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Beautiful 130 Year-Old Malaysian Chinese Temple: Kwan Imm Temple, Klang

Mention Klang, and the first thing that comes to mind is probably bak kut teh – the town’s most famous dish comprising pork ribs, mushrooms and beancurd cooked in a complex broth of herbs and spices.

But dive deeper and you’ll find that the royal town of Selangor has plenty to offer, from vibrant cultural hubs – such as the Little India district, where one can shop for spices and sarees, or tuck into authentic Indian cuisine – to beautiful heritage sites like Kwan Imm Teng, a historic 130-year old Chinese temple dedicated to Guan Yin, the Buddhist/Taoist goddess of mercy.

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Founded in 1892, the original temple consisted of a simple wooden pavilion, built by Hokkien immigrants from China who settled in Klang during the tin mining boom. Since then, the temple has been relocated three times, to its current location along Jalan Raya Barat. Today, visitors are welcomed by an impressive outer pavilion, complete with studded wooden doors, lionhead-shaped door knockers, and lanterns.

Video below. Subscribe to my Youtube channel if you haven’t already!

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Entering the temple grounds, you will come to the grand-looking central pavilion. On both sides of the archways are granite stone carvings depicting figures of deities and dragons. Meanwhile, the building’s eaves are tiered and resemble clouds, while the roof boasts the signature Chinese temple look, with curved edges. Offerings of joss sticks may be made and placed into the large urn facing the structure. In the middle of the pavilion sits an intricately carved wooden shrine housing Budai, or the Laughing Buddha.

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Look up and marvel at the richly carved and gilded ceiling, which form a mesmerizing spiral pattern around several sacred symbols made to look like a flower. Coincidentally, you’ll see the colours of Buddhism (white, yellow, red, blue, and green) widely represented here. These colours are also common in Chinese culture and architecture, as they represent the five elements, namely wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

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The temple’s spacious courtyard comes in handy during religious festivals or ceremonies.

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Moving on to the innermost pavilion, the structure features a more enclosed design, its facade mostly covered in intricate stone reliefs and carvings. Once again, dragons, deities, clouds, and flowers are common motifs — but instead of a curved roof, the inner pavilion’s design is features more tiers, and appears more angular.

Our timing was unfortunate as the hall was closed for prayers. I caught a glimpse of the interior, though, which has an even grander ceiling, as well as a large statue of Guan Yin.

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Fun fact for my non-Chinese friends who are wondering why dragons are so common in Chinese culture. In Chinese mythology and folklore, dragons are considered benevolent creatures, with magical powers that allow them to control wind, rain, and water. As such, they are meant to symbolize strength, power, and good luck. Some Chinese families still consider it auspicious to have babies born in the Dragon Year of the Chinese zodiac (the next cycle is in 2024, so if you want a Dragon baby, plan accordingly :P).

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Just outside the prayer hall you can perform kau chim, an ancient Chinese fortune telling practice which involves asking the divine for answers to any questions that a devotee has. The practice is said to have originated in the Jin dynasty around 3AD. And because Chinese culture has strong Buddhist roots, a lot of these folk practices assimilated into religion — which is why you’ll often be able to kau chim at Chinese Buddhist/Taoist temples.

Each cylinder contains a bundle of sticks, each with a number. Devotees shake the container until one falls out — then match it to the corresponding fortune. Back in the day, it was more common to find a fortune teller on site, who would interpret the fortune written on the paper in context to your question. These days, like everything else, it’s self-service. lol

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Just next to the inner pavilion is a smaller, simpler structure housing two Buddhas. This is actually the ‘original’ building before the temple was expanded, and you can see the foundation stone on one side of the wall.

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We’re not done exploring! Don’t forget to stop by the adjacent Chinese-style garden for some rest and respite from the hustle and bustle of Klang. It comes complete with pond stocked with koi fish, a small bridge, a gazebo, and plenty of greenery.

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A tranquil oasis in the heart of the city.

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To be honest, I’m surprised there isn’t more publicity for Kwan Imm Temple as a tourist attraction, given it’s rich history and beautiful architecture. While locals seem to know about it, I wouldn’t have found out about the place if I hadn’t specifically been googling “places to visit in Klang”.

So the next time you’re in town for a bak kut teh fix, allocate some time to stop by Kwan Imm Temple. Entrance is free. They’re okay with photos, but as with any place of worship, be respectful during your visit. 🙂

KWAN IMM TENG (KWAN IMM TEMPLE) KLANG

30, Jalan Raya Barat, Selangor Darul Ehsan, 41000 Klang, Selangor

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Things to Do@Tropicana Gardens Mall, Kota Damansara

Malls these days follow a cookie-cutter formula – if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.

