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NOVEMBER 13, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 19

Detour
By KEN STIER

  TRAVEL WATCH

The Little Things Count For a Lot in This Big City
Kuala Lumpur is famous for one, well, two big things—the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest buildings.

Detour
The Selangor River still offers decent whitewater rafting just an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Web Crawling
An online 'zine without an in-your-face marketing angle, this is a cultural site worth visiting.

Short