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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Johor Bharu



Located at the southern tip of the Peninsula, Johor Bahru is the state capital of Johor Darul Takzim. JB, in short, was established in 1855 by the late Sultan Abu Bakar (the Father of Modern Johor) and now serves as the administrative and commercial center of the state.
Connected to Singapore by road and rail via a modern causeway, JB is also the Peninsula's southern gateway. Consisting of a diverse ethnic mix of races, 

JB offers the visitor heritage attractions, colorful culture, delectable local cuisine, and exciting recreational activities. Popular with Singaporeans, JB boasts of myriad landmarks, such as The Grand Palace with its distinct Anglo-Malay architecture, which houses the museum where priceless treasures of the Royal Collection are showcased.

The "Ghazal" music, which is unique to Johor, is usually performed during cultural shows and weddings. Another famous performance distinctly Johorean is the "Kuda Kepang" dance, which is spun from tales of Islamic heroes. Dancers imitate the movement of horses to the music of a traditional orchestra.

Shopping opportunities abound in JB. Modern malls, arcades, handicraft centers, bazaars and markets offering international and local products all vie for attention. Local craftwork is sure to catch the eye and they do make lovely souvenirs of a trip here. Furthermore, there is the JB Duty Free Complex located at the JB International Ferry Terminal. Known as "ZON", it is a large duty free department store and supermarket encompassing 163 retail outlets, a hypermarket, and 30,000 feet of shopping area. The complex offers a variety of goods such as branded designer wear from London, Paris, New York and the likes. Glassware, confectionery, and other items are also offered.

Another interesting side of JB can be experienced when night falls over the city. A sumptuous array of food stalls and vendors appear (as if by magic) and the adventurous tourist should delight in trying out the taste of popular local dishes such as the famous Laksa Johor, flake fish and gravy cooked with coconut milk and served with noodles and vegetables.

Getting There & Moving Around

By Air :Regulars flights from Johor Bahru's Senai Airport connects the state capital with Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Kuching, and Kuala Lumpur.

By Road :Taxis are a popular and cheap mode of transportation. All urban taxis are fitted with meters. An additional 50% is charged between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. It is also possible to hire an outstation taxi on a shared or individual basis to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Kuantan, and Kota Bahru. Johor Bahru is also well served by express buses offering comfortable rides at reasonable fares from all major cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia.

By Rail :Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) offers numerous train services connecting Singapore and other states through the Johor Bahru Railway Station.

By Sea :A ferry link provides a new way to travel between Singapore and Malaysia. It operates daily between Changi Point near the Singapore International Airport and Tanjung Belungkor in Johor.

Bandar Hilir



Malacca City (Malay: Bandaraya Melaka) is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Malacca. The Seri Negeri, the State Administrative and Development Centre which houses the Chief Minister's Office, the State Secretary's Office and the Legislative Assembly Hall are located in Malacca City. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with George Town of Penang on 7 July 2008.

The city of Malacca is located on both sides of the Malacca River near its fall into the Strait of Malacca. The historic central area of the city is located near the old coastline, includes St Paul's Hill with the ruins of the Portuguese fortress, A Famosa and the Dutch Square on the right (eastern) bank of the river, and the old Chinatown on the left (western) bank. 

The modern city has grown in all directions from this historic core, including to the south (because the present coastline of the Strait of Malacca is somewhat farther down to the south than its original location due to land reclamation). The "Chinese Hill" (Bukit Cina), where a large old Chinese cemetery is located, was formerly located to the northeast of the town, but now is surrounded by the city on all sides.
 

Seremban



Seremban is the capital of the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan, located within the district of Seremban, one of the seven districts of Negeri Sembilan. The town's administration is run by the Seremban Municipal Council or Majlis Perbandaran Seremban. On 9 September 2009, Seremban was to be declared as a city, however it did not materialise due to irregular rules.

Seremban came into existence with the discovery of tin ore in the 1870s just like most major towns in Peninsular Malaysia. The discovery of tin in a nearby area called Rasah, saw an influx of Arab, Malay and Chinese immigrants to work on the mines and trade there. The local Malays were mostly farmers and were quite reluctant to face the new challenges.

Seremban initially known as Sungai Ujong flourished not only as a mining area but also a business centre. The Linggi River served as the sole outlet to ferry tin and supplies in and out of the town. Revenue came not only from tin trade but also from the large amount of taxes collected, much to the displeasure of the traders and the British colonialists at the neighbouring port of Malacca.

