BIDDING ADIEU TO PUNE

31st March 2014. I remember my excitement like it was just yesterday. My first International flight to a location I had always wanted to visit, as it was the most unique choice of a vacation trip. I had packed my bags to the brim, leaving no scope for mistakes or any other kind of distractions to wither away my focus, which was to learn the basics of Malay (the official language of Malaysia) on the way there. A different approach to getting to know the place better as a tourist I suppose. But what can you expect from a 13-year-old? As he was all set to explore the “ecstatic uplands” of a beautiful place like Malaysia.

As it struck sharp two past midnight. Our Taxi to Mumbai had arrived and we knew it because of his unique way of sounding his horn, as if it was heaven’s chariot, summoning us to get going to visit Pahang’s most luscious getaway, The Genting Highlands.

OLA TO MUMBAI

As I set my foot into the “City of Dreams” or as my suburban mates say,” Mayanagari”. It was quarter to five and Mumbai seemed like it never slept. The vada pav stalls all crowded with suited office employees, lawyers, and diplomats who had parked their Mercedes alongside the Bajaj scooters of their subordinates, casually indicating that in Mumbai, nobody gets treated differently (Except the Ambani family).

I made my notes about how my journey was going, whilst eating my favorite breakfast, pohe. Accidentally looking at my watch, I noticed that it was already seven ‘o’clock and informed my parents who were lost in the thoughts of how this city always brought back memories of their childhood, an attachment that only the people who belonged to “Bombay” can relate to.

We rushed back to our car that was parked a few kilometers away from where we had our breakfast. This was the last leg of our journey in India as our last stop here was none other than Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Airport. Our runway to fly into the “ecstatic uplands”

OUR CHARIOT

AIR ASIA FLIGHT NO. BD 674. An Airbus on which we were about to spend 6 hours of 1st April 2014.

We had other options from our Hometown Pune, but we didn’t want to opt for connecting flights because it would be much more hectic as compared to directly boarding a plane from Mumbai.

As we boarded our “chariot”, there were butterflies in my stomach. I was more excited than I had ever been in my life. I guess even the crew members knew how thrilled I was and sped through the emergency drill. They then quickly walked up to the people sitting next to the emergency doors and explained its functioning in detail. And before I could even blink, our chariot had taken off, amidst the bright morning sky of April Fool’s Day.

Two and a half hours within our journey through the skies, we did experience a lot of turbulence due to some wild air currents in the Bay of Bengal. But I must say, Our Pilot surely handled the situation like he was eating a cake sitting on a bean bag, showing that these situations were normal for them. He even made it a point to tell the passengers that it’s nothing more than a “slightly rough patch” while an Old Chinese lady sitting right next to me was praying to Buddha seeing the Lighting outside her window. I soon understood why the steward taught the Tall British Gentleman sitting to my right that how he was supposed to operate the emergency window. Because neither I nor the Old Chinese lady was going to stay conscious in an emergency.

SELAMAT DATANG MALAYSIA!

Selamat Datang! (means Welcome to Malaysia) said the board hanging at the entrance of the immigration counter of Kuala Lampur International Airport. I still couldn’t believe it; I was in Malaysia!

Soon our turn came up to provide the immigration authorities with our Passport and Visa. A young Malaysian man, who looked like he had just joined his job recently, checked our passports and looked at us to ask a few questions. He interrogated us about our purpose to visit, how long is our stay and where are we planning to go. After my parents were done answering all his questions, he looked at me through the window to his left and said with a smile,” Selamat Datang Budak! Enjoy your stay here!”

We had a one-day-stay at the Corus Hotel situated in the “heart of the city” according to its review online. We spent that evening swimming in the hotel pool and then visited the famous, tall, and architecturally pleasing Kuala Lumpur tower. I could see the entire city from the top floor that was dedicated for tourists to come and enjoy the scenery of the city lit up in the night like a habitat of fireflies. Then we went to the Petronas towers but mainly to visit the mall at the base of the towers which was bigger than my whole city and a true maze from inside. We only roamed half a quarter of the mall in the six whole hours that we spent. Kuala Lumpur was so good to visit I couldn’t fathom what was in line for our vacation ahead.

