AN OASIS OF FUN IN SOUTHEASTERN ASIA, KUALA LUMPUR OFFERS ITS VISITORS A DIFFERENT WORLD AND UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES.
I take a cab from the park surrounding the Petronas Towers which pierce the skies like swords to Chinatown, chatting with the Chinese driver throughout. “We all live in harmony here,” he says. As he calmly speaks, I realize that I admire the people of Kuala Lumpur, a city that has left me awestruck.
The peaceful atmosphere my cab driver mentions is partly due to the harmonious coexistence of the of Indian, Chinese and Malay populations. The moment I step off the plane, I can feel that he is right.
The green tropical trees behind the top-to-bottom window, the steel constructions of the airport, the escalators, and digital screens... The tropical atmosphere is felt even inside the closed space of the airport where people hurry from one corner to the next. The understanding of urban planning that preserves nature with all its glory in modern architecture is hard to miss.
I look around as I drive by the city. I see how a city can be both futuristic and exotic. The “Muddy Confluence” of centuries past, Kuala Lumpur is now a clean, enviable and orderly city. The urban texture here is designed in a way that unites nature and people rather than separating them. It’s one of the reasons why Kuala Lumpur always makes me as happy as the first time I visited. Walking in the shade of the skyscrapers that dominate the cityscape, I realize that even these tall buildings don’t bother me - in fact, I find peace in their tranquil glory. This must be because, here, I witness the wonderful harmony between the people of Southeast Asia and their unique lifestyles.
The moment I hop out of the taxi in Chinatown, I smell the scent of incense from the Tao Temple nearby. The Chinese owner of the tea boutique I accidently discover in one of the backstreets is line love with his teas. Gracefully, he pours me a cup. Presented in elegant porcelain cups of different qualities, the teas taste different depending on the quality of the porcelain. I feel very happy here and start thinking that drinking tea in this lovely shop makes one like Kuala Lumpur even more.
When the humid and suffocating air starts overwhelming me, I leave the stalls of Chinatown and head towards the tranquil Lake Gardens comprising Bird Park, Orchid Garden and Butterfly Park. The largest bird park in the world is located inside the Lake Gardens. With more than 200 bird species of mesmerizing colors flying around, the park enables visitors to experience a wonderful forest atmosphere at the heart of the city.
Let’s imagine a city: it’s very modern with skyscrapers and giant shopping centers but also has visually stunning and peaceful exotic parks where people can relax. This is a just description of Kuala Lumpur, where there are many impressive green areas similar to the Lake Gardens.
I leave behind the realm of birds and sit at one of the street vendors in Jalan Alor. I order Rendang Tok, a favorite of Malay people prepared with fish.
One of the best aspects of a trip to Kuala Lumpur is tasting different cuisines which are abundant due to the city's cultural and ethnic diversity. You can try various delicacies from Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines for an affordable price. Those who enjoy saucy and spicy food are in for a treat as the city is full of interesting tastes and aromas. The vivacity and the lively crowd of the streets can cause you to inadvertently skip a meal. There are some food kiosks managed by Indian Muslims, called “Mamak Shop” by the locals – you should definitely try their genuine dishes. Located on almost every corner, mamak’s specialty is roti canai (a type of Indian flatbread).
On my third day in Kuala Lumpur, I travel 70 kilometers from the city to see a very romantic place in Kuala Selangor: Fireflies Park. The moment I heard the name, I decided to spend a night there and imagined the pleasure of watching the glittering lights of the fireflies in the dark by the Selangor River. I was not disappointed in the least: I can still remember the one-hour tour on the calm river and the blinking flight of the fireflies.
As I take a cab after the river cruise and head back towards the modern lights of the city (which reminds me of space bases from afar), I realize that I already the light of the fireflies. Thinking of what a wonderful world we live in, I arrive at the hotel and sleep soundly.
My last day in Kuala Lumpur is reserved for Central Market. I stroll around the stalls buying anything and everything I can carry, eating lots of tropical fruit and getting soaked by the tropical rain in the afternoon.
Blessed with a calm harmony between the modern and the traditional, Kuala Lumpur’s strengths are the kind you don’t see in most cities: respect for nature and people, harmony and peace. As I pack my bag, I think that Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities where the beauty is in the details.
A visit to Kuala Lumpur isn’t complete without exploring the natural beauties of Malaysia. Your first stop should be the virgin Tioman Island which makes you feel as if you’re exploring a different realm rather than a different country. Situated on the South China Sea, Tioman is regarded as one of the world’s best vacation islands with its crystal-clear waters and cleanliness, especially for diving enthusiasts! Divers can also consider Sipadan, the only Malaysian island in the ocean, or Redang, a popular diving spot with its clear waters and coral reefs, as an alternative.
The underwater wonders here are innumerable. When finished exploring them, how about going ashore to breathe in the tropical air of Malaysia? The largest mountainous area in the country, Cameron Highlands, promises an unforgettable holiday experience with its fresh air and array of activities. If you’re one of the city-dwellers who dream of playing with soil, then Cameron Highlands has something to offer: you can visit the wonderful strawberry gardens and handpick fresh strawberries!
The best time to experience Malaysia in full colors is the Citrawarna festival, held from May 15 to June 15. Also known as “Colors of Malaysia”, the festival reflects Kuala Lumpur’s rich cultural diversity. You can attend concerts or shop at the festival fair. Be prepared for an unforgettable adventure as you might want to mingle with the dancing crowd instead of just watching the revelers in their colorful costumes.
Having experienced the colorful chaos and diverse fabric of Malaysia, now it’s time for Putrajaya. Meticulously designed like a garden, Putrajaya is a picturesque city with its unique architecture and landscaping. It’s a great place to admire how contemporary and traditional architecture blend together and how a city can develop by preserving its natural texture. Don’t forget to visit the pink and tropical Putra Mosque and take a boat tour through Putrajaya.