Towers of Kuala Lumpur

The skyline of the global city of Kuala Lumpur showcases two towers: the Menara KL and the Petronas Twin Towers. Both structures rise high on the Klang Valley and are considered iconic landmarks of KL and of Malaysia.

These Malaysian towers are worth the visit.  Only about 2 kilometers apart, these towers can be visited on a single day. Both towers are popular spots and are must-sees when you are in Kuala Lumpur.

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Heritage City of Melaka

Melawat Melaka Bererti Melawati Malaysia

The slogan above translates to “Visiting Malacca Means Visiting Malaysia”. True enough, the heritage city of Melaka provides a glimpse of how Malaysia has become what it is now. A visit to Melaka broadens our understanding of the history, culture and heritage of the gem of the strait of spice trade.

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UNESCO Statement

In 2008, the historical city was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Along with George Town in Penang, these two cities in the Strait of Melacca represent more than 500 years of history, culture and heritage unique to this part of the world. Georgetown reflects the East meets West influence during the British period from the end of 18th century. Melaka on the other hand represents the fusion of Asia and Europe from the 1500s up to the time when it was ceded to the British by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

When in Malaysia, make sure to free up at least a day for the visit to the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Melacca.

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My Luang Prabang Chronicles – Day 3 Part 2

The old town center of Luang Prabang is reminiscent of an old southeast Asian kingdom that entirely embraced Buddhism and eventually married a French colonial hand. Its charm relies on this distinct blend, a Laotian heritage that is a cut among the rest.

Tak Bat
Before we visited the temples, we woke up early in the morning, before sunrise to witness a venerable tradition of Tak Bat. In Luang Prabang, this ceremony happens before sunrise on the streets of the old town. Tak Bat is the ritual of collecting food by Buddhist monks from people who lined up in the streets of Luang Prabang. Monks clad in shades of saffron and orange, walk in line with their alms bowl in front. Tak Bat mostly happen at Sakkaline and Kamal Road.

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My Luang Prabang Chronicles – Day 3 part 1

Visit Luang Prabang to learn and understand why UNESCO included it in the list of World Heritage Sites. The old town center has a unique characteristic of fused traditional Lao architecture and urban structure with that of 19th and 20th century European colonial influence – a fine example of a remarkably preserved blend of two distinct elements reflected across the old town center thru its temples, palaces and buildings.

Allow one day of your Luang Prabang trip to wander in the old town and appreciate the charm of this former royal and religious capital of the Kingdom of a Million Elephants. Luang Prabang traces back to 14th-16th century as a powerful and strategic place in the Silk Route.

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My Luang Prabang Chronicles – Day 2

Second day of Luang Prabang visit revolved around the element of water.

Prior to our trip, we already arranged a tour with Klook for the visit to Pak Ou Caves, then to a wine-making village and finally, to the popular Kuang Si Falls.

Call time was 8am and we were fetched by a van. We were brought to Khem Khong Street which is behind the Royal Palace Museum. A few steps down to the banks of the Mekong, a long boat was waiting for us. It’s a traditional long boat that could probably sit around 30 people. When we got to the boat, we realized that we were the only passengers on that day. Our guide had instructed the boatman to head for the Pak Ou Caves.

Mekong River, the lifeline of Indochina.

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My Luang Prabang Chronicles – Day 1

There are stories of long cross border trips and unreliable sleeper buses in and out of Laos. There are also stories of scenic boat rides on the Mekong which take more than a day to reach Luang Prabang. But no matter which mode of transport you choose, a planned trip to the old town of Luang Prabang is worth all the journey.

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Day 1 of my Luang Prabang travel began the moment when the Air Asia plane touched down at the LPIA. Laos is one of the 3 remaining ASEAN countries which I haven’t visited yet. I heard a lot of wonderful stories of Laos and why every traveler always include it in their trips. I always felt that Laos has a deep story – heritage and culture as enigmatic yet profound as those of neighboring countries like Cambodia or Thailand.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 5

Colors from the Walls

A day before I left Taiwan, I decided to explore some artwork in Taipei. Colors spread on walls often trigger my own eyes to marvel and appreciate the modern, non-traditional form of art. In some small streets within Taipei, the graffiti art screams like visual explosions, showing visitors and locals that this art movement thrives to add color to the community.

Such colorful display can be seen around the Wanhua District near Taipei Cinema Park. To get to the park by MRT, get off at Ximen Station, turn right for Hanzhong Street, then left for Emei Street. Hanzhong transforms at night as Ximen Night Market. At Emei Street, walk a few blocks to reach the corner of Kangding Road where the Taipei Cinema Park is located.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 4

Panda, Beitou and Tamsui

It’s weekend in Taipei. Time to see my favorite animal on earth, the Giant Panda. Taipei Zoo has a pair of Giant Pandas as a permanent exhibition. Said to be one of the largest zoos in Asia, Taipei Zoo in its second and current location provides extensive display of animals, the most popular are the Giant Pandas.

My visit to Taipei Zoo was specifically for these black-and-white creatures.

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Taipei Zoo received two Giant Pandas in 2008. The two pandas were named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan as a gesture of unity. It caused quite a stir 3 years prior as many Taiwanese disagreed on the gesture itself. But with the acceptance from the Taiwanese president of the endangered animals, it has made Taipei Zoo even more popular.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 3

Outside Taipei in a Day

I joined a day tour to places outside of Taipei. Thanks to KKDay Tour, I was able to experience Yehliu, Shifen and Jiufen on my third day in Taiwan.

My initial itinerary was to visit these three places on my own, relying on tips and directions from blogs. To get to these places, I need to travel by bus and train with Taipei Main Station as the reference point. I need to choose between my orientation skills and travel convenience, so I choose the latter to save time and energy.

The KKday Tour has an English-speaking guide. The tour cost TWD 1,000 for a visit to Yehliu Geo Park, Shifen Waterfall, Shifen Old Street and Jiufen Old Street. Meeting and pick-up place for this tour is at Taipei Main Station, East Gate 1 from 8:40am to 9am.

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My Taiwan Chronicles – Day 2

Temples, Tower and Museum

I sat on a bench, gasping for air as I wipe the sweat from my arms and head. Across from where I sought respite from the humid Taipei heat was the Jian Tan Temple – an 18th century shrine built upon the order of Monk Wanhua. Jian Tan, which means Sword Lake, has an accompanying legend about a Ming loyalist who killed a water sprite using a jeweled sword, thus restoring calmness to the lake.

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Jian Tan Temple

Of course, I learned about the story of this temple by googling. I actually messed up my itinerary and stumbled upon Jian Tan by accident. I did not complain. Jian Tan Temple is wonderful. Watching this temple, I could not help but notice how it strongly adhered to the Chinese architecture. The columns, the tiled roofs, the colors and the elements may be similar with the rest of the temples I planned to visit later. This one offered me a piece of stillness and serenity.

For my second day in Taiwan, I visited temples, a museum and the famous tower, Taipei 101.

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