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Reasons to Stay for the Summer

by Eleanor Lopez 1 Jul 2011
Reasons to Stay for the Summer

It’s that time of the year, the great exodus of expatriates making their way back home for the summer holidays. The hassle of planning, packing and family reunions can sometimes take its toll leaving you to wonder why you don’t just stay back and actually enjoy your time-off. If you’re looking for a good excuse to do just that, here’s a hundred and one.

SHOPPING

Why waste all that dough on flights when you can spend, spend, spend it all here to buy almost anything your heart could desire. For a list of shopping malls near you, pick up a copy of Arrivals 2011 (available at major bookstores) or log onto www.arrivals.com.my

1 Mega Sale

The most anticipated time of the year for shopaholics, you could quite literally buy up a whole store with the ridiculous discounts on everything from designer labels to gadgets and gizmos. Don’t forget wish-you-werehere gifts for the in-laws back home.

2 Luxury brands

Vuitton, Cartier, Hermes… no need to go to Paris or Milan when KL is fast establishing itself as the next fashion capital of the world. For the ultimate high-end retail therapy visit Suria KLCC, Pavilion & Starhill Gallery.

3 Fashion

And speaking of designers, don’t miss out on the next big thing to emerge from these shores. After all Malaysia does lay claim to Jimmy Choo, Zang Toi, Bernard Chandran and more. Keep your eye out for labels by Khoon Hooi, Melinda Looi and Farah Khan.

4 Tax-free

Stock up your mini bar with a quick trip to Labuan or Langkawi. These tax free islands are the best place to splurge on crates of liquor and cartons of tobacco.

UNE SCO HERITAGE SITES

Take a trip down memory lane and learn about the Sultanate of Melaka and the colonial powers that made Malaysia what she is today.

5 George Town

Get up close and personal with the darling of the north in this month’s George Town Festival. See www.expatriatelifestyle.com.my for exciting cultural events happening this month.

6 Melaka

Tuck into some Nyonya delicacies, stroll through the bright red Stadthuys and pick up some antiques for a leisurely weekend away at this legendary port. www.tourism-melaka.com

7 Trishaw rides

Not an ideal means to get around fast, but they make for some fascinating snapshots.

AT THE SEASIDE

Marine leisure; make sure you try every single item on this list to fully appreciate its meaning.

8 Collect seashells

One of life’s simple pleasures are those rare moments when you can relive your childhood. Grab a bucket and your kids and scour the seaside for some surprises.

9 Diving

With stretches of vibrant, exotic underwater world Malaysia remains one of the top destinations in the world. Do check with operators before taking the plunge as some parts of the East coast are recovering from the coral bleaching calamity. www.berjayahotel.com

10 Fresh seafood

Savour the best local seafood dishes right off the boat and straight into the pot or grill. Or catch it yourself. Get your gear, hire a boat and toss that line out into the deep, blue sea. If nothing else at least you’ll have a long tale to tell.

11 Island life

It may be a long time since you’ve read Robinson Crusoe, but it’s not too late to pitch a tent, build a fire and simply rough it out on some near-deserted island.

12 Sailing/yachting

Malaysia has plenty of ports to start your sailing or yachting holiday from. If you don’t know how then here are some useful contacts www.rsyc.com.my, www.langkawiyacthclub.co, www.syc.org.my

13 Sun bathe

Big cooped up in your office all day doesn’t give you much opportunity to top up that tan. It would be a shame to waste the (near) eternal sunshine that we have this side of the world, so strip off and slap on the factor 50.

14 Turtle watching

June to August is turtle season, so don’t miss the opportunity to catch sight of these remarkable creatures as they come to shore in the wee hours of the morning to lay their eggs. www.clubmed.com.my

SLOW TRAVEL

It’s not always the destination that matters, sometimes it’s all about the journey.

15 Cruises

Whether you’re a pair of newly partnered or a family of five there’s plenty on board to keep everyone happy. www.starcruises.com

16 KL Hop On-Hop Off bus tour

Be a tourist for a day and take a tour of the city. You just might see and discover something you never
thought was there.

17 Train

Take the north to south train and enjoy picturesque views of rural life in Peninsular Malaysia. www.ktmb.com.my

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Still haven’t got round to that life changing resolutions you made when the clock struck midnight at the dawn of the New Year. Don’t toss it. Just do it.

