The Underground Riches

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The Kinta Valley, whose tin production of long time ago was half that of the rest of Malaysia combined and 17 percent that of the world’s total, stretches funnel-shaped for 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Sungai Siput (Siput River) in the north of Ipoh (Capital city of Perak state) to Kampur in the south. The speedy North-South-Highway cuts straight across these hills joining Ipoh with the Perak River Valley and Kuala Kangsar.

What was once a vast expanse of forest crossed by sluggish jungle streams and swamps has over the past 100 years been virtually denuded of all its trees, its swamps drained and even the course of the Kinta River straightened out; the land now lies flat and open, offering nothing but the vistas of deserted mining pools spreading over the bleached scars of tin tailings; dotted here and there are the wooden palong (boxes) of the Chinese mines; and floating majestically in pools of their own making are the huge tin dredges.

Mining townships, occupying land once roamed by wild herds of elephant, scatter themselves over the face of this valley. Some, like Ipoh, rose with the tin industry, but when the local tin deposits were exhausted, they declined and shriveled into villages or even became a ghost town, like Papan, Tronoh and Pusing. Some, such as Batu Gajah and Gopeng, were once greater and more prosperous than Ipoh itself. Take a walk in this small town and discover the history of mining.

The Cameron Highlands

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The Cameron Highland is one of the Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations. Not part of Perak but Pahang, but they can only be reached through Perak. The road to the Highlands branches off the main trunk highway 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Ipoh (capital city of Perak state). It shoots off toward the hills and for 90 kilometers (56 miles) winds and twists its way to the top. As cool air funnels down the mountain pass, the temperature drops. Palms and banana trees give way to deep jungle growth. Coniferous trees appear, fern line the road and clusters of bamboo add the touch of a Chinese scroll painting.

The Cameron Highlands are actually spread out over three districts. For the newcomer it can be a little confusing, and at first somewhat disappointing, especially when after 48 kilometers (28 miles), you arrive at Ringlet, the first district and a rather ugly little settlement. Better push on! Four kilometers (2.5 miles) later comes the pretty Sultan Abu Bakar Lake, a man made body of water formed by the damming of the Bertam River, and extensively covered with lush green plants. Perched on a bluff above the lake is The Lakehouse hotel, a Tudor style building with sweeping views of the surrounding valley. Pay a visit to the vegetables and fruit farms, Strawberry Farm, Bee Farm, Butterfly Garden and the Flower Garden. For shopping advice, visit the tourist souvenir shops or the night market.

Fraser Hill

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Situated at 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), Fraser Hill was initially created by the British as a cool retreat in the mountain. Fraser Hill (or Bukit Fraser in Malay)is a hill resort located on the Titiwangsa Ridge in the state of Pahang in Malaysia. The resort takes its name from Louis James Fraser, an elusive English adventurer, who had long disappeared when the hill station was built in 1910. Fraser Hill is a relaxing retreat for business executives seeking respite.

Scattered over the seven hills that make up the resort, a series of English greenstone bungalows were built, surrounded by neat English gardens blooming with roses and hollyhocks. More modern facilities have been added including a new hotel. Economical and old fashioned accommodation is offered in the form of bungalows and youth hostel. Fraser Hill is for those who like to relax in the countryside, walk along jungle paths or swim in the pool of Jerlau Waterfall. There is also a 9-hole golf course, tennis court, playground and pony rides for the slightly more active. Unfortunately, for those without a private transport, Fraser Hill is rather difficult to reach. Start with a one hour bus journey from Kuala Lumpur (About 100 km/ 62 miles to south) to Kuala Kubu Bharu, from where you have to board a second bus which takes another one and half hours to get to the top. The last 8 kilometers (5 miles) is up a narrow road which an one-way traffic system operate. So, tourists are advised to get a rental car to get up to Fraser Hill.

Royal Selangor Pewter

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The kilometers (6 miles) from Kuala Lumpur is a suburb called Setapak, home of the famous Royal Selangor Pewter Factory, where most Malaysia’s pewter products are made from a combination of antimony, copper and refined tins. In the Royal Selangor Visitor Center, you can watch the demonstrations of pewter being made and purchase various pewter items at the factory shop. Admission fee is free and open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Guides are provided upon request and fluent in English, Malay, Mandarin and Japanese.