The local chieftains namely, the Dato’ Kelana and the Dato’ Shahbandar of Sungai Ujong were at odds with each other on the rights to collect taxes and ownership and control of the mines. The rivalry to assert influence and authority opened the door for British intervention in Negeri Sembilan. The British sided with the Dato’ Kelana upon invitation and defeated the forces of the Dato’ Bandar who was later sent into exile to Singapore. In a show of gratitude to the British for helping him win the war, the Dato’ Kelana had no choice but to accept a British Resident whose job was to advise him on matters other than religion and Malay customs.

Captain Murray was appointed the first resident and later set-up his residence at Channer Road, now renamed Jalan Dato’ Siamang Gagap. Soon after, the people living around Rasah moved to Channer Road for the sake of security and its orderly administration.

Cyberjaya




Cyberjaya is a new planned township with a science park as the core that forms a key part of the Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia. It is located in the district of Sepang, Selangor and is situated about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. This town aspires to be known as the Silicon Valley of Malaysia. The official opening ceremony for Cyberjaya was held in May 1997 by then Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad.


The idea of an IT-themed city, Cyberjaya, arose out of a study by management consultancy McKinsey for the Multimedia Super Corridor commissioned by the Federal Government of Malaysia in 1995. The implementation agency was the Town & Country Planning Department of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. The catalyst is the agreement by NTT in 1996 to site an R&D center at a site to the west of the new Malaysian administration center, Putrajaya.
Multimedia Development Corporation (then known as MDC), the agency overseeing the implementation of the MSC was located in Cyberjaya to oversee the creation. 

The real estate implementation was privatized to Cyberview Sdn Bhd (Cyberview) in early 1997. At the time, Cyberview was set up a joint-venture comprising entities such as Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd (SHSB), Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT), Golden Hope, MDeC, Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB), representative of the Selangor Government. SHSB, a consortium comprising Renong, Landmarks, MKLand and Country Heights, was asked to take the lead regarding the development. Federal government linked companies Telekom Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional were conscripted to provide the telecommunication and power supply infrastructure. The ambitious plan was to develop the first phase, comprising 1,430 hactares by year 2006, with the remaining 1,460 hectares to be developed after year 2011. 

The engineering management consultant, Pengurusan Lebuhraya Bhd (now acquired by Opus International Malaysia) was appointed to manage the construction of utilities and infrastructure, overseeing major construction firms of Peremba and United Engineers Malaysia (UEM).
The central theme for the development is providing a quantum jump in standards, summarized as follows:
  • a leading edge multimedia centre that will attract world-class multimedia/IT companies;
  • sophisticated and state-of-the-art integrated infrastructure and IT system; and
  • sophisticated and efficient transportation systems with an emphasis on public transport
However, due to the late 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the undertaking was deemed no longer viable and necessitated the Government taking over of the 55% and 15% stake in Cyberview shares held by SHSB and NTT respectively via the Ministry of Finance Inc (MOF Inc). The transaction gave MOF Inc a 70% stake and Cyberview has remained a government-owned company ever since. 

Cyberview then entered into an agreement with SHSB with shareholders comprising Country Heights Holdings Berhad (CHHB), Landmarks, Menara Embun (an MKLand Controlled Company) and Renong (now UEM World) with equal shares of 25%; granting SHSB the right to develop Cyberjaya as the master developer, while Cyberview became the landowner. In 2004, CHHB and Landmarks sold their equity interest in SHSB to MKLand-controlled companies, namely Modern Eden (12.5%), Impressive Circuits (12.5%) and Virtual Path (25%), resulting in MKLand-controlled companies becoming the majority shareholder of SHSB. 

Due to SHSB's shareholders' reluctance to inject their own reserves into SHSB and the company's practice of awarding contracts at high premiums, SHSB had to take up substantial loans. This has led to its gearing ratio ballooning to an unsustainable amount. Cyberview was then asked by the Government to rescue the ailing SHSB that led to Cyberview's expanded role.

Cyberview's role grew to include implementing various development and government initiatives, while SHSB carried on its role as the master developer. In addition to this, Cyberview was also tasked to undertake city-wide maintenance and spearhead investor interface and community-centric programmes in Cyberjaya.

