Sunday, 17 November 2013

Kuala Lumpur - a Dream Destination

My husband worked in Kuala Lumpur for some time before our marriage so there are times when he tells me about his stay at KL. One guilt he always has is that he never quite go around KL. He was very busy with work and was too lazy to go around the city during his short stint in KL. His only achievement during his stay at KL (according to him) is attending the inauguration of Jackie Chan Café and being within an arms distance of Jackie Chan (almost touching his hand).

So he often says that he would want to visit KL again (with me in tow) and go around that place as a tourist without having to worry about work, boss, client, emails, deliverables and deadlines. He talks about the hotel he used to stay in, the metro and bus journeys he used to take, his visit to Petronas Twin towers and KL towers besides his visits to K L Central (which is like a mini India in KL). And of course, he also talks about his experience with Air Asia – which is the World's Best Online Travel Fair.

So as a combination of what I have heard from him and what I have read online about this place, Kuala Lumpur is definitely a destination I would prefer. So here is my itinerary for my KL visit – a check list of sorts … a list of all things to do and places to visit.

1. Petronas Tower and Suria KL City Center – My husband tells me that in the few months he spent in KL; he visited the Petronas Towers several times and also went to Suria City Center many times BUT he never went to the sky-bridge connecting the 41st and 42nd floors across the twin towers. I intend to change that when he takes me along. Petronas will not only be the first place we go to but I will make sure I take him to the sky-bridge. Suria KLCC is also something I wouldn't miss. My hubby recalls memories of a HUGE 4-5 storey tall Christmas Tree within KLCC. I am having trouble imagining such a huge Christmas tree … I would love to see it with my own eyes <which means I got to schedule KL trip around Christmas – which is soon coming up>

2. Aquaria KLCC, located very close to Petronas, is a state-of-the-art oceanarium (aquarium) showcasing over 5000 different exhibits of aquatic and land-bound creatures. My hubby tells me I could spend a whole day there. I would love to visit it.

3. KL TOWER or Menara Kuala Lumpur (as it is known locally) is something my hubby recommends. He visited KL Tower twice (celebrating his birthday in the revolving restaurant which is right below the observation deck of KL tower). He says that the view from KL tower is much better than that from Petronas simply because KL tower give you a 360 degree view whereas Petronas only gives you a very restricted view (You can only see 2 sides since you have the twin towers on the other two sides). I want to visit the KL tower just before sun-set so that I can see the city during day-light and then watch the city transform during the twilight as city lights start coming on across the city … and then finally as the city lights up in the dark. Oh What an experience it is going to be.

4. Metro Ride, Monorail Ride … and yes, even the Bus Ride. I have always believed that to know a city from within and at close quarters, you got to use its public transport. It gives you a very different view of the city and its people. You no longer meet traders and souvenir shop owners with plastic smiles. In the metro train, you meet and see real people of the city, living their real lives. The elevated mono-rail gives you a different view of the city while the public transport bus service gives you a different view of the city and its people – from a different economic level. I wouldn't miss this part of my journey at all.  

5. KL Sentral and Brickfield – mini India. My hubby tells me that during the weekends, he would hop on to the metro train and go to KL Sentral and visit the brickfield area which was like a mini India. He would see Indians all around and eat in Indian restaurants. He would feel right at home in the crowd there. I intend to surely visit this mini India away from India.

6. Bank Negara Malaysia, Merdeka Square and the other Historical Places – Bank Negara Malaysia is where my husband worked and he tells me that there are several places / monuments / buildings of historical importance around the office. I would love to see where my hubby worked and also those historical places. At the center of all the historical things is Merdeka Square. Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest. Just beside the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building currently the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia. Opposite the square is the famous Royal Selangor Club Complex built in 1884 as a meeting place for high-ranking members of the British colonial society. To the South is the former National History Museum which used to house a vast collection of historical items. The collection has recently been moved to Muzium Negara. To the North is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia and the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia. A 95-metre flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, is located at the southern end of the square. Nearby is also the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which is still operational. However the main hub has recently been moved to KL Sentral in 2001.

7. Shopping at China Town and Central market – How can I ignore my inner shopping instincts. My hubby tells me that the China Town and the adjoining Central Market are the places to shop. He also told me about a very large departmental store (he has forgotten the name but remembers the location) where he bought a lot of gifts and other things before returning to India from KL.

8. Jackie Chan Café at Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang – The place where my hubby met Jackie Chan. He tells me that this is a very posh shopping mall where you find the world's most expensive brands. He won't allow me to shop here but I can do window shopping to my heart's delight.

9. National Museum or Muzium Negara (as it is called locally) and the Perdana Lake Gardens located nearby. It is a palatial structure built in the style of Minangkabau architecture. Located atop a hill on Jalan Travers, it provides an interesting introduction to the history and culture of Malaysia. Museums are another aspect of visiting new places. They give you yet another perspective of the place you are visiting – its history, its culture, its transformation over the years. It helps you see through the concrete and glass façade of modern day buildings and peek into the hidden cultural layers of the city / country. So the visit to the national museum is a must.

