Thursday, April 16, 2015

Malaysia-Singapore Calling

Often our local politicians keep talking of making their city like Singapore and in the name of study tour keep going to such places on tax payer’s money but never emulated!. So, the idea of me going to Singapore was always there on back of my mind for a long time. The long cherished dream of visiting Malaysia & Singapore became a reality all of a sudden when 15 family members (all of whom are 50+ except 3) decided and embarked upon 7 days sojourn on 1st of April 2015 from Bangalore to Malaysia.

Day 1-

 We were picked up by our tour guide Parmeswari, a Malaysian born Tamilian. The airport is 65 Kms from Kuala Lumpur. The climate was cool as it had rained the previous day. Before proceeding straight to famous Genting Hill resort, the bus stopped at Putrajaya for photo shoot at the Malaya King’s palace and Prime Minister’s office/residence followed by Indian breakfast near a lakeside.

In front of Prime Minister's Residence, Putrajaya & Guinness Record certificate for Genting Height Hotel

Genting hill resort is a private resort promoted by a Chinese businessman late Sri Lim Goh Tong at an elevation of 6000 feet above sea level. On the final leg to Genting hills, we took a cable car which is the longest cable car route covering a distance of 3.38 kms. This cable car is fastest in south Asia. It was a breath taking exhilarating experience with thick rain forest below and dense fog playing hide & seek with us inside the cable car. Our stay was at Genting height hotel which has largest number of rooms (6118) in the world, a Guinness world record!The hotel resort complex has everything under one roof one wished for- Gaming station, Casino, shopping malls, snow city, bars & restaurants, amusement rides and above all beautiful panoramic views from the hotel floors.

Day 2-

After breakfast, Left Genting heights next day  once again taking the cable car and onward journey by bus to Kuala Lumpur which is about 45 minutes’ drive from Genting. Our first stop was at Batu Caves where all Indian temples of Lord Shiva, Murugan, Vishnu, Hanuman, Ganesha, Shanishwar are situated. A very tall statue of Lord Murugan is situated at the foot of caves and one has to climb steep 300 steps to reach the cave where Murugan temple is situated.
Next on our itinerary was KL Tower which is 420 meters high giving a panoramic view of the city. This is world’s 7th tallest tower, top most floor being a revolving restaurant. While travelling in the city, we could also see chaotic traffic & traffic violation by two wheelers like going in wrong lane or moving on to footpath during peak hour just like Namma Bangalore!
But looking at the greenery and maintenance all around, I can confirm that our own Bangalore is very far from getting a tag of garden or green city! In fact, inside the city, a portion of forest has been preserved untouched. The day ended at Grand Season Hotel for our night stay.

Day 3-

In the morning visited the famous landmark of Kuala Lumpur ‘Petronas twin towers’. This entire 88 floors tower is constructed with stainless steel and glass. It has car parking for 5400 on 5 level basements. One tower is occupied by the Petronas group of companies while the other is occupied by many multinational companies. There is a sky bridge at 41st level connecting the two towers while at the 84th floor is observatory deck for viewing the entire city’s landscape. Afternoon was free for shopping.

Twin Tower of Patronas,Kuala Lumpur
Day 4-

In the morning we were dropped at the bus stand for our onward journey to Singapore by road. It was a 4 & half hour journey including immigration check at the Singapore border. As soon as we crossed the border, we were in Singapore city. This name is derived from India only and it was earlier called Singha-pur (city of Lion) but Britishers named it later to Singapore. Passing through several high rise buildings and greenery all around, we were dropped at the Imperial Grand Hotel in Little India area. In little India, one can feel at home with similar shops & plenty of eateries  from Tamilnadu like Sarvana Bhavan, Komala Vilas, Sangeetha, Anjapaar etc.

