The Expat Getaways

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The Expat Getaways
2012
GUIDE
T h e E x p a t G e t a w a y s | 20 1 2
getaways
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contents
M a l ay s i a Trave l
08 - 11 Top 20 for 2012
12 - 43 Malaysian States
44 - 45 Day Trips out of Kuala Lumpur
Reg ional Travel
2012
GUIDE
getaways
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50 - 51
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Cover:
Ancient ruins in Siem Reap,
Cambodia by Hugh Ujhazy
Bangkok
Phuket
Chiang Mai
Borobadur
Bali
Pulau Weh
Macau
Manila
Hanoi
Singapore
Siem Reap
Sri Lanka
78 - 82 Hotel Showcase
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 3
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W
elcome to The Expat Getaways Guide 2011/12. One
of the many great things about living in Malaysia is that
it presents a unique opportunity to travel. Not only are
there destinations within Malaysia, but the many sights
to see in the rest of Asia-Pacific are only a few hours
away. With many regional and economy air carriers,
most notably AirAsia, using KLIA and the Low Cost
Carrier Terminal (LCCT), visiting these destinations only
requires a few days off and a bit of planning.
Many of the readers of The Expat are affluent expats and
local Malaysians comprising avid travellers, with many
choosing to visit several regional destinations each year.
Inside The Expat Getaways Guide 2011/12,
we have provided the basics and highlights of the “best of
the best” of Malaysia as well as several other countries in
the region –with some ideas for when to go, what to see
and what to do while you’re there. We have upgraded and
expanded the Getaways Guide this year, to give you more
information on many of the amazing destinations which
are virtually a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Spectacular world-class beaches, exciting nightlife, unique
cultural experiences and the supreme beauty of nature,
are all yours to see and experience. If you haven’t decided
where to visit, this guide will hopefully provide an insight
into some attractions that lie within Malaysia and beyond.
Lastly, we would like to thank AirAsia for their extensive
collaboration and generous support of this publication.
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ADVERTORIAL
Tirtha Bridal Fair
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malaysia travel
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Melaka
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Sarawak
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to destinations throughout Malaysia.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours &
activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 7
malaysia travel
Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary
M a l ay s i a ’s To p 2 0 f o r 2 0 1 2
David Bowden is one
of Southeast Asia’s most
prominent travel writers,and
here he presents his“Top
20” list of attractions in
Malaysia. If you wish to
see and do everything in
Malaysia, these are the best
places to start.
TOURISM MALAYSIA appropriately uses
the tagline “Malaysia - Truly Asia”, as the
country does encapsulate much of what
Asia has to offer. Malaysia is an excellent
country to explore. English is widely
spoken, the transport infrastructure is
good, travel products (hotels, food, and
transportation) are relatively cheap, Malaysia
Airlines, AirAsia, MASwings and Firefly
have comprehensive travel networks, and
the information on travel destinations is
extensive. The country is just waiting to be
discovered by expats and visitors.
1. Fruit for Queens or the
Queen of Fruits
Malaysians don’t talk about the weather as it
rarely changes.The topic isn’t as important
8 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
as in temperate countries so many people
talk about food. “Sudah makan?” (have you
eaten?) is a normal greeting. Malaysians
aren’t interested in your dietary habits, but if
you’ve eaten, there’s a topic to discuss (“Oh,
what did you have?”), and if you haven’t, it’s
time to eat.
Malaysians are justifiably proud of the
variety and quality of food available, and the
real litmus test for expats is whether they
eat durian. This large football-sized fruit
with prickly thorns, typically weighing
1-5kg is known for its distinctive odour. To
newcomers, the smell is often considered
horrendous. Without going into the
intimate details of this ritual, all expats will
endear themselves to their hosts by pulling
Borneo Rainforest
up a stool by the roadside and hoeing into
a few slabs of creamy durian flesh.
If you want to earn more brownie points,
tell your Malaysian friends that local
durians are better than those from Thailand
(reverse this while holidaying in Thailand),
and look informed by discussing the
merits of the “D24” clonal variety over a
multitude of others that are grown.
2. Big-Nosed Primates of the
Kinabatangan
The Kinabatangan River is the longest river
in Sabah, and the village of Sukau provides
access to one of the country’s best wildlife
experiences. The smaller Menanggol River
flows into the Kinabatangan, and is home
to animals like the Proboscis and other
monkeys, Orang Utans, birds, and the
occasional Borneo Pygmy Elephant. The
stream is narrow and small boats travel
up and down it for wildlife sightings.
The easiest way to get to Sukau is on an
organised tour departing from Sandakan.
This should include accommodation,
meals, guides, and transfers.
Gomantong Caves and mangrove
tours are normally included (Contact:
Wildlife Expeditions, www.wildlifeexpeditions.com).
3.See Sea Turtles
Sandakan is also a gateway for other great
natural encounters like Turtle Island National
Park, Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, and
diving around Lankayan Island. In addition,
Sandakan is home to the historic The English
Tea House (www.englishteahouse.org), but
that’s an entire story of its own.The arrival
of turtles is guaranteed virtually every night,
and visitors get the chance to see them
lay eggs and assist the rangers in releasing
Langkawi
hatchlings.This is a great family activity
for developing environmentally-aware
kids.Wildlife Expeditions (see above) is an
experienced tour operator based in Sandakan.
resorts also have dive schools. Once you
have your license to go down, the waters
are yours to explore. The main sites are the
East Coast (April to October), West Coast,
Sabah, and Miri off Sarawak.
5. Music in the Forest
The yearly Rainforest World
Music Festival held in early July at
the Sarawak Cultural Village is something
everyone needs to put in their diaries. This
is an event unlike any other – rainforest
setting, inspirational and non-commercial
music and peaceful atmosphere combine
to create an uplifting weekend on the
island of Borneo. While some of the artists
may be unfamiliar to many, you can be
assured they’re some of the best of their
genre, and if you haven’t heard Mongolian
throat singers before; you don’t know
what you’re missing. Rectifiy that
oversight and contact Sarawak Tourism,
www.rainforestmusic-borneo.com
5. Journey through the Clouds
Langkawi, where eagles soar, is also where
mere mortals can ride the Langkawi Cable
Car. In doing so you can enjoy many
activities like environmental activities at
Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, dine at
Bon Ton, experience the Rainforest Canopy
Adventure, swim, sail, and stay in great
resorts. The Langkawi Cable Car ride ascends
to the summit of Mount Macinchang for a
superb view of the 99 Langkawi islands and
those of neighbouring Thailand.
6.Dive, Dive, Dive
The diving in Malaysia is some of the
world’s best and most affordable. There are
dive shops in Kuala Lumpur which not only
sell equipment but also organise trips to the
best dive sites in the waters surrounding
the country. The main coastal and island
7. Probing Dark Places
There are many limestone caves
throughout Malaysia for those who like
crawling through dark, bat-infested,
guano-covered spaces. Okay, it’s not for
everyone but then again, neither are
Mongolian throat singers! Contact the
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), www.
mns.org.my for organised trips into
Malaysia’s subterranean world.
8.WhiteWater Wafting
There are various commercial rafting
opportunities on offer in Sabah, and
peninsular Malaysia and these should be
considered for those with an adventurous
spirit and a little time on their hands.
Sabah’s Kiulu River is a mostly sedate river
and ideal for beginners, while the Padas
River is more demanding as the waters are
much wilder than the Kiulu. Contact Intra
Travel: www.intra-travel.com.my
9. Climbing Malaysia’s
Highest Peak
While it’s not Southeast Asia’s highest peak
as some Malaysian authorities claim, but at
4,101 m, it’s Malaysia’s highest. Reaching
the summit of Sabah’s Mt. Kinabalu has
challenged climbers for years.The climb
takes most people two days with an
overnight stop in reasonable comfort at
Laban Rata. The challenge is best taken by
those who exercise regularly. The climbing
and accommodation procedures are well
organised, and several operators can make
all the arrangements.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 9
malaysia travel
Cameron Highlands
Riverfront, Kuching, Sarawak
10. Bridging theTowers
Malaysia gained a lot of mileage from what
were, from 1998 to 2004, the world’s
two highest buildings - the PETRONAS
Twin Towers.Though taller buildings have
superseded them, the Twin Towers still pull in
the crowds.While there’s no facility for the
public to reach the top, it’s possible to walk
the Sky Bridge between the two at Level 42.
This is done on a “first come, first served”
basis (Tues-Sun, 9am-5pm), and admission is
free. It’s well worth getting up early to beat the
tourists to gain a bird’s eye view of the city.
11. Sail into a Langkawi Sunset
With four marinas, Langkawi is Malaysia’s
best destination to sail off into the sunset.
There are many options from bareboat or
crewed charters with Sunsail
(www.sunsailmalaysia.com), day charters,
sunset cruises, and extended journeys
through to Phuket. Contact Crystal Yacht:
www.crystalyacht.com
12.The Wilds of Taman Negara
Taman Negara (or “National Park”)
extends over the three peninsular states of
Kelantan Pahang and Terengganu. It’s one
of Malaysia’s largest areas of lowland forest
with good trails and facilities including
various accommodation options. Taman
Negara offers a great introduction to
rainforests and there are many and varied
activities for all the family. Discover the
park using the useful Globetrotter Guide
to Taman Negara (New Holland, UK).
Declared for conservation in 1938, Taman
Negara has become Malaysia’s premier
national park and the largest in the country
covering over 4,343km2 of primary forest.
Contact: www.taman-negara.com
13.To the Bat Cave
Mulu
has been recognised by UNESCO as
Taman Negara
a World Heritage Site, and tends to lure
10 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
those who like natural serenity, mountains,
and some whopping caves.To get there,
take a flight to Miri and then on to Mulu
in Sarawak. The trails are well set out,
accommodation is good, and there are
some very well-informed guides. Unusually,
Deer Cave is full of bats. Contact Sarawak
Tourism: www.sarawaktourism.com
– especially to sample their delightful
Devonshire Teas.
14.Time Travel
The sheer mass of humanity can be
appreciated at Batu Caves near Kuala
Lumpur where over a million visitors
congregate during Thaipusam. If you don’t
like crowds, stay at home and watch the
festivities on TV.
Malaysia’s Islamic Arts Museum is the
museum to visit if you are in KL.The
building itself is worth visiting as it is filled
with amazing artifacts from across the
continents and centuries. Its architectural
hall has miniatures of some of the world’s
most famous mosques. There is a delightful
indoor café if you need a break from the
tropical sun and an excellent book and
souvenir shop. Contact the Islamic Arts
Museum of Malaysia: www.iamm.org.my
15. Urban Heritage
One of Malaysia’s endearing qualities is its
diverse architecture. The urban heritage of
Melaka (Malacca), Georgetown (Penang),
and Kuala Terengganu are worth exploring
especially that Melaka and Georgetown are
UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
16. Cool Mountains
Malaysia is hot and humid, but there are
a few places to seek respite. Fraser’s Hill is
the closest to KL, and more compact then
Cameron Highlands.
Other mountain retreats include Bukit Larut
(Maxwell Hill) near Taiping, the Genting
Highlands, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, and
Borneo Highlands Resortin Sarawak. Both
Fraser’s Hill and the Cameron Highlands
have English-styled accommodation at Ye
Olde Smokehouse, and The Lakehouse and
Cameron Highlands Resort in the Cameron
Highlands are also well worth visiting
17.Thaipusam’s Teeming Mass of
Humanity
Thaipusam, a popular three-day Hindu
festival, usually falls on the last week of
January or the first week of February.
18. Kuching’s Lively Riverfront
The riverfront and Main Bazaar in
the Sarawak capital combine as one
of Malaysia’s best open public spaces
with antique shops, historical markers,
restaurants, concert pavilions and sampans
to cross the Sarawak River.
19. Malaysia’s Cultural Heartland
The East Coast from Kuantan to Kota Bahru
is a unique part of the country where
the clocks have seemingly been switched
back a few decades. Life here is slow,
peaceful, and relaxed. Enjoy fine beaches,
picturesque fishing villages, and ports to
the various groups of islands located off
the coast.
20. Fireflies,Wetlands and
Seafood
Travel one hour north of Kuala Lumpur to
Kuala Selangor.Visit the nature park here to
see wetlands and associated birdlife and eat
seafood in the village opposite the town.
When the sun sets, visit one of Malaysia’s
most spectacular natural displays; millions
of fireflies blinking in unison along
Kampung Kuantan.
advertorial
The One-Stop
Diving Shop
WITH DIVING LICENCES becoming more affordable and available
to everyone, diving as a hobby is becoming increasingly popular.
Beautiful diving spots all around Malaysia have made the country a
dream destination for divers.
If you’re just beginning to discover this pastime or a seasoned diver,
now you don’t have to worry about hunting around for diving
equipment – you can get it all and more at Xtreme Dive Station.
Conveniently located in Bukit Jalil, Xtreme Dive Station is accessible
from all directions within the Klang Valley. This one-stop shop was
established by a group of experienced, avid and passionate divers,
who wanted to create one stop solution to fulfil the full spectrum of
divers’ needs – no matter if you are a novice, leisure or professional
diver. The team at Xtreme consists of diving instructors who are
eager to answer any questions about diving and aim to provide
customers with the best possible diving experience. Xtreme also
aims to increase the exposure and interest for scuba diving.
The Xtreme Dive Station is one of the largest dive centres in
Malaysia, spanning a 3-storey high building, with everything a diver
needs under one roof.The shop houses an extensive range of diving
equipment, gear and accessories, as well as providing excellent
service and repair facility. PADI certified instructors conduct training
courses at the Xtreme Dive Station and you can be sure that you’ll
be getting advice from experienced hands. There is also an in-house
learning centre for lectures and learning courses which is also
available for informal get-togethers at the member’s lounge, made
available through reservations.You will also be able to inquire about
diving trips to various destinations which are good value-for-money
packages which are guaranteed safe as they are led by Xtreme Dive
Station’s qualified instructors.
Xtreme Dive Station also manufactures corporate and premium
gifts which can be customized to suit specific requirements. Xtreme
supplies and designs scuba gifts and souvenirs which are of good
quality and makes for great gifts for diving aficionados. Xtreme Dive
Station also promotes environmental conservation and encourages
awareness of this through the sport of diving.
For all of your diving-related needs, head to Xtreme Dive Station.
Contact: Xtreme Dive Station
No. 16-1, Block 2, Jalil Link, Jalan Jalil Jaya 2,
Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel:+603.8993.9908
www.xtremedivers.com.my
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 11
malaysia travel
Kuala
Lumpur
Garden City of Lights
Population: 1.8 million
Area: 243sq.km
CAPITAL city of Malaysia, the “muddy confluence” of the Klang and Gombak
rivers has grown to become a modern marvel of epic urban proportions.
WHAT TO SEE
KLCC
Also known as KL’s “green lung”, KLCC marks the northern end of Malaysia’s
famed Multimedia Corridor. Amid the Petronas Twin Towers, the Mandarin
Oriental Hotel, Menara Maxis, and other pillars of gleaming glass and steel, you’ll
find a picturesque park, Suria KLCC shopping mall, the Dewan Filharmonik, and
much more.
Tourist Information:
www.kualalumpur.gov.my
Lake Gardens
The most popular park in KL, Taman Tasik Perdana (Lake Gardens) is 92 hectares
of beautiful tranquillity amid the modern pace of KL’s modern setting. The park
encompasses the KL Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden,
Deer Park, and the National Mosque and Monument and the Islamic Arts Museum
Malaysia (each a separate and worthy tourist attraction). If you’re a naturalist or a
culture lover, you’ll find many days of recreation in the Lake Gardens.
12 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
PHOTOS BY DAVID BOWDEN
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
PHOTOS BY HUGH UJHAZY
Monorail
Bukit Bintang
Sze-Ya Temple
The oldest Taoist temple in KL, the Sze-Ya Temple in Chinatown is a fine example
of traditional architecture, with ornate interiors and elaborate roof ridges. Sze-Ya is
accessed through a lane entrance in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Other fascinating temples and
traditional Chinese shophouses can be found in this area.
National Museum
A wonderful display of Malay architecture, the National Museum is a treasure trove
of Malaysia’s rich history. Displays include currency, weapons, musical instruments,
vintage cars, and more.
National Art Gallery
Located on 2.3 hectares and flanked by the Istana Budaya and the National Library,
the National Art Gallery is a space for the preservation, development, exploration,
and experimentation of art in Malaysia.
Facilities include permanent and temporary exhibits, a sculpture garden,
and a bookshop.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 13
malaysia travel
Jalan Alor
WHAT TO DO
See KL from above
KL has some of the best vantage points of
any world class city.
See the sights from atop the 421m KL Tower
(which houses a revolving restaurant) or
the Sky bridge that connects the Petronas
Twin Towers.
Central Market
Bangsar
KL Sentral Station
Renowned for its nightlife and shopping,
the Telawi district of Bangsar and the nearby
Bangsar Shopping Centre are an oasis of
clubs, bars, and restaurants, and a favourite
nightspot for tourists and expats alike.
If you’re visiting KL without a car, you’ll
very likely pass through KL Sentral Station.
With major connections to the city’s Light
Rail Transit (LRT) lines, an express rail
link to KLIA, rail links to Singapore and
Thailand, arrival/departure areas for local
buses, and counters for taxi service, it’s a
major connection point in the city. A block
away is the KL Sentral stop on the city’s
monorail system.
Dine
Central Market is a great place to buy local
crafts and souvenirs for friends and family,
while Petaling Street is a great exploration
into the murkier side of retail sales. Bring
your bargaining skills.
Visitors to KL always rave about the amazing
food, and there’s always a great variety on
hand and KL boasts a cosmopolitan array
of eateries. Japanese? Try Yoko’s along the
Tengkat Tong Shin strip. Tapas? La Bodega
in Bangsar. Asian blends? Tamarind Springs
in Ampang. Malay? Enak in Starhill Gallery
on Jalan Bukit Bintang. The list goes on and
on...
Attend a concert by the Malaysia
Philharmonic Orchestra
WHERE TO GO
Malaysia Tourism Centre (MTC)
Said to be one of the region’s finest
ensembles, the MPO makes its home in
Dewan Philharmonik, nestled between the
Petronas Twin Towers.
Originally constructed as a residence in
1935, the MTC building itself has a long
and storied history.
Buy something from Central
Market or Petaling Street
Shop the BintangWalk
One of KL’s most popular shopping spots,
the Bintang Walk is packed with shopping
malls, eateries, and smaller shops.
Another good place for bargaining, it’s also
a great place to people-watch.
14 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Today it serves as KL’s premiere tourist
information and welcoming centre, offering
a tourist information counter, a Tourist
Police kiosk, money changers, access to
tourist websites, ATMs, and more. There
are also regularly scheduled cultural shows,
as well as displays of handicrafts and
traditional games.
Golden Triangle
This is the commercial, entertainment,
and retail heart of KL, dominated by the
Petronas Twin Towers. Hotels, restaurants,
and nightlife come in all forms and shapes,
and mostly cater to an upscale crowd. It’s a
perfect starting point for anyone looking for
the “beat” of KL.