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre [KLCC]



The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is located in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, fondly known as KLCC. Designed to be a "city within a city", this 40 hectare (100-acre) site includes the KLCC park and PETRONAS Twin Towers to lend a prestigious address to the Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) is Malaysia’s one-stop centre for MICE activities, operating as the country’s official Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) in relations to business events.  Its focus is directed towards introducing and promoting potential buyers to Malaysian products and services and securing future MICE businesses through the presentation of formal bids prepared by MyCEB and its partners (TEAM MALAYSIA).

It is the Government’s intention to make Malaysia a “top-of-mind” MICE destination in this region and to encourage more active participation from local associations through the bids done to be ‘host’ country for major conventions and congresses. 

Amongst MyCEB’s other roles and responsibilities include providing business leads for the industry, organising cooperative promotions, independent production of high quality destination materials, providing networking and educational opportunities, technical assistance, training and industry development as well as strategies for product development and improvement. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is located in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, fondly known as KLCC. Designed to be a "city within a city", this 40 hectare (100-acre) site includes the KLCC park and PETRONAS Twin Towers to lend a prestigious address to the Kuala Lumpur
.

KL Tower



Menara Kuala Lumpur stands majestically a top of Bukit Nanas at 421 meters and 94 meters above sea level, is considered a main feature of the city skylineone and perhaps most enduring images a visitor to KL will encounter. 

The KL-Tower's architecture reflects the country's Islamic heritage with the construction detailing Arabic Scripts, Islamic tiles, classic Islamic floral and abstract motifs and soothing colour combinations.

Menara Kuala Lumpur ranks fourth amongst the tallest telecommunications towers in the world and was constructed over a period of four years and completed in May 1996.Besides the panoramic view, Menara KL has something for the city-dwelling, nature enthusiast. The verdant green surrounding Menara KL is the Bukit Nanas Forest - the only oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country. 

It covers an area of 10.05 hectares and is considered the 'Green Lung' of Kuala Lumpur. It is a sanctuary to a wonderful array of flora and fauna which is unique to our tropical nature.

Shah Alam



Shah Alam is a city in Petaling and Klang Districts in Selangor, Malaysia, about 25 kilometres (15 mi) west of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur. In 1978, it replaced Kuala Lumpur as the capital city of the state of Selangor due to Kuala Lumpur's incorporation into a Federal Territory in 1974. Shah Alam was the first planned city in Malaysia after independence in 1957.

Shah Alam was once known as Sungai Renggam and was noted for its rubber and oil palmBatu Tiga prior to Malaysian independence, and has been a centre of rubber and palm oil trade for centuries. Its current name was chosen by the then state Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, after his late father Sultan Alam Shah

Many other monuments, buildings and even a street are named after the late Sultan. Shah Alam was granted city status on 10 October 2000 with Dato' Haji Abu Sujak Haji Mahmud as the first mayor. estates. Later, the same area was identified as

Ipoh



Ipoh (pronounced /ˈiːpoʊ/) is a city in Malaysia and is the capital of the state of Perak. It is 200 km (125 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur via the North-South Expressway

Ipoh developed into one of Malaysia's main cities due to the booming tin mining industry around the turn of the 19th century. During the British colonial era, Ipoh was Malaysia's second city for administration purposes. There are several notable buildings from the British Colonial era such as the railway station and the town hall. 70% of Ipoh's population is of Chinese origin.

George Town



George Town was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company, as base for the company in the Malay States. He obtained the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah and built Fort Cornwallis on the north-eastern corner of the island. The fort became the nexus of a growing trading post and the island's population reached 12,000 by 1804.

The town was built on swampy land that had to be cleared of vegetation, levelled and filled. The original commercial town was laid out between Light Street, Beach Street (then running close to the seashore), Malabar Street (subsequently called Chulia Street) and Pitt Street (now called Masjid Kapitan Keling Street).

The warehouses and godowns extended from Beach Street to the sea. By the 1880s, there were ghauts leading from Beach Street to the wharf and jetties as Beach Street receded inland due to land reclamation. A new waterfront was created at Weld Quay, where commercial buildings sprang up.

The historic commercial centre was segmented into the banking and trading areas related to port activities which included shipping companies, the import and export trade, and the wholesalers who dominate the southern section of Beach Street until now. It has been listed as a World Heritage site since July 2008.

