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Malaysia - truly an Asian persuasion

25.10.2013

A cultural melting pot, Malaysia has always been high on my list of places to see. This ethnically diverse country is made up of Chinese, Malay and Indian communities, each bringing their own flair and cultural influences to this bubbling nation.

The result is beautiful celebrations intertwined in the hustle and bustle of modern living.

The trip to this South-East Asian country began with a 10-hour flight from Johannesburg on Singapore Airlines. There’s clearly a reason why it’s the world’s most-awarded airline, because aside from the exotic dishes (staying true to its Asian roots, I suppose), the airline boasts all the latest blockbuster hits to keep you entertained throughout the duration of your journey, while the friendly air hostesses really do go the extra mile to ensure you’re comfortable.  

Singapore Airlines offers four flights from Singapore to Cape Town via Johannesburg weekly.

Now, if you think I flew halfway across the globe to devour decadent meals and soak up the sights, you would be mistaken. My main reason for visiting Malaysia: the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle GP.

Anybody who is a fan of this thrill-inducing two-wheel sport knows that Sepeng International Circuit has developed a reputation in recent years as being one of the best tracks in the world to enjoy this sport. The reasoning is simple: the 5.5km-long track is made up of sweeping corners and wide straights while the unusually long back straight tightens into one very sharp hairpin before the riders enter the main straight. The track is not only physically demanding, as the combination of the left and right twisties means the racers need to constantly ensure they pick the perfect lines. Throw into the mix temperatures exceeding 35°C and humidity that would make any Durbanite want to stay indoors and you know you’re in for a fascinating race.

There’s something humbling about standing in the very arena where the world’s best apply their trade as they race their hearts out for victory. But I must mention, the atmosphere at the track is electrifying. The cheers from the crowds as a roaring four-stroke race bike passes by them give you goosebumps.

The Malaysian people are certainly a passionate bunch, something I witnessed throughout my travels there, because - despite their different cultures or religious views - they are a respectful nation, disciplined in every aspect of their lives.

Malaysia’s constantly thriving to become the tourist destination of choice and it’s easy to see why. The amalgamation of cultures is only the beginning. Hitting the big cities like Kuala Lumpur, you’re immediately thrown into a bustling metropolitan where skyscrapers seem to touch the clouds and the streets are filled with busybodies.
But it’s a city with a difference. “Malaysians are brought together by food” was one of the very first things our tour guide told us, so on almost every corner there’s a different restaurant offering different culinary delights, from the bizarre to the everyday curry and rice.

And for those who don’t only want to indulge their palates, there are some sights to see. Any traveller would immediately tell you to see the Petronas Twin Towers, so I did. The fact that public transport works well means getting around is a breeze. If you’re afraid of heights though, going to the top of the towers is not a breeze.
A fun fact: the Petronas Twin Towers is the only building in the world where you can look out of the window and see the exact same building.

Malaysia prides itself on its tourist destinations, as it breaks away from the conventional, to offer you the extraordinary, like i-City in Shah Alam. This city of digital lights offers everything from shopping to a snow-filled indoor park, which took some getting used to considering it’s a sweltering 37°C outside, only to put on a jacket and ski in a snow-filled park with temperatures in the negative digits. 
Malaysia is clearly big on theme parks and I wasn’t complaining. It allowed me to tap into my inner child. Legoland is visually stunning and, being the first of its kind in Asia, makes it a top spot to visit.

A rich combination of modern attractions mated with the country’s old heritage - including Melaka, a UNESCO heritage city - makes Malaysia a wonderful country to experience. With tourism high on the country’s agenda and offering spectacular deals on Moto GP and their Formula 1 racing, Malaysia wants to share its cultural heritage with the world and there seems to be no better time to indulge your senses.

Article written by Stuart Moir
25.10.2013
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