10. KL Bird Park and Orchid Garden - Located close to the Perdana Lake Garden (Taman Tasik Perdana), the Orchid Garden has over 800 species of exotic Malaysian orchids. The orchid is a truly exotic and special flower and I just love orchids – I wouldn't miss the Orchid garden at all. The Bird park would be a very interesting experience at it is well known as "The World's Largest Walk-in Free Flight Aviary" offering 21 acres terrain to be explored with head raised upwards and eyes glued to the branches and tree tops. I have a feeling I will have a pain in my neck at the end of the day so I should schedule these at the end of the trip.

11. Asean Sculpture Garden; also located in the vicinity of the lake gardens, is a uniquely landscaped garden with a wide collection of prize-winning sculptures in wood, marble, iron and bamboo. This would be interesting to watch.

I am sure there are more places to explore and see and visit in KL … so I will probably spend a whole day on the hop-On-Hop-Off buses, exploring the city. I will also see what the official Malaysia tourism website as well as other websites like TripAdvisor have to say. I would also search for off-beat places to visit in Malaysia to see if there are hidden jewels (which are not popularized by tourist companies and websites). It is always fun to see what others don't – you face no crowds and have the place practically to yourself to soak it in.

Well, it's now time to look outside Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia offers more than KL to see …

12. Batu Caves – Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples 13 km (8 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur. The limestone forming Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. Rising almost 100 m above the ground, the Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 276 steps. I would surely like to visit this temple.

13. Genting Highland Resort – My hubby visited Genting and he tells me that this is a Hill Station with a unique experience … right from the cable car ride to the top, to the amusement part, to the casinos, to the very different and chilly weather, to the colorful First World hotel.   

14. Langkawi  – My hubby was not able to visit Langkawi and is not sure if we will visit it when we go to Malaysia. But, I am insistent. I want to visit this place.   

Well well well … the list is long and I think I would need a full fortnight in Malaysia to cover it all. Will my hubby agree … time will tell.
I wanted to post pictures of all the above places along with the numbered paragraphs ... i almost did ... but then I decided that I would rather prefer to post pictures of all these places with myself as part of those pictures. So posting of KL pictures will happen after my hubby takes me to KL :)

This blog-post was inspired by 'Dream Asian Destination Blogger Contest' organized by Ripple Links and sponsored by AirAsia. Click here for more information about the World's Best Online Travel Fair 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Platinum Day of Love - Wedding Anniversary

My Platinum Day of Love was my first wedding anniversary.
Our's was an arranged marriage so love was slowly and gradually creeping and growing in our relationship. Due to work requirements, my hubby had to travel a lot and we were not together on my birthday as well as his birthday. In fact, during his birthday, he was in another country (UAE) where I shortly joined him later.
He wanted to make the first anniversary special so he had planned it out very well and made all the arrangements in advance keeping it all a big surprise for me. I just assumed that he was so busy with his work so he will not have time for me and we would end up celebrating our anniversary with a hotel dinner maybe.
BUT … he planned out a day of adventure and fun and variety ending it on a soft romantic note.
Our anniversary turned out to be a day of extremes in terms of variety and adventure …
O! What a day it was !
From the sweltering 45 Degrees to the chilling minus 5 degrees … Dubai was 45 degrees hot that day of May and went to the HOT HOT beach as well as later visited SKI Dubai where one can enjoy the snow and skiing.  
From the speed boat ride in the open seas to the snow sleigh and tobogganing tyre sliding on snow … We took a speed boat at the beach and then went parasailing over the Dubai seas and then sleigh and tobogganing at Ski Dubai.
From walking on the HOT SAND on Dubai beach to wading through waist/chest deep COOL Sea Water to reach the speed boath and then sliding and slipping on the COLD SNOW in Ski Dubai and Flying / parasailing over Dubai Seas !!!
We rode the Bus, Taxi, Metro, Speed Boat, sleigh and even flew with the parachute thingy … all in a span of 12 hours. My husband has this weird idea of seeing Dubai from different views, so he dropped the idea of having a chauffeur driven car for a day and instead chose to travel across Dubai in all sorts of public transport    
That is how I celebrated my Wedding Anniversary in May 2011  … the day which bonded our relationship and took it to a whole new level. Undoubtedly, that's the platinum day of our relationship.
Platinum, the most beautiful of all metals is known for its rarity, purity and versatility … and that is how our relationship has turned out to be. That day just took our relationship to an altogether different level. I discovered a side of my husband I had never known – the boisterous, adventurous streak. WE experienced those adventures together and that brought us closer.
The end of the day was pretty calm and subtle as compared with the rest of the day … a walk down the sea side and a candle light dinner at Kamat Restaurant. From adventures in the day to the romantic evening, everything went according to our plan except for my anniversary gift.
He told me that the gift was a special one he was planning and he needed more time to get it done. Well, it took some time … well – almost 5-6 months … but it eventually came and it did lift me off or let's say sweep me off my feet.
The gift was something I never imagined my 'kanjoos' husband would ever give me – a platinum bracelet with 5 luminous diamond. He always tells me till date "Wish I had a camera when I presented you the bracelet. The expression on your face was priceless". So, maybe technically that day in September (he chose my  birthday in Sept to give me the 'late' anniversary gift) could be called my platinum day of love … but the memories of anniversary and the adventures and the bonding we shared are just too much stronger.
It was a truly awesome day and THE MOST PRECIOUS day of my life ... of our lives. It was our Platinum Day of Love.  

Some pictures of our adventures ...