Sunday, August 2, 2009

Garden City

Top Ten Garden City in Kuala Lumpur

Despite the growing number of skyscrapers and accelerated development, Kuala Lumpur is still a city filled with beautiful parks and gardens.

1. Perdana Lake Gardens

This is one of the premier green lungs of Kuala Lumpur, which is just right across the Parliament building and was once home a British colonial official. It is a 92ha parkland and a great to unwind and be one with nature right in the centre of the city.

2. Butterfly Park

Home to more than 6,000 butterflies of some 120 species, it is beautifully landscaped to include flower and fruit plants and some rare herbs that are important in the diet and pollinating activities of butterflies. It is an educational walk in the park in a simulated natural rainforest environment where one can learn about the life cycle and mating habits of these beautiful creatures.

3. Orchid Garden

Orchids have never failed to amaze the thousands of visitors who come to see the more than 800 species grown in this garden. On weekends, this garden turns into a beautiful and crowded orchid bazaar. Admission is free.

4. Hibiscus Garden

A garden to honour the national flower, this place has more than 2,000 varieties of the rare and exotic blooms. It is also an educational tour where one learns that the hibiscus is actually made up of many varieties and each is different from the next with some being a single petal variety and others, a multiple petal variety. Admission is free and weekend bazaars are also held here.

5. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

One of the most popular tourist attractions of Kuala Lumpur, it is home to more than 5,000 birds of some 50 species, of which 90% are local species and the remainder imported.

6. Asean Sculpture Garden

This garden has a collection of prize winning sculptures by some of the finest artists in the Asean region. It is located behind the National Monument.

7. Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park

This beautifully landscaped park was the last inspired masterpiece of the late Roberto Burle Mark, a versatile and talented Brazilian master of gardens. A combination of trees, shrubs, structure of cement, stones and wood as well as water features were included to dispel the notion of a static garden. It is directly behind the must-visit Petronas Twin Towers and shopping heaven - the Kuala Lumpur City Centre or KLCC.

8. Titiwangsa Lake Gardens

This is one of the most popular metropolitan recreational parks, located in the northern part of the city. It features tennis courts, an exercise area, children's playground and other recreational facilities for water sports and jogging, and of course, the Eye on Malaysia!

9.Bukit Kiara Botanical Gardens

A designated green lung that is a beautiful sprawling park, it is a popular ground for residents of Damansara, Sri Hartamas, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bandar Utama. Its serene and captivating scenery soothes the mind, especially after a long and hard day at work.

10. Taman Tasik Permaisuri

This is one of the newest parks planned in the Cheras area and is one of the favoured areas for residents to jog and exercise, especially during weekends.

Author: Mansid
Related blog: Malaysian Food Blog

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Malaysian Stars

If you had to choose seven Malaysian icons, which would you vote for?

There are lots of things and places that we think of as truly Malaysian. But if you had to choose just seven, which ones would you vote for? We take a look at 10 possibilities.

1. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
KLCC or Petronas Twin Towers

Designed by the Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, and completed in 1998, these are the world's tallest twin towers.

Each tower has 88 floors plus spires that reach to a height of 452m. Inside the towers, there are offices, a shopping centre, a concert hall and art gallery.

Office worker who want to cross over between towers can take the Skybridge that links the 41st and 42 floors.

2. The Stadthuys, Malacca

The Stadthuys, nicknamed "Red Square", was built in 1650. It was the office of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor. Today, it is the oldest remaining Dutch historical building in Asia.

3. Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

The Batu Caves were discovered in 1892. When Hindu devotees set up a shrine to Lord Murugan, it began to attract many pilgrims.

Most come for the Thaipusam festival that celebrates two events: the birthday of Lord Murugan, the son of Lord Siva and his wife Parvati, and Lord Murugan's defeat of the evil demon Soorapadman with the aid of a powerful lance given to him by his mother.

Others come to see the 42.7m tall statue of Lord Murugan, and the cave decorated with images of Hindu deities.

4. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Malacca

Malaysia's oldest Chinese temple was built by Malacca's Kapitan Tay Hong Yong in the mid-17th century. The materials were shipped directly from China.

Also known as the Temple of the Bright Clouds, the whole construction covers an area of 4,600 sq metres. A huge complex, made up of small alter areas built around a central edifice, the whole area smells deliciously of flowers and incense.

5. Kampung Kling Mosque, Malacca

The Kampung Kling Mosque was built in 1748. The people who funded it were Indian Muslim traders. Set in a quiet garden in the old part of Malacca, this is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia. It is famous for its three-tier roof and pagoda-like minaret.

