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About Malaysia

BRIEF HISTORY Malaysia's history starts generally around the establishment of the Melaka sultanate. During the 13th century, it was renowned as a major port for traders from both east and west. Following this time, events developing in China and the Roman Empire motivated Indian traders to seek a new port for their rich trade. Melaka was chosen, based mainly on its advantageous location -- it was sheltered from strong monsoon winds, thus the port was able to operate year-round. Melaka 's profitable position was envied by many and resulted in the Portuguese invasion in 1511. Later, in 1641, the Dutch defeated the Portuguese and reigned until 1815 when the British Empire took over. After World War II, there was a resurgence of Malayan nationalism leading to the Declaration of Independence for the Federation of Malaya from the British Empire on August 31, 1957. Malaysia at the time was comprised 13 states, including Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak. In 1963 two federal territories were formed. Singapore later withdrew from the Federation in 1965. COUNTRY DESCRIPTION Malaysia has 13 states: 11 in Peninsular Malaysia and two, Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo (East Malaysia).

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur originated as a shanty-mining outpost for the tin trade in the 1800's at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang Rivers. Today, KL, as it is popularly known, is a bustling metropolis. It is the federal capital of Malaysia and is the principal center of commerce, politics, entertainment and international activities. Kuala Lumpur serves as the pulse of the nation, with a population of 1.5 million people. Places of Interest Petronas Twin Towers The world's tallest freestanding twin towers are situated in the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). Both of the 88-story towers soar more than 1,482 feet above the city skyline and are connected by a sky bridge on the 41st floor. The sky-bridge is open to public from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. Admission is free for up to 1,300 visitors per day, so come early to ensur entry. e Built on what used to be a race course, the towers and its adjacent complex hold the: Petronas Philharmonic Hall A world class concert hall and home to the 105-member Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra

Petaling Street Almost every country has its own version of Chinatown and Kuala Lumpur's version, Petaling Street, is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions here. Stocked with leather goods, t-shirts and loads of food, Petaling Street is the right place to make some cheap yet exciting purchases. If you're looking to pick up items like watches, sunglasses, wallets, perfumes and other such accessories, there is no better place. Bargaining is a must on any items you may want to buy. The colorful and lively evening market stays open until midnight. Menara Kuala Lumpur A short stroll away from the city's major hotels, the Menara KL is the tallest telecommunications tower in South East Asia and the fourth tallest tower in the world. The ceiling of the lift lobby is decorated using tiny mirrors, an Islamic art form technique. High-speed lifts take visitors to an observation deck that provides a panoramic view of the entire city and beyond. The revolving restaurant above serves a lunch and dinner buffet daily with Hitea, as well on weekends. Facilities on the ground level include a pedestrian mall with a reflecting pool, mini theater, amphitheater, and a restaurant. A 100-year old Jelutong tree stands preserved in the compound. International events that take place here include the annual Kuala Lumpur International Towerthon, X-treme sports performances and a B.A.S.E. Jump. Istana Budaya Also known as the Palace of Culture, the Istana Budaya is an imposing blue and white building featuring traditional Malay and contemporary elements. It has been hailed as one of Kuala Lumpur's most beautiful modern buildings and has been the site of many international shows and concerts. GaleriPetronas An elegant gallery exhibiting traditional, contemporary and modern art with an Experimental Space for young artistic talents. The Art Resource Center here offers information on local artists, while the Galeri Petronas shop sells merchandise. KLCCPark This 0.07 sq mile park, designed by award-winning landscape artist Roberto Burle Max, features a lake, fountain pool, wading pool, sculptures, murals, a jogging path and a children's playground. This city oasis offers a haven in the middle of bustling KL. Note: Visitors - Don't miss the spectacular fireworks display on New Year's Eve! Getting There: Located at the city center, taxis and buses service this area from the early hours to late











CentralMarket This pre-war building was the principle wet market for Kuala Lumpur in the early years. It was extensively renovated in the 1980's into an arts and cultural center. It has become the place for local artists to demonstrate their skills and display their work. There are numerous shops and stalls that sell bric-a-brac, antiques, souvenirs, handicrafts and Asian artifacts. An open-air stage serves as the regular venue for traditional and contemporary dance, as well as musical concerts. The Central Market is just a stone's throw from the Klang Bus Station and is situated immediately behind the Dayabumi building. Hours of operation are from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

