Sunday, August 10, 2014

Experiencing KL: learn and have fun

My Philippine history subject taught me that Filipinos came from the Malay race. Whether it's true or not today, doesn't really matter. But my trip to Kuala Lumpur with my family last week to celebrate Ana Cristina's 22nd birthday made me realize that there are indeed very close similarities between the Filipino and Malay language.

I began taking my own silent vocabulary lessons on this foreign language upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Malay 101 lesson, here we go.

I learned my very first Malay word when we had to follow this sign at the KLIA. Guided by this, we were able to find our way from the plane to the immigration area and finally claimed our luggage.
Malay word no. 1: KETIBAAN = Arrival

Of course, all of us needed one thing in common. To look for the comfort room... errr rest room? Or did I read toilet?

Malay word no. 2: TANDAS = Toilet
What a relief it was! Then, we got our tickets for a teksi ride that brought us to our hotel.

Malay word no. 3: TEKSI = Taxi
That was a long 57-kilometer ride from the KLIA to our hotel. My husband who was seated beside the driver had all the time to take photos of the sunset! It was so amazing that at past 6 pm the sun was just about to set! I had to keep looking out of the taxi window to assure myself that my vision was not deceiving me!

Our first sunset at Kuala Lumpur
While my husband was busy capturing the best sunset view during the teksi ride, I almost slept! But dozing off several times during the trip was no reason for me to miss this sign along the way. Welcome to KL!

Malay word(s) no. 4: SELAMAT DATANG = Welcome
After checking in the hotel, we went out to survey the area. As we walked around the One-Stop Residence Hotel and Mall at Fraser Business Park, we discovered the Secret Recipe, a bakeshop very near the hotel. There we had pizza and vegetable salad for dinner, shared a slice of cake for dessert and we were ready to culminate the day. 

On our way back to the hotel, I noticed this sign written on some doors in the mall.

Malay word no. 5: PINTU = Gate

At the airport on our departure, I also noticed this sign.
Five new words in a few hours, not bad eh?!! But the next three days had more to offer. 

We decided to avail of the KL Hop-on Hop-off  (H-O H-O) Tour service the following day. 

Here are photos of the tour bus.

Hop-on now, come on!

One could complete the tour in 2-3 hours even without getting off the bus. 

Whohoo, this double-decker, air-conditioned KL H-O H-O bus, equipped with WiFi and pre-recorded commentary for each attraction, brought us to the primary tourist spots, guided by this City Tour map. 

There are more than 20 KL H-O H-O bus stops that lead to several attractions in the city. 
You may hop-off in any of these bus stops in order to see more of the place, then, wait for the next KL H-O H-O bus and hop-on again and again and again. 

The KL H-O H-O bus ticket is good for 24 hours.

Our daughters, Ayana Grace and Ana Cristina, seated in front of us, 
savoring the view of the city atop the double-deck KL H-O H-O. 
Enjoying the convenience of just staying seated on the bus and taking a view of streets and places through the window, I learned more words. Jalan Sultan, Jalan Metro Pudu, Jalan Parlimen, Jalan Pudu Sentral.

Malay word no. 6: JALAN = Street
The bus brought us to the major attractions of the city, the pride of KL--- its menara!

Malay word no. 7: MENARA = Tower
The sight of the two major menaras in KL was so amazingly overwhelming! 

Standing below the two gigantic towers, unmindful of the scorching heat of the sun, I felt as if I was in a dream! Until now, I could still imagine the towering heights of both the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower, looking down to where I was, saying, "Oh, there you are!".

The Petronas at night was simply magical!
No regrets at having to come back another day, just to appreciate more of the towers
with all its glitters after the sun has set!

Each one of us took much time taking photos of the Petronas from different angles. It was a pity that I was not able capture the sight of my husband and daughter taking pains at photographing either one of us posing underneath the towers. That's a craft they patiently took efforts at perfecting, to the point of almost lying supine at the ground looking for a vantage point before giving the camera a click.

I'm so glad my husband was able to capture the changing hues of the fountain as it danced with the music. 
The Dancing Fountain of Petronas in Kuala Lumpur

We sat on the steps still watching the waters playfully splashing from the fountain. Then the music came alive again with a different tune. It's a pity that I'm not good at taking videos. Forgive me but I do hope you will like this one.

That was a long dance! Did you like the music? I bet you caught what my daughter and husband had to say (in our native tongue) while watching the video? ("Bongga" means "stylish"; "Tamang-tama ang dating natin" means "We just arrived on time!")

Whew, it took 3 hours before we finally decided to leave Suria KLCC. We couldn't seem to stop taking photos of the towers from different angles! It was so hard leaving this grandeur behind!

But then, it was getting late and we had to go back to the hotel to plan for our activities the following day.

We also walked along Jalan Bukit Bintang, dropped by Sephora (a cosmetics shop) near Starhill as requested by Ayana Grace, the beauty blogger of the family. From there, we also visited the KL Pavilion where we posed for some photos with this fountain at the background.

Beautiful fountain! I just loved looking at it!

Wasn't able to resist posing beside this manikin :)
I literally prodded my husband take a photo of me.
We took our time to explore the shopping area. In some doors in the mall, this sign was very noticeable.

