The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries

Tripoto
22nd Apr 2019
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 1

Hello'oo readers! My name is Viswanathan and this is our travelogue touring through Malaysia and Singapore.

We're super excited as the clock sluggishly ticks towards the start of our vacation. As we boarded the Malaysian Airlines flight clearing security and immigration, we felt happy settling into seats on row 9 that our research said provided the best leg room! A high five from wifey dear sealed it and we had a decent spell of relaxation over the approx 5.5 hours journey.

After disembarking and meeting our local tour guide Kaushalya, our first stop in Malaysia was for breakfast at Jaipur Mahal. A decent spread of idli, wada, upma, sheera, poori bhaji, sandwiches-devoid of any stuffings worth mentioning, was enough to satisfy our hunger pangs. With a full tummy, we were ready to do some sightseeing. Our first stop was an orientation (short stops) through Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. We covered the Wawasan bridge, the onion shaped Pink mosque and the Putra bridge near Putrajaya. Putrajaya is the administrative capital of Malaysia, which houses various sections of the Prime Minister's office.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia is Mahadhir Mohammad, a young and able leader at the ripe age of 93, serving his second term! Other attractions included the near 6000 tonne steel structure-the Sultan Zainal Abiddin mosque and the nearby Millennium monument depicting the timeline of the growth and advancement of Malaysia.
The sweltering heat (albeit only 32°C) sapped our energy levels.

We were informed of an early check-in at Eastin Hotel so that we could rest and relax before the evening schedule. We passed by the Perdana Botanical Gardens and National Mosque of Malaysia, a beautiful umbrella structure with resplendent shades of blue. A minaret, in the shape of a closed umbrella, thoroughly complemented the mosque.

After lunch, with a scrumptious peas pulao being the star, we checked into the hotel. After a quick siesta, we went onwards to KL Towers, the tallest observatory in Malaysia. With some scenic 360° views akin to Eiffel Tower and Burj Khalifa, it provides stunning views of the clean landscapes.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 2

After a hectic packing session, today we visited the tallest standing twin towers in the world-The Petronas Twin Towers. It holds the Guinness record for the tallest twin megastructure at a height of 451.9m.

After some selfie poses and a group photograph, we arrived at Sunway Lagoon, a theme amusement park, ~25 KM on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. We sat on many rides, merry-go-rounds, saw the White Lion and the White Royal Bengal Tiger from close quarters. We were in complete awe of the White Lion, pale brownish mane and striking presence.

Glimpses of a peacock, dancing in all its glory, feathers in full view as it tried to attract a peahen nearby was a sight we will cherish.

After having a fill of finger licking pizza, we headed into the water to get some respite from the heat (milder today at 28°C). Fully drenched, with the occasional large buckets of water emptied from atop, splashing water at each other and engaging in continuous banter and one-upmanship, we thoroughly enjoyed the aqua experience.

We proceeded onwards to Genting Highlands, the casino capital of the world, a one hour journey, first by road and then via cable car (with some deep valleys) to the pinnacle at level 4. Walking through the ever so populous malls, hotels and play zones, we reached The First World Hotel, holder of a Guinness World Record of the hotel with the maximum rooms > 7,300 rooms! This colossal shopping and amusement experience is courtesy the vision of Tan Sri (Dr.) Lim Goh Tong.

Since we're not good at short term profit making, we decided to defer playing at the casino to later in the trip!

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 3

After a relatively late check out, we visited the Batu caves, a temple, cut through limestone and dedicated to Lord Karthikeyan. The temple has 272 steps and after the initial sprint in the stride, the effects of a rotund mid-riff kicked in and we huffed and puffed our way to the summit.

We then visited the Coco Factory and loaded a lot of goodies for our sweet tooth to take back home for friends and family.

We ended the day with some delicious wada, dosa, chutney, sambar, jeera rice with sabji makhanwala at Gems P J.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 4

After a frenetic packing session and endless debates on the best techniques to pack (read day wise segregation vs old and new etc) and an early checkout at 6 AM followed by breakfast, we hit the road all set for the Genting Dream Cruise. Amidst an entertaining round of housie/tambola, we won 2 of the possible 4 prizes (an attractive and colorful pouch to carry documents). Post lunch at The Olive Tree, our immigration through Malaysia was a breeze. Likewise, our immigrating into Singapore was a cakewalk. After approximately a 30 min drive, we were at the base of the Genting Dream Cruise. And boy, how colossal did she look! Again, through immigration and security check in on the cruise, we were onboard.

