Monday, August 29, 2011

My impressions of Malaysia

My wife and I have visited two places in Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. In the last 14 months or so, we have visited KL 4 times and transited through LCCT airport (KL) a few more times. This is because of our new found love for Air Asia which has its main hub at KL. We have been using Air Asia extensively for our visits to several Asian countries.

Personally, I would like every Islamic country in the world to be like Malaysia – inclusive, tolerant, progressive, modern and forward-thinking.

The population of Malaysia is made up of ethnic Malays, Chinese and South Indian immigrants. They live together in good harmony. The Malays are predominantly Muslim and the country is full of mosques – some very grand and worth seeing. In addition there are numerous churches, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples and places of worship for other religious minorities. Right in the heart of KL I came across many huge Hindu temples. The entire Batu caves region near KL is Hindu dominated with many temples and gigantic statues of Lord Murugan, Hanuman, etc. There is a Hindu temple right inside one of the big Batu caves. I found the Hindus (mostly of Indian origin) freely practicing their religion, culture and dress code. I also saw some Muslims watching a Hindu wedding ceremony in a temple and taking pictures.

A Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur

Muslims in Malaysia are modern and tolerant. Almost none of the Muslim women wear the burqa or any face-covering but most of them use a headscarf. Even young girls use a headscarf though most of them wear jeans or trousers.

Malaysian Muslim women

India needs to learn many things from Malaysia in respect of governance, infrastructure, modernity, policing, security, tourism and thinking big.

Malaysia is an ideal tourist destination for a budget traveler. All essential things (for a tourist) like food, groceries, hotels, entry tickets, etc., are very reasonably priced. Additionally, one gets to use world-class transport infrastructure very cheaply. There are many things to see and do in KL and nearby places like Genting highlands.

Amusement Park at Genting

Malaysia is a very tourist-friendly place and English is spoken and understood widely.

One should avoid changing currency at the airports in Malaysia where the rates offered are the worst. I found the rates offered by money changers at KL Sentral station complex to be the best.

In Malysia, apart from KL we visited the resort island of Langkawi and simply loved it. We hired a car (self-driven) at Langkawi airport itself and finding our way around the small island was no problem at all. The island has been developed superbly for tourism. In spite of being a tourist island, things weren’t very much costlier than KL there.

Malaysia offers great diversity of food, thanks to it being a melting pot of three main cultures. For those who can’t do without Indian food (I’m not in this category though), it’s an ideal place with Indian restaurants everywhere. Excellent Malay, Chinese and other cuisine are available at reasonable prices.

Great variety of hygienic and economical food

Many more pictures I took at Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands and Langkawi may be seen at

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