Friend of the World

Guest Relations Supervisor at Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, Siti Artha Binti Jumari, welcomes you to one of the world’s friendliest places

Issue: Apr 2012

Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is a cosmopolitan city that has not lost sight of its small town heritage
Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is a cosmopolitan city that has not lost sight of its small town heritage

In HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey conducted last year with nearly 4,000 expatriates from over 100 countries, Malaysia was ranked amongst the top 10 friendliest places in the world for expatriates to live in. In fact, it was the only Southeast Asian country to make the list. As a Malaysian born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, this comes as no surprise. Malaysia may be a cosmopolitan country with a melting pot of cultures from its communities of Malays, Chinese, Indians and expatriates but, in many ways, it has never let go of its kampong (village) heritage. Its capital, Kuala Lumpur, perfectly personifies this warm and inviting Malaysian spirit.

Modern City with a Kampong Heart

A fine way to experience Malaysian hospitality is to stay at Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur when you visit Kuala Lumpur. Each day begins and ends with a smile from our staff and residents are treated like family, making it easy for both long stay and leisure travellers to settle in quickly in our friendly environment.

We also regularly organise excursions within the city for residents to get to know Kuala Lumpur better. One iconic landmark you cannot miss is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) just one stop from the Ampang Park LRT which is within walking distance of Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur. KLCC can be seen from anywhere within the city and you can see the whole city from the vantage point of its two towers.

Forever defining the skyline of the city is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) with the Petronas Twin Towers
Forever defining the skyline of the city is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) with the Petronas Twin Towers

A popular tourist attraction, KLCC, sits on a sprawling 40-hectare site and includes the city’s premier shopping mall named Suria KLCC; the KLCC park and Petronas Twin Towers. Going up the towers - the world’s tallest twin buildings - is an experience in itself. Whenever I walk on the skybridge suspended between the towers on the 41st and 42nd floor, which is the highest two-storey bridge in the world, the sights below never fail to amaze me. The squatters and old houses of my childhood have been replaced by ultra-modern malls, swanky residential towers, upmarket cafes and eateries. For an even loftier view, get to the Observation Deck on the 88th floor. On a clear day, you can see as far as Genting Highlands and the Klang Valley.

After the breathtaking views, enjoy the shopper’s paradise in Suria KLCC. Aside from the astounding selection of shops offering anything from foreign luxury items to high-street labels, and upmarket restaurants, the premium mega mall also has an underwater aquarium (Aquaria KLCC), a Science and discovery centre (Petrosains) and an art gallery (Petronas Art Gallery). At night, the water fountain fronting KLCC puts up a spectacular water and lights show that is a feast for the eyes.

Shopping Haven with Diverse Retail Experiences

Another place for retail therapy is Bukit Bintang – a shopping district where high-end malls sit alongside street stores; and al fresco cafes and fine restaurants are just steps away from the street hawker stalls. Many of the city’s shopping malls are located in this area, including popular malls such as Berjaya Times Square, Starhill Gallery, Lot 10 and Sungei Wang Plaza. From Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, you can hop on the convenient complimentary shopping shuttle service provided by the property to get to the Bukit Bintang area which is just a few train stops away. Wandering this area that gives you the best of both worlds will take you almost all day.

Siti taking her pick of souvenirs at Central Market
Siti taking her pick of souvenirs at Central Market

For a local shopping experience, take the LRT from Ampang Park (which is five minutes away from the residence) to Pasar Seni and you will find yourself at Central Market which is housed within a 1930s Art Deco style building. Declared a Heritage Site by the Malaysian Heritage Society, this cultural market is now the largest Malaysian arts and craft centre with over 200 unique shops offering local crafts, antiques, silverware, traditional Malay outfits, batik products and Malaysian food

Let the storeowners woo you with their selection of souvenirs and soak up the kampong atmosphere. But do not forget to bargain. Be warned, though, local bargaining etiquette dictates that you do not start bargaining unless you are genuinely interested in buying the item.

Take a walk to Petaling Street in Chinatown and you will be spoilt for choice by the excellent selection of restaurants and food stalls that serves Chinese cuisine and local favorites. The popular Petaling Street Bazaar is open from 10am to late night and is usually crowded with locals and tourists. Again, haggling is a common sight here. I usually bargain them down to 50 per cent of the quoted price.

Historical Enclave Revived with a Twist

Siti (first from left) and her colleagues at the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory where one can shop for pewter ware, learn its history and have a go at pewter-smithing
Siti (first from left) and her colleagues at the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory where one can shop for pewter ware, learn its history and have a go at pewter-smithing

Kuala Lumpur has a fascinating past. A former tin mining settlement, it traces its history to the early 1800s with the discovery of tin in Klang and Gombak. A place with links to the city’s mining past is the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory. Royal Selangor Pewter is the world’s largest pewter maker and its Visitor Centre in Kuala Lumpur, opened in 2004, is its first. It won the 2005 Best ASEAN New Tourist Attraction Award from the ASEAN Tourism Association and Best Tourist Attraction Award in 2004 from Tourism Malaysia.

We recently organised a trip there for our long-staying guests. A 20-minute drive from Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, visitors get to have an interactive tour educating them on pewter craft. They also get to try their hand at pewter-smithing at a workshop called the School of Hard Knocks, using the same traditional tools that have been in use for over 100 years.

Food Paradise with Simple Delights

Kuala Lumpur has many upmarket restaurants and sophisticated cafes that offer the cuisines of the world. But when my guests want to have a taste of the real Malaysia, I usually recommend them my favourite Pelita, a local nasi kandar restaurant, just across from Ampang Park Shopping Centre, a 5-minute drive from Somerset Ampang. The street stall fare may not make it into the list of fine-dining must-eat-at places, but it does serve the best naan (flat bread) and chicken tandoori in my books. It is where the local foodies go. So you can see Malaysian life unfold as you tuck into a meal.

Laksa Penang, a local delight that Siti recommends, is served in a rich, spicy fish broth
Laksa Penang, a local delight that Siti recommends, is served in a rich, spicy fish broth

Another place to sample local food and savour Malaysian hospitality is along Kampung Baru. I love the nasi kerabu, a fragrant herbed rice eaten with your choice of dishes. Another Malaysian specialty is Laksa Penang (noodles in a rich, coconut-based curry broth) which uses yellow noodles instead of the usual thick rice noodles. It would take all day and the better part of the night to try all the stalls here, which is a good thing because most stalls run 24/7.

Kuala Lumpur’s many attractions are probably world renowned but its spirit is much less well documented. It is something you cannot easily put into words but can be immediately recognised when you take the time to meet its people and talk to them. So, as you bargain with its stall holders, chat with its food vendors, linger amongst its residents, you will gradually understand why this country is one of the friendliest places in the world.

Come stay with us and enjoy our Super Saver promotion from MYR295 per night, valid from now till 31 May 2012. This promotion is also applicable to our other serviced residences in Kuala Lumpur. For more information, visit www.somerset.com

Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur
187 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: (60 3) 2723 8888
Fax: (60 3) 2723 8999
Email: enquiry.kualalumpur@the-ascott.com

Ascott Kuala Lumpur
9 Jalan Pinang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel: (60 3) 2142 6868
Fax: (60 3) 2142 9888
Email: enquiry.kualalumpur@the-ascott.com

Somerset Seri Bukit Ceylon Kuala Lumpur
8 Lorong Ceylon
Off Jalan Raja Chulan
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel : (60 3) 2055 8888
Fax : (60 3) 2055 8999
E-mail: enquiry.kualalumpur@the-ascott.com


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