|Mother and child scene at the City Centre Park|
We woke up to a day that alternated between sunny and cloudy (fairly standard weather over here the past weeks so we heard). After a tasty, leisurely, buffet breakfast at ParkRoyal, we were off to the Sepang International Circuit. As it was over an hour's drive from downtown KL, it was interesting to observe the impressive development spread over the outskirts but our lack of sleep must've showed. Simon, our oft-funny, always gregarious guide was mercifully quick to notice and gave us some slack to catch up on lost sleep.
|Sepang Circuit graceful roof details|
On to the race tracks. It's past the MotoGP dates but sitting on the stands near the pit stop of the northern paddock, it's easy to imagine thousands of racing fans shouting themselves hoarse cheering lustily for their favorites. We didn't get the chance to step on the track as a 5-car team from Mercedes Benz was running laps during our visit. But we were privileged to be given a tour of the facilities including the Welcome Centre with its impressive museum, the luxurious Corporate Suites, the sprawling Media Centre, the off-limits Monitoring Room, and the VIP Suite where the Malaysian Prime Minister, his staff and guests view the races in airconditioned comfort, high above the stands.
|Golden Palm Tree Sea Resort under the blue and grey skies|
Visiting the west coast. We took a break for lunch to the Golden Palm Tree Resort, a 5-star sea resort at the Sepang Goldcoast, some 15-20 minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Riding a motorized cart to the lobby, we saw Polynesian-Maldivian-inspired villas on stilts jutting out to the calm sea, overlooking the Straits of Malacca. I just thought it would be nice to shoot this resort at sunset time, preferably from the air to better appreciate the outline of a palm tree formed by the 300 villas. The food -- from the grilled chicken to the beef rendang -- was very tasty though the desserts could be more flavorful. We ate lunch gazing out to sea, eyeing the nearby infinity pool, and peeking at the cabanas where locals and guests were enjoying the lazy breeze.
|Our group heading out to the North Paddock|
Back on track. We may have missed the MotoGP but we were given an hour to burn rubber on the Go Kart Circuit designed by F1 Track designer, Hermann Tilke, who also designed the layout of the Sepang International Circuit main F1 track. Speeding through the 10-meter-wide track and 11 challenging bends, we got a taste of how it feels to be in an actual race, not merely spinning our wheels on a video game. Nevermind that it was still mid-afternoon and the hot sun was bearing down on us. Open Mon-Sun, 10am-7pm • Fri, 10am to 1am • Rates: Quick Experience - RM40 (approx. Php560)/pax/10 minutes; Race Adventure - RM150 (approx. Php2,100)/pax/45min - 1 hour • For info, visit http://www.malaysiangp.com.my
|Racing at the Go Kart Circuit|
A quick stroll at City Centre and Merdeka Square.. It's been a long day and after a quick stop at Beryl's Chocolate (can't enjoy as much chocolates as I used to due to GERD), we went back to the City Centre for a stroll at the park near the Petronas Twin Towers (the bridge was under repair so we didn't go inside) and the historic Merdeka Square. Hmmm, maybe next time I find myself in KL, will people-watch and hopefully get a good shot of the cityscape from the bridge of the Twin Towers. One thing I noticed is the lushness of the surroundings even within the city centre, something that reminds me of Singapore.
|Partying at Sky Bar|
Chilling out at 33-storeys. After a nice dinner at a hawker place and a quick dash to the Low Yat Plaza mall (while fighting off the urge to splurge on a new electronic gadget or camera accessory), we headed to the SkyBar of the Traders Hotel at the KL City Centre. Simon says it's the most happening club in Kuala Lumpur and it's easy to see why. The view of the fully-lit Petronas Twin Towers from the 33rd floor is just incredible. A swimming facility by day, the place pulsates with music and dancing after dark, with cozy nooks for chilling out and chitchats overlooking the cityscape. Admittedly, the rates are not for budget backpackers like me but it was a nice experience nonetheless. Open Sun-Thu from 10am-1am; 10am-3am (Fri, Sat and eve of public holidays)
Lagalog thanks: AirAsia Philippines and Tourism Malaysia for making this trip possible. AirAsia Philippines is poised to commence flights out of Clark's Diosdado Macapagal International Airports using its brand-new Airbus A320 planes starting this November • For more info on Malaysia, visit Tourism Malaysia at www.tourism.gov.my