Malaysia’s geographical position places it between the great civilisations. To the west are Hindu India, the Islamic Middle East and Christian Europe. To the north-east are China and Japan. The shipping routes from China to the west pass through the region, and the most direct route passes through the Strait of Malacca. This has made Malaysia a natural meeting place of trade routes and cultures, something which has brought the area great wealth, but has also made it difficult for the Malay peoples to resist foreign influence and dominne.
One doesn't feel he is stepped into a pure Muslim dominated country when one arrives in Malaysia, but you get a warm welcome from the Malaysians - coming from India, Chinese & Muslim religions one and all. People are friendly and cool and will always offer a helping hand at situations. Coming from Singapore at that time, I felt the behaviour and attitude very pleasing from the malaysian chinese as well.
Well most of Malaysia is a part of equatorial forest with lots of tall trees and the variety in the vegetation is worth admiring & adventurous. Although urbanisation has taken over some of the areas in Malaysia, it is delighting to know that Malaysia has managed to capitalise on the natural beauty of their country by converting these destintations into tourist attractions and showcase the cultural heritage in the best possible way.
My first desitination was Kuala Lumpur (KL) - which is the capital of Malaysia. It is like most major capital the happening city with the major development work in terms of infrastructure, industries, people & culture is a true metropolitan in nature. Kuala Lumpur is the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia, making it the country's legislative capital. The city was once home to the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but they have since moved to Putrajaya for the most part.
Protected by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east and Indonesia's Sumatra Island in the west, Kuala Lumpur enjoys a year-round equatorial climate which is warm and sunny, along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon from September to April. Dust particles from forest fires on nearby Sumatra Island sometimes create a phenomenon known as the haze. This usually lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.
Kuala Lumpur has a road network leading to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia. Motorists may have a choice of paying cash, using stored value card Touch 'n Go or SmartTAG to pay at the toll booths while using the various highways/expressways. A recently-completed project, SMART Tunnel will allow motorists to enter the city, avoiding congestion by using an underground tunnel. However, despite all this, Kuala Lumpur often has traffic problems, and peak hour traffic is generally from 7:00am to 9:00am, and from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Bus journey from Singapore to KL, will take you 4.5 hours or a little more depending on the traffic condition and the time required for getting past the immigration which is high during holiday season.
Kuala Lumpur is directly connected to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang via the KLIA Ekspres high-speed train service which takes only 28 minutes, while travelling by car via highway will take about an hour. The former international airport, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang is now used for chartered flights.
Malaysia Airlines and all major international airlines to Malaysia land at KLIA. AirAsia makes use of the newly built Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCC-T) in Sepang. LCC-T is accessible to/from KL through a bus service from KL Sentral (transport hub).
We use to stay at one of the well known condominuims in KL Sentral by the name Scott Villa. It was walking distance from the KL Sentral station & has close proximity to all popular places in malaysia. The main hub is KL Sentral facilitating as an interchange station for the main lines.
Public transport on Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the Klang Valley covers a variety of transport modes such as bus, rail and taxi. Unlike most other major Asian cities, utilisation rates are low as only 16 percent of the population using public transportation. In addition, there is the metro system consisting of 3 separate lines, which meet in the city and extend to the Western Suburbs of the state of Selangor. The metro system consists of a Monorail, an Elevated Metro, and an Automated Metro with underground stations in the city centre. Food, pets and drinks are strictly prohibited among trains; heavy penalties are charged upon violation. Commuter trains also exists to link commuters to the city.
There are popular tourist locations in and around Kuala Lumpur.
Within Kuala Lumpur
- The Golden Triangle, the commercial hub of the city, contains the Petronas Twin Towers and has a distinctive nightlife.
- The Petronas Twin Towers are the world's tallest twin towers and second and third-tallest singular towers, standing adjacent to one of the busiest shopping malls in Malaysia, Suria KLCC.