Merdeka Square
Site of the proclamation of Independence
in 1957, Merdeka Square is where
Malaysia began its climb from colony
to autonomy. The Square, where the
English once played cricket, is surrounded
by some of KL’s most historic buildings,
including the Royal Selangor Club, the
National History Museum, and the
magnificent Victorian-Moorish Sultan
Abdul Samad Building.
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malaysia travel
Batu Caves
Forest Research Institute Malaysia
PROGRESSIVE and diverse, Selangor
completely surrounds Kuala Lumpur.
Selangor
Gateway to Malaysia
Population: 4.8 million
Area: 7,956sq.km
Capital: Shah Alam
Tourist Information:
www.selangortourism.com.my
WHAT TO SEE
Batu Caves
Discovered over a century ago, the Batu
Caves are a year-round attraction, but are
most popular during the Hindu festival of
Thaipusam, when an estimated one million
devotees make the pilgrimage up its long
stairway. It is most famous for itsTemple Cave,
a large cavern with a 100m-high ceiling.
Kampung Kuantan Fireflies
About 9km from Kuala Selangor, Kampung
Kuantan is where you can see one of the
largest firefly colonies in the world. Come
in the early evening for some excellent
seafood, and then hire a boat (or join an
arranged hire) for a night river tour to see
the amazing natural luminescent display.
Muzium Orang Asli
24km from Kuala Lumpur, the Muzium
Orang Asli is a showcase of ancient customs
16 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
and traditions of Malaysia’s indigenous
peoples. Displays include crafts, costumes,
musical instruments, tools, animal traps,
and even homes.
Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz
Shah Mosque
Also known as the “Blue Mosque”, this
immense building can accommodate 24,000
worshippers under its vast blue dome.
Zoo Negara
Officially opened in 1963, Zoo Negara has
over 400 species and 4,000 animals on a
total area of 25ha of land.The zoo has both
day and nocturnal tours.
WHAT TO DO
Watch a Race at Sepang
One of the best facilities in the world,
Sepang International Circuit comes alive
every March/April as a stop on the F1
Championship. Other races are held there
and it provides areas for go-karting and
motocross riders.
Shopping at Sunway Pyramid
Walk in the FRIM Canopy
Go Skating at Sunway
Located 16km northwest of KL, the Forest
Research Institute of Malaysia’s forest
reserve is a “must do” for any
eco-tourist.
The shopping malls in Selangor aren’t just
for shopping; they also cater to active people
who can’t find the time to get out and enjoy
Malaysia. Go skating at Sunway Pyramid,
wall-climbing at 1 Utama, try your hand at
archery or bowling, the list is endless.
Attractions include arboretums, a botanical
garden, a waterfall, nature trails, and a
canopy walkway suspended 30m above
the ground.
Templer’s Park
Only about 20 minutes north of KL,
Templer’s Park sits within 500ha of jungle,
near the picturesque limestone hill Bukit
Takun. It’s a great place to do some trekking,
and the Kanching Waterfalls here offer picnic
spots and a few swimming spots.
Ice skating at Sunway Pyramid
WHERE TO GO
Shah Alam
Selangor’s capital city, Shah Alam offers a
day-tripper from Kuala Lumpur a lush green
respite and broader perspective of Islam.
The Shah Alam Lake Gardens is a great
place to picnic, but the city has many other
green spaces hidden among its mosques,
monuments, and museums.
KL’s Neighbouring Cities
Go Shopping
1 Utama, Ikano Power Centre, Sunway
Pyramid, Hartamas Shopping Centre,
The Curve, AmCorp Mall... they’re all in
Selangor.Visit during the Malaysia Mega
Sale Carnival and the bargains won’t end!
Kuala Lumpur is almost completely
surrounded by neighbouring cities in
Selangor, including Petaling Jaya (PJ),
Subang Jaya, Ampang, and so on.With a
little adventurous exploration, you’ll find
the charm and attraction of each of them.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 17
malaysia travel
Georgetown
Penang
Pearl of the Orient
Population: 1.47 million
Area: 1,030sq.km
Capital: George Town
Tourist Information:
www.penangglobaltourism.com
www.tourismpenang.gov.my
KNOWN for its food and rich history, this
former Straits Settlement exudes an oldworld charm in a tropical climate.
from a time when Penang played a pivotal
role in both World Wars.
Penang Bird Park
WHAT TO SEE
Snake Temple
About 3km from Bayan Lapas International
Airport, the Snake Temple is named for the
many poisonous snakes coiled around the
temple’s pillars and beams. The smoke of
burning incense is believed to render the
snakes harmless.
Wat Chaiya Magkalaram
Brightly painted ‘naga’ serpents outside,
a 33m gilded reclining Buddha inside, Wat
Chaiya Magkalaram is one of many temples
worth a visit.
The five-acre Bird Park is home to about
800 avian guests from around the world.
The park features picturesque ponds
complete with ducks, swans, and carp amid
the water lillies and ornamental plants, a
walk-in aviary, and a children’s playground.
Botanical Gardens
Created by the British in 1884, the Botanical
Gardens are a haven of Penang flora. A
favourite spot for tranquil picnics by the
waterfall, tai chi and jogging, the 30ha
garden is also known for its bold monkeys.
Fort Cornwallis
War Museum
Site of a 1930’s British military fortress that
protected the island from its enemies, the
Penang War Museum now protects artefacts
18 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The star-shaped Fort Cornwallis is where
Francis Light landed on 11 August, 1786
to take possession of the island from the
Sultan of Kedah. The fort offers a unique
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Beach, Hydro Hotel
look into Britain’s military past. Among
the displays are the fort’s chapel and the
infamous Sri Rambai cannon.
WHAT TO DO
Walk Around
A short walk in George town shows you
the indigo blue Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion,
the famous E&O Hotel, the Penang
Museum & Art Gallery, St. George
Church, Fort Cornwallis, and George
Town’s Clock Tower. Upper Penang
Road is also becoming known as for
its nightlife.
Ride the Cable Car at Penang Hill
Malaysia’s first hill station, Penang Hill is
830m above sea level, and visitors can reach
it either by tackling the four-hour hike or
riding the historic funicular railway.The
summit offers fantastic views.
Relax on the Beaches
You can enjoy the sun and sand at Batu
Ferringhi, also known as “Foreigner’s
Rock”, the private beach at the Hydro
Hotel, and Teluk Bahang near the Batik
Factory and the Butterfly Farm.
Eat
WHERE TO GO
George Town
Penang has a reputation as a fabulous
food paradise. There’s Chinese, Nyonya,
vegetarian, Indian, Malay, Hakka-style
Western, and many hybrids. Nasi kandar,
asam laksa, satay... the list goes on and on,
and are available at hawker stalls, in openair restaurants, and upmarket hotels.
The capital of Penang, George Town,is
connected to the mainland by one of the
longest bridges in the world. Established in
1786, George Town is a unique blend
of new and old, colonial and modern.
In 2008, George Town was added to the list
of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 19
malaysia travel
rch Melaka
Christ Chu
Melaka
History Unfurled
ARGUABLY the most historically interesting
of States, Melaka still retains remnants of its
Chinese, Sumatran, Portuguese, Dutch, and
English heritage.
WHAT TO SEE
Melaka’s History
Population: 713,000
Area: 1,683sq.km
Capital: Melaka Town
Tourist Information:
www.tourism-melaka.com
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Melaka
is teeming with reminders of the past.
St. Francis Xavier’s Church overlooks
most of Melaka, while St. Peter’s Church
was constructed in 1710 and the oldest
functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia.
In the heart of Melaka’s historic district
is the Christ Church (built in 1753),
a testament to the region’s Dutch heritage.
Most famous is A’ Famosa, built in
1511 by the Portuguese, and a symbol
of Melaka.
20 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Melaka’s Preserved History
Scattered about Melaka are some
incredible museums that vividly
portray the region’s long and storied
past. A few museums of note are the
Maritime Museum, the Baba and Nyonya
Heritage Museum, and the Cheng Ho
Museum.
WHAT TO DO
Go Exploring
Melaka is a living history of the many
cultures of Malaysia.You’ll find centuriesold Chinese temples, Dutch churches,
Malay mausoleums, and more.
Go Shopping
Lined by a row of houses and shops with
hints of Dutch, Chinese, and English
architecture, Jonker Street is also known
Melaka river
A’ Famosa
as “Antiques Row” for its many antique
dealers and second-hand shops.
WHERE TO GO
Melaka (town)
Go for a Trishaw Ride
Home to museums, temples, and living
history, Melaka will not disappoint the
history buff or the enthusiastic shopper.
One of Melaka’s signature tourist
activities, trishaw rides are a great way to
tour the city. Usually found near Christ
Church, these colourful carts are for
rent on an hourly or per-trip basis.
Eat Something
Known as ‘Malaysia’s melting pot,’ you’ll
find many authentic local cuisines in
Melaka that you won’t find elsewhere.
Try some Nyonya dishes, the chicken ball
rice, satay kajang, or “ikan bakar” (grilled
fish). 10km from Melaka is Klebang Beach,
where you’ll find roadside stalls selling
tasty deep-fried bananas.
Pulau Besar
Just 16sq. km, Pulau Besar has clean sandy
beaches, clear waters, and snippets of
Melaka’s ever-present history (Japanese
bunkers). Pulau Besar is a good day-trip
for a family outing.
Ayer Keroh:
Just off the Ayer Keroh Toll on the E2
North-South Expressway (an alternate route
to Melaka), you’ll find a bevy of tourist
attractions like the Butterfly Farm, Crocodile
Farm, Mini Malaysia, Mini ASEAN, and the
Ayer Keroh Recreational Forest.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 21
malaysia travel
River cruise
Sabah
Land Below the Wind
Population: 3.0 million
Area: 73,620sq.km
Capital: Kota Kinabalu
Tourist Information:
www.sabahtourism.com
LUSH rainforests, sub-aquatic splendour,
magnificent mountains, colourful
cultures... Sabah is a rugged place for
adventurers, a playground for divers, and a
paradise for explorers.
WHAT TO SEE
Kinabalu National Park
83km from Kota Kinabalu, this national
park was added to the UNESCO list of
World Heritage Sites in 2000. Designated
as a Centre of Plant Diversity for
Southeast Asia, the park is exceptionally
rich in species of flora from China,
Australia, Malaysia, and the Himalayas.
And of course, the park surrounds the
majestic Mount Kinabalu; at 4,095m, it’s
the highest peak between the Himalayas
and New Guinea.
22 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Tunku Abdul Rahman
National Park
20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu by
speedboat, this marine park is comprised
of Pulau Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Marnutik,
and Sulug, and characterized by white sand
beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and a
shallow-water reef ideal for novice divers.
Islands
The islands off Sabah’s coasts are
legendary among divers and eco-tourists.
Each is known for its own niche: Mabul
Island is one of the best ‘muck-diving’
sites in the world; Pulau Tiga is home
to some very rare mammals and birds
(and once the setting for the Survivor
TV series); the isolated Pulau LayangLayang is one of the world’s top ten dive
locations; and though visitation is now
Mount Kinabalu
tightly regulated by the government,
divers still line up to visit the magical
island of Sipidan.
WHAT TO DO
Go Diving
This is the reason so many visitors flock to
the state which is teeming with fantastic dive
sites and established, affordable diving tours.
Visit a Longhouse
Many of the sub-ethnic groups of Borneo
live in longhouses and visitors (who observe
proper protocol) are warmly welcomed.
Go Climbing
The towering Mt. Kinabalu challenges climbers
and adventurers and rewards their two-day trek
with a stunning sunrise in perfect tranquility
and incomparable views of Sabah.
Rafflesia
WHERE TO GO
Kota Kinabalu
More than just a landing strip and a
stop off before heading on to further
destinations, capital city Kota Kinabalu has
its own list of attractions.
Explore the Sabah museum and its
Heritage Village, or take a short drive out
to the Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve and trek
out to see the Rafflesia, largest flower in
the world.
Sandakan
The heart of Boreno’s eco-tourism,
Sandakan is the jumping off point
for the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary,
the Danum Valley Conservation Area,
Gomantong Caves, Turtle Islands National
Park, and more.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 23
malaysia travel
Hornbill
Sarawak
Land of the Hornbill
Population: 2.3 million
Area: 124,450sq.km
Capital: Kuching
Tourist Information:
www.sarawaktourism.com
MALAYSIA’S largest state, Sarawak stretches
over the rainforests and flowing rivers of
Borneo and is inhabited by Malaysia’s most
ethnically diverse populations.
Gunung Mulu National Park
WHAT TO SEE
Sarawak CulturalVillage
Located on seven hectares about 40 minutes
by car from Kuching, the Sarawak Cultural
Village gives you the opportunity to “see”
all of Sarawak in one place. Here you’ll find
replicas of traditional longhouses, huts,
and roundhouses around a lake, each with
staff from the corresponding ethic group
dressed in traditional costume. There are
storytellers, the chance to participate in the
various cultural activities, as well as daily
performances of music and dance.
Damai Beach
Sarawak’s main beach resort area, Damai
is a 40-minute drive from Kuching (near
the Sarawak Cultural Village).The three
international-class resort hotels each has
a secluded beach and offers jet skiing,
windsurfing, and much more. Nearby is
24 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
the Damai Golf & Country Club, while the
fishing villages of Buntal and Santubong
have some excellent seafood on offer.
With over 52,000 hectares of rainforest and
criss-crossed by rivers and jungle streams, the
park offers an amazing diversity of natural
caves, dominating mountains, and some great
opportunities for adventure trekking. Added
to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
in 2000, the park is famous for the Sarawak
Chamber and its 2,377m sandstone mountain.
WHAT TO DO
Visit the SemengohWildlife
Rehabilitation Centre
Established in 1975, the Centre is located
20km south of Kuching, and is dedicated
to the rehabilitation of surrendered and
confiscated wild animals such as orang utan
and hornbills.
Go Caving and Trekking
A land of seemingly infinite natural wonders,
the National Parks and Nature Reserves of
PHOTO BY PAT FAMA
Cultural dance
Sarawak have many opportunities for the
eco-tourist. For caving, you can explore the
world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), the
world’s largest natural chamber (Sarawak
Chamber), and the longest cave in Southeast
Asia (Clearwater Cave), as well the Wind
Cave and Fairy Cave at Bau.
Explore History
A walking tour of Kuching is more than
enough to fulfil the expectations of any
history buff. Along the way are the Chinese
History Museum, the Sarawak State
Museum, the Timber Museum, and the
Islamic Museum, while across the river
you’ll find the Astana (built in 1870 by the
second White Rajah Charles Brooke) and the
impressive Fort Margherita.
WHERE TO GO
Kuching
Sarawak’s capital, Kuching is a mix of
modern facilities, colonial buildings, and
Chinese and Malay shop houses. Set on
the Sarawak River, the waterfront is a great
place to start touring the city. Across the
Orang utans
road is the Main Bazaar, where vendors
sell antiques and curios, ideal for buying
antiques, crafts and souvenirs
Sarawak river
Miri
Within a few hours of national parks
and adventure travel, the oil and timber
boomtown of Miri is becoming known
for its nightlife as well as shopping and
accommodation to suit all budgets. You’ll
also find a number of travel agents here,
specialising in local adventure excursions.
Sibu
Founded by Foochow immigrants at the
turn of the 20th century, Sibu is Sarawak’s
third largest town, and offers a unique
glimpse into its underlying Chinese origins.
The Tua Pek Kong Temple, a seven-storey
pagoda, and a bustling centre of small
shops selling anything from name brands
to handicrafts to jungle produce welcome
you at Sibu, while its pasar malam will
hone your bargaining skills. Sibu is also
the staging point of Rejang River adventure
trips into the Iban interior.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 25
malaysia travel
Tioman Berjaya
THIRD largest state in Peninsular Malaysia,
Johor is a mix of modern culture, island
life, urban settings, and ancient biodiversity.
WHAT TO SEE
Johor’s Beaches
Desaru Beach:Twenty-five kilometres
of white, sandy beach and lush tropical
greenery makes up Desaru – the most
popular beach in Johor.
Located 98km northeast of Johor Bahru,
Desaru, or also known as the “Village of
Casuarinas”, was developed by the South
Johor Development Authority (KEJORA) to
boost the tourism industry in Johor.
lan
Shoplots, Ja
ee
Tan Hiok N
Johor
Southern Gateway
Desaru is a great destination for family
vacation as it offers a variety of activities
for the whole family including swimming,
fishing, snorkeling, canoeing, horse riding,
jungle trekking, go-carting, golfing and
windsurfing.
islands in the east and west coast of
the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. While
many have enjoyed sun-bathing on the
cotton-white beaches, admiring the sway
of tall, graceful coconut palms and taken
delight in a swimming or snorkeling trip
in the turquoise waters, only a relatively
small number have had the opportunity to
enjoy her underwater treasures.
From the peninsular west coast islands
of Payar and Sembilan, to the farthest
east coast island of Sipadan, Sabah, over
40 islands and at least twice as many
individual dive sites lay in the cradle of
one of the world’s richest and biologically
diverse marine habitats.
Go Island Hopping
The seemingly endless white sand beaches,
amazing undersea scenery, and laid-back
island life are an idyllic getaway for divers,
beach lovers, and everyone else.
Johor’s History
Go Golfing
JB is a great place to sightsee. Look for the
hilltop Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. The Sultan
Ibrahim Building, its blend of Western
and Saracen design, and its dominating
tower are also worth a stop.The Royal Abu
Bakar Museum houses a large collection –
treasures of the Royal Family, an extensive
art collection, and much more.
Johor is dotted with dozens of golf courses
and golf resorts.
WHERE TO GO
Johor Bahru (JB)
Capital of Johor, JB is located at the tip
of Peninsular Malaysia, just across the
Causeway from Singapore. Shopping and
dining are popular, as is sightseeing.
Johor’s Natural Beauty
Population: 3,170,000
Area: 18,986sq.km
Capital: Johor Bahru
Tourist Information:
www.johortourism.com.my
Endau-Rompin National Park is one of
Malaysia’s few remaining lowland forests,
and a good place for a jungle trek. 16km
from Kota Tinggi is the 30m Kota Tinggi
Waterfall, a great place for picnics or
overnight stays. Orchid lovers will enjoy
Orchid Valley located 28km northwest of JB.
Mersing
Most often a departure point to Tioman and
Johor’s islands, Mersing is also only 15km
south of Air Papan, a popular beach and
picnic area.
Muar
WHAT TO DO
Go Scuba Diving
Known for its delicious and inexpensive
food stalls, Muar is also a good place
to see some of Johor’s colonial buildings.
One of this country’s best kept secrets,
especially to Malaysians themselves, are the
enchanting dive sites, scattered around the
Nearby is the Gunung Ledang Recreational
Forest.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 27
28 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
malaysia travel
struments
in
Traditional
State museum
PICTURESQUE and undulating, Negeri
Sembilan is a destination for beach
lovers, gourmands, history buffs, and
everyone else.