6. The Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

The Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia. Construction began in 1890 and still not finished.

Attractions include a 30.2m tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. There are also koi ponds and ponds where you can release turtles.

As the temple is built on a hillside, there are lots of steps to climb. But if you're feeling lazy, there is also an inclined lift that will carry you up.

7. Mulu Caves, Miri

The Mulu Caves in Sarawak attract thousands of tourists every year. It has huge caves and hundreds of kilometres of tunnels, many of which are as yet unexplored.

The Sarawak Chamber is 600m long, 450m wide and 100m high - so large that you could park 10 jumbo jets inside. It is the largest known underground chamber in the world.

Equally impressive is the 107km long Clearwater Cave. It has one of the world's longest underwater rivers. But would you want to swim in the dark?

8. Roti Canai and Teh Tarik

There are lots of Indian flat breads like parata and naan but roti canai is purely a Malaysian product. Also called flying bread, it is one of the most popular coffee shop dishes.

Teh tarik, made from black tea and condensed milk, is found in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Translated, it means "pulled tea" in Bahasa Malaysia. No doubt the name was inspired by the way tea makers pour the drink from great heights to mix it well.

9. Mount Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu at the back of Author

Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is Malaysia's highest mountain. Its peak lies 4,095m above sea level. Thousands of tourists take part in the 8km trek up and down the mountain every year.

Kinabalu is also famous for its biodiversity. It has over 800 species of orchids, 600 species of ferns, 300 species of birds and more than 100 mammal species. Plus, many of the creatures that live here don't live anywhere else in the world.

10. The Orang Utan, Borneo

Orang utans share more than 97% of their DNA with us. They are also considered the most intelligent species on earth - after us.

Wild orangutans turn leaves into rain hats, make roofs for their nests during the rainy season, and teach their children these skills to.

The "man of the forest" is one of the most popular apes in the world. If you look at Malaysian tourist posters, you'll see the orang utan is a popular local star too!

Author: Mansid
Related Blog: Malaysian Food Blog

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More To Muar Than Meets The Eye

More To Muar Than Meets The Eye

SIM BAK HENG - writes about the colourful history and development of Muar, a town known for its well-crafted furniture and scrumptious food.

It is always interesting to know how a place derives its name. Muar, often called a pensioners' town, got its name by virtue of its location in an estuary, or muara in Malay.

Before it was named Muar, it was called Teluk Dalam, or Inney Bay. Teluk Dalam and muara have georgraphical meanings, as both are located between land and sea.

Muar’s history is said to have started much earlier than the Malacca sultanate. A 1361 record shows that a Buddhist monk in the Majapahit palace named Prapanca wrote a poem, Nagarakertagama, which recorded the history of the Majapahit empire in the Malay peninsular.

The king was Hayam Wuruk and his prime minister was Gajah Mada (1350-1389). Muar was one of the states in this empire.

Another historical account states that Paraweswara, the founder of the Malacca empire, had built a wooden fort at Pagoh in Ulu Muar, after his exile from Temasik, before going to Malacca.

In Malay historical literature, Temasik, which was then ruled by Sultan Iskandar Syah, was defeated by the Majapahit empire.

The sultan moved to Muar where he opened two areas near Sungai Muar called Biawak Busuk and built a fort named Kota Buruk. He eventually moved to Malacca and built the empire.

Muar is home to the tomb of Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah (1477-1488), the only existing tomb of the Malacca sultanate. Other tombs were destroyed during the Portuguese occupation of Malacca.

Muar played a role in resisting the Portuguese occupation of Malacca in 1511. In response to attacks from the Portuguese fleet, the Bentayan fort was built by the sultan of Malacca to repel seaborne invasions.

A Portuguese fort named Fortaleza de Muar was built in Bentayan to defend the colony against the Dutch and Acehnese attacks.

Today, Muar is the royal town of northern Johor. It was also known as Bandar Maharani (Empress Town), a name given by Sultan Abu Bakar in 1884.

It was the only town in Malaysia that had its own rail-link, known as the Muar State Railways, operating just four years after the country’s first railway line from Taiping to Port Weld was inaugurated in 1885.

The railway operated from 1889 to 1925, linking Jalan Sulaiman in Muar and Sungai Pulai for 22.5km.

There was a plan in 1916 to extend the line to Batu Pahat but the project didn’t take off due to financial and geographical constraints.