Once in awhile, though, you find neighbourhood places like Tropicana Gardens Mall in Kota Damansara. Despite being a stone’s throw away from well known malls like IKEA Damansara, 1Utama and The Curve, Tropicana Gardens holds its own with a unique mix of offerings and cool tenants; most notably Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki, as well as the largest Starbucks Reserve in Malaysia.

Although it’s far from my house, I’ve been here a couple of times, mostly to visit Donki, but also coz it’s a nice mall to shop at, with everything under one roof.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit, here’s what to expect!

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The mall spans five floors, and has a star-shaped layout. It’s fairly new (the mall opened in February 2021), so the upper floors are quite empty – but there’s plenty to explore on the lower floors. A golden tree takes centre stage at the main concourse, and they spruce it up with different decorations for every season (this pic was taken over a Christmas visit).

SHOP FOR JAPANESE SNACKS AND GOODS AT DON DON DONKI

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One of the mall’s highlights is, of course, the Don Don Donki. This is the second Donki outlet in Malaysia and also the largest, covering nearly 4,000 sq m across two floors. There is a wide variety of goods to shop for here, from fresh produce and snacks, to cosmetics, gym equipment and toys imported from Japan. You can read a more detailed post here.

DO SOME READING AT BOOK XCESS

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Lifestyle bookstore Book Xcess, which sells most of its titles for half the price of what you get at normal bookstores (they’re able to do this as they sell remainder books — books that were overprinted and weren’t taken by conventional bookstores, but are brand new), has a branch on the 2nd floor. If you’re a bibliophile, you can wile the hours away browsing, or just soaking in the store’s cosy aesthetics. I especially like the floor to ceiling ‘wave’ book shelf that stretches from one end of the shop to the other.

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GRAB A BITE

Tropicana Gardens Mall has a fair selection of F&B tenants, from fast food chains to chic cafes. There is also an area called Pitstop which is inspired by the food truck concept — with food truck-shaped kiosks, open seating, and gas station-themed decor.

Personally, I would recommend Tendon Kohaku, which specialises in tempura bowls. Other notable restaurants here include Delay No More Crab Restaurant, Dodo Dimsum Bowls, Go Street Noodle, Ramen Bankara, Rakuzen, D’Italiane, and Sukishi. Don’t forget to check out the snack bars, cafes and bakeries such as Chizu, Park’s Bagels and Gula Cakery.

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GET A MAKEOVER

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The upper floors host a number of salons and beauty parlours where you can get your hair cut, washed and styled, or enjoy beauty treatments.

JOIN A DANCE OR SINGING CLASS

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Here, you can find Flow Academy, a creative school dedicated to the performing arts. They offer dancing and fitness as well as music and singing classes. Many of the academy’s students perform professionally, but you can sign up too if you’re looking to pick up a hobby.

PLAY AND BUY TRADING CARDS AND BOARD GAMES

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If nerdy stuff is more your thing (and I mean it in the best way, being a nerd myself), Invictus Force carries a wide selection of tabletop accessories, trading cards and board games. They also host events for games like Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering.

CATCH A FILM

I haven’t been to the theatres for over two years now, and probably will not in the near future — but for movie-buffs, the mall has a Golden Screen Cinemas on the top floor.

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The upper floors are quite empty at present.

SING KARAOKE

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Another activity that I haven’t done for years is karaoke — my college mates and I used to go every other week, as it was relatively ‘cheap’ entertainment (20 bucks for 4 hours — but this was back in the 2010s :P). Now that we’re all working, it has been hard to go for such activities, and even if we have free time we end up at a cafe anyway.

If you’d like to sing your heart out and belt out some Whitney Houston, Loudspeaker is on the same floor as the cinema.

SHOOT STUFF UP AT THE ARCADE

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Or race some cars, play some drums, shoot a few hoops.

Last but not least…

GRAB SOME COFFEE AT THE STARBUCKS RESERVE

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The mall is home to Malaysia’s largest Starbucks Reserve (they’re essentially ‘high-end Starbucks’, carrying  ‘a selection of the rarest, most extraordinary coffees Starbucks has to offer’, prepared through different techniques such as Chemex, siphon and pour-over). I haven’t actually been inside (on my visits, I was always too full from eating at the other restos or stuffing my face at Donki, lol), but I’d like to drop by on my next trip. It looks impressive enough from the outside, where there is al fresco seating and an outdoor area with beautiful murals.

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If you have the weekend free, Tropicana Gardens Mall is worth a visit! There is ample parking (although the entrance is quite difficult to find — you have to go past the drop-off point in front of the mall, then make a U-turn when you’re almost at the exit), and alternatively, you can take the MRT and stop at the Surian station.