18 Cosmetic surgery

And if you’re looking to getting some ‘work’ done discreetly, stay put. Malaysia is fast becoming a popular destination for cosmetic tourism. For consultation contact www.gimc.com.my, www.princecourt.com, www.sunway.com.my or www.tropicanamedicalcentre.com

19 Detox

This could also be the best time to start a detox programme as you’ll be more at leisure to pay attention to healthy options and food preparation. Visit www.countryfarmorganics.com and www.eco-oasis.my for some meal ideas.

20 Join a gym

Not the best holiday activity, but why miss the chance to get fit and fab now that you’ve got the time.
After all there is that Christmas binge to prepare for. Try these places for some fun work-out. www.chi-fitness.com, www.fitnessfirst.com.my, www.truefitness.com.my

21 Malay spa

If you’re still a stranger to local remedies visit www.tanameraspa.com.my or spend a few idyllic weeks at Tanjong Jara Resort www.tanjongjararesort.com to indulge in some traditional Malay therapies.

22 Yoga

It’s not just your body that needs an overhaul. For a holistic program cum holidaybook in to The Andaman for their V Integrated Wellness Program that includes beauty treatments, fitness classes and workshops. www.theandaman.com

THEME PARKS

Here’s something for the young and young at heart; who can say no to dare devil rides, thrilling water slides and carnival favourites. What’s better? You can keep going back for more now that the kids are off school.

23 Bukit Gambang Water Park

For a whale of a time with the family, this 60 acre water park includes a man-made lake, massive wave pool and kid-size replica of every adult ride so nobody misses out. The park has also introduced an e-value system, whereby all transactions are automatically deducted from a prepaid wristband for more peace of mind. www.bgrc.com.my

24 Genting Theme Park

A sprawling, multimillion ringgit with over 40 heart-stopping rides in their outdoor and indoor park to keep everyone happy, and the cool mountain air adds to the exhilarating experience. www.rwgenting.com

25 Lost World of Tambun

Located on the outskirts of Ipoh among lush greenery and limestone hills, Tambun is accessible to expatriates in the north and south. It boasts the longest water park river ride in the country and hot springs rich in minerals.

26 Sunway Lagoon

The perfect place for outdoor fun; it has water, slides, bungee jumping, animal attractions and a shopping centre next door for those who don’t want to get wet. www.sunway.com.my

CAVE EXPLORATION

If you’re looking for adventure then make like Indiana Jones and explore some of the world’s largest and most spectacular caves. Word of advice; do not watch The Descent or any of its sequels before your trip.

27 Gua Tempurung

There are several tours available at Peninsular Malaysia’s largest limestone cave ranging from easy to challenging course which includes treading an icy cold underground stream, muddy paths, crawling through rocky holes and sliding down slippery stone. www.guatempurung.com

28 Mulu Park

The Mulu Heritage Guides in Sarawak conducts daily guided tours to bat infested limestone passages or cruise up the Melinau river in a longboat to visit the Clearwater cave and Cave of Winds. www.mulupark.com

29 Highland holiday

If you’re missing the cool climes of home, then navigate the twists and turns uphill to one of several highland retreats for a satisfying and rejuvenating holiday. Leave the kilt and bagpipes at home though.

30 Bukit Tinggi

Immerse yourself in the enchanting medieval French village and picturesque surroundings of Colmar Tropicale. La vie est belle as the French would say. www.berjayahotel.com

31 Cameron Highlands

The country’s biggest hill resort and has been popular with expatriates since colonial times. Try the Tudorstyle country house resort, The Lakehouse www.lake-house-cameron.com or be charmed by The Smokehouse Hotel & Restaurant www.thesmokehouse.com.my

32 East Malaysia

Inspired by its natural elements atop a mountain plateau Borneo Highlands Resort is a haven for urbanites wanting to go back to nature. The exclusive resort is also a romantic getaway for couples with only 30 rooms and 10 jungle cabins. www.borneohighlands.com.my

33 Fraser’s Hill

Book into The Pines for a tranquil, close to nature experience. Tucked amidst a lush pine forest, the resort offers fully serviced apartments, nature activities and breathtaking mountain views. www.thepines.com.my

PICNICS

Get the kids involved with preparing the food, organizing games and packing the basket.