WHAT TO SEE
Gunung Tampin Recreational
Forest
Just 15 minutes by road from
Tampin, you’ll find a climb to
the summit of Gunung Tampin is
worth the awesome view.
Taman Seri Budaya
Formerly a palace, the Taman
Seri Budaya (Cultural Handicraft
Complex) in Seremban is home
to the Teratak Pepatih (State Museum)
and the Istana Ampang Tinggi. Along with
cultural performances, it’s a great place
to see some traditional Minangkabau
architecture.
water sports on offer, PD will not disappoint
a week-ender or day-tripper.
Eat
Famed throughout Malaysia for its cultural
diversity, the eateries of Seremban are a
haven for a true mix of Malay, Chinese, and
Indian food.
Trek
Negeri Sembilan opens its natural
splendour as the backdrop for anyone
with an adventurous determination. If
you prefer waterfalls, visit Jeram Toi, a 10m
thundering falls with bus service, camping,
and wilderness trails. A little further away
from Seremban (and a bit more of a trek) is
Jeram Panjang and its stunning 33 cascades.
Even further into the jungle is Lata Kijang...
two hours by 4WD from Kuala Klawang
along steep and slick roads, an hour’s hard
trekking through the forest, and you finally
arrive at a spectacular 45m falls.
Kota Lukut
Negeri
Sembilan
Located atop Bukit Gajah Mati, Kota Lukut
was built by chieftain Raja Jumaat in 1826
to control a thriving tin trade. Among the
ruins you’ll find the courtyard used to
practice martial arts and other traces of this
period of history.
The “Nine States”
Pengkalan Kempas
Historical Complex
Population: 897,900
Area: 6,643sq.km
Capital: Seremban
Tourist Information:
www.tourismnegerisembilan.com
Malaysia’s version of Stonehenge, the
megalith stones are enshrouded in mystery.
Local myths have dubbed the trio of carved
stones “Batu Hidup” (the Living Stone). The
Complex also houses the mausoleum of
Sheikh Ahmad Majnun, rival of the Sultan
of Malacca from 1457–1477.
Relax
For those with quieter spirits, Negeri
Seremban has plenty of places to relax and
enjoy a good book, or just picnic with the
family in splendid surroundings near wellbeaten paths. For a start, take a day-trip to
the Seremban Lake Garden, one of the most
picturesque in Malaysia.
WHERE TO GO
Seremban
Known for its food, culture, and historical
locations, the capital of Negeri Sembilan is
just 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, and
makes for a relaxing day or overnight trip.
Port Dickson
Beach
The sandy stretches at Port Dickson have a
lot to offer as a weekend getaway. Whether
you prefer an awe-inspired sunset across
the Straits of Malacca or more adventurous
Only about an hour from KL, Port Dickson
is the nearest beachfront along the Straits of
Malacca. A favourite escape for urban jungle
dwellers, “PD” has all the trappings of a
quaint seaside village.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 29
Trade the hustle and bustle of city life with the
relaxing holiday getaway at Bukit Gambang
Resort City. Start at our giant water park where the
young and the young-at-heart are ensured a
splashing good time, courtesy of the amazing
rides and water entertainment. You could also
wander about the surrounding Gambang Forest,
taking in fresh air while admiring nature’s pristine
beauty or take a cruise along kuantan river-day or
night, a unique experience awaits you.
Whichever your choice, Bukit Gambang Resort City
is bound to impress and satisfy. Don’t wait. Call us
now!
30 The Expat Getaways
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malaysia travel
Tea fields, Cameron Highlands
aman Negara
Canopy walk,T
Snorkeling
FAMOUS for its range of natural extremes –
exotic islands, mountainous forests, cooling
highlands, and beautiful beaches – Pahang
is Peninsular Malaysia’s largest state.
WHAT TO SEE
Taman Negara
Malaysia’s oldest National Park, Taman
Negara also encompasses the world’s
oldest tropical rainforest (about 130
million years old). Try trekking, the
treetop canopy walk, caving, shooting the
rapids of the Tembeling River, 4-wheel
drive night safaris, watching wildlife from
a jungle hide, and much, much more.
Tioman Island
Tioman Island is an island-lover’s paradise
amid the crystal blue waters of the South
China Sea. Divers forever remember the
amazing coral reefs, while non-divers never
forget their first Tioman sunset.
Sungai Lembing Tin Mines
Pahang
Highlands, Jungles
and Beaches
Population: 1,372,500
Area: 35,967sq.km
Capital: Kuantan
Tourist Information:
www.pahangtourism.com.my
Sungai Lembing’s glory days are preserved
in a museum that focuses on the area’s tin
mining industry, showing how tin was
mined and what it was like to work in the
tin mines during the tin boom.
Gua Charah
Site of a revered Buddhist sanctuary, the
Charah caves are located 25km northwest
of Kuantan, and continue to serve as a
solitary meditation retreat for Buddhist
monks and nuns. Explore the caves,
including the one that houses a stone
sculpture of the reclining Buddha.
WHAT TO DO
Visit the Elephants
Established to assist the elephant
capture and relocation programmes,
the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is a
permanent base for the capture unit, and
a chance to get up close and personal
with these majestic mammals.
Shoot the Jeram Besu Rapids
Three hours from KL, Jeram Besu is gaining
popularity as a challenging and exhilarating
places for white-water rafting and kayaking.
See What is Truly Rare
The Belum national park is a natural jewel full
of wildlife (many of which are endangered)
that runs north to the Thai border.
Although the battle for conservation rages
on, this could be one of the ‘last chance
to see’ locations of Malaysia’s precious
natural history.
Relax on the Beach
Balok, Beserah, Chendor, Lanjut, Cherating,
Teluk Chempedak... Pahang’s east coast is a
playground for beach lovers.
WHERE TO GO
Kuantan
Capital city Kuantan offers some
great food and a wealth of traditional
handicrafts like batik painting. And do not
miss the city’s impressive State Mosque!
Cherating
A 45-minute drive from Kuantan, Cherating
has grown from a small unknown village
to a haven for tourists of all budgets. Along
its fabulous stretch of beach, there are
mini-markets, food stalls, and art galleries.
Further up the road is the Cherating Turtle
Sanctuary, where you can learn more about
Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill turtles.
The Highlands
One of Pahang’s most inviting attractions
are its cool and picturesque highlands.
The dew rolls over the hills, the chilly
night air brings relief to those who
spend most of their times in the searing
lowlands. Learn about the history to enjoy
your visit all the more.
The three main hill stations – Cameron
Highland, Fraser’s Hill, and Genting
Highlands – are all within a short drive of
KL; each has its own special attractions,
and all offer a pleasant change of scenery
for anyone who visits.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 31
malaysia travel
inting
Batik pa
Kelantan
Land of Lightning
Population: 1.4 million
Area: 14,920sq.km
Capital: Kota Bharu
Tourist Information:
www.tourism.gov.my
32 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
FOR most visitors, the charms of Kelantan
are found in the vitality of its culture and
its remote, unsullied beauty.The traditional
sports of giant kite-flying, top-spinning, silat,
wayang kulit, bird-singing competitions and
the making of exquisite handicrafts such
as songket, batik, silverware and mengkuang
products still remain fixtures here, offering a
glimpse of traditional Malay culture in a truly
spectacular setting.
The major towns are Kota Bharu, Bachok, Pasir
Puteh,Tanah Merah,Tumpat and Gua Musang.
Kelantan’s coastline is almost completely
undeveloped, and offers a number of idyllic
beaches. Vast stretches of tropical forest cover
the state, and its southeastern corner forms
part of the Taman Negara National Park.
Shopping is also a must for visitors and
there is a duty-free zone for shoppers at
Rantau Panjang and Pengkalan Kubor.
Kelantan also means the Land of Lightning.
It has an area of 14,920 sq km, and is a land
rich in culture and heritage, influenced by
its Siamese and Chinese neighbours. This
state borders Thailand in the north-east and
Perak in the west,Terengganu in the east
and Pahang to the south.
As Kelantan was the landing point of the
invading Japanese Imperial Army in World
War II, Kota Bharu is home to the War
Museum (itself a previously occupied army
headquarters) that details and preserves
the history of this turbulent period. Other
museums in Kota Bharu – the Royal
As a travel destination, Kelantan is well known
for its golden beaches, marvellous handicraft
and as a haven for food connoisseurs.
You can find dining options to suit your taste
buds practically everywhere, from traditional
Kelantanese food to Siamese cuisine.
WHAT TO SEE
Museums
Museum and the Islamic Museum – tell
equally fascinating stories.
A cascading 120m waterfall near Kuala Krai,
the verdant surroundings of Lata Beringin
and an awe-inspiring view make this a very
popular camping spot.
(Pantai Cahaya Bulan), it’s no wonder
Kelantan’s seafronts are one of its major
tourist attractions. All are fairly close to
Kota Bharu, and each has its own attraction
to the casual tourist. Also nearby is Pantai
Sabak; now a pleasant beach and a Malay
fishing village, it was the site of invading
troops in 1941.
Gunung Stong
Go Shopping
At 1,422m, Gunung Stong is Kelantan’s
highest peak in the Dabong Forest Reserve.
Also found in the Reserve is Gua Ikan (Fish
Cave, a huge chamber filled with stalagmites
and stalactites) and seven waterfalls,
including Jelawang Falls – at 305m, it’s the
highest drop in Southeast Asia.
Kelantan is famed for handicrafts, and you’ll
find some great deals (and an amazing
atmosphere) in the bazaars and markets of
Kota Bharu. Bazaar Bulu Kubu (Bamboo Fort
Bazaar) is backed with silverware, batik, and
more; New Central Market is a nice stop for
authentic ambience and fresh produce; the
Night Market is a great place to dine al fresco
under the stars.
Lata Beringin
WHAT TO DO
Hit the Beach
With names like Beach of Whispering Breeze
(Pantai Bisikan Bayu), Beach of Melody
(Pantai Irama), Beach of Seven Lagoons
(Pantai Seri Tujuh), and Beach of Moonlight
About 4km north of Kota Bahru (on the
road to Pantai Cahaya Bulan) is Kampung
Penambang and the Songket
(Cloth of Gold) Bazaar.
Harvesting rice
Kite flying
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W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 33
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Relax and enjoy Langkawi’s warm seas, sandy beaches and towering karst mountains.
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Escape to the highest peak
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W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
SHOPS
BARS
RESTAURANTS
SERVICES
malaysia travel
Kampung house
Mosque
KEDAH has the distinction of
being the “Rice-bowl of Malaysia”
– a term that takes on aesthetic
significance when one sees
the rice fields for themselves:
the flat expanse of paddies set
against a backdrop of rolling
hills provides a picture of utter
serenity that lulls the senses.
Off Kedah’s western shores
are clusters of sun-drenched
islands that comprise the
legendary archipelago of
Langkawi, easily the most
popular resort location in
the country. More than
a land of mere scenery,
however, Kedah is also
the site of Malaysia’s
most extensive ruins.
In the Bujang Valley
are the sprawling remains of a Hindu
kingdom believed to date back to the 6th
century A.D.
Kedah
The rice bowl of
Malaysia
Population: 1,778,188
Area: 9,430sq.km
Capital: Alor Setar
Tourist Information:
www.tourism.gov.my
WHAT TO SEE
Lembah Bujang Museum
Dating back to the 6th century, the
historical records of Chinese, Arab, Indian,
and Greek scholars describe the fabled
land of Kataha (Kedah), Srivijaya, and
Trambalinga. With over 50 temples and
shrines stretching out across 224sq.km, the
area was once a powerful maritime empire
that controlled the Straits of Malacca.The
Museum, located 26km from Sungai Petani,
was built in 1978, and exhibits a good
selection of artifacts found in the area.
You can also view the excavated sites,
and guided tours are available
(by appointment).
Pantai Merdeka
Langkawi isn’t Kedah’s only beach paradise;
60km south of Alor Star is Pantai Merdeka,
a 1km stretch of white sand that’s perfect
for sunbathing, picnics, swimming, and
water sports.
Pulau Payar Marine Park
Designated as a marine park in 1985, this
is a study centre for marine research (and
some divers say it’s one of the best dive sites
on the west coast). Access to the park is by
ferry from Penang.
WHAT TO DO
There are many opportunities for ecotourism and adventure sports such as jungle
trekking, mountain climbing, white-water
rafting and diving. Langkawi aside, there are
ample attractions on the mainland to keep
visitors occupied.
They can soak in the hot springs at Baling,
bathe in waterfalls all over the state, or
pamper themselves at the luxury resort in
Pedu Lake. Kedah has a wide range of Malay,
Chinese, Indian and Thai delicacies in its
cuisine, which comprises such traditional
dishes as gulai nangka (jackfruit curry) and
pekasam (fish preserved in salt and pounded,
fried paddy). Nasi ulam, which is prepared
by blending rice with fresh vegetables and
spices, is a favourite among locals.
WHERE TO GO
Alor Setar
Capital of Kedah, Alor Setar retains some
of its old world charm, and has quite a
number of attractions for a tourist with a
day. There’s the Muzium Di-Raja, Balai Besar,
Masjid Zahir, the State Museum, and the
octagonal Balai Nobat tower.
Puncak JaningWaterfall
Kuah
A favourite with locals for swimming and
trekking in the nearby jungle, the four-level
waterfall is breathtaking, and a great place
to take a breather between your outdoor
adventures here.
This is the centre of “urban” life on
Langkawi Island. It may not be huge
but Kuah has enough malls, franchise
restaurants and assorted outlets to maintain
your island stay indefinitely.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 35
PHOTOS BY DAVID BOWDEN
malaysia travel
Train station, Ipoh
Sunset, Pangkor
SECOND largest state in Peninsular
Malaysia, almost half of Perak’s area is
covered by lush green tropical rainforests
and mangrove forests.
e, Ipoh
Cave templ
WHAT TO SEE
Bukit Larut
some of Malaysia’s finest courses, including
the picturesque Meru Valley Golf Club,
Bukit Jana Golf & Country Club, the
Teluk Rubiah Beach & Golf Resort, and
the Royal Perak Golf Club.
Check for membership and handicap
regulations before planning a golf vacation.
Formerly known as Maxwell Hill, this is the
oldest hill station in Malaysia and some 10
minutes from Taiping.
Rejuvenate
After a winding forest drive up the 1000m
hill, the view from the summit’s Larut Rest
house is magnificent.
If you are travelling with your family, beat
the heat at Lost World of Tambun water park
where you can all have a restful or exciting
day of cool fun.
Cave Temples
Most famous are the Perak Tong and Sam
Poh Tong temples, each about 5km from
Ipoh (Perak Tong to the north, Sam Poh
Tong to the south).
At Sam Poh Tong you’ll find a pond with
hundreds of tortoises; at Perak Tong,
numerous Buddha statues and murals and a
great view of the countryside.
WHERE TO GO
Ipoh
The Perak capital, Ipoh grew from a small
kampong around the flourishing tin
mining industry.
Known for its delicious cuisine (a mix of
Chinese and local Malay), it’s also worthy of
a walking tour to see the Moor-influenced
Railway Station, the Birch Memorial Clock
Tower, and the State Mosque.
Kellie’s Castle
Perak
Tin and Nature
Population: 2.2 million
Area: 21,000sq.km
Capital: Ipoh
Tourist Information:
www.peraktourism.com
Located near Simpang Pulai, Kellie’s
Castle is named for rubber tycoon William
Kellie Smith. It remains incomplete due to
the tycoon’s untimely death, surrounded
by speculations of secret tunnels and
hidden rooms.
Kuala Kangsar
WHAT TO DO
R&R on Pulau Pangkor
Other sights to see here are the Pavilion
Square Tower, Masjid Ubudiah, and the
Royal Museum.
A very popular west coast island destination,
Pangkor caters to all budgets and interests.
White sand beaches, clear waters, dive
and snorkelling sites, a full range of water
sports, and a leisurely bike ride around the
island, and “keropok” (delicious prawn
crackers) await!
Hit the links
Bring your clubs – Perak is dotted with
36 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Perak’s royal town is dominated by
Istana Iskandariah (official residence
of the Sultan of Perak) upon Bukit
Chandan and Istana Kenangan and other
majestic architecture.
Taiping
Taiping’s past importance as a thriving
mining town are now hidden under the
greenery of the gorgeous Lake Gardens.
It’s also home to the Taiping Zoo
(the oldest zoo in Malaysia), and the
Taiping Museum.
Elephant
Sanctuary
Batu Caves
Melaka
Day Trips out of Kuala Lumpur
Batu Caves
Elephant Sanctuary
Port Dickson
Located 11km north of KL, the Batu Caves
are a series of stunning limestone caverns,
including the Temple Cave with its 100
metre-high ceiling. Once you arrive, stretch
your muscles – you’ll need to limber up
for the 272 steps up to the cave entrance.
The Batu Caves host the world’s largest
Thaipusam festival every year, with more
than a million Hindu devotees (and
observers) coming together to celebrate.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Kuala Gandah,
Pahang offers visitors the opportunity
to get up close and personal with these
gentle giants. The reserve is home to eight
elephants and their young. Visitors can walk
freely among the well-supervised animals,
as well as ride upon their backs through the
jungle and assist in washing the animals in
a small pond.Visit www.pahangtourism.
com.my for more information.
Conveniently located 60km from KL,
with excellent bus, rail and road links,
Port Dickson enables tourists and city
dwellers to escape the hustle and bustle of
the city for the beach, whether for a day
trip or a longer stay. Known as PD to locals,
its 18km stretch of white sandy beaches
make it well worth the trip.
Zoo Negara
Putrajaya
Malaysia’s national zoo, Zoo Negara sits
on 110-acres of land, just 5km from KL
along Jalan Ulu Kelang.The zoo features
over 4,000 animals, most of which enjoy
spacious open living areas. There are also
elephant shows, pony rides and more. The
zoo opens daily from 9am - 5pm but also
offers “Zoo Negara by Night” on Saturdays,
Sundays & public holidays. For more
information, visit www.zoonegara.com or
call +603.4108 3422.
Putrajaya is a planned city, first occupied
in 2000. This eco-friendly green city is
Malaysia’s administrative capital, home to
the Prime Minister’s Office Complex, and
various other government departments.
The architecture reflects Malaysia’s tropical
surroundings and is heavily influenced
by Islamic styles. Visitors can explore
thirteen man-made gardens, and the 400ha Putrajaya Lake, admire the impressive
Putra Mosque and cross the majestic
Putra and Seri Perdana bridges. For more
information, visit www.putrajaya.com.my.
Forest Research Institute Malaysia
(FRIM)
This environmental research site and forestry
reserve is open to the public. Bring your
hiking shoes - the most popular activity is the
canopy forest walk that takes you across the
rainforest treetops. To book in advance, call
+603.6279 7575 or visit www.frim.gov.my.
Sunway Pyramid & Lagoon
Fun, shopping, eating, swimming, skating
and more! Located about 20-minutes’
drive from KL, you can’t and shouldn’t
miss out on Sunway. Inside Sunway
Pyramid, you’ll find hundreds of shops
and eateries, as well as Malaysia’s only
ice-skating rink. Next to the mall, Sunway
Lagoon is a theme park with rollercoaster
rides, water slides, a surf beach and petting
zoo. Sunway Pyramid opens 10am - 10pm
daily, while Sunway Lagoon opens from
10am - 6pm (closed Tuesdays).
