Magical Malaysia!

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Anthony Lydekker makes for blue skied Malaysia and finds it to be full of inspiration for all sorts, from hikers to history buffs. Read Anthony’s article, only on CD-Traveller

On 31 August 2012, Malaysia will have been independent for 55 years. They also have another big annual celebration every spring: the ‘Colours of Malaysia’ – a massive four hour parade of dancers, tableaux, floats, bands and singers covering every aspect of all the ethnic backgrounds and traditions with over 6,000 participants covering blow pipes to shopping trolleys, ballet to rock and roll, from war paint to a parade of dancing chefs. It sounds like a complete hotchpotch but it works because of the humour, love of dancing and colourful vitality which makes up Malaysia. All this takes place in the Republic Square in Kuala Lumpur and all the surrounding streets are a mass of food stalls, for more pictures of this event, click here

Colours of Malaysia

Malaysia still seems a very young country. It’s also one of the most prosperous in the area with an annual growth rate of over five per cent for most of the last 50 years. At its heart is the glittering round the clock phenomenon of Kuala Lumpur (KL), with its vast shopping malls, night markets, and non stop food and entertainment. As many know it’s an ideal stopover even for a couple of nights – just 28 minutes from KLIA by train. However there’s plenty to see and do in and around KL.

6,000 performers

Getting around is cheap and easy, thanks to an excellent monorail and local train service. Taxis are metered and no journey costs more than £10. There’s also the excellent ‘Hop on, Hop off Bus‘ which goes past most major hotels and covers 40 features around the city.

Petronas Towers at dusk

Two rightly popular places, are up high. The revolving restaurant at the top of the 1,380 ft KL Tower has very reasonable buffet meals and amazing views – see what I mean at www.kltower.com.my. The ‘Sky Bar at Traders’ is the place to see and be seen in, offering arresting views of the neighbouring Petronas Towers and some killer cocktails for around £15. Another favourite, for me, is the less well known Saloma Theatre Restaurant. Housed in an old Colonial style house, this little gem has afternoon teas and a superb show and dancing at night. Saloma was a well known Malaysian film star – for a bit of background information, check out www.saloma.com.my

If you fancy a bit of culture and peace and quiet from the shopping mania there’s an excellent concert hall – home of the Malaysian Philharmonic with ballet and visiting conductors – below the mighty Petronas Towers. English piano star, Stephen Hough, is appearing several times this year, see: www.mpo.com.my. The Islamic Arts Museum is as much about Arab culture as ‘Islam’ and covers the world beyond the Middle East embracing China, India and South East Asia. Not far from the Museum, you’ll find  the Orchid Farm with over 500 species, the Lake Gardens and Bird Park –  all a haven of tranquillity!

Batu Caves

Beyond KL, there are three short trips you might consider. The Batu caves are well worth the 260 step climb. Vast and impressive, they house a major Hindu shrine (check no Hindu Festival taking place) but be ware of the monkeys! Also close to KL is the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre which houses a leading production centre for pewter, introduced by the Chinese in 1885.

Pewter hammering

Pewter is an alloy of locally produced tin and copper. Visitors can make a simple bowl by the old hand method of gently hammering a disk of pewter in a wooden mould – I am quite proud of mine. Inevitably, there’s a shopping opportunity with some tasteful jewellery and, of course, plenty of jugs and mugs. Visit www.visitorcentre.royalselangor.com

Putrajaya New City

Putrajaya, the third suggested option is very different: it’s a small city completed in 1998 that houses the Federal government. Anyone with an interest in architecture or urban planning will probably know all about its design as a Garden City (like good old Welwyn) but it’s also an ‘Intelligent City’! It really is impressive and surrounds a huge man-made lake and wetlands and botanical gardens.

To read the second part of Anthony’s Malaysian exploits, don’t forget to log onto the CD-Traveller website this Thursday (June 21)

 

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