Christmas in Malaysia

Today is the first day of the lunar new year, a very big holiday in Korea, so it gives us a little time to fill in some of the blanks on what we’ve been up to.

In December, we spent two weeks in Malaysia; one week on the island of Langkawi and a few days each in Penang and Kuala Lumpur (KL). Langkawi was very relaxing with its tropical weather in contrast to the cold Korean winter. We’re not really beach people but the setting at the Westin, where we stayed, was quite nice and very restful.

There’s not especially a lot to do on Langkawi but therein lies its charm. With a large
Muslim population, there’s not
much nightlife, a possible exception being the hotel beach area, a 20-minute cab ride from where we stayed. Evening comes early, with beautiful tropical sunsets and pleasant strolls along the beach. A perfect place for a relaxing holiday.

Penang, although only a short 3-hour ferry ride south, is a different story. Known to some as the “Silicon Valley of Malaysia”, Penang is a bustling, energetic combination of manufacturing, shopping and high-rise condo construction with a primarily ethnic Chinese population. Intel is here, as well as lots of other high-tech companies and the area, like so much of Asia, is booming. Christmas is celebrated and carols could be heard in shopping malls, restaurants and hotel lobbies throughout the island. But, it wasn’t the frenetic, advertising-bombarded, in-your-face constantly kind of Christmas we’re accustomed to in the US. Different.

We ended our trip in KL, with a view of the Petronas Twin Towers from our hotel window.

Once the tallest buildings in the world, Tower #2 on the left, as well as the skybridge, was built by Samsung Construction. Samsung is now working on what will be the latest world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai in Dubai. One thing you can say about Samsung (and about Korean companies in general) is that they do not think small.
Post-Christmas sales were in full swing in the malls and Tanya was ecstatic. KL has a very efficient subway/train/bus system and it was a short trip to Tanya’s favorite, the “Mid-Valley MegaMall” (sounds kind of like something in California doesn’t it) with over 400 stores and an 18-screen cineplex. Malaysians flock to these merchandising havens, not only for the shopping experience, but because they’re marvelously air-conditioned, not a small factor.

That’s all for today. Happy New Year (the year of the rat)!

You can impress your Korean friends by greeeting them with “say hay boke-mahn he pah du say oh”.

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