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A Whistlestop Tour Of Kuala Lumpur, Asia’s Perfect Compromise

Kuala Lumpur, referred to affectionately as KL by locals, is one of the most exciting cities in the whole of Southeast Asia. Situated in the heart of Malaysia and serving as the seat of government, it offers Western tourists a level of service and excitement that they will struggle to find elsewhere in the region.

Singapore is undoubtedly the city’s primary tourist rival. But that city has its problems. Yes, it’s rich – extremely rich – but it’s also a controlled environment. The government there keeps tabs on everything, and there are cameras everywhere: it’s hard to relax and let go when you feel like you’re being watched.

The other competition is Bangkok in Thailand. Bangkok is a riot of colour and activity, but it too has its downsides. It’s often difficult to get good service when you go off the beaten track, and it has a reputation for being seedy – not something that the majority of visitors want to put up with.

Kuala Lumpur is unique, therefore, among large southeast Asian cities. It has all of the excitement and pizazz of Bangkok and the wholesomeness of Singapore, without any of the hyper-control or blandness. To look at the city at night is to marvel at its beauty.

What’s so interesting about Kuala Lumpur is that it is a city which grew organically, like so many of the greatest cities around the world. It wasn’t even classified as a city until 1972, despite its immense growth throughout the previous two decades. The people who live there are there by choice, not because of some government programme.

The result of organic growth is a sense of controlled chaos, the type that you get in the world’s other most celebrated cities. Buses share roads with moped overflowing with livestock, small electric vans, and luxury cars. It’s a bustling environment, and has a character all of its own, though few people from the West have a sense of what the place is like. It’s glamorous, distinctly Malaysian, and surprisingly wealthy.

Tea In The Orchard

So what’s there to do in a city like this? Why would you visit the Klang Valley, anyway?

One of the most surprising things about the city is just how far it is prepared to go to cater to Western tourists. You would think that the last thing a British (or any European person for that matter) would want to do in an Asian city is indulge in a spot of afternoon tea. But if you find yourself missing Old Blighty, then the Malaysians have you covered. There are several places you can fill up on crumpets, and cucumber sandwiches all washed down with a big pot of tea.

Tea in the Orchard is a highly recommended venue. Here you’ll find afternoon tea served in the traditional manner under the canopy of a beautiful conservatory. The view isn’t particularly British, of course, but the experience is surprisingly convincing.

The Petronas Towers

Once upon a time, before the completion of Taipei 101 in 2006 in Taiwan, the Petronas towers were the tallest in the world, taller to the top of their spires than the Sears Tower in Chicago.

For over a decade, the towers have pierced the city’s skyline, rising high above the surrounding buildings. Over the years, the city grew up around them, but they remain the largest and most iconic of all Kuala Lumpur’s buildings.

Go To The KL Bird Park

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll love the KL Bird Park. Located near the Perdana Botanical Gardens, the bird park sits in over 20 acres of land, right in the heart of the city. Here you can view more than 3,000 different species of bird. Birds are free-roaming and kept in walk-in aviaries.

Birds in the park are divided into four distinct zones. In zone one, you can experience bird life as it exists in a tropical rainforest. Here you’ll find crowned pigeons, yellow-billed storks and doves. Area two is home to some of the rarest birds in the world, including the Nicobar pigeon. Zones three and four are home to the rhinoceros hornbill and the rare parrots. The entire experience is a feast of colour and sounds from the different birds. Although you’re right in the heart of one of the largest cities in southeast Asia, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

Take A Trip To The Sunway Lagoon Theme Park

It can get hot in Kuala Lumpur. Seriously hot. What you want, therefore, is somewhere you can go to enjoy the feeling of cool water and have fun at the same time. Sunway Lagoon is the perfect place for you. The theme park, founded in 1997, has now grown into the city’s largest, with dozens of attractions, both wet and dry. The park is located a few miles outside the centre in the suburb of Petaling Jaya and is ideal for families with different tolerances for scary rides. The designers of the park split it into four zones, one with mild rides, another with water rides, an area dedicated to animals, and a zone for only the most seasoned thrill-seekers.

Visit The Central Market

If you want to find out what’s for sale in KL, you must visit the Central Market. Though the name might not inspire much curiosity, the market itself is crammed with local sellers showing off the city’s best wares.

Initially, sellers collected in the market to sell fish, fruits and vegetables. But over time the market evolved and is now separated into numerous sections reflecting different ethnic differences. Although the city is majority Muslim, there are significant Indian, Chinese and Thai populations, all with their own unique food heritage. The selection of food available is enormous, meaning that you can prepare practically any meal you like, should you have facilities available to you.

