During college days, one craves to go on a vacation with friends to Goa. However, we never ended up going to Goa. Instead, my friend and I were selected for an international conference in Kuala Lumpur, where we spent the best three days of our lives. It was our first trip without our parents, and we were both thrilled and anxious to be all alone in a different country. We landed at the KL International Airport after five hours of a smooth flight and began our journey from there.
We were surprised to see so many people from our country there, and it never felt foreign to us. After checking into the hotel, we began our tour of the city.
We began our tour with the most famous place located in Kuala Lumpur, which were the Petronas, also called the Twin Towers. Before the Burj Khalifa was built, it was the tallest building in the world, and still, remains the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world. It was just a few minutes away from our hotel, so we got ready and headed there. One of my friend was hesitant to go up to about the height. However, I encouraged her to not miss this experience, so she mustered courage, and we ended up having the most beautiful experience of our lives. From the 88th floor, we looked down at the landscape and small lights that twinkled from afar from shops and houses further away. In the middle of both the towers is a bridge which connects them.
Located at the feet of the towers is the shopping complex called Suria KLCC, which has all the luxury brands. It is a paradise for shopping lovers!
At the conference
The next day we met people from around the world at the conference. We made friends with these girls travelling from the Philippines who we are still in touch with. We shared anecdotes of our upbringing and how all of us had different experiences because of our cultural differences. However, we had so many similarities in terms of the music we listen to, the kinds of brands we liked wearing. Also, we shared the collective experience of travelling alone for the first time to a foreign country. We spent two days at the conference, attending various interesting discussions.
A Tour through the city
On our last day there, we went on a tour of the city arranged by the organisers of the conference.
Our first destination was the King’s Palace which is the official residence of the monarch of Malaysia, Yang di-Pertuan Agong. It is also called Istana Negara. No tourists were allowed inside. However, the exteriors of the palace were mesmerising. At the entrance were two guards who did not move a wink and were supposed to sit on the royal horses for hours, until the next shift. They would not even smile for photographs when we tried to click pictures with them. Their dedication is worthy of praise and respect.
The next stop was Batu Caves, inside which is a Hindu temple that holds special importance for the practising Hindus living in the country. We had to climb a lot of steps before we could reach the top. However, the cave’s structure and the temple made it worthwhile. I still remember the number of monkeys on the steps while climbing who would occasionally steal your bags. Imagine my humour and horror when a monkey snatched a bag from a lady, taking away her food, and leaving the rest inside.
Royal Selangor is the largest manufacturer of Pewter around the globe. Pewter is a malleable alloy which was first used in the bronze age. There we saw the processes used to make different products, from jewellery, to utensils and even pop culture attributed pins, badges and statues from the alloy.
The next stop was Batu Caves, inside which is a Hindu temple that holds special importance for the practising Hindus living in the country.
Inside Thean Hou Temple are a modern Buddhist pagoda and plenty of Buddha images enshrined in the octagonal hall. Statues of Guan Di (the God of War) and Wei Tuo contribute to incorporate elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism to it. The temple also highlights a Chinese healing herbs garden and a tortoise pond along with a well. Like any temple, we had to leave our footwear outside. We lit our incense sticks in the worship of the gods and goddesses. The vibrant colours and lamps used for decoration gave it a very aesthetic appearance.
The Kuala Lumpur Tower is a communications tower. It is the seventh tallest freestanding skyscraper in the world. The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also includes a revolving restaurant, providing diners with a picturesque view of the city. The tower is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public. There are several shops at the top, selling a variety of souvenirs and eatables. I have a habit of collecting fridge magnets from every place I travel to, and I did that here too, and today it reminds me of the freedom I experienced for the first time.
The views expressed are the author’s own.