TROPICANA GARDENS MALL

29 No, Unit CC, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Website

PS: This is not a sponsored post. Opinions here are entirely my own.

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Photowalk: Things to See and Do Around Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur

How often do you play tourist in your homeland?

Pre-COVID, I always wanted to ‘discover’ new places and experiences – but this pandemic has made me realise that these things can be had, even in our own backyard: it’s all a matter of how you ‘frame’ it. Even something like grocery shopping can be an adventure!

The hubs finally arrived in Malaysia over Christmas, and while dropping off supplies at his quarantine hotel near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, I took the chance to do some sightseeing – and was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to explore within this small but historically-rich area.

Video below. Subscribe if you haven’t already! 🙂

Video has some extra portions that include Bukit Bintang.

DATARAN MERDEKA

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There’s something very powerful and moving about being in places where history was written – you get a sense of being separated only by time, and not by space. Dataran Merdeka, or Merdeka Square, is one such place. It was where Malaya declared its independence from British colonists, where the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hoisted in its place, and where our forefathers basically laid the foundations of our country.

The field was not purpose-built for this; rather, it was formerly used as a cricket field for the adjacent Royal Selangor Club, which was a country club for wealthy British and government officials. Fitting, then, that it was repurposed – I find the idea of taking something that stood for colonisation and reclaiming it as our own quite poetic.

Standing underneath the giant flag pole facing the green, it’s easy to visualise how this place would have looked like years ago – minus the modern skyscrapers – and marvel at how far we have come as a nation.

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At 95m high, the flagpole at Dataran Merdeka is one of the tallest flagpoles in the world!

SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD BUILDING

Even if you’re not a history buff, there are many beautiful historical buildings around Dataran Merdeka that make for great photos, such as the Sultan Abdul Samad building. Completed in 1897, it was used to house British government offices, and then the Malaysian Courts, post-independence. It is currently home to offices of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

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Spanning two floors, the building is an eclectic mix of architectural styles, such as Indo-Saracenic and Neo-Mughal, which were popular in British colonies such as India, Sri Lanka, and Malaya. The arched windows are distinctively Moorish, and the towers are topped with copper domes, which are common elements in Muslim architecture. One of the building’s highlights is the clocktower, which was designed to mimic London’s Big Ben. It first chimed at the building’s completion, and has continued to do so ever since.

ROYAL SELANGOR CLUB

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As mentioned earlier, the field that is now Dataran Merdeka formerly belonged to the Selangor Club (now the Royal Selangor Club) – a clubhouse founded by the British administration as a place for British elites to gather and socialise. The club still stands, boasting Mock Tudor design and the style’s distinctive ‘striped’ look (which is meant to mimic historical homes with half-timbering effects).

Access is for members only, where they can enjoy facilities such as football fields, pool and billiards rooms, squash courts, tennis courts, as well as bars, lounges and restaurants. Pre-pandemic, there were tours that the public could join for a glimpse inside the exclusive clubhouse.

OLD CHARTERED BANK BUILDING / MUSIC MUSEUM

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Sporting similar Mughal architecture as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building across the road, the old Chartered Bank building was the very first bank to open in Kuala Lumpur. Aside from scalloped windows and a signature arched entrance, the building also has four large domes on each of the roof’s corners. An interesting story: as the buildings here are close to the river, the area was prone to massive floods before KL upgraded its flood and drainage systems. In 1926, a severe flood caused damage to millions worth of bank notes in the bank’s vault. So they took them out and laid them on the field to dry in the sun. It must have been quite a sight!

The building now hosts a Music Museum (I visited back in 2016), which chronicles the history and diversity of traditional and modern music in Malaysia, with displays of instruments and more.

KUALA LUMPUR CITY GALLERY

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Just next door is another historical building: the former Government Printing Office building, which was responsible for printing all government reports, publications and other media. Today, it houses the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, a tourist hub with its own museum, souvenir shop and cafe. There is also an iconic “I Love KL” sign outside the building, which is popular with tourists. The building’s Jacobean facade is a nice contrast to the other Mughal-inspired buildings in the area, and features details such as oriel windows (windows that jut out from the wall). Fun fact: as electricity was not available at the time (the building dates back to the 1900s), the building was designed with lots of windows so that workers at the press could work better with natural sunlight.

I wanted to pop in for a visit, but unfortunately they were closed for cleaning. KL suffered a bad flood in December, and the KL City Gallery was also affected.

KUALA LUMPUR LIBRARY

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Bibliophiles will want to stop by the Kuala Lumpur Library (Perpustakaan Kuala Lumpur), which has an extensive collection of physical books as well as audio visual materials. You have to register as a member to enter, though, but the process should be quick and easy. Bags need to be placed in lockers. The library is open in the afternoon on Mondays, from 10am – 6.45pm from Tuesdays to Fridays, and 10am to 5pm on weekends. It is closed on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month.

