Ahhh Kuala Lumpur, home of the Petronas Twin Towers. But as I’m sure you are aware, Kuala Lumpur also houses gigantic establishments mostly geared toward leisure (theme parks) and consumerism (malls). I didn’t find much to buy from the malls that weren’t available back home, although all the kids (myself included) were pretty psyched about the fact that we get to visit three theme parks on this trip. One of those three is located right here in Kuala Lumpur– the Sunway Lagoon.
I’ve been to plenty of theme parks before, the most notable ones of I’ve ever been to are in the US and in Australia (where I also got to visit three awesome theme parks!), so I have some pretty solid points of comparison. But I think that totally defeats the purpose of why one goes to a theme park; it’s not to analyse which one is better, but to have fun!
Forget what the map says– the Sunway Lagoon is divided into two main sources of fun: land and water. It seemed like a big park to tackle since we were only scheduled for half a day here. My family and I held a meeting with a map and a pen, drawing angry-looking circles around the rides we wanted to go to. I have to tell you there wasn’t a lot of them, except for the attractions in the Extreme Park, which were interesting and different.
For the rides, there are quite a few of the usual ones here. We have a Ferris Wheel, a carousel, a roller coaster which I rode. It was a solid, very short roller coaster ride, but it was a good way to start the day. Bonus is there were no lines when we got here (early in the morning!) so I got to go twice. Hehe!
There is a haunted house too and an Anchors Away-type ride that flips over for 360-degrees of pure terror and awesomeness. I’ve ridden this before and know from experience I tend to get nauseous from this type of forward-backward motion so I skipped this one. Unfortunately, I was feeling majorly unenthusiastic this day and wasn’t much in the mood for rides. My cousins and I decided to walk through the small zoo they maintain here instead, though most of the animals are those you see in any other zoo.
The water attractions seemed vastly more impressive compared to the land rides. I didn’t bring any swimwear with me, so going into the pool, or any ride that could get me wet for that matter, was out of the question. The Sunway Lagoon has a very large pool named Surf Beach, mostly because the pool has these manufactured waves you can use to surf, or at least learn how. Surf Beach is complete with sand where one can play beach volleyball, and some huts to lounge around in.
That big mountain-like structure on the right above is actually an epic-looking water slide. I am definitely hitting that up the next time I come here.
The next area after the beach is actually the so-called Extreme Park (my favourite one!). The activities here include karting, driving all-terrain vehicles (with supervision and at a slow pace, of course), and my personal favourite, ARCHERY! It was my first time trying to shoot an arrow and I absolutely loved it! I hit the bull’s eye several times on my second try, which was pretty awesome.
I lined up for that Archery thing several times while everybody waited for about 30 minutes just to go karting. I can’t recall how many minutes one gets on the kart but every person averaged about 3 laps around the course before they were asked to make way for the next drivers. What I didn’t get to do was bungee jump and shoot paint-balls because of the line and my weird mood.
When lunchtime arrived, we made our way out of the Sunway Lagoon theme park into the Sunway Plaza Mall, connected to the Sunway Plaza Hotel. It is, in short, one sprawling Sunway compound. The Mall was pretty impressive, given that it looks like a large pyramid with a lion-headed sphinx from the outside.
The roof inside is a lovely dome-shaped affair high above. At the bottom floor is an ice-skating rink, and the mall, despite being in a predominantly-Muslim country, was very much decorated with Christmas cheer. We had lunch at this restaurant called Esquire Kitchen, mostly because my Dad saw this poster outside of a promo they were having wherein you can buy your meal as a set for a great price.
We had Assam fried fish, Chicken in Esquire Sweet Sauce, Thai-Style Deep Fried Pork Chops in Fruit Sauce (YUM!), Stir-Fried Broccoli with Baby Corn, Mushrooms with Beancurd Skin, and finally, tiny glutinous balls in ginger syrup for dessert. Served with rice, this was a very filling meal. I wish I could tell you I was extremely happy with Malaysian food, but the truth is, I don’t think we really got to sample authentic Malaysian fare. I don’t find myself raving about the food like I did when we went to Thailand. I’ve heard people rave about the food in Penang, and unfortunately that city wasn’t part of our tour. But that is not to say the food was awful, it just seemed like the usual Chinese food I get to eat back at home.
