essence of body odors. The pictures say it all. (Don’t worry, the poop is not real.)
Besides groody things, the museum had much more. The kids volunteered in a show about the science of bubbles, dug on kid-sized diggers, experienced the feeling of being inside a hurricane, and saw the beauty of electrical attraction.
Throughout The Discovery Center, there were numerous learning stations on endless topics. Merle was always drawn to the puzzles, and the staff were a so kind and patient with him.
KL is dotted with pockets of pretty much what I would call jungle. I found a great apartment not far from KLCC which was surrounded by nature yet in the heart of the city. The expansive pool and lush grounds were a welcome respite after a day of traipsing around the city. Here is Merle walking to the pool.
We also enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, established long ago by the English. Luckily, it provides a much needed big, green lung for KL. The fresh, fragrant air, large orchid garden, wild butterflies, free tram, towering trees and huge playground make this a must see for families.
We have seen so many wondrous banyan trees on this trip. Merle gives thanks out of his own volition.
Fantastic playground, though hotter than hell!
A special shout out to Chris, who day after day, tolerates us and makes us happy! Look at this effort in 100 degree heat! Can I hear a round of applause?!
In the groove in Malaysia.