The railway provided a means of transportation for people and produce. However, its prominence dwindled after the opening of Jalan Abdul Rahman, which linked Muar and Parit Jawa in 1918.

The only relic of the railways today is the display of a MSR locomotive in Taman Tanjung Emas.

Another important mode of transportation was the ferry and boats for people on both sides of Sungai Muar, until the Sultan Ismail bridge was built in 1909.

Muar is a treasure trove of old buildings. The Muar Royal Customs and Excise Office built in 1909 in Jalan Maharani is an important landmark.

The Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque in Jalan Petri has a minaret in its backyard and a signboard with Chinese characters.

Another landmark is the Sultan Abu Bakar building (built in 1921), which is a replica of the Istana Besar of Johor Baru, now the Johor Royal Museum.

Many shophouses are prewar buildings with neo-classical facades, and Jalan Meriam has many colonial-styled residential buildings.

Muar today is known for its furniture industry and food. The furniture industry has provided jobs for locals, while the food attracts people from near and far.

So the next time you visit Muar, check out the historical buildings to feed your appetite for culture and don’t forget the food to satisfy your stomach.

Some of the other sites worth visiting are the oddly named Biawak Busuk (Smelly Monitor Lizard), Kota Buruk (Ruined Fort) and Sungai Mati (Dear River).

Curious about the origins of these names? Look out for part two of the story of Muar.

Source: New Straits Times, April 1, 2009.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Visit Malacca

Where history comes alive

Tourists the world over visit Malacca largely for its antiquated charms.

That it has been gazetted an United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage site has also helped draw in the visitors. Indeed, almost every nook of the city is replete with historical significance.

Its old, uniquely-designed buildings are one of the main attractions. Every day, busloads of tourists arrive to take in the charming splendour of these vestiges of Malacca’s past.

The Stadthuys, St Paul’s Church, mosques, temples and mausoleums are among the places that attract swarms of tourists.

Interestingly, and unique to Malacca, too, are its heritage-themed hotels. These are popular as not only are they cosy, they give tourists the opportunity to live and breathe Malacca’s past.

The hotels are well-known among foreign tourists, too, and as such, are usually fully-booked, especially on weekends and holidays.

Heeren House looks nondescript from the outside but step inside and one will virtually be transported to another time.

Located right in the centre of town - the old part of it - next to Sungai Malacca, Heeren House, which was once a warehouse, a coffee shop and a family home, is now a hotel furnished with colonial and Peranakan furniture.

It has a homely ambience and would be particularly nostalgic for those who grew up in a Peranakan household. The rooms are simple but fitted with modern amenities.

There are souvenirs for sale and a small café at the ground level of the hotel, which should more appropriately be referred to as a guesthouse, given its home away from home atmosphere.

It is also strategically located. Walk several metres and one will reach the bustling Jonker Street, which has everything from antiques and kebaya nyonya to ethnically-styled clothing for sale.

Another hotel with a heritage theme is Puri Hotel, located not too far from Heeren House.

Puri Hotel once belonged to the descendants of an eminent philanthropist and rubber plantation owner, Tan Kim Seng and it has been carefully and beautifully restored.

It has a beautiful interior that is decorated with antique chairs and vases, which lend it a heritage touch.

Like Heeren House, accommodation at Puri Hotel is reasonably priced compared with some of the more upmarket hotels in the city.

A luxurious heritage-themed hotel called Majestic Malacca has recently been launched.

A totally reconstituted 54-room hotel, the Majestic Malacca, previously known as the Majestic Hotel, is YTL Hotel’s first classic hotel in Malacca.

The Majestic, also located on the bank of Sungai Melaka, was once a private mansion that was built in the 1900s. It has been redesigned to integrate the old with the new, and the modern with the historic.

Abd Rahaman Rasid

Source: New Straits Times, Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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Masjid India

Building on the charm of Masjid India

The next time you are in the vicinity of Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur, do spend some time do explore the area as it has many hidden gems.

Its uniqueness has not escaped the attention of the Tourism Ministry, with Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, launching Zoom! Jalan Masjid India carnival there recently.

Kombo Budaya Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur provided the entertainment at the launch.

Food stalls were set up offering popular fare from the various states such as assam laksa, cendol, ais kacang, pisang goreng and rojak.

Azalina also tried her hands at making teh tarik, the favourite drink among Malaysian. This strategic area has a rich history and a treasure trove of interesting sights and sounds, if one takes the time to discover them.

For instance, its bazaar has 150 stalls selling all manner of goods, ranging from food to jewellery.

There are also textile shops and those specializing in Indian jewellery, which make them a must-visit for those planning for their weddings.