RIVER OF LIFE MASJID JAMEK

A short walk away from Dataran Merdeka is the confluence where two rivers meet; namely the Gombak River and the Klang River. They come together in a Y-shape in front of Masjid Jamek — the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur — which was built in 1909 and was designed by (surprise!) a British architect. Although opinions might differ, I like to consider this place the true ‘heart’ of Kuala Lumpur, as opposed to the Petronas Twin Towers or even the Golden Triangle of Bukit Bintang. This is where KL got its name, as the Gombak River was once known as ‘Sungai Lumpur’ (literally ‘muddy river’), and Kuala Lumpur itself means “Muddy Confluence”.

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There are two bridges spanning the river, one located right in front of the mosque, which is the perfect spot for photos. You’ll also get to see the Kuala Lumpur Tower and Petronas Twin Towers in the distance. The walkway between the River and the back portion of the Sultan Abdul Samad building is nicely paved, and lined with greenery.

If you come at night, you’ll get to see a wonderful light show! This is part of the River of Life project, a river beautification and clean-up project by the government.
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Back portion of Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
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Morocco vibes
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View from the bridge near Masjid Jamek.
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Masjid Jamek compound.

If you’re interested in visiting the mosque, it is open to visitors — but non-Muslims would have to wear a robe or scarf to cover up. If you’re a man and wearing shorts, they have sarongs on hand too.

Dataran Merdeka is also quite close to Petaling Street (Chinatown), but I’ll detail that in another post. The area is central and easily accessible via public transport, including the LRT (Masjid Jamek stop). From there, Dataran Merdeka is a five minute walk away.

And there you have it! I hope this mini-guide has been helpful. If you liked this post, please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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7 Off-The-Beaten Path Experiences in Selangor

The Malaysian government recently announced that interstate travel is allowed again. After months of isolation, many of us are understandably excited to finally be able to be out and about for leisure. Even so, we should still be vigilant – so here are seven off-the-beaten path experiences you can get in Selangor that are away from the crowds.

LEMON MYRTLE TEA PLANTATION, SEKINCHAN

TEA GARDEN SEKINCHAN 2 by @narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Lemon myrtle is a flowering plant endemic to Australia, where it is grown in abundance and used to make essential oils and tea. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Malaysia has its own lemon myrtle plantation. Organic Lemon Myrtle Plantations has been around since 2010, and is touted as the first of its kind outside Australia. It has several nurseries, including one in Sekinchan.

The farm is usually open to the public, but is now indefinitely closed to visitors pending further updates from local tourism bodies and the government. That doesn’t mean you can’t make plans in advance, though: and visitors can expect experiences such a relaxing nap in hammocks, shopping for products made from myrtle tea at their on-site stall, and more, when the plantation reopens to the public.


PS: Prior to closure, the entrance fee was RM3 for adults and RM1 for children below 7 years of age. The plantation is usually open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 5pm. Stay tuned to their social media for more updates.

Address: Lot 16281, Jalan Tali Air 6 Sekinchan,Selangor Darul Ehsan

SEKINCHAN

SEKINCHAN by @marioncaunter
@marioncaunter

Paddy fields are not something city folk get to see very often, which is what makes a visit to Sekinchan a must for day trippers from Kuala Lumpur. Come during the September to November months to admire vast blankets of green as far as the eye can see, or in December for a sea of rippling gold. Learn more about how paddy is planted, harvested and processed at the Paddy Gallery, where you can also buy sacks of rice (pearl, basmathi, brown, you name it, they got it!)

SEKINCHAN PADDY 2 by @Narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Aside from paddy fields, the enterprising folk of this small agricultural and fishing town have also turned their traditional livelihoods into tourist draws. Stop by Ah Ma House, a quaint wooden shop at the edge of the fields which sells traditional Chinese snacks like biscuits, crackers, snacks and baked goodies the likes of pineapple tarts, kuih kapit and kuih bangkit.

For a detailed guide, check out my blog post on 7 things to do in Sekinchan.

Address: Sekinchan Paddy Fields, Sekinchan, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

THE NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SHAH ALAM

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @littlemisshappyfeet

You don’t have to travel far for a quick, green respite: just head to Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (The National Botanic Gardens), a green lung located in the middle of Selangor’s bustling capital. The agro tourism park covers an area of over 817 hectares, part of it designated for leisure, the rest for research.