If you get bored perusing the produce, then there’s always entertainment to be found on the upper floor. Music shows and street performers flock to the area because of the high footfall.

Munch Your Way Through Some Street Food

Street food is only just finding its footing in the West. But in the East, it’s been a part of the culture for decades, especially in the cities. What’s more, because there are so many sellers trying to entice you to buy lunch from them, the quality of the food is exceptional – far better than anything you’ll find available on the streets of Europe or the US.

At the centre of the Kuala Lumpur street food scene Hutong. Located in the Lot 10 Mall, it’s a unique place. Although the vendors are all under one roof, they have all been individually selected to be there because the food they sell is authentic and traditional. It means that visitors get access to some of the best street food in the city without having to trudge around the streets looking for the right vendors.

So what food can you find in Hutong? The cuisine includes omelettes, noodle soups, roasted meats and dumplings.

Take A Trip To The Suria KLCC Under The Petronas Towers

If you get bored just staring at the Petronas Towers, take a trip to the KLCC, a complex of shopping malls near their base. The mall stretches over more than seven floors and contains practically every Asian brand imaginable. If you head down to the basement, you can check out rare souvenirs and find arts and crafts vendors selling unique products.

Visit One Of Malaysia’s Oldest Mosques

Malaysia is a mainly Muslim country. But it wasn’t always this way. As a result, the oldest mosques in the region aren’t particularly old. Take the Jamek Mosque near the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers. Built at the start of the twentieth century, the mosque looks like a new build, despite having many of the architectural features of ancient mosques in the Middle East and Turkey.

Visitors can tour the mosque and enjoy the surrounding rivers.

Take A Trip To Chinatown

Whenever a city has a Chinese population, Chinatowns spring up. They’re all over the world in cities like New York, London, and even Kuala Lumpur. Here you can find many of the things that you’d only usually be able to experience in China proper, including delicious Chinese food, temples, and markets.

Spend Some Time At The Money Museum

KL grew up so quickly partly because of the explosive growth of the banking system in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it’s one of the region’s premier financial centres with a rich history of banking and money. The Numismatic Museum, run by Maybank, is a financial institution in and of itself, showcasing the region’s monetary history.

You can find out about the various financial crises that have hit the city over the years, view money sculptures, and take a look at the history of notes and coins in the region. The museum is relatively cheap to access and provides at least an afternoon of entertainment. Just don’t get too sidetracked by the real money tree.


Visiting Cape Town On Budget

Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the top tourist attractions in the world and promises adventure, incredible food, and natural beauty that is hard to beat. But, because many of its visitors are paying in foreign currencies like dollars and pounds, some of the more popular attractions can be a little expensive for South African tourists that are visiting Cape Town on a budget.

Don’t let tighter purse strings stop you from visiting Cape Town, though; because there are loads of freed or cheaper things to see and do that still spell out the magic of the Mother City.
Free or Cheap Attractions for Those Visiting Cape Town on a Budget:

Walking Tours

Take your own self-guided walking tour of the city centre and include must-sees like Greenmarket Square, Long Street and all its quirky shops and boutiques, The Company Gardens, Bo-Kaap, the Castle of Good Hope (impressive from the outside, but there’s a reasonable entrance fee of R50 for adults and R25 for children and pensioners), and the District Six Museum in Buitenkant Street (which has an entrance fee of only R40 for adults).

Free guided walking tours are on offer from the Motherland Coffee Company at St George’s Mall. These leave every day at 11h00, 14h00, and 16h20. To book, visit their website – freewalkingtourscapetown.co.za.

The V & A Waterfront

As one of the most popular malls on the African continent, this attraction may not seem to be very budget-friendly. But, there’s so much to see apart from the actual shops and restaurants. Browse the African arts and crafts at the market; watch the yachts, tugs and even cruise liners come into the working harbour; admire the sculptures at Nobel Square or the African Trading Port; and watch as tourists from all over the world discover Cape Town against views of the majestic Table Mountain in the not-too-distant background.

Free Museum Tours

Although most of the museums in Cape Town ask a nominal fee for entering, there are some that are free to enter or that work on a donation basis. These museums include the incredible Cape Town Holocaust Centre (City Bowl), the Cape Medical Museum (Green Point), the Centre for the Book at the National Library (City Bowl), and Rhodes Cottage Museum (Muizenberg).

Zeitz MOCAA

Normally, the entrance fee to this absolutely breath-taking contemporary African art gallery is R190. But, on Wednesdays, visitors that have any form of African identification (like an ID book or driver’s licence) can experience the magic for free. Situated at De Waterkant, just a few minutes’ walk from the main mall of the V & A, this is a must for locals and visitors to Cape Town.