For details visit www.sunway.com.my
or call +603.7494 3000
(Sunway Pyramid), +603.5639 0000
(Sunway Lagoon).
Melaka
Two hours’ drive south of Kuala Lumpur
is the UNESCO Heritage City of Malaka.
Melaka’s many settlers over the centuries
have each added their colour to the
city’s unique mosaic. Start your tour at
Red Square, with the bright and distinctly
European architecture, including the
Stadthuys – the oldest remaining Dutch
building in Asia. From here you can
book a Trishaw tour or a trip down the
Melaka River.
Kuala Selangor
Kuala Selangor is about an hour from KL
and can be reached by bus or car. Taman
Kelip-Kelip (Firefly Park) is one of its most
famous attractions. A quiet 30-minute
boat ride down the Selangor River allows
visitors to observe one of Malaysia’s
most beautiful and amazing natural
phenomenon – fireflies glittering by the
thousands in the mangrove swamps. Boats
depart from 7.45pm.
Genting Highlands
Less than an hour from KL, the glitzy
Genting Highlands is a mountaintop Las
Vegas, with shows, amusement parks,
and one of the world’s biggest casinos.
It’s one of a very small number of legal
gambling locations in Malaysia. Frequent
and affordable buses and shuttles as well as
luxury coaches, taxis and limos go
back and forth.The cable car up the side of
the mountain gives excellent views of
the city and surrounding jungle. Visit
www.rwgenting.com.
Berjaya Hills
Just 40km from KL, this is a popular
getaway for families and couples, a place
where you can do horseback riding,
hiking, bird watching or golfing in a
refreshingly higher altitude. While there,
visit the botanical gardens, rabbit park and
deer sanctuary. Nearby, there is a Japanese
garden, as well as the beautiful Tatami Spa
and the French-themed resort, Colmar
Tropicale. Visit www.berjayahotel.com for
more information.
Hulu Langat
Thirty minutes drive from the centre of
Kuala Lumpur down a winding road near
the small town of Hulu Langat is a series
of waterfalls that cascade through the
rainforest down 70 metres of rock. There
are shallow pools where you can swim in
the cool mountain water. The drive takes
you through villages, orchards and jungle,
and includes a panoramic view of KL.
Go to www.tourism.gov.my to find out
more about these and other great
day trips from KL.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 37
38 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
malaysia travel
Redang
Terengganu
East Coast Wonders
Population: 898,825
Area: 12,955sq.km
Capital: Kuala Terengganu
Tourist Information:
www.tourism.terengganu.gov.my
ONE of Malaysia’s pre-eminent East
Coast states,Terengganu is known for a
picturesque 225km stretch of white sand
beaches and the paradise islands just off its
mainland shores.
WHAT TO SEE
SekayuWaterfall
A great place for a picnic, you’ll find
this site near Kuala Berang after a
delightful drive through some lush
jungle hills. Campgrounds and chalets
are also available.
Relax
The white sands of Terengganu (mainland
and island) are famous, but you’ll also feel
a sense of ‘slow living’ throughout the state.
Find yourself a beach chair, set it into the
sands, and let your troubles melt away.
Go Diving and Snorkelling
The pristine settings above the waterline of
Terengganu are only half its beauty; open
your eyes to the undersea worlds. The reefs
are teeming with life, easily accessed by
snorkellers, while divers can reach some
truly amazing dive sites.
Turtles
et
al mark
n
Traditio
The beach at Rantau Abang is nice,
but most tourists flock to see the
leatherback turtles that wade ashore
to lay eggs. Best time to go is March
through November.
WHERE TO GO
Kuala Terengganu
If you’ve an aversion to sea travel, mainland
Terengganu has some great beaches at
Tanjung Jara and Pasir Pajang.
Not just a hopping-off point for air
travelers, capital city Kuala Terengganu has
some attractions that make it worth staying
before heading to the beach or an island.
Chinatown and its shop houses attract many
tourists, while Central Market at the end of
Jalan Bandar bustles with vendors selling all
sorts of wares and sundries.
WHAT TO DO
Visit the islands
Merang Jetty, Kuala Besut,
and Dungun
Known for their white sands and relaxed
atmospheres, some of Terengganu’s islands
are more commercialised and serviced than
others. The most popular are the Perhentians
(Kuala Besut jetty), Kapas, Redang, and
Lang Tengah (Merang jetty), and Tenggol
(Dungun jetty).
If you aren’t staying in the capital,
you’re likely heading for an island.
These are the three main jetties that service
Terengganu’s outlying islands. (Waiting for
a speedboat in Kuala Besut? Check out the
LA Hot Springs, acclaimed for their mineral
content and temperature).
Mainland beaches
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 39
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Go to DineMalaysia.com today for the best offers, news, events, bars and restaurants in Malaysia.
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Kelam cave
Perlis
Land of dreams
MALAYSIA’S smallest and most northern
state, Perlis is a crossing point to Thailand,
a ferry trip from Langkawi, and a welcome
stop for the urban-weary tourist.
WHAT TO SEE
Population: 198,335
Area: 810sq.km
Capital: Kangar
Tourist Information:
www.tourism.gov.my
Snake char
Bird Park, Batu Pahat River Recreational Park,
Snake and Reptile Farm: Just 10km from
Kangar, these attractions are close enough for
a quick day-trip from Kangar.
mer
The Bird Park has a wide selection of
beautiful birds on display, the Snake and
Reptile Farm is home to 34 species of snakes,
and the Batu Pahat River Recreational Park is
a good place for a lazy picnic.
WHAT TO DO
Go caving: Perlis is home to many amazing
cave systems. These include Gua Kelam
(“Dark Caves”) located at Kaki Bukit which is
a huge 370m-long limestone cave.
Walkways and lights make it a good
attraction for amateur cavers. More
advanced cavers will enjoy the muddy
underworld and rock formations of the
Wang Burma Cave, though hiring an
experienced guide is necessary as part
of the state park’s rules.
Go Shopping
Crossing into Thailand at the Padang
Besar border, you’ll find duty-free shops,
handcrafted items, and clothing.
Go Golfing
Set against some magnificent Batu Pahat
scenery, the Putra Golf Club (near the Bird
Park) is said to be one the most challenging
courses in Malaysia.This 18-hole, par-72
won’t disappoint.
Where to Go
Kangar:The Perlis capital city, Kangar is
low-lying and scenically bordered by vast
stretches of verdant padi fields.
Kuala Perlis
Though formally part of Kedah, the island
of Langkawi is easily accessible by ferry
from the terminal in Kuala Perlis.
If you’re waiting on a ferry, check out the
nearby Kota Mayang Museum or visit the
Perlis Craft Cultural Complex.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 41
regional travel
China
Thailand
The Philippines
Cambodia
Vietnam
Sri Lanka
Singapore
Indonesia
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 45
regional travel
Bangkok: By Day and Night
Bangkok is big, fast and crowded, appealing to those looking
to live life in the fast lane. But it’s also one of Asia’s best
cities to enjoy some delicious food, visit some fascinating
cultural attractions and participate in lots of fabulous
shopping, David Bowden reports
WHILE Bangkok isn’t for everyone, it has
a long list of appealing attributes. Its scale,
madness and energy have always appealed
to me as a place to visit. For those who
like big cities, there are many magnetic
qualities including the food, an extensive
range of accommodation options from
budget to super deluxe, iconic bars, shops
catering to all budgets, exuberant markets,
good public transport and affordable
flights from Malaysia.
With over 12 million residents there’s
not too much that Bangkok doesn’t offer.
Bangkok is a party town that never seems
to sleep so visitors can cram in a lot, in just
a few days. There are many uniquely Thai
cultural attractions such as Buddhist temples
(wats), tuk tuk rides, value-for-money
Thai massage and an excellent selection of
locally-produced handicrafts. The essential
tourist sights include the Grand Palace, Wat
Arun and Wat Phra Kaew all located near the
banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The Chao Phraya flows through Bangkok
and many of the city’s finest hotels line
its eastern banks. One of the best ways
to discover this part of Bangkok is to get
on the Chao Phraya Express and spend a
leisurely hour or so observing life along the
river. These boats roar up and down the
river stopping at strategic locations along
the way. Use Sophon Taksin BTS Station
to reach the ferry and then ride it until
you’ve had enough and catch a ferry back.
Near the Grand Palace, visitors will notice
long-tail boats moored along the riverbank
and these too can be hired for more
personalised sightseeing.
What was once Asia’s most congested city is
now one of its most accessible thanks to
the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway, airport link
46 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
and Chao Phraya Express. The airport link
train to downtown Phaya Thai Station
costs just RM4.50 one way and takes
about 30 minutes. Riding a tuk tuk is an
experience you must endure at least once
while in Bangkok.
World Cuisine
Just as in Malaysia, food is served in a
variety of locations with the street food
being cheap and tasty. The food court in
Siam Paragon Shopping Centre is more
upmarket than most others in Bangkok with
a smorgasbord of local and international
dining concepts.
Chatuchak market
Tapas Tree, Pullman Bangkok
When you’ve had your fill of Thai food,
check out the superb Italian cuisine in
the recently opened Jojo in the St. Regis
Bangkok. Fine Italian wines accompany
many unique dishes that will surprise and
tantalise connoisseurs of regional Italian
cuisine and at very competitive prices.
Another exciting dining experience in
Bangkok is found at the Wine Pub in the
Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel. A
good mix of trendy young Thais and expats
pack the Wine Pub to savour its excellent
selection of affordable wines (at least for
Thailand where 300% taxes are added) tasty
tapas and great atmosphere.
There are many other great bars
ranging from classic Thai girlie bars
to sophisticated international bars and
nightclubs. Bangkok is possibly the best
Asian city for a night out with several
unique outdoor venues high up on top
of skyscrapers. Getting high in Bangkok
takes a new perspective with elevated bars
reaching ever skyward. Check out Red Sky
on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand
at CentralWorld. It is open to the tropical
Aerial view, temple
weather and, on a clear night, this is one of
Bangkok’s most atmospheric bars. Other
similar bars include Sirocco (in The Dome
at State Tower), V9 (Sofitel Bangkok Silom)
and Vertigo and Grill Moon Bar (61st floor
of the Banyan Tree Bangkok).
Bargains Galore
Bangkok is one of the region’s great
shopping paradises with affordable prices
and an extensive selection of merchandise.
Young Thai designers set the trend while
many other retailers find that ripping
off designer labels is exactly what their
customers want. Mah Boon Krong (MBK),
Siam Paragon (check out the Ocean World
aquarium), CentralWorld, Siam Square,
Amarin Plaza, Siam Discovery Centre
and Gaysorn Plaza offer the usual Asian
shopping mall experience. Suan Lum Night
Bazaar becomes a buyer’s inferno after the
sun sets.
Chatuchak Weekend Markets (known to
the locals as ‘JJ’ Markets) are a right of
passage for first timers and a regular stop
for worldly travellers. While Chatuchak is
hot, humid and crowded, its many bargains
make up for any discomfort. With over
8,000 stalls, almost anything and everything
is for sale. Catch the BTS (Skytrain) to Mor
Chit Station and simply follow everyone else
as they’re all heading to the markets.
Floating markets still exist in Bangkok but
those that visitors are taken to are mostly for
tourists and they sell over-priced souvenirs
to the unsuspecting.
Be wary of shopping scams in Bangkok
(a well-dressed person approaches you;
after the usual pleasantries suggests to
you that you shop locally and then gets
rewarded handsomely by the shopkeeper
who has ridiculously expensive prices on
all goods). The other common scam is to
buy gemstones for reselling back home
(ask yourself; why would a total stranger
want to share huge profits with you
a total stranger?).
Luxury Accommodation
With so many value-for-money hotels
from which to choose in Bangkok,
Wat Arun
there’s even more reason to stay in
luxurious surroundings. The recent opening
of the St. Regis Bangkok has raised the bar
on hospitality in a city that does it so
well anyway.
The Westin Grande Sukhumvit is perfectly
located along the busy Sukhumvit strip
within a stone’s throw from Asok BTS and
subway stations. Guests who stay here feel
rested, enriched and renewed especially
after a night on the hotel’s signature
heavenly bed.
AirAsia (www.airasia.com) has
seven flights a day from Kuala Lumpur
to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
International Airport.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
For all the information you need,
visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s
website at www.tourismthailand.org.
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 47
regional travel
Phabulous Phuket!
Phuket has established itself internationally as an ideal destination for some serious
resort R & R. Beyond the pool, beach, and spa, Phuket offers a whole host of other
attractions which merit exploration, as Chris Pritchard reveals
I’VE NEVER SEEN anything like it. I open
the door of my second-floor hotel room
and immediately step back inside to allow
a couple of relaxed-looking elephants to
amble past. Later, in the lobby, I see them
again – at the check-in desk. I’m reminded
of the opening line of a corny old joke: “An
elephant with a heavy trunk goes up to a
hotel receptionist and demands a room.”
Elephants are big at Laguna Beach Resort
in Phuket, as at several of the holiday isle’s
other lodgings. Two of the pachyderms
are in residence. Kids adore them, feeding
them bananas – and many an adult finds
them irresistible, too. Their mahout
[handler] tells me the animals one day
gingerly started climbing steps to an upper
level, wandered along a corridor and
carefully descended at the far end. Since
then it’s become a daily ritual. So has their
appearance every morning in the lobby.
Guests gather around the sweet-natured
adult female and playful youngster which
wander in through the front door.
At the end of a meet-and-greet session
with guests, they saunter out into
landscaped gardens.
Phuket, though an easily-reached and
hugely popular destination, remains
mysterious to many visitors even after
they have been there. Make no mistake
– they aren’t complaining. They make
reservations at the in-house health
spa, flop onto sun beds by the pool –
and proudly announce they won’t be
budging from the resort for the duration
of their stays. And who can blame them?
After all, they’re on holiday. Bring on the
next multi-coloured cocktail.
Nevertheless,Thailand’s number-one
leisure island – measuring 543 sq kms begs exploration beyond resort boundaries.
48 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
By the beach
Phuket is firmly hitched these days to
the health spa wagon, with many resorts
capitalising on the vogue by offering
indulgent treatments.
While recovery from Thailand’s recent
troubles has been faster than forecast,
bargains have hit the marketplace with most
valid until October 31 (a few apply even
later) when the high season kicks in.
beach hub. Laguna Beach Resort, where
I’m staying, is decidedly family-friendly
but nonetheless boasts good-quality
restaurants, bars and nightlife. Within
a multi-hotel gated community, it has
as neighbours other top-drawer hotels,
including a Banyan Tree. Guests at any of
Laguna Phuket’s resorts can charge food
and beverages to their rooms at others
within the complex.
Picking the most appropriate resort is
important. Phuket options are spread across
the spectrum from ultra-luxurious boutique
hotels (sometimes with villas boasting
private pools where skinny-dipping seems
de rigueur) through large mid-market
properties to bare-bones backpacker
places of which many are clustered near
the restaurants and bars of the Patong
Another accommodation option is the
Impiana Private Villas, a boutique villa
resort nestled above the picturesque bay
of Kata Noi.The resort comprises four
luxurious villas and seven tastefully designed
suites, all of which come with private
pools and breathtaking views of the
Andaman Sea. For more information, call
03.2141 6233 or visit www.impiana.com.
Eating choices abound in the island’s
capital, Phuket Town, a typical Thai
provincial city with department stores,
markets, malls, shops, offices, hotels,
temples, Internet cafes and a plethora
of little eateries suited to unplanned
grazing. While many visitors ignore
it, this inland town certainly warrants
a few hours’ exploration to admire
surviving (and increasingly preserved)
old buildings betraying early Chinese and
Portuguese influences. Patong, however, is
“the strip”.
A beach-facing row of shops, markets,
beer-bars, restaurants, nightclubs and
hotels of all grades, it is liveliest after dark
with its non-threatening mix of wannabe
guides, shop touts, bar-girls – and tourists
roaming solo, in couples and in family
groups. I am called many names as I stroll
along the strip and similar side-streets
leading off it: “Mister Sarong”, “Mister
Massage”, “Mister Suit-for-you”, “Mister
Nice Girl”, “Mister Eat-something”,
“Mister Look-XL-T-shirt”. Raucous
Patong – like Bali’s Kuta – may not be
your scene, but it’s at least worth a walk
(particularly to stock up on inexpensive
– though possibly kitsch – gifts). Some
visitors go just for golf, with Phuket
offering a wide choice of courses. Other
enjoyable diversions include Khao Phra
Thaeo National Park with its jungle
setting, waterfalls and Gibbon Reserve
where apes – often unwanted by bar or
restaurant owners when no longer small
and cute – are reacquainted with the
wild and subsequently set free.
Nai Yang National Park has a superb
curving bay with white-sand beach.
(Indeed, Phuket is well-endowed with
quiet beaches – aside from those at the
resorts – where it’s possible to get away
from Patong-style throngs.) Temples
demanding inspection include 200 yearold Wat Phra Nang Sang, celebrated for
its Buddhist art, and Wat Phra Tong with
striking religious murals. Many resorts run
Thai cooking classes (be sure to book) –
with that at Laguna Beach Resort garnering
good reviews. For the super-energetic,
the same resort also sponsors two annual
events: Phuket’s marathon and the isle’s
swim-cycle-and-run triathlon – both of
which attract foreign competitors. Though
Phuket encourages visitors to cram activity
into every day, many prefer a heavy schedule
of glorious indolence: pool, beach, health
spa, restaurant. . . with perhaps a round of
golf to assuage feelings of guilt.
PHOTOGRAPH BY IMPIANA
Aerial view
AirAsia (www.airasia.com)
offers four daily flights to Phuket.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 49
regional travel
Chiang Mai Chic
Chiang Mai has evolved from a backpacker backwater into trendy metropolis
teeming with colour and spice. David Bowden takes a trip there
Young prince on horseback,
Chiang Mai Floral Fest
ONE OF FIRST THINGS you notice
about Chiang Mai is just how cool it is.
Cool in terms of weather and also cultural
ambiance. Thailand’s northern capital has
changed considerably over the past decades
from being a backpacker’s haven in the
1970’s to being a magnet for the design and
style conscious.
Northern Thailand was also home to the
first Thai Kingdoms of Chiang Saen, Chiang
Mai and Sukothai. Over the centuries,Thai
and Burmese rulers tussled for control of
these cities. Today, Chiang Mai is considered
Thailand’s most livable city where life
moves at a much slower pace than Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is located in the fertile valley
of the Ping River at the base of Doi or
Mount Suthep. In the 1970s, hippies
descended upon Chiang Mai to walk
the northern hills to stay with hill tribes
living there. While the backpackers still
come, flashpackers now find the north
equally appealing.
The opening of internationally-branded
hotels has paved the way for more
high-end tourists seeking life’s little
indulgences like innovative restaurants,
smart bars, spa treatments and designer
boutiques. Mae Ping (Ping River)
flows through the city and many hotels
and restaurants are located along the
riverbanks to take advantage of the serene
views and refreshing breezes.
