Kuala Lumpur

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Genting Highlands, Pahang – Malaysia

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

 

 

The Titiwangsa mountain range in peninsular Malaysia is home to a number of tourist attractions and their beauty and scenery has a lot of appeal to locals and visitors alike. From the city of Ipoh to the boundaries of Kuala Lumpur, there are quite a few places on the touristic map. The Cameron Highlands 120 Kilometers south of Ipoh draw a lot of nature lovers, hikers and are the furthest from Kuala Lumpur (210 KM). Fraser’s Hill is located in the same mountain range, it is a famous trail head for hikers and a former colonial mining outpost in 1.500 m elevation above sea level. Fraser’s Hill is located some 105 KM north of Kuala Lumpur. Subject of our little report here is the southernmost of these 3 mountain tourist attractions, the famed Genting Highlands. Just one hour by car from downtown KL, the Genting Highlands are easily accessible via multi-lane highways. They peak out at somewhere around 1.800 m above sea level, so the climate is considerably cooler than in the capital KL down at the foothills.

City of Entertainment is what they call this, and 20 Million visitors in 2009 prove that. One person, a Chinese born Malay by the name of Lim Goh Tong started the developments here in the 60’s. His development grew over the years into a gambler’s retreat for non-muslim Malays with 6 hotels and casinos on the mountaintop. It is presently run by his son, who is also controlling Star Cruises (cruise ship line in Asia) and resorts in Sentosa (Singapore) as well as Manila (Philippines).

Quite interesting are the variety of temples with Indian and Chinese themes once you reach the upper part and the developed area on this mountain-range. Hikers and nature lovers are really not catered for here. They rather retreat to the formerly mentioned mountain resorts, which SIAMPEDIA will cover in future photo reports.

The temperature up here is significantly cooler and also much more humid, quite often the entire peak is in clouds and it rains excessively. On all my trips up here, I had very few chances to stay dry once I ventured outside the Hotel and Casino complexes. So we resorted to some photos taken from a helicopter or so from the resort’s own website (press-releases) to show the layout here from a bird’s eye-view. Our own picture material produced too often the reality as shown below: (note the gigantic fern up here!)

 

There is an overpriced golf course on the premises, but we had a problem locating any nature-trailhead or hiking trail on the mountainslopes. Everything appears a bit artificial here and visitors that want to venture off the beaten path, encounter quickly angry looking guards with guns and signage relating to the use of firearms in case of trespassing.

A city in the clouds. That is the view for the few wealthy gamblers, wich are being ferried here by helicopter:

The hotels are all quite large, but their most recent hotel addition trumps it all:

All hotels are connected by walkways and tunnels and a western style amusement park has been added for kids and teens:

A cable-car system connects the bus terminal with the resort area. Buses from KL stop short of the peak, but for 5 Ringgit (1,20 €/ 1.50 $) passengers can enjoy the Genting Skyway, Asia’s longest and fastest cable-car system. Buses to here depart from Pudu Raya or KL Sentral Station in 30 minute intervals. The bus transfer time to the bottom station of the Skyway is about one hour.

Rollercoasters for all ages and waterslides add up to a playground that no one would expect to exist on a mountaintop, surrounded by rainforest.

Shops, boutiques and snackerias fill the halls between the hotels.

Rides indoors guarantee some entertainment, if the weather outside is less than perfect. High winds and storms are not uncommon here.

Mountainclimbing can’t be done outdoors, but the set-ups in the hallways provide some form of activity opportunities for cliffhangers as well.

 

Really spectacular are some sunsets here, such as this one shown. Our friend Sausa has taped one of those great sunsets, where the sun actually vanishes below your position.


Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia’s proud Capital

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

© Frank P. Schneidewind

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The mighty Petronas Twin Towers changed Kuala Lumpur’s skyline forever. Petronas is Malaysia’s state oil company and their wealth was to be reflected by this world record  building. It held the badge for the worlds tallest building from it’s completion in 1998, it held it only until 2004, the year. in which  Taipeh 101 was completed. The record was taken over with much controversy from the Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) in Chicago, which has 20 more floors (108) than the 88 of Petronas’s symbolic structure. The Sears Towers enormous volume, much higher roof and occupied floors make a comparison by identical scale models wonder, how this building in Malaysia ever gained these laurels. Fact is, that the Petronas Towers score any record with their antennas (451,9 Meters) included, Willis Tower (Sears Tower) could only be surpassed without it’s equally fixed antennas (total height = 527 Meters). were subtracted from the total. Chicago’s pride offers occupied floors up to 442 Meters, where KL’s skyscraper passes at 375 Meters.

