A Small Circuit Around South East Asia

My first trip of 2019 and its a pretty big one. I visited 4 places of different characteristics. Kuala Lumpur which is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities, Siem Reap a majestic Cambodian Province, Langkawi a large adventurous island and Finally Koh Lipe a calm relaxing Thai island.

All were great and had its own approach

First Stop Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

The First stop and my base city for this trip. For the first part in Kuala Lumpur I stayed in popular KL hostel Backhome. An eye opener with lots of different things to see and do.

Second Stop Siem Reap (Cambodia)

One of the main reasons to venture in this part of the world was to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have to admit the fact that Angkor Wat is consistently top 3 must visit places in various websites, made visiting this city a must.

Then Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Venture to one of Malaysia’s popular island. Travelled by plane instead of boat due to work perks. Quieter than the usual islands I visit like Boracay, Crete, Cebu and others but Langkawi didn’t fail to impress.

Fourth Stop in Koh Lipe (Thailand)

A short venture to another small nearby island. Koh Lipe happens to be crossing the boarder to Thailand. An interesting experience with a beach immigration system.

Finale, Back to Kuala Lumpur

A rest back in Kuala Lumpur, this time a more chilled and comfortable accommodation, ready to fly back to London.

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Kuala Lumpur

“One of the most friendliest modern capitals”

Type : City break
Best Date :  May-Jul
Expense :  Cheap
Things to do : Shopping, Dine, Cultural
Points of Interest: KL menorah(tower), Petronas tower, Jalan Alor (food market), Bukit Bintang, Batu Caves, Central Market, Petalling Street and many more
The Good: Cheap, Free tourist buses
The Bad: Prepare for long walks or long waits for transport

Brief

Kuala Lumpur also known as KL is the capital city of Malaysia situated southwest of the country. It is the largest city in the country and is known to be the fastest growing in the ASEAN (Association of south-east Asian nations) region which include nations such as Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and a few more. Kuala Lumpur only acquired its city status in 1972 which also means it is one of the newest in the region, only being founded by Chinese miners at 1857.

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The city has influences from British, Chinese and Japanese occupation and has the architecture and cuisine to portray these.  Furthermore KL is home to one of the tallest twin towers with the Petronas towers which was built within just 6 years. The city is one of the worlds leading visited for tourism and shopping a brilliant place for all.

The Place

Kuala Lumpur was the first stop and a central base in my latest South East Asian ventures. Malaysia is the first mainly muslim country I have travelled to and Kuala Lumpur my first city. It has been a place I have intended to travel for a long time with many positive feedback and recommendations.

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When I visited the city was hot and very humid with an average of 30c-35c degrees. It was a very diverse city with many different influence in lifestyle, food and other aspects.

Because of potential flight problems I took an earlier flight, which resulted being in Kuala Lumpur a day early resulting on an extra day.

Firstly I came across Bukit Bintang which is home to various points of interest in the city itself and the preferred location to stay with hotels for any budget. The region has both luxurious and affordable establishments with the famed Pavilion mall, Times Square Mall and the cheaper Jalan Alor which is the popular food market. Firstly the focal purpose of Bukit Bintang is shopping and dining with the Pavilion mall being the main attraction. This mall has the upper class and luxurious labels such as Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and others alike. They also have the finer restaurants around but also the popular chains. The mall itself had a beautiful architecture and is a sight to see. Next to Pavilion is a cheaper mall called Fahrenheit which also attracts shopping travellers. Further down around the corner of Bukit Bintang about 10 minutes walk from Pavilion is another mall called Times Square Mall a trendy artsy mall with many of the popular affordable shops. Lastly another main place to visit within Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor a popular food market with plenty of local cuisines. The market is amazing however can get very crowded and is not as cheap as you might think. Overall Bukit Bintang is mainly for shopping, it is a nice central location to start off your visit it also is a convenient area to stay with nearly everything like restaurants, supermarkets and shops nearby.