Bazaars and Malls
In Chiang Mai, restaurants and shops selling
handicrafts, fashion or interior products are
in abundance. While craft artisans remain,
many have been replaced by large outlets
selling silk, silverware, wood carvings and
umbrellas. Most items are original although
“antiques” could be as old as yesterday’s
paint job so beware. The craft villages of Bo
Sang and Sankampaeng are the best known
and most visited.
50 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Pad Thai
TomYam
Elephant riding
One of the best village shopping routes to
follow is east from Chiang Mai on the road
to Sankampaeng via Borsarng. The road is
lined with shops selling antiques, ceramics,
silverware, umbrellas, lacquerware, silk
and handmade paper products. Borsarng
Umbrella Village, just east of Chiang Mai,
is the best place to see the age-old
process of umbrella making. Traditional
hand-painted paper, cotton and silk
umbrellas are produced and sold in
various outlets.
Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is one of the
region’s legendary markets. It was once
the epicentre for handicrafts sourced from
these surrounding villages but now its
wares are more global in nature. For more
conventional shopping try the Central
Airport Plaza anchored by Robinson
Department Store and Northern Village with
its selection of local products.
Spice of Life
Food is one of the great joys in visiting
Thailand and the northern experience
is enticing as there are many delicacies
which are all accessible and cheap. Chiang
Mai is also the best place to sample
northern Thai dishes like naem sausages
and khao soi made from egg noodles and
served with curry sauce. Huen Phen Phan
Restaurant serves what many consider to
be the most authentic northern Thai food.
Order specialty dishes of sticky rice pork
sausages, pork curry and crab dishes.
Rice Fields
Moxie combines dusitD2hotel designer
interiors and innovative fusion dishes
like red duck curry with water chestnut
and lychee.
Don’t miss the passionfruit margaritas
at their Mix Bar. WoW in the Shangrila Chiang Mai features barbecue and an
extensive whisky and wine selection served
indoors or around the pool.
The Chedi is an elegant riverside resort
with the former colonial residence of
the British Consulate surrounded by new
designer additions.
Serene Stays
Chiang Mai has seen some active hotel
construction and what was once a hippyhangout is now a stylish retreat for hippies
who have matured into moneyed middleaged travellers.The smartest properties
include Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi,
dusitD2hotel, RatiLanna Riverside Spa
Resort, The Chedi and the Shangri-La.
Best Time
The mountains to the north of Chiang
Mai moderate the intensity of the lowland
climate, with cool evenings being quite
common.This provides relief from the heat
however; it can be hot from February to
May. The best time to visit the north is in
the cooler months from October through
to January.
Living History
One of the city’s most established riverside
restaurants is Good View on the eastern
bank of the Mae Ping. Arrive at sunset for
drinks in the garden before moving onto
an extensive selection of Thai, Japanese
and international dishes. Choose roasted
duck’s knuckle, spicy mango salad with
pork and fermented pork spareribs. Next
door, the Riverside Bar and Restaurant is
an old wooden house with commanding
river views.
Many tourists are attracted to the
Buddhist temples or wats which dot the
city. There are over 300 wats here with
many dating from the ancient Lanna
Kingdom and several are worth visiting.
Wat Chedi Luang is the site of the biggest
in Chiang Mai and stood over 90m tall
before much of it was destroyed in
1545 by an earthquake. More recent
reconstruction has restored it to its
former glory.
Doi Suthep is the setting for Chiang Mai’s
most spectacular wat.The temple, featuring
ornate golden parasols, overlooks the Ping
Valley. The shimmering central pagoda is
bordered by four huge golden umbrellas.
Wat Phra That Doi located at the summit is
Chiang Mai’s most important and visible
landmark situated at an altitude of 1,700m.
Head for the Hills
There are many places to visit in northern
Thailand with the Chiang Mai to Chiang
Dao – Pai – Mae Hong Song – Khun Yuam
– Doi Inthonon loop being a popular
driving route.
Choosing the appropriate rental car
partner is important and Hertz has all the
credentials. They have several offices in
Chiang Mai with the one just outside the
international airport being the best location
for airport travellers.
Elephant riding is an essential activity
while in the north and there are several
places scattered in the northwest hills.
These have become a little commercialised
but the kids will love the opportunity to
feed them and take a bumpy ride.
There is one daily direct flight between
Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur on
AirAsia (www.airasia.com).
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 51
regional travel
Prambanan near Borobudur
The Secrets of Borobudur
Often overlooked as a
tourism spectacle, the ruins
of Borobudor will entrance
visitors with their
grandeur and intricacy,
Chris Pritchard reports
THE HEAVENS suddenly open directly
above Borobudur and the jungles that
surround it. Sheets of torrential rain whip
this ancient temple complex, ensuring I
have it to myself for 20 very wet minutes.
Then the rain stops, the sun shines and the
queue grows.
No matter. I’m well ahead of the crowd.
A couple behind me whispers. They sound
mighty impressed.They have, I overhear,
just been to Prambanan. I mean, have you
even heard of Prambanan?
A tourist exploring Borobudur
52 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
But Borobudur – itself deserving more
visitors than it gets - overshadows
Yogyakarta’s other prime attraction,
Prambunan. Borobudur, it must be said,
is – even through early morning mists
– every bit as wondrous as Cambodia’s
Angkor Wat, Burma’s Bagan ruins, the
ancient cities of Sri Lanka or Peru’s famed
Macchu Pichu. But it’s also much less
visited. Worth noting, too, is the fact this
vast Buddhist relic is proudly exhibited
in an Islamic country. Ninety minutes
away is another of Indonesia’s historic
gems, honouring one more of the world’s
great religions: Hinduism. Prambanan, a
sprawling ninth-century temple complex,
is – in the eyes of many who behold it –
every bit as awesome as nearby Borobudur.
Prambanan is all but a secret. So great
is foreigners’ awareness of Borobudur
that Prambanan is unfairly overlooked.
According to Indonesian tourism officials,
many visitors arrive not even knowing it
exists. This, however, is slowly changing.
These two complexes – monuments to two
faiths that together held local sway before
Islam gained its following – are commonly
accessed as side-trips from Bali.
In central Java,Yogyakarta is one of
Indonesia’s major cities. It has numerous
good hotels (keep Phoenix, Novotel and
Ibis in mind) and restaurants, modern
shopping malls and traditional markets.
The main drag, Jalan Malioboro, is a
busy city street with malls and hundreds
of shops selling some of Southeast
Asia’s cheapest fashions and other items.
Footpaths are cluttered with stalls
hawking much the same stock but
bargaining is expected.
Tourists at Prambanan near Borobudur
Tempting aromas waft from restaurants,
including many selling spicy nasi Padang
fare that is nationally celebrated. Major
attractions in the city include the Kraton,
the 250 year-old palace compound of
Yogyakarta’s sultans, where tours take
visitors through a succession of exhibitions
and pavilions.
Pivotal in Indonesia’s independence
struggle, Yogyakarta and nearby areas also
are the heartland of Javanese culture. Batik
and silverware workshops and galleries dot
the city (though, conveniently, they’re often
grouped together).
Traditional wayang puppets are in demand
as souvenirs (with the best at the city’s
puppetry schools). Performances of shadow
puppetry, gamelan music and classical
dance, including Ramayana ballet, are
diversions included on many an itinerary.
However, it is Borobudur – as well as,
increasingly, Prambanan – that lures most
visitors here. Each is about an hour’s drive
from the city, with hotel cars and taxis
plentiful. Routes pass through farmland and
pretty rural villages.
Borobudur – on a 200 square metre base is the world’s largest Buddhist stupa. Built
between about 750 AD and 850 AD, it is
about 300 years older than many of Angkor
Wat’s structures.Throughout the pyramidlike structure’s five levels, symbolising three
spheres of Buddhism, are elaborate carvings
along with bas reliefs. These create a virtual
guidebook-in-stone to Mahayana Buddhism.
In the shape of a mandala (a circular
Buddhist design symbolising the universe)
Borobudur’s construction required an
army of thousands of labourers
(and, some contend, slaves). Carvers and
other skilled craftsmen worked for decades
on ornate artwork.
less impressive. Experts believe some may
still lie buried beneath nearby farmland on
the surrounding Prambanan Plain.
According to some archaeologists, the
dominant and central Shiva Temple,
soaring 47 metres high, is the world’s
best example of Hindu art – including
multitudinous examples in India.
The Brahma and Vishnu temples flank the
Shiva Temple with an abundance of smaller
but richly decorated temples – about 250
in all – scattered nearby.
On upper terraces are numerous stupaswithin-a-stupa, shaped like inverted
lotus blossoms.
Borobudur was all but forgotten,
largely buried under volcanic ash, until
the 19th century. A series of restoration
projects brought it to its present state
using similar techniques to those
employed at Angkor Wat: strewn stones
were numbered and cleaned before
reconstruction of collapsed areas. To
avoid damage during tropical storms,
a reinforced foundation with adequate
drainage has been placed in modern times
under much of Borobudur.
From Kuala Lumpur, Air Asia
(www.airasia.com) flies direct to
Yogyakarta one time daily.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
Prambanan’s temples, in a different
direction from central Yogyakarta, are no
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 53
regional travel
Bali: Small Island, Great Memory
Bali is justly famous as a beach holiday destination. David Bowden goes deeper
into the many other reasons to visit Bali.
THE INDONESIAN ISLAND of Bali is best
known as a beach destination and Kuta
Beach is recognised globally as one of the
world’s best places in the sun. However,
many would argue that you have to move
away from the beaches and into the
mountains to discover the real Bali.
Balinese culture is dominated by the
island’s predominantly Hindu religion
and there always seems to be a religious
festival being celebrated somewhere on
the island.These tend to involve the whole
village community in which they are being
celebrated and this seemingly affects all
those who are passing through the village.
Bali’s natural beauty is another reason
that tourists keep returning to the island.
Between the surf and the mountainous
peaks are the valleys and terraced slopes
covered in rice fields which can be
vivid yellow or green depending upon
the season.
Here’s a look at Bali from the beachfront
to the back roads of the mountains around
Ubud plus a few places in between.
56 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Surfs Always Up
Much of Bali is surrounded by coral reefs
which don’t always make for the greatest
swimming beaches although board surfers
don’t complain about the rolling surf.
The best waves and beaches on the island
are around Kuta, Seminyak, Legion and
Jimbaran. Kuta is the best known but also
the most crowded and is lined with cafés,
restaurants, bars, resorts and a battalion of
traders working hard plying their wares.
Jimbaran has several luxury resorts and is
home to many seafood restaurants located
immediately on the beach which serve
sizzling barbecued seafood for lunch and
dinner.The beachside setting is superb – on
the sand with the setting sun - then the
stars appear; it’s quite magical for those who
arrive just before sunset.
Head north from here to the Kuta to
Seminyak strip where there are wall-to-wall
restaurants, bars and resorts. Seminyak is a
relaxed and chic location that’s popular for
surfing during the day and evening dining.
Dine in the popular Kafe Warisan located
in a floodlit padi field or at La Lucciola at
the northern end of Seminyak. Nearby, Ku
De Ta has attained cult status for its creative
contemporary cuisine and as a great place
for socialising over a sunset cocktail or two.
Those on a budget can wander along Jalan
Laksmana or ‘Eat Street’ for more affordable
dining.
One of the most luxurious accommodation
options is The Legian located immediately
beside the Indian Ocean at Seminyak.
The 67 all-suites resort has very spacious
rooms, breezy verandahs and is decorated
with designer detail. For those who enjoy
lazing around the pool, there are many
comfortable loungers or large beds facing
the beach.
Be pampered in The Spa at The Legian close
by and dining in The Restaurant is one of
Seminyak’s more refined options for both
local and Western dishes. For those who
appreciate real privacy and personalised
butler service, the Club at the Legian, just
opposite the main resort, is an 11 villa
retreat that features deluxe accommodation
in total privacy.
Balinese temple
Procession in Ubud
Fields of Rice
From the beachside restaurants of Seminyak,
the peaks of Gunung Batur (1,717m) and
Gunung Agung (3,014m) loom above the
clouds in the near distance. While volcanic
eruptions can be destructive they also bring
life to Bali in that they’re a source of water
and of rich soil that develops following
each eruption. Rice fields start appearing in
the foothills on the road to Ubud, half way
to the volcanic mountains. The road from
Kuta to Ubud is lined with shops selling
every conceivable handicraft product. These
villages once concentrated on a specific
craft and while these activities still flourish,
generalist souvenir shops are more the
norm. Places like Tegaltamu (stone carvings),
Singapadu (masks), Celuk (silver) and Mas
(wood carvings) are worth exploring to
see artisans using skills passed down from
generation to generation.
Cultural Ubud
Ubud has long been considered the
heartland of the Balinese culture. Art,
culture and heritage reign supreme here
as it has for centuries. Western artists
discovered Ubud’s charm in the 1930’s and
brought it to the attention of a
wider audience.
The climate is cooler making Ubud the chill
out, hippy hang of Bali. Longtime visitors
to Ubud take time over daily activities
– time for coffee, spa treatments, yoga,
lunch, tuning in to gamelan orchestras,
participating in cooking classes, learning
traditional dances or, walking amongst the
rice terraces.
The hippies of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s blazed
the tourist trail and many return more
financially endowed than in the days of
peace, love and understanding. Many now
come for a spiritual journey involving body,
mind and soul and a string of smart and
intimate resorts attend to their every need.
Today’s smart traveller should seek out
resorts such as The Chedi Club, Alila, Four
Seasons and Amandari.
Stay in Ubud a few days and you quickly
find it’s the place to do leisurely breakfast
and lunches in the resort or in the main
township located a short drive away. Café
Lotus on the main street next to the temple
Pura Saraswati is very popular. Opposite is
the open-sided Ary’s Warung and down the
road, past the markets, relax over coffee at
Café Moka which serves a selection of local
coffees, snacks and pastries. The streets
are lined with galleries, artisan shops and
boutiques and strolling the strip’ is de
rigueur in Ubud.
De’ Khayangan Spa, Bedugal
There are also buses departing the main
tourist centres to other destinations on
the island. Traffic around Bali is not too
challenging but the rural roads are narrow
and caution needs to be exercised should
you decide to hire a vehicle to explore the
island. Another alternative is to negotiate
with a taxi driver for day-rate hire and have
them drive you around to see the sights.
Spice of Life
Rice is not only the staff of life; the
cultivation of rice is very much ingrained
into the life cycle of the island’s farmers.
Fed by mountain springs and distributed
by a network of ancient canals, yearround water is as important as the rich
volcanic soil for the rice’s survival. Most
communities are part of a subak or
water co-operative that ensures a regular
and equitable distribution of water to
rice fields. Land on the steep river valleys
has been terraced to create flat land that
is so essential for agriculture. There’s much
more to Bali than rolling surf as seen in all
the travel brochures. Drive along Bali’s back
roads to discover why the island is still
considered by many to epitomise a tropical
island paradise.
Getting Around
Like many airports, first-time visitors may
find arriving in Bali a little daunting and
organising a transfer by your resort of
choice could help you through the arrival
maze. However, on a regional scale, arriving
in Bali is a breeze and there are many taxis
lining up at the airport to take you to
your destination
Visas
Citizens of ASEAN don’t require a visa but
many other nationals will have to get a
visa upon arrival. The ‘visa goalposts’ move
around a little but the latest is that 30day visas are available at a cost of $US25
(welcome to Indonesia!). Previously
available, seven-day visas have been
suspended but as this was an unpopular
decision, they may have been reinstated.
It’s best to have the exact change in US
dollars available upon arrival
AirAsia (www.airasia.com) has five
daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bali.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 57
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 59
regional travel
Morays
Diving Pulau Weh,
Aceh, Indonesia
Gordon Reid explains why getting away to PulauWeh
is worth the – surprisingly short – trip.
PULAU WEH is not a well known diving
destination, but it deserves to be.
So where is it? Right on the north-western
tip of Sumatra – that massive Indonesian
island across the other side of the Straits of
Malacca – in a province called Aceh.
Does the name Aceh ring a bell? Yes, I
am talking about the same Aceh that was
devastated in the 2004 tsunami. But don’t
worry: Aceh has now recovered and been
rebuilt to a miraculous degree. And, in any
case Pulau Weh, itself was barely affected
by the tsunami.
Why go there?
The main reason to go is that Pulau Weh
has, quite simply, some excellent diving.
Comparisons between individual dive
locations are always a bit subjective, but
Pulau Weh is definitely a notch above
the islands off Malaysia’s East Coast like
Perhentian, Redang and Tioman, and at
least as good as if not better than the
Similans and neighbouring islands off
Thailand’s west coast.
A second reason is that Pulau Weh is
surprisingly close and easy to get to (see
“How to get there” below for details). And
once on the island, almost all of the more
than 20 good dive sites are within easy
reach – a maximum of 20 minutes by boat.
So there are no long boat trips to endure.
Third, staying and diving on Pulau
Weh is pretty cheap: only slightly more
expensive than budget to medium-priced
resorts on the likes of Perhentian or
Redang. For example, one dive will cost
you just over RM80.
60 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Fourth, it is not crowded. In fact, it is
surprisingly unbusy. During my last visit in
September 2011, we were the only diveboat on all but one of the dive sites we
visited. Bliss!
Finally, in addition to diving, you can and
should fit in a bit of “tsunami tourism” in
Banda Aceh on your way to or from Pulau
Weh. That may sound to be in bad taste,
but the locals will in fact appreciate your
interest. If nothing else, you should pop
into the UN-built Tsunami Museum, and
take a look at one or other of the large
boats that were stranded in the middle of
dry land by the massive tsunami waves. It
is also worth paying a short visit to one of
the four mass grave sites, each of which
holds around 50,000 (yes, fifty thousand)
bodies of victims – a reminder of the
enormous scale of the 2004 tragedy.
reef fish (trigger, surgeon, snapper, box,
angel, and butterfly). Not to mention a
plethora of crustaceans, especially on the
excellent night-dive just off Gapang Beach:
painted and spiny lobsters, anemone,
porcelain and hermit crabs, and shrimps
galore (peacock mantis, banded cleaner,
boxer, marble, dancing, hinge-beaked…).
Oh, there were also quite a few colourful
nudibranchs too.
Enough to whet your appetite? There is
just one caveat: the diving off Pulau Weh
is quite demanding. Strong currents are
common, and on almost all of the dive
sites the sea bottom lies quite deep (40
metres or more). So it is not the ideal place
for absolute beginners or inexperienced
divers. But if you know how to handle
yourself in the water, you will find it a
rewarding and exhilarating experience.
What is there to see?
How to get there?
Masses of things! Though the corals are
mainly hard rather than the more colourful
soft ones, they are all in very good
condition. The fields of huge, beautiful
seafans are particularly impressive. But
above all, there is a vast array of marine
life, both large and small.
