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Kuala Lumpur | Truly Asia
Kuala Lumpur is the centre of Asia, a melting pot of all Asian cultures in the Malaysian capital. Historic temples and mosques blend in with skyscrapers and shopping malls for a unique experience of old vs new and traditional vs modern.
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
16 July 2012, 12:00am
Once the tallest buildings in the world the Petronas Twin Towers, the 88-storey buildings are joined between the 41st and 42nd floor by a bridge. The Islamic-inspired buildings today house the Petronas company and other offices. The twin buildings are not all about work though, the towers are also host to an art gallery, convention centre and science centre. Stretching out to the side of the towers is the KLCC Park, which features a jogging track, walking paths, a fountain and a wading pool for children.
The 100-year-old temples of Batu caves are one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur with idols and statues erected inside and around the caves. The Cathedral cave houses Hindu shrines beneath its 100-metre arched ceiling, while at the foot of Batu Hill, two more caves house an art gallery and a museum, with Hindu statues and paintings. Watch out for the monkeys as you scale the 272 steps to access the caves.
The Chow Kit Market is Kuala Lumpur's most popular market at the northern end of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Malaysia's most famous wet market by day where fresh food is sold turns into a second-hand clothing and accessories market by night. However it is not a place for the faint hearted, with vendors who are pushy and it takes a thick skin to get serious bargains here. The other half of the market is the city's unofficial Red Light District.
Thean Hou Temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. Overlooking the Federal highway, the six-tiered Buddhist temple is also known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven.
Dedicated to Tian Hou, a goddess said to protect fishermen, the temple is also a shrine where many come to worship Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Built by Kuala Lumpur's Hainanese community in 1894, it is set on a hill and offers wonderful views of the city.
Where to eat?
The mix of cultures makes for a wide variety of food fare. Try the restobars popular with the young crowd or some of the best Chinese food sold from stalls at the side of the road. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it in Kuala Lumpur.
Enak KL is one of the city's most famous high-end Malay restaurants specialising in spicy Malay food. Dishes are rich and flavourful with recipes passed on from generation to generation. The chilli levels in the food is adapted for the locals, however visitors need not worry as the chilli factor can be toned down with one simple word to the chef.
A section of Jalan Dorasimy gives way to a spectacular row of converted colonial buildings named the Asian Heritage Row offering a selection of trendy dining options with elegant and arresting facades that captivate the eye as well as the curiosity. The once abandoned 80-year-old houses have become one of the city's hotspots with an exciting and vibrant nightlife.
Check out the mamak restaurants where Tamil Muslims sell a variety of food on the street. It is a meeting place for young Malaysians who gather to watch late-night football games and feast on delicacies sold by street hawkers. Try Devi's Corner, a food court facing the Bangsar Village II mall. The tray curries are excellent, with plenty of fish, prawns and other seafood. You can get dosa, biriyani and great satay here.
Where to stay?
The Datai Langkawi, www.thedatai.com.my, is one of a kind. Conceived as a grand retreat, immersed in an ancient virgin rainforest, it is an icon of luxury. Its secluded villas are set on meandering paths leading down to a private bay and white sandy beaches, facing the Andaman Sea; the ultimate in peaceful perfection.
Enjoy authentic Thai, Malay, Indian and Western cuisines in the open-air settings.
Elevated in the forest, in an open-air setting enjoy the authentic Thai cuisine at The Pavilion. For Malaysian and Western cuisine look out for The Dining Room or enjoy the alfresco dining at The Beach Club. For the authentic Malay and Indian cuisine, enjoy the open-air Malay House. Don't miss out on the panoramic views of the Andaman Sea all day long in the Lobby Lounge.
Beautifully spa is integrated into the lush surroundings of the tropical rainforest offering treatments by expert and nurturing hands, to relax, rejuvenate and revitalise for a sense of overall well being.
Set amidst tea plantations and rolling hills, this boutique hideaway promises all the splendour, romance and nostalgia of Cameron Highlands', www.cameronhighlandsresort.com, grand colonial heritage.
Tall French doors, timber-beamed ceilings and plantation shutters add colonial charm and a touch of nostalgia to the rooms.
An afternoon of golf, jungle trails, walks through the tea plantations and strawberry farms can be rewarded by a cup of tea in the drawing room or a tea bath at the Spa Village.
Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur, www.princhotelandresidence.com, is a Luxurious International 5 Star Hotel and Residence located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur in the Golden Triangle. It is located within minutes from the city's best shopping, dining and entertainment.
Guests can take advantage of six dining options and a soothing Sompton Spa inspired by the rich culture and ancient philosophy for the Land Below the Wind, East Malaysia.
How to get there?
Emirates offer daily flights from Malta to Kuala Lumpur with a stopover in Dubai. Flights departing from Malta on 21 June 2012 and returning on 5 July 2012 were priced at €1181.31, including tax, at the time of going to print. Total flying time is approximately 14.5 hours.
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...