SultanAbdulSamadBuilding Kuala Lumpur's most photographed building, designed by British Architect A.C. Norman, was built between 1894 and 1897. It was formerly the Secretariat building for the British Administration. The structure is a beautiful blend of Victorian and Moorish architecture and now holds Malaysia's Supreme Court and the High Court. Just next to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the former City Hall, a similar Moorish-styled building. MerdekaSquare Merdeka Square is the perfect starting point to explore the citys heritage sites. The union Jack was lowered there on August 31, 1957, marking Malaysias independence from colonial rule. Hence the name Merdeka, means independence. A 328 feet flagpole, reputedly the tallest in the world, proudly flies the Malaysian flag. Today, it is a beautifully landscaped area with gardens, terraces and fountains. NationalArtGallery This gallery displays paintings, sculptures and other works of leading Malaysian and international artists. It also features experimental works ad touring exhibitions. The unique spiral passageway provides an opportunity to view art works from various levels and angles.

The cosmic array of dishes waiting to be savored in Malaysia can be credited to the countrys 27 millionand-counting, multi-ethnic population of Malay, Chinese and Indians who together have influenced the colorful cuisine. The potpourri is enriched even further from with influences from the British, Dutch and Portuguese who once colonized the country. Malaysian food is not one particular kind of food, but instead a unique culinary spectrum of tastes and textures. Its various dishes originate from Malaysia's historical heritage and multi-ethnic population that has melted together to create an exotic cuisine unlike any other. Every dish found in this Southeast Asian food paradise truly tells its own story: tales from foreign lands; generations of family migrations; and inter-marriages from people who have all collectively called this country home.

Eating out is undoubtedly the most popular conversational topic in this country, and upon sampling the endless number of tasty eats offered there, visitors are sure to understand why. With 13 states n i Malaysia, and each state offering a host of various culinary delights, there are endless eats to try. Given the wide array of cooking styles and traditions in this exotic Southeast Asian paradise, eating out is always a gastronomic adventure. From aromatic Malay dishes to piping hot Chinese delicacies and spicy Indian fare, Malaysia is a food lovers paradise. Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid ul Fitr) Each year, during the holy month of Ramadhan, Muslims in Malaysia prepare for one of the holiest celebrations in the Islamic calendar, the Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Hari Raya, as it is locally known, means a 'day of celebration,' while 'Aidilfitri' gives meaning to 'festival of fast-breaking.' Muslims usher in Hari Raya with morning prayers followed by visits to the graves of the departed. They also gather to bake cakes and cookies.

Festivities begin a month before, during the Ramadan or the fasting month. As the fasting draws to an end, the feasting mood looms large. Shopping frenzies take place during this festive time as well. With new clothes to buy, homes to be decorated and cookies to be made, the country gets caught up in a cheerful mood. Sales and promotions sweep through stores and shopping complexes are decorated in Aidilfitri trimmings. There is a rush to have traditional clothes like 'Baju Kurung,' 'Kebaya' and 'Baju Melayu' tailored; others find easy alternatives in ready-made outfits. Family members gather to bake cakes, while those who opt for convenience buy these goodies from vendors. As the fasting draws to an end, the feasting mood looms large. As with other festivals in Malaysia, friends from other ethnicities offer their good wishes and partake in the festivities. Open houses are held all over the country, with hosts opening their doors to one and all. ChineseNewYearinMalaysia Chinese New Year is celebrated over a period of 15 days, beginning from the 1st day of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is a joyous occasion marked by family reunions, giving of red packets, or 'ang pows,' by parents to children or among relatives. This practice, coupled with the giving away of mandarin oranges, is a symbol of prosperity and good luck for the recipients. Another highlight is the traditional lion dance. As with most festivals in Malaysia, people of all races visit their Chinese friends during this season to convey their good wishes. Open houses are also held by many families, who open their homes to friends and loved ones.

