Posts under ‘Asia’

The Petronas Towers

The Petonas Towers in the Malasyian Capital of Kuala Lumpur were the world’s tallest buildings between 1998 and 2004 until the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan took the crown.  Including antennas the towers both stand at 451.9 metres.  Unlike many of the other huge towers around the world that are open to the public, the tower’s viewing platform isn’t on the top floors, it is actually on the suspended skybridge between the two buildings on the 41st and 42nd floors.   The towers both have 88 floors and they are serviced by 78 elevators, with tower one being fully occupied by Petronas which is the Malaysian Government owned oil and gas company. The second tower has a host of different organisations as tenants.  Designed by Argentine American architect Cesar Pelli the tower’s design is rich in Muslim heritage with much of its detailed design being inspired by Islamic art. The exterior shape of the structure is based on the Rub el Hizb which is a Muslim symbol consisting of two overlapping squares. This design becomes more evident towards the top of the towers when the design becomes a series of overlapping stars.

Now for vistors wanting to visit the tower, you can not book but must visit early as only so many free tickets are available daily.

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Singapore Zoo’s orang utans

The Singapore Zoo is one of the world’s great zoos, set in lush rain forest it is one of this small island country’s biggest tourist attractions.  The zoo has a huge array of animals from all over the world but by far the most popular is the beautiful orang utans.  The Singapore Zoo has 24 of these amazing orange primates making it the largest display in any zoo around the world. The orang utans are part of a huge social group which have a huge been successfully bred in the zoo, to date they have bred 35 and many of them have been sent to zoos around the world to help grow the numbers of this highly endangered ape.   The orang utans live in a huge free range enclosure complete with natural jungle with plenty of places to swing and play with others or and get some quiet time. The exhibit gives the visitor a chance to see them in a close to natural environment with some great platforms and viewing areas where you can really get up close to them without disturbing.

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Kyoto’s space needle

Tawawa-chan is the mascot of the Kyoto Tower you can buy just about anything with this little guy on it or even have your photo taken with him at the tower. The Kyoto Tower itself is an interesting structure standing 131 metres high and on top of a 9 story building. The building is home to a hotel and some shopping including a great 100 yen store. The tower is located right across the road from Kyoto Station and offers some pretty good views of the surroundings including the nearby temples, city centre and mountains of Higashiyama and Arashiyama. The tower was built to open for the 1964 Olympic Games which were in Tokyo hoping to gain some tourism to the city. There was a lot of controversy at the time building the tower in such a beautiful and ancient city but people have got used to it over the years and it has become a much loved part of Kyoto. For more Japan travel tips visit

Ha Long Bay of the decending dragons

Ha Long Bay meaning the Descending Dragon Bay is one of the most beautiful and tranquil sights of the South East Asian country of Vietnam. Located a few hours drive north east of the capital Hanoi the area covers around 120km of coastline and some 2000 islands or rock outcrops. Just over 330 square kilometers of this is made up of a UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes 775 of the islets. Local legend tells that the gods sent a family of dragons to help the Vietnamese people fight off the Chinese invaders years ago. The dragons spat out jewels and jade, as they would, and they turned into the islands and smaller islets we have today forming a great wall against the nasty invaders. The dragons are now believed to live in the area where they are joined by the dragon children overlooking the Ha Long region. The islands and rock outcrops offer great shelter and fishing for the people of the area and the biodiversity of the tropical dense forests are incredible with some incredible plant life including some very interesting endemic flowers. The forests are home to many varieties of bat and some beautiful bird life, lizards and even deer and monkeys. Most of the islands are not inhabited but the two biggest islands Tuan Chau and Cat Ba do have people living there and are home to tourist facilities including some beautiful beaches. A must for any visitor is to see the floating islands which are home and workplace to many of the fisherman of the area. People live in houses which are floating on huge barges where they farm fish in the beautiful clear warm waters.

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Towering over Shanghai

The Oriental Pearl Tower is one of the most striking and futuristic sights in China’s business stronghold Shanghai. Overlooking the Huangpu River opposite the historic Bund the tower rises 468 metres above the street and was the tallest building in China until the nearby Shanghai World Financial Centre surpassed it a few years back. The tower opened in 1994 and as well as an important communication tower it is home to a hotel,exhibition space a revolving restaurant and 15 yes 15 observation levels with the highest being 350 metres from ground. The tower features 11 spheres supported by three columns, and was designed using plenty of Chinese symbolism based around a poem dating back to the Tang Dynasty. Over three million visitors visit the tower each year and this year with World Expo being hosted in Shanghai you can bet the numbers will soar. Some visitors to Shanghai consider the admission price expensive and the queues long but many agree the view over the city is quiet spectacular if you are lucky enough to visit this fascinating city on a clear day.

