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The Door to Infinity

Business travelers often have a few hours at the beginning or end of their trips to see the sights. Hardly enough time to see a whole city. But if you are going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, seeing the whole city can be as quick as a 60-second elevator ride, in theory. Anne-Marie Ruff went to the tallest building in the world, which has recently opened its elevators to the public.

The Door to Infinity
by Anne-Marie Ruff

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Dear Rudy,

When I was a kid, my brother used to take me to the top of our local Holiday Inn where we would look down the stairwell from 13 stories up. I loved being up so high, but the best part was when he would launch spitballs and we would watch how long they took to reach the ground. But when I saw the 88 floors of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the thirteen stories of that Minneapolis Holiday Inn seemed awfully tame. So, I couldn't wait to take an elevator ride to the bridge that connects the two towers, dubbed "the door to infinity"


I was not alone. About a thousand other people couldn't wait for their tickets to ride either. But wait we did, for what seemed like an infinity. Well, that's what an hour and a half feels like standing in the rain. Once we finally had our coveted tickets in hand, I found out the elevator was scheduled to take off in an hour and a half. Another seeming infinity.

The Petronas Towers are supposed to attract foreign companies to Kuala Lumpur and stimulate Malaysia's economy. A tall order I'm not sure they have filled yet. But I am pretty sure they are stimulating the economy at the glittering mall at the foot of the Towers. Most of us elevator riders passed up diamond rings, Gucci handbags and silver plated cell phones but did indulge in huge plates of inexpensive food from the mall's restaurants.

Finally we packed into elevators, twenty people at a time. The ride was so smooth we hardly knew we were moving except that the floor numbers kept beeping by.

The sky-bridge links the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors, less than halfway to the top, not even as high as Chicago's Sears Tower. But I could see for miles, all of the city and out to the surrounding mountains. But I couldn't help wishing that I could dash past the security guards into a maintenance elevator or stairwell and go for the real thrill of the 88th floor. Or at least lean out through a window and see how long it would take a spitball to reach the ground.


That imagined spitball would probably have landed in the middle of a group of young, hip Malaysians because, while the sky-bridge may offer a chance to see the city, the real sights are at the foot of the towers where the city goes to be seen.

The ground floor cafes are packed with teenagers answering their cell phones, exhaling fragrant clouds from Indonesian clove cigarettes and perpetuating the internationally recognized ritual of weekend flirting. The adjacent park offers plenty of quiet green spots to which young lovers can steal away.

But the best thing about being at the foot of the towers is that you can see all the way to the top. Knowing that those shiny, silver orbs crowning the towers' spires are the tallest manmade thing in the world is a pretty good thrill, better even than taking the elevators and maybe even as good as watching spitballs fall to the ground.

For The Savvy Traveler, this is Anne-Marie Ruff in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Savvy Resources for the Petronas Towers:

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