Recently, a non-yogi friend of my husband came and dropped us a surprise visit. Due to the short notice, we were unable to plan far ahead. So, with whatever time and knowledge I have, we managed to scramble out last minute plans for him to go around. As he is not a yogi, we were unable to let him join other yogis, visit collectives or meditate together, etc.
As many of you who have never been to Malaysia may not know: the public transport in Malaysia is not as good and connected. The best way to travel is by car or taxi. Buses are not many and not easy to board. Light Rail Transit (LRT) is connected from Petaling Jaya (PJ) to Kuala Lumpur (KL) but not to all major attraction places. So, if you want to get a free and easy tour in KL, if you can drive, can try to rent a car here with a GPS. Or take a cab. That's the best.
Just a little background about Malaysia. Malaysia is an Islamic country. The Malay race is the majority in this country and they are Muslims. This is follow by Chinese and Indians. The Chinese and Indians are free to follow any religion they like. There are Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity.
Muslims eats Halal food, meaning no pork and liquor. Malaysian Chinese basically eats everything except for dogs, cats, snakes, monkeys and birds (maybe some places serves them, I do not know). Malaysian Indians does not eat beef due to religion. Not all of them eat pork too.
Malaysians love to eat. You can find various food everywhere. Each race has their own specialty in cooking the dishes. Seafood is abundant as we are near the sea.
Malays and Indians love to eat spicy food. The Chinese also learned that as well.
I truly believed, that due to the British Occupation in Malaysia many years ago, they had taught us very good manners. We do not simply spit on the floor (except for the very few). Each time someone does something for us, we say 'Thank You'. We do our toilet business privately. Due to the 3 different races in Malaysia, we respect each religion and race and culture. We do queue up in lines and let others go first (sometimes). We are naturally considerate towards others.
Malay is the official language in Malaysia while English is the second language. On top of that, all Chinese speaks their own dialect i.e Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainan, Mandarin, Fuchow. Indians also speak their own dialect i.e Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi.
Now a little bit about Malaysian Chinese. This is especially for the Chinese from China because some of them can be quite ignorant.
Our ancestors came from China. Now, over so many years, most of us are born and bred here in Malaysia. We are already the 3rd or 4th or even 5th generation here. Most of us do not even know which part of China our ancestors came from.
Some Malaysian Chinese (like me), do not know how to read and write in Chinese as we were educated in Government schools where Chinese is an optional language. However, all of us know how to read and write and speak in Malay, the official language in Malaysia. Some Malaysian Chinese are educated in Chinese schools and they are very fluent in the language.
Malaysian Chinese in KL and PJ mainly speaks Cantonese and a little Mandarin. Malaysian Chinese in Selangor and Perak can mainly speaks in Cantonese or Mandarin. Those in Negeri Sembilan and south of Malaysia, i.e Melaka, Johor, Pahang speaks mainly Mandarin. Those in the north of Malaysia, i.e Penang, Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu speaks mainly Mandarin too. Hokkien and some Teochew speakers are in Penang, Melaka and some in Johor. Hainanese and Hakkas are scattered all over. If not mistaken, those in Sarawak speaks Fuchow.
As most of our ancestors came from the south and east of China, our food also have the same style. So, if you are coming from Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Fujian, you may find that some of the food is similar.
Due to the mixed culture here, we have 'fusionised' our food with Malay and Indian taste as well. Most of the Malaysians love Nyonya food, which is Malay and Chinese fusion food which is spicy and sour.
Alright, enough of talking. Let's get down to business. I am not offering any tour for that matter. You can do all these on your own.
1. Hotels in PJ
First, let's talk about hotels in PJ. The major ones are (in no particular ranking): Sunway Resort Hotel, Sunway Pyramid Hotel, One World Hotel, Royale Damansara at The Curve, Armada Hotel, Eastin Hotel, Crystal Crown Hotel, PJ Hilton Hotel. Of course there are other smalls ones which I won't mention.
In KL you will find loads of hotel in the KL town itself ranging from Berjaya Hotel, Concorde Hotel, Shangri-La and so on. Just Google it up.