The stateboard rooms, packed in all of the “amenities” and had enough place for us, baggage et al. We explored the cruise, deck by deck. We played a game of Giant Chess, tried our hands at mini golf and basketball. The large swimming pool area, hot and cold water options, family pools, games by the poolside, abundant lounge chairs ensured unlimited fun for everyone.

Every experience with the staff was pleasant and the staff had good diversified knowledge, even outside their area of expertise.

Dinner, we were told, would have a large spread of delectable dishes-Indian, Oriental, Jain, Halal amongst others. The dining area itself was a very long walk through the various sections! We experienced large rollover crowds of Indians and even foreigners queuing up for some absolute yummy desi spread, pasta, pizzas, chaats, roti, sabji with mini samosas selling faster than hot cakes.

We then tried our luck with a game of tambola, but ended up with experience, than more moolah!

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 5

We enjoyed the sea facing view more than the breakfast! And then, we all decided to get into the pool. Here's when we had our own SheikhChilli moment. We realize that we have locked the suitcase with the  keys within. Shortly, a key cutter and a security guard to overlook were at out door and the lock was dislodged. We offer a sheepish grin and a Thank You in exchange! In hindsight, the fact that a key cutter was available at such short notice makes me wonder there are many more of my clan!

After an hour of splashing in and out of multiple hot and cool pools, we enjoyed some time lazing and drying on the deck. We then visited the Casino to see some serious competition at some tables over BlackJack, Texas Hold 'em Poker, etc. It was heartening to see many Chinese women fiercely competing either against the computer or across the table.
Later in the evening, we saw some scintillating performances of 5 of the best China’s Got Talent contestants. The audience was in absolute awe of the fitness, agility and innate abilities of these performers. We also participated in an open audience quiz show “Tidbits Of Knowledge” where we won a Genting Dream Cruise Limited Edition gold plated coin and a photo with the game show host!

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 6

As we waved our final goodbye's and walked down the decks one last time, we take back very sweet memories of a time well spent on this really dreamy cruise. The organizers did a splendid job in ensuring a smooth disembarking of the more than 3000 guests aboard. After clearing immigration and collecting our baggages, we set foot on Singapore soil. Our local tour guide, Nelson, welcomed us to his homeland and we started the drive by coach, first through Little India, then through the taller buildings adorning the skyline and after a sumptuous lunch, checked into our hotel-Furama Riverfront.

Post a quick siesta, we enjoyed a relaxing boat ride on the Singapore River, enjoying some scintillating sightseeing on both sides of the river, tall skyscrapers of some of the Financial bigwigs, quaint ever-so-full watering holes, the Marina Bay and the Singapore Flyer at a distance. After some mandatory photo-ops, we drove past China Town, Suntec City as our host elaborated the history and growth of Singapore.

We then went into the Singapore Flyer, a total of 28 capsules moving upwards slowly in clockwise direction providing a spectacular night-view from atop. The Flyer is very similar in design and execution as the London Eye. There are many things which the camera cannot completely capture; we put our phones into the pockets and absorbed all the stunning views. After the 28 minute ride, we alighted and headed for dinner at Bhandari hotel.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 7

After a morning at leisure, we first headed for lunch at Sailee for one of the best lunch we have had on trip. Aloovadi, chapati, crunchy mixed vegetables, ghee dal tadka, rasgulla – cent per cent marks, truly appreciated by all the guests on tour.

Then, after a wait of 30 mins (tourist queues), we proceeded to take the cable car to Sentosa Island. Our first stop was Madame Tussaud's. This place is not one of our favorites, the theme becoming monotonous across its various worldwide locations. After very few limited stops for photos, (primarily with The Queen and the legendary cricketer Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar), we queued up for 4D Marvel experience.

The 4D experience was immaculate. The Marvel save the world theme was brilliantly executed and we, the audience, experienced it first hand. Be it the 3D glasses for visual effects, the Dolby effects, the interactive experience via the touch (felt a puff of air down the spine and neck), vibration effects on your seat and the weather effects (rain shower droplets falling on you). Much of the audience experienced this for the first time and left the auditorium fascinated with the sophistication in this 10 min spectacle.

