In my previous post about finding the Lost Horizon in Shangri-La Putrajaya, I mentioned that the hotel was on a hill in the center of the city. There is only one other property on the hill and that is the Istana Melawati, the second national palace and retreat house of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia. Istana means "palace" and Melawati means "guard's tower".
So not only was I in a fabulous garden hotel, I was neigbors with royalty. Well, almost. I don't think the King and Queen were in residence while I was there.
I ended up visiting Istana Negara along Jalan Istana, which was the official residence of the King of Malaysia for 54 years up to November 2011.
Beyond the palace gate are cypresses and casuarinas.
One of the classic films that I watched over and over was "Lost Horizon", both Frank Capra's version and the 1973 musical remake. Based on James Hilton's book of the same title, it is about plane crash survivors who find Shangri-la, an idyllic valley in the Himalayas (but in Karakoram in the book).
Have you ever dreamed of a place far away from it all? Where the air you breathe is soft and clean, and children play in fields of green. -- Burt Bacharach
Putrajaya is the designated Federal Government Administrative Center. Government buildings abound and yet it is also touted as Malaysia's "Garden City of Tomorrow" and the world's first "Intelligent Garden City". I mentioned in my previous post that while visiting this garden city, I was billeted at the Shangri-La Putrajaya. As you can see, it is a low-rise hotel and each of its four floors has its own unique theme: palms, bamboo, aromatic herbs and aquatic plants.
"Selamat Datang" is what Malaysians say to welcome their visitors. It's like "Mabuhay" for us Filipinos. There's just something about Selamat Datang. Everytime i hear it I really feel the sincerity of the greeting.
Last June 29, I flew to Kuala Lumpur upon the invitation of Tourism Malaysia. I was part of a group invited to witness the opening of Floria 2012, Malaysia's biggest garden show, and Magic of the Night, a spectacular fluvial parade held in Putrajaya.
I flew to KL on Malaysia Airlines(MH). The last time I took this airline was way back in 2007 when I went to Langkawi. The aircraft then was an A330. The inflight service was good but I was a bit surprised when i found out that there were no individual PTVs. Five years forward my whole flying experience with MH changed totally, for the better of course. This time the aircraft was a brand new B737-800. A very powerful bird with a spacious cabin. Check in was quick and easy. The flight departed on schedule. The leather seats had a wide pitch providing full comfort. The meal service was good. I liked that it came with a bar of chocolate. However, what truly amazed me was the inflight entertainment. Each seat was provided with an individual PTV. The entertainment menu was varied, catering to all sorts of passengers - young and old, Asian or westerner alike. During the four hour flight, I chose to watch the Wrath of the Titans, a movie that I missed when it was shown rcently in the cinemas. I almost forgot to mention that upon boarding the aircraft a lovely flight attendant wearing a traditional Malay dress greeted me Selamat Datang and from this time on I knew that this trip would be an experience in a Truly Asia fashion.