My journey to Malaysia [Archives:2008/1162/Last Page]

May 9 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
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Malaysia recently hosted nearly 700 members of the media from 50 countries at its “Colors of Malaysia” tourism festival from May 21 to 29. Four Yemeni journalists were invited to attend the celebration in this Southeast Asian nation filled with extremes: skyscrapers and huts, bustling cities and jungles, Malaysia's Bahasa language and Chinese dialects.

Consisting of 13 states and three federal territories, Malaysia's capital is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of its federal government. The nation's population currently is more than 25 million.

Kuala Lumpur

Our first destination was the capital of Kuala Lumpur, where we attended numerous celebrations and visited many fascinating places, the first of which was the Hyramout Hotel, where we dined and watched a traditional Malaysian dance. The next day, we breakfasted while watching practitioners of Tai Chi, the traditional noncombat Chinese martial art, outside in the park.

Then, we were off to visit Malaysia's famous landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers, which are considered the world's tallest twin towers. Completed in 1998, they stand 452 meters tall, with 88 floors each.

A sky bridge connects the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, making it the highest two-story bridge in the world. Visitors are allowed to remain on the bridge only 10 minutes due to the many tourists waiting to view the city from that height.

We next visited the Aquaria KLCC, an aquarium located beneath the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, which houses more than 250 different species of land and aquatic animals from Malaysia and around the world. Visiting it felt like going on an expedition beneath the sea, as sharks, turtles and brightly colored fish swam overhead in the tanks lining the walls and ceilings.

While in Kuala Lumpur, we also saw a variety of Malaysian bands that performed as traditional dancers leapt and swayed to the music.


Our group also visited Putrajaya, Malaysia's new federal administrative center. This is where the King of Malaysia, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Malaysia's minister of tourism launched the official “Colors of Malaysia” celebration in front of 50,000 spectators. The festivities lasted all night, concluding with an exuberant and colorful fireworks show.

Tioman Island

Tioman Island is a small landmass located 32 kilometers off the Malaysian Peninsula's east coast in Pahang state, which is comprised of eight main villages. The largest and most populous of these villages is Kampung Tekek in the north, which was our base for the three days we spent there.

The island has dense forests, with large swathes still uninhabited. Numerous coral reefs surround Tioman Island, making it a scuba diver's heaven.

With their intense natural beauty, Malaysia's numerous islands steal many visitors' hearts.

While on Tioman Island, we kayaked in its pristine waters, observing the flora and fauna, which included numerous fruit trees, tropical jungles and waterfalls, while its nearly untouched beaches had soft sand and cool air. We snorkeled, viewing some of the area's thriving marine life. The water was clear enough to see to the bottom for quite a way out.

Although the island villages were basic, they still had markets, restaurants, souvenir shops, internet cafes and anything else a visitor might need. Tioman Island has a variety of resorts and guesthouses of varying price ranges so that anyone may visit and enjoy the area's beaches.

Back to Kuala Lumpur

Upon our return to the mainland, we visited another great landmark, the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, which is known worldwide as the world's largest covered bird sanctuary, also known as a “free-flight aviary.” The park is home to more than 3,000 birds, containing approximately 200 different local and foreign species of our flying friends.

Sprawling on approximately 21 acres of verdant valley terrain, Kuala Lumpur Bird Park allows visitors to watch colorful and melodic birds winging about freely while relaxing in beautifully landscaped surroundings.

One of the park's most extraordinary features is that all of the birds roam free in the aviary, which resembles their natural habitat, and because of this ability to fly freely, the birds are able to breed naturally without veterinary aid.

Our final visit was to Kuala Lumpur tower, the fifth tallest in the world, with a revolving restaurant on its top floors. The tower is noteworthy for its use as an astronomy observatory to search for the crescent moon that marks the coming of the Islamic month of Ramadan. More than 60 percent of Malaysian citizens are Muslim, although there are large Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities.