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Malaysia's marvels and magic moments

08-31-2010 08:34 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- There are few places where you can stand on the grounds of a colonial church, gaze out at Southeast Asian shores at sunset and hear the call to prayer from a nearby mosque at the same time. Malaysia is one of them. Marta Cooper reports.

Malaysia's gorgeous landscape, vibrant colors, delicious cuisine and diverse cultural make-up are just a few reasons why this destination will never fail to impress.
Malaysia's gorgeous landscape, vibrant colors, delicious cuisine and diverse
cultural make-up are just a few reasons why this destination will never fail
to impress.(File photo)

Malaysia's gorgeous landscape, vibrant colors, delicious cuisine and diverse cultural make-up are just a few reasons why this destination will never fail to impress.

Malaysia is geographically split in two: Peninsular Malaysia, on mainland Southeast Asia, houses 11 states and the capital, Kuala Lumpur as well as some scenic beaches.

Across the South China Sea is the Malaysian portion of Borneo, where lush rainforests occupy the eastern states of Sarawak and Sabah, home to diverse wildlife and tribal traditions.

However, for all its gorgeousness, Malaysia is often overlooked by travel junkies trawling through Southeast Asia, preferring to see their money go further in the cheaper spots of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. But don't be fooled: Your Ringgit can certainly stretch a long way here, not least thanks to the cheap flights offered by Air Asia from Shanghai-Hangzhou to Kuala Lumpur (see for details).

I began my brief 10-day break in Kuala Lumpur, just over a five-hour flight from Shanghai. The city boasts a beautiful mix of Islamic, Indian and colonial architecture, hordes of air-conditioned malls to escape the tropical humidity, towering skyscrapers, lush parks and several museums displaying the diverse cultures of the land. Unmissable is a trip to the Islamic Arts Museum, near the vast Lake Gardens.

The accessible museum hosts a range of artifacts from the Muslim world, from North Africa to Southeast Asia and everywhere in between, from scrolls to ceramics, clothing to maps.

But, if you're put off by the high prices in the museum shop, the landmark Central Market is just a short walk away and could easily take up an afternoon.

Here you will find your run-of-the-mill souvenirs as well as Indian antiques, Islamic-style furniture and prints, Kashmiri carpets, Malaysian-patterned clothing, and convenient cafes to refresh yourself in.

And if Central Market feels too timid, crossing the road will land you in Chinatown, a bustling collection of souvenir and food stalls where you can barter for anything from vintage postcards to fresh durian.

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