I did however get to take out quite the treat from the local J. Co, a popular international doughnut franchise with the most ridiculous lines back home. There was a lot of choices with the usual clever flavour names, but I immediately zoned in on the Durian-flavoured doughnuts (the yellow doughnut with the white swirl). Did I mention durian is a very popular fruit in these parts? The other flavours we bought were also quite good. (Mmmm… Almonds.)
Right after buying the doughnuts, our tour guide ushered us into the bus for an afternoon of history and sights around Kuala Lumpur. We had some quick stops by the Twin Towers, the KLCC and the shopping centres at the bottom floors of the Petronas Towers, but those were not my favourite locations in the city.
No city tour would be complete without a stop at the Istana Negara, or the National Palace, place of residence of the King of Malaysia. Although most of the governmental power now belongs to Parliament and the Prime Minister, the King is still very much an icon in Malaysia. Security is very rigid here, so the farthest you can really go is up to the gates for a peak of the palace. There are even two fully-uniformed guards on either side of the gate, and just like the guards at Buckingham Palace, these guys are trained to stand still as statues even as several tourists repeatedly attempted to draw any sort of reaction from them. (Always a funny sight!)
From what I gathered, the architecture is predominantly Middle Eastern and Malay. The East Wing houses the Throne Room and main Receiving Hall of the king, while the West Wing houses the main Conference Hall. I wonder where the library is? Apparently, the Palace compound covers 11 hectares of land, with a swimming pool, golf course, tennis and badminton courts to boot. I can understand why the public is not allowed inside. It would be quite a nightmare to catch any troublemakers in here.
A particular favourite spot for me was the National Monument in Malaysia. At the entrance before seeing the main monument is a cenotaph erected during the British colonial era. To honour the valiant souls who fought during World War II, their names are engraved on the cenotaph.
Moving on, there is a large plaza and steps leading up to the main monument. The structures in the whole compound where the monument is situated are all beautifully designed. There are fountains and water surrounding the monument, running around it in a rectangle. The monument itself is a towering and impressive sight to behold.
The 49-foot monument depicts a group of soldiers, the bronze soldier at the top holding the Malaysian flag. Each of the figures on the statue symbolises leadership, suffering, unity, vigilance, strength, courage and sacrifice, although I’m not sure which among the figures is which. At the base of the monument is the Coat of Arms of Malaysia at the centre, the inscriptions in English and in Malay on either side of the emblem says:
Dedicated to the heroic fighters in the cause of peace and freedom. May the blessing of Allah be upon them.
Every year at Warrior’s Day, officials and the public pay their respects to the fallen heroes by leaving garlands at the foot of the monument to honour all the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers during the time of war.
Seeing as this is our second to the last day here in Malaysia, our tour guide also took us shopping for some local delicacies to take home. We stopped by this chocolate factory called Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, which sells some ridiculously overpriced chocolates! They have these 4 + 1 promos that I was immensely hesitant to buy. A box was maybe even more expensive than Lindt-brand chocolate. On the upside, they do let you sample most of their products to help you decide.
Since I’ve never been much of a milk chocolate gal, the dark chocolate ones appealed to me more, especially the Dark Chilli Chocolate squares, which were really delightful. Of course my parents could not resist buying more Durian-flavoured food, including this Durian-filled chocolate. I couldn’t really taste the Durian through the sweetness of the milk chocolate though. This was the first time I heard of Beryl’s but a few months after this trip someone had seemingly acquired the rights to import the brand here in the Philippines as I saw a display of some of its dark chocolate bars and chocolate chips in a local Bakery Fair.
And since we are on this topic, there were a couple of other stuff we bought to take home with us. The coffees on the left are from Malacca though I’m sure these brands are available widely in Malaysia. I highly recommend the AhHuat brand as it is absolutely fantastic for a 3-in-1 coffee mix. My family and I are big coffee people, and we always… always buy at least three packages of good local coffee whichever country we visit.
On the left are delicacies from YoYo Native Foods Shop, which also gives you a chance to taste test their products to help you decide whether to purchase or not. These two food items are my personal favourites: The Wife Cake, and the Green Tea Coffee. It is located in the Malaysian province of Yong Peng in Johor Baru, our final stop in Malaysia which I will post about tomorrow!
Other posts in this series: