KUALA LUMPUR ON MY MIND

Many of those who travel to Southeast Asia find Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia as just a stopover especially those with connecting flights bound to another destination. But what these travelers actually miss is the fact that Kuala Lumpur is one of the most pulsating cities in the whole Southeast Asian Region with amazing places of interest considered worthwhile to explore. And if you choose to stay in the city, Kuala Lumpur promises to let you experience an extraordinary mix of culture and fascinating things to do. For online bookings, click here.

Malaysia-001First and foremost, no trip to Kuala Lumpur is complete without a fascinating trip to the world’s tallest twin towers, the Petronas Twin Towers. These soaring masterpieces used to be the tallest structures in the world towering to a striking height of 1,483 feet. While completely contemporary, the architecture 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-101To experience Kuala Lumpur’s taste of culture that is completely diverse, a trip to the Batu Caves is highly recommended. A 30-minute drive from the center of the city, Batu Cave is a large limestone hill and home to a series of caves and Hindu scared temples. The largest of the caves is the Cathedral Cave where a number of ornate Hindu shrines can be found. Bear mind, however, to reach the opening of the cave you have to climb a steep set of 276 steps. For those who are into rock climbing, the Batu Caves are one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in Southeast Asia attracting thousands of professional and amateur climbers from around the world each year.

Malaysia-Trip-2013-2684After a day of touring around the city, never fail to pay a visit to Lake Gardens. It is one of the few remaining parks situated in the heart of the city. Building of this eco-park 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.

Malaysia-Trip-2013-3121For those who love local gastronomic pleasure, Kuala Lumpur will never fail you. Top on my mind is the Jalan Alor. It is  a unique food destination in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and something one should try. When you step onto the street of Alor, the whole character of the city seemed to change taking you to the taste, aroma and flavors that truly depict the rich culture of Malaysia.  Jalan Alor is located within the Bukit Bintang area, it can be easily found if you are staying somewhere in the city center.

Malaysia-Trip-2013-2907Visit these places with you chance Kuala Lumpur. Sure thing, you will find the city as vibrant and exciting like those who came here. Booking a place to stay is not a problem. You can book your hotel though  https://www.traveloka.com/en-my/hotel, the leading flight and hotel booking platform in Indonesia. The company focuses on solving online booking for a new generation of travelers, providing its users with a fast, transparent and easy-to-use booking process. They are noow growing fast in Southeast Asia including Malaysia and the Philippines.

While on asia, why dont you visit Vietnam. www.tripfuser.com allows you to create your own customized holiday in Vietnam.

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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.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (4)

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.

Malaysia 2013 Trip (20)

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!

NEXT POST: Bedazzled by Twin Towers

THREE ASEAN COUNTRIES | TEN DAYS

VACATION HANGOVER. This is what I feel now as I tried to recharge myself from the recently concluded 10-day trip I made to three ASEAN countries. I am back now to where this journey started but my mind and heart are still stuck at the beautiful memories I had while journeying these neighboring countries of the Philippines.

MLY-SING-IND COVER 001MALAYSIA-SINGAPORE-INDONESIA. Three ASEAN countries for 10 days. I’ve been to East Malaysia in 2010 but traveling to Peninsular Malaysia along with Singapore and Indonesia was my first. Aside from these firsts, what gloriously thrilled me was that this trip was my first solo travel abroad. As always, I find so much thrill in solo wanders as it always brings out the best in me. And the fact that I will be hosted by my friends based in these countries was something I looked forward to.

3T MLY-SING-IND PHOTO COVER
These are photos from wikipedia.com that inspired me to do this trip.

Unlike most of my travels, I didn’t exhaust myself from planning too much about my itinerary for this trip. In fact, I didn’t do much research of places I will be visiting. And since I’ll be hosted by my friends there, I let them decide which places best to see and experience. But for places that I’ll be traveling alone, I treated it to be a slow travel where I can go anywhere spontaneously without minding time. Happily, aim reached – traveled three countries in ten days and what’s more, I traveled the cheapest way possible.

Join me as a chronicle these exciting travel stories that have left me with wondrous memories I’ll surely carry with me wherever I go – not only for the beautiful places I marveled at but with beautiful and kindhearted people I met along the way.

