Southeast Asia´s megacities – Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

Czechs can hardly imagine how megacities really look like. No city in our country is anywhere near being one. During this year mega trip I had the opportunity to see bits of several such giants. I´m gonna briefly share the impression Singapore and Malaysian Kuala Lumpur made on me.

Singapore

Singapore, the city/state of my first introduction to Southeast Asia. It ought to be mentioned that Singapore doesn´t really fit in with other countries in the area. It is a small, immensely rich city-state famous for its strict rules (ban on chewing or death punishment for carrying just a tiny portion of drugs to name just two). Nevertheless, it is a ravishing world. Since the moment we got off the plane until we left the state we were surrounded by order and discipline. There are funny recommendations saying what to do and what not to do in public places such as public transport. It applies to both law and good manners.

The most astonishing thing is local architecture. The entire city is a strange paradox caused by its chaotical tangle of houses, skyscrapers, roads and greenery surrounded by sea with Singapore river flowing through it all. In just one picture you can see a beautiful 130 years old building of the National Gallery with modern, hundreds of feet tall, skyscrapers with small parks on their roofs and terraces standing just a few tens of feet behind it. Just as unique is a look at the waterfront lined with historical Hanseatic houses with skyscrapers standing right in their yard.

Passing the Universities, you can´t help but to think, whether it wouldn´t be worth it to go to study there just so you could come to those elegant modern buildings with a peaceful atmosphere every day. Local parks could very well be called botanic gardens.

The traffic is, just like anywhere else in the region, so to say, hectic, yet serene. There are quite a lot of people in public transport, yet no one seems to be in a rush, no one’s trying to force their way through… Sadly, most of the people pay attention to their phones, rather than the curious world around them. On the road, there are also many cars, but we didn´t see any traffic jam, no one was honking, making burnouts or anything.

I think the locals, sure rich, have no need to show the richness of. I didn´t see a single expensive sports car, a biker, an astonishing private residence or anything else letting everyone know about how rich the person is or saying that they can do whatever they like.

Airport

The airport represents the entire state. It is the best airport worldwide. Deservedly so I think. You can have a stroll in several parks (orchid one, sunflower one, butterfly one…), go to a cinema for free or play indoor sports at its four terminals. Most of the transit area is carpeted. You get to find drinking fountains, luxury seats, computers with internet connection and sockets all over the place. Interesting is an offer of a free bus tour around the city if you have only a change on the airport with a couple hours in between your flights. Unfortunately, you need to have both arrival and departure tickets, be ready before 4 PM and most importantly be there soon enough so the only thing you see is not the queue and closed doors of a full bus. We couldn´t make it, though we tried twice.

Private tips:

  • If you are low-cost travellers and if you want to have a cheap meal at the airport, go to the employee canteen you can find on the third floor of the garage in the second terminal. There is a huge range of dishes of various cuisines for half a price, or even less, compared to the rest of the airport.
  • If you want to buy some food in advance, there is a Fair Price supermarket on the ground floor of the second terminal offering better prices than many shops in the city.
  • On the first floor of the fourth terminal by your right, there is a number of stands offering local food and various chicken meat food for a good price as well.
  • If you want to take a nap at the second terminal, I recommend you go to the cinema. Apart from a movie of reasonable volume, there is silence, comfort and, most importantly, dark. There is a bunch of great places for a nap around the airport, unfortunately all lightened.

Marina Bay

The best-known place in the entire city. Around the Bay, you can find worldwide known boat shaped skyscraper or futuristic park Gardens By the Bay with its botanic garden, fountains, rivulet and many more reasons to go there to see it.

Fort Canning Gate

Another lovely place to go for a stroll to. A park on a hill in the middle of the city with many phenomenal trees.

Other

The sight described in the beginning is there for you to see when you go by underground to City Hall station and then you walk southwest, passing a church and the National Gallery, until you reach a river. Follow the river until you find yourself in the Canning Gate park.

According to your budget, you will find dozens of other interesting places and attractions in the city. It´s up to you to choose which ones you want to see.

Private tip:

If you want to save some costs for travelling, either get yourself a limitless full day tourist pass or think ahead where you want to go by public transport. We came to find out, that even when some places are just 2 km away from each other, however, by the public transport there is a need of a change, the ride costs twice as much.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, a classic Asian giant city – starting with skyscrapers in the business centre going through a normal city all the way to sludge slums in the outskirts.

Due to the tiredness from all the previous travelling and our lack of time here we got to see only the well-known skyscraper Petronas Twin Towers. Apart from that, there are also sights such as China town and Batu Caves in the north of the city amongst the tourists’ favourites.

The cheapest, yet of quite good quality (if we´re talking about the underground), mean of transportation here is public transport. For us, it was interesting to see one without a driver. We could, therefore, enjoy a nice view from the front window.

Yet, if there is more of you travelling from, let´s say, airport, the cheapest choice is Grab (an Asian version of Uber and a must have for a traveller in Southeast Asia). Costs of these taxies are mostly comparable with Czech public transport. In addition to it, a mototaxi is faster than any other car of bus transport.

Private tip:

Check-in the Regalia skyscraper for just 21 € for a night and you´ll still have access to the infinity pool with view to all the modern parts of the city including Petronas Towers. And if you get to meet the right people you´ll have the opportunity to order decent food straight to your room for ridiculously low cost.

Summary

Asian megacities are so inconceivable they are most definitely worth to pay a visit to even if you are in favour of natural wonders. There is so much fascinating about it, it may even be terrifying.

 

Jíja

 

Translated by Dan

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