A Padang tourist spot. Well, that’s up to the tourist, isn’t it? Not everyone has the same tastes. You can get some ideas from the Wikitravel entry for Padang — specifically the two sections See and Do. However, this statement would certainly be enough to put me off ever visiting:
The nightlife is relatively dull because Padang is a minor city and a rather devout Muslim community. Bars are available at Hotel Bumi Minang, but don’t expect alcohol.
Travelgrove has a very limited Padang Travel Guide; PlacesOnLine.com‘s Tourist Guide is something to be ashamed of (since when are a few words on history and geography a guide for tourists?); and Yahoo! Travel‘s entry on Padang would seem to confirm it — apart from cuisine, Padang is just someplace people go to get somewhere else.
Hey, I’m not the one writing these guides! If you know otherwise, then why don’t you get busy and proclaim what you know to the World?
Kuala Lumpur: Merdeka Square
Uploaded by newlifeinbangkok on Mar 7, 2010
One of the most interesting and keynote spots in the city is Merdeka Square, which wraps together plenty of the countrys history in its architecture and timeline; a real unblemished throwback from the colonial era it fuses that flavor with its Moorish-inspired buildings and symbolism of the modern, independent Malaysian state. Meredeka Square was built by the British colonialists as a reminder of home and a place where they could relax and socialize in familiar surroundings. It is sandwiched between Jalan Sultan Hishamudin and just up the road from the Central Market, Jamek Mosque and the point at which the Klang and Gombak Rivers merge. The huge rectangular pandan (field), an wide open space which is striking for this modern, crowded city, is surrounded on all sides by an array of interesting and architecturally-differing buildings. It symbolizes British rule with its cricket pitch and the Tudor-styled Royal Selangor Club the most-exclusive whites-only club in the city.
Approach Merdeka Square and the most striking sight is the flagpole, a 100-metre high thick steel tube bolted in sections, with the Malaysian national flag hoisted aloft, fluttering in gentle breeze. This giant flagpole, reportedly the highest in the world, marks the place where, at exactly midnight on August 31, 1957, the Union Jack was lowered and the Malaysian flag was raised to signify independence from British colonial rule. Hence the name Merdeka Square (Independence Square or Dataran Merdeka).
The most impressive building to line the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, built at the very end of the 19th Century to house British colonial administrative departments. The architect, one A. C. Norman, had travelled extensively through Africa and India and he fused these styling influences into his project in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The two-story high building with arch-after-arch has been immaculately restored and today it is still in use, home to some judicial functions. At each end there are round towers with winding staircases and that are topped by copper domes, while its – famous – focal point is its 40-metre high, square-cut clock tower which is known locally as Big Ben.
Next to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, and in a very similar architectural style is the Textile Museum which bookends one corner of the square. This striking, and again perfectly restored building, was formerly the headquarters of the Federated Malay States Railway and designed by the prolific A. B. Hubbard who was responsible for many buildings in the city; it opened in 1905. While its masonry and striped-effect is similar to its neighbour, the towers are octagonal and their domes are more detailed and delicate.
Next to the Textile Museum and filling out one of the narrow ends of the square is the National History Museum (Muzium Sejarah Nasional) a lavishly-styled building that opened in 1910 as a commercial bank. In 1996 it became a museum and today is a major tourist attraction. As I have landed in Kuala Lumpur during Chinese New Year the city is in shutdown mode and the National History Museum, just like the Textile Museum is shut, in fact there are few people around. The rolling expanses of Merdeka Square are virtually empty save for the odd coach briefly disgorging a scattering of tourists onto the green field. The museum gives little away save some Mogul motifs on the stonework while at the rear a compound tucked away behind a fence reveals a packed line-up of old trucks.
On the opposite side of the field to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the Royal Selangor Club, founded in 1884 and once the socialising focal point in the city for colonial powers. The padang was used as a cricket pitch in those days and the Royal Selangor Club, started its life in on northeastern corner of the field as a tap room on top of a small wooden building before a new structure was built in its current location in 1890 by A.C. Norman, followed by the current edifice in 1910. The Club is finished in black-and-white mock Tudor style with a red tiled roof and three gable ends, that brought the colonialists a sense of home in a distant land. That end of the square is edged by a curved fountain on pillars rising from tiled pools with water dropping from a channel chasing across the top, dropping vertically through a series of holes as well as cascading at an angle off each end though circles of purple flowered foliage into round pools. The title Dataran Merdeka meanwhile is emblazoned onto the fountain. Just behind the square I find a small, neat garden which is home the unusual.