The Company’s Garden

Right in the heart of the City Bowl, there is a lush green oasis known as the Company’s Garden. Feed the squirrels, visit the birds in the aviary, eat under the trees at the restaurant or from your own picnic basket, and explore the fountains, ponds, and the bamboo forest that is more than 80 years old.

Green Point Park

Families, couples, or those needing a time-out will love relaxing at this gorgeous urban park, which is flanked by Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean. There are several play areas for little ones, as well as an outdoor labyrinth, walking and cycling paths, ponds with fish and birds, picnic areas and water features. An added bonus is that it is within walking distance from the hubs of Green Point and Sea Point.


Intimate Dinner Dates at Umhlangas ‘The Village Table’

The classic candle-lit dinner date for two has become somewhat a ‘religious practice’ society classifies as a true statement of romance which is an arguable statement. But for a quick second, let’s picture a cultivated and cosmopolitan twist of a 21st century dinner date and voila! – ‘The Village Table’ comes to mind.

Situated in the Pearls Shopping Center which is not far from Umhlangas’ luxury accommodation area, this upbeat restaurant is more than taking your significant other out for a romantic meal but rather an intimate experience. With its very Urbane presence and fashionable setting, the restaurant certainly offers patrons more than just delicious food and amazing cocktails, ‘might I add’!

Without a shadow of doubt, you can expect a weekly lineup act whether it’s a nostalgic live-band performance, Salsa Date Nights or their Soulful Sunday Sessions. The Village Table brings upon various forms of activities to set the ambience and mood during any couples “Date Night”.

A diverse menu selection from: Afro-Portuguese, Mediterranean and Continental Cuisine all under the ‘same table’ , their VT’s Seafood Exotica and Biltong Sirloin Carpaccio certainly speaks of a personal flair due to the precision towards catering for everyone’s palette. “Let’s not forget that Food is the language of love”.

But what’s a good meal without an amazing drink to compliment it! Their drinks menu is very tasteful yet adventurous but a certain must try for couples would have to be their-Rosemary and Lemonade Gin or for the occasional Martini drinkers, their White Chocolate Martini is what I’d like to describe as ‘Heaven on Earth’.

An abundance of romance on display and what you can describe as a great idea of an initimate night out “With Bae”, The Village Table certainly ticks of all the correct boxes for an unforgettable dinner date but be warned about their ‘contagious bug’ which might leave you wanting everyday to be Date Night.

Location: 6 Lagoon Drive Umhlanga, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Phone: 087 288 4235

Email: info@villagetable.co.za


#BeAKidAgain – Enter The Paper Jet Challenge And Win A Trip To Zanzibar

My favourite online travel agency, Travel Start is running an awesome competition and inviting the public to take part in their Paper Jet challenge, were you one of those creative kids at your school or you always had the best Paper Jet in your neighborhood? Well, here’s a chance to join in the fun and #BeAKidAgain – you and a friend can stand a chance to win to the beautiful ZANZIBAR. I’ve shared this competition with all my close friends and family members and our deal was, whoever wins gets to take me, I’ve always wanted to go on holiday and anyways even if I don’t win, I’ve set up a budget to go on a vacation towards the end of the year because Travel Start offers amazing return flights to Zanzibar.

Talking about this competition brings a lot of childhood memories so let me share some of the incredible stories with you. Growing up I have always been the child that wanted to be heard, I always wanted to be on the center stage and tell my story, I think this will give you guys an idea of how I started blogging.

During primary school I took part at almost every school play that we would have seasonally and would be grateful to be chosen as the main act or ‘star’of each drama production I would audition for at my school, I was popular and would appear at local magazines and on our newsletter, the teachers loved this about me and the fact that I was not only excelling in the arts but also academically as I was in the debating team for our school 3 years in a row. Now I wanted to be paid for it, I wanted to be on a larger audience and I wanted to meet like minded people, then that’s when I started searching for acting gigs for kids and saw auditions for Gcina Mhlophe’s African Christmas production which was going to be staged at the playhouse, I took the newspaper my mom had bought and called in to register for auditions and having the supportive mother I have, we went there together. To cut the long story short, I was through the first and second round and made is as one of the leading characters for African Mother Christmas.

Being part of this production taught me a lot of things about the entertainment industry and was lucky to work with multi-award winning actors, musicians and directors such as Madala Kunene, Faca Khulu and Slindile Nodangala. My love for the entertainment grew from then and this was of great influence in working in the fields I have worked within throughout – PR, entertainment commentating and writing.


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