Published: 07/05/2008 3:32 am
Luma Mushtaq al Saleh, director of International Relations at the Ministry of Social Development, believes that at the end of the day it really doesn't matter where you go. What matters is who you go with. She says your companions in travel are important because that can either make your trip or ruin a friendship forever. "I am glad that I am still friends with the people I travelled with," she smiles. Luma enjoys being an integral part of a department that is the 'international face' of the Ministry of Social Development. A traveller for most of her life, Luma takes time out of her busy schedule to pen down her experiences on a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur for BusinessToday
Malaysia, truly Asia...Okay, that's so clichÃƒÂ©d. I know. But that's the only tune I heard in my head once I knew that I was joining a couple of my friends on our first trip to Kuala Lumpur. It really started with two, then become four and then ended up being six of us.
Two married couples and two single female friends all heading off to Malaysia. For half of us it was our first time, the other half had been there previously but didn't really remember quite well - so really it was a first for us all.
We started our journey from Muscat via Colombo and then to Kuala Lumpur through Air Sir Lanka which was much better than we expected. As soon as we landed in Kuala Lumpur we realised how organised the city and its people were.
Everything was so easy at the airport with no hassles at all. Our bags arrived in one piece, we purchased our sim cards from the airport, our cab drivers greeted us with smiles and in no time we were off to our hotel.
The scenery on the way was truly picturesque - a real life painting where you can spot the twin towers from a distance. In the city of course there is plenty to do. China Town was a thrill where we bargained and bartered for various unique findings. It is also a haven for DVD lovers like me. You can view them before purchasing to ensure the quality - where else would you get this service?
In the city itself we engaged ourselves with mostly touristy activities. We attempted to enter the Kuala Lumpur Towers, but failed miserably. To make ourselves feel better and also as a proof that we were indeed there, we ended up taking many pictures with the towers as our backdrop. We discovered the city's new shopping destination - the Starhill Gallery. We spoiled ourselves with our everyday foot massages - whenever we saw such a place we stopped - I don't think we had ever pampered our feet like that before.
Although I must admit that my friend and I could not walk for days after a particular foot massage. We were in so much pain, the mere thought of getting on our feet was painful! We had the opportunity to enjoy the mouth-watering green mangos with red chilli powder and salt - we would have bags full of them till our tummy hurt - thank goodness for our health insurance!
We did go up to Genting Highlands - the 'Las Vegas' of Malaysia and home to a million year old forest. We got there by the world's fastest and South East Asia's longest cable car - the Genting Skyway - not a paradise for anyone who fears heights. There are many myths that Genting is haunted. People have reported seeing a man dressed in red jump off the roof of the hotel, but he disappears just before he hits the ground. It is thought that he committed suicide because he was unable to pay his gambling debts. We did not witness any man dressed in red - we were sure that the Chinese spirits were in full support protecting the souls of their fellow Omanis.
For New Year, we had no clue where to celebrate. We thought, 'When in Rome, do what the Roman's do'. So we did what the Malaysians did - celebrate on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. I must admit, we were truly the hit of the town, everyone was fascinated that we had welcomed the new year by wearing our 2008 glasses, ones that were never seen in Kuala Lumpur before. It was such a hit, MTV Asia attempted to interview us but we declined. We wanted to welcome the new year with our friends not with MTV. If you end up going to Malaysia to celebrate the new year and see 2009 glasses, they exist because of us.