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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Malaysia Diary - Part2

Finally, after 3 weeks of arriving here, I begin to live my karma of being a tourist. It would be blasphemous for a tourist in Kuala Lumpur to return without seeing the Twin Towers of Petronas. And so, I step out in the direction of Petronas, a 10 minute drive from my place to KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) with expectations of standing on the largest monuments in the world. Limited tickets are available to view the tower but they are free. So, we arrive at KLCC at about 10 in the morning and are issued tickets for a 2:30 noon viewing of the monument. To kill time, we end up watching The Pursuit of Happyness, a feel-good but genuinely warm Will Smith movie, in of the theatres inside the mall.

Eventually, it’s time to go and we are ready to check in. There’s a brief five minute video presentation on the Petronas, extolling its virtues after which our guide shows us to a lift, post-security checks. We arrive at the 41st floor in less than a second per floor (the elevator moves at 5 m/s) and find ourselves at the sky bridge which connects the Twin Towers. It gives a breathtaking view of the city (just like every other tall monument) and there, unfortunately ends the spectacle. We have ten minutes to ourselves as we spend time busily snapping photos from the place – a 50 m long bridge stretch, which connects the two towers. Above the 41st floors are offices of Petronas where we are not allowed which makes the entire thing so ridiculous. Imagine waiting for such a long time to go to the Petronas and all you get is a 10 min stint at the 41st floor (the Tower has 88 floors). Surely, they could have done much better than merely creating all this hype but no action!!!

Another tourist place which is well-known is the Genting Highlands which houses a set of Theme parks, almost a Malaysian equivalent of the Sentosa in Singapore. It’s a 45 minute drive from Kuala Lumpur city and you can get a bus or a taxi (“texi” in Malay) to the place. There are three bus terminals I know of where you can get the bus – KLCC, Hotel Puduraya or Pasar Rakyat. We take the Go Genting Travels, from the last mentioned place, because it comes as a packaged tour of 39 RM per person, including the bus ride, cable car travel and all outdoor entertainment facilities. The bus leaves every one hour and we hop onto the 10:30 AM bus which covers sufficient ground and reaches the place at about 11:15. From here, there’s a cable car ride to the Genting Theme Park, located high above. This is a long 20 minute ride (about 3.5 km) and gives a scenic, lush picturesque view of the rainforest below.

The Genting theme park has outdoor as well as indoor entertainment facilities. The Outdoor facility comprises a standard set of roller coasters and rides which is no longer a novelty for any of us. But there are two rides which you need to try for sure – the Space Shot and the Flying Coaster. The Space Shot consists of a set of hydraulically operated seats (12 at a time) which takes you to a height of more than 50 m and then they just drop you. It’s a free fall and you hurtle down the entire distance in less than 5 sec and by Jove, it’s an eerie feeling because as you fall, you realize that you are no longer sitting but levitating and falling rapidly. Too awesome a feeling for me to communicate but it’s worth all our gasping and screeching.

The Flying Coaster is not recommended for people with a weak heart as it has an amazing set of twists, turns and swoops, all meant to shake you. Unlike the other rides, you lie down here instead of sitting and the twirling starts. Not only does the roller coaster move but it also rotates 360 degrees on a couple of occasions as you wonder what’s going on, till you are finally delivered back to earth. This signature attraction of the Park is not part of the package and you have to pay 10 RM for it (2 rides) and we experience the coaster twice, one immediate after the other. It also goes without saying that none of these rides are to be tried out in a full stomach, otherwise…

The Indoor facilities are more for kids and do not hold too much of an interest, except for the casino. Having lost money previously in one of my attempts at learning Roulette in a Goa casino, I am not keen on investing money in this venture. But I still find it interesting to see hundreds of people sweating it with tensed faces playing in the slot machines, roulette, tai sai, three pictures, baccarat and a few other casino games- all an example of how people desperately want that shortcut to making a fast buck. The gambling and porno industry remain two industries immune to global industrial cycles and sustain themselves purely on human avarice and lust and what better place to house such a money-spinning venture than a tourist resort like this.

There’s also 4D motion picture, about 5 minute long that costs 8 RM. But trust me, this is worth a clear miss and it’s a total waste, especially if you have experienced this earlier in Sentosa. It can be a scary thing, especially when you feel crabs and insects feeling about you and attacking you in the dark. India does not have a 4D theatre, I think, but if you want to experience it, my advice is to give the Genting one a miss and try out it in Sentosa. This is a pathetic half-3D/half-4D meaningless movie and to think, you need to shell out 8 RM for this!!!

The packaged tour also includes the return trip back to Pasar Rakyat and so, finally, we leave the place by the 8:30 bus. It is a nice experience but you realise that you have'nt experienced anything new and that India's amusement parks do a fairly good job but maybe, we have not marketed it enough. Anyway,one long, tired day comes to an end....

There are a few other places on the standard tourism map which are to be covered but I’m not able to do so because of lack of time. Tourists can check out Malacca and Langkawi – both places known for their beaches. These places can be reached in less than 3 hours from the city and are worth venturing (as per feedback received). Batuk Caves is another known spot known for its Hindu temples and has a special religious significance.

By the end of next week, I’ll be back in India, just in time to catch the World Cup…Time to bid adieu to Malaysia then unless I come back....

4 comments:

  1. Maybe its becaus that Singapore the quintessential tourist place is just nextdoor that it has completely overshadowed malaysia.. but then from the way u describe it i guess the only thing in terms of uniqueness that Malaysia has going for it is I guess Rainforests.. Bummer that Petronas turned out to be a bit of a dampener..But hey the best thing is u are going in time to ctach the world cup..Would really miss out on that :(

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  2. Hi, India has a 4D theatre named ORAMA at Atria Mall in Worli, Mumbai. It's a 6 to 10 min movie for 400 bucks but I've not tried it though so dont know how good or bad it is!

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  3. Thanks, Rosh...Never knew India had a 4D theatre...Heard y'day that it is a good experience..You should try it out once...It's about 250 Rs, I believe, and not 400...

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  4. There is another 4D theatre in India , in Bangalore- Innovative film city.

    Here the show is around 15 minutes duration and it is worth watching.
    Srinivas

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