Malaysia, Truly Asia

KL in Two Days – Selamat Datang. That's the first sign that greets you when you step into Kuala Lumpur. KL, known as the federal capital of Malaysia, is a bustling metropolis, a city that blends the old and the new, the principal centre of commerce, politics and entertainment. A conspicuous mix of culture, religion and architectural styles, fused together in an extremely well-laid out city.

The Twin Towers and the KL Tower are two of the most notable and well-known landmarks of the city. KLCC is the shopping complex located in the area, a variety of branded stores where you can buy almost everything! The commercial nature of the city gets further reiterated in the form of interesting markets like Chinatown and the Central market. Consisting of a large number of little shops that sell mostly indigenous handicrafts made by Malaysian artists, their sheer diversity simply surprise you. A nice way to soak in a feel of the old city is by driving past historic buildings like the Independence Square, House of Parliament, National Monument, old Railway Station and the National Mosque. A drive slightly out of the main city takes you to the Batu caves. Here, there is an ancient south Indian temple with a towering statue of the idol at the entrance. On climbing about 272 stairs, one reaches a fascinating temple built completely inside the caves.

One of the prettiest visits in KL is the beautiful Bird Park and the Butterfly Park. Here, you get to see some of the rarest and loveliest species of domesticated birds and butterflies. The creatures seem completely unafraid of outsiders; some have even been trained to sit still on a single spot the entire day! Feeding emus and ostriches out of your hands is an extraordinary experience that will stay with you for a long time!

About an hour's drive away from KL, lie the picturesque Genting Highlands. These hills are about 600 feet above sea level; one immediately feels the temperature becoming cooler. Fresh, crisp mountain air envelops you in this enchanting little village, full of cosy little resorts and inns. Incidentally, you can also visit the Genting Highlands – largest inn in the world. If amusement parks and joy rides are what you're into, then Genting is a must. Ripley's Believe It Or Not and the Haunted House are two of the best rides that will intrigue not just the children, but grown-ups too! There is also a huge complex full of shops, restaurants and casinos housed, where you can spend a lot of money, if you're not careful. We were lucky to watch a spectacular show called Fly, a complete dance-drama, similar to a circus. The two-hour production was the result of the combined effort of French, Malay and Chinese talent; its enchanting display of moves, music, magic and stunts, left the audience gasping for more!

After two relaxing days in Genting, we headed off to our next Malaysian adventure – Langkawi. Nicknamed the "Caribbean of the East", Langkawi literally means a reddish-brown eagle. A cluster of isles, filled with myths and marvels, basking languidly in glistening waters, Langkawi comprises a group of 99 tropical islands lying off the north-western coast of peninsular Malaysia. The region boasts of exotic beauty as seen through its enchanting white stretch of palm-fringed beaches. It's the perfect retreat for anyone – a romantic escapade for the honeymooning couple, a haven for the water sports enthusiast, or the reclusive getaway for the weary executive.

The island is home to warm and friendly inhabitants, who smile gently at each other and who are hospitable to tourists. We had the chance to stay at an impressive property known as the Sheraton Langkawi. It is huge and has rooms resembling mini cottages. It has multiple facilities: its own private beach, swimming pool, fitness centre, tennis court, even a giant chess set. A great option, especially if you are short on time, is to head straight to the town of Kuah on your first day. Located at the southeastern tip of Langkawi, Kuah is the island's main town. From here, the best thing to do is to hop onto a jetty via a speedboat or catamaran, and go all the way to Pulau Payar Marine Park. The park is situated 19 nautical miles south of Langkawi, and teems with a fascinating diversity of marine life and vegetation. It was here that we snorkelled, and saw some of the most outstanding fishes and corals within arm's length distance!

Langkawi resorts are a delight to walk around and explore on a rainy day. Idling by a beach, after a leisurely game of giant chess, I thought nostalgically, that it was time to bid farewell to Malaysia..

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