Banda Aceh, the jumping-off point for
Pulau Weh, is easy and cheap to reach
from Malaysia. AirAsia has direct flights
from Kuala Lumpur on Sundays, Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays. The journey takes
only one hour 25 minutes (about the same
time as it takes to get to Phuket). And you
can now get a visa on arrival at the airport.
During my trip we saw Napoleon wrasse,
blacktip sharks, devil rays, whiprays
and a couple of turtles; schools of large
barracuda, tuna, jacks and trevallies; a
seemingly endless series of octopuses,
plus some very large (and friendly)
pharaoh cuttlefish; numerous moray eels
of different varieties, from the giant to
the striking honeycomb; 1-metre long
giant sweetlips; lionfish, leaf scorpionfish,
razorfish and an abundance of the usual
Once you emerge from the airport, you
will need to get a minibus to the ferry
jetty in Banda Aceh town. There are usually
plenty available. The journey takes under
half an hour and should cost you Rupiah
90-120,000 (about RM35).
From the jetty in Banda Aceh you get the
ferry to Pulau Weh. The best option is
the “Express Bahari”, which takes about
Tsunami Museum
Fan coral
an hour and costs Rp 55,000 (less than
RM20). The slower, cheaper boats take two
and a half hours.
The last leg of your journey is by land,
from the south-eastern coast of the island
where the ferry arrives to either Gapang or
Iboih Beaches in the north-west. Take a taxi
or shared minibus (cost around Rp 50,000
or RM17 per person). This will take just
under an hour. Your overall journey from
home to destination may be quite long,
but it is worth it!
Where to stay – and dive?
Gapang Beach is the best option for divers,
not least because it has the best dive centre
on the island, Lumba Lumba. Its delightful
Dutch owners, Toni and Marjan, were
among the pioneers of diving in Pulau Weh
and have been operating there since 1998
– even before the tsunami and subsequent
peace agreement between the Acehnese
separatists and Indonesian Government.
They run a highly professional operation,
with a mix of western and local divemasters and instructors.
Lumba Lumba also offer the best
accommodation on Gapang Beach.
Their recently built bungalows are well
appointed and not too expensive at Euro
29 (about RM125) a night. Please note
that these do not have air conditioning
– but nor do any of the other, cheaper
accommodation options on Gapang.
Nearby Iboih Beach hosts another,
smaller dive centre, Rubiah Tirta Divers.
The beach itself is more attractive than
Gapang, and the snorkelling is also better,
so it may be a better option if some of
your group are non-divers.
The restaurants on both beaches are
simple, hawkers stall-type places, offering
wholesome local dishes as well as some
western food. If luxury (rather than
excellent diving) is what you are looking
for, Pulau Weh is not for you!
When to go?
Almost any time. One of Pulau Weh’s
advantages is that it has (like KL) no
clear cut monsoon season. So it is a
particularly good option when Malaysia’s
East Coast islands are closed between
October and March.
AirAsia (www.airasia.com) operates
four weekly flights from Kuala
Lumpur to Banda Aceh.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
Happy diving!
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 61
regional travel
The Marvels of Macau
Chris Pritchard eschews the (not so) cheap thrills of Macau’s casinos and discovers
the fascinating history and mysteries of this city
BEHIND a gaudy strip of glitz and neon
there’s another more tranquil Macau. A
steel-and-glass ribbon of opulence runs like
a barrier between almost-secret old Macau
and the sea.
After all, it’s the new Macau that most
visitors come to see: the in-your-face Las
Vegas of Asia where opulent resorts and
ritzy shopping malls are anchored by an
increasing number of casinos. For most
visitors, that’s all they want. Gambling tables
are the beginning and end of their visits.
Nonetheless, there’s plenty more beyond
this wall of casinos.
Times have changed. When I first visited
more than 20 years ago (as a Hong Kongbased expat on an hour-long jetfoil ride),
peeling colonial architecture supplied an
exotic backdrop to the main game: casino
gambling at gloomy establishments that
successfully targeted Hong Kong residents.
An unshaven Portuguese immigration
officer yawned in my face, removed a
toothpick from between his front teeth.
He took a cursory look at my passport
and stamped it before throwing it back at
me. Then he yawned again. That was old
Macau. These days, development continues
at a frenetic pace. The tiny (28.6 sq kms
but growing because of ongoing land
reclamation) Portuguese colony reverted
to Chinese rule in 1999, two years
after China replaced Britain as ruler of
neighbouring Hong Kong.
A brief economic slump was sparked by
rampant gang crime - essentially a turf war
between rival triad gangs - around the time
of the handover. China cracked down hard.
Crime withered. Since then, Macau has
boomed. The good times continue. These
days Macau is a super-safe destination.
Macau’s economy is anchored by tourism
and gambling - and these intertwined
industries depend on each other. But, I’m
62 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Senado Square
pleased to see, many a non-gambler is
lured to Macau, too. These visitors shun
casino tables. Instead, the Portuguese
ambience attracts them as much as cheap
shopping. A big attraction is spicily
aromatic Macanese cuisine (blending
Chinese influences with those of Portugal
itself as well as with exotic tastes from
Mozambique and other former Portuguese
colonies in Africa).
Macau has had more than just a lick of
paint.The first impression nowadays is of
the beckoning casino strip: a gleaming
steel-and-glass skyline greeting visitors
(some of whom arrive at Macau’s own
international airport).
Fortunately, however, China took great care
not to destroy what made Macau unique in
Asia - charm based on an oddity, Portuguese
colonial heritage.
Venture just behind the high-rise strip of
casinos (with adjoining air-conditioned
malls crammed with designer boutiques
- and little lanes are stuffed with oldfashioned Chinese shops. Grandmas shop
in pyjamas and old men in singlets gather
to gossip. Mind you, to see old Macau at
its best you need to take a short cab or bus
ride to Coloane district where life goes on
much as before the boom.
The heady makeover hasn’t yet reached
these parts. Musty old shops and a green
agricultural backdrop survive. But, back
in the main part of town, Macau’s main
square, reached along Avenida Almeida
Ribeiro, is Largo do Senado – more
commonly called Senado Square. Standing
here, the feeling is more of Europe than
Asia. Then there’s Camoes Square, similarly
oozing colonial-era charm.
At one of Senado Square’s edges is Real
Senado (the Loyal Senate), regarded by
experts as Macau’s most exquisite example
of classic Portuguese architecture. Other
impressive colonial edifices are located on
or near the square.
Na Cha Temple, an important place of Buddhist
and Taoist worship
I turn a corner after a short stroll from Real
Senado and arrive at an iconic landmark:
the steps and surviving façade of St Paul’s
Cathedral - Macau’s best-known landmark.
- both of which seem a world away from
casino glitz encountered soon afterwards
after walking through the twists and turns
of backstreet Macau.
This place of worship was built by
the Portuguese in the 1600s, damaged three
times by fire and finally gutted in
an 1835 blaze which left only the façade
surviving. The site now has UNESCO World
Heritage listing. More modern Macau
Cathedral is nearby.
Soon, I’m back in the high-rise zone. Huge
investment from Las Vegas and elsewhere
has helped create this Asian version of
Las Vegas. Among Nevada names quickly
spotted are Wynn, Sands and MGM. Add to
them Australian-linked Crown. Grandest
of all is the Venetian, which - like many
casinos - includes a hotel.
Inevitably, Macau boasts many
Buddhist temples. The most renowned - and
most visited - is the Temple of
the Goddess of Mercy (Kun Iam Tong
Temple). It was here that China and the
United States signed their first trade
treaty in 1844.
The temple was established in the 13th
century but its oldest present-day buildings
are from the 17th century.
I join a wandering throng which
gazes upward at elaborate porcelain
figurines on the roofs. Little funeral
rooms contain old photos of the dead.
Buddha figures abound as I amble through
buildings in the temple grounds. It’s
tranquil time-warp territory. I wander, too,
through Na Tcha Temple and A-Ma Temple
Non-gambling visitors tend to do exactly
what they do in Las Vegas. They traipse
through casinos (40 at last count). They’re
just having a look, they insist – though
some can’t resist brief flutters at the tables.
If good fortune smiles on them they leave
with winnings – some of which are quickly
soaked up at nearby malls.
The world “lucky” flashes at me in neon
wherever I turn. But that’s what Macau
is about: convincing visitors that luck is
about to change for the better. Still, as I
stand at a surviving chunk of the old city
walls (after all, the Portuguese had a thing
about constructing forts to protect far-flung
outposts), the contemporary fascination
with casinos seems a world away.
The old city walls of Macau
AirAsia (www.airasia.com) flies
directly to Macau from Kuala Lumpur
three times daily.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 63
regional travel
Cathedral, Manila
Philippines: Bamboo
Treasure On The Way To
Asia’s Biggest Church
Manila offers tourists a destination with an entralling
history and entrancing mystery. Chris Pritchard takes us
on a tour of Manila and its environs
A YOUNG WOMAN walks over to the
organ. She sits, begins playing and smiles
at a trio of admiring nuns.
I’ve already experienced Manila’s main
attractions. I’ve wandered through Spanishera Intramuros (with Manila Cathedral and
a host of Spanish-era colonial structures).
I’ve taken a day-trip to Corregidor (a must
for military history buffs), with its rich
World War II heritage and reminders of the
Philippines’ key role in anti-Japanese World
War II battles). I’ve explored some of Asia’s
biggest shopping malls.
Now, with another day on my hands, it is
time to for a day trip that to give me an
insight into contemporary Philippine life
beyond the capital.
So, I find myself in Las Piñas, on the
capital’s outskirts.
Religious music swells through the Parish
Church of St Joseph. The sound is rich
and beautiful but, truth to tell, it could be
coming from any church organ anywhere.
“That’s exactly the point,” explains an
exasperated church official. “It’s just like
other church organs - except it isn’t.
“It’s the only one in the world made
of bamboo.”
This fact was not lost on the Philippine
government, which declared the unique
bamboo organ a National Cultural Treasure.
Famous classical musicians from around
the world come to play the organ (some
have been recorded doing so). It features
on the itineraries of many visitors to
the Philippines.
64 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
My day-trip is to the historic town of Taal.
A friend suggests I stop on the way in the
town of Las Pinas to see the organ. “It’s
only 20kms south of downtown Manila,”
he says. “It’s worth the stop.”
It’s a Sunday. A crowd gossips on the
square outside the 19th-century church.
I take stairs to an upper level - where the
choir usually sings - to take a close-up
look at the organ.
It is certainly impressive. Its pipes are fat
tubes of bamboo. Even the keys are crafted
from bamboo.
A Spanish priest laboured for eight years
to make it, finishing in 1824. He’d argued
that bamboo was cheap and plentiful,
far more affordable for cash-strapped
congregants than timber and metal.
Tuning the bamboo organ was painstaking:
trial and error demanded a super-keen ear.
From St Joseph’s, it’s a short drive to the
Sarao jeepney factory. One of the country’s
best-known, it has lost former pre-eminence
among those making the famed staple
vehicles of Manila’s public transport system.
Originally based on American World
War II jeeps, jeepneys are often garishly
decorated. Jeepney bodies are still
fashioned by hand but these days are likely
to have Isuzu diesel engines which have a
reputation as inexpensive and tough.
Sadly for Sarao, bigger factories and two-bit
backyard operators alike have elbowed onto
its territory. But the factory still produces
vehicles for private use. People with large
families buy them, emblazoning rear doors
with signs saying “Private” in not-always-
successful attempts to stop commuters
leaping aboard at traffic lights.
Sweating craftsmen continue to work in
the open air as they have done for the past
60-plus years. Visitors – who are welcome
at Sarao - gawk at unusual vehicles slowly
taking shape. My destination,Taal, is about
two hours’ drive south of Manila.
After leaving Las Pinas, the road soon begins
winding through dramatic, jungle-clad
mountainous landscape interspersed with
farmland and small towns.
We stop on a ridge near the town of
Tagaytay to take in a view over Taal Lake,
the Philippines’ third-biggest and much
used for aquaculture - particularly the
farming of a fish called tilapia.
A small island on the lake itself holds a
lake - often referred to as the “lake
within a lake”. But the little isle is more
famous as the home of Taal Volcano, one
of the smallest active volcanoes on earth.
From Taal Lake’s shores, tours head to the
island by banca (local boat) where visits
to the crater involve hiking or being led
on horseback.
Jeepneys
St. Joseph’s Church
WWII Military Building
When the weather turns stormy, the lake
can become rough – but mostly its waters
are calm. Taal is one of the Philippines
best-preserved Spanish-style colonial
towns. (Some argue Vigan is even better –
but it is in the distant north, far beyond
day-trip territory.)
Taal’s other claim to fame is Taal Cathedral,
also known as the Basilica of St Martin de
Tours. Vast, it is reputedly Asia’s biggest
church. Splashes of colour are added
at weekends because the cathedral is a
popular wedding venue.
Completed in 1878, the edifice replaced
an earlier structure built in the 1500s
during the early years of Spanish rule.
The basilica’s bell tower provides
sweeping views over Taal and the
countryside beyond.
Close by is a smaller church, the Shrine
of Our Lady of Casaysay, revered because
it celebrates a fisherman’s discovery
four centuries ago of a statuette of the
Virgin Mary in one of his nets. Also
nearby is a spring yielding supposedly
miraculous water.
These days neat Taal is renowned in
particular for elaborately embroidered
cloth, bolts of which spill from shops
along its commercial streets and which are
also found in a modern-style market in the
middle of town.
Many of Taal’s more imposing old houses
retain a distinctly Spanish appearance.
The largest of these formerly belonged to
so-called illustrado families, the wealthy
and prominent merchant elite who
spearheaded Filipino nationalism.
Several of the buildings are now museums
– for instance, the Marcel Marino
Agoncillo Museum and Monument
(honouring the maker of the first
Philippine flag) and the Leon Apacible
Museum and Library (in a mansion where
Filipino independence campaigners
formerly gathered).
Houses such as these provide windows
onto how the wealthy lived and are open
to visitors. Within a couple of them I
discover highly-polished Spanish antique
furniture and assorted bric-a-brac. The
homes are kept much as they were when
occupied by rich families which later
donated them to the nation.
Philippine authorities aim to turn
Taal into a major tourist destination,
because of its proximity to Manila and
increased world-wide interest in the
colonial pasts of Asian nations.
But, in the meantime, domestic tourists
from elsewhere in the Philippines
outnumber foreigners.
AirAsia (www.airasia.com) operates
one daily flight from Kuala Lumpur
and Kota Kinabalu to Diosdado
Macapagal International Airport, Clark.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 65
regional travel
Sampans on the Red River
Hanoi Heritage
Vietnam’s capital offers visitors a taste of history and a taste of amazing
culinary wonders. David Bowden takes a few bites and takes in some sights
VIETNAM is a nation dominated by two
distinctly different cities. While Hanoi may
be the tamer cousin of Ho Chi Minh City
(HCMC), the Vietnamese capital is home to
six million people who generate a different
but still lively beat to the people of HCMC
in the south. While the pace of Hanoi’s
traffic looks frenetic, visitors to Hanoi
should slow down and relax while enjoying
great food like bowls of noodle soup called
pho (pronounced fur), sip beer or coffee
in open air restaurants and get lost in the
maze of narrow streets and shops in the
Old Quarter. The central lake called Hoan
Kiem is one of Hanoi’s finest assets and the
fact that the city just celebrated its 1,000
birthday means there are many heritage
sights to admire.
Obama for the United States’ most
prestigious position.
Talk a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and
deviate onto the Huc Bridge to get access to
an ornate place of worship called Ngoc Son
Temple. Tran Quoc Pagoda near West Lake
on the outskirts of town is another temple
that’s worth visiting.
Explore the Old Quarter with its trade
streets, water puppet show and not far away,
the Opera House. Culture vultures could
also explore the Museum of Ethnology with
its art, tribal collection and various ethnic
houses in the gardens.
The “Hanoi Hilton” (Ho Lo Prison) is
where American POWs were housed
during the Vietnam War (they call it
the American War around here). It’s
most celebrated “guest” was John McCain
who unsuccessfully ran against President
Fabulous Food
66 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Take a historic walk with Douglas Jardine
from Exotissimo Travel and have him
unravel some of the mysteries of Hanoi
such as the historic iron bridge across
the Red River. One of his most popular
tourist activities is to visit the preserved
body of Uncle Ho Chi Minh. Be prepared
to be sombre, respectful and to resist the
temptation to take photographs of the
former Vietnamese leader. For some “big
boy’s toys” activities check out the Army
Museum with the remains of MiG-21
and US F-111 fighter jets. In another part
of Hanoi, the Air Force Museum offers a
similar experience.
Visitors to Vietnam quickly discover the
wonderful food and how the spices used
in their cooking combine light and subtle
flavours without the chilli heat used in most
other Asian cuisines. Vietnamese cuisine
tends to be more fragrant through the
subtle use of herbs and spices and many
dishes have their own spicy dipping sauce
as an accompaniment. Nouc mam or fish
sauce is an essential ingredient in these
dipping sauces and Vietnamese cooking in
general.
Few Vietnamese dishes are complete
without the use of fresh herbs, either as a
garnish or an integral ingredient in the dish.
Some foods are eaten wrapped in fresh
lettuce leaves along with a few herbs such as
mint, fennel, coriander, basil and fresh dill
added to complement the flavour.
Possibly the best known Vietnamese dish
is noodle soup or pho (pronounced fur)
and although it’s now served all around
the globe, it doesn’t get any better than in
Vietnam itself. It’s sold all over Vietnam
from makeshift stalls on the pavement to
international hotel restaurants. Beef (pho
ba) and chicken (pho ga) are pho standards
and bowls of it are accompanied by a
separate plate of fresh sprouts and greens
including coriander, basil, lime wedges and
other local greens.
Going Local
Dining in the streets at nameless hole-inthe-walls is highly recommended. Join the
lively locals drinking beer hoi late at night.
Diorama of
“Hanoi
Hilton” pr
isoners
Girl selling baskets
Patrons gather at one of many street corners
and sit on low plastic stools to enjoy their
favourite and cheap brew.
For something more refined, enjoy
Vietnamese food in one of Hanoi’s
great restaurants. Brother’s Café is wellestablished with atmospheric antique
surroundings complemented by good local
dishes including a seafood buffet at the
weekend. Le Tonkin is another well-known
restaurant where traditional Northern
Vietnamese cuisine is served in refined
colonial surroundings.
Great food and a worthy cause are the
mantra of Koto which was established to
train Hanoi’s homeless street kids in the
culinary arts. One of Hanoi’s famous local
chefs operates Nha Hang Anh Tuyet and
offers in this second floor restaurant dishes
like deep-fried spring rolls, roasted honey
chicken, grilled fish and honey bananas.
Coffee is taken seriously in Vietnam and in
Hanoi and Hapro Café situated on the edge
of Hoan Kiem Lake is typical of Hanoi’s
lively café scene. Try local coffee filtered
through an aluminium immerser or iced
coffee (café sua da).You can also buy in the
markets the much lauded and expensive
caphe cut chon (what Indonesians call kopi
luwak) if you’re not too fussy about the
beans having passed through the digestive
system of civet cats.