Kangar



Kangar is the state capital of Perlis, Malaysia. It has a population of 48,898 and an area of 2,619.4 ha. It is located in the northern most point of Peninsular Malaysia and is situated by the Perlis River. The center of Kangar is Sena Province, which is referred to by few locals as 'Uptown Sena'. The town is the smallest in Malaysia and its inhabitants are mostly farmers and civil servants. It is believed that the name Kangar was derived from a species of hawk named Kangkok or Spizaetus Limnaetu.

Kota Kinabalu



Kota Kinabalu was formerly known as Jesselton, named after Sir Charles Jessel, one of the Directors of the British North Borneo Chartered Company, or BNBCC. During WWII, Kota Kinabalu and other towns throughout Sabah suffered heavy allied bombing which all but leveled them. Emerging from the War, the BNBCC discovered it was too costly to rebuild, so in 1946, Sabah became a British Crown Colony - until 1963, when Sabah was granted Independence within the Federation of Malaysia. 

On 30th September 1967, Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu. 23 years later, on 2 February, 2000 she was proclaimed a city. As the capital of the State of Sabah, KK is also the gateway to other major towns and districts and has a population of around 300,000 . In the vicinity of the city, there are various places of interest. Many can be explored on foot while others may be reached by bus or taxi.

Kuching



Kuching is the capital and largest city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the district of Kuching. Kuching, is the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. Being the most populous city in Sarawak, Kuching emerged as one of the most vibrant cities in the region, and it is the largest city on the island of Borneo, and the fourth largest city in Malaysia

Kuching is one of the two subsets of the Kuching Proper subdistrict, the other subset being part of the Padawan municipality. Kuching Proper is one of the three subdistricts in the Kuching District, which is one of the three districts in the Kuching Division.

Once the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, now with a population of some 600,000, Kuching is small enough to walk around but interesting enough to keep you there for several days, and a good base for exploring Sarawak. It's safe and relatively clean. The name of the city, Kuching, is thought to derive from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat. Many of the locals refer to Kuching as the "Cat City" but it more likely comes from the Chinese word for port ("cochin") coupled with the Malay name mata kucing (cat's-eye) for the longan fruit, a popular trade item. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kuantan



Kuantan is the state capital of Pahang, the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. It is situated near the mouth of the Kuantan River and faces the South China Sea. If one measures the distance along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, it is located roughly halfway between Singapore and Kota Bharu. Kuantan's population is approximately 607,778 and it is the 9th largest city in Malaysia

The population of Kuantan is 57% Malay, 32% Chinese, 4% Indian and 7% other races. According to the [World Gazetteer], a calculation indicates that the annual population growth of Kuantan is the greatest among the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which is 3.88 in general.
The Pahang state government shifted the administrative centre of Pahang from Kuala Lipis to Kuantan in 1955.

Recently, the National Physical Plan 2005 identified Kuantan as one of the future growth centres and a hub for trade, commerce, transportation and tourism. Kuantan is also considered as the social, economic and commercial hub for East Coast Peninsular Malaysia due to its strategic location. Rapid development since early 21st century has transformed and modernized Kuantan. Since 2005, Kuantan has had many development projects across the city, including Putra Square, Mahkota Square, Bukit Gambang Water Resort, Kuantan Sentral and Kuantan Port City under the Kuantan District Locality Plan 2004-2015. Recently, the introducing of Malaysia's first Special Economy Zone (SEZ) is located at Kuantan to boost the regional economy, tourism and growth. As an effort to catalyse the growth of Kuantan Metropolitan Precinct, government has located a petroleum manufacturing area in Pekan, a neighbour town of Kuantan and expected to allocate some funds to enhance the growth across the region.

Kuantan is a calm city located in Pahang state off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is also home to some of the nation’s most popular beaches, in particular, Cherating. The serene atmosphere and beautiful beaches are what attracts visitors from all over the world, time and time again, who come to enjoy the cultural enrichment, warm weather and gentle sea breeze.
Besides Kuantan, Terengganu state towards the north is another fantastic place to visit, with a rich Malay culture to explore along with its arts and handicrafts as well as more beautiful beaches.

Kuala Terengganu

  

This city is located at the Terengganu River and is the capitol of the State Terengganu. The city is located a mere 20 minutes drive away from the airport, but when you arrive by car it will be your second stop at the East coast. 