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @maya_jaafar
@maya_jaafar

Go for a spot of forest bathing underneath the Seraya and Meranti trees which are found in abundance within the reserve, or go hiking along the paved trail to reach Bukit Sapu Tangan(200 metres above sea level), which offers panoramic views of Shah Alam. There are also cactus, orchid and spice gardens to explore, as well as an animal park and fruit gardens. The park’s famous attraction, the four season house, where visitors can experience spring, summer, autumn and winter,is currently closed and will reopen in early 2021.

The entrance fee is RM3 for adults,and RM1 for children (6 to 11 years old) and seniors above 55. Disabled visitors enter for free. Opening hours are from 7.30AM – 4.30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: Taman Botani Negara, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

SELANGOR RIVER DAM, HULU SELANGOR

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

A dam might seem like an unlikely place to visit, but the Sungai Selangor Dam makes for an interesting destination, especially for nature lovers and photographers. The crystal-clear man-made lake is surrounded by picturesque hills, and visitors can also take part in fishing and cycling activities along the way. Night time sees a sky filled with stars, as the area is far from city lights and pollution.

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

Address: Lookout Point Sungai Selangor Dam, 55, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

PAYA INDAH DISCOVERY WETLANDS, KUALA LANGAT

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For those who like peace and quiet, Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands in Kuala Langat makes for the perfect retreat. Filled with trees, large fields and natural plants such as waterlilies, the wetlands are home to over 300 species of animals, and is also a great spot for bird watching.

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Family-friendly fun awaits, with various activities such as feeding rhinos, crocodiles and fish in their enclosures, as well as fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking and more. There’s also a Safari Insta Tour: a 45-minute ride on a truck to three scenic locations within the Wetlands, namely the Bamboo Trail, Lake Sendayan and Rumah Melayu, a traditional kampung(village) house on stilts.

Entrance fee is RM35 on weekdays and RM45 on weekends. MyKad holders enjoy a 20% discount. The Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands is open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm.

Address: KM 4, Jalan Dengkil, Banting, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor

SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY, KUALA SELANGOR

Selangor Fruits Valley

If you like local fruits, then a trip to Selangor Fruit Valley should be on your list. The agricultural attraction offers many types of local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit and guava, which you can enjoy for free (it’s included in your entrance fee!). Aside from the fruit orchards, there are also other attractions such as a mini petting zoo, agricultural centre, traditional houses, and deer and kelulut honey farms.

Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a tram service which takes you around the park, no hassle. When you’re thirsty, drop by the coconut stall to quench your thirst with fresh coconut water. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for seniors (above 60), children (4 – 12 years old) and the disabled.

Address: Selangor Fruits Valley SFV, Rawang, Berjuntai Bestari, Selangor, Malaysia

PULAU KETAM, KLANG

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Although the name means ‘crab island’, Pulau Ketam is not an actual island; more an amalgamation of homes and buildings built over water. Located off the coast of Port Klang, the place was originally founded by Chinese fishermen in the 1880s and has since become a thriving community. To reach Pulau Ketam, visitors take a ferry (RM14, two-way) or speed boat (RM20 two-way).

Pulau Ketam 1

While the ‘island’ itself is not very big, there are plenty of things to do. Being a fishing village, there are many seafood restaurant where you can take your pick of freshly caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways (salted egg, chilli, kam heong, etc.). Another popular activity is to rent a bike and cycle around the village, which has roads just wide enough for bikes and scooters (there are no cars in the settlement). Aside from colourful murals (a rather recent addition to attract tourists), visitors will also find small but beautiful old Chinese temples and quaint self-built homes made from wood and concrete.

For a more detailed guide, check out my blog post about Things To Do in Pulau Ketam.

Address: Jalan Foreshore, Kawasan 20, 42000 Pelabuhan Klang, Selangor

So there you have it! Which place in Selangor are you looking to travel to next? Remember to always maintain social distancing and adhere to standard operating procedures during your visit.

More information at selangor.travel.

**Photos courtesy of Tourism Selangor.

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5 Attractions In Cameron Highlands For People Who Don’t Like Crowds

Once a pristine mountain retreat, Cameron Highlands is a far cry from how it used to be 20 or 30 years ago. Vast swathes of forest have been cleared to make way for hotels, farms and tourist attractions. It isn’t even cold anymore in the daytime, and god forbid you go on a weekend, what with the hordes of tourist buses unloading at the flower farms and strawberry plantations. If I wanted to push and shove among a crowd, I’d go to a mall in KL – at least those are air conditioned. 😦

Depressing points aside, there are a couple of spots in CH still worth visiting, and where you are less likely to get trampled in case of a stampede.