If you like shopping, stay in a hotel that is attached to a shopping mall. These are Sunway Hotel with Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall; Cititel, Boulevard and The Gardens with Mid-Valley Shopping Mall; One World Hotel with 1 Utama Shopping Mall; Royale Damansara Hotel with Ikano Power Center and The Curve Shopping Mall. One of the pros in staying in these places is that you don't have to worry about food.
These are the ones in PJs. There are abundant hotels in KL near the Golden Triangle. Google it up.
The other smaller shopping malls are Tropicana City, Paradigm Mall and IOI Mall in PJ. The big shopping malls in KL are KLCC, Sungei Wang, Berjaya Times Square, Pavillion, StarHill. All very up-class.
3. Genting Highlands
Photo credit www.etawau.com
Genting Highlands is not in KL or PJ area but worth mentioned for a day trip. You can easily board a bus to Genting Highlands at 1 Utama Shopping Mall (near the One World Hotel). Check out the prices here.
Genting Highlands is a hilltop tourist resort which is renowned for its casino, the one and only in Malaysia. There is also a huge amusement park. However, as of 1st Sept 2013, the outdoor amusement park is closed for 3 years to make way for a more advance park. Indoor park is still open. The bus will drop you at the cable car station and then you will need to take the cable car up.
You can also board the bus at KL Sentral, which is easily accessible via LRT. First bus from 1 Utama is at 8am and last bus from Genting is at 8.30pm.
4. Sunway Lagoon
Sunway Lagoon is the biggest water theme park in Malaysia. Check out the ticket prices here. If you have kids with you, they will surely enjoy this. They not only have the water park, there's also the wild west which is not very wet, extreme park for bungy jumping and all and scream park for all the ghostly, scary effects.
Sunway Lagoon is near to Sunway Resort Hotel and Sunway Pyramid Hotel. Just walking distance. If you stay in these 2 hotels, good.
Opens daily, starts at 10am to 6pm.
Photo credit www.putrajaya.gov.my
Putrajaya is the place where all the Government buildings are located. Besides that, there's also a lot of gardens, lakes and wetlands that you can visit like the Botanical Garden, Heritage Garden (Taman Warisan) and so on. Check out their website to know more.
6. Petaling Street or China Town and Central Market
Photo credit Wikipedia
Petaling Street or China Town is nothing like the China Town in other countries. It's not even a town. It's only 2 streets. This is the place where you can get lots of counterfeit products, like fake branded bags and watch. Most of the things are made in China. Nowadays most of the stalls are run by foreign workers and locals don't really like to go there as the prices can be quite high and you need to bargain a lot. Food wise also not as good as last time.
Very easy to get there. If you take the RapidKL LRT, stop at Pasar Seni and it is just within walking distance from there. If you take the KL Monorail, stop at Maharajalela and also within walking distance.
Photo credit www.kuala-lumpur.attractionsinmalaysia.com
Central Market. Now, this is the place I will highly recommend. I haven't been there for ages and recently went back and my oh my, how much they have changed. Lots of handicrafts, wood products, clothes and mostly Malaysian made things. Very impressive. Better than Petaling Street. In fact, the prices are cheaper, it's air-conditioned and very comfortable to walk.
Just take RapidKL LRT to Pasar Seni and you will see it already.
7. KLCC and Petronas Twin Towers
Photo credit Travel Malaysia-Asia
This is the famous Malaysian architecture that you can see on most of the postcards. Here's some info that I have Googled. This place is very easily accessible. Just take RapidKL to KLCC.
You can actually go up the tower and go to the SkyBridge, which is the middle thing connected between the towers, located at levels 41 and 42. Closed on Mondays, ticket prices here. Limited tickets though. First come first serve. However, you can also buy the tickets online.
KLCC is the shopping mall at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. Lots of pricey and up-class products. If you like bookstores, the one and only Kinokuniya is located here.
Located in KLCC is Aquaria, where you can see the underwater world of the fishes. Opens daily. Also in KLCC is the PetroSains, which is the science discovery center. Fun for kids. Closed on Mondays.
