’Kuala Lumpur is an incredibly attractive city. Parts of it are
very old while others are extraordinarily new,’ says Colin Robinson,
regional development director for Carat Asia Pacific. ’The Petronas
Towers may be the tallest building in the world, but the country has
successfully retained a sense of its own history and identity.
’The people have great charm, but this is Asia and, unsurprisingly,
there are many cultural differences. Business relationships are built up
over many years, so you can’t barge in and expect them to buy something
just because it worked in Europe.
’In Asia generally, and Malaysia in particular, they revere experience.
So if your hair’s grey or you don’t have much of it - or both, like me -
they treat you like a guru. It’s a bit daunting at first, but you get
used to it.
’English is mainly used for business here so there aren’t the same
linguistic problems that I’ve encountered in other markets. You’re also
within easy striking distance of Japan, India and Australia, and Bali is
close enough for the weekend.
’You can eat at hotel restaurants like the Ritz Carlton or, at the other
end of the scale, join the locals at one of the thousands of hawkers’
stalls, where you’d be hard pressed to spend pounds 15 on a meal for two
- and that includes three litres of beer. It’s hot - never less than 30
degrees - and humid. And when it rains, it really pisses down.’