During Deepavali and Hari Raya, Masjid India will turn into a sea people searching for the must-haves for the celebrations.

There is also the Saturday night market where a variety of food and fresh produce are sold.

Street artists is another unique feature of Masjid India. There are a few who provide portrait-sketching for a small sum.

Masjid India is not only about shopping. It has many historical buildings as neighbours, such as Masjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest mosque, which was built in 1863;the Central Market, Sultan Abdul Samad building and Dataran Merdeka.

Azalina announced that her ministry would be asking for more funds from the government for tourism purposes.

The priority would be on the maintenance of tourism sites and facilities in the states and training of tourist guides.

In view of the global downturn, the target this year was to attract 20 million tourists, compared with 22.05 million last year.

Azalina said the ministry would aggressively promote the Mice (meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions) market, Malaysia My Second Home programme and medical tourism.

Prepared by:

Abd Rahaman Rasid

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Malaysian Beaches

Malaysian Beaches

With a coastline running thousands of kilometers, Malaysia has plenty of beautiful beaches, some of which are reputed to be the best in the world. The islands are also home to equally magnificent and pristine beaches with white and gold sands and swaying casuarinas. Accommodation is not a problem as various types of hotels and resorts can be found.

Cherating, Pahang

Located about 50km away from Kuantan, it is a perfect place to unwind and enjoy the sun, sea and beach. It was first popularised by backpackers attracted by its white sandy beach and quaint kampong life of the locals.

Pantai Cenang, Langkawi

Langkawi’s most popular beach, it is located the near the airport and 25km from Kuah town. It has a long stretch of beach and numerous hotels. The scenery is fantastic, especially at sunset and sunrise.

Burau Bay,Langkawi

Located on the west coast of the island, this stretch is known for its peaceful and tranquil environment. The view, notably in the evening, is picturesque.

Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi

It got its name from the many casuarina (rhu) trees found in the area. Located 20km from Kuah, the water is shallow and warm as the beach is sheltered. A favourite spot for photography buffs.

Pantai Kok, Langkawi

It is a little isolated, wherein lies its attraction as there is less crowd. Another plus point is that much of the natural scenery is still preserved, giving it a touch of tranquility. The water is clear and relatively shallow and the white powdery sand makes the beach an ideal place to laze about and do nothing.

Datai Bay, Langkawi

The beach is secluded, making it a perfect getaway for those wanting to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, or those looking forward for some private moments. The area, facing the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, is famous for its luxurious and five-star resorts.

Emeral Bay, Pangkor Laut

A stunning bay with emerald green water, and unspoilt by development. However, this is not a public beach as it is located on the privately-owned Pangkor Laut. The bay has been hailed by many travel writers and columnists as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan

Perhaps the most popular public beach in the country. Better known as PD, it is located less than an hour’s drive from the Klang Valley, which makes it a popular choice among beachgoers and holidaymakers from Kuala Lumpur. Another plus factor is this coastal town has numerous spots of beaches. It can crowded on weekends and public holidays.

Golden Sand, Pangkor

Pantai Puteri Dewi is a superb stretch of beach. The only drawback is that it fronts a five-star hotel, which means no land access except for the quests. Like most beaches in the country, the best time to be here is in the evenings.

Teluk Nipah, Pulau Pangkor

Some attest this is a better choice compared with other beaches on the island. Perhaps, the verdict is arrived due to its clear emerald-green water and tranquility.

Pulau Redang, Terengganu

Like Tioman, this is a popular island holiday destination, with visitors attracted to its fine beaches and underwater world. The island has some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the country.

Pasir Bogak, Pulau Pangkor

The most popular beach and also the largest on the island, it has been described as the “largest swimming pool in the world”. Large trees provide the shade and idyllic picnic spots. Its clear and shallow water ensure one a splashing good time, especially as various water sports activities are available. The beach is located near Pangkor town, so getting there is a breeze.

Pantai Cahaya Bulan, Kelantan

Formerly known as the Beach of Passionate Love or Pantai Cinta Berahi, this is perhaps Kelantan’s most famous beach. It is a popular and ideal spot for picnics, camping and relaxation. Also a perfect getaway for the world-weary.

Tioman, Pahang

The beaches of Tioman and its surrounding islands need no introduction. Visitors are bound to be mesmerized by the beauty of this tropical paradise. It is considered one of the world’s ten most beautiful islands. Popular spots include those around the villages of Tekek, Genting and Salang. Enjoy its perfect sunset setting.

