Monday, March 09, 2009

Echoes of history

Kuala Lumpur is where I was born and bred; it is home.

Although her history is fairly recent, there is a corner of KL that I'm very fond of. The beautiful colonial mansion is called Carcosa Seri Negara and it sits atop a hillock above the Lake Gardens. This was the home of Sir Frank Swettenham, the first British Resident of Selangor and now serves as a luxury hotel. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were the first guests to check in.

Every time I'm called on to show first-time visitors around KL, we always end the day with afternoon tea at Carcosa. After the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, it is such a relief to retreat into this cocoon of time-worn elegance. Sinking into the enormous rattan chairs on the veranda, while white-gloved waiters serve Earl Grey from a silver teapot and gently place a plate of fresh scones on the side; it almost feels like England. All my visitors, including the ones from England, agree.

Shona & Joanna enjoying a tour of the Merdeka Suite - where the Declaration of Independance was signed

On more than one occasion, my guests and I have been fortunate enough to be given tours of the hotel. I am especially awed by the Merdeka Suite; where Tuanku Abdul Rahman signed the Declaration of Independence in August 1957, leading to the emancipation of Malaya from colonial rule. I get goosebumps every time I walk into that room.

From the sweeping staircases to the luxurious dining rooms, elegant suites to the jasmine-scented washrooms; Carcosa reminds us romantics of a gentler time. Sigh...what a perfect setting for a wedding...maybe, one day.

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