Post lunch, we were taken to Merlion plaza where the famous mascot of Singapore stand tall. Merlion is a tall statue of fish cum lion and water gushing out of the lion’s mouth on the bank of river. Later we went for River safari followed by Night safari to enjoy the animals in their natural habitat. One can experience the feel of being under the sea at the ‘Sea Aquarium’ where several kinds of giant mammals & fishes keep moving overhead, of course behind glass panels!

The Merlion, Singapore
Marina Bay sand Hotel, Singapore with Ship like deck on top
Universal Studio
KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur
Batu Cave, Kuala Lumpur
Day 5-

Next day was a full day trip to Sentosa Resort Island with several attractions like Butterfly Park, Cable ride, Madam Tussad’s wax museum, Sea beach side, Segway ride, ropeway slide, 3 D shows and laser show ‘Wings of Fire’ etc. Even full day is not enough to see all the attractions.

Day 6-

Visit to the Universal studio is a star attraction for children & adults alike. There are several breathtaking rides in the Madagascar ride, Jurassic Park, Egypt, Transformers, sci-fi city, water world etc. Steven Spielberg’s conceived special effect section gives the visitor an idea about how special effects are created in disaster movies. The visit to studio ends with a live model a-la Merlyn Munroe greeting every one.

Post lunch was a ride on ‘Singapore flyer’, Asia’s largest giant observation wheel (merry go round) 165 meter high featuring several mini bus size capsules. It can carry 784 passengers at a time. It rotates very slowly (45 minutes to take one round) so that people can enjoy the birds view of the Singapore sky line as well as enjoy the illumination of tall buildings  in the night. Evening was the time for shopping at ‘Mustafa’, a huge 3 block shop in little India area where A to Z items is available 24x7!

Day 7-

On the final half day trip, it was the time to take a tour of city and the river in  what is called ‘Duck tour’, a bus cum boat like vehicle which moves on road as well takes you in the river to show the star hotels, parks and  financial district of Singapore. The last stop was at Sky park observatory deck at the famous Marina Bay Sand Hotel. At the top 57th floor is a deck in the shape of big ship resting on three towers of the hotel. It has world’s largest rooftop swimming pool with palm trees around. It takes 57 seconds to reach the deck at 57th floor!

 Like all tours, our tour also came to an end and we arrived back with sweet memories of the politician’s study city-Singapore & Malaysia! Sayonara.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Bandicoot is one of the Rat species, larger in size over the normal rat commonly found in houses and grain shops. These terrestrial species are very active at night and destructive in nature. They destroy cultivated crops; make tunnels beneath the fields, gardens and even the concrete floor making them porous to the extent of sinking the ground, floor or the road. But this article is not about such rats but about the new generation urban bandicoots of Namma Bengaluru. Guess what?

During 50s, 60s & 70s, the city was considered to be a garden city with cool climate, clean roads and healthy environment. With the population explosion and influx of people from other parts of the country, city started losing its sheen giving way for human progress by way of apartments, skyscrapers, vehicles, more & more autos, Meru and OLA taxis on call and above all heap of garbage everywhere. These are all the external bandicoots destroying the city.

There is another kind of bandicoot markedly visible to everyone whom I call the urban bandicoot namely the BBMP, BESCOM & BWSSB!  They are civic agencies to take care of the city but going by their shoddy work as visible to our eyes, they are nothing short of a bandicoot work. They keep destroying the city roads by digging them round the year. They dug tunnel like holes to lay pipes, cables or sanitary repairs but never bother to restore the road to its original state. The moment one agency finishes the work, another agency starts digging again the same road for some other work.

Just as bandicoot keep hopping from one hole to another, these urban bandicoots keep hoping from one road to the next. Their work is perennial which goes on and on giving no respite to the poor public from inconvenience. There are umpteen numbers of roads which have been dug up several times but are left unattended or not asphalted once the work is over. Like a bandicoot, these urban bandicoots are destroying the remaining beauty of the city.

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented any remedy to get rid of these urban bandicoots and people of the city have to adjust, live and bear with them for many more years to come. God save the city!