Namaste Kuala Lumpur!

A lot of people are getting married around me so the talks of honeymoon trips are a staple for me these days. Excited and lovey-dovey couples around me a spending a lot of time planning itineraries for dream destinations where they will give a romantic start to their beautiful lives together. What I hear most of them saying, are the typical countries: Italy, Greece and France. They all want to kiss against the Eiffel tower, cuddle in the gondolas and post Facebook pictures from the exotic Greek islands.

But what I feel is that most of them seem to forget how much excitement and beauty is there within Asia itself. One country which I feel is especially underrated is Malaysia. I have not visited the country personally but have family members or friends who have, have read a lot of articles about its various attractions and seem umpteen pictures that tell me that visiting Malaysia will be like having a time of my life! Whether the stunning beaches of the Perhentian Islands, or the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands, whether the treks through the huge national parks of Gunung Mulu and Taman NegaraIn Malaysia, or the dazzling life of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is one country that seems to offer something for everybody. But for me, personally, it is the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, which holds the maximum thrill and I intend to visit this dream destination very soon.

The biggest draw for me is KL’s mix of cultures (India, Chinese, Malay and Western) that creates such an interesting concoction that needs to be savored oneself. This blending of cultures seeps into each aspect of the KL life, whether be food, shopping, people or the nightlife. Being a culture freak, I absolutely love places where I see interplay between them. Added to this, it has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging around 20 to 30'C making it good on my body too.

Now comes the important part – what will I do once in Kuala Lumpur? Well, buckle up because my wish list is really long! Okay, let me break it up into five main parts, or let's say stops, for you:

Stop one: Architectural marvels – The Petronas Towers and KL tower

My first stop will be KL’s crown jewels. Standing at 451.9 meters, this 88-storey twin structure dominates the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Majestic by day and dazzling at night, the PETRONAS Twin Towers is inspired by Tun Mahathir Mohamad's vision for Malaysia to be a global player.

I want to start my tryst with The Petronas Towers with the interactive displays that showcase the journey, from idea to completion. Then I want to take in the view from the deck on the bridge which joins the towers on levels 41 and 42.  after standing on the skybridge for a long time marveling in this manmade beauty, I will take pictures to remember the towers forever. But that doesn’t mean that I will not go back at night to see them all lit up – how can I miss the sparkling jewels at night!

This majestic tower will be next on my agenda in Kuala Lumpur. Standing tall at 421 meters, the KL tower dwarfs its surroundings and is the fifth tallest building in the world. I have heard that the bird’s eye views of KL from the observation deck or revolving restaurant are actually more impressive than those offered by the Petronas Towers.

Besides the panoramic view, KL Tower has something for city dwellers who love nature. The verdant green surrounding Menara KL is the Bukit Nanas Forest - the only oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country.

Stop two: Nature’s delicacies – KL Bird Park and Batu caves

Being married to an environment fanatic, and having turned into a nature lover myself, how can I even think of missing the KL Bird Park! Located in the serene and scenic Perdana Botanical Gardens, the park is ome to more than 3,000 birds of 200 local and foreign bird species. But for me the most endearing and awaited feature of the park is also the main feature that distinguishes KL Bird Park from other bird parks, and that is the concept of free-flight.

I would love to see a myriad of colors through these beautiful and adorable birds, and feel happy at the same time that they have complete freedom at the park. Knowing that my husband will go crazy being amidst such a wonderful slice of nature, I know we will have a lot of time here and I will use it to also explore my photography skills. What better subjects can I find than some of these absolutely lovable birds?

Batu Caves: known as KL’d unique natural wonders, Batu Caves will be a must on my list.  I know they involve a climb up the 272 steps, but I also know that a huge golden Murugan statue will await me once I reach which will make it all completely worth it. I have read a lot about the 100 meter high ceiling and ornate Hindu shrines, and am very excited to witness them myself.