In front of Kuala Terengganu, right in the South China Sea are the islands Pulau Kapas and Pulau Rendang. The islands are renowned for its clear waters, sandy white beaches and swaying palms. Home to an infinite variety of hard and soft corals, the waters around the islands are abound with sea-shells, fish and turtles. The islands laid back atmosphere is ideal for relaxation but the more adventurous will find it is also a haven for swimming, snorkelling, windsurfing, kayaking, boating and fishing.  

To take the boat to Pulau Kapas you have to go Marang, South of Kuala Terengganu. This fishing village is famous for its sweeping scenery. Beauty and function converge in the rows of colourful, elegantly carved fishing boats moored on the sparkling waters. By bus it will take 30 minutes to come to Marang from Kuala Terengganu and the speedboat will bring in 15 minutes to Pulau Kapas. This jetty goes from 9 in the morning till 5/6 in the late afternoon.

Remember: m-A-rang you go to k-A-pas and  m-E-rang  you go to r-E-dang. Rantau Abang (60 km from Kuala Terengganu) is a place where the turtles come ashore to lay eggs. This coast is one of the few leatherback nesting sites in the world. Turtle sanctuaries have been established in an effort to reverse the decline of leatherback turtles. Collection (except by licensed turtle egg collectors) or eating of turtle eggs are forbidden. In the Rantau Abang Visitors' Center, a documentary on the turtle and its nesting habits is screened at regular intervals.
 

Visitors who want to see the turtles have to be alert quietly from midnight to dawn to watch the memorable sight of these Giant Leatherbacks laying their eggs. These giant turtles, up to 2.5 meters in length and sometimes weighing more than 375 kg is indeed a phenomenal sight to behold. Rantau Abang is one of only six places in the world visited by these turtles, from the months of May to September.
 

If you want to go to Pulau Redang, then you have to go Kuala Besut in the North of the State. That's also the kampong, where you can take the jetty for the Perhentian Islands. You can also leave from Merang to Pulau Redang.


Worth visiting in Kuala Terengganu:
  • Terengganu State Museum Complex. consists of a Main Museum, a Maritime Museum, a Fisheries Museum, 4 traditional houses and botanic and herbs gardens. The Main Museum is built on 16 stilts, in accordance with the traditional architecture of Terengganu. Its 4 blocks are adjoined, to represent a big family. There are ten galleries showcasing textiles, crafts, historical, royal, nature, art, petroleum, Islamic, new generation and contemporary arts. 
     
  • Sutera Semai Centre is at Chendering (6km south of Kuala Terengganu). It is Malaysia's pioneer silk weaving center, where visitors can witness different stages of silk manufacturing. There, witness the painting of batik designs onto the fabrics, resulting in beautiful batik shirts, kaftans, scarves, handkerchiefs, etc.
     
  • Bukit Peturi, is a 200 m high historical hill, situated next to Istana Maziah. It was used as a fortress between the years of 1831 to 1876 to defend the state from enemy attacks. Some of the historical remains which can be seen on Bukit Puteri are cannons, a flagpole, a large bell and a fort. Today, as it is the highest point in Kuala Terengganu, visitors standing on top of Bukit Puteri can witness the magnificent view of the areas sur-rounding it.
     
  • Istana Maziah. is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III. It was built in 1897 and it is the venue for royal birthdays, weddings, conferment of titles and receptions for local and foreign dignitaries. A product of the blend between splendid modern and traditional architecture, it is also well-known as one of Malaysia's cultural attractions.
     
  • Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, located outside Kuala Terengganu is just 4.5km away. This is not an ordinary mosque but said to be the only one of its kind in Malaysia. Combining modern and traditional architectural designs, the mosque creates an illusion of itself as floating on water
     
  • Central Market or locally known as Pasar Payang which is located by the Terengganu River is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kuala Terengganu. Housed in a modern building complete with a shopping arcade and a car park, it offers visitors a variety of traditional handicrafts such as batik, silk, songket, brocade and brassware, other fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables and 'Keropok Lekor', which is a special local delicacy made from a mixture of fish and sago. Visitors to this market will have a delightful experi-ence shopping in local fares at reasonable prices.
     
  • Desa Craft. formerly known as Usaha Desa, is an interes-ting handicraft centre which showcases songket, brassware, batik, souvenir items and also fashion wear of current batik designs.  
     
