Mishty Malayasia

Kishore Ambuly

The title of this article is borrowed from the brochure of the travel agency (SOTC) which took us on a package  tour to Malayasia & Singapore. The word “Mishty” here is Bengali for  sweet. We chose this tour  not for the sweetness but the fact that the tour period conveniently coincided with the Puja holidays. We reported  to Kolkata International airport  3 hours ahead of the scheduled departure time anticipating long queues for immigration & other clearances. But check in and immigration took a few minutes only. So we braced ourselves for a long wait  at the departure lounge. It was an escorted group tour. We could identify the other members of the group by the  bags they were carrying with SOTC emblazoned on the sides. The Thai airways flight which was to take us to Kuala Lampur was slightly late in arriving from Bangkok. We boarded the aircraft at around 0230 hours. As soon as the aircraft took off, drinks, both soft & hard,  were served followed quickly by  dinner. It was quite late for dinner, however, we took some bites in preparation for the long stopover at Bangkok airport. It was 4-30 am  by our watch when the plane landed at  the Subarnabhumi airport at Bangkok but the time zone has changed and it was morning at Bangkok. We had to rewind our watches to set it to Thailand time which is two hours ahead of Indian Standard Time. Bangkok is gateway to many countries in the south and far east. So Subarbabhumi  is a very big and busy airport and we had to walk a long way to go to  the departure lounge to take our flight to Kuala lampur. After a tiring stop over for about three hours, we boarded another Thai Airways flight which took us to Kuala Lampur in about one & half hour. Kuala lampur airport was smaller in size but  more state of the art than Bangkok airport. In addition to  walkways and escalators, there are rail coaches  inside the airport to take the passengers to the city. After clearing immigration we found the local agent & guide of SOTC waiting for us. We were taken to  an air conditioned coach for our journey to Genting Highlands. The bus stopped for half an hour en route at Batu caves in the outskirts of Luala lampur city. It’s a tourist destination  but we stopped there only for lunch at an Indian restaurant. After lunch the bus took us to the Awana resort located at the foothills of Genting highlands. The road cut through beautiful forests. Ornamental trees and flower bushes are planted along the road which gave it a beautiful look. We were put up in Tower hotel, a 25 story hexagonal building, which is a part of the resort. Our room in the 14th floor of the hotel was very spacious with all amenities and overlooked a golf course surrounded by beautiful blue hills. After a long journey, we were very tired, so we took an early dinner and went to bed.

Next morning we rushed to the dining hall for breakfast before our trip to the Genting resorts. We were spoilt for choices by the lavish spread on offer. Every conceivable item for breakfast including Indian items like puri sabji and uttapam were there. After breakfast we were taken to the Skyway cable car(rope way)  station. There was a long queue of tourists and we had to wait our turns. Finally  we boarded one of the cable cars along with another family.  It was an exhilarating ride over thickly forested hills and valleys. The cable car took us straight to the Resort world in Genting in about fifteen minutes .

Resorts World Genting is an entertainment hub modelled on Las Vegas in America. It is tucked in to the slopes of a small hill surrounded by forests. It was set up by a Chinese businessman with support from Malaysian government.    One of the major attractions in genting is the casinos. Genting is the only place where one can gamble legally in Malaysia. Apart from the casinos, there are one outdoor and one indoor  theme park to entertain  the tourists. The resort has got  six hotels with 10,000 rooms, over 50 fun rides, 170 dining and shopping outlets, shows, business convention facilities and entertainment options. Till 2008, the First World hotel which has 6000 rooms had the distinction of being the largest hotel in the world. It has got a big lobby and large dining hall which can accommodate thousand people at a time. All the buildings are connected by  linkways, underground tunnels and escalators, with enough signage to stop one from getting lost.

Added attraction of Gentings is the cool climate. Located at an altitude of 1800 m (5900 ft), temperatures in Genting are 5-10°C lower than in Kuala Lampur. On a clear day, there are stunning views down into the valley

We spent the whole day loitering around the theme parks. We had tickets entitling us to  all the rides as a part of our itinerary. But the rides were mostly for kids & teenagers and there were long queues for all the rides. We took a couple of rides, had lunch in Pizza hut and did window shopping. In the evening we gathered in the appointed place and then went for dinner in the First world hotel. Food was reasonably good. After dinner we took a shuttle  coach to our hotel.

Next morning we left hotel and started for Kuala Lampur. On the way to Kuala Lampur, we were taken to Batu cave once again but this time for a visit to the temple. Batu Caves is a limestone hill , which has a series of caves and cave temple. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. This is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. There is a huge statue of Lord Murugan in front of the cave. There are eateries and souvenir shops all around the place for tourists. We could not visit the temple as we did’nt have the time or inclination to  climb about 300 stairs to reach the cave temple.

Our next stop was the  old city centre at Merdeka Square which was the  administrative centre of Kuala lampur  during the colonial times. There are old heritage buildings  like  Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Selangor Club as also modern pieces of architecture like the war memorial.  This area  also includes Kuala Lumpur’s old Chinese commercial centre which is known  as Chinatown. Incidentally, the Chinese forms the majority of the population with about 55% of Kuala Lumpur's population of Malaysian Chinese descent. From there, we were then taken to the Central Business District(CBD) known as the Golden Triangle. Most of the city’s shopping malls, five-star hotels and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers are located here. We could not enter in to the twin towers as limited number of entry tickets were sold out. However we could console ourselves with a visit to the KL Towers which is basically a communication tower with a viewing deck and a restaurant. Elevators took us to the viewing deck about 300 meters above the ground from where we got a panoramic view of the city. Kuala lampur, which literally means "muddy river confluence" in Malaya language  is fondly called by locals as KL. It is a sprawling city with a good transportation system. The city is remarkably clean and green too with lots of open areas and parks. Our sight seeing tour concluded with a visit to a chocolate factory showcasing a wide variety of chocolates. The coach took us to Pearl International hotel. After keeping our luggage in the hotel room, we went to a small road side restaurant to take our lunch. The eatery is run by a lady of Indian origin who gave us some tips on shopping. We took a taxi to a near by mall and from there to Chinatown. It’s like our Bangladesh market in Battala but more crowded and offering a wider range  of items from textiles to electronic goods. After shopping we joined our fellow travellers in an Indian  hotel for dinner. We were dog tired when we went back to hotel.

Next morning, after having our breakfast, we boarded the coach for our journey to Singapore. The distance between  Kuala lampur and Singapore is about 350 kilometres which can be covered in about 5 hours.  It was a long drive but very smooth and enjoyable. We could see vast stretches of forests along the highway.The hills have been cut in to terraces for planting of trees and there are pucca steps  after every 50 meter stretch leading to the hill top presumably for taking care of the plants/trees. I was expecting to see rubber plantations as Malaysia is the largest producer of rubber. But surprisingly, I could not locate even a single rubber tree. Any way, Malayasia is a big country and may be the rubber plantations are located in the hinterlands. Our visit to Malaysia came to an end when we reached the border check post a few miles ahead of Singapore. This part of my travelogue also concludes here.

Published on 19th  Nov, 2012 Readers can send their comments on this Review to : feature@tripurainfo.com