The colours of Asia
The `Colours of Malaysia Parade 2002' festival, held in Kuala Lumpur recently, was an opportunity for the country to display its `truly Asian' character. T.S. SHANKAR writes.
Spectacular road shows...
WHAT makes Malaysia proud?
"We are the melting pot of all Asia's ancient civilisation all the ancient races of Asia are here the Chinese, the Buddhist, the Hindu-Indian and the Malay-Muslim. That makes us a wonderful and colourful country," said the Malaysia Arts, Culture, and Tourism Minister, Abdul Kadir Bin Haji Sheikh Fadzir. It was his unique way of extending an invitation to the global traveller to savour the Malaysian experience.
And for mediapersons from over 23 countries who had gathered in the Malaysian capital recently as part of the "Colours of Malaysia Parade 2002" festival, he was absolutely right. Be it road shows, expositions, mega shopping festivals, food festivals, the "Malaysia Truly Asia" experience was unmistakable.
All the way, it was "Selamat Datang Ke Malaysia (Welcome to Malaysia") at the Meredaka Square where the colourful extravaganza unfolded. For the big time shopper, Malaysia is a shopping paradise as it rolls out three mega sales carnivals during March, August and December. And for the travel buff, Malaysia is a natural paradise, where there are five-star resort hotels surrounded by thick rain forests. "We have taken a conscious decision to preserve natural resources if we cut a tree, we make sure we plant three more. And Malaysia is a treasure house of all the natural attractions," the Minister said.
...and plenty for the tourist to do
"We are a Third World country with a difference. We have a Government that is a coalition of 14 political parties representing all the races, the religion, and emotions.
"Believe me, if you go around, you will see that you are in a unique country for many reasons. First, Malaysia has been practising western values. In about a month, we will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of our independence. We attained independence from Britain on August 31, 1957.
We did not shed a drop of blood, and now have the longest serving freely elected government in the world." Malaysia is also truly global in character as it holds top position as an exporter of wafer-thin micro chips, catering to the global computer market.
Business and Pleasure
FOR a group of journalists from India who were invited by the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board and the Malaysia Airlines System (MAS) as part of a global media delegation in connection with the "Colours of Malaysia Parade-2002", it was a time to relax.
And for those in the team from South India, it was destination Kota Kinabalu.
Situated in the north-eastern tier of the island of Borneo and overlooking the South China sea, Kota Kinabalu, in the colonial era, was known as Jesselton. Now, it serves as the gateway to the varied attractions of the Sabah State. And it has been acknowledged that Kota Kinabalu's transformation has been spectacular. Destroyed during the last world war, it didn't flounder, but instead blossomed into a thriving commercial centre and holiday destination.
Getting there is easy as it's just a little over 2½ hours away by a Malaysia Airlines System domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur via Labuan. Kota Kinabalu, or "KK", as it is known locally, is picturesque, surrounded by the sea and the mountains and offers the visitor a variety of world class resort hotels and restaurants.
The Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa (Magellan wing) Kota Kinabalu ... varied experiences
After circling the Mt. Kinabalu National park, a World Heritage site, the Boeing landed at KK airport.
The drive in an air-conditioned van alongwith travel guides to check out the local attractions was interesting. After a fleeting visit to the museum, the souvenir shops, and a few river-villas, it was time to check into the Sutera Pacific Harbour, an integrated resort and spa hotel located on a 384-acre plot. (It has five star accommodation, "gold", "marina" and recreational facilities.) Future plans include building condominiums and bungalows, according to the hotel's Communications Executive, Anita Rajaratnam.
Designed with the business traveller in mind, the hotel also has a 27-hole championship golf course that is aesthetically landscaped. It is the only spot in East Malaysia where one can play night golf, and one of the largest facilities in the country. And for those who are adventurous, there is a choice of parasailing, water skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, besides island hopping covering Manukan island.
The 15-minute parasailing ride, affordable at 80 Malaysian Ringitt, ensures that the tourist has a panoramic view of the island, according to a Japanese tourist. The Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board, according to the Director International Marketing (I), MTPB, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, and South India Marketing Manager, Raji Menon, has set itself an ambitious target of "greeting" 14.3 million tourists by 2005, as part of the Eighth Malaysia Developmental programme. "We are looking at eco, agro, sports, health, and education tourism and the Indian travel market holds the key to this," said Mr.Taiyab. If it's the pristine resort islands for the younger generation, for those older or the history buff, the city of Malacca, only a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, takes one back in time. Once there, all that one needs to do is get into the trishaw, a popular mode of transport in the historical town, and sip the local drink, Cendol while getting to see the local attractions.
Back in the capital do try out the newly introduced highspeed "KLIA Ekspres" from Kuala Lumpur airport to the city centre. According to Aminuddin Adnan, CEO, Express Rail Link, the train runs every 15 minutes, covering the 57-km distance in 28 minutes. The one-way journey costs 35 Ringgits for an adult and 15 R for a child.
A tip for the fussy Indian traveller: "Jothy's Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant" at Jalan Centre Point, Kota Kinabalu, could be the best place to get masala dosa, poori baji, chappati and yellow dal. Its proprietor, Siva, will take care of your every need.
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