#17 First Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue

Personal Impressions of some South-East Asian cities

Singapore:

My mother was born in Singapore and I have a huge number of my family and relatives that are on this remarkable island. I can consider it as my second home.

The moment I arrive at the Changi airport, my heart shouts, ”Freedom!!” Freedom to roam about the island, beginning with the MRT train ride, which makes travelling in Singapore easy and most places accessible or you can travel by bus, provided you know well the bus system, their numbers and routes.

Singapore is also a food heaven. You are spoilt for choices of its different flavours and cuisines, and the atmosphere and experience while enjoying your indulges is what makes it memorable.

Shopping is also great especially when great discounts are on offer. And you shouldn´t miss be part of the crowd watching the Singapore National Day Parade.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

There is a lot that Kuala Lumpur has to offer but due to my own limitations, regretfully I only have been able to accept a few. Although a frequent traveller to Kuala Lumpur, my travel, especially on foot, revolves around the Golden Triangle, especially Bukit Bintang area. There are a significant number of affordable guest houses or hostels which maks this area popular. You are able to see European and Middle-Eastern tourists around. And you may never end up having tired feet when during the night time, you are spoilt for choices of the different massage parlours available that are popular with reflexology.

I travel frequently to Kuala Lumpur to attend a Weekend Leadrship Seminar held once every few months in Cheras, a sub-urban area of Kuala Lumpur.

Jakarta, Indonesia:

This is a huge city where the traffic jam is considerably incredible. The first time I arrived in this city, I was amazed with the huge shopping malls and buildings, it left me in awe. Just been there a few times, and also to attend a Weekend Leadership Seminar at the Istora Senayan. Great atmosphere, great excitement and great people!

Jogjakarta, Indonesia:

Nope! It has nothing to do with Jakarta. In fact, it is a two-hour-flight or eight-hour-train-ride away fron Indonesia`s capital city. Known as `The City of Students` because ninety percent population are students (mainly undergraduates). I enjoyed the hospitality provided by Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of the well-known universities in Indonesia. A few memorable experiences came out of this visit include experiencing tremors or earthquakes while listening a religious sermon in a mosque before the mass Jum`at prayer. That was due to the volcanic activity of the nearby Mount Kaliurang. Flying pass by it on the way back to Jakarta also brought chills to the spine.

An honourable visit that I should mention is a tour of the royal palace of the existing Sultan of Jogjakarta. His Majesty, a very much respected figure amongst the locals, was gracious to grant an audience.

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam:

Well, it´s my home sweet home. A peaceful and comfortable place, and you should come visit if peace and tranquility from a hectic city life is what you are looking for. Visit a few of our prominent landmarks namely the Sultan Omar Ali mosque, the Jame´ Asri Hassanil Bolkiah mosque, the Kampong Ayer or Water Village and the Empire Hotel and Country Club. You can google them up but trust me, these are the place you wouldn`t want to miss during your stay or visit.

The best time to visit? Well, 15th July of every year is the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal bolkiah Mu´izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Dipertuan of Brunei Darussalam. You would definitely enjoy the clebrations and festivities. Also, do check out the muslim calander of Syawal as Muslims celebrate Aidilfitri. The istana Nurul Iman, the biggest residential palace in the world is opened, normally for three days. It is the best chance for you to meet personally His Majesty and greet Aidilfitri wishes to His Majesty and members of the Royal family. A very enriching experience.

There are still however, many more cities to visit in the South-East Asian region, namely Bangkok in Thailand, Ho Chi minh city in Vietnam and Manila of the Philippines to name a few.

When travelling, do it for your very own reasons for what you seek is what you will get. We have the Malay saying ”Jauh perjalanan, luas pemandangan” which means ”the further you travel, the more you will see”. And that implies, the more you experience and learn. So travel with your heart. Thus, no matter how far and long ago you might have left the destination, it remains with you in your heart.

Posted in 2008-04: First Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue | 16.11.2008

By: Faris (Fauzan) from Brunei

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