34 Bukit Cahaya

Spend the morning cycling and exploring this agro-forestry park before settling down for some brunch. There are live demonstrations, cultural exhibits and educational activities to keep the little one occupied.

35 Lake Gardens

Established in 1888, this 91.6 hectare of parks and gardens, in the vicinity of Carcosa Seri Negara has a children’s playground, jogging tracks and exercise stations. Not to mention plenty of space to spread the picnic blanket.

36 Penang Hill

Known to locals as Bukit Bendera, the hill was founded by Sir Francis Light in 1788. Take the famous Swiss made funicular train up and walk back down to find a nice picnic spot with views of the mist covered valley and lush flora and fauna.

37 Taman Titiwangsa

With tennis courts, playground, water sports and floating restaurant, this is one of the more popular recreational spots with city dwellers.

38 Waterfalls

Check out this website www.waterfallsofmalaysia.com for a tried and tested guide to the magnificent cascades of water that make a perfect background for picture perfect moments. Don’t forget to pack a towel.

ARTS & CULTURE

With its conglomeration of races, religion and cultures, Malaysia is abundant with attractions and activities that represent this social melting pot at its best. Check www.arrivals.com.my for locations and contact details.

39 Comedy

If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, then check out the local comedy scene. With more than enough fodder for gags and often tailored to the expatriates, Comedy Club KL www.thecomedyclubkl.com and Time Out KL’s Comedy Thursday www.timeoutkl.com tops the list.

40 Cultural walks

Take your camera out and explore the nooks and crannies of old KL, peek behind the façade of Little India and Chinatown.

41 Dewan Filharmonik Petronas

Home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra the DFP has hosted international musicians and conductors and is an important platform for local traditional art forms. www.dfp.com.my

42 Galleries & Museums

Whether you’re buying or browsing there’s no shortage of exhibitions, displays and shows to feed your cultured appetite.

43 Historical sites

Make it your mission this summer to seek out less popular sites such as the haunted ruins of Kellie’s Castle in Perak, the Dutch Graveyard in Melaka, Cape Rachado Lighthouse in Port Dickson and Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells) in Kuala Selangor.

44 Homestays

it’s a growing trend here as more and more visitors seek to fully immerse themselves in local cultures and lifestyle. Visit www.malaysia-homestay.com for list of host families in every state.

45 Performing arts

Live music and theatre have been around for a long time but thanks to support from the long-staying expatriate community they’ve become a formidable source of entertainment, putting forth quality local and international productions.

46 Portuguese settlement

Granted the best time to visit is at religious festivals (Christmas in particular) but if you want to beat the crowds this is the best time to explore the lifestyle of the country’s first expatriates.

47 Sarawak Cultural Village

Not only do they host the annual Rainforest World Music Festival, the village nestled at the foothills of
the legendary Mount Santubong is a living museum of the Bornean state’s varying cultures, architecture and customs. www.scv.com.my

TOURIST TRAPS

They’re on the top of every tourist’s must-do/must-see list. But have you taken the time to visit these places yourself?

48 Petaling Street

Avoid if you don’t approve of fake designer goods. Go simply to sharpen your haggling skills to show off to visiting friends.

49 Batu Caves

Avoid if you are terrified of monkeys. Go simply to see what all the fuss is about.

50 Menara KL

Avoid if you’re not a fan of towers. Go simply to say you’ve been there, done that.

DAY TRIPS

Try these short trips to add some variety to your staycation.

51 Aquaria KLCC

Though you’ll need a diving license to swim with the sharks, the 90-metre observation tunnel and piranha feeding is a thrilling and educational experience. www.klaquaria.com

52 Fireflies

Most popular spot to witness this marvel of nature is at Kuala Selangor. Take a boat out in the evening and enjoy a seafood dinner at a nearby restaurant after.

53 KL Bird Park

With 3,000 birds, the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary and a gastronomic experience waiting to be discovered at the Hornbill Restaurant & Café, the bird park is tops for a fun-filled day out for all.