  • Pulau Duyung.is the most well-known boat building ground in Terengganu. There, you can see boats being made by skilled boat builders who implement skills which have been passed down from generation to generation. Boat building is an art form therefore the boat builders take pride in their skill. The boat builders are unique, for they work entirely from their memory and experience, and without any set plans. Pulau Duyung is also renowned for its dried and salted fish, and fish crackers industries. It is easily accessible by the Sultan Mahmud Bridge, or for those who enjoy using sea transportation, take a boat from the Kuala Terengganu waterfront.
     
  • Malaysian Handicraft Centre in Chendering ( 6km).The centre offers visitors a wide variety of Malaysian handicraft and also an insight into handicraft making. Some of the exquisite items which can be found here are songket, batik, vases, and mats, hats, wallets and bags made from pandanus leaves. Visitors will also get a chance to witness first hand the skills of local artisans in songket weaving, batik painting, basket weaving, etc.

Kota Bharu



As the capital, Kota Bharu is a good place to sample traditional Malay culture. It is also a good place to explore the surrounding countryside. The town signals the end of the east coast road, and the beginning of Thailand. It is situated on the northern bank of the flood-prone Sungei Kelantan (Kelantan River). It is also the center of a fertile rice basin, as well as the Kelantan Royal Family. With modern architecture, Kota Bharu looks like any other east coast cities at first glance. But if you look closer, it has more to offer. Many visitors stop by before heading on to Thailand. They often end up staying longer than planned.
 
Museums
Museums in Kota Bharu are located close to one another near the "Padang Merdeka" (Independence Square). All are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Fridays.

Bank Kerapu (War Memorial Museum)
This museum contains collections of Japanese photographic memorabilia and documents relating to World War II. Dating back to 1912, the War Museum occupies the oldest brick building in Kelantan. Some artifacts, especially Japanese swords are on display.

Syura Hall (Islamic Museum)
The history of Islam in Kelantan can be found in this mosque-like building that is located across the road from Bank Kerapu. Artifacts and inscriptions document how Islam is so important in the everyday life of the state. The building itself was once known as "Serambi Mekah" (Verandah to Mecca), which refers to its days as Kelantan's first school of Islamic instruction.

Istana Jahar (Royal Custom Museum)
Built in 1887 by Sultan Muhamad II, this beautiful old wooden structure is definitely worth a visit. The carved wooden panels and intricate wooden framework displayed act as a testimony to the superb craftsmanship of the Kelantan people. Recently renovated and converted as a museum, it houses many valuable historical and cultural artifacts. Inside, do take note of the wrought-iron staircases on either side of the room that lead upstairs to a glorious wooden verandah.

Istana Batu (The Royal Museum)
This massive blue-and-white building is commonly referred to as the "Istana Bata" (The Brick Palace). Built in 1939, the Royal Museum served as the palace of the crowned prince from 1969, until it was donated to the state. It was used as a venue for royal weddings and to house royal guests. Today, the museum displays a variety of royal arts and artifacts, as well as historical paraphernalia that belonged to former "Sultans" (kings). Visitors can expect to see items such as a royal dining room, an opulent living room, replicas of crown jewels, and other royal bric-a-brac. On top of that, photographic exhibition on the life of the late Sultan of Kelantan can also be seen.

Kampung Kraftangan (Handicraft Village and Craft Museum)
Kelantan's exquisite range of handicrafts is on display here. Silverware, "songket", batik, and woodcarvings are exhibited here, as well as for sale. Other cultural activities are also depicted in this museum.

Istana Balai Besar (Palace of the Large Audience Hall)
Surrounded by walls, this palace is closed to the public. Located opposite the Istana Batu, the palace was built in 1840 by Sultan Muhamad II to replace his palace on the Kelantan River. It now serves as the venue for ceremonial functions and investiture ceremonies.



Labuan



Labuan is the main island of the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan. Labuan is best known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services via Labuan IBFC since 1990 as well as a tourist destination for nearby Bruneians and scuba divers. The name Labuan derives from the Malay word labuhan meaning anchorage.

The Federal Territory of Labuan comprises Labuan Island (75 km²) and six other smaller islands (Pulau Burung, Pulau Daat, Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Papan, Pulau Rusukan Kecil, and Pulau Rusukan Besar), which have a combined total area of 92 km². The islands lie 8 km off the coast of Borneo, adjacent to the Malaysian state of Sabah and the independent state of Brunei Darussalam, on the northern edge of Brunei Bay facing the South China Sea. Labuan Island is mainly flat and undulating and the highest point is only 85 meters. Over 70% of the island is still covered with vegetation. Bandar Labuan, formerly known as Victoria, is the major town and faces Brunei Bay; access is via ferry service to Brunei and Kota Kinabalu, as well as Labuan Airport

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kuala Lumpur



Kuala Lumpur is situated midway along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombek rivers. It is approximately 35 km from the coast and sits at the centre of the Peninsula's extensive and modern transportation network. Kuala Lumpur is easily the largest city in the nation, possessing a population of over one and a half million people drawn from all of Malaysia's many ethnic group.

