Malaysia Stories and Tips

Celebrating Chinese New Year In Kuala Lumpur

Yee Sang Photo, Malaysia, Asia

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. The city is constantly evolving; changing as Malaysia is on track to a fully developed nation by the year 2020. It is one of the finest cities in South East Asia although traffic is also one of the worsts in the region. However, Kuala Lumpur has a lot to offer to tourists (both locals and foreigners) making it the fourth most visited city in the world in 2009. Tourists have the options to choose from budget hotels to luxury boutique hotels; high end local designs to international famous designers; local food fare to international cuisines; and the list goes on.

Chinese New Year falls early in the beginning of the year. 2011 is the Year Of The Rabbit, and it is supposed to create visibility of an energetic and carefree year ahead. With the New Year less than a week away, anything red are adorned in most shops and malls across the city. The best place to visit around this time is Petaling Street or Chinatown. It is infamous for pirated clothes and accessories along with bootleg DVDs and CDs. Haggling is a common sight here and the place is usually crowded. It is definitely the place to be to capture the essence of the coming New Year with waxed ducks, and Chinese sausages, Mandarin oranges and pomelos all trying to outshine each other . Not too far away from here is the Central Market, located at Jalan Hang Kasturi. It is a one stop shopping centre for Malaysian products such as handicrafts, art, kebaya, songket, batik and a wide variety of Malaysian cuisine.

Two other major shopping areas are surrounding the Golden Triangle and Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), which is also the location of the tallest twin tower in the world.

Although Kuala Lumpur is not famous for its arts and museums, it still has a lot to offer. A mix of cultures, KL is a salad bowl of Chinese, Indian and Muslim and more. Diverse cultures intertwined making this cosmopolitan city of 2 million inhabitants well worth visiting. Visits to its mosques, temples and other places of worship can be interesting although one may have to adhere certain rules before entering.

Other places of interests in Kuala Lumpur include Dataran Merdeka, Taman Negara, and Royal Selangor.

The rapid development in recent years has exhausted the roads and its mode of pubic transportation in the city. Public transportation in Kuala Lumpur is not well integrated, and this has made it quite impossible for the KLites to get to work on time without a car. Therefore, it is no surprise that each household owns more than one car. Taxis can be a hassle at times. As a tourist, one will encounter unscrupulous cab drivers who will take advantage of any inexperienced tourist. Sometimes, this can happen to locals as well.

Malaysian cuisines are beginning to gain popularity among the world of culinary arts, and rightly so. From its roti to pulled tea, fried kuey teow and assam laksa, nasi lemak and satay, foodies are taking notice. Food may be comfort to the stomach, but in Kuala Lumpur, it is part of the conversation. People talk about lunch even before they finish their breakfast.

Despite its shortcoming, Kuala Lumpur is still a delight. And, if you happen to be in Malaysia during Chinese New Year, don't forget to try 'Yee Sang' - raw fish with a variety of shredded vegetables and sauces - which is only serve during this time of the year, and it's a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor for the coming New Year. As for me, being in Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese New Year is a great way to begin the New Year!

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