54 Petrosains

The discovery centre located on Level 4 of KLCC is a fun place to learn and understand the world of science with rides, display and mini theatre. www.petrosains.com.my

55 Putrajaya

As the administrative centre for the federal government there’s plenty to admire in terms of architecture. Take a leisure cruise on the lake for stunning views of the Putrajaya Mosque, Putra Bridge and buildings.

56 Squid jigging

May to August is squid jigging season on the east coast. Go out on a boat at night with powerful lights to attract the squids. Drop your jig into the water and jerk gently to see if you’ve caught anything. Yes, there are people out there who think this is fun.

57 National Planetarium

Another one to keep the kids entertained and educated at the same time. There’s an Outdoor Ancient Observatory Park, Space Theatre, and Exhibition Gallery to name a few. www.angkasa.gov.my

WILDLIFE

Although Malaysia is a fast developing country, there’s still plenty left of its amazing geographical treasures; ancient rainforests, mountains, mangroves, flora and fauna.

58 Endau Rompin National Park

Located in Mersing, the park features ancient rock formations, pristine forest landscapes and the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros.

59 Kuala Gandah

Famous for its elephant sanctuary, Kuala Gandah also aims to promote public awareness of the elephant’s plight and support research into elephant translocation and conservation.

60 Kenyir Lake

As part of the Malaysia National Park, the lake is a unique for its precious flora and fauna species. Enjoy fishing, camping ot stay in a house-boat, trekking and caving while you’re there. www.kenyirlake.com

61 Sepilok Forest Reserve

An enormous area of virgin equatorial rainforest that is also home to the Orang Utan Sanctuary, where you can enjoy a close encounter with these charming primates.

62 Taman Negara

At over 130 million years old, it’s the oldest rainforest in the world with more than 300 species of mammals. If you’re lucky you just might catch a rare sight of the near extinct tapir.

DO SOMETHING NEW

Give in to that rebellious spirit and go against your nature. Take up a new sport, learn a new skill or just try something different.

63 Climb Mount Kinabalu

For mountain climbing with a twist, take the iron road or via ferrata, a network of iron rungs, rails and cable to reach the peak. www.mountaintorq.com

64 Community

Helping raise funds is all well and good but sometimes you have to get involved to understand what these charities and causes really need. Check with your expatriate association to see how you can help.

65 Learn a local language

Ever feel left out when your local friends suddenly switched to a mother tongue or that linguistic nightmare they call ‘manglish’? Pick up the lingo with a crash course in Malay or any of the local dialects. www.icls.com.my

66 Muay Thai

Remember that movie Kickboxer? Ever wanted to try some of those hi-flying kicks yourself? Try it at MuayFit Thai Boxing Fitness www.muayfit.com

67 Piloting

You can sign-up for lessons at The Malaysian Flying Academy www.mfa.edu.my be it a Private Pilot License Course or if you’re contemplating a career switch.

68 Performing Arts

Make your Broadway dreams come true. Sign up for workshops and seminars at www.theactorsstudio.com.my and www.klpac.org

69 Silat

Try your hand at this unique and graceful form of martial arts. It’s a little hard to come by a reputable centre that offers lessons so check with your local gym.

70 Write a novel

Your experiences here are stories waiting to be told and a book waiting to be published. Go on, be inspired. And do let us know how you get on.

SPORTS

There are many sports in Malaysia that are well represented by expatriates. Here’s some that you could participate in … and not just for the summer.

71 Gaelic Football

Thanks to some Irish expatriates passionate about their national sport, you can now enjoy a kick around with the Orang Eire GAA Team. www.malaysiagaa.com

72 Golf

If you missed the recent TNT-Expatriate Lifestyle Charity Open then your loss. But there’s plenty of time now, and places to fine-tune your swing in time for next year’s.

73 Hashing

“A drinking club with a running problem” might be just what you’re looking for if you’re need an excuse to work up a thirst. Check with your expatriate association or visit www.hashhouseharrietspenang.com

74 Kelawar Cricket Club

The club started 17 years ago and has its ‘unofficial’ headquarters at the Kudu Bar (Out of Africa). The 'bats' have traveled around the country for matches and also hold junior cricket sessions. www.kelawarcc.com

75 Mountain biking

One of the more popular sport amongst expatriates, the diverse landscape makes it perfect for bashing; the cycling equivalent of hashing. www.klmbh.org

76 Rock climbing

Climbing gyms are all well and good, but there’s nothing like solid, natural rock surfaces and potential danger to get that adrenalin pumping. Or you could try Camp5 for the safer alternative. www.camp5.com

77 White-water rafting

Get wet and wild with Nomad Adventure’s www.nomadadventure.com specialized river courses and combo trips for rafting and kayaking.

