A compelling blend of cuisines, cultures, sights and activities – it might turn out to be your dream destination, says R Srinivasan.
The name ‘Malaysia’ as per one school of thought is believed to have been derived from the word ‘Melayu’ in Malay, supposedly from the Tamil words ‘Malai’ (mountain) and ‘Ur’ (city). The country’s third-largest source of foreign exchange is tourism and it was quite recently listed as ‘one of the best places to retire in the world’. With such credentials, let’s take a look at some of the sight-seeing options it offers for avid travellers. So here goes…
An iconic landmark of Kuala Lumpur, the 88-storeyed Petronas twin towers house the headquarters of national oil company Petronas. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli, the towers with an overall are constructed largely of reinforced concrete with a steel and laminated glass façade. Some other wellknown companies such as Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, etc, reportedly have their offices in tower 2. To cater to shoppers, one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, the Suria KLCC features mostly imported luxury items and international brands. A double-decker sky-bridge connects the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors and is designed to slide in and out of the towers during high winds to prevent it from breaking. Since tickets for the sky-bridge are limited to about 1000 people per day on a first-come, first-served basis, ensure that you get there early. In fact the climax scene of a Hollywood Sean Connery starrer (Entrapment), which was set on the sky-bridge, showcases its resplendent beauty. Try to catch a glimpse of its magnificence at dusk when it is fully lit up and it dominates the Kuala Lumpur (KL) skyline.
This tourist attraction, to a great extent, is for the religious minded. The caves are named after the nearby Batu river or the 10th (‘Patthu’ in Tamil) limestone hill. During Thaipusam festival, which is celebrated here since 1892 and held usually in January- February, Hindus flock here from across the globe. The main shrine can be accessed after climbing 272 steps. The world’s tallest (140 feet high) Murugan statue which is located outside the caves was reportedly constructed using 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and embellished with 300 litres of gold paint. Apart from the religious aspect, for adventure junkies, the caves also offer over 160 climbing routes with abseiling and spelunking trips organised by local adventure firms.
If venturing in to cool, humid caves and moving between cave chambers, even while overcoming the claustrophobic challenge, is what you’d like to do then this could be just what you desire. Some caves that one could visit in Sarawak are the Deer cave with its bat observatory and American President Abraham Lincoln’s portrait which can be seen from a particular angle inside the cave. In Lang cave, ancient limestone formations are illuminated with lights and wind cave is so named due to the wafting cool breeze. The presence of a stalactite resembling the Chinese Goddess of Mercy in Fairy cave in Kuching proves to be a huge draw for the local Chinese populace.