I've come full circle. Visiting Malaysia Tourism Information Centre (MaTIC) again felt exactly like that. The first and last time I was here was some five years ago - on my very first visit to Malaysia, although it feels like eons ago. The place hasn't changed much, as it is beautifully tucked in a quiet place right in the heart of KL's commercial district. This 1935 mansion is beautifully framed by the rising skyline of the capital, with the Twin Towers beaconing nearby.
I wasn't sure I'd find this from memory. It had been so long and I haven't mastered the city trains of KL yet. However, the heavens have been good and I've actually "spotted" a billboard advertising the MaTIC. Had I been less attentive, it was easy to miss because I was jetting from KL Sentral to Imbi station. Visit us via Bukit Nanas, it said. I wasn't sure where Bukit Nanas is, which train to take, but I knew it was a station somewhere. Bahala na, whatever will be. If I find it, good. If I don't, it will be one more anecdote to tell about failed attempts on a journey.
From KL Sentral, I purchased my ticket - 2.10 ringgit, 8 train stops. Beautifully gliding through a continuously changing metropolis, I later found out that Bukit Nanas is located a few hops from one of KL's main attractions, the KL Tower. In fact, I was delivered safely at the foot of it. From outside the station, I found some directional sign saying "3 minutes to Tourism Malaysia". That should be my destination, right? I walked along Jalan Ampang. Nearby was Shangrila Hotel, and I could see the gleaming Petronas Twin Towers from a distance. I could have taken my train to KLCC and walked to MaTIC, but Jalan Ampang was closer.
The building used to be called Tuanku Abdul Rahman Hall, which was built in 1935. It was named after the first Supreme Head of State of the Federation of Malaya. His reign happened between 1957 and 1960. The building was the mansion of a wealthy planter and tin miner - Eu Tong Seng. Due to its distinct beauty, this was offered for important events, like the installation of the country's first King. With the passing of time, descendants of Mr. Seng thought of offering the place for government use. True enough, in 1988, this mansion was formally turned over, designed as a one-stop shop for tourists. There are counters for different concerns regarding travel within the country. They even have information about neighboring Singapore. Maps and brochures could be had from this center so if you're a newbie in KL, here's your easy access for information - and they're available for free!
Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, cultural dance performances are scheduled at their mini-auditorium. There's an open air bazaar at the adjacent lot. Floral bouquets abound inside the main hallway. The compound has a foreign exchange counter, a post office, souvenir shops an inside the main hall, and an internet station for guests. The name is particularly fetching - Cafe Manila! Now, this is music to my ears because in a tourism center as efficiently run as MaTIC, they had to name their net station Cafe Manila - not Cafe Melaka, not Cafe Bukit Bintang! This actually puts emphasis on the close ties between the two countries. And it makes me proud. A visitor is allowed 20 minute browsing for free, you just have to ask for a password from the counter.
Ask for your free KL and Malaysia maps and brochures here.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|A picturesque garden in front of the tourism center.|
|The lobby has a sungca (see below).|
|A free internet station is named Cafe Manila|
|At the open bazaar, I ordered Nasi Lemak Kukub at a very cheap 4 ringgit. This was tasty although the tendrils of feather stalks bothered me. This dish had chilly paste and peanuts.|