 More than any other spot in the country, Kuala Lumpur, or "KL" as it is commonly known, is the focal point of new Malaysia. While the city's past is still present in the evocative British colonial buildings of the Dataran Merdeka and the midnight lamps of the Petaling Street nightmarket, that past is everywhere met with insistent reminders of KL's present and future. The city's bustling streets, its shining, modern office towers, and its cosmopolitan air project an unbounded spirit of progress and symbolize Malaysia's unhesitating leap into the future. To some, this spirit seems to have been gained at the loss of ancient cultural traditions, but in many ways KL marks the continuation rather than the loss of Malaysia's rich past. Like Malacca five hundred years before, KL's commercial centre is a grand meeting place for merchants and travelers from all over the world.

Putrajaya



Putrajaya administrative capital of Malaysia and federal territory, 111,313 acres (4,580 hectares), S Malay Peninsula. Construction on the planned city located 25 mi (40 km) south of Kuala Lumpur was begun in the mid-1990s. In 1999 government offices, including that of the prime minister, began moving to new capital, which is marked by modern domed buildings and landscaped gardens. Putrajaya was named a federal territory in 2001. The city is part of an ambitious Malaysian scheme, the Multimedia Supercorridor, a projected business zone replete with high-technology facilities, intended to run from the soaring Petronas Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur southward through Putrajaya to the large international airport.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Layang Layang Island



The little land mass supports a luxurious 90-room dive resort, a Malaysian Naval base and a nesting colony for several sea-faring migratory birds.

The reef topography is essentially made up of a rich growth of hard corals; some so shallow that they break the sea surface during low tides, but most begin at depths of about 5m right down to the ocean floor.

Some of the marine animals observed around the 14 dive sites include black-tip sharks, hammerheads, jacks barracudas, bump-head parrotfish, lionfish, moray eels, turtles, nudibranches, gobies and the ghost pipe fish.

If you have ever wanted to see a school of huge hammerhead sharks, come in the months of April-June. Your chances are very good during this time.

Cow Island



Pulau Sapi has one of the nicest beaches in the Park its clean white sand and crystal clear water and coral reefs fringing the shoreline makes it ideal for swimming, snorkelling and diving.Day-use facilities include a jetty, picnic shelters, barbecue pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets. Pulau Sapi (Cow Island) has some of the nicest beaches in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and pristine diving and snorkelling conditions.
The water is very clear and inhabited by colourful fish who peck in a surprising way at the feet and legs of unsuspecting visitors - they're just eating shreds of your dead skin... The island is also home to monkeys, not cows, and they're more than happy to steal your lunch if you give them a chance - out of your hands if need be. This is one of the quieter of the national park's five. People generally visit for the day and only a few people stay overnight - the accommodation is limited and the facilities pretty basic. But they do a tasty barbecue.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Manukan Island



The snorkeling at Manukan is fantastic! The variety of marine fish that I saw was really astounding. The corals were of great varieties too.

Interestingly, the rarest fish specie that you can here are of the anemonefish! While most of us are used to seeing regular clown anemonefish, being able to spot the large spinecheek anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus) and orange anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos, somewhat similar to pink anemonefish of A. perideraion) was something that I treasured during the snorkeling trip.

Other than that, you can see colourful damselfish, Moorish idols (Zanclus cornutus), Eastern triangular butterflyfish (Chaetodon baronessa), a few parrotfish, sixbar wrasse (Thalassoma hardwicke), virgate rabbitfish (Siganus virgatus, a big school of them!), vermiculated angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus), mirror butterflyfish (Chaetodon speculum), eight-banded butterflyfish, blue-spotted grouper (Cephalopholis cyanostigma), copper-band butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), etc.