ROAD TRIPS

At just 330,000 square kilometers much of which is mountainous terrain, there are still some parts that are ideal for hopping into your car and just driving.

78 Borneo

An epic journey to the depths of Sabah and Sarawak where you can explore the lives of the native tribes and their enchanting customs.

79 East coast

Enjoy a leisurely drive along the picturesque coastline and catch glimpse of deserted beaches, colourful fishing villages and savour some local roadside delicacies.

80 West coast

Whether you’re heading to Penang, Langkawi or even Pangkor, opt for the original, winding, rustic road that will take you through sleepy towns and countryside left behind by modernisation.

DINING

Being a gastronomic haven thanks to the myriad of cuisines and fusion cooking styles, there’s plenty of choices to feed this national obsession. So why deny yourself the pleasure.

81 Afternoon tea

Be it Carcosa Seri Negara, The Ritz-Carlton KL or even Harrods at KLCC, this quintessential British tradition has made itself a popular fixture in these shores.

82 Authentic dishes

Brave the mamak and roadside hawkers once in a while. They may look uninviting but the roti canai, mee goreng, char kuay teow served here seem to always taste much better.

83 Cooking classes

Or you could learn to make them yourself at Bayan Indah www.bayanindah.com or Lazat www.malaysiaklcookingclass.com

84 Food fairs

A quick way to get acquainted with the local cuisines. See p120 for details on the Kota Kinabalu Food Fest.

85 Ramadhan buffets

It may be the month of fasting and abstinence in the Muslim calendar but (only) in Malaysia restaurants and hotels pull out all stops to provide a delectable spread for the masses at breaking of fast. Grab a plate and join the queue.

86 Something new

No doubt you may have tried and loathed this stinky, pungent fruit. But what about durian inspired desserts? The durian tiramisu at Songket Restaurant www.songketrestaurant.com might change your mind.

87 Something weird

You think durian is bad enough? Try braised pig’s ear, bull testicle and snake soup. Ask a local friend to take you out for a wacky culinary challenge.

88 Strawberries & tea leaves

Where else but the highlands of course. Notably Cameron Highlands for its sprawling tea estates and strawberry farms. www.cameronhighlandsresort.com

AND MORE…

89 AirAsia

A cheap and cheerful way to make that tour of Malaysia. www.airasia.com

90 Barbeque

Throw a summer party for the friends who like you have decided to stay back. Get your choice cuts and sausages from Jarrod & Rawlins deli counter. www.jarrod-rawlins.com

91 BPL Clubs tour

This could be your only chance to score an autograph with the stars of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool FC.

92 EL Events

Look out for our Movie Dates, sport and community events and make a family day of it. Visit www.expatriatelifestyle.com.my and our FaceBook page for invitations.

93 Festivities

There’s always something to celebrate here in Malaysia even if it’s something as macabre as the month long Hungry ghost Festival, the impressive firework displays on National Day or 'open house' for Hari Raya.

94 KL Children Library

It is never too early or too late to inculcate the good habit and perhaps pick it up yourself.

95 Luxury hotels

Still not sure who you’re going to vote for in The Best of Malaysia Awards? Another visit to that luxury hotel/resort should help you decide. Or try somewhere new.

96 MTV World Stage

Go home and miss out on one of the most exciting line-ups to date? You must be mad.

97 Nightlife

That rain-cheque you took on several after works drinks and girls nights out. Yup, it’s time to cash in with no compunction. Go to www.arrivals.com.my for listings on bars, clubs and pubs near you.

98 Redecorate

Spend the summer sprucing up your home style. Browse local furniture stores (see www.arrivals.com.my) for unique decorative items and ideas.

99 Summer Camps

Pack the kids off while you get some much needed R&R.

100 Wedding

Contact My Wedding Planner at inquiry@myweddingplanner.com.my for that destination wedding you’ve always dreamt about.

101 And finally …

Use the list above to convince your friends and family to come over instead!

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