Friday, December 28, 2007

Malaysian students in Paris

I was a married student in Ghent, Belgium, in the 70's. And Paris is just a day trip from Ghent. How can one resist. Paris! Romance capital of the world! Our informal Malaysian students organization organized (well, what are organization for) exactly that, a group day trip to Paris. I and my family jumped at the chance and joined the group tour (bus). The interesting thing I saw is our Malaysian version of the controversial Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre, the Grande Arche de la Défense of Paris. See photo below (second last). Don't it remind you or our very own controversial Matrade which took umpteen years to built plus at huge cost overrun, with a "hole" in the middle of the building (plus a hole in our public fund)?

Paris Attractions

Eiffel Tower

There, that is the icon of Paris, Romance capital of the world, the Eiffel Tower. A real imposing iron structure as seen from the ground. One of the most recognizable structures in the world. That was one of the places we visited. Plus went up in a lift. What a spectacular view of Paris from the top! If you get to Paris, don't ever miss this.

Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées

Of course we did not miss the Arc de Triomphe, a photo of which you can see above with the Eiffel Tower in the background on the left. The Arc de Triomphe is at the eastern end of the famous Champs-Élysées or what the French call the "Avenue des Champs-Élysées". The Champs-Élysées a very prestigious and broadest avenue in Paris, also much visited by tourists. It has many cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, one of the most famous streets in the world and the most expensive strip of real estate in the world in Europe, and the second most expensive in the world after New York City's Fifth Avenue.

Louvre and the Louvre Pyramid

The Louvre which the French calls "Musée du Louvre" is a famous art galleries and museum. It houses antiquities, sculptures and art pieces from all over the world, among them of which are Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Decorative Arts, Paintings and Prints and Drawings. Among its collections are world famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

The center of the Louvre and its main entrance is now the Louvre Pyramid, a very attractive glass structure designed by the world famous Chinese architect, I.M. Pei. You can see a photo of it above. This is one we missed as it wasn't built yet when we visited Paris.

Grande Arche de la Défense

The Grande Arche de la Défense building was ordered to be built by the French president Mitterand who wanted a modern version of the ancient Arc de Triomphe. A lift to the top of the Grande Arche de la Défense from where you have a beautiful view of Paris city center 4 kilometre away. The sides of the building houses the offices.

Moulin Rouge

Our last stop, the world famous Moulin Rouge, a cabaret famous for its high kicking dancers. It is situated in the red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy near Montmartre. Our package included a ticket to witness the famous high kicking dancers. I was told Frank Sinatra and Zsa-Zsa Gabor performed here, but unfortunately, not when we were there.

With just a one day visit, there is much of Paris we missed. I would like to go back, but this time definitely not a one day visit. This will of course mean getting accommodation which with the environmentally friendly Internet, I will book ahead of arrival at online accommodation booking websites like Paris Hôtels. This is a French online accommodation website. With 2 over years in trilingual Belgium, I have managed to picked up a bit of French, so I think I may abe able to manage the French version of that website especially now with the help of language translator sites like Alta Vista Babel Fish and Google Translate, but it will be a bit bothersome. I learned Dutch when I was in the Dutch part of Belgium, and Dutch have much communality with the German language, so using this German language version of the online accommodation website, Paris Hotels, should not be too much of a problem. And the Spanish version I am guessing is París Hoteles. If I guess correct, that means I am sexa-lingual (six languages - Mandarin (that don't include the dialects), English, Bahasa Malaysia, Dutch, French, Spanish!!!!!!) Not bad eh? (eh, forgot to add German). But being a citizen of a former colony of that former empire on which the sun never set, I guess I would prefer to use Paris Hotels which, needless to say, is the English version of the online Paris accommodation website.

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