The corals are definitely healthy and teeming with marine fishes. Among the stony corals you could even spot a number of Bennet's feather of star (Oxycomanthus bennetti) as well as rare bulb tentacle anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor). Otherwise, in term of corals, the usual suspects are colourful staghorn corals, Porites sp. corals, Pavona clavus corals, green mushroom sea anemones (Sarcophyton sp.), blue sea star, bottlebrush Acropora awi corals, various Montipora sp. corals, leaf corals (Pavona decussata), plate corals, knob brain corals (Lobophyllia hemprichii), table corals, etc.

Mantanani Island



Mantanani Island is a group of three isolated islands northwest of Kota Belud, a one-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. Until recently, the islands were only known to a few locals. The largest island houses the only dive resort, Mantanani Resort which is situated at the western end on the edge of a white sandy bay.

Nestled amongst the tall coconut palms are beach cabins scattered around the main plantation styled house. Three wrecks have been discovered which still hold plenty of secrets and are now home to a menagerie of marine creatures such as Lionfish, Scorpionfish, octopus, glassfish and the coral reefs surrounding the islands have plenty to offer, for both novice and experienced diver.

Many species of rays can be found, Marbled stingray, Blue spotted ray and large schools of eagle rays. For macro photographers the “muck diving” is amazing, seahorses, imperial shrimps, pink-eye gobies, jawfish, blue-ringed octopus, ribbon eels and many nudibranch you want to be able to find in books! There are now 16 dive sites identified by Mantanani Resort with many more still to be explored.

Kapalai island



Kapalai island - The mere name conjures the image of crystal clear waters and a floating paradise like no other. A 45-minute trip from Semporna by speedboat, Kapalai island is one of the many beautiful diving havens in this part of the world. However, Kapalai is truly unique because it is not quite an ‘island’.

The 40 chalets are built on high wooden stilts in the middle of the ocean. Visitors can enjoy the sights of marine life in action as they stroll along the boardwalk, a sturdy construction that connects the various sections of the floating resort. The resort has 40 chalets, equipped with basic amenities, including tea and coffee making facilities.

You will never have to gripe about having a less than desirable view: you have a breathtaking view of the Celebes Sea no matter where you turn! The restaurant is a wooden deck, where diners can eat indoors or al fresco. There’s even a viewing area in the middle of the restaurant which allows you to see the myriad of marine life passing below.

The sundeck, a popular favourite, is a great place to enjoy your novel, work on a tan or indulge in an afternoon siesta. The Dive Centre provides diving, snorkelling and kayaking gear for rent. Can’t dive but would love to? No problem! The centre offers a variety of PADI courses, including Open Water and Introduction to Night Diving. After enjoying your underwater paradise, explore other facilities offered by the resort including the souvenir shop, games room and broadband access.

Mabul Island



Mabul Island is reputed to be one of the best places for underwater macro-photography in the world. Located in the clear waters of the Celebes Sea off the mainland of Sabah, it is surrounded by gentle sloping reefs two to 40m deep.

Covering some 21 ha., it is considerably larger than the nearby Sipadan Island and is home to the Bajau Laut tribe, one of many ethnic groups in Sabah.

Diving is the main activity on this island, and it can be done all year round. Marine life that can be seen here includes sea horses, exotic starfish, fire gobies, crocodile fish, pipefish and snake eels. There are over eight popular dive spots, each with its own speciality.

Three resorts cater to scuba divers -- two are on the island itself while one is on a converted oil rig platform about 500m offshore. All of the resorts provide day trips for their guests to the nearby Sipadan and Kapalai Islands.

Pom Pom Island



Most of you probably already well known about Sipadan island, a world class dive site in the world, but here I’m not talking about Sipadan.. Behold! a new star is born! Pom Pom island. The island situated somewhere near to Mataking island of the Celebes sea.


An hours boat ride from mainland Borneo, Pom Pom Island is a pristine, private island with sun kissed sandy beaches surrounded by the deep azure of the Celebes sea.

Geographically, Pom Pom Island is among the few rare islands found on the South China Sea. It is about half an hour's from main land Semporna by speedboat, which you will arrive to an unspoiled white sandy beach and relaxing island.

Built to offer you complete luxury, comfort and privacy, the resort is set within Pom Pom Island's lush green vegetation. The resort consists of Beach Front Chalets, Garden View Chalets and Water Bungalow/Villa, which are constructed in traditional architecture to blend into the native surroundings without disturbing or removing the islands natural vegetation. The fresh and cooling sea breeze let you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your stay. All Chalets are air conditioned, contain private balconies and have an attached bathroom with freshwater supply.