Tuesday, Jun. 08, 2010

Putrajaya or Fraser's Hill

The choice is yours: An hour south or a bit further north? Malaysia's future or its past? Putrajaya or Fraser's Hill? The latter definitely requires a private car, and often patience, to access a mountain road that only allows traffic in one direction at a time. Once the primary hill station where Britons sought out cool air, bird-watching and golf, Bukit Fraser, as the Malays prefer to call it, oozes fuddy-duddy charm and offers a few hiking trails (if not the finest accommodation).

On the other hand, Putrajaya, Malaysia's ultra-planned eco-capital, sits at steamy swamp level, surrounded by man-made lakes and the empty freeways of an over-ambitious high-tech corridor between K.L. and the airport (making access simple by high-speed train). Here's a chance to explore model neighborhoods spread along bike paths — even though Putrajaya's huge mosques and state office monoliths, especially when viewed from boat rides, offer a somewhat skewed, monocultural vision of Malaysia that could be a set for Aladdin and The Thousand and One Nights.