Without any wish to belittle Malaysia’s efforts to get their nation into the world’s press, media and record books, a real frustration is the fact that the Petronas Towers are lacking a Skydeck or view platform, other than the Skybridge between the towers at the 41st floor, 170 Meters above ground. 1.200 lucky tourists daily are allowed up there, tickets are free – but a nightmare to obtain. We get to this later in this report. Flights to Malaysia land in nearby KLIA, the modern super hub for much of Southern Asia.

Those of you, which have had the privilege to have been on top of Sears Tower, World Trade Center NYC (before September 11, 2001) or maybe Toronto’s CN Tower as well (Space Deck at 446,5 Meters), all had unforgettable views from heights, exceeding 400 Meters above ground. These plus Rockefeller Center, Hancock Tower and the Empire State Building were highlights during the author’s North American years many years ago. Today, Great Skyline views from high up in Southeast Asia can be had from Baiyoke II Tower in Bangkok (300 Meters) or the KL Menara  Tower, which has an observation deck at 276 Meters. Since the location of Menara Tower is up on a hillside, it allows to look at Petronas Towers from a vantage Point. Menara Tower has undoubtedly the best skyline view of KL. It’ s worth the trip up there, at least once! Forget the food and dining options in their restaurant, that is much too mediocre for the fares charged.

 

The bottom floors of the Petronas Towers, are adjacent to Suria KLCC Mall, a shopping paradise for tourists.

Imposing landmarks and highly visible from many places in KL. The Twin Towers were built by two different companies. Tower 1 by a Japanese consortium and Tower 2 by the Korean Samsung industrial giant.

A Skybridge connects the towers and gives them their distinctive feature and silhouette.

The mall has large atriums and boasts a lot of exquisite shops, food options I found, were inferior, if compared to other places in the Klang valley, which stretches from Kuala Lumpur to the Port Klang Industrial Harbor in the Straits of Malacca (Indian Ocean)

To get the tickets for a free ride to the Skybridge on 41st floor, the interested person must get in line at a hidden, designated free ticket office. Otherwise, all you just see this sign:

The guard lets only people with proper Tower-ID pass, everyone seems to have one here.

Illumination changes at times, the patterns aren’t random, but photogenic at times. Good viewpoints from the distance are the hills of Bangsar and as far as Shah Alam down the valley. We used to live in Shah Alam and had this magnificent view from our bedroom and balcony:

 

The facades of the Towers reflect directed lights nicely, it can be seen daily after dark until at least midnight.


The Menara Tower battles the Twin Towers in being the most photographed object in town nightly, but loses to the more prominent combatant. The Concorde Hotel on the left is next to Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur near Bukit Nanas Station, it was our first base in KL.


KL Monorail seems to be almost ever present, when strolling downtown, but their one line only connects Sentral Station with the Golden Triangle and points further. Bukit Bintang Station is smack in the heart of the shopping zone, Bukit Nanas Station though gets you to the main hubs of downtown nightlife. Sentral Station is fed by Light Rail, Commuter Train, Airport busses and the Air-Rail Expresslink. Get on the Monorail for troublefree and cheap transport.

 

When arriving by Bus from Hat Yai, Singapore or most other areas, chances are that you be taken to Pudu Raya Bus Terminal, which is a short drive from Sentral Station. Use of the Monorail is convenient for all tourists.

An almost 100m tall flagpole battles for another world record at Merdeka Square. It’s oversized Flag is illuminated at night.


The Government moved to Putra Jaya and left the old buildings unoccupied, they house museums and other offices now, but their beautiful facades are still in their old colonial style.

 

Golden Triangle is the nightlife area and shopping district downtown. It has a lot of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The famous Hard Rock Cafe is also in this vicinity.

In daytime, you can see a dance troupe of girls at Bukit Bintang by chance, right near the entrance to Sungai Wong Plaza, the KL equivalent of Panthip Plaza in Bangkok or Mongkok Shopping Mall in Hong Kong. Store after store full of copied Soft- and Hardware plus cellular phones, like doves on Marcus’s Square in Venice.



Santa on his rotating chopper invites to American food and good music, we will dedicate them an extra report later!

My bike was parked safe in the front of a Condominium in Bangkok during my time in Malaysia, but I sure would have loved to have occupied one of the prime parking spaces in the front of Hard Rock KL.

Kuala Lumpur is a very safe and very clean city, if compared with Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok or Saigon. It doesn’t appear to be as artificial as Singapore and has it’s own flair and charm. Go see it for yourself, there is much to discover!

They even have walkways, clean public toilets and all amenities a World City should feature.