Sunday, May 27, 2007

Malaysia...Truly Asia...!!!

This happens to be my 100th post. And also, the Longest. A family trip after 6 years! meaning 3 people!

Destination: Malaysia

Date of Departure: 17th May.

Duration of Stay: 8 days

Nature of Visit: Pleasure

Nature of Experience: A Visual Delight.

You know you're about to land in Malaysia, when you spot a lot of GREEN from the airplane window. Once you land, A huge airport welcomes you... with signs all over which read, 'Celebrating 50 years of Nationhood', 'Visit Malaysia Year'...vibrant tourism-campaigning!!! The amazing Arrival Hall (which has an equally amazing Starbucks outlet famous for its Frappuccino, duty free shops, The Body Shop, etc) connects to the Departure Hall via an orange and white train- yes, the airport is unimaginably huge and provides you with one helluva walking experience. Always wear flats/ comfortable walking shoes. I was glad i did. It takes around 40 minutes easily to wade your way out of the airport!

From the airport, the nearest points are Cyberjaya and Putrajaya(the soon-going to be Capital) and are most preferred for their silence. The city is far from these areas, but well connected with excellent bus services( quite reasonable too) and metros( which are very fast)!! Taking the car/cab into the city, is not a wise option whatsoever.
This is the place, where you find KL at its greenest best. The imitations of the London Bridge, Sydney Bridge, make the Putrajaya-Cyberjaya worth seeing!! Also, Shopping at Alamanda here, is much cheaper than the city, as some citizens claim.
In case you take the bus to KL city, you gotta make your way to the Putrajaya bus station and catch the E1 5 ringets for a ticket which works as a return ticket as well. If its a one-way trip you're considering, its 3 ringets per head.
[ 1 ringet= 13 rupees]***
At the KL Sentral, the main station for buses and metros, you can also, find youself indulging in shopping. Sandals sell at a smart 20ringets and a plethora of fruits with exotic names greet you at a price very affordable. A must have is the Durio, and the sweet Papaya.
From the KL Sentral, aboard the colourful metro trains, one can reach Masjid Jamek for a good shopping treat. The train also gives a view of the twin towers, the Petronas, which include shopping centres as well, all branded showrooms and expensive on the pocket. The style is chic though.
From Masjid Jamek, the Royal Selangor Club, one of the oldest ones(since 1884), is a 15 minute walk, which allows you to catch the High Court and a spectacular Railway Station.
The club however should not surprise you if it serves warm Neembu Paani. Its healthy according to them. Vegetarians need to remember to specify their pedigree and request an eggless meal. Since its not India, your request would be granted with a smile, and at no extra charge. We were told by a lot of people, that in Malaysia, you get whatever you want to eat. You just got to ask for it. However, non vegetarian food looks tempting enough.
Within the first two days, i learnt all that.
The next 2-3 days were spent travelling and visiting Genting Highlands and Langkawi.
Genting Highlands is a La Appu Ghar/Essel World. Only more pleasant! Situated atop the hill, the amusement park offers a variety of rides. And very scary ones. Not recommended for weak hearted people including the likes of my mother!!
Getting there is simple. Once again, you reach the KL Sentral and go to the second floor where ticket reservation for Genting is done. 24.90 ringets per head is the deal, up and down, including the Cable Car fare. Its a package deal. you need to ask for it. The bus goes every hour, from 9.30 in the morning till evening. One whole day is enough out there, if you dont want to take ALL the rides, which is what i did.
It takes an hour to reach Genting, and the cable car is another 15-20 minute procedure. As you move up, you shall feel you're about to touch the clouds. If you're lucky, you might! And well, we were amongst the luckier slot, i would like to believe. Unlike the city, for obvious reasons, Genting is cold...a light sweater would do... it would especially leave you cosy when you're trying to touch the clouds..
Upon arrival, you have chances of getting lost. Do not be like a man, and ASK for directions. There's the choice of an Indoor Theme Park ( casinos and luck games) and the Outdoor Theme Park( car racing, roller coasters, Free falls..). Food-joints are plenty including our very own Pizza Hut! However, its to be noted that they serve strange looking French Fries at exorbidant prices.
Going back freaked my mother. She cannot tolerate the thought of missing a bus/train. What one needs to know is, that the next one will eventually arrive. do NOT panic.
We finally made it on time to the KL Sentral where the bus for Putrajaya makes you wait for 30 minutes. to be exact. At Chinatown, it stops for eternity. However, there's a Saviour called Banana Leaf( also in Delhi now) which serves GOOD vadas. Once the driver gets back in motion its a speed to more than 100km/h that we ride on. From Putrajaya to Cyberjaya( where we put up) is 10ringets in a cab. Reasonable eh?
The same night we travelled to Langkawi. Paradise in other words. Again,its last train is at 11.30 pm. So you cant be late. The other option is to PANIC. However, the bus comes in late. From the KL Sentral, Puduraya aint far. Puduraya is the bus station from where you get luxury buses for Langkawi, Singapore and other places. The double-decker Konsortium buses(36 ringet per head) are a pleasure ride. Its a six-hour journey which cradles you like a baby to sleep... From the Kuala Perlis bus station, the Ferry Station is a 5 minute walk and at 15 ringets per head, a star cruiser takes you to the main Island of Langkawi which is something no one should miss.
Once there, Cenang beach is the place to Lodge. Best Star resort offers Family Chalets at a 120 ringet enough to accomadate 4 people. It overlooks the beach..precisely the Andaman Sea.
The most important thing you NEED to do there is go Island hopping. 35 ringets per person and an almost 4 hour activity. The motorboats speed you to the islands Langkawi boasts of including that of the Sleeping Maiden. The island is shaped like a sleeping pregnant maiden rumoured to me grievened by the loss of her mortal lover which led her to drown her new born into the lake. They say the infertile can benefit from taking a dip in the very lake. The myth surely sells.
Eagle Feeding is another showtime watch. somehow the eagles can sense a motorboat with passengers and agree to a 3 minute performance. Not more.
The beach is the last resort. Full of natural pumic stones, the sand is great for cracked heels and the water is trasparent enough to catch a shoal of the smallest of fishes scuttling there way through swimming human bodies. The monkeys in the area are clever enough to unzip your bag and scrounge through valuables.In india, this phenonmenon is famously printed across busy markets and public transport as "Beware of Pickpockets" [ I'm guessing Darwin's Evolution Theory is true]
Food options range from Thai, Indian,Chinese, Malay Sea-Food across the Cenang Beach's Main street. Not too much of a walk. Just the right amount for digestion.
For 70 ringets per 3 hours, you can tour around the island in a cab. No bargaining is possible since they all have the same rate. No cheating therefore. A cable car ride for the island view is a must. The ride is steep and there are 2 stations. The one in the middle is for a great scenic view, and if you want yourself a wax model of your hand. Interesting eh?
The final stop is 705 metres above sea level and allows you to have a view of Thailand. Once again, you get to touch the clouds if you can climb and walk around a lot. The complex has tourist kiosks where souveniers are available at reasonable prices.
The Crocodile Farm is filled wih sleeping crocodiles. The best time to visit is 11.30am and 2.30 pm, for those are show timings where the croco's teeth are brushed and several antics performed. You can catch the kind of stuff on Ripley's Believe It or Not. [Entry Fee: 5 ringets per head, 1 ringet for the camera/handicam]
The waterfall is great...loads of watch out!
Later that day, we took the 5.30 ferry and waited at the Kuala Perlis bus station till about 10. A long wait, which didnt seem like one. The bus however arrived at 11.30 and played music loud enough to not let you sleep.
We were amused by a great singer-cab driver at Puduraya upon arrival. Irritated by my suggestion of switching off the radio, he decided to introduce me to Live singing. I never giggled that loud. However, it was the irony i was laughing at, and not his talent, like my ever-assuming mom thinks.
The next day was spent shopping.
I didnt quite realise how time...and 8 days flew.
p.s: If you have a weak bladder, be sure to carry enough change in your pockets. Its 30cents per visit, no matter WHERE you go.
p.p.s: The place can give you some amazing friends like the Bandhopadhyas who were a treat to be with.

You know you're about to land in India, when you spot a lot of BROWN from the airplane window. Once you land, A huge,chaotic mess they call the Airport, welcomes you...