Multi, multi and again multi …. This is the brief description of Malaysia – the constitutional monarchy situated in Southeast Asia. There’s a general notion that if Singapore is “the world in miniature”, Malaysia is “Asia in miniature”. And it’s true as the country is a cocktail of various cultures – Malaysian, Indian, Persian, Chinese and Arabic, topped with much influence of its colonizers – the Portuguese, Dutch and English, and covered in the mysticism of the Islamic religion. The official language spoken there is Malaysian, of course, but the so-called Malenglish (or Malaysian-English) is quite common, too. The latter is very specific and is not like the other “transformations” of English because when the Malaysians speak it they put the pretty strange “-laa” ending to every word (-laa is a widely spread ending in the Malaysian language, by the way). That’s why the languagelaa isn’t often so understandable.
Apart from these cultural, ethnic and language peculiarities, the country is very multi in other aspects, too. Let’s start with vegetation. Hibiscus (or also known as a Chinese rose) was declared a national flower in 1958. The Malaysians call it Bunga Raya and use its blossoms as a lovely decoration for women’s hair as well as in cooking, medicine and cosmetics and even as tea. And for sure, one can enjoy a true diversity of colours of these blossoms in the Orchid & Hibiscus Gardens that are one of the many attractions in Kuala Lumpur.
The capital city has various faces and meets anyone’s taste. It possesses everything starting from jungles, skyscrapers, temples, mosques, royal palaces and nearby beaches. Principally, the country is proud of housing the oldest jungle in the world (in comparison, the Amazon Jungle looks like a real kid). Probably, in order to underline that proud of theirs, the Malaysians built their international airport (KLIA) in the capital city at the place of a jungle.
As to “modern jungle lianas”, Kuala Lumpur is dotted by luxurious skyscrapers and fashioned malls. The two most popular twin towers are the Petronas Towers that are illuminated in silver-white and are supposed to have been the highest towers in the world from 1998 to 2004. And, yes, malls and expensive shopping centres are inseparable part of the landscape of the capital. The interesting thing about them is that they offer quite an interesting economic and healthy shopping therapy. What I mean is that there are special groups of women-shopping maniacs lead by specially trained coaches. These ladies dress up in comfortable jogging outfits and raid the malls in question doing jogging at the same time. Thus they both do some sports and cast a glance at the shop windows, prices and exclusive sales. 😀 It’s nice, isn’t it, ladies? 😀
Of course, this modern landscape of the megapolis is diversified by the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque (the second Southeast Asian mosque with the second highest minarets in the world) and Jamek Mosque (the oldest one in the city, built where the Klang and Gombak River confluence). The other attraction of the capital city is Istana Negara (or the Royal Palace). It was built as a private residence of a Chinese millionaire at the beginning of last century and nowadays it’s the monarch’s palace guarded by two Royal Calvary guards. Maybe these two guard posts are somehow a reverence to the English colonizers who still remind of themselves through the Royal Selangor Cricket Club located close to the Independence Square (or Dataran Merdeka).
And, yes, Merdeka is the other pole of the country’s history. It’s the place where the Malaysian flag waves on a 100-metre pillar (the largest in the world) and it’s the symbol of the country’s independence gained in 1957. I will open a bracket here. The Malaysian national flag consists of 14 white and red lines with a blue square in which there’s a crescent and a 14-beam star. All this represents the 13 Malaysian states and the federal government while the crescent is the official religion there. This way the tolerance in the multi-in-many-aspects country is explicitly shown. The bracket is closed. The square is famous for its nearby Sultan Abdul Samad Building, erected in a Moorish (Barbarian-Islamic) style. It was built by an English architect and its style is typical for Northern Africa and Andalucía and even the building is often compared to the Alhambra Palace in Granada (Spain).
And if you have already visited the Hinduistic temples near Batu Caves, your visit to Malaysia won’t be completed if you don’t enjoy a small part of the 4300-km beachline of the country. There are tiny beaches and resorts situated some 100km off Kuala Lumpur that attract tourists with their golden sand, sunbeds under palms and azure water.
In conclusion, Malaysia is really a must-visit due to its rich history, nature and diversity. Already on my Bucket List. 🙂