'See Malaya', travel poster for the Federated Malay States Railway, Kuala Lumpur, c. 1930s / Pictures from History / Bridgeman Images

Experience Malaysia, at your leisure

Holiday season over? Fear not because you can still experience the best of exotic destinations for the price of a mere bus or train fare. London’s Trafalgar Square is hosting a number of multicultural events this Autumn season, including the much-anticipated Malaysia Night held on the 18th September.

To coincide with the event, journey through the stunning jungles, beaches and cityscapes of my mother’s beautiful home country with my selected highlights from the Bridgeman archive:

 

Petronas Twin Towers (KLCC)

Petronas Towers (photo) Petronas towers by night (photo)
Petronas Towers / Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / © Gerard Degeorge / Bridgeman Images Petronas Towers by night / Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / © Gerard Degeorge / Bridgeman Images

This impressive architecture is a must-see in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. The skyscrapers were the tallest buildings in the entire world from 1998-2004, and remain today as the tallest twin towers in existence. Visitors are welcome to explore its 88 storeys with their numerous shops and entertainment centres, and you can even walk across a ‘skybridge’ that connects the two towers.

Food and Gift Markets

Fragrance, 1999, Chang Fee Ming (b.1959) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images
Fragrance, 1999, Chang Fee Ming (b.1959) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images

If you are a fan of delicious and exotic food at next-to-nothing prices, then Malaysia’s day and night markets will be an absolute haven for you. They offer incredible local dishes such as satay, mee goreng, nasi lemak, laksa and much more at prices cheaper than a McDonald’s cheeseburger. In addition to food, Malaysia’s Central Market has a spectacular range of gifts, fabrics and other treasures for you to admire.

Durian

Durio zibethinus / Natural History Museum, London, UK / Bridgeman Images
Durio zibethinus / Natural History Museum, London, UK / Bridgeman Images

Durian is regarded by many people in South-East Asia as the ‘king of fruits’, and it is in fact my mother’s favourite fruit. It is famous in particular due to its extremely pungent odour – which can be smelt from down the street! Despite its smell, some people love its unusual taste, which is like a ‘rich custard highly flavoured with almonds’*. Personally I prefer the sweet mangosteen, which is considered to be the ‘queen of fruits’.

Batu Caves

Malaysia, Outside The Kuala Lumpur Batu Caves ( A Major Hindu Shrine) / Omniphoto /UIG / Bridgeman Images
Malaysia, Outside The Kuala Lumpur Batu Caves ( A Major Hindu Shrine) / Omniphoto /UIG / Bridgeman Images

The Batu Caves is a limestone hill based north of Kuala Lumpur that contains one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of the Hindu festival Thaipusam in Malaysia. My experience of visiting the Batu Caves is one I will not forget – the caves are colossal and mesmerising, the Indian artwork within the temples is truly special, and there is even a dark bat cave that you can explore if you dare. If bats are not your thing then how about handling a few snakes inside the temple or simply befriending the numerous local monkeys?

 

Beaches

Looking at Kedah Point from Penang Beach, 1946, Yong Mun Sen (1896-1962) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images
Looking at Kedah Point from Penang Beach, 1946, Yong Mun Sen (1896-1962) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images

One of the best things about Malaysia is that in addition to having a vibrant and modern capital city, there are also many exquisite beaches to escape to and relax. Malaysia’s beaches largely remain un-spoilt, with white sands, crystal clear waters and underwater sea life to discover. There are also several lovely islands nearby, and Borneo beach and rainforest is definitely a place to have on your itinerary.

Sources

The King and Queen of Fruits: The Durian and Mangosteen“, 103rd Meridian East. Retrieved 17/09/15

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