The visitor center take you back over a hundred years to the founding of Royal Selangor and its inextricable link with the history of Malaysia, to the present day as the world’s largest pewter maker and its expansion into gold and sterling silver. Traditional pewter smiting tools and antique pewter from around the world as showcased in the Pewter Museum, and ancient tin currency is featured. In addition to pewter, also on show is the Comyns archive, which features over 35,000 drawing, patterns, and molds of this venerated silversmith, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious and a member of the Royal Selangor group.

With a built-up area of 40,000 square feet, the Royal Selangor Visitor Center has won the Malaysian Tourism Best Tourist Attraction Award 2004 in the category of attraction with national identity or heritage, as well as the ASEAN Tourism Association Award 2005 for Excellent as Best ASEAN New Attraction. Today it received hundreds of domestic and international visitors daily.

Kajang Satay

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About 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur, on the old highway to the south, is a small town called Kajang. If you are hungry – and even if you are not – stop a while, as Kajang boasts that it served the best satay in all Malaysia. The meat is not better here than in other parts of the country, but Kajang offers the best sauce. Satay is often called the hamburger of Southeast Asia – chicken, mutton or beef is cut into bite sized pieces, mixed with spices, salt and sugar and marinated for at least six hours. The meat is then threaded onto thin bamboo skewers and grilled over a charcoal fire. Kajang satay has spread its name all over Malaysian and became the favorite for tourists and the local as well.

Anyway, Sate Kajang Haji Samuri is the undisputed brand of Kajang satay; with close to over 20 outlets all over Malaysia now. The number is constantly on the rise, with new chain opening out up in the other states. Bangunan Dato’ Nazir, Jalan Kelab, 43000 Kajang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, the main branch for of Kajang satay restaurant. If you are in Kajang, pick a taxi and show that address, taxi drivers are surely familiar with this address. So, if you see any restaurant with a name of Kajang Satay, why don’t give a try. I promise it would be the best satay you ever try.

I – City

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I-City is 72 acres ICT – based development beside the Federal Highway, Selangor. I-City was designed as a fully integrated intelligent city, comprising corporate, leisure and residential components such as a 1 million square feet regional shopping mall, office towers, hotels and apartment. Besides, it is also known as the city of digital lights. It is recognized as the first light scape tourism destination in Malaysia with state-of-the-art LED technology showcase.

The digital city includes trendy shopping streets and equipped with a theme park to cater to visitors’ looking for a place to unwind. There are 4 main attractions in I-City, which are the Waterworld, Snowalk, City of Digital Lights and Funworld. The main feature of the Waterworld is the exhilarating Tornado Ride, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It offers visitors the ultimate aquatic adrenaline rush. This ride takes you on an oscillating “near zero gravity twirl” for a full 28 second through a 160 foot water tunnel, plummeting into a water funnel that is 7-storey high, inclined at a 45 degree angle and eventually. Besides, you might want to have an experience of walking in -5 degrees Snowalk in this warm weather country.

All this sound interesting, but it might cost you some. Here’s the operating hour for those theme parks, Waterworld – 11.00 am to 7.00 pm (Weekend start at 10.00 am), Snowalk – 10am to 1am daily and Funworld – 2.00 pm to 1.00 am (Weekend start at 11.00 am). Enjoy your visit and don’t leave your camera behind.

National Monument, Malaysia

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The National Monument of Malaysia, Located on a small hill nearby the Malaysian Houses of Parliament, erected to commemorate those who sacrificed in the struggle against communist in the 1990s. It is the world’s tallest bronze freestanding sculpture grouping. The galleries at the base of the statue record the names of all the units who fought, including British, Australian, Fijian, Maori and Malay troops. The statue itself may seem surprisingly familiar to some visitors, as it is a model of the famous Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington DC. This statue caught the eye of the late, Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Prime Minister of Malaysia, while he was on a visit to the United State. Felix de Weldon cast the Malaysian model in bronze in Italy and the statue now has a purely Malaysian symbolism.

