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Gillian's Farewell

Hi there. If you’ve seen our website, visited our boutique, or perhaps met us at a pop-up bazaar in the past year, you may know me. My name is Gillian. I graduated last June from Union College in New York with a Minerva Fellowship meant to instill an entrepreneurial approach to solving social issues in developing nations, and moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to volunteer for Batik Boutique. In my time here, I have gotten to experience a little bit of everything, and I’ve been witness to the growth of Batik Boutique.

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5 Reasons To Travel to Malaysia in 2017

5 Reasons To Travel to Malaysia in 2017

Now a top choice for luxurious holidays, Southeast Asia in recent years has not only been a backpacker favourite but also has resorts that can rival that of the Maldives. Known for its eclectic mixture of different ancient cultures and modern Western influences, it’s a charming corner of the world that has something for everyone.  With the first round of school holidays in 2017 coming up, it’s the perfect time to plan your holidays for the year and book your flights early.  Here’s why Malaysia should be on your list this year:

 

1. SEA Games

Occurring bi-annually, the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is happening in Kuala Lumpur this year. It’s been 16 years since Malaysia lasted hosted the games, and this year it will be held in conjunction the 60th celebration of Malaysian Independence on August 31st!

From a recent surge of nationwide enthusiasm about sports from a successful Olympics game last summer, you can bet that KL2017 will be an event you don’t want to miss.

 

2. Food to die for

While Malaysian food has been heralded as life-changing by world-renowned chefs like

Anthony Bourdain for years, recently Malaysia has seen Melbourne-inspired cafes, vegan restaurants, and Scandinavian-style bakeries pop up across its cities. Now Malaysia can truly be called a food heaven as it keeps up global food trends and further diversifies its international food scene.

Don’t skip out on the nasi lemak or char kuey teow, but if you feel a little homesick, you can be sure to find some comfort food from home during your visit.

 

smoothie bowl kuala lumpur

 

3. Blossoming Art Scene

Malaysia has exporting world-renown artists such as Jimmy Choo and H. H. Lim for many decades. However, Malaysia has been witnessing a sudden influx of international artists that are attracted to Malaysia’s interesting mix of traditional and modern cultures.

The street art of Georgetown, Penang is no stranger to the global audience, but Malaysians themselves are becoming more interested in creating art too. Craft workshops, from batik painting to brush lettering, are becoming increasingly popular. You can sign up for a batik workshop where you can make your own batik scarf or even learn how to use the ancient Japanese dyeing technique of shibori here.

 

batik class workshop kuala lumpur

 

 4. Breathtaking nature

After you’ve experienced the culture, don’t forget about the nature. Other than spicy food and the art of batik, Malaysia is well known for its beaches, highlands, and rainforests too. Now more than ever, Malaysia is dedicated to rainforest conservation and raising environmental awareness.

Challenge yourself with a 2-day hike to Malaysia’s tallest mountain Mount Kinabalu. Or take a trip to The Habitat on Penang Hill via cable car and see the Malaysian rainforest without breaking a sweat. Stop by their shop and buy some batik fashion products too to make it a truly Malaysian experience.

 

5. Affordable Flight Options

Any seasoned global traveller will tell you that Southeast Asia has the cheapest domestic and international flights you can find anywhere. With many budget airlines to choose from, you could fly from Peninsular Malaysia to Borneo for US$50 or from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok for less than US$100.

If you’re looking for a more comfortable trip, Malaysian Airlines offers unbeatable prices for world-class service. With the ease of inflight shopping, leaving something at home is no longer a worry. Check out the inflight magazine Temptations, where you can read more about the story of the Batik Boutique and bring a piece of Malaysia with you to wherever you choose to explore next.

 

batik malaysia airlines

 

Don't forget to check out our Summer Travel Collection. Happy travels!

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Things To Do in KL: Petronas Twin Towers

Things To Do in KL: Petronas Twin Towers

Look up the meaning of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, and you might raise an eyebrow or even two. Why in the world does Malaysia’s biggest city and one of fastest growing metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia have a name like “muddy confluence”? 

The name refers to the junction where the Klang and Gombak rivers meet, where the first tin mines in the area were established. A 15-minute drive away and 150 years later, Malaysia built a 452-metre tall building that quickly became an international icon after its completion in 1996.

I promise you that the splendor of these towers never disappoints. I have found myself in wonder of the Twin Towers ever since I was a child on short family holidays to even now as an adult working in Kuala Lumpur.

batik Malaysia twin towers

You always need a good, reliable bag to fit all your stuff for a day out! Today I brought my Malaysian batik tote bag from The Batik Boutique. If you love the look bright-coloured batik, Malaysia is the perfect place to visit!

As soon as you arrive, you’ll start to see how fitting of a metaphor “muddy confluence” is. Hurried office workers grab takeaway lunches impressively chatting while still walking in perfect formation. Other families are out for a meal together on their day off. A foreign business man hurries from shop to shop trying to find a gift for his wife before his flight out from KLIA. And definitely tourists. Both the large boisterous groups and that one confused couple whisper-arguing in the corner.

batik malaysia things to do in KL

Before taking this photo, an older Korean tourist in her visor instructed me to hold up peace signs. “You have to do it! It’s cuter!” she explains. 