LATA ISKANDAR 

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If you’re travelling up from the Tapah-CH side, you can’t miss the Lata Iskandar waterfall, located just by the side of the road. Comprised of several tiers, the water cascades down into pools where one can bathe and cool down from the intense heat. Despite being a public recreational area, it’s surprisingly clean, and the waterfalls are flanked on each side with lush greenery. More seasoned hikers might want to go on the trail to see unique flora and fauna in the area. There are also some shops selling local handicrafts from the Orang Asli, jungle produce and souvenirs.

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CAMERON VALLEY TEA PLANTATION 

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CH has a couple of big tea plantations, including the Boh and Bharat plantations. Cameron Valley belongs to the latter, founded by migrants from Uttar Pradesh.

Boh is popular for their jam and scones, which is served at a picturesque little cafe overlooking the valley. As such, the place can be slightly more crowded. CV also has a lookout point, but you can opt to walk down to the plantation to take pictures, or take a buggy down to a spot where they have a bridge and a small garden. PS: Entry is RM10 per pax, which is overpriced imo.

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Sam Poh Temple at Brinchang is a Buddhist temple dating back to the 1970s and is well worth a visit if you’re into culture and architecture. While not very large, the temple has intricate decor, a grand prayer hall housing various Buddha statues, and is well maintained and upkept.

CACTUS POINT

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Perhaps it is due to its location which is a few kilometres away from Brinchang, but Cactus Point is less crowded than other nearby attractions, and the spacious layout makes it easier to navigate and browse through as well. As the name suggests, the place is dedicated to various species of cacti both large and small. In fact, we were surprised by the variety of different types they have on display, from tiny ones that could fit into the palm of one’s hand, to giant ones that tower as high as an adult. They also carry a smaller selection of garden plants and flowers, and you can even buy them to take home.

BUTTERFLY FARM

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One of CH’s oldest tourist attractions, the Butterfly Farm is home to hundreds of butterflies within its enclosed gardens. It also has enclosures for live insects, reptiles, scorpions, small mammals and an aviary. The place is in need of an upgrade, as the interiors are old and dated, but since most tourists will prefer going to shiny new attractions, it means you get the whole place all to yourself! 🙂 Despite its age, the gardens are still well maintained and you can get up close to the butterflies (they have a large collection of Rajah Brooke Butterflies) while taking a leisurely stroll and admiring the garden’s pretty blooms.

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Visiting Pusat Sains Negara – The National Science Center, Kuala Lumpur

When I say it has been ages since I last visited Pusat Sains Negara, aka the National Science Centre, I meant AGES. Like 20 years. So I think I can be forgiven for having very fuzzy memories of the place lol.

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Perched on top of a hill in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, the National Science Centre opened its doors in 1996, covering two levels of exhibition space. The original building was completely green, but it underwent a year-long refurbishment to update its exhibits and emerged with a rainbow-coloured exterior lol.

Parking is limited on weekends, but you can park your car across the road and walk over via a connecting bridge.

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At the foot of the hill is a “Prehistoric Trail” featuring several dino statues. The kids (and some adults, lol) will probably love this!

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Before venturing into the centre, do detour to check out the garden, which features enclosures housing critters like frogs, salamanders and scorpions. There is also a small pond with beautiful tropical water lilies. Love the purple!

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Koi fish in hues of gold, white, red and black. The water ripple effect created a very picturesque shot even with my non-existent photo-taking skills lol

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If you like butterflies, there are lots of them fluttering within the garden!

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Entry to the center is RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. Unlike some tourist attractions that charge different rates for foreigners, the rates are the same here at PSN. Maybe it’s because most people visiting are locals anyway.

The entrance houses a tunnel aquarium with various fish, stingrays and other aquatic life.

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The first themed gallery, dubbed Wonderspark, is dedicated to natural phenomena related to water, light and wind. There are many interactive (albeit simple imo) exhibits that you can try your hand at, such as this panel that lights up according to touch, and a ‘vacuum’ circuit/maze where you insert ping pong balls and try to move the ball towards various exits.

PS: I would recommend visitors to come on a weekday. While our visit was not entirely unpleasant, it was filled with screaming, out-of-control children and weak-ass parents who didn’t know how to talk to them about lining up, or being gentle with the exhibits. 

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The central hall has a playground and benches for people to rest on. The skylight made everything look really yellow lol.

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Another gallery called Eureka, which was further split into several themed exhibitions such as Challenge Your Mind, Colour and Sound, Illusion and All About Numbers. We enjoyed doing the number puzzles, such as attempting (key word, attempting) to line up numbers 1-9 in a grid where everything totaled up to a certain number.

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The Kids Discovery Place is all about building the minds of children, with fun, interactive and hands-on exhibits – because kids learn best when they’re experiencing things! Here you will find a maze of mirrors, this complicated looking circuit which lets you launch balls and watch as they roll down to the bottom, musical instruments such as xylophones and drums, and mini cranes which kids can try to operate.