We then walked down to the nearest metro station, taking some pics near the Sentosa Merlion. We then queued up on a serpentine line for the metro. And after a 10 min wait, we travelled on the Sentosa Express from Merlion to Beach station. At the S.E.A aquarium, we saw queer species of fishes, crabs, jellies, a blue-colored frog, elephant fish, we had a blast of a time soaking in all the aquatic visualizations.

Our final part of the day was at the 'Wings of Time' - a resplendent night show set outdoors against the backdrop of an open sea. This was a laser sound and light show with a spectacular theme where a bird takes a young couple through the chronicles of time.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 8

A bright early morning start to the day. We hit the road at 8:45 AM for The Jurong Bird Park. Lusciously spanning over several hectares, this is an ultimate bird afficando’s paradise. We first viewed the Eagle show, amazingly trained vultures, eagles, owls and hornbills, amongst others, entering gracefully upon being called, having a few morsels of food as instructed by the trainer, then making a distinguished exit. We then took the tram ride to survey the entire periphery of the park, shortlisting a few other places to visit.

After paying a short visit to the High Flying birds show, we quickly re-boarded the tram to go to the Lori Loft section. This place, recommended by our cousins, allow visitors to feed the birds. We purchased a bowl of nectar and set foot into the open, hoping to attract our avian friends. We held the bowl and in a jiffy, a few feathered friends were literally eating out of our hands. After our initial fears were allayed, it was an incredibly satisfying feeling to feed the birds from close quarters. It provided us an opportunity to see nature's painting of multi-colours across the anatomy of the bird. If ever, we tried to get too close to the bird’s comfort zone, it gently pecked us and put us in our place!

After a quick siesta, back at the hotel, we visited the Gardens By The Bay, a huge, colorful, futuristic park in the bay area of Singapore. We visited the Flower Dome and The Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome, has on display, exotic plants from five different continents, showcased across nine different gardens, portraying a world of perpetual spring! It is the largest glass green house in the world, as listed in The Guinness Book of World Record, with temperatures maintained between 23℃ to 25℃ to support plants and flowers from the Mediterranean and semi-arid regions.

We then visited the Cloud Forest. the tropical highlands amidst orchids, pitcher plants and ferns from the cool-moist Tropical Montane region. We stood amazed encountering the world's tallest indoor waterfall at 30 metres. It was incredible recalling some school Biology – pitcher and flytrap plants.

We descended through the surreal mist-filled Cloud Walk and Treetop Walk.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 9

      We’re nearing the end of our journey; only one day to go. Having a good night's sleep, we’re raring to go to Universal Studio at Sentosa. The beauty of travel within Singapore is the predictability and accuracy in reaching from point A to point B. In 20 min, we were at the gates of Universal Studio where our tour leader handed us the ticket and meal coupons. After scanning the map and getting an understanding of Top 10 places to visit, we went in.

The sheer exuberance in experiencing the rides and shows, most with family, some exceptions like the Transformers invigorated us. Another adventure-Shrek 4D was again phenomenal.

Our learnings from a few previous tours is to not rush the proceedings, to take a step back and smell the roses. Ever so often, we took a break to rejuvenate, hydrate, grab a bite before getting back into the queues for another thrilling adventure. We tried to cover as much as we could from the 7 theme parks, Sci Fi, Madagascar, Ancient Egypt, Hollywood, The Lost World, New York and Far Far Away.
We finally depart from Universal Studio, famished, but filled with infinite happiness.

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Day 10

We check out of Furama Riverfront, our temporary abode over the last four days. After lunch, a send-off cake cutting and a farewell speech by our tour leader, we head to the Changi airport.

After baggage drop off (prior web check in completed), we decide to walk over to the nearby newly opened Rain Vortex waterfall and Jewel at Terminal I. We stand mesmerised at the man-made waterfall as we scramble for space, amidst other onlookers.
After a stroll around, we head back to Terminal II, through immigration and security to board our Malaysian airline flight, first to Kuala Lumpur and then onwards to Mumbai.

Thus, ends, a very enjoyable vacation. A few of the high points of the trip, definitely being the Genting Dream Cruise, Universal Studio and feeding the birds.

Thanks for reading! Till we travel next, adieu!

Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
Photo of The Malaysian and Singaporean diaries by Viswanathan Sundaresan
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