The Peaks of Kuala Lumpur
The skyline of Kuala Lumpur has changed quite remarkably over the past few years. From the low and dirty colonial-styled shop houses in this once-murky little spot known as Kuala Lumpur, the skies are now graced by many tall and state-of-the-art buildings! In fact, some of these structures have gained an international name for themselves amongst many others found around the globe.
Amidst blocks of low-rise buildings, towering towards the sky like a shining beacon is none other than the Menara Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Tower). To get there, just head north from the Pudu Raya roundabout until you reach Jalan Raja Chulan and the headquarters of Telekom (the country's main telco). Another five-minute walk eastward will bring you to the Menara Kuala Lumpur. Visitors can drop by for a look-see as the tower is opened daily from 9 am - 10 pm. Tickets are priced at RM8 for adults and RM3 for children between the ages of 4 to 12. Toddlers aged 3 and below may enter for free. The tower first opened its doors on October 1st, 1996 by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and was then known to be the tallest tower in Asia and the third tallest in the world! Standing at a height of 421 meters, the Kuala Lumpur Tower's rankings are no longer assured as there are other structures vying for the spot as well.
The architectural façade of the Kuala Lumpur Tower resembles that of a gasing, a Malaysian spinning top. The tower serves as a telecommunications and broadcasting hub and tourist attraction. The brainchild of Kumpulan Senireka Sdn Bhd, the talented local architects have decided to use Islamic motifs to reflect the Malaysia's Islamic heritage by combining eastern designs with western architectural elements. And the final results can be seen standing at a height of 421 meters at the center of the country's capital, the Golden Triangle.
As you step in to the foyer, you will see an array of souvenir shops and moneychangers. There is also a POS Malaysia booth, a video room screening informative film on the tower's construction and a McDonald's that serves a special "Menara" version of the Big Mac. My favorite section of the Menara Kuala Lumpur is the entrance leading to the high-speed lifts. The Main Dome is beautifully decorated with ornate tiles and mirrors, resembling a huge diamond with sparkling multi-spheres that is arranged in the traditional Islamic 'Muqarnas' form. The lift ride to the viewing gallery located on Level One takes up almost a full minute. At the viewing gallery, visitors will get a bird's eye view of the bustling city as far as the eye can see. On each section of the gallery are name plaques denoting the different cities and towns. Should you require more information on the Kuala Lumpur Tower, you may use the following contact:
MENARA KUALA LUMPUR SDN. BHD.
Off Jalan P. Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-208 5448
Fax: 603-204 2609
Directly above the viewing gallery is Seri Angkasa, a revolving restaurant. This restaurant is considered one of the most impressive dinner-date destinations, serving a wide range of local and continental cuisine. Seri Angkasa is open daily from 12 pm to 2.30 pm for lunch and 6.30 pm to 11.00 pm for dinner. You may choose a delicious variety of dishes from the a la carte menus or eat till your hearts content at the buffet tables. Prices are as follows:
- Adult-RM55++/Children-RM30++ for lunch (12.00 noon - 2.30 pm)
- Adult-RM80++/Children-RM40++ for dinner (6.30pm - 11.30pm)
On weekends and public holiday, the restaurant serves a hi-tea buffet from 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm. Prices for adult starts at RM30++ while the kids pay only RM15++. The restaurant is able to accommodate 250 guests at any one time. A meal there would be an unforgettable experience as you get great food and great view at the same time!
Nearby to the Kuala Lumpur Tower are some old mansions, which were built here during the times of the tin industry. Built by Chinese towkays and British businessmen/administrators, a visit to these places almost seemed like a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Most of the architectural influences of these mansions reflect that of the Islam and Art Deco. MATIC is located along the row of mansions as well.
There is also a personal favorite restaurant of mine that is built along this stretch. The Le Coq D'Or restaurant is absolutely interesting. Dining there gives you an almost ethereal feel (although in a non-negative manner). It gives you a feeling of ancientness, as if you are back in an old mansion, having a meal at a huge dining table with large wooden chairs and old fashion furniture and decorations. There is even a powder room with antique-looking mirrors and dressing tables. The bathtub is another work of art. The toilets are a fascination by itself. Food is good, although a little on the high-end side, while the service is efficient and crisp. Do try the Bomb Alaska. It's really mouth-watering. This building apparently has a little story behind it. A tin baron built it in his attempt to impress another. This rich man had wanted to marry the latter's daughter, but was refused as he was too poor then. Now that he had made it big, the building symbolically showed the older man that he had made it in stature and in life.
Other buildings of such that have survived through the ages are now being used as foreign embassies and high commissions. Quite a number of these structures have been torn down as well over the years to make way for more modern buildings.
Away from the old buildings, in the section of Jalan Ampang between Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Tun Razak is a huge building site where a modern and classy structure rises above the rest, standing proud in all its glory. Located here is none other than the world's famous Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) - home to the well-known Petronas Towers, the tallest building (for the moment) in the world. The Petronas Towers is home to many multinational and MSC-status offices as well as the national petroleum company. Its presence reflects the booming strength of the Malaysian economy.
Surrounding the impressive twin-towers is a twenty-acre public park and garden with a lovely fountain at the front! This park is a favorite hangout amongst all Malaysians and visitors alike, especially during the weekends. At the podium level, the PETRONAS Twin Towers feature an 864-seat Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS, a venue of architectural and acoustic distinction. It is also home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. There is also a reference library on energy, petroleum, petrochemical and related industries located at the Petroscience education center (newly refurbished). There is also an art gallery featuring many private art collections in the country. Apart from the skyscrapers, KLCC also house a luxury hotel known as Mandarin Oriental and a shopping center. You may get to the large shopping center by taking the LRT. It proves to be a comfortable and affordable ride as the LRT stops directly at the shopping center itself. During the weekends, the place will be packed, so be warned!