July 8 to 10, 2007
I’ve never been to Asia–so when an invitation to visit the Malysian Rainforest Festival, as well as tour Malaysia during celebrations for its 50th year of nationhood, landed in my email box, I was in! This travelogue journals my visit to Malaysia.
Canada is a long ways from Malaysia. Saskatchewan, being smack in the middle of Canada, is about as far as possible. So how long does it take to fly?
I left home on July 8 at 4 p.m. in order to fly out of Regina on a 6 p.m. flight, which was right on schedule. Supper in Edmonton airport was also right on schedule, with a few minute delay before departing to Vancouver. Flying time altogether about 2.5 hours. Airport time, well, until I boarded through the International terminal in Vancouver, that was 11 hours in total.
EVA Air was fabulous. Starting with the friendly faces at check-in, the 11 hour flight to Taipei in Taiwan, couldn’t have been more comfortable. The seats were large and reclining–and I was so ready to sleep. A quilted blanked and pillow, along with slippers, toothbrush and toothpaste, waited on my seat. However, it wasn’t quite naptime yet.
Four pretty young hostesses delivered warm cloths to freshen up, then followed that up with a tasty chicken supper or midnight snack or whatever meal you might prefer to name it. If you couldn’t sleep there were individual video and audio channels, along with headphones. I slept, at least until breakfast was served, which was again, a full hot service of sausage, egg, ham, cheese, croissant, grapefruit and yogurt. Ummm.
We landed in Taipei for a layover, waiting for the transfer to Kuala Lumpur, with its flight time of 3 hours 55 minutes. That one landed right on time too, to the second! From there it was Kuala Lumpur Immigration and claiming baggage.
While Malysia doesn’t require visitors to apply in advance for a Visa, you are provided with one half of the immigration documents to carry with you, which you must also provide on your departure. Keep it filed safely away!
Kuala Lumpur, is the capital of Malaysia, as well as the second largest city in Malaysia. It is one of three territories that make up the Federal Territory governed directly by the Malaysian Federal Government. Together these three territories have the same collective status as the 13 states in Malaysia.
Locally referred to as KL, the city of Kuala Lumpur is an enclave within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Its name is from the Malay words for the confluence of the river (Kuala) and its muddy waters (Lumpur). The story of its growth from the 1820s is fascinating, showing how it has grown through the work of both Malay and Chinese people.
I stepped onto the tour bus at 3:15, led by Azlina Mohidin, Registered Tour Guide/Tour Consultant. Total elapsed time seemed to be just short of 24 hours, however, real time was, um, 33 hours.
So, flying time between Saskatchewan and Malaysia is less than 18 hours without the airport transfer times. Great!
The ride into Kuala Lampur was quite interesting, although I must admit all I could really think about was the hotel at the end of the ride, and a whole night to stretch out in a bed and sleep.
I did, however, have a few first impressions.
First of all, I was surprised to see the bus driver behind the wheel on the right side of the bus. It was a little unsettling, considering the interior of the bus looked exactly like ones I’d ridden in back home.
From the air I’d noticed the forests of palm trees, and of course, along the highway, I could see how beautiful they were up close. Oil palms, Azlina informed us, are a very important crop in Malaysia, used for cooking oil and for cosmetics. We also saw a few rubber trees as well.
Once we got to city traffic, besides all the drivers being on the right side of the cars, I was quite amazed to see small motorbikes/scooters darting in and out of traffic. It was fascinating to watch them zig-zag between lanes of cars, then make a sharp turn and drive between two in the same line, weaving their way in and around everything during the rush to get home for the evening. I knew the guys at home would think that all was truly right with traffic in Malaysia!
Before long the driver was unloading our luggage and I was checking in to Istana Hotel, which, translated means Palace Hotel. And truly, the surroundings did feel welcoming.
My room was cool, spacious, and equipped with everything I could need. The most inviting feature was the white comforter covered twin beds (European style). Sleep!
If you visit:
Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur
73 Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: 603-2141 9988 / Fax: 603-2141 0111
17th Floor, Menara Dato’ Onn, Putra World Trade Centre, 45, Jalan Tun Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: +603-2615 8188 Fax: +603-2693 5884 / 2693 0207
Tourism Infoline: 1-300-88-5050 (within Malaysia only)
Email: [email protected]
Web : www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my
Contact tour guide: Azlina Mohidin
Copyright 2007 by Linda Aksomitis. Published August 22, 2007. All Rights Reserved.