8. Kuala Selangor
Photo credit Merry World Holidays
Kuala Selangor is famous for fresh seafood and fireflies. It is about 1 hour drive from PJ, so it's not really convenient if you do not have a car, unless you follow some local tours.
There are many seafood restaurants near the Pasir Penampang, along Sungai Yu river. Very good ones as well. I always go to the Restoran Makanan Laut Ah Yu and have their famous spicy and sour fish dish. Really delicious.
Fireflies only start from 8pm onwards, for complete darkness. RM50 per boat, maximum is 4 person per boat. They even give you 4 mineral bottled water. The tour is about 10-20 minutes. It's really beautiful, like Christmas. Sometimes you get the whole tree filled with them. Really worthwhile.
9. KL Bird Park and KL Butterfly Park
If you are fond of birds and butterflies, this is the place to go. Go to their website, KL Bird Park and KL Butterfly Park for details.
Located in Shah Alam, this place is sort of like an amusement park with lots of plastic sculptures which are decorated with colourful lights. Not my favourite place though as I prefer natural places. Lately, they have started a Wax Museum which is quite pricey. RM100 for non-Malaysian adult and RM80 for Malaysian adult while children is RM50 for non-Malaysian child and RM40 for Malaysian child. We didn't visit it as we don't feel it's worth it. There's also the Snow House, for those who have never experience snow before.
This is just a rough guide. My husband's friend was here for a week only, so the time here is very short and limited. Plus, he doesn't like to do shopping. Other places that I didn't specifically mention is the KL Hop On Hop Off City Bus, which brings you around KL to the major attractions; Menara KL or KL Tower, not much happening there now except for that revolving restaurant on the top.
There are many other places that the locals like to do too. Here are some of the things:
A) Pasar Malam or Night Market
Near where we live, there's Pasar Malam on Mondays at SS2, Thursdays at SS2 Cheow Yang and Sundays at Taman Megah. Cheras Taman Connaught has the longest known Pasar Malam on Wednedays evening only. I heard it is one of the best.
Pasar Malam is filled with local delights, food, drinks, clothes, wet market, dry market, etc. Lots of interesting things too. More for the locals than tourists.
B) Food courts
If you like to try variety of Malaysian food, go to Ming Tien Food Court located at Taman Megah, PJ. Lots of local food (although may not be cooked by locals). But not the best food. If you like varieties, this is the place to go. Another place is Wai Sek Kai (Glutton Street) at SS2, stall owners are locals. Mostly Chinese food. Puteri Mart at Puchong has a very nice food court. Lots of varieties too.
C) Local restaurants
Malay food - I seldom go to Malay restaurants, but there's one Malay stall near to Medan Selera (another food court) at Bandar Sunway, which serves very delicious Malay food. The place I go for lunch.
Chinese food - You can find many Chinese restaurants that serves very good food all around KL and PJ. Puchong now is THE place to go for food. Lots of varieties. If you like Chinese seafood and find that Kuala Selangor is very far, try City Star Seafood at Taman Mayang Mas, PJ or La La Chong Seafood Restaurant at Kampung Kayu Ara, Damansara, PJ. Many other seafood places near the old airport Terminal 3 too.
Indian food - If you like north indian food, try GEMS at Jalan Gasing. Very authentic. If you like banana leaf, try Brickfields or go to Grand City Restaurant hidden somewhere near University Hospital.
I am a true Malaysian. Although Chinese, I love Indian food. My favourite food is Asam Laksa, a fusion Chinese and Malay spicy and sour noodle soup, cooked with fish and lots of spices. Next is Cendol, which is the local dessert, ice shavings with coconut milk and gula melaka (coconut sugar). I like to eat Nyonya kuihs, sweet and colorful. Nasi Lemak is one of the favourite Malaysian food for all, first food for those Malaysians arrived from overseas.
So, if you are here in Malaysia for a short time, these are the places that you can go and enjoy! If you have more time, please go to the islands, i.e Penang, Langkawi, Redang. Enjoy!