China has Terracotta Warriors. Egypt has century-old Mummies. Malaysia has its own wonder of the world, the 11,000 year old Perak Man, South East Asia’s oldest skeleton. It is situated right in the Lenggong Valley, one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In spite of being a small nation, isn’t it fascinating to know Malaysia has a total of four UNESCO World Heritage sites? They are the Lenggong Valley (2012), Mount Mulu National Park (2000), Kinabalu Park (2000), and Melaka and George Town (2008). Both Melaka and George Town are considered as one listing under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Lenggong Valley is one of the most important archeological sites in Malaysia. It is dubbed as an open-air museum with evidence of cave drawings, skeletons and other precious prehistoric findings like stone tools, weapons and pottery.
Catch The Perak Man who is considered one of the most complete skeleton for this time period in the region. Step back in time to the civilization of that era where the findings of stone tools and artefacts reflect the country’s oldest known human activity.
Mount Mulu National Park & Kinabalu Park
When we talk of Malaysia’s treasure trove of nature, Mount Mulu National Park is the place to go. Explore the Sarawak Chamber which is huge, it can accommodate 40 Boeing 747 airplanes or five times the size of London’s St. Paul Cathedral.
Mount Mulu National Park is also Sarawak’s largest national park covering 544 sq km. Other attractions include the world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), Asia’s longest cave (Clearwater Cave) and a treasure trove of 2,000 varieties of plants and animals like hornbills, orchids and pitcher plants. It is also home to the world’s longest rainforest canopy skywalk and the spectacular razor-sharp limestone called The Pinnacle.
On the other hand, Kinabalu Park covers an area of 754 sq km and is the key starting point for the summit trail of Mount Kinabalu. The park boasts colourful flora and fauna with over 5,000 vascular plant species and wildlife. For the adventurous, explore the majestic Mount Kinabalu, South East Asia’s third highest mountain or defy the odds of Mountain Torq, the world’s highest and Asia’s first Via Ferrata or ‘iron road’.
George Town and Melaka
Next, from nature to culture. George Town is a city with a fusion of East and West. It marvels with multiculturalism well reflected in its intricate architecture of worship places, pre-colonial buildings and shophouses.
George Town has a special place in my heart as I was born here. I remember walking to my alma mater, St. Xavier’s Institution, passing by Jalan Kapitan Keling, dubbed as the Street of Harmony, where places of worship representing the diverse world religions are lined up along an axis.
Today, George Town is also a city of murals. Discover beautiful wall murals along the streetscapes, especially “Little Children On The Bicycle” which has become an iconic tourist landmark and favourite photography spot.
A visit to Malaysia will not be complete without visiting Melaka, a melting pot of cultures and many civilisations. The legacy of the colonial powers of the Portuguese, Dutch and British can be seen in the tourist landmarks like Stadthuys, A Famosa, St John’s Port and more. You can also enjoy and sharpen your bargaining skills at the Jonker Walk, a haven to load up antiques, art and crafts and souvenirs.
With these sites recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is time to plan your journey to explore the wonders of your own country. Malaysia, truly a heritage treasure.
Words by Francis Yip