In other parts of the city, local residents
enjoy their coffee while seated on low
stools and tables along the pavement or
in open markets where the coffee is just
as good and the ambiance is atmospheric.
Nguyen and Highland Coffee each have
several outlets in Hanoi and vie for being
Vietnam’s answer to Starbucks.
Bread sellers
Cyclo drivers
The colonial French left their indelible
mark on Vietnamese cuisine and now several
French and other international restaurants
are some of Hanoi’s hottest dining options.
One of Hanoi’s most popular is Verticale.
Situated in a converted villa,Verticale serves
French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine such as
fish soup Breton style, veal blanquette with
mushrooms and strawberry cake with black
sesame ice cream.
Vietnam’s best known brew is “333”
(pronounced ba ba ba) but the beer most
people drink in Hanoi tends to be Beer
Hanoi. For classic and exotic cocktails as
well as fine wines nothing in Hanoi comes
near to the stylish La Fée Verte bar in the
MGallery Hotel de L’Opera. For some
equally refined drinking check out bars
near the centre of the city such as Legends
Bar (views over the lake to accompany
the micro-brewed German beers), Funky
Buddha (cool décor and contemporary
music) and the mega trendy Rooftop Bar &
Restaurant (situated on top of a 19-storey
high rise).
to save room for all the bargains. Market
shoppers will love to visit Dong Xuan in
the Old Quarter. Handicraft shops are found
around Cathedral Street (or Pho Nha Tho).
Studio Tho on Ma May St is the place to buy
Vietnamese art.
While zipping between shops along
the narrow streets of down town Hanoi,
be cautious of the traffic. It’s a place
where bikers dominate and pedestrians
are nervous. A few years ago, they all
rode pushbikes, now it’s the squadrons
of fast moving bikes you need to avoid.
Walking around Hoan Kiem Lake and Old
Quarter isn’t such a bad idea although
hiring a cyclo for an hour or so is a fun
way to see the city.
There is one daily direct flight between
Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia
(www.airasia.com).
Serious Shopping
Vietnam is one of the region’s best
shopping destinations and the source for
some of the most stunning interior items
– lacquerware, silks, cottons, ceramics and
lampshades. Fashion accessories, clothes and
artwork are also keenly sought after items
and serious shoppers should travel lightly
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 67
regional travel
Singapore
Botanical Garden
ArtScience Museum
Singapore River
Esplanade Theatre
Singapore: Sights and Delights
David Bowden sings the praises of Singapore, which successfully blends
contemporary Asian lifestyles with its rich and complex historical and cultural heritage
SINGAPORE appeals to tourists for many
reasons especially that it works like a welloiled Swiss watch. It’s also clean and green
despite having one of the highest urban
densities in the world. Singapore is also
popular as a holiday destination especially
for those who like to combine shopping
with several interesting attractions, fabulous
food and an extensive choice of hotels from
which to choose.
For many first-time visitors, the historic
houses, shoplots and streets of Duxton
Hill, Chinatown and Emerald Hill provide
an insight to Singapore of yesteryear.
There are also many new attractions and
the integrated entertainment and lifestyle
complexes of Marina Bay Sands and
Resorts World Sentosa now provide more
distractions. Universal Studios in the latter
is definitely something that children will
not want to leave.
Singapore’s Zoo and its animals are also
especially popular with children while the
Botanical Gardens located close to the upper
end of Orchard Road provide a relaxing
space to take it easy among the lush tropical
vegetation. The world’s first night safari
is an exciting and somewhat eerie way to
experience the Singapore Zoo.
On the southwest side of the island near
the Tuas Second Crossing to Malaysia, the
Jurong Bird Park has over 9,000 birds
representing some 600 species and there
are many hands-on activities for children to
participate in.
A walk along, or cruise down the Singapore
River showcases old Singapore and its
modern face. Towering skyscrapers in the
financial heart of the city line the riverside
row of old Chinese warehouses or godowns
which have been converted into trendy bars,
cafés and restaurants.
Shopping and eating are national pastimes
in Singapore. The National Museum of
Singapore even has permanent galleries
devoted to their admiration and analysis.
The permanent exhibition, “Food - Eating
on the Street” recognises the vibrancy of the
famous Singapore street food of yesteryear
and pays homage to ten iconic dishes.
An adjoining gallery is home to various
traditional local fashion.
There are some on the island who would
like to see it transform to a global city for
the arts. Music, art and dance are becoming
more apparent to add more tourism
substance to those who principally visit to
enjoy the island’s plethora of shopping and
dining options.The world’s only evening
F1 Grand Prix held each September attracts
motor enthusiasts.
Shoppers don’t need to deviate too far from
the shopping precincts along Orchard Road
including the new Orchard Central or the
popular Raffles City. However, new retail
havens,The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands,
have created great excitement in the city.
The Singapore River area is where a lot
of the Singapore by night action starts
and ends.You can’t go wrong in the
entertainment precincts of Clarke Quay and
Boat Quay.
Accessibility, Mobility and
Hospitality
Budget airlines such as AirAsia have made
Singapore even more accessible with great
value-for-money flights. Business class
coaches also operate between Malaysia and
Singapore and offer a very comfortable but
marginally slower door-to-door connection.
Art for Art Sake
Singapore’s public transport system is
excellent and used by most people for quick
and efficient transport around the island.
The train or MRT is complemented by a
comprehensive bus network.Taxis are also
very efficient and all use meters.
While most visitors to Marina Bay Sands
are happy to enjoy the resort’s abundant
retail, dining, gaming and entertainment
facilities, science, art and culture are slowly
making an impact.The ArtScience Museum
with 21 gallery spaces delivers an exciting
presentation on art, science, technology,
media, design and architecture.
Singapore has an extensive selection of
hotels catering to all budgets from the
legendary Raffles to most well-known
international chains. Several free-standing
properties like the Fullerton, Goodwood
Park and the Quincy have stamped their
mark on the island’s hospitality industry.
Across the bay, the Singapore Art Museum
(SAM) showcases the art histories and
contemporary art practices of Singapore and
Southeast Asia. While it has only been open
for a little over a decade, it has amassed one
of the world’s largest collections of modern
and contemporary art from the region. SAM
is also the home for the annual Singapore
Biennale held annually from March to May.
Interactive museums such as the Asian
Civilisations, National History and the Arts
Museums showcase Singapore’s past and its
fine artistic talents.
Singapore by Night
Singapore offers many tasty and exotic
culinary styles from local Peranakan,
Chinese and Indian to almost every cuisine
known to humankind. Hawker dishes such
as Hainanese chicken rice and char kway
teow are two of the most popular Chinese
dishes and inexpensively priced especially
in hawker stalls. Head to Serangoon Road
and Little India for, not surprisingly, the best
Indian food on the island.
There are daily direct flights between
Kuala Lumpur and Singapore
on AirAsia (www.airasia.com) from
Kuala Lumpur (13 times daily),
Penang (3 times daily),
Langkawi (4 times weekly),
Kuching (2 times daily),
Miri (4 times weekly),
Kota Kinabalu (1 time daily).
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 69
regional travel
Elephant ridi
ng
Sri Lanka:
The Home of
Serendipity
Chris Pritchard joins the
ever-expanding herd of tourists
making a pilgrimage to the
breathtakingly beautiful
country of Sri Lanka
TIMES are once again serendipitous.
Serendipitous? Well, yes. Sri Lanka calls
itself the home of serendipity. Indeed,
one explanation of the word’s origin
is that it comes from Serendib, an old
name for Sri Lanka. Serendipity involves
making pleasant discoveries accidentally.
This happens frequently as I wind my way
across this teardrop-shaped isle.
Tourists are back in big numbers. Sri Lanka
has a well-developed infrastructure (hotels,
restaurants and services) as well as unique
attractions. For two decades, tourism was
on a roller-coaster: peace saw it peak, only
to crash whenever civil war bubbled from
the background onto front pages.
Sigiriya
But for the two years the country has
been at peace. With Tamil rebels defeated,
the Sinhalese-dominated government
controls the entire country. And there’s
been no violence.
Visitors hail mainly from Asia and Europe.
From Kuala Lumpur, traffic increased after
Air Asia added Colombo to its route map.
The capital is compact. Restored colonialera facades shield innards refurbished
as offices for the image-conscious. A
towering World Trade Centre dominates
an increasingly modern skyline. It’s
“India without the crowds” - an oversimplification but accurate. Attractions
encompass glorious ancient ruins, gently
rolling tea country, splendid beaches with
upscale resorts and surprisingly goodvalue shopping.
Travellers even visit the far north’s warravaged Jaffna aboard a feisty domestic
airline, Expo Aviation. Re-emerging, the
70 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
city is home to large numbers of Morris
Oxfords, Morris Minors and Austin
Cambridges which still serve as reliable
taxis. Collectors arrive on buying sprees.
Colombo merits unhurried exploration.
Hotels include the Galle Face, a gorgeous
140 year-old landmark where royalty
and celebrities stay. Alternatively, the
neighbouring Cinnamon Grand is an
upscale, contemporary hotel adjacent to
a mall.
Colombo has become a major shopping
destination with prices lower than those
in Malaysia. Over-runs from a garment
industry supplying foreign designer
labels keep large emporia such as Odel
well stocked.
Delicious Sri Lankan curries and Western
fare are available at abundant good
restaurants. The hottest bar-restaurant is
the Cricket Club Café, owned by James
and Gabrielle Whight, an Australian
couple who came to Sri Lanka (called
Ceylon by the British) on a surfing
holiday a decade ago and never left. Filled
with cricket memorabilia, it’s the hangout of visiting cricket teams and their
local and foreign fans.
Smooth-but-winding roads (car and driver
are best, arranged by a travel agency or at
hotels) head into a hinterland alive with
serendipity. Tea spills across slopes where
pluckers in bright-hued saris gossip loudly.
Ruined ancient cities – Anuradhapura,
Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya (the latter with
frescoes of bare-breasted maidens painted
1500 years ago) – and a cave temple at
Dambulla filled with numerous Buddha
Habarana backstreet
images enrich an alluring mix. Sigiriya,
Sri Lanka’s leading attraction, belongs on
every list of “musts”.
Inland Nuwara Eliya became an elevated
getaway for overheated colonial
officials and is replete with time-warp
accommodation such as comfy St Andrew’s
Hotel. Kandy, the second-largest city,
presses against an artificial lake. Buddhist
pilgrims revere Kandy because its Temple
of the Tooth showcases a gold casket with a
tooth supposedly of the Lord Buddha.
Across the country, Buddhist and Hindu
temples - where most Sinhalese and Tamil
citizenry worship - lure visitors.
Travelling with children? If so, don’t miss
Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, near
Kandy, a home for rescued pachyderms.
Over 50 – including cute babies – lope to
a river where they bathe and play.
Best beaches (and seaside resorts) are at
Negombo, 15 minutes from Colombo’s
international airport. Surfers and divers
head for Hikkaduwa.The old city of Galle is
dotted with boutique hotels and architecture
evidencing Portuguese, Dutch and British
settlement. An after-lunch stroll, taking about
an hour, puts me atop perimeter walls of
a Dutch fort, completed in 1663. Perhaps
it’s unsurprising that wild life parks have
taken a back seat. But the tourism industry
has cottoned on to their potential and,
serendipitously, safari holidays are now a
booming niche.
Yala National Park, 340kms from Colombo,
is best-known of Sri Lanka’s game reserves.
Bird-watchers come from many countries,
attracted by abundant avian varieties.
Yala is renowned, too, for larger creatures:
Asian elephants and a growing population
of elusive leopards. The latter are shy,
efficient predators. They hide cunningly
in crannies from where they watch those
intent on observing them. No, it’s not
game-viewing as varied as at Africa’s top
lodges. But it’s an easily-accessed and
memorable interaction with Nature.
The park is at the end of a scenic sevenhour south-coast drive from Colombo
through Galle, where a sensible lunch-stop
is the upscale Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel.
The park boasts elephants, leopards,
sloth bears, crocodiles, spotted deer,
sambar deer, barking deer, wild boar,
wild buffaloes, jackals, mongooses, and
langur monkeys. Birds include peacocks,
hornbills, painted storks, black-necked
storks, grey herons and green bee-eaters.
Add a rich variety of butterflies and frogs.
elephant crosses the trail. Its elephantine
world-weariness seems apparent as it
ambles, pausing now and then to munch a
twig or two. On two subsequent drives we
see dozens more.
I watch peacocks preen atop termite
mounds and eyeball green bee-eaters
twittering in trees even after we stop
alongside them. Furtive jackals run ahead
of us. Wild boars root through muddy
ground. A mongoose group, on hind legs,
stares at us. A crocodile basks on a sandbar.
But the sighting I crave comes soon
afterwards: a female leopard sauntering
along a grassy verge. Ten minutes later
another sinewy feline beauty casts a
confidently contemptuous look our
way before breaking into a relaxed run
into dense bush. Nearby, a group of
skittish spotted deer race wisely in the
opposite direction.
Beyond Galle, the road curves eastward
on the way to Tissamaharama (commonly
called “Tissa”), 28 kms before Yala’s
entrance. My driver stops near Weligama
where the famed stilted fishermen cast
their lines while perched precariously on
sticks stuck into the seabed.
“Yala reminds me of Africa,” a
visitor whispers as our binoculars are
trained on an elephant herd. She points
out similarities: ochre-hued earth,
mysterious jungle thickets and expanses
of sometimes-arid plains. Game drives are
aboard khaki-coloured, open-sided 4WDs
popular in African reserves.
AirAsia (www.airasia.com)
flies one time daily from
Kuala Lumpur to Colombo.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
On my first drive I spot five elephants
within 15 minutes. Soon after, a lone
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 71
regional travel
Angkor: Beauty in the Ruins
A must-see sight for travelers to Southeast Asia, the temple complexes in Siem Reap,
Cambodia are beautiful beyond words. Fortunately, Chris Pritchard has found the words to
describe his recent experience there
72 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Ta Phrom
PARTS of Asia lie in ruins. Remove the
ruins and economies would themselves
become ruins. Glorious ruins survive as
eerie reminders of mysterious kingdoms
that slipped, when their time was up, into
obscurity to be rediscovered centuries
later. Even now, with thick drapes of
dense jungle peeled away, the reasons
power and influence evaporated remains
unknown. Speculation about Asia’s oldest
cities persists. What construction methods
enabled the ancients to create such
elaborate structures? How did these wellordered civilizations function?
Detail,Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, these days, ranks number-one
among Asia’s World Heritage attractions.
Cambodia, one of Asia’s poorest nations,
is hugely proud of Angkor’s bygone
influence. Angkor is a potent national
symbol, proudly displayed on the national
flag. Peasants dream of a once-in-a-lifetime
trip there from remote villages. The name
Angkor Wat refers loosely to a sprawl of
extraordinary ruins close to - or within
day-trip distance of - present-day Siem
Reap. The temples of Angkor are dotted
across more than 200 square kilometres.
Almost every country - from Japan in the
East to Pakistan in the West - is rich in
ruins, though their economic importance
varies greatly. Ironically, ancient sites attract
growing numbers of visitors to increasingly
hi-tech Asian cities where skylines are
dominated by steel-and-glass skyscrapers.
Tourists commonly ask taxi drivers to take
them to Angkor Wat. So, they’re transported
to Angkor Wat itself – admittedly, the most
impressive temple area. Sadly, they often
miss out on the rest of the ruins and remain
unaware that this is only part of the story.
But make no mistake: Angkor Wat itself is
the supreme Cambodian icon.
Angkor is Cambodia’s number-one tourist
attraction - so much so that, when the
country first welcomed tourists after Khmer
Rouge isolation, it would not allow direct
international flights to Siem Reap (only 5kms
from the ruins) because politicians wanted
visitors to spend money in Phnom Penh, the
capital.Times have changed and Siem Reap
now has multitudinous international flights
to its spiffy airport. Hotels range from superopulent boutique properties (where each
villa has its own swimming pool) to cheapand-cheerful backpacker lodges.
Close to Siem Reap, it’s the first temple
complex most visitors see. A bend
is rounded - and a 500-acre stone
construction appears in all its glory: remains
of temples, schools, administrative offices
and residences of a well-ordered society.
A project of a 12th-century monarch,
Suyarvarman II, to honour the Hindu god
Vishnu, it is an immense orchestration
of chambers, statues and expanses of bas
relief chronicling the love and war of the
time. (Hinduism was poised to be locally
displaced by Buddhism.)
...Angkor
Wat itself is
the supreme
Cambodian
icon...
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 73
regional travel
Public transport in Siem Reap
Beanteay Serai
Similarly renowned is adjoining Angkor
Thom, 1.5 kilometres north of Angkor Wat.
Built by King Jayavarman VII later in the
12th century as an act of Buddhist devotion,
artwork includes 1200 metres of bas relief.
With a grandiose structure called the Bayon
at its heart, Angkor Thom is a temple area
topped by giant faces (nicknamed the
“smiles of Angkor”) which are believed to
be modelled on Jayavarman VII himself.
tree roots twisting like boa constrictors in
and out of the stone structures as if trying
to crush them. But all this is only the
beginning: beguiling Neak Pean is reflected
in its lagoon; views from the upper level
of Phnom Bakheng take in major ruins in
the distance; a day-long side-trip takes me
to Phnom Kulen where rock carvings are
visible beneath the sluggish waters of a
shallow river.
Monks sit reading among the ruins, their
saffron robes in sharp contrast to giant
expanses of grey stone.Within internal
chambers, Cambodians and foreign
Buddhists commonly pause to pray.
Not far away are the alluringly named
Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the
Leper King.Then, close to Angkor Wat and
Angkor Thom, is Ta Phrom, among the
most photographed of ruins because of
Like many visitors, I find the pinnacle
of Angkor’s beauty at Banteay Srei, 30
kilometres to the northeast on a highway
passing through rural villages.The name
of this pinkish-brown sandstone complex
means “citadel of women”. Gasps at Angkor
Wat and Angkor Thom are prompted
by the complexes’ massive scale but at
smaller 10th-century Banteay Srei, it is
astonishing attention to detail that creates
a powerful wow-factor. Elaborate bas relief
panels, inspired by India’s epic Ramayana,
are painstakingly carved into numerous
recessed niches. Banteay Srei - reclaimed by
nature - was found by colonial-era French
in 1914. They spent 10 years clearing its
thick jungle shield.
From Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia
(www.airasia.com) operates
one daily flight to Siem Reap.
Over 70,000 hotels, 5,000 tours
& activities to choose from!
Book now @ www.airasiago.com
74 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
My own favourite is Bakong, a 9th-century
temple built by King Indravarman I and
dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva.Thirteen
kilometres east of Siem Reap, it was a
prototype used by subsequent kings who
built a succession of ever-more-impressive
complexes to signify their omnipotence and
devotion. Older and therefore glorifying
Hinduism, it adjoins a functioning Buddhist
temple. Cambodian families and foreign
visitors picnic beneath trees on nearby
grass, with icy canned Angkor Beer from
vendors accompanying fat frogs on skewers
and sticky rice in hollow bamboo tubes.