- The Menara Kuala Lumpur, currently the world's fifth tallest telecommunication tower, is located on the Bukit Nanas hill beside Convent Bukit Nanas. Its observation deck on the top floor provides great city views, and you'll be a few meters higher than the Twin Towers since the tower is built on a hill.
- Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) is the first convention and exhibition centre in Malaysia.
- Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (also known as KLCC) is another convention and exhibition centre in Kuala Lumpur. It is situated in the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC area. A gigantic aquarium called Aquaria KLCC recently opened here, housing more than 5,000 varieties of tropical fishes. It has an underwater tunnel, various exhibits of flora and fauna, and multimedia kiosks.
- Dayabumi a major landmark located near Masjid Negara. It is an office building.
- Kuala Lumpur General Post Office is located next to Dayabumi.
- Lake Gardens, a 920,000 square metre manicured garden near the Malaysian Parliament building, was once home to a British colonial official. They include a Butterfly Park, Deer Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden and South-East Asia's largest Bird Park. (Bird park pics)
- Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), was initially erected for the country's declaration of independence on August 31, 1957.
- Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square/Merdeka Square), was the site of the lowering of the Union Jack flag and hoisting of the Malayan flag on the start of August 31, 1957. The square itself has historic association with its surroundings, namely the Royal Selangor Club, National History Museum and the architecturally Victorian-Moorish or 'Raj' influenced Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
- Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, a Victorian-Moorish railway station, was completed in 1911, and superseded by KL Sentral in 2001; it currently serves commuter trains only.
The Muzium Negara (National Museum) incorporates neo traditionalism into its architectural design.
- The Masjid Negara (National Mosque), a post modernist mosque, was completed in 1965 and Makam Pahlawan (Heroes Mausoleum) the mausoleum of Malaysian leaders.
- The Parliament House, a Malaysian federal government legislative building, was completed on 1963.
- The Tugu Negara (National Monument) commemorates those who died in Malaysia's struggles for freedom (principally against the Japanese occupation and during the Malayan Emergency of).
- The Istana Negara, official residence of Their Majesties the King and Queen. Visitors can witness the changing of the guards daily from the main gate.
- The National Science Centre, located in Bukit Damansara.
- The Federal Territory Mosque located along Jalan Duta.
- Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, a gazetted small tropical forest located on the centre of Kuala Lumpur City.
- Many of the largest celebrations of Chinese cultural festivals are held at the Thean Hou Temple on Robson Hill.
- The Chinese Night Market area (Chinatown), Petaling Street, has recently undergone a makeover; the most notable feature is the new covered walkway.
- Mid Valley Megamall, one of the popular and largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur (situated in Bangsar).
- Bukit Bintang, the ultimate shopping and entertainment experience in the Golden Triangle.
- Berjaya Times Square, a newly built gargantuan ten-story shopping mall that is the largest shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, and among the world's top ten largest malls. It houses the world's largest Borders bookstore, Malaysian department store Metrojaya, the Cosmo's World theme park plus a huge IMAX theater.
- The Mall is a shopping complex near Putra World Trade Centre.
- Kuala Lumpur's Central Market, which was once the city's wet market, offers an assortment of arts and craft merchandise, varying from antiques and paintings to souvenirs and clothing. It is also known as Pasar Seni in Malay.
- Trendy nightclubs, bars and lounges, such as Hard Rock Cafe, Zouk, Thai Club, Beach Club (voted Best Bar in Asia), Luna Bar, Rum Jungle, Nuovo, Espanda and many others are located within and around Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang.
- Brickfields, Jalan Masjid India and Lebuh Ampang are 'Little India's spread around KL showing Indian presence in KL.
- Hindu temples such as Sri Mahamariamman temple near Central Market and Sri Kandaswamy Kovil in Brickfields
- Istana Budaya, the national theatre located at Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.
- Eye on Malaysia, the tallest Ferris Wheel in Malaysia located at Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.
- Taman Connaught Pasar Malam is the longest night market in Malaysia.
This is just a glimpse of Malaysia starting with KL, I shall try and give information on other tourist attractions in Malaysia in my subsequent blogs.