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Finding beauty, purpose and balance in Kuala Lumpur |

Sunday Lifestyle

Finding beauty, purpose and balance in Kuala Lumpur

RENDEVOUS - Christine S. Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Finding beauty, purpose and balance in Kuala Lumpur
The impressive Kuala Lumpur skyline features iconic architecture and ancient heritage.
Photos courtesy of Malaysian Tourism

British stateman Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen.”

These words reverberated in my mind as our comfortable and efficient Cebu Pacific plane gently touched down on the runway of the enigmatic city of Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. With the epic slogan “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” this land of many treasures, where the people espouse kindness, compassion and hospitality, is peppered with gleaming skyscrapers vis-à-vis ancient architecture.

Kuala Lumpur features a dichotomy of what is authentically old and impressively new. The ancient Batu Caves and dazzling Petronas Twin Towers viewed from the new, eclectic Saloma bridge is the ultimate sign of progress and development. The international drone festival showcased the most technically savvy inventions that show advancements worthy of emulation. This simply proves to all and sundry that one is spoilt for choice here.  There are hawker foods and authentic cuisine in Rebung restaurant prepared by charming chef Ismail Ahmad and the critically-acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsay, whose restaurant is in the new Sunway Resort. The amazing Sunway Group is behind this progressive township that not only has amusement parks but also 13 business divisions that include healthcare, real estate, shopping centers and more. We tried the twists and turns on the Jungle Fury in this one-stop destination of fun and excitement. We visited the Animal Kingdom with birds, otters, flamingos, lions, tigers and leopards. We were overjoyed to watch the eclectic parrots perch themselves on the shoulders of gregarious Out-of-Town blogger Melo Villareal!

On the other hand, Genting Highlands will always be memorable to me because my family and I have frequented this remarkable integrated resort. On a clear day, with the wind brushing your cheeks and ruffling your hair, you can gaze at the surrounding mountain range and the lush vegetation below. Hop aboard the new gondola lift system Awana Skyway. At Genting Highlands, you can explore the new casinos, hotels, shopping centers and rides in their amusement park.

One amazing discovery we made is the more-luxe-than-ever Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. With more than 150 designers and brand outlets, it is fast attracting locals and tourists. Find impressive savings at Lacoste, Aigner, Coach, Furla, Kate Spade, Hugo Boss and the like.

Celebrity chef Dato’ Ismail Ahmad is one of Malaysia’s treasures.

Our media group, graciously hosted by Cebu Pacific and represented by Tourism Malaysia Manila’s marketing officer Josiah Raphael Alfonso and Stratworks’ associate PR director Alex Pastor, arrived in this capital city as darkness enveloped all in its path. It was a starless and moonless night yet our hearts felt the glow of excitement here. It has been some time since foreign trips have been allowed. Revenge travel has become the battle cry of most — and what better way to start than with the dynamic Cebu Pacific, known as one of the youngest flight companies that services several routes competently?

“There is now greater interest and confidence among Filipinos to fly abroad, following the easing of travel restrictions,” said Carmina Romero, director for corporate communications of CEB.

Malaysian tourism director Yazlina Azlin Yahya quipped, “Hopefully, Malaysia will be a more popular travel destination for Filipinos. It is also worthy to note that travelers to Malaysia just need proof of vaccination, along with registration on the My Sejahtera App.”

Kuala Lumpur is bursting with Instagrammable attractions. From our spacious and centrally located Ibis Hotel, it is only a 2,250-foot walk to the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers. Our gracious tour guide Suzie Law shared that Alain Robert, known as “France’s Spider-Man,” climbed the 88-story Petronas Tower three times without a harness, bare-handed with no ropes!

“The greatest life is one lived with beauty, purpose and balance.” This is the motto of my favorite boutique hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Chow Kit Hotel. This hotel from the Ormond Group is a fascinating place where old-world charm meets modern elegance. Dramatic yellow lights illuminate the lobby that has an eclectic bar serving cocktails and mocktails. Earth-toned couches, artifacts and chairs provide the warm ambiance, while delectable local and international meals are served at quaint tables.

Right next door is the Momo Hotel, created with a younger and more playful vibe. Food like burgers, hotdogs, milkshakes and the like can be enjoyed here. Rooms are very practical, playful, fun and functional.

A visit to the Restoran Rebung of my favorite Malaysian chef Ismail was a special treat. Heirloom recipes and authentic Malaysian cuisine can be enjoyed here at very affordable prices. No wonder chef Ismail is the country’s well-loved food ambassador. Other memorable meals we had in Kuala Lumpur included the gustatory lunch in Minmax Restaurant, lunch at Four Season Place, where we sampled the tastiest Malaysian street food and our savory Bak Kut Teh after our city tour. Not to be missed is the visit to the Chocolate Boutique, which we explored in glee like we were in a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You may want to visit Magica Events, a leading Malay and Chinese bridal house with different themes.

Malaysia is truly a gem worth discovering and rediscovering. More adventures await. No matter how many times you visit here, you will always find something new and truly worth remembering.

The Chow Kit an Ormond Group hotel is the epitome of old-world charm and modern elegance.

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