MALAYSIA, Truly Asia!
MALAYSIA, Truly Asia!

From the chilly Genting Highlands to the world’s most renowned Petronas Twin Towers, from the mind-blowing Batu Caves to the captivating Putrajaya, from the bustling roads of Kuala Lumpur to the tasteful street of Jalan Alor, from tidy buses to posh mono trains, from delectable chicken rice to my favorite char kuey teow – this is MALAYSIA, Truly Asia!

MALACCA, a UNESCO World Heritage City of Malaysia.
MALACCA, a UNESCO World Heritage City of Malaysia.

From the quaint Melaka River to the crowded Jonker Street, from the aged Malay Museums to the remarkable ruins of St. Paul Church, from the old Christ Church Melaka to the exceptional Masjid Kampung Klim, from the Heritage Sites to the River Cruise, from the beautiful Quayside Hotel to the towering Menara Taming Sari – this is

SINGAPORE, The Merlion City.
SINGAPORE, The Merlion City.

From the famous statue of Merlion to the captivating view of the Esplanade, from the grand Marina Bay Sands to the grandiose Marina Gardens by the Bay, from the famed Sentosa Island to the laid-back Kampong Glam, from skyscrapers to the well-preserved century-old structures of Arab Street, from spicy char kiew to mouthwatering laksa – this is SINGAPORE, the Merlion City!

WONDERFUL INDONESIA
WONDERFUL INDONESIA

From long queue at Sepukang Immigration to the Golden Factory Outlet, from delectable Indonesia cuisine served at Golden Prawn Batam to the city’s famous Chocolate House, from the old Chinese temples to the quiet Masjid Al-Hikmah to the interesting batik houses – this is my quick visit to Batam, INDONESIA!

HEAVENLY!
HEAVENLY!

TRAVEL + FOOD = HEAVEN! Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are food havens. And just like other countries I’ve visited in the past, my trip to this country will never be complete without trying out their most delectable cuisines – Malay, Indian, Nyonya, Chinese, Indonesian cuisines. And for 10 days, I travel these places tasting their rich culture through these gastronomic trips. Mmmmmm, heavenly!

Of course these beautiful stories didn’t only spin around the awe-inspiring places I visited but these even started and ended with people that I met along the course of this 10-day journey – friends who welcomed me to their homes, meeting old friends I haven’t seen in years and making new friends on the road. These people made this journey even more exhilarating.

PEOPLE 001
Meeting old friends. Making new ones.
  1. Joey and Krissy – my two most generous and equally energetic hosts/tour guides in Malaysia. They opened their beautiful home and embraced me as a member of the family for four days. I will never forget this lovely couple.
  2. Ivy and Cynthia – two beautiful Taiwanese ladies we met also in Putrajaya. We had a quick chat but I think that was the best quick chat I had in Malaysia. They were just darlings and I hope to see them in Taiwan, soon.
  3. Sediq and his son – my new Iranian friend whom Joey, Krissy and I met when we headed for Putarajaya. The heavy rain didn’t stop us from moving around Malaysia’s seat of the federal government.
  4. Azlan – my Malaysian friend I met three years ago in Kota Kinabalu. I was lucky he was in KL when I got there. I learned a lot talking to him exchanging views/opinions about our two countries. Thank you Azlan. I hope to see you again.
  5. Stuart – the handsome General Manager of Quayside Hotel in Malacca. Thanks to this guy, my stay at Melaka was one truly remarkable.
  6. Monien – one of closest friends back in college. She’s based in Singapore and it was a huge surprise we got to see each other unplanned. She toured me around enjoying the night scene in Singapore.
  7. Bongie – a colleague of mine here in the Philippines before he moved to Singapore last year. Because of him I was able to roam around Singapore in one day visiting key destinations one should see in Merlion City.
  8. Glendy – a bubbly and friendly girl Bongie and I met as we headed for Sentosa Island. Because of her, I got to visit the southernmost point of Continental Asia.
  9. Arlene – a fellow Cateeleno. We had an instant meet-up after I had my day-tour at Batam Indonesia.

From the bottom of my heart, TERIMA KASIH! 

This is The Travel Teller’s “THREE ASEAN COUNTRIES | TEN DAYS” The Travel Series