THINGS TO DO IN KUALA LUMPUR

For many travelers in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur is just a stopover at the airport while waiting for a connection. However, this is one of the most vibrant cities in the region, and it is well worth whiletaking some time to explore its many attractions. Just look around for car rental deals at the airport, and then head into the city, where you will find an extraordinary mix of cultures and fascinating things to do.

Malaysia 001Of course, no trip to Kuala Lumpur is complete without a trip up the Petronas Towers. These used to be the tallest structures in the world, rising to a stunning height of 452 meters – or about 1483 feet. The architecture, while completely contemporary, is actually inspired by Islamic art – the shape is based on an Islamic geometric shape that resembles an eight-pointed star. Although the towers rise to 88 stories, the best view of the city and the surrounding country is on the double-decker Skybridge that joins the two towers – this is located on levels 41 and 42. The visiting hours are between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., but it is a good idea to arrive as early as possible – only a few tickets are issued to go on the Skybridge each day, and there is huge demand. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to book in advance.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (100) Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (101)For something completely different, head out to the Batu Caves. This is a large limestone hill that is located about a 30-minute drive from the center of the city, and which is home to a series of caves and Hindu temples. The largest of the caves is the Cathedral Cave, which features a number of ornate Hindu shrines. Be warned, however, to reach the cave you have to climb a steep set of 276 steps. If this doesn’t seem too challenging, then you can also go rock climbing – the Batu Caves are one of the most popular rockclimbing sites in Southeast Asia, attracting thousands of professional and amateur climbers from around the globe each year.

Malaysia Trip 2013 (2684) Malaysia Trip 2013 (2838) Malaysia Trip 2013 (2849)Coming back to the city, pay a visit to Lake Gardens – one of the few parks that remain in the city proper. This dates back to the period of British colonial rule in Malaysia, and was designed to remind visitors of London’s Kew Gardens. The park covers a massive 92 hectares, and is home to lush native foliage, as well as an Orchid Garden that boasts no less than 800 species of the delicate flowers. It’s also worth while paying a visit to the Hibiscus Garden, where you can see Malaysia’s national flower growing in abundance.

OTHER PLACES TO SEE IN KL

Malaysia Trip 2013 (2907) Malaysia Trip 2013 (3121) Malaysia Trip 2013 (3222) Malaysia Trip 2013 (3387)Finally, check out some of the other attractions which form a part of the Lake Gardens, including the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, where you will find more than 200 different species of birds, and the Butterfly Park, which is graced with more than 6000 lepidopterans. The Deer Park is also well worth visiting – there are several species of deer here, including the mouse deer, which is the smallest hoofed animal in the world and a central figure in Malaysian folklore.

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DAY ONE IN MALAYSIA: Captivated By Petronas Twin Towers

At home, I have two souvenir stuffs given by friends who came back from a trip in Malaysia. And just like most of souvenir pieces brought from this country, these cute stuffs are miniatures of Petronas Twin Towers made out of pewter now neatly displayed on my souvenir rack. That was years years back. And that was the start of my desire to see these structures in person in their full grandeur. So that night on my first day in Malaysia, I told myself I won’t end that day without seeing the most photographed buildings of the country – the Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (102)

From St. John Cathedral, we took the LRT straight to Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). This multipurpose development area is designed to be a city within a city as it houses luxurious shopping mall, several hotels, high-rise office buildings, a public park and a grand mosque. Notably, KLCC hosts the world’s tallest twin buildings in the world – the towering Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (87)

Perhaps like those who wish to come to Malaysia, seeing Petronas Twin Towers was at the top of my list. Aside from the miniatures of these remarkable buildings I have at home, I’ve seen them hundred times on books and magazines and seen them several times on movies and travel channels. In fact, I was blown away when I see them in the movie Entrapment. Though popular on media, still the thought of marveling at them in full grandeur excited me more. And walking through the path leading me to this handsome twin towers was like walking through the path of dreams. Honestly, I can’t just contain my happiness. They used to be little structures I always loved stare at but now here I am unfolding that day to see them face to face.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (91)From the LRT, we reached Suria KLCC, a KL premier shopping centre located at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. Joey and Krissy, my two lovely KL hosts, were explaining how luxurious this mall is but funny I didn’t know we were actually at the base of the Twin Towers. But I just followed their lead until we reached the Symphony Lake outside the mall.

Inside Suria KLCC
Inside Suria KLCC

The Lake Symphony is a 10,000 square meter manmade lake with dancing water fountains. It is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the whole KLCC.  Waters from the fountains were like dancing in synchrony with the lights and sounds – a beautiful and impressive sight to behold. Seeing this, my mouth seemed so unstoppable uttering words of amazement. Wow! Just wow! It tickled me instantly.