Teluk Chempedak, Pahang

Another popular beach located near Kuantan, it is popular among the locals. It is a vibrant place due to its numerous eating and entertainment outlets. The beach is lined by casuarina trees but quite rocky at certain spots. A nearby jungle offers a fair share of Malaysia’s flora and fauna.

Batu Ferringhi, Penang

Without doubt, this is the island’s most popular and famous beach, especially among foreign tourists. It has everything to offer-long and wide stretch of sandy beach, scores of resorts and hotels, water sports and eateries offering mouth-watering dishes. This is not to mention its popular night market which operated until midnight.

Pantai Lanjut, Pahang

This stretch of beach is located near Kuala Rompin and is noted for its long and gently-sloping beach. An added attraction is the lush greenery and nature related activities. Experience the joy of a stroll under a moonlit sky.

Pantai Balok, Pahang

Balok is another beach area near Kuantan and a focal point for wind surfers. An ideal place to relax, with swaying casuarinas, a long stretch of while sandy beach and tropical breezes that can lull one into a slumber.

Rantau Abang, Terengganu

Rantau Abang, lacated 60km south of Kuala Terengganu, is synonymous with leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. Though this is the main attraction, its beaches are comparable with the popular ones in the country.

Damai Beach, Sarawak

A pristine beach area, with the idyllic view made complete by Gunung Santubung in the background. It is Sarawak’s main beach resort area. For nature lovers, they will find the jungle trails up the mountain challenging.

Morib, Selangor

Located at the south of Selangor, Morib has its own attractions. It is less crowded, hence suitable for those wanting to escape the hordes of people who normally descend onto the popular beaches like Port Dickson. Its greatest appeal is its peaceful atmosphere and tranquility. An interesting activity is to comb the beaches for seashells during low tide.

Karambunai, Sabah

It has a five-star resort, the Nexus Resort Karambunai. The beach front is inviting, especially for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Author: Mansid
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Malacca Rich in History of Malaysia

1. Tranquerah Mosque

This is a historically important landmark as the tomb of Sultan Hussain of Johor, who gave Singapore to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, lies within its grounds. This mosque is also unique in its architecture which reflects both Indian and Chinese influences.

2. Kampung Morten

Names after J.F. Morten, who was the Commissioner of Land in the early 1920s, when the site housed a cluster of wooden houses on stilts. Originally a swamp, it has now been paved overand the village is a tourist attraction as it is a living museum of a traditional Malay village along the Malacca River.

3. Bukit China

The sacred grounds of Bukit Cina are popular with tourists, especially those from China, who come to trace their family members who venture to Malacca. Nice and breezy, this sacred ground is worth a visit and even for a jog, starting from the Sam Poh Kong temple.

4. Kampung Kling Mosque

This is one of the oldest surviving mosques in the country and its architecture is of Sumatran influence. It is still used as a place of worship by the Muslims in Malacca today.

5. The King's Well

Better known as the Hang Lin Po well, it was built by the followers of the Chinese princes who married the reigning Sultan Mansur Shah in the 15th Century, in 1549. It is now a wishing well, although it is said that the well, which was the main source of water for the town, never dries up.

6. St Francis Xavier Church

This church was built by Reverend Favre in 1849 and dedicated to the Saint Francis Xavier who was canonised in 1622 and known as the patron saint of foreign missions of the Catholic Church. It is built over part of the old Portuguese fort ruins.

7. Kampung Hulu Mosque

Said to be the oldest mosque in Malaysia, it was built in 1728 by one Dato Shamsudin. It is one of one of the most visually arresting and unique mosques architecturally, without any discernible parallel or resemblance anywhere else in the country. The roof is multi-tiered and shaped like a pyramid.

8. Malacca Sultanate Palace

This is a reproduction of what the annals deemed as the palace of the ruler of the ancient Sultanate. It currently also houses the Cultural Museum of Malacca on the grounds. Entrance fee is RM1 for adults and 50 sen for children.

9. Tribal Art Gallery

If you are into art, then here is where you can find some primitive art works. Cleverly-designed by the owner, the place is dimly-lit and resembles a tribal shack with strange and menacing-looking objects seemingly lurking in the shadows.

10. Chicken Ball Rice

This is just like Chicken Rice found everywhere except that the rice is made into balls by hands. Famosa Chicken Rice Ball is one of famous outlets here besides Hoe Kee, all in the town centre. It was initially created by the Hainanese in Muar, Johor and expanded to Malacca.


Abd Rahaman Rasid

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