What SHE Likes was invited to the ‘Mega Familiarization Programme’ (Mega-Fam) 2015, Malaysia and our writer Shonita is back from 5 amazing days in the even more amazing country! Over the next few days, Shonita is going to be taking us through her Malaysia trip, through her words so without further adieu, here goes the first part!
For many of us, it is hard to pin-down the various South-East Asian islandic countries on a world-map. The borders are too close and the line of distinction between Thailand and Malaysia or Indonesia and Philippines is one of the trickiest geography lessons at school.
But if asked to say something about Malaysia, I’m sure most of us would burst into the tune, ‘Truly Asia’ (Truuuuuuu-lee-Ehhhh-zhiyaaa). In one of the most successful ad campaigns of our times, the two words have become synonymous with the nation. And as I now know, it’s rightfully so!
Mega-Fam programmes are a part of Tourism Malaysia’s promotional strategy, to create greater awareness of Malaysia as a tourist destination, and have been successfully run by the Malaysian Tourism Department since the year 2000. Through this program, journalists from over the world are invited to be a part of certain chosen cultural fests of that year and ‘sample’ the country’s Tourism programmes first hand.
And through this initiative, in 2014, the country has managed to almost have as many tourists as its population; 27.4 million tourists against a population of 28 million. In fact, in the same year, Lonely Planet rated Malaysia in the ‘Top 10 Countries To Visit’, and the country is ranked 2nd in Tourism in Asia, behind only to China.
So what makes this peninsula-cum-island country, the size of the state of Maharashtra and a little more, so attractive to its tourists? And why is it termed ‘Truly Asia’ as against the rest of Asia?
For starters, the Formula One Grand Prix hosted in Sepang is a huge attraction and so are the beaches, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Malaysia has a unique historical and cultural significance which has evolved into an amalgamation of many Asian traditions and ethnicities.
As a part of our five day expedition, I traveled to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and to the state of Penang; where I experienced many sights and moments that justify the nation’s status of being the ‘11th most visited country in the World’ (2013).
But before I delve into that and take you on my journey of the five days spent, I must highlight the main purpose of my visit – My Mega Fam programme was designed to participate in the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival. Yes! You read that right! The festival that I was to cover is one of the biggest shopping carnivals of the nation- the 1Malaysia Unified Sale Festival.
So ladies, here’s the part that should interest you the most – while being an attractive historical and food destination, Malaysia also holds an annual shopping fest in the month of June till the end of August all across the country. The Sale includes discounts and special offers across malls, retail stalls and local bazars to make it one of the largest shopping extravaganzas there.
And this Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival is only one of the three nationwide shopping campaigns. The other two are the 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale in the month March (which coincides with the Formula One racing schedule) and the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale from mid-November to January 3, 2016.
So the next time you pull out your calendar to plan your vacation to Malaysia, make sure you do it to coincide with one of the three shopping carnivals.
In my next article, I’ll give more insights on the Sale – the local brands to look out for and what not to miss. But for that all of you have to do is stay tuned, as I cover Malaysia in a ‘Truly Asian’ way!