Saturday September 8, 2012
A taste of Malaysia
By SHARMILA NAIR
If you had to play tour guide to the British royal couple, what kind of an itinerary would you go for?
MALAYSIANS are all in a frenzy over the arrival of two very famous people to our shores: the British royals, Prince William and his wife Catherine. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in Malaysia on Thursday; their visit is in line with the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Almost everyone who has heard about the royal visit is excited to see the young prince and his beautiful wife, and they are ready to show off everything that Malaysia has to offer.
From the delectable and mouth-watering cuisine to our gorgeous natural wonders, age-old traditions and posh shopping malls, most Malaysians just want them to know what an amazing country we live in. The duo’s Malaysian stay will be the second stop in their upcoming trip that also takes them to Singapore, as well as the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, in the South Pacific.
Will and Kate already have a packed itinerary that takes them on official visits to important places around the nation, but let’s be honest ... it won’t be as fun as the trip we ordinary folks would come up with, right?
The couple will only be in the country for three days and although that is really a short time to give them the full Malaysian treatment (we do have a million things to brag about, really), the duration is long enough for us to squeeze in a fun tour.
After a quick informal survey with some regular folk off the street, here’s what we think they should do.
Feast fit for a (future) king
Eat. That is what we Malaysians are good at and there’s no shame there. Almost everyone we asked wants Will and Kate to go on a gastronomical adventure across the country, but judging from the Duchess’ slender figure, eating may not be one of the things she enjoys most in life.
However, who could really say no to nasi lemak, char kuey teow, roti canai, mee goreng, nasi kandar and other mouth-watering local dishes?
Some people suggested that the royal couple should fly straight to Penang for its authentic hawker food. Others, however, said that it would be best if they drive to Malacca to savour the famous cendol at the cultural hotspot of Jonker Street amidst the humid weather and congested alleyways.
Or they could just go to Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur and get overwhelmed by the foreign workers from each restaurant along the road, calling out and reciting items off the menu like well-trained robots. By the time they’re done at Jalan Alor, you can bet that well-coiffed Kate would have to rush back to their temporary residence to wash the ikan bakar smell out of her hair. And what about William’s hair, you ask? Well, let’s not even go there.
Of course, we also wouldn’t want to miss the great photo opportunity of Will and Kate trying to pry open a durian and keep a straight face as they brace themselves for a taste of the king of fruits. So, a visit to one of those roadside RM10 all-you-can-eat durian buffets is a must!
Shop in style
Malaysia has more shopping complexes than we really need, but who’s complaining? We know that Kate, though not as fashionable as her a**tastic sister Pippa, tries to keep up with the trends as much as she can, so what better way to do the Malaysian thing than to go shopping for clothes?
From Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to Starhill Gallery and Suria KLCC, Kate will be spoilt for choice as these are just some of the malls in the Klang Valley which carry the high-end brands that she would be used to.
But this has to be a total Malaysian experience remember? So it’s only fitting that we also take Kate (and Will – who will carry the shopping bags, otherwise?) to some place like ... Low Yat Plaza (to get some electronic gadgets) and Sungei Wang Plaza (to get all things cute and kawaii).
Another suggestion is that since Will and Kate love to stay in and watch movies together, they should go to Petaling Street and, erm, check out some DVDs. Of course, someone has to remind the couple that it’s illegal to purchase or own any bootleg DVDs.
We all know that Will and Kate are the outdoorsy type. The prince goes hunting with his father Prince Charles and he even proposed to Kate while on a camping trip in Kenya, for goodness sake. Though we don’t have wild gazelles running through open fields, Mother Nature has blessed us with other natural wonders.
Let’s take them to Sabah and Sarawak where most of our natural treasures are hidden and preserved. In Sabah, they can climb Mount Kinabalu and watch the beautiful sunrise, or simply lie on the grass and gaze at the unnaturally big stars across the sky in Kinabatangan at night.
In Sarawak, they can explore the Mulu Caves or maybe visit the orang utan in Semenggoh.
But if Will and Kate are looking for some adventure while enjoying nature’s beauty, Perak has some amazing limestone hills which are famous for a spot of rock-climbing (we’ll just wait for them at the bottom of the hill, thank you).
Immerse in tradition
Will and Kate cannot leave Malaysia without experiencing the East Coast, can they? That’s where the best beaches are (besides those in Sabah, of course). It cannot be denied that the people of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang still uphold their traditions, and it would be nice to show the royal couple how culture is kept alive over here. The making of songket, batik, and wayang kulit would all add a nice touch to their visit, don’t you think? Okay, maybe we’ll just get them to surf at Cherating in Pahang and eat some keropok lekor in Terengganu and fly the wau in Kelantan, before heading back to Kuala Lumpur.
Everyone knows that William is not exactly the life of the party – that’s his brother, Prince Harry (boy, don’t we know how he lets loose and parties ...*snigger*) – and Kate is no Lindsay Lohan. So it is up to us to shake them up and tell them to live a little.
We would go over to trendy Changkat Bukit Bintang in KL, get a few drinks and hit the dance floor. We’ve seen videos of the prince trying to bust a few moves, but it would be better if he works on them before hitting the clubs.
Like most people, we would also bar-hop and maybe even end up in Zouk Club KL. Once there, we’d wrestle our way in just to find ourselves among overexposed people who can’t dance but are up on the dance podium anyway, moving their bodies and embarrassing themselves. Maybe Kate and Will will finally feel at home doing their moves here.
And when the light finally comes on in the club in the wee hours of the morning, we would all stumble out and head towards the lok-lok van parked by the roadside for an early morning snack.
It’s pretty obvious that Will and Kate will have an awesome time in Malaysia (thanks to the suggestions from many people, of course) but the trip wouldn’t be complete without one final, mandatory stop. The writer would love to take William to Puchong, Selangor ... to meet her mother, the woman who could’ve been his mother-in-law, and the party would continue there. And Kate? Well, she could just wait in the car.