Sunday, October 24, 2021

Tech-ing a break in S-E Asia

Haresh Engineer discovers that you need to be tech-savvy to have a holiday in Singapore and Malaysia   

A long-cherished dream of traveling to one of the popular destinations in Asia came true recently. I took a weeklong trip with my wife and my daughter to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Genting. The trip began with us landing at Changi Airport, which itself felt like a tourist destination. We were enthralled by the sheer grandeur and opulence of this wonderful place right from the moment we landed. We spent nearly two hours looking around this beautiful airport despite our long flight.

Whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems. Though my wife and I are senior citizens, exploring the city was very comfortable. The sparkling MRT system and buses with everything digitized and available at a click of a button made me realise that being tech-savvy is essential for staying here. At times we did face some challenges like locating certain places on the map or booking a cab or visiting various tourist spots, as everything is automated and digitized. Considering that we are not that tech-savvy, at times we felt somewhat confused. In such situations, my daughter helped us sail through comfortably and did everything that was required. I felt that seniors must keep pace with changing times.

What was most interesting about this place was that most of the older citizens were seen taking a stroll, or sipping beer and dining at food stalls and restaurants, something which is not a common sight in India. However, I found people there more mechanical and materialistic lacking an emotional connect and sense of belonging. Everybody was busy with one’s own self and cell phones. The side-effects of technology, I guess!

Tourist delight

Singapore is truly a tourist delight – whether it was taking a ride in the Singapore Flyer, visiting the Marina Bay Sands, seeing the beautiful Gardens by the Bay, clicking pictures at the Merlion, going on a shopping spree or taking a stroll through Chinatown. In all of this, one thing that most of the tourist spots involved was a lot of walking. Going from one spot to another could take a toll on you. Hence physical fitness is the key while visiting Singapore, especially for senior citizens if you want to explore the city completely. The most popular, and a must-visit place, is the famous Universal Studios and Sentosa Island. People of all ages can have a great time here and can spend an entire day at these places. These two spots are quite well spread out and require a lot of walking. So don’t forget your walking shoes while in Singapore.

Visiting Little India, a very popular tourist spot among Indian tourists, was like being back in our hometown of Mumbai. Little India had some of the best South Indian restaurants and other Indian eating options.

The nightlife in Singapore is very vibrant and most of the youngsters gather around Clarke Quay which is a popular party hub. There are numerous bars and restaurants offering varieties of food options. The beauty of this place is such that one can keep coming back to this place time and again. Any number of days would feel inadequate for Singapore.

Magic of Malaysia

Our next stop was Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. This place is widely recognized by its mix of gleaming skyscrapers and colonial architecture. However, while moving around the city I observed that most of the buildings, common places and roads had their National Flag hoisted on them. It was admirable to see how the citizens show their love and respect for the country. The main hub is called the Golden Triangle which comprises Bukit Bintang, KLCC and Chinatown. I was amazed to see the way this city had kept up with digitization, despite being smaller than Mumbai.

The trip to Kuala Lumpur means a must-visit at the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers. The 20-minute Sky Bridge tour is unmissable. The highest one can go here is up to the 86th floor. The view from the observation deck is spectacular. If you do plan on visiting the Petronas Twin Towers I recommend you visit during the day so that you can clearly see the entire city.

Call of the hills

Our last stop was Genting, a beautiful hill station in Malaysia accessible by road and the cable car, about one and a half hour’s journey from Kuala Lumpur. Among other hotels, World One Hotel in Genting is the world’s largest hotel, with 7,531 rooms. Its reception corridor reminds you of an airport. From check-in to check-out, everything is digital and computerized. There are a number of self-check-in kiosks as well, where you do your own room bookings but there are also 30 check-in counters where the staff will do your check-in and hand over the room keys. Thereafter, however, you are on your own. All the computerized room booking and other digital procedures were handled by my daughter. At some point in time, you tend to feel overwhelmed by the expanse and vastness of the hotel. There is no one to help you carry your luggage to the room. You have to carry it yourself. Seniors would find it quite taxing to walk along the corridors of the hotel passing three huge towers. My advice to all traveling to Genting, travel light and carry minimum luggage.

For youngsters

This is the place for the younger generation. The entire hotel complex is enclosed and surrounded by kiosks, shops, and amusement rides, mostly targeting a younger crowd. Many upmarket stores and restaurants greet you with fabulous offers and merchandise. Taking the stroll in the entire complex could entail a lot of walking makes you tired at the end of the day. Visit Casino at night is something one should not miss. To my amazement, there were more than 500 gambling counters surrounded by gamblers mostly seniors. That proved a point that seniors do have a lot of money power.

At the end of the trip, a feeling of homesickness started to creep in… and we were home-bound.

I recommend that seniors should take a break from the daily routine and visit such interesting places once in a while. This surely will uplift your mood and spirit and add fuel to the remaining years of your life. At the same time, fitness is something one should not overlook at any time, and especially if you are visiting such tourist spots. Another takeaway is to keep abreast of the latest technology and devices, to keep pace with the changing times.

Haresh Engineer
Haresh Engineer, a senior member of our parent Trade & Technology Exposition Co, loves his travel and food.

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