PAHANG

A short car drive that lasted not more than an hour to Pahang, the place where the most beloved get away from the city life of Malaysia lied, Genting Highlands. An absolutely beautiful location that was fairly less visited back than in 2014.

The journey to our hotel was filled with sceneries I had only seen on my Laptop’s wallpaper rotation. I had never seen a place so green and flourishing with flora of kinds unknown to me. I had come to visit this place for just two days but If I had a chance, I would never leave. What a place to be during the summer holidays. I didn’t miss my home at all,

I was just mesmerized throughout the journey and all I knew was, I had come to have fun and enjoy myself to the fullest as I had waited the whole year to make it to this location. Hence, my body, mind, and soul were ready to collect all the memories Genting was about to unfold for me

DAY-1

The best part about this place is surely the skyway and the widespread greenery in every direction that you can set your eyes on. The best way to have a look at this greenery is using the Skyways that operate for long distances at the most mediocre speed and stop in between the way so that you can get your pictures taken to post them up on Facebook and Instagram.

Next, we visited the Chin Swee Caves Temple which was surely the place for people to find peace and meditate for countless hours. I haven’t been to such a well-maintained temple anywhere else and with the least number of tourists at noon, I was having my exploration walk with my Parents roaming all around the serene 28-acre of woodlands on which the temple was spread across.

A Beautiful Temple isn’t it?

Later on, that day I spent my time at the Hotel (Resort World Genting) and explored the Hotel’s estate and the different shops within it to take some souvenirs of Genting Highlands back home.

DAY-2

We had to leave in the Evening so we kept plans for the second day a little light as we had to preserve our energy for our way back home but surely and at the same time finish what I mainly had come for. One thing that was off the list was to take the skyway which was another first-time experience and the second was, A photo with the elephants. Yes, that might sound quite normal to you but here in Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Center, the elephants were trained to lift the humans in mid-air and that was a crazy stunt for me to surely perform considering I was just 13- years old and I had seen hoardings around the highland with wide smiling faces of children raised in mid-air by the most precious yet gigantic animals to have ever trodden this earth.

So as soon as we finished our morning trek to Sungai Sendat that was an amazing waterfall situated in Ulu Yam Baru. Our next destination was the Elephant Conservation Center.

I soon bought the three tickets and paved my way through the crowd searching for a big Elephant that I could make friends with. And there stood Pomur, Taller than the building that I stayed in back in Pune. I was always amazed by animals and hence being 13 and acting like 45 I talked to the caretaker about how old he is, what do they feed him (So that even I could be that tall), and lastly, I asked him that would Pomur lift me?

He cracked a smile and said in his Malaysian Accent, “Why not La! He picks you up Yes He likes kids a lot!”

My more than happy parents stood there with their cameras and took a picture of me as Pomur made a rumbling sound with his trunk as he lifted me and I was more than delighted to have an elephant do that to me. The photo was my trophy and a mark of my first animal friend that I ever made, Pomur.

SELAMAT TINGGAL PAHANG!

The Board saying “Selamat Datang Pahang!” which made me happy to read it when I had arrived, saddened in the same amount Because as I left, its opposite side read “Selamat Tinggal” (goodbye in Malay).

I had the best time of my life there and that is the reason why 7 years down the line I still have the memories embellished in my mind as if I just landed back from there a few minutes ago.

The Genting Highlands is a must on the bucket list of all travel junkies. My trip, although short, but left-back memories of the best time I ever had in my life which was filled with first-time experiences and aesthetic sceneries to cherish for a lifetime.

SO, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? EXPERIENCE WHAT I CHERISH AND BOOK A TICKET TO MALAYSIA RIGHT NOW!!

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