A few temples have collapsed into piles
of moss-covered stones. Several teams of
archaeologists are working to put together
what has tumbled down.
Lately, visitors have started exploring
Baphuon, a temple within the Angkor Thom
complex. It collapsed in the early 20th century
and was deemed off-limits. A French team
began trying to put it together again a halfcentury ago.They abandoned their piles of
numbered stones because of civil war and the
coming to power of the xenophobic Khmer
Rouge.Work started again in the post-Khmer
Rouge era and was completed in 2011.The
restored temple is again open to the public.
Many visitors to Angkor go on organised
tours but, since it’s only a 10-minute road
trip from central Siem Reap with taxis and
tuk-tuks omnipresent, it’s easy to visit the
ruins independently. (US$ is the de facto
currency and the local riel is seldom needed.
Visas, obtained at the airport, cost US$20;
Angkor passes cost from US$20 for one day
(from kiosks on the road to the ruins) and
a taxi with English-speaking driver for an
entire day will cost about $30.
At most Angkor sites, sunrise and sunset
are busiest (with bus parties). Midday can
be hot - but the advantage is fewer people.
Elephant’s-back tours, hot-air balloon tours,
postcards, guidebooks and guide services are
widely offered.
hotel showcase
Hydro Hotel Penang
A modern and contemporary hotel, the Hydro Hotel Penang offers
322 guest rooms with stunning views - overlooking lush and
tropical hills on one, and the beautiful blue ocean on the other side.
Situated between the historical city of Georgetown and the lively
Batu Ferringhi, with the beach located just across the road and is link
with a covered overhead bridge.
Each room features modern amenities, In-Room safe, IDD
telephone access, coffee/tea making facilities, high speed WiFi
internet access with availability as well in all common areas at a
minimal charge. The warmth, charm and true Malaysian hospitality
provided by the staff round up what is needed for a perfect stay
A variety of dining options available with meeting and banquet
facilities, audio visual equipments and Executive Lounge cum
Business Centre with free WiFi internet access to cater to guests,
be it family, business or company outings. Enjoy live music
entertainment in the pool-view Lounge and for those who want to
get active, the Hotel offers a wide variety of recreational and kids’
activities with the gym featuring modern equipment including freeweights and cardio machines for a full body work-out.
Whether for leisure or business, a wedding or a corporate outing,
Hydro Hotel Penang has it all.
Address: Hydro Hotel Penang, Miami Beach,Batu Ferringhi
11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +604 890 5999
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.hydrohotelpenang.com
A’Famosa Resort, Malaysia
A’Famosa Resort Melaka, Malaysia is named after the famous
16th century Portuguese fortifications of Melaka. The Resort is
surrounded by rolling hills and lush countryside and is rated one of
the region’s foremost leisure and holiday destinations. Spanning a
520-hectares site, it boasts an international 27-hole championship
golf course, the highly acclaimed Animal World Safari, Water World,
Cowboy Town, Sport & Recreation Center, exquisite Resort Hotel,
Condotel, Apartments, villas with private swimming pool plus a
variety of outdoor and leisure activities. We are an ideal venue for
both business and social activities!
A’Famosa Resort is visible from the North-South Highway, a
short distance from the historical town of Melaka. It is just an hour
drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, 1 hour 20 minutes
drive from Kuala Lumpur and 3 hours drive from Singapore.
A’Famosa Resort is the one-stop leisure destination where you
want to be. Missing the fun would be one’s biggest regret!
A’famosa Resort Malaysia
Address: jalan kemus, simpang empat, 78000 Alor gajah,
Melaka, Malaysia.
Tel: +606 552 0888 Fax: +06 552 8135
Reservation/enquiry: +603 2781 8888
Homepage: www.afamosa.com
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
The Expat Getaways 75
hotel showcase
Bukit Gambang Resort City
The newest integrated leisure destination on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia,
Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) is the proud host to the largest water theme
park in this region offering 13 exciting water attractions!
The resort city offers cosy apartment suites accommodation, club house
facilities, amusement centre, recreation centre and out-door recreational
activities such as ATV rides, zip line and obstacle courses, pony rides and horse
carriage rides.
Nestled in the lust tropical forest of Gambang, located 218km from Kuala
Lumpur and 35km before Kuantan, this 547-acre resort city offers leisure at its
best for the whole family!
Address: Bukit Gambang Resort City, Jalan Bukit Gambang Utama,
26300 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia.
Tel: +609 548 8000 / +603 8943 9898 (KL Sales Office) Email: [email protected] Website: http://www.bgrc.com.my
Tanjung Sanctuary Langkawi
The Sanctuary Spa
This spa offers a safe haven with beautiful & breathtaking vistas
of the garden and sea.The spa offers a mélange of services that
are signatory, devised by seasoned therapists to cater to physical &
mental needs of different individuals.
The Terrace Deck
The deck is situated on a rocky outcrop along the shoreline, with
complimentary views of the neighboring isles and the majestic
mountains in the foreground. An evening on the deck is usually
confined to cocktails, wines and everything else in between.
The Beach Bistro
A nice little bar setting on the border of the rainforest and the beach
area, promising a picturesque view of the dazzling seascape within
the embrace of Nibong Bay. Opens daily for lunch and dinner, the
Bistro serves a contemporary take on Asian cuisines, interspersed
with the culinary heritage of the New World.
Tanjung Sanctuary Langkawi
P.O. Box 199, Jalan Pantai Kok Teluk Nibong,
07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia.
Tel:+604 952 0222 Website: www.tanjungsanctuary.com.my
76 The Expat Getaways
W W W. E X PAT K L . C O M
Cyberview Lodge Resort
Cyberview Lodge Resort is a unique 5-star boutique tropical paradise located only 35 minutes
from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, in the heart of Cyberjaya. Cyberview Resort & Spa boasts spacious
grounds covered with lush greenery and fountains, ponds and waterfalls and features 74 cozy rooms
refurbished with four-poster beds and offering a range of in-room services.
The numerous restaurants offer a wide variety of choices, from italian fusion cuisine at the Bistro
Cascata to authentic chinese at Xing Zhu Chinese Restaurant. Choose to relax at the Karma Bar & Lounge
or sing your heart out at the very private “Oasis” Karaoke Lounge, while the Sembunyi Spa offers a range
of wonderful treatments.
Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa
Persiaran Multimedia 63000 Cyberjaya Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +603 8312 7000 Fax: +603 8312 7001
Email: [email protected]
Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa
An exotic coveted getaway, Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa offers a unique five-star
boutique paradise located in Pulau Duyong, Kuala Terengganu.The resort is set in its own
secluded surroundings, which offer a tranquil ambiance, well appointed accommodation and
exciting sailing facilities. Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa is the ideal place for a family
getaway, a romantic liaison and even corporate retreat.
Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa: Pulau Duyong 21300 Kuala Terengganu Terengganu, Malaysia.
Tel: +609 6277 888 Fax: +609 622 9903 Email: [email protected] Website: www.ri-yazheritage.com
Belum Rainforest Resort
Belum Rainforest Resort is one of Malaysia’s premier ecotourism holiday destinations. Set in the
midst of a tropical paradise, Pulau Banding in Tasik Temegor, Gerik, Perak, the Belum Rainforest
Resort, is everything nature-lovers and holiday-goers expect in a gateway destination: complete
tranquility amid stunning surroundings. Belum Rainforest Resort currently has a total of 70 rooms
as well as a 4 bedroom houseboat, with a kitchen and chef on board For dinner on dry land,
choose from eateries such as the Hornbill Restaurant or the Sidai Restaurant.
As the “guardian” of Pulau Banding and its surrounding area, Belum Rainforest Resort offers
many types of recreational activities to help guests make the most of the gorgeous surroundings.
Resort Address: Belum Rainforest Resort
Pulau Banding, 33200 Gerik, Perak Darul Ridzuan.
Tel: +605 791 6800 Fax: +605 791 7600 Email: [email protected] Website: www.belumresort.com
Eagle Ranch Resort Port Dickson
Eagle Ranch Resort in Port Dickson is where you can escape from reality and experience the American
mid-Western fantasy of swash-buckling cowboys, galloping horses, grazing pastures and log cabins,
adapted to the Malaysian climate and context. Experience a holiday concept unlike any other within a 32acre pristine enclave off the famed beaches of Port Dickson.
Adapting practicality to our unique concepts of accommodation, the kampung houses, log cabins,
paddock chalets, bandwagons and tepees have en-suite bathrooms and are equipped with televisions,
refrigerators (except for tepees) coffee and tea-making facilities, air-conditioning and fan. The resort is
inundated with activities to fill every hour of the day for adventure-seeking individuals and the family.
Eagle Ranch Resort Port Dickson
Lot 544, Batu 14, Jalan Pantai 71250 Port Dickson,
Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
Tel: +606 6610 495, +606 6610 829
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.eagleranch.com.my
Sales and Marketing Division:
#1207, 12th Floor, Block A, Damansara Intan, No.1,
Jalan SS 20/27, 47400 Petaling Jaya. Tel: +603 7728 3007
Email: [email protected]
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hotel showcase
PLataran Bali Resort & Spa
PLataran Borobudur
The PLataran Bali Resort & Spa offers the comforts of exquisite
living while seamlessly blending in with nature and tradition. It is
an exotic labyrinth of Balinese luxury with enchanted gardens and
twenty traditional and beautifully-styled Villas.
A new boutique resort equipped with world-class eco-friendly
tourism facilities has arrived – the PLataran Borobudur, located on
the beautiful hills of Tanjungan Village, Magelang in Central Java, just
five minutes from the great Borobudur Temple and an hour’s drive
from Jogjakarta International Airport.
PLataran Bali Resort & Spa is away from the madding crowd and
approximately 30-40 minutes’ drive from the airport, cozily
tucked in next to a village and breathtaking green paddy fields
with a river gently flowing alongside the villas. Soak up the sun,
listen to the wind singing in the lovingly-tended Balinese gardens,
soothe your eyes and get ready for the amazing Balinese hospitality
and complete bliss.
PLataran Borobudur offers and outstanding view of the Borobudur
Temple, Mount Merapi and Menoreh Hill. Surround yourself with
the tranquility brought on by lush teak forests and an unforgettable
sunrise from the wooden deck. PLataran is equipped with the Stupa
Lounge & Restaurant, the Padma SPA & Yoga Club as well as the
Paddy Field Cabana for those seeking a monastic retreat.
PLataran Bali Resort & Spa
Jalan Pengubugan, Banjar Silayukti, Kerobokan –
Kuta-Bali 80361
Tel: +62.361 411388, 8446012
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.plataranbali.com
PLataran Borobudur
Dusun Tanjungan, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java
56553, Indonesia.
Tel: +62.293 788 888
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.plataranborobudur.com
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Flamingo
Flamingo by the Beach, Penang offers luxury and comfort at an affordable
rate that will never burn a hole through your wallet. The staff at Flamingo by
the Beach, Penang strive to ensure your stay with them will be comfortable
and memorable while enjoying their premium beachfront. So what are you
waiting for? Come make Flamingo your home away from home.
Flamingo Hotel By The Beach Penang
Address: Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia
Contact: +604 892 7111 Website: www.flamingo.com.my
Terrace Grill @ Dewa Phuket
At the Terrace Grill, our mission is to provide each and every guests with an excellent
culinary experience coupled with superb service.Taste the best imported cut of prime steaks,
market fresh seafood and help yourself to the Salad Bar offerings. Start the evening with a
chilled dry martini then choose from a wide selection of fine wine to accompany your meal.
Email: [email protected] Website: www.dewaphuket.com
The Spa @ Dewa Phuket
For utmost indulgence, guests can relax and be pampered at The Spa @ Dewa Phuket’s private double
treatment room with outdoor bath. Offering a wide array of treatments designed to pleasure and
rejuvenates the body and soul; specially-trained therapists prepare and blend lotions and natural oils to
provide the relaxation that guests deserve. Facial treatments using QI by Shiseido products are also available.
Email: [email protected] Website: www.dewaphuket.com
Dewa Karon Beach Phuket
Dewa Karon Beach Phuket is located on the hillside facing the northern end of Karon beach,
just 5 minutes drive to the beach front itself and a mere 15 minutes drive to Patong Beach.
The 46 units of one and two bedroom suite rooms are designed and furnished to ensure
a relaxing ambience for those seeking a holiday accommodation that allows for comfort
and space. Fully air-conditioned and furnished with the comforts of home, all suite rooms
have pool views from the balconies and those on the higher level boast fantastic views of the
Andaman Sea.
Email: [email protected] Website: www.dewakaronresort.com
Romantic Weddings @ Dewa Phuket
Dewa Phuket, located just a few steps away from the stunning arc of Naiyang Beach and next to the
Sirinath National Park, offers the perfect romantic setting for both a beach and park wedding.
With 34 private pool villas and 62 units of Suite rooms, couples are able to accommodate their other
couple friends, singles and families easily.
In order to ensure a highly memorable day, we believe in customizing the wedding to the needs of
the couples, from the type of wedding (western or Thai Buddhist) to the floral arrangements, the cake,
the reception, the entertainment, the gifts for the wedding guests, the guest book, etc…
Email: [email protected] Website: www.dewaphuket.com
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hotel showcase
The Aryani
The Aryani Resort is located on a secluded
beach of the coast of Merang, Terengganu. It
is a personalized resort situated admist natural
surroundings with a tranquil ambience filled
with traditional features.
The Aryani provides a welcome relief from the
urban lifestyle. Sprawled across 9 acres, the 25
room resort is built in vernacular architectural
style. All rooms have their own private garden
with an outdoor bath.
The refined elegance of classical Malay
architecture was inspired by the Sultan’s Palace
of ancient days.
The Aryani is the epitome of Malay cultural
heritage of Terengganu.
Aryani Resort Sdn Bhd
Jalan Rhu Tapai – Merang, Setiu 21010 Terengganu, Malaysia.
Website: www.thearyani.com
Tel: +609.653 2111 / 1003 / 1006 / 2004 / 2005
Tirtha Bridal
Tirtha Bridal has long been acknowledged as one of the only
wedding venues in Bali that is dedicated for those that wish to have
magical and intimate wedding that will surpass all expectations.
Founded and run by Japanese nationals and supported by both
Indonesian and Japanese staff, Tirtha Bridal offers attention to details
and impeccable service like no other.
Although its architecture has been lauded internationally for its
visionary design and unique concept, Tirtha Bridal has so much
more to offer as a one stop wedding facility including its on-site
Bridal Boutique, providing imported bridal dress designs, hair
and make up artists from Japan and Indonesia, floristry, worldclass service and cuisine by a Japanese Executive Chef, video
and photography by a professional team, the best selection of
entertainment to create lasting memories of a marriage made in
heaven, on the Island of the gods.
Tirtha Bridal
Address: Jl. Uluwatu, Br. Dinas Karang Boma Desa Pecatu
80364, Bali – Indonesia
Tel: (62) 361 8471151 Email: [email protected]
Website: www.tirthabridal.com
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Naza Talyya Penang
Situated just 10 minutes from city of Georgetown and the first hotel that welcomes you along the
famed Tanjung Tokong beach stretch, the Naza Talyya Penang is a welcome place of rest for travelers
the world over seeking sunshine, sea and sand.
Newly refurbished and renovated to provide a warm and contemporary ambiance, the beachfront
hotel has 126 elegant and well-appointed rooms. Also awaiting guests is a magnificent view of the
sea, above all during sunset and sunrise.
Although close to the beach, you’re never far from the city’s attractions. Just a short hop from the
hotel is the popular tourist strip along Gurney Drive, famous among locals as the place to enjoy the
best of Penang food.
A leisurely drive away up north meanwhile will take you to the shopping, dining and
entertainment paradise of Batu Feringghi.
Naza Talyya Penang
No.555, Jalan CM Hashim, Tanjung Tokong 11200 Pulau Pinang.
Tel: +604 890 9300 Fax: +604 890 8600
Email: [email protected]
Losari Spa Retreat & Coffee Plantation
A historical, cultural and wellbeing masterpiece – a distinctly Javanese wellness retreat and coffee plantation located 900m above sea level.
Losari Spa Retreat @ Coffee Plantation offers spa treatments - including “home grown“ Java-coffee scrubs, Javanese food with a healthy twist,
exercise activities (such as Pencak Silat, jungle treks and Yoga), an immersion into the healthy-healing and organic gardens, and the service of
skilled traditional healers offering services from Jamu to Javanese massage.
Address: PO. Box 108, Magelang 56100, Central Java – Indonesia
Tel: +62 298 596 333
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.losaricoffeeplantation.com
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hotel showcase
Lone Pine
Tucked in an idyllic spot along Penang’s coastline, Lone Pine
is Batu Ferringhi’s only luxury boutique hotel and, thanks
to a lovingly undertaken restoration, has reopened its doors
refreshed, yet still infused with the same colonial spirit and
idyllic charm.
Lone Pine has only 90 rooms, making it not just the first
resort on Penang’s most famous beach, but also its most
intimate. Offering something for everyone – from cozy rooms to
spacious suites – its delightful decor mixes colonial charm with
contemporary comfort.
To help you make the most of your stay with us, the Lone
Pine Hotel offers a full range of hotel services and in-room
facilities. From complimentary wifi broadband facilities in every
room to experienced concierge services for everything from
theatre tickets to shopping trips. The hotel’s three restaurants The Bungalow, Matsu, and batubar’s – offer a wide variety of
wonderful eating options.
Pure Energy Spa is a wellness oasis that offers value-formoney, well executed spa services in a serene and stylish
environment. From airy outdoor cabanas to tranquil indoor
treatment rooms, guests can choose from spa pampering tailored
for short respites or an ultimate spa experience for those with
time to spare.
In addition,The Lone Pine offers three unique venues that can
be tailor-made to cater to your event or function.
Lone Pine Hotel
97, Batu Ferringhi 11100, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604 886 8686 Fax: +604 886 8600
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lonepinehotel.com
Impiana Resort Cherating, Pahang
Impiana Resort Cherating, Pahang boasts a refreshing all Sea-view rooms.
Its 104 culturally rich guest rooms with Malaysian heritage in rustic refined
living that enjoys views of lush tropical garden with swaying coconut palms.
The resort features a 1.5km stretch of beautiful white sandy beach suitable
for that relaxing stroll or team building exercises where exciting outdoor
activities are readily available. It is also a perfect destination for family and a
great romantic getaway, Malaysian style.
Every room allows a picturesque view of the ocean complete with ceiling
fans, air-conditioning, television, shower, bath for deluxe rooms and suites,
mini bar, IDD telephone, hair dryer, coffee and tea-making facilities. Your
very own private balcony awaits you too.
Impiana Resort Cherating, Pahang combines a distinct sense of style
without compromising on great comfort, impeccable service and excellent
value for an unforgettable experience.
Impiana Resort Cherating, Pahang
KM 32 Jalan Kuantan/Kemaman 26080
Pahang Darul Makmur Malaysia.
Tel: +60(9) 581 9000 Fax: +60(9) 581 9090/9451
Toll Free: 1800 88 8828
Email: [email protected]
Website:www.impiana.com
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