Malay word no. 8: TOLAK = Push
Except for the spelling, very much Filipino eh?! And this sign would also appear in any place we went to. 
Malay word no. 9: KELUAR = Exit
One major attraction of the city is the Batu Cave, a limestone hill we decided to see 13 kilometers north of KL. To reach the cave, we traveled by train from the KL Sentral. 

 The train station at KL Sentral

I like staring at the train schedule advisory.
Makes me aware of the exact time the train is coming. 
Even inside the train. 
See the blue and red lights? It's a tracking system to make the passengers aware of the train stations throughout the whole trip until one reaches his or her destination. 
I kept looking at it the whole time. Made me wonder when the local MRT trains 
and buses in my own country would have that.
I also enjoyed the train ride as it allowed me to see some of the major city attractions from another perspective, hahaha... from the railway...

... until we reached our destination--- the Batu Caves!
We didn't go there to worship. But we were so intrigued at the thought of climbing the stairs in order to see the beauty of nature up there. 

We're here!!!

The Batu Caves is one of the famous Hindu shrines outside of India. The place is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the center of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.  One would never miss the Murugan Statue as it stands 140-feet high at the entrance of Batu Caves. This statue of a Hindu deity is said to cost 24 million rupees, being made of 1550 cubic meters of concrete, 250 tons of steel bars and 300 liters of gold paint imported from Thailand. 

I had goose pimples looking at the gigantic statue of Muruga. 
The Batu Caves temple stands 100 meters above the ground. The biggest cave, known as the Cathedral or Temple Cave that features ornate Hindu shrines, has a 100 meter-high ceiling. We had to climb a 272-step flight of steep stairs in order to reach the top (no wonder I had muscle cramps the following day!). I had to stop on platforms after slowly climbing 10 to 15 steps at a time, in order to catch my breath. 

Cheers, I did it! Hmmm... who did you say looks tired? 
But in all honesty, I was panting when I reached the top! Ssshhhhh...
Whew! It was such an achievement for me, I just couldn't believe it! I kept reminding my husband not to walk up the stairs very fast so I could keep up with them. Good cardiac exercise, indeed, it was. But not for my legs :( Without any of them knowing it, I had to take several doses of muscle relaxant a day after so that I could go to the other places as scheduled. 

From the Batu Caves, we still had time to linger at Merdeka Square.

Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) or Independence Square is the place where the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time in 1957. 

This place is known literally, as the heart of downtown KL and figuratively, as the heart of Malaysian nationalism. Wow to that, even if, as a student, I never appreciated world history with all the memorization the subject entailed. :((
There, look at me, appreciating the colors of the flowers... in perfect harmony with my blouse. 
I really felt "I belonged!" :) :) :)

We stayed here for a while. It was very relaxing --- just sitting on the grass, impressed with all the sky-high buildings around the square and hearing the soothing sound of water flowing from the fountain. 

Look at these photos of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad) located just in front of the Merdeka Square. The building features a 40-meter clock tower. 

I don't know why this building caught my attention so much that I took quite a number of photos of it. Oh, maybe it's the shiny copper dome tops giving the building a mosque-like structure. This building houses Malaysia's Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. Being a major landmark in KL, it often serves as backdrop for significant events. 

The KL City Gallery was just beside the park. 

We were able to tour sections of the gallery and watch a diorama showcase of Kuala Lumpur. Great presentation!!! Watch this.

The Spectacular City Model Show at the KL City Gallery
Thanks to Ana Cristina for this video

In one of the miniature displays in the City Gallery, I learned another Malay word.

 Malay word no. 10: MASJID = Mosque

Visiting KL wouldn't be complete without traversing the streets of Chinatown. Jalan Petaling is the place. Here we had a taste of Malaysia's street food. The three of us shared the assorted food we bought. I enjoyed observing how the vendor picked up and cut pieces of the items we chose with his bare hands!

Left photo on 3rd row: I was fumbling for some tissue paper from my bag
to wipe the chopsticks before getting a taste of Malaysian food.
Well, next to KL's Chinatown, of course, one shouldn't miss the Central Market. That, according to my daughter, was my favorite place. Don't ask why... see these photos?

Aside from scouting for a few items as souvenirs, we had a chance to get a taste of Durian Popsicle from one of the stalls. Oh, this was one thing I'm already missing! There was no more time to look for other stores to get another stick. :((

Durian Popsicle treat! Love it! 
During our 3-day stay, I would often hear my husband utter, "Terima Kasih" (Malay word no. 11 = Thank You) to the taxi drivers, salespersons and waiters after they've done us service.  

Our last stop before leaving for home was the KL Tower. Of course, we couldn't miss spending some time for photo ops before finally saying goodbye...
The 4 Sisons at the Malaysia Cultural Village, a nice place to relax.
There were still a lot of places to visit... more words to learn but to the KLIA we had to go once more. This time, we had to follow another sign in order to find the check-in and boarding areas for passengers bound for Manila.

Malay word no. 12: PERLEPASAN = Departure
Bye for now, KL! Till we meet again! So I say, "Terima Kasih," the time has come. 

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