The topmost figure holds the Malaysian flag and symbolizes unity and strength; two men on either side of him denote strength and vigilance; and a man comforting a wounded comrade on the center front of the group stands for the suffering and sacrifices made by soldier of all ranks. The base of the statue is moated by a pool with a cascading fountain and pewter water lilies, pewter being one of Malaysian’s prize metals. A small bridge over the moat gives access to the monument. Pick a nice spot for your photograph, post it on your social network and impress your friends!

National Museum, Malaysia

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The museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm, except Fridays, when it is closed from noon to 2.45pm.

National Museum of Malaysia is sitting on an incline on Jalan Damansara and facing Jalan Travers. The museum was initially built on the site of the old Selangor museum, but was destroyed during World War 2. The new museum opens in 1963. It spots a huge Minangkabau roof and front walls covered with Italian mosaic flanking the main entrance. The museum is well worth whiling away a few hours, especially for its social and cultural sections. These include an extensive section on the Nyonyas and Babas, the unique culture born of a fusion between Chinese and Malay traditions.

There is also a complete reconstruction of Malay “kampung” (village) and, on the other end of the social scale, a courtly scene complete with antique attire and gold and silk adornments. Also represented are Malays pastimes and sports, and there is a detailed history of shadow puppets, with displays from Turkey, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The Orang Asli (aboriginal of Malaysia) culture and societies are well documented, and displays inform on wildlife and natural resources, with a diagrammatic representation of an open-cast mine. Other interesting exhibits include the skull of an elephant which is reputed to have derailed a train! There is also an amok catcher, a frightening device that was once used to catch render harmless a person who has “run amok”.

Lake Garden, Malaysia

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Downtown Kuala Lumpur is crowded with buildings, both old and new, and may begin to wonder if there are any green spaces in the city apart from the Merdeka Square. A recent upsurge of interest in the greening of Kuala Lumpur now allows it to boast 30 public greens, from roundabouts planted with bougainvillea to spacious parks.

The best-known and most popular of these parks are the Lake Gardens, or Taman Tasik Perdana (Malay). 92 hectares of undulating green with magnificent trees flowering plants prove that the jungle can be tamed. The park owes its existence to A.R Venning, a British official who managed to persuade Swettenham in 1888 that Kuala Lumpur needed a public park. The largest lake on Kuala Lumpur, Tasik Perdana, once known as Sydney Lake, has boats for hire by the hour.

The gardens are popular with locals and visitors alike and are especially crowded on the weekend when in the early morning or evening, joggers puff their way around the humid paths, lovers seek more secluded spots, family have their picnic beside the lake and old Chinese man go through their tai chi routine. The park is open 10am till 6pm for Monday till Saturday and 8am till 6pm on Sundays and Public Holidays. Besides, it’s just a walking distance to the Orchid Garden, Bird Park and Deer Park. The National Monument of Kuala Lumpur is just apposite of the lake.

National Mosque, Malaysia

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National Mosque, or Masjid Negara (Malay), lies at the center of Jalan Lembah (entrance), Jalan Perdana and Jalan Kinabalu. Completed in 1965, the jagged 18-point star roof and the 73 meter tall (240ft) minaret catch the eye. The 18 points of the star represent the thirteen states of Malaysia and the five pillars of Islam. This was one of the country’s first post-independence constructions and is one of the largest mosques in the region. Its Grand Hall – busiest on very Friday – can accommodate 8,000 worshippers.

On the roof there are 48 smaller domes, their design and number inspired by the great mosque in Mecca. It is an impressive building with cool marbles halls, long galleries and reflecting pool in the courtyard. The minaret rises from the center of one of these pools. The mosque is set in 5 hectares of gardens. One area of these gardens is reserved for the tomb of Malaysia’s most celebrated dignitaries, the former prime minister of Malaysia and other pioneers of independence are already rest there. Decorous clothing and behavior is a must during the visit to National Mosque. Shoes must be removed before entering the hall of the mosque. Scarves and covering robes are available for women, who use a different entrance. Tourists are advised to dress respectfully to show your respect toward the religion.