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There are more exhibits on the second level. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this section because I was too busy trying to reign in the Boy who decided to age 20 years backwards and run around like an excited child. The upstairs level was more of a mishmash of different disciplines, from chemistry to biology and physics.

For a mere RM6, I think the National Science Center is a great, educational place to take the kids. Granted, some of the exhibits may feel dated/worn out (even though they just reopened after their refurbishment) but I hope that they’ll continue to keep the place maintained well.

PUSAT SAINS NEGARA / NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE

Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (Tues – Sun) 9AM – 5PM, closed Mondays

Entrance fee: RM6 (adults), RM3 (children)

psn.gov.my

Getting There by Public Transport 

There is a feeder bus (T818) from the Pusat Bandar Damansara MRT station which stops at PSN.

BONUS 

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Since we were so close to Publika, drove there for ice cream at Inside Scoop. 😀

 

2D1N Itinerary @ Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Hey guys! 

SO I took a 10-day break a couple of weeks ago to accompany the Boy who was visiting Malaysia – and one of the places we went to was Genting Highlands. For those who have never been here before, it’s basically a huge mountain resort with the only (legal) casino in the country. Works are ongoing for a new Fox Studios Theme Park, but the opening date keeps getting pushed back, and it doesn’t look like it will be up and running anytime soon.

Even so, there are lots of fun things to do in Genting, so here’s our 2D1N itinerary (for reference)!

Note: This is not a ‘budget’ itinerary; I actually blew quite a lot of money there, not from gambling but from food. lol 

Getting There 

There are several ways to get to Genting. Driving takes about an hour from KL, but there might not always be parking spots (especially during the holiday season or weekends) and the roads are fairly steep, so some cars might not have enough power to go up the hills (cough mine cough)

You can also take a cab from KL, although this will set you back more than RM100. Something to consider if you are going with a group, so you can split the cost.

The third option is to take a Resorts World Genting bus from KL Sentral, where they depart hourly. It’s super cheap and you can opt to purchase a package that includes the cable car (the bus does not go all the way up to the resort). You can catch the bus at the basement of KL Sentral – just follow the signs. The entrance is to the left of the escalator going up to Nu Sentral mall.

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Bus ride takes an hour and stops at the Awana Sentral Cable Car Station, which is also where you will find the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. If you like branded goods at discount prices, GHPO is a good place to shop for brands like Sacoor Brothers, Adidas, Furla, Calvin Klein, etc.

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The cable car ride takes another 15-20 minutes. The weather was super foggy during our visit; we could barely see the gondola in front!

Bus + Cable Car Ride: RM14 per pax

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The cable car takes you directly to Sky Avenue, one of the resort’s newer shopping malls. The older sections are being refurbished to make way for new outlets and attractions, so there isn’t too much to explore atm, but there’s a nice selection of retail outlets, mostly clothing and food. The SkyCasino is located on the ground floor.

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Speaking of hotel room, there are several hotels within the resort to choose from, each with different price points. The most luxurious one is Crocksford, which I recently had the pleasure of staying at for work. But without the media badge I’m sadly relegated to commoner status lol so I could only afford the budget First World Hotel.

Other options include Maxims (5 stars), Genting Grand Hotel (4 stars), Theme Park Hotel (suitable for sharing coz they have quad beds), Resort Hotel and First World Hotel (3 stars).

First World holds the Guinness Book Of Records for Largest Hotel in the World, with over 7,300 rooms! We had a standard room with a Queen Bed, costing RM100.

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One thing I don’t like about the mall is that there. are. no. chairs. I think they want you to walk around and explore as much as possible but when I came with my mom, who is elderly, we couldn’t find any place to rest at all… unless we bought a drink at a cafe and sat down within. Maybe that’s their strategy for driving people to shops.

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More pretty Mid Autumn deco

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View of Genting Grand from the outside. The sun and blue sky came out for awhile

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The yet to be completed Fox Studios Theme Park. It still seems like there’s a long way to go.

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Dinner was at Burger & Lobster, the beloved London franchise that serves… well, burgers and lobsters. The outlet has been going strong since it opened in Malaysia two years ago, and even though it was a Thursday, the queue was pretty long – a good thing we got there early!

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Boy had the Original Lobster, steamed and served with their signature Lemon & Garlic Butter sauce.

Fun fact: Live lobsters are flown in from Nova Scotia in Canada and kept in RWG’s facilities to ensure freshness.

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I had Chilli Lobster – a special dish made exclusively for B&L Malaysia. It’s similar to Singapore’s famous chilli crab, but with lobster instead – and it’s served with thick and fluffy brioche slices. It was good, albeit a tad salty, but the brioche was excellent to sop up the gravy.

