Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – September 1999

Selamat Datang! – the first words which greet you on arrival in Malaysia.

September

Pesta Malaysia, the festival celebrating Malaysian Culture, Craft and of course, Food….. will be held from the 11th-21st of September. A

majority of the events planned will be taking place in KL, call the

tourism offices for more details 03 293 5188 or alternately 03 264

3929.

Museums and Art Galleries

The National Museum is located in the southern end of the lake

gardens. It is quite informative and interesting, although like many

museums in Malaysia, it seems to be suffering from neglect.

Galeri Petronas in KLCC has Satu Warisan Songket, an exhibition of

antique Songket (traditional Malaysian cloth which is handwoven with

gold and silver threads) which runs until the 5th of September.

Speaking of Songket…The textile museum, located in the old City

Hall, near the Sultan Abdul Sahmed building on Jln Raja Laut is well

worth a look if you are at all interested in local textiles or

traditional crafts. The Museum has beautiful antique examples of

various textiles including Songket and Batik. Displays explaining the

processes involved in their creation (Weaving, Dyeing, Printing) are

informative and various traditional Malay costumes are presented.

Shopping malls, Swimming pools, Suburbs

If you are a bit of a mall rat you will enjoy participating in the

local sport – shopping!! Shopping malls are a major attraction for

Malaysians and they really are everywhere. There are several large

malls in the city, around the ‘Golden Triangle’ area, and of course

KLCC, but they seem to be the focal point of every suburb.

The trendiest suburb in KL has to be Bangsar, home of hip young

Malaysians and Expats. Bangsar is full of beautiful people, cafes,

bars, clubs and restaurants, it is the place to be ‘seen’. Here you

will find supermarkets where imported and overpriced luxuries

overflow the trolleys of fat expats talking on cellphones.

There are many good restaurants to choose from if you feel like a treat,

Annalakshmi is a well known Indian vegetarian restaurant staffed by

volunteers, and the Red Fort is an excellent, reasonably priced

restaurant specialising in Northern Indian food. You can get to

Bangsar by light rail from KL city centre.

Leaving KL to the South West, you pass through the ceremonial

boundary gateway “Kota Darul Ehsan” and you are now in Selangor

state. The Suburban sprawl continues; Petaling Jaya blends into Shah

Alam and eventually Klang.

I am living in Bandar Sunway, a suburb of Petaling Jaya. The local mall is a bit of a spectacle, an Egyptian pyramid complete with a rather friendly looking Sphinx. The walls are covered with ‘hieroglyphics’ depicting the art of shopping. If you tire of shopping, there is an ice skating rink downstairs, as well as a bowling alley, movie theatres and, of course, numerous restaurants.

Sunway also boasts a water theme park and resort hotel. Like many other theme parks in the area, Sunway Lagoon has been built around the crater of a tin mine, the huge hole left in the ground was flooded to form the ‘lagoon’. The wave pool in Sunway Lagoon is apparently the world’s biggest, the surf gets pretty crowded on weekends though. Hire of surfboards is an extra 15RM on top of the entrance fee, and the waves get turned up in the early evening for an hour of surfing. Sunway Pyramid can be reached by bus from outside Kota Raya in Central KL.

The state capital, Shah Alam, is home to the countries largest mosque,

which is surrounded by the lake gardens in quite a picturesque

setting. There is also a tourist information centre at the Holiday

Inn end of the lake gardens, but the state museum has seen far better

days.

The old capital, Klang can be reached by KTM train from KL. The

train ride is quite interesting itself – look out for weaver bird

nests and monkeys! The Klang train station is located in the older

part of town. While the bus station is back past the railway station

across the bridge, in what seems to be the newer part of town. If you

cross the road from the train station, and continue walking you will

find yourself wandering past streets of saree shops, statue sellers

and curry houses.

Try to arrive in time for a delicious breakfast of Roti, Idli or Dosai!! I find this area more atmospheric than the Little India area of KL, it is also more relaxing and there are no other tourists in sight.

On the streets there is sometimes a man with a green parrot in a wicker cage, the bird is an expert fortune teller. The bus station is back past the railway station, over the bridge in what seems to be the newer end of town.

The local bookshops (Times, MPH) are selling a tourist guide to this

whole area; The Klang Valley for a discounted price of 10RM (it has

the twin towers on the cover). If you have a car, or are planning on

spending a few days around here it is quite a worthwhile little guide.

Kuala Selangor

Of course, endless shopping malls may not appeal to the average

traveller! If you want to escape the haze and noise of the frantic

city, there are various parks, reserves and forests within easy

reach.

If you are interested in birdwatching Taman Alam Kuala Selangor is worth a trip. The park is managed jointly by the Selangor government and the Malaysian Nature Society.

In October, the park hosts a number of migratory birds, boasting their total to 156 regularly seen species. The park is coastal and the includes habitats of secondary forest, mudflats, estuary and mangroves. The Nature society claims that the average number of birds seen by a first time visitor is around 50, they provide you with a checklist when you go in, but it might be an idea to try and borrow a bird identification book if you are going to fill it in!!

The park is also home to a variety of animals including:

Otters, Monitor Lizards, Pangolins, and Leopard Cats; although you

are more likely to see Squirrels, Macaques, and Silvered Leaf

Monkeys. Entrance costs 2RM and the office sells a range of souvenirs

and drinks. As birds tend to be most active during the morning or

late afternoon, it may be worthwhile to stay overnight, either in

Kuala Selangor township, or in the chalets at the park. To book the

chalets/arrange meals, phone 03 889 2294 during office hours.

At night you also have the opportunity of visiting Kampung Kuantan,

9km away from Kuala Selangor. Kampong Kuantan is famous for its

firefly colonies, which can be viewed as you row along the river in a

Sampan.

Unfortunately, plans are afoot to build a dam which would

flood this part of the Sungai Selangor so the future of the fireflies

is uncertain. Hire of a Sampan is 40RM and each boat takes a maximum

of 4 passengers. For more information, call 603-889 1439 during

office hours, or contact Mr. Zaini 603-889 7046.

Kuala Selangor can be reached by bus from KL or alternatively by taking a train to Klang, wandering around there then taking a bus on to Kuala Selangor. If you have a car then look out for the numerous Tom Yam stalls and restaurants along the road, these are reputed to be the best in Malaysia!

Arrival

The Malaysian Tourism website provides information on KLIA including the options available of getting from the airport into town.

Accommodation

According to the guidebooks, the majority of backpackers head to Chinatown. After having also stayed at another nearby establishment (and viewing rooms in several), I must recommend the Odyssey Backpackers. Located at 46 Jalan Silang, on the third floor, the

Odyssey is clean and secure with friendly and helpful staff. Elsewhere you will probably need your own padlock and an affinity for bedbugs!

Communication

If you purchase a Telekom phonecard, be aware that the cardphones are out of order and there is only one place in town where you can make international calls: The Telekom office.

Internet cafes are mushrooming, and are cheap. Downstairs from the Odyssey, the Melody internet cafe is nice. It provides a breakfast deal of toast, coffee/juice and 1/2 hr internet for 5RM, although it doesn’t open until nine.

Helpful Links

Malay Tourism

Visit Malaysia

Malaysia Directory

Lonely Planet

The Author

I am a Kiwi currently living in Petaling Jaya, a satellite city of Kuala Lumpur. After travelling through South East Asia earlier in the year, my partner and I have returned to live and work in Malaysia.

We believe that living in another country will provide a different, new and exciting set of challenges. Also we look forward to opportunities for further travel and exploration.

Apart from travel my main interests include; Art, Wildlife/ Conservation and Eastern religions/ traditions. So don’t be surprised if I focus on these subjects!

I am currently living in my tevas (it’s too hot for boots here!) and suffering from the curse of Cinderella’s step sisters.

At intervals I am lured into shoe stores with their tempting arrays of shiny, fashionable and ridiculously cheap shoes, to undergo a kind of consumer torture.

At the urging of eternally optimistic saleswomen, I attempt to squeeze into shoes which are inevitably two sizes too small!

Traveler Article


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