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Bridge from Pavilion (Bukit Bintang) to Petronas Towers (KLCC)

Just a 10 minute walk away via a conveniently built elevated airconditioned walkway behind the Pavilion Mall is a place called Kuala Lumpur City Centre better known as KLCC which is a place where the Aquaria, Petronas Tower, Suria Mall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and others are situated. It is a more touristic area with plenty of sightseeing hotspots. Firstly one of the more family friendly attraction in KLCC is Aquaria which is located below the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre I didn’t personally visit this as I deemed it for families or kids, however ive been told it is underrated. Next in the area is the main landmark of the whole city and in my opinion the country aswell.

The Petronas towers also known as the Petronas Twin Towers  are two twin skyscrapers joined (midpoint called the skybridge) designed by an Argentine architect and built by two different companies, Japanese built tower one and a South Korean consortium built tower two. Known as the city’s crown jewel the 88 storey building is open to limited tourists per day (limited by day, limited by night) to go up and view KLs panoramic scenery. There are also high end restaurants inside the Petronas towers so those with a higher budget can dine in one of the highest points in the city. Below the towers is a popular mall called Suria Mall, this shopping area is somewhat similar to the Pavilion in terms of the shops and restaurants it accommodates. Another nearby area popular with tourists is the KLCC Park which is a nice place for tourists and locals alike to chill, there are many different trees and plants but most observed is the symphony lake which presents magical fountain shows at around 2000, 2100 and 2145 every night, it is nice to see but for me I have seen better. Overall KLCC is a nice area to visit the Petronas towers and its architectural surroundings are amazing and beautiful.

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The Kuala Lumpur Menora or Kuala Lumpur Tower which is more known to tourists is another must see landmark whilst visiting Kuala Lumpur. The tower which is the seventh largest telecommunication tower in the world has an observation deck, a revolving restaurant, sky deck, sky box and a few others. I only managed to go on the revolving restaurant called atmosphere 360, it was a good experience that had marvellous views of the city. Surrounding the tower is Kuala Lumpur Eco Park which is an interesting visit in itself. Like a botanical garden this parks has plenty different plants and trees. What’s more enjoyable about this Eco Park is the canopy walk which takes people into a nice desired height to enjoy and observe the park from a panoramic view.

Other places popular to visit are the markets. I visited two of the city’s main markets, the Central Market and Petalling Street which is also known to be the city’s China town. Firstly the Central Market, which sells local handicrafts and eateries. Before visiting the place I thought it would be a local wet market selling produce but it was very focused selling to tourists. The Market was an interesting place to walk around which has had its own story to tell, you can appreciate the local Malaysian creativity. The market also offers delicious local delicacies such as durian, you would not be let down if you come here. Petalling  Street which is a short 10min walk from the Central Market is another popular place for tourists. Known as KL’s china town this area has many different street foods and cheap products. Also roamed by locals these side streets can also be a shoppers haven, a place where your haggling skills can be tested.

Just outside of Kuala Lumpur in the region known as Selangor which circles around the capital is home to one of the most famous points of interest in the ‘Batu Caves’ which is a limestone hill that has a series of caves which consist of over 100 year old Hindu temples. Firstly on the front there is a large golden (painted) statue of Lord Muragan in whom the temples are dedicated to. This statue is significant to the country as it is also the  largest at 43 metres high. Past the statue is 272 steps which lead up to the temple caves. These steps which have recently been coloured are somewhat obstacles for religious pilgrims. Whilst climbing these steps monkeys are ever present, they are very nice to take pictures with but be careful these monkeys are known to steal food and water, they will also bite if felt threatened. After the steps the cave is amazing and picturesque there are a lot of Hindu idols statues around and there temples are very active in prayers. The Batu cave is a must whilst visiting Malaysia it is free and there are no touts or vendors annoying tourists, the only thing you would need to think about is what you wear. It is a religious place and respectful attire are required, stricter for women than men.