The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake
The Symphony Lake

Now I was too hooked at the Symphony Lake I almost forgot the Petronas Twin Towers. But when I asked Joey for them, he exclaimed to turn my back around and look up. I did and slowly tilted up my sight. To my surprise, the towering beauty of Petronas Towers was just behind me. As I looked up the skies illuminated by glistering lights of the Twin Towers, my sight, my world seemed to spin around. I froze for seconds savoring that feeling being bewitched by that enthralling spell of this beauty. I froze marveling at these structures considered as modern wonders of the world. At last, at long last – I’m finally here staring at the real Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (93)I was beginning to get melodramatic but Joey told me that the best way to get the perfect view of the Twin Towers is on the opposite side of the Lake Symphony. So hurriedly we went exactly to the place where the best spot is located. True indeed, from there the view of the Twin Towers in their full grandeur is beyond words. Bewitching!

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (101) At 452 meters above street level, Petronas Twin Towers held the record as the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 until surpassed by Taiwan’s Taipei 101 but still remained as the world’s tallest twin building in the world.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (102)

Being the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers, the Twin Towers are the landmark of Kuala Lumpur. Not only for that matter but that of geometric figures of the two identical buildings that have been described by architects to have symbolized unity, harmony, stability and rationality – all important principles of Islam.

Petronas Twin Towers Malaysia (96)

And as I sat there with all eyes on these two wonders of KL, there was a sheer of joy I felt in my heart as I finally got to meet these two handsome towers face to face. Enthralled, I have grown deep admiration for Malaysia not only because they are rich but how they value their identity, their unity, their harmony, their stability and rationality – as reflected in the Petronas Twin Towers.

Petronas Twin Towers, indeed great pride of Malaysia. Pride of ASEAN!

DAY ONE IN MALAYSIA: Genting Highlands and Downtown KL

Davao Manila Kuala Lumpur, a pleasant flight summing up to five long hours from my home in Davao City, Philippines to Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur. This is the start of THREE ASEAN COUNTRIES | TEN DAYS journey.

Malaysia 2013When I booked my tickets to Malaysia sometime July this year, the universe seemed to conspire as I got all my accommodations in Malaysia for free– in both Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. When my two friends who are based in Kuala Lumpur learned I was traveling to Malaysia, they gladly invited me to stay in their beautiful home instead of staying at a hotel. And in Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage City outside of KL, my accommodation was sponsored by the charming Quayside Hotel.

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It was past midnight when I arrived at Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal. My friend Joey and Krissy, the couple behind Bound For Two, were already at the airport waiting for me. Just like the KL weather, the two gave me the warmest welcome I could ever ask for.

The lovely couple - Joey and Krissy
The lovely couple – Joey and Krissy

From the airport, we rode a bus going to their place at downtown KL. The ride took almost an hour and so I took the chance of taking glimpse of places we passed by. I had already the list of places I wanted to see in KL and so with those landmarks that made the city famous. So, I glued my sight outside hoping to glimpse at those places. Luckily, on that very morning, I had a quick peep of those famous Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower from afar.

Joey and Krissy’s place is in Pantaii Hill, a resort-style condominium with lush landscaping and facilities including swimming pool, tennis court, playground and parking. As soon as I got there, I immediately “feel at home” – it’s like staying in a hotel with comfort of home. It was past 3 AM so we decided to rest and continue our chit chat on the coming days. Besides, the itinerary for tomorrow’s trip was a bit lengthy we needed enough rest and sleep.

The smell of the breakfast meal woke me up. Joey prepared for us a sumptuous continental breakfast that reminded me of my own home. I love toasted bread, butter and jam plus the tasty hotdogs for breakfast. Joey and Krissy just knew how to delight their guests.

Before I left the Philippines, I had already listed few of the places I want to visit in Kuala Lumpur. But since Joey and Krissy are KL- based, I let them choose the best itinerary for my whole stay in Kuala Lumpur. And our first destination is the Genting Highlands, a hill resort in Malaysia also called as Resorts World Genting developed by Genting Group.

The Lovely Pantai Hill
The Lovely Pantai Hill

From Pantaii Hill, we headed straight to Kuala Lumpur Sentral more popularly known as KL Sentral, an intermodal transportation hub that houses the main railway station of Kuala Lumpur. Buses going to Genting Highlands are located here.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (11)The day before I arrived in KL, Joey already purchased our tickets for our Genting Highland Tour at an amazing amount of RM 60 (Php 808.34). It included our round trip bus ticket, cable car ride and buffet lunch at Coffee Terrace.

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Malaysia 2013 Trip (27)The bus trip plus the cable car ride going to Genting Highlands took almost an hour – a bit lengthy but never a dull trip as I got to see the rich and green mountain side of this famous hillside of Malaysia. But I was at full awe when we reached the Genting Skyway for the monocable gondola lift that would take us to the Resorts World Genting. The monocable ride was pretty exciting as I got to see everything that surrounds this green hillside of the country plus the feel of the cold mountain breeze and the spectacular view of the thick fogs that devoured the verdant mountainsides.

The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift
The Monocable Gondola Lift

From the lower station, we reached the upper station located at Highlands Hotel. As we got out, we started feeling the cold breeze of the whole place. As we hurried down, I can’t help but admired the brilliant minds behind the creation of this amazing place that had once coined as the ‘Fun City Above the Cloud’ – just truly admirable.

