Exploring Shah Alam

Over the Chinese New Year holidays, our family took a trip up to the capital city of Malaysia. Instead of staying within the old city of Kuala Lumpur, we spent a few days in Shah Alam, a suburbia area west of KL.

Shah Alam is immediately distinct from the old city center in that buildings were more spaced out, traffic less dense and there were more tree lined avenues.

I had no initial plans for our three days having been to this part of Malaysia so often. A quick search of the Internet however revealed several places of interest within the area. These include the Malaysia Agriculture Park,  Malaysia’s “Blue Mosque” and i-City.

This goes to show that no matter how familiar one is with a destination, there are always gems to dig out if they have the willingness to search and explore.

Shopping @ Amcorp Mall

The shopping mall isn’t outstanding in any way and has a rather run down appearance. However this is the destination for a weekend flea market.

On normal days, you can hunt for cheap toy collectibles from two of the toy shops on the 4th level. The bookstore on the same level also sells an amazingly wide variety of cheap reads. I bought The Long Tail by Chris Anderson for only RM19.90!

Eating @ SS15

Within the district of Subang Jaya, search for SS15 (which I assume is a lazy way of naming streets). The area is made up of nostalgic 1960s three-storey shophouses which now house a wide variety of food outlets. I like the feel of the area the moment I saw it. Feels like you could plonk yourself in one of the eateries and just watch life go by for the rest of the evening.

Most notable of eateries in SS15 is the Asia Cafe. Cafe is rather misleading because it is closer to a food market selling every discernible Asian cuisine. From North Indian, to Korean, Thai and the ubiquitous BBQ seafood.

Across the road from SS15 (can’t remember the number of that section of shophouses), look out for Eatzi Teochew Porridge. Although the prices are a bit steep in my opinion, the texture of the porridge is so smooth and the accompanying dishes delectable, it is worth the price. Especially after a night of gorging on unhealthy and oily food.

Sightseeing @ Shah Alam

1. Taman Pertanian Malaysia aka Malaysia Agriculture Park

Nature calls so I usually first look out for some kind of national park, reserve, garden or what not in any destination. In Shah Alam, this would be the Malaysia Agriculture Park which is a 1,200+ ha area that has been set aside to educate the public about agricultural history in the country.

The entrance fee of RM3 for adults is a steal and this includes a free shuttle bus that brings you to the various spots in the park. Several highlights piqued my interest – paddy fields, rubber and oil palm plantations, an arbor where you can pluck fruits off the trees and a four seasons garden.

As time was limited I was only able to visit the four seasons garden. It was currently winter so the indoor garden was transformed into an icy landscape of bare deciduous trees, frozen rivers and a sub-zero temperature. Without any insulation, we were out of there within 10 minutes after taking all the necessary shots.

We also visited a mini zoo and an observatory tower within the park. I would really like to pick fruits from the trees and learn about planting rice but that would be for another time. The park isn’t very well-maintained but there are sufficient things to see and large enough area to work out for the good part of a day.

2. Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah aka ‘The Blue Mosque’.

On our way back from the agricultural park, I saw a huge blue dome towering over the generally low level landscape of Shah Alam. We made a detour towards the dome.

Turns out that the dome belongs to the mosque dedicated to the late sultan of Selangor of the same name. This Islamic place of worship is sited in a large squarish courtyard with spires marking each of its corner. According to the Internet, these spires are one of the tallest in the world. In fact the scale of the mosque could probably rival that of the duomo in Florence. It is that big.

I was genuinely impressed to find such a monument outside of KL city. However the scale of the mosque reminds me once again of man’s unending quest to contain their god within a temple of worship as if God would be contained by it no matter how big, beautiful or impressive it is.

3. i-City

In the day, i-City hopes to be the future hub for all things digital, boasting superior broadband bandwidth offices and accompanying server space and technological infrastructure.

At night after the office occupants have vacated the area, it is transformed into something quite ethereal. Designed purely to wow and entertain, i-City lights up into a myriad of multi-colored LED lights. Whole trees themselves are made of these tiny LED lights which is quite an eye-opener for me.

If you haven’t seen something like this before, it is actually worth about 1 – 2 hours of your evening, and RM10 fee if travelling by car, to walk around the field/park with your children after a sumptuous dinner. No problems taking photos even in the dark as the trees themselves are lights!

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