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A popular thing to do whilst staying in Kuala Lumpur is to do a day excursions. I visited Kuala Gandah which was just over an hour drive from the capital. Kuala Gandah is usually visited for the National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC) which is a retreat for rescued elephants, so visiting this facility is helpful to the creatures whilst a brilliant experience and spectacle to those who visit. In the conservation you will watch a short 30min video about the rescued animals, feed, learn and watch a show about these majestic giants. You will also be able to bath with baby elephants which is a popular thing to do for many tourists.

Conclusion

Overall Kuala Lumpur was an eye opener, it is definitely one of my favourite capitals I have visited just because of its culture and the amount of things you can see and do. The city is cheap but can be a luxurious as you want it to be. There is also a lot that can be done whatever your age, interest and budget. My particular favourite is the Elephant conservation centre which highlighted the importance of protecting elephants but any creatures altogether, which is something special to learn especially for tourists from large cities that don’t know about these problems. Another place I loved about KL is the Petronas Towers which is just an architectural spectacle from any angle.

A visit to Kuala Lumpur is something any traveller must do, nice people, delicious food, eye opening culture and outstanding architecture, you cant go wrong.

Back to “A small circuit around south east Asia”

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Reference:

15 Interesting Facts About Kuala Lumpur
http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/en https://menarakl.com.my/index.php/the-tower/about-us

Singapore City

“Just why is Singapore a major destination for all?”

Type : City
Best Date : 
Expense :  Expensive
Things to do : Sightseeing, Food Tour, Theme Parks, Nightlife
Points of Interest: Merlion, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by Bay, Universal Studios, Sentosa island, China Town, Little India, Orchard Boulevard ect

Brief

Singapore is a small city-state independently governed, where its creation dates back many years with an Indonesian prince who found this piece of land (which he loved) and made himself King, further more the modern Singapore was founded in 1819 where  Sir Thomas raffles negotiated trading treaties on the island. The Japanese did occupy Singapore within the world war 2 but then reverted back to British occupation by the end. Singapore became an independent republic in 1965.

Singapore is a largely multicultural nation and is known to have 4 different cultures, this includes the Malays, Chinese, Indians and Singaporeans with many other minorities included.  Malay is said to be the main language but English and Chinese are largely used in the state.

It is said that Singapore’s land is 30% reclaimed from the sea. Their main food is said to be ‘Haiainese chicken and rice’ which was a lovely tender steamed chicken slices, and chilli crab is said to be a huge. Moreover there is many different dishes from around the world which Singapore has enhanced.

The Place

Going to any of the south east Asian nations, you can expect heavy culture many under developed and profit from their rich natural attractions like beaches, islands, wildlife, waterfalls, jungles and many a like. However Singapore is the only country within the ASEAN (Association of south east Asian nations) which is different, fully developed like any western nation. Although Singapore still has its historic cultures and fundamentals, a more modern feel is what attracts major visitors every year.

In a tourism aspect, Singapore is divided into 8 different sections in the city for tourists to visit and all have their purpose and history in the city (these are Orchard, Bugis, Little India, Sentosa Island, City Hall, Marina Bay, Clark Quay and Chinatown).

Fi20171027_111943rstly one of the centre points of the city is Orchard Road which hosts many of the hotels and shopping in Singapore. In my opinion the best area to stay in Singapore because of its accessibility and convenience. Orchard road is a straight 30 minute walk from one end to another, the district also has plenty buses and around 3 MTR stations. The road is popular for its overall shopping experience, which has high end and affordable chains, this also goes for the restaurants spread across orchard. Mimicking that of Oxford street in London, the street also has Christmas decorations which is lit mid November each year. Lastly I cannot miss out Singapore’s Botanic Garden. This UNESCO world heritage site, which is situated at the edge of Orchard roads shopping district is remarkable for greenery lovers, with many different species.

Bugis is another shopping district however more popular for its bargains and food. The village used to be the area for mass gathering of transwomen around the 50s-80s which made it Singapore’s top tourist destination in that era. However now Bugis is the area with the largest markets in Singapore thus very popular for locals and tourists a like.

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Little India is a section given to the Indian migrants at the early stages of planning Singapore, this was the same for migrants from China and Malaysia each given a little part of the city. Here in Little India tourists can see the vibrant and colourful community, their role in Singapore along with the chance to buy many products and dine on their many traditional foods.