Interesting Ceilings and Intricate Designs inside Highland Hotel
Interesting Ceilings and Intricate Designs inside Highland Hotel
Interesting Ceilings and Intricate Designs inside Highland Hotel
Interesting Ceilings and Intricate Designs inside Highland Hotel

From the lobby of the Highlands Hotel, I hurried outside to take the glimpse of whole Genting Highlands. To my great surprise, the whole place was covered by the thick fogs and the weather was way cold than I expected. At 1,740 meters above sea level, the weather and temperature of this hill resort is like this all year round. Despite that, I braved the coldness to enjoy the spectacular scene of the place.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (95) Malaysia 2013 Trip (104)Malaysia 2013 Trip (134)Joey and Krissy brought me to different sites within the area including the parking space where posh Ferraris were parked. These expensive cars become one of interesting sites in Genting Highlands.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (114) Malaysia 2013 Trip (123) Malaysia 2013 Trip (129)And then the most exciting part of our tour came – buffet lunch at Coffee Terrace. Coffee Terrace is one of the most spacious dining outlets at the resort serving sumptuous cuisines from around the globe –Nyonya, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, Italian, Western to Mediterranean dishes.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (158) Malaysia 2013 Trip (160) Malaysia 2013 Trip (162) Malaysia 2013 Trip (166) Malaysia 2013 Trip (229)I always believe that a good travel always comes with good food, thus, I lavished myself tasting every delectable cuisine served at Coffee Terrace. From dumplings to maki, laksa to Char kway teow, satay to fritters – and many more.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (172) Malaysia 2013 Trip (173) Malaysia 2013 Trip (175) Malaysia 2013 Trip (206) Malaysia 2013 Trip (209) Malaysia 2013 Trip (224) Malaysia 2013 Trip (234) Malaysia 2013 Trip (246) Malaysia 2013 Trip (250) Malaysia 2013 Trip (260)Our Genting Highland tour did not end at Coffee Terrace. After that lavish lunch, we headed at the resort’s indoor theme park. The place was packed with crowds of different ages.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (275) Malaysia 2013 Trip (290) Malaysia 2013 Trip (294) Malaysia 2013 Trip (307) Malaysia 2013 Trip (313) Malaysia 2013 Trip (319) Malaysia 2013 Trip (329) Malaysia 2013 Trip (330)After our tour at the Genting Highlands, we decided to go back to downtown KL and continue our itinerary for the day. From Genting Highlands, we went back to KL Sentral. From there we took the MRT going to St. John Cathedral, the biggest Catholic Church in Kuala Lumpur to attend the anticipated mass.

Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral

On the way, we passed by a beautiful mosque called Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque) and decided to drop by to take some photos. I have always been a great admirer of beautiful mosque and this one possesses an old charm I can’t resist to visit. Sadly, the prayer was on-going and visitors and not allowed to enter. Hence we headed straight to St. John Cathedral.

The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)
The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)
The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)
The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)
The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)
The Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque)

St. John Cathedral was big but not as big and grand like those in the Philippines. It was amusing to see different people of different race come together to pray as Catholics – Malays, Chinese, Indians, African and even Caucasians. What’s more, all songs used during the mass are all in traditional Catholic Latin Chant. I was so mesmerized.

St. John Cathedral, KL's Biggest Catholic Church
St. John Cathedral, KL’s Biggest Catholic Church
St. John Cathedral, KL's Biggest Catholic Church
St. John Cathedral, KL’s Biggest Catholic Church
St. John Cathedral, KL's Biggest Catholic Church
St. John Cathedral, KL’s Biggest Catholic Church

When the mass was ended, we wasted no time and hurried down our next stop. But as we left, the sight of glistening tower erecting from the back of the church was something I can’t resist from admiring. And so I stopped and grab my camera trying to capture the beauty of this structure that dominated this part of KL – the Kuala Lumpur Tower.

The Kuala Lumpur Tower
The Kuala Lumpur Tower
The Kuala Lumpur Tower
The Kuala Lumpur Tower

Standing at 421m, the Kuala Lumpur Tower is the fifth tallest telecommunication tower in the world and the tallest in Southeast Asia. The building is considered as one of the landmarks of Kuala Lumpur. It has the highest viewpoint of the whole city and is open to the public. And I am thankful that I got to see its magnificent beauty at night.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (435)And so from St. John Cathedral, we found our way heading to Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), a multipurpose development area in downtown Kuala Lumpur where posh shopping malls, luxurious hotels and towering office buildings are situated. As we neared KLCC, the sight of the two beautiful towers dominated the skyline. It was the structure that I have long wanted to see long before this trip was even planned. I thought I’ll be used to the same feeling of excitement seeing places that I only dream of seeing, but to my surprise, I was wrong. The moment I gazed up to see these two stunning structures from afar, I started to shiver and felt an immense happiness deep within. At last here I am about to see the most famous landmark of Malaysia – the Petronas Twin Towers.

Bedazzled by the Twin Towers
Bedazzled by the Twin Towers

So, there I was following Joey and Krissy as they led me my way to come closer and see in full grandeur the World’s Tallest Twin Towers. Excitement is an understatement!

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