 

Going Up The Towers

The observation deck on the 86th floor is the tallest view you can get of Kuala Lumpur. There are guided tours that take you to the Skybridge that connects the Twin Towers on the 41st floor and the observation deck. Find out more information here if you that interests you. Booking ahead is recommended on weekends and if you wish to go during sunset hours.

But here’s a secret: a view of the Towers is just as much of a novelty than a view from the Towers.

Don’t just take my word for it, but Madonna was absolutely right in saying, “You can tell how fun a city is going to be if Nobu is in it.” The reputable Japanese restaurant chain opened up a branch in on the 56th floor of Petronas Tower 3, located just a three-minute walk southwest of the Twin Towers. There is also a bar on the 57th floor which accepts walk-in customers to their bar and lounge called Marini’s on 57
So go ahead and splurge a little. The view is worth it.

batik scarf Malaysia

My beautiful mother enjoying the view of KLCC Park Marini’s on 57. Of course she stole my eco-dyed mangosteen scarf, it matched her 3-Way Clutch… which she also borrowed.  

 

Things To Do In The Twin Towers Other Than Shopping

But let’s be honest for a second. As much fun as it is to have a luxurious night out, there are days we don’t feel like dressing up just to be ushered into a dark restaurant where no one can really tell what anyone else looks like anyway.This is why I love the Twin Towers. There’s something for everyone. Take a few steps outside of the crowded shopping centre, and you can enjoy the greenery of the 50-acre park and a fountain show on Lake Symphony while enjoying a drink at one of the ground-level restaurants.

batik Malaysia journal

Even when I’m on the go, I still make the effort to spend a few minutes enjoying the sun in front of the fountain. There’s just something so calming about the sound of moving water.

A place I consistently recommend is Kinokuniya, a bookstore with an extensive range that is unmatched in all of Malaysia. If you have kids who hate reading, plop them here and watch them turn into booklovers. Just remind them that they need to take their book to the counter to take of the plastic wrapping before they start reading away!

bookstore KL Malaysia batik


There is also an art gallery on the third floor. The Petronas Gallery provides a look through the keyhole of the city’s obscure art world. Currently, a free exhibition on indigenous art and culture with a few installations by Malaysian artists.

batik clutch Malaysia

Can you spot my batik clutch?

 

My Malaysian batik clutch fits in so well because much of contemporary Malaysian fashion today still keeps its roots
in the ancient craft of batik. Practiced in Southeast Asia for over 2,000 years, batik painting and blocking is still prevalent all across Malaysia. You can learn more about batik fashion here.

After learning about the art traditions of different regions in Malaysia, it can feel a bit disheartening to walk back into a mall where global brands reign. It makes anyone feel a bit detached from the excitement of travel and exploration.

 

Making Your Shopping Count 

But what you must know is that there is a section unique in the Petronas Gift shop located on the concourse level which features products that are sponsored by Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, or MaGIC. Here you can find products made exclusively by Malaysian startups.

batik Malaysia souvenir kl

Checking out the Petronas gift shop at the beginning of your trip is recommended because it’s located a floor down from the Philharmonic Hall entrance. Once you arrive, just turn left after you enter the building. There will be escalators on your right to head down to the concourse level. The gift shop will be on your right next to the check-in for the tours.

 

Pick up a Malaysian-blocked batik scarf or a pouch with an intricate batik pattern, which are all made ethically and by people who envision a stronger entrepreneurial spirit in Malaysia. Through your support and purchase, you’ll leave the Malaysian fashion scene a better place than you found it.

batik scarf Malaysia

Good to see that I have good taste. There’s only one left! This specific scarf is hand-dyed with mangosteen leaves, so each scarf is unique. If you’re looking for a batik scarf, Malaysia has shops selling them at almost every corner. However, be mindful that you pick up a hand-painted or hand-blocked one rather than a printed one. 

malaysia batik gift shop

I’m so incredibly proud of how far our artisans have come along, having their work displayed at the most famous building in the country. You can meet them here.

If you’re feeling especially inspired and creative, come try your hand at batik painting or blocking at a batik workshop. You can read reviews of our batik painting or blocking workshops before you make a decision.

While Kuala Lumpur is no longer a muddy confluence, its name symbolizes Malaysia’s dedication to remembering and honoring its humble beginnings. Similarly, when you look at The Batik Boutique products and other budding Malaysian ethical fashion brands, be reminded that each product was made by hands that believe in preserving Malaysian history through creating a sustainable future. 

 

You can find all the products featured in the blog post at www.thebatikboutique.comOr pop by our studio at:

The Batik Boutique
3, Jalan 26/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Hours:
Monday-Friday
8:30 am – 5:30pm

Call or e-mail us about arranging a batik workshop at +60 3-2303 6052 / info@thebatikboutique.com

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