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City Hall home to the famous Raffles hotel, which is famous for the invention of the world popular alcoholic beverage the ‘Singapore Sling’. I’ve been told the beverage was made because in Singapore females were not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. An innovative bar man mixed gin with fruit juice, which was acceptable at the time as gin was initially a medicine in those days. Medicine and fruit juice was deemed acceptable, this was firstly named the ‘Gin Sling’ until changing the name ‘Singapore Sling’ to build on its influence worldwide. Other notable place of interest near ‘City Hall are, ‘Suntec City’, the ‘chopstick monument’ which is has 4 chopstick looking sticks stood up together to commemorate the suffering of the 4 main communities (Malay, Chinese, Indian, Minorities) which suffered at the occupation of the Japanese in the World War. Lastly this is the area where the Merlion monument is found, the cover icon of the city and country.

Marina Bay (part of the reclaimed land), which is probably one of the most tourist invested area of Singapore is famous for being the home to many structures including the ‘Marina Bay Sands Resorts and Casino’ a 5 star luxury hotel which has the highest infinity pool across 3 standing towers and is also said to be the most expensive standalone casino. An iconic part of the bay is the Art Science museum,  which is a building shaped as a Lotus flower which collects rain water and light, across this is the ‘Helix bridge’ which is a nicely designed foot bridge made to look like the human DNA, this overlooks the Art Science museum and the Merlion in a distance. .  Another attraction iconic to at Marina Bay is the ‘Gardens by Bay’ which has 18 man made tree structures called ‘supertrees’, every night at 7:45pm there is also a light show which plenty of tourists plan to watch. In my own personal view the light show was a nice sight to see but it didn’t blow my mind. Lastly the ‘Singapore Flyer’ which was once the largest ferris wheel is also along Marina bay, here tourist can take a ride and view panoramic views of the city.

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Clarke Quay which is a small riverside area to dine and drink in the evenings, this is also the point where you can board the riverside cruises.

Just like little India,  China Town is also an area designated for the Chinese group of migrants. Like many China towns across the world, here there are many supermarkets, and food stalls and restaurants across this neighbourhood. At times there are traditional shows such as the Dragon/ Lion dance. Many tourists visit this section of Singapore to dine and shop in their many market stalls.

Finally there’s Sentosa Island which is full of modern amusements for the whole family and is said to be the most enjoyable area in Singapore. Her20171028_134538e you can find Resorts world, SEA life aquarium, Universal Studios and many more. Activities able to be done by the more frequent hobbyist such as golf and cycling can also be found here. Although not brilliant such as other ASEAN countries, the only beaches found in in Singapore are also on this island. However although very fun and enjoyable to visit Sentosa you may need to be with a group as it wouldn’t be very enjoyable as a solo trip. Furthermore if you are a traveller looking for cultural aspects then Sentosa is also not for you as many of the attractions found in the island can be found in other parts of the world.

When visiting Singapore all the tourist areas are very simple and accessible by their MTR system, buying a travel pass is very simple and cheap. However if travelling with the public rush is not your thing and you would like more of a sightseeing atmosphere the usual hop-on hop-off is an excellent alternative, with over 8 different lines, all points of interests is accessible whilst listening to valuable commentary of the city.

Overall Singapore is just an amazing place to visit as there is something for everyone. Kids can enjoy many of Sentosa’s many attractions such as SEA life aquarium and Universal studios whilst the adults can go shopping in Orchard road and enjoy the many luxurious brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Armani and many more. Young adults may also enjoy the many bars and clubs which also include bar hopping arrangements, and foodies are spoilt for the choices around the whole city. As an explorer the city offers outstanding architectural structures with many stories to be told, although a modern setting covers Singapore the history behind is special. It is an expensive city for hotels, tickets, tours and products but travel and food are cheaper than I first thought, you just need to choose the right places. Singapore is a nice warm place to visit although it may replicate many richer cities across the world.