Malaysia and motorsport
Malaysia is one of the more popular motorsport destinations in the ASEAN region, being the first country to have a dedicated F1-grade circuit built in 1999. The Hermann Tilke-designed course is 5.543-kilometers long and is located about 45 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. The track also hosts the premier MotoGP World Championship and was also one of the tracks for the now defunct A1 Grand Prix of Nations.
2015 MotoGP Round 17
We witnessed the penultimate round of the 2015 MotoGP series which saw an exciting duel between Yamaha and Honda works riders as they battled it out for a tightly contested championship. High-caliber names such as Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa thrilled excited fans from all over the world as they fought hard to prove who’s the fastest on the Malaysian track.
The main highlight of the race was a close battle between Rossi and Marquez, as each rider tried to outdo each other for several laps, which sent the crowd cheering for their favored competitor. The action however went quite tense as a controversial ‘kick’ by the six-time champion Rossi sent Marquez sliding on the asphalt, prematurely ending the latter’s race on the 7th lap.
The race ended with Repsol-Honda’s Dani Pedrosa taking a lights to flag win, followed by fellow Spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo of Movistar-Yamaha, and teammate, Valentino Rossi, taking the final podium spot. The Italian was later given a 3-point penalty and sentenced to start at the back of the grid for the final race in Spain; he has however appealed the decision.
More than motorsport
Malaysia is, however, more than just motorsport, as the country offers diverse culture, entertainment, food, nightlife, sightseeing and shopping. Tourism Malaysia takes us around the other attractions they have to offer aside from racing.
History and culture in one hour
In today’s fast-paced connected lifestyle, where information or even food can be obtained in an instant, people expect to know things right away. We were treated to a theatrical show entitled ‘Mud’ at Panggung Bandaraya, a heritage building that has since been converted to a performance arts venue. The 50-minute interactive play is an entertaining way to learn about Kuala Lumpur’s colorful history and rich culture that is very much recommended for visitors of all ages.
Started in June of 2014, it is considered the longest running show in Kuala Lumpur. It shows twice daily; a 3 PM matinee and an 830 PM primetime schedule, which is also a good opportunity to walk around Dataran Merdeka at night to appreciate the Sultan Abdul Samad building, as well the Malaysia’s independence square.
In its efforts to preserve traditional culture, it organized the 1st International Aborigines and Indigenous Arts Festival featuring performances from different countries as well as their crafts and products. It is called the Festival Kesnian Orang Asli and Peribumi Antarabangsa, and it was held at the Titiwangsa Stadium. It features different Malaysian tribal artists as well as those from the ASEAN (Philippines, Thailand), Canada, China, Ghana and New Zealand.
To explore the city further, we visited the KL City Gallery (housed in an old printing press), which tells more about the city’s past, present and future with miniature models and projection mapping.
Another site we visited was the ‘Art Deco’ Central Market building, originally built by the British in 1888 to house a wet market; it has now been converted to shops selling souvenirs, herbs and foodstuffs. It wasn’t complete without a stop at the Old Town White Coffee shop inside for a cup of their famous white coffee.
Food tripping in (Jalan Petaling) Chinatown
A trip to the Chinatown consists of flea market shopping and plenty of food stalls and restaurants that virtually take your tastebuds to a different dimension. It is something to be experienced. Being Chinatown, restaurants and food stalls serve up traditional Chinese food, like Hokkien Mee (fried noodles), Claypot Chicken Rice, Chee Cheong Fun, Prawn Mee, Roast Duck, and many more.
One of my favorites in Chinatown would be the Claypot Chicken Rice from the nameless stall outside Cheong Kee Company. Uncle has been serving his claypot rice for over thirty years.
Shopping in Bukit Bintang
The Bukit Bintang commercial area offers diverse shopping choices, with several malls offering international and local Malaysian brands. Among the establishments are different restaurants offering different cuisines from all over the world.
Also in the vicinity is Jalan Alor, a famous street for hawker food stalls — a place to experience — eateries serve up Chinese and Malay food here.
Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA
The newly opened outlet park near Kuala Lumpur International Airport offers diverse shopping choices from major lifestyle brands for motorsport fans who bring their family who would prefer to catch great deals than overtaking moves on the track.
For night owls or people looking for a bit of fun, Changkat Bukit Bintang is lined with several pubs and bars offering entertainment ranging from dance music to live bands with different themed places.
A few blocks down the road is Jalan Mesui, which offers more of a hip atmosphere with a third-wave coffee shop called Feeka Coffee Roasters, a No Black Tie Jazz Club, bed and breakfast places, and more natural looking bars.
Petronas Twin Towers
Cliche as it may be, but a visit to Kuala Lumpur will not be complete without a visit to the iconic building, which currently stands as the tallest twin towers in the world. Once heralded as the tallest buildings of the world from 1998 to 2004.
Our last stop was Putrajaya, a planned city envisioned as the federal administrative center for Malaysia by former Prime Minister Mohathir Mohammad. The 49 square-kilometer intelligent garden city has 38% of its land reserved for green spaces.
One of the best ways to appreciate Putrajaya would be on the lake where you take a cruise with “Cruise Tasik” going through scenic parts of the city on a relatively different point of view. The vessels they use are locally made too.
For 2016, the month of October has been designated as speed month for Malaysia, as both the F1 and MotoGP races are being held a week apart for the very first time! Motorsport fans wanting to catch both events can actually plan an 8 or 9 day trip. It will surely be an interesting way to discover the different attractions apart from enjoying two of the most exciting motorsport events in the world.