By Christina “ICON” Shin, Staff Writer
Split in the middle by the South China Sea, Malaysia is filled with mix cultures. The country shares its borders with Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei and Philippines. You can visit the bustling cities, picturesque islands and colonial architecture as well as the wild jungles of orangutans, remote tribes and breathtaking diving in the clear seas.
First stop is capital city, Kuala Lumpur (KL). It is home to the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, and Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). Underneath the bright lights and skyscrapers of the city, you can still find that it is rooted in tradition. It is a must visit for foodies. KL offers a mouth-watering mix of Asian culinary traditions. At the heart of KL is Chinatown or Chee Cheong Kai (Starch Factory Street). The main market, Petaling Street transforms into a vibrant night market with very cheap but tasty foods. Even with its bargain prices of goods, haggling is still granted.
For a change of scenery, the Batu Caves is our next stop. Only 8 miles north of KL, the caves consists of vast limestones that feature temples and Hindu shrines. Although they were known by Chinese settlers and local indigenous clans, William Hornaday, an American naturalist is credited with the discovery of the Batu Caves in 1878. It is most famous for the Thaipusam festival held in January or February. Many parade through and perform ritual acts of self-mortification during this time. Just remember to watch out for the monkeys that prance around the caves.
To go deeper into the cultural roots, enjoy a stay in a Annah Rais longhouse at Sarawak. The longhouses are traditional tribal communal houses. They all heed a basic design; a series of interconnecting apartments arranged in a linear manner, giving them their distinctive rectangular shape. You can even find human skulls at the head house. Though it has been banned in Sarawak, headhunting was a major part of the culture. Headhunting was thought to be a ritual to bring luck to the household. With a company of a local guide, you can enjoy the wooden expansive houses.
Become one with nature in the rainforest of Taman Negara. The marked trails and boardwalks offers a chance to explore the exotic plants and spot buzzing animals such as snakes, deer, birds, insects and monkeys. Deep within the forest, further away from the forest are elephants, tigers, leopards, flying squirrels, and rhinos. It is rare a rare sighting so don’t worry. You will fall deep in love with it the longer you stay in Taman Negara.
- 4.06 MYR = 1 USD
- Best time to go is summer from May to September.
- Tap water in larger cities is usually safe, but most people prefer to drink bottled water.
- Because of the high incidence of credit card fraud, banks may put an automatic block on your card unless you notify them first that you are travelling to Malaysia.
- Due to the exotic animals neighboring nearby, an animal bite should be treated seriously. You can catch rabies.
- A small, sturdy padlock is well worth carrying, especially if you are going to be staying at any of the cheap huts found on Malaysia’s beaches.
- Dealing with local police, minor misdemeanours may be overlooked, but don’t count on it.
Special thanks to Janet ‘Pinnacle’ Phan, a University of Georgia sister.
Featured Image: Pixabay