Stop three: Shopping extravaganza – Central market and Petaling street

Though I am not much of a shopping freak but I have heard that Kuala Lumpur has many markets where one can pick up bargains on electrical goods, food, clothes and mny other things! So this will be my next stop. The building was built in 1888 and originally functioned as a wet market. It has since been classified as a Heritage Site. So I will not only shop at the market but admire the architecture too.

The other draw for me is the Central Market Outdoor Stage, where I can catch colorful arts and cultural events. I am really looking forward to watching the area lit up in theme, reflecting the multiracial diversity of Malaysians during the country’s main festivals. Here’s an interesting fact for you: KL markets are open day and night, with the daytime markets being known as ‘Pasar Tani’ and the evening ones ‘Pasar Malam’.

You must have heard about Petaling Street’s extravagance at night. So have I and hence this will be another must do item for me. Shoppers get for anything from gems and incense to toys and t-shirts, but the true allure of this night market is in wandering about and enjoying its sights, sounds and energy. As an added bonus, further down from Petaling Street is the South Indian Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. I want to see the temple’s most impressive feature, which is the gate tower which is adorned with depictions of Hindu Gods.

If time permits, I will also visit Lot 10 that is known to serve the wealthy with its glamorous products and construction.

Stop four: Historic journey – Islamic Arts Museum and National Museum

The Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia exhibits over seven thousand artifacts and has an extensive library of Islamic texts and art works.  The art objects on display range from the tiniest pieces of jewellery to one of the world’s largest scale models of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The aim is to create a collection that is truly representative of the Islamic world.

The building occupies 30,000 sq.m. situated amid the leafy surroundings of Kuala Lumpur’s Perdana Botanical Gardens. Being a culture and history buff, I am looking forward to learning a lot of interesting facts about Islam.

This will of course be followed by a visit to the national history museum where I will learn a lot more about the Malaysian historical abundance and its cultural richness. At the national museum, I would like to take a walk through the museum grounds, which will also unveil various national treasures including the istana (palace) of Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Sultan of Terengganu in 1884. The palace, Istana Satu, is built entirely of hardwood, and built in the museum compounds in 1974.

If time permits, I will also make a pit stop at the Royal Malaysia Police Museum that features old uniforms, weaponry, and vehicles.

Stop five: Culinary adventures – All over!

Being such a potpourri of cultures, Kuala Lumpur’s food scene does not disappoint anyone. It boasts of some of the best Indian, Chinese, Malay and Western culinary delights.

While there are high end restaurants with their sophisticated palettes and offerings, the street markets and roadside stalls are a great place to place to pick up hawker food as well. Being an Indian, however clich├ęd it may be, I will surely pay a visit to Little India where I will savor the delight of Indian food on a foreign land. Then I will follow it up with Chinatown that serves some lip smacking food at very affordable prices. 

I plan to visit Jalan Sultan that’s a street with scores of stalls and Kampung Baru that preserves the traditional Malay way of life. And other than these, I will surely walk around the entire Kulala Lumpur terrain on foot to savor the delicacies it promises to offer me. This will also give me a unique view of the KL life itself.

Not exactly culinary, but again based on time the last two things I may fit into my Kuala Lumpur trip (based on time available) would be the theme park, Cosmo’s World and the Aquaria KLCC. I have heard great reviews of the park’s rides, water park, garden highlands, and the Mines Wonderland; and of the sensational aquatic experience of the aquarium.

So these were my five wish list items for a trip to my dream destination, Kuala Lumpur. Mercifully, there are many avenues that can make this trip affordable on my pocket now. The transport can be taken care of by a fantastic online fair that Air Asia is running at the moment – truly it is World’sBest Online Travel Fair! Check it out if you are looking to book flights not only to destinations in Asia, but also to Australia. Air asia flies to Kuala Lumpur from Chennai / Trichy / Bangalore / Kochi / Kolkata.

p.s. I have taken most images from the Tourism Malaysia website and a few from news and travel websites that showed up on Google. This post is written for an Air Asia contest.


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