Vijay (veira) wrote,

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Selamat Datang

"Selamat Datang" means "Welcome" in Malay. Indeed it was a welcome break and a trip to a beautiful country during the Chinese New year holidays last week. This was my first trip to Malaysia. Since the time I moved to Shanghai, I have used the Malaysian airlines umpteen times. So much so that I have stayed as a gold card member of the frequent flyer program of the airline called "Enrich" for the last two years or so. This meant transiting many a time through the airport at Kuala Lumpur. The closest I came to stepping foot in Malaysia, was when during one of my trips back to Shanghai, the flight from Mumbai got delayed. The connecting flight had already left and we went through emigration to be put up at the Pan Pacific which is a hotel attached to the KL airport. It was a short 10 hour stay, limited to the hotel room.

Malaysia too is a multi ethnic and multi religious country. Essentially a Muslim country, there are 3 distinct races. Malays who kind of rule the country constitute 54% of the population while Chinese are around 25% and Indians are approximately 8%. Then there are a few other races as well. The Chinese are predominantly well off and are into business while the Indian community was traditionally the labour class which came from Tamil Nadu. While "One Malaysia" is a cause political leaders want the nation to aspire for, I did get a feeling that there is some way to go. For one, being a Muslim country, when approximately 30% of the population is not, means that these communities are naturally excluded while trying to be inclusive! (hopefully readers will not view me as anti-Islamic. I believe that a theocratic state of any religion, drives exclusivism)

We took the China Eastern from Shanghai and travelled through the night to arrive at KL and further on to Langkawi by flight at around 11 am the following day. Amazingly refreshing, Langkawi consists of 99 islands. We stayed at the Rebak Island Resort which is a Taj Property on a private island. While I would recommend this to any one who may want to visit the place, it is a little on the expensive side. In fact during the Chinese new year holidays, most of the flights and locations in this part of the world becomes dearer. The Chinese are in fact travelling a lot more these days, and it points out to the prosperity they have achieved in the last 10 years or so. At the resort itself there were people from all the geographies. We did notice a few Indians at our resort. The only difference being that they all looked to be the honeymoon couples, with dreams of having an equally exciting life in the future! (sarcasm not intended) With Sharanya and Pavithra around it was an enjoyable stay at Langkawi. One of the new things we did, was Parasailing. Its quite a treat being alone in the sky with the sea beneath, as long as you think and feel that you are going to be safely back on land!

After a couple of days, we headed straight to Kuala Lumpur. We were quite impressed by the roads and cleanliness around. I have gone to over 20 countries including some in Africa and would rate roads in India as amongst the worst. The Petronas twin towers provided a very imposing view and I believe it was the tallest building in the world till 2004. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza which is quite close to the towers. The area itself has many shopping centers and multiple hotels including the Mariott, Ascott and Renaissance. The next day we visited the Batu caves, which is around 13 kilometers from the downtown. It houses arguably the tallest Murugan statue in the world. Housed atop 272 steps is the Sri Subramania Swamy temple. The area looked a like a mini Chennai with distinct Tamil experiences. After a quick visit, we headed to a shop at the base which sold Tamil DVDs. Buying new Tamil and Malayalam movie DVDs has become one of the most important tasks since we moved to Shanghai.

With Sharanya not too well during our KL stay, our movement was to an extent restricted. However on the final day we decided to take the "hoponhopff bus" which runs around KL and is valid for 24 hours. The price of a ticket is 38 Ringitt. While we used it only for around 4 hours, it gave us a quick snap shot into KL. We got a glimpse of Little China, Little India and the Merdeka square which is a symbol of Malaysian Independence. Our flight back was at 3.30 am which meant that we had to spend close to 7 hours at the KL airport. We had quite a few dosas in our trip including twice at the KL airport. The dinner that day on our travel back consisted of ghee dosas! Pavithra had a wholesome South Indian lunch when we visited the temple.

Malaysia is an amazing place to visit and I believe they put in a lot of efforts to make it a tourism friendly nation. "Truly Asia".

I think India has a phenomenal potential for tourism but we still need to get the small things right for it to blossom. Arrival into say 3 Asian cities (Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur) and taking a taxi out, and comparing it to the experience in say Mumbai will be a simple case to compare.

ps - view some of the tour photos at

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