Deepavali For the Hindu community in Malaysia and around the world, the 'Deepavali' or 'Diwali' marks one of the most significant dates on the calendar. Molded by religion, mythology and culture, Hindus have celebrated this festival for thousands of years. It is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, a traditional oil bath precedes the the festivities. The celebration includes visits to temples and prayers at household alters.

Hari Raya Aidil Adha (Eid ul Adha) Hari Raya Aidil Adha marks the conclusion of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is celebrated on the 10th day of Zulhijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim calendar. The day starts with prayers in mosques and is followed by the offering of cattle or goats to be slaughtered, so that the meat can be distributed to the needy. Thaipusam This spectacular festival occurs in late January or early February and is a celebration of Lord Subramaniam. On the eve of the festival, a statue of the Lord is taken on procession in a chariot drawn by bullocks. The next day, devotees carry 'kavadis' through Hindu temples amidst chanting and drumming. A kavadi is a metal or wooden arch with elaborate decorations, which is placed on the devotee's shoulders. Hooks or spikes from the kavadi are pierced into parts of the devotee's body. The festival is celebrated on a large scale in Penang, Selangor and Perak. GawaiDayak This annual Sarawak Dayak festival is celebrated in early June and marks the end of the rice-harvesting season. To prepare for the festival, Dayaks clean their homes and the graves of their ancestors. On the festival's eve, family members attend a reunion during which the youngest member offers a plate of specially prepared food to his parents. Tuak, or rice wine, is served to all and dancing is part of the merry-making. Attired in their finest, the Dayaks offer sacrifices of livestock in return for a good harvest. Other events that take place are war dances, cockfights and blowpipe contests. Similar to the Tadau Ka'amatan, Gawai Dayak is Sarawak's version of the same festival. The Iban and Bidayuh, celebrate this festival at the beginning of June. It marks the end of the rice harvest and is a resting period from the toils of the fields as well as a thanksgiving ceremony to the gods for a bountiful harvest. The festival also seeks the blessings of the spirits to ensure a fruitful harvest the following year.

Pesta Ka'amatan The best time to visit Sabah and experience this occasion is from May 30 - 31st, when the Kadazan and Dusun communities offer thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Highlights include a beauty pageant, cultural dances and rituals that culminate in the Thanksgiving ceremony performed by the 'Bobohizan,' or high priestess. The biggest ethnic group in Sabah, the Kadazan-Dusun, celebrates the padi harvesting festival (the Tadau Ka'amatan) in May. Tadau Ka'amatan is the most important celebration in the lives of this ancient tribe of Sabah. This festival, which spans the entire month of May, is an offer of thanksgiving to the rice spirits (Bambarayon) for a bountiful harvest. The highlight of this harvest festival is a dance performed by the high priestess (Bobolian) in search of the rice spirits, whose presence is vital for a fruitful harvest.

Prophet Mohammed's Birthday The birthday of Prophet Muhammad, celebrated on the 12th of the month o Rabiulawal, is another f important occasion in the Muslim calendar. It is marked by special prayers and sermons in mosques, followed by processions and feasts.

Christmas Like Christians in other parts of the world, Malaysian Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th each year. It is marked by midnight services at churches on the eve or attending church on the day itself. The merriment usually begins a fortnight before the date, when shopping centers and hotels echo the revelry and Yuletide spirit with colorful decorations, Christmas trees and lights.

Lantern and Mooncake Festival The Moon Cake Festival takes place on the 15th day in the eighth lunar month. Its popularity stems from the various reasons it is celebrated, which explains how the festival came to be known simultaneously as 'Zhong Qiu Jive' or Mid- Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. The festival celebrates romance as the luminous light of the full, circular moon signifies lovers seeking unity. In addition, the festival is said to honor the birth of the Earth God, to whom the farming community gives thanks for the bounties reaped. In Malaysia a wide array of moon cakes can be found during this period in markets and bakeries. It's common in Malaysia to see children of all races joyfully participating in lantern competitions and processions. In the same tradition, moon cakes and goodies are shared around with non-Chinese friends in a spirit of unity and happiness synonymous with the Moon Cake Festival. Wesak Day Lord Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death are celebrated through various events, including the release of caged birds to symbolize the freeing of captive souls. Most Buddhists observe a vegetarian diet on this day and in some towns, like Penang, a procession takes place at night.