**For some reason, I was less impressed on this visit. The lobsters were good but they weren’t like WHOA, as compared to when I ate here when they first opened. Law of diminishing returns in action?

RM153 + RM173 + taxes = RM350++ and a bleeding wallet

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Breakfast: It was cold in the morning and I wanted siew loong bao lol. If you have never had these dainty soup-filled dumplings you are missing out on life. I was happy that they had opened a Paradise Dynasty in Genting – it’s one of my favourite places to get good siew loong bao. Boy had the colourful 8-flavour basket which includes flavours like Szechuan, Garlic, Truffle, Crab Roe, Original and Cheese.

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My favourite is the cheese so I ordered a basket all for myself hahaha. I could probably eat 20+ of these but wallet lol.

RM100 (probably the most expensive I’ve ever had for a breakfast).

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After checking out, we took the cable car down, stopping mid-way at the Chin Swee Cave Temple Station. You can stop here to explore the temple at no extra cost. It was raining a little and extra foggy – this scene looks like it could have been out of a Silent Hill film!

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The temple sits on forested land donated by the founder of Resorts World Genting, Lim Goh Tong, and was officially opened in 1994. Combining Chinese Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, the temple is dedicated to Qingshui (Chin Swee in Hokkien), a deity in China’s Fujian province, Lim’s hometown.

Despite being 24 years old, the buildings, statues and shrines are kept in pristine condition – almost as if it was opened just yesterday. Personally, Chin Swee Temple is one of my favourite temples out of the many I have visited, simply because of its scenic location which overlooks the valley below. On cloudy days (like this one!) it really seems as if the entire temple is floating above the clouds.

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Statue of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.

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The central courtyard which features a traditional wooden building that houses several deities, and a large statue of Gwan Yin, the goddess of mercy.

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Another prominent statue at the temple is that of Buddha, which towers at least three storeys-high. Look at how misty it is! Gave the place a mysterious, ethereal feel.

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The valley all but disappeared. Shrouded in mist, the dragon statues looked like they’d come alive at any second.

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View of the mountains from the temple’s balcony. It looked exactly like an ancient Chinese painting! Why travel to China when you can get breathtaking views like this here ?

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The temple has a section called Journey To Enlightenment, which details one’s ordeal after death, and subsequent rebirth. Pretty scary stuff, as the statues show in graphic detail what evil-doers will have to suffer through when in hell.

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Ye probably not something you want the kids to see lol

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The bus and cable car ride back costs about RM14.

So there you have it! Our 2D1N itinerary to Genting. Course, you can save more if you don’t eat as pricey as us bahaha.

Happy travels!

Perlis Travels: Al Hussain Mosque + Hai Thien Seafood, Kuala Perlis

It ‘s easy to see why Masjid Al Hussain in Kuala Perlis is often called the most beautiful mosque in Malaysia. Like the state of Perlis itself, the mosque may be small in size but is stunning in its beauty and unique architecture.

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The mosque combines traditional Islamic design such as geometric patterns and floral motifs with modern touches. Perched on stilts looking out to sea, it is also called the ‘Floating Mosque’ because during high tide, it looks as it the building is floating on the water’s surface. Unfortunately during our visit, it was low tide – but the sight of it in the sunset was already lovely enough as it is.

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What I found special about the mosque was its colourful stained glass windows, which I’ve only seen in churches before but not a mosque. Instead of painted walls, the walls are embedded with corals, granite, marble, pebbles and quartz. The minarets are lit up at night with different colours to signal a different prayer time and can be seen from miles around.

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After donning robes, we ventured inside. There was a beautiful blue, white and gold dome surrounded by a star pattern; each corner engraved with the five precepts of Islam in different languages. The carpeted floor had a similar colour scheme of blue and gold.

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Stained glass windows with geometric patterns.

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View from the other side of the mosque.

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After our short visit, we made our way to Hai Thien Seafood just down the road. This is one of the most popular spots in Perlis to have fresh, tasty Chinese-style seafood. Since the establishment is halal, you’ll find people of all races dining here! 🙂

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Our hosts did all the ordering. My favourite was the soft shell crab – lightly battered, crispy on the outside, sweet and flavourful on the inside.

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Other dishes that we had: fried rice with chicken, steamed fish, salad shrimp and stir fried mihun (vermicilli noodle). Loved the salad shrimp which was served with fruit and a sweet creamy sauce, only qualm was that there wasn’t enough to go around.

HAI THIEN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

02000 Kuala Perlis, Perlis

The jetty at Kuala Perlis is a good place to enjoy the sunset, take in some beautiful sights and wrap the night up with a scrumptious seafood meal. Definitely a must visit if you’re in Perlis! 🙂