Thursday, May 18, 2006

Two Days in Malaysia

We flew into Kuala Lumpur Airport early in the morning. This was the first time we were travelling outside India with our 3-year old daughter, but she had company. Two of our friends were sharing this vacation with us along with their 4-year old son! This worked out rather well! The kids kept themselves busy with each other and let us adults get some quality time together. We already had visas and therefore immigration didn't take time. We only had to get some local currency (Ringgits) and we were ready to go.

The drive to Genting Highlands was very impressive. We were surprised by the good quality of roads and the modern looking buildings that lined them as we drove through the city of Kuala Lumpur (or KL as the locals like to call it). But what really made the 60 min drive worthwhile was the greenery all around when we left the city to drive to Genting.

Thick, lush green vegetation everywhere! As the road wound through the mountainside, we could see the faint outline of a building at the very top through the misty clouds that shrouded the tops. Imagine our excitement when we realized that was our hotel! Genting Hotel is a large hotel (like the other two hotels on the top of Genting Highlands) built to Las Vegas specifications! Its in-house casino, maze of basement level malls, and underground walkways to the nearby amusement parks takes time to discover.

Genting Highlands has two amusement parks and one of them is completely indoors (roller-coaster rides and all!). There are multiple restaurants and fast-food eating choices within these hotels. We loved Ming Ren, which is a lamb speciality restaurant. We also recommend the variety of fresh dimsums at the Marketplace in First World Hotel which houses the indoor Amusement Park.

We had day-passes to both amusement parks and made full use of them. The kids loved the rides and kept repeating them, while we tasted all the delicious Chinese and Malay street food on display. And finally it was time to go! Everyone was exhausted from being on our feet the entire day, and we tried to nap on our drive to KL.

Hotel Istana where we were staying is in the downtown area and within walking distance of the Minara (revolving restaurant on top of a pencil-thin tower), upscape malls, and the monorail station. We spend some time walking through the city and sat down at a streetside cafe for dinner. While I was going ga-ga about how modern KL looked, my wife was not as impressed. She thought the city looked a little artificial since we didn't see any of the 'real' people. All we saw in the downtown areas were the westernized youth of the city. KL looked like any other Western city; the only thing we noticed that was distinctly Malaysian were the headscarves on the sales-girls who otherwise donned western clothes.

The bell-boy wished us Namaste and asked us if we were here to meet Shah Rukh Khan! Apparently, SRK was shooting for Don in an adjoining hotel leading to much excitement in this part of the city. Before we left Malaysia we ended up seeing an IMax movie, took a city tour that included some museums, the Petronas Towers, and a govt. batik production facility.

The strongest impression of Malaysia that I carried back was how green the country is. From the skies, as you drive and everywhere you look! I would love to come back and visit their forest the next time.

3 comments:

AzAzura said...

The 'Minara' that you wrote about is actually Menara Kuala Lumpur, Menara means Tower in English and the Revolving Restaurant is quite good and only a few minutes walk from my residents.I am glad that you had a good time in Malaysia.

After going through you blog , I think it is a very interesting blog and will come back again .

Shantanu said...

@azazura: Thanks for visiting and leaving these comments. Yes, we did enjoy our first visit to Malaysia and hope to be back, this time to visit some of your lush green forests and beaches.

AzAzura said...

My pleasure,if you need any travel advice and places to go, you know where to find me.
Azura