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Monorail Monorail.. Monorail

Gliding smoothly on a track high above the city streets in the tropical city of Kuala Lumpur is the KL Monorail. The monorail links the Golden Triangle sector of the city with the Sentral transport hub and stops at 11 stations. After a bit of a shaky financial start the system opened in 2003 and today over 21 million people use the 8.6km system every year. For the visitor to Kuala Lumpur the monorail offers a unique and easy way to visit some of the major attractions of the city and is in easy reach of many of the huge shopping malls including the massive Times Square shopping complex. The two carrige train can carry up to  244 people although fairly tightly, with 48 people sitting and 196 standing. There are 10 units of 2 car trains in service.   The KL monorail is one of a number of monorails in Malaysia others include the Sunway Monorail at Sunway Pyramid Mall just outside KL, and several other new or under construction systems in Malacca, Penang and Putrajaya.  There have been proposals to extend the KL monorail line but no firm funding or plans have been announced.  One interesting highlight of the system is special animal conservation at each station. Each station has been given the responsibility to look after an endangered or precious animal. You will see some pretty fancy birds and reptiles at many of the stations.

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Hotel suite not much bigger than a coffin

Well today’s story can only come from the world of weird and whacky- Japan. Well there’s certainly no mini bar or luxurious queen bed on this unique style of hotel. It’s the capsule hotel and they are found all over the big Japanese cities usually around the train stations and cater primarily for businessman who have had that one (or several) too many beers after work and missed the the last train home or can’t quiet face the wife and kids. The capsule hotel are a communal collection of small plastic cells about two feet wide and high and around six foot long. They have a mattress, a pillow and some linen,  sometimes a small TV and DVD player and not much else. The capsule hotels usually feature community rooms where men can carry on the celebration with a few more beers or even a meal usually from a vending machine.  Sometimes the lodger can even relax in a sauna, spa or even take a massage. Costs are usually around the 20-40 dollars a mark night and payments are often made by vending machine. The facility also offer communal showers and bathrooms and many even sell pajamas or other forms of sleepwear.  Being a cheap accommodation option in the huge citys like Tokyo and Osaka sometimes they become home. People who are working in low paying jobs have been known to have extended stays in the hotels and call them home.  The capsule hotel isn’t the most private or luxurious accommodation you will find in Japan but no one can disagree about it being one of the more unique and cheapest.

Chek Lap Kok – Hong Kong’s Airport

When opened in 1998 the Hong Kong International Airport was the world’s largest and today 12 years later the airport is the one of the world’s busiest for both passengers and cargo and caters for around 300000 aircraft movements a year.  There are more than 70 boarding gates with over 60 jet bridges and is used by around 50 million people a year. The airport was built in the sea, two islands Chek Lap  Kok and Lam Chau were flattened and to make the 12 1/2 square kilometre airport. The airport took only six years to construct at a cost of about $20 billion US, replacing the old Kai Tak Airport which was wedged between Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and Victoria Harbour which had become dangerous and too small to handle the enormous growth in traffic Hong Kong required to move forward.  Chek Lap Kok has tow huge runways of 3800 metres in length and suitable for the biggest of aircraft including the new Airbus A380.  The runways are able to handle over 60 aircraft movements an hour.  Passengers are moved around the massive airport by the HKIA Automated People Movement which is a tram like system and an Airport Express rail service which reaches the heart of Hong Kong in just over 20 minutes.

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Colonial charm in Singapore

Since 1887 Raffles Hotel in the island country of Singapore has been known for its luxury and superb dining and service.  Named after Singapore’s founder Sir Stamford Raffles the Victorian style hotel offers a charm like no other and has played a huge role in the history of Singapore. The hotel is noted as being the place where the last wild tiger in Singapore was shot although there is a lot of different versions of events and no one is quiet sure of the truth if any. The hotel also had a lot of traumatic events take place during the 2nd World War when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese , ending up a transit camp for prisoners of war at the conclusion of the occupation.  Huge celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charlie Chaplin, George Bush snr. and even Queen Elizabeth II have visited this landmark hotel. The hotel is known for it’s Singapore Sling cocktail which is a must for any visitor to the city. This tropical blend of gin, brandy, pineapple, Marschino cherry amongst other things. The cocktail was invented by Raffles bartender Ngiam Tong Boon nearly 100 years ago and became  a signature drink of the hotel in the 1970’s.

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Istana Negara, Kuala Lumpur

Istana Negara  is the official residence of His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the King of Malaysia. The palace overlooks the Klang River and is set on 28 acres of lush tropical gardens complete with lake, 6 hole golf course, swimming pool and tennis courts .  The residence is not open to the public but the gatehouse is a very popular destination for tourists who want to see the changing of the guard ceremonies and the magnificent horses which are rode by the palace guards.  Like with many of the world’s monarchs a flag is flown if the King is in residence in the palace.  Constructions is currently underway to build a new bigger and more splendours Istana Negara at an enormous cost. It is expected the existing Istana Negara will become a museum which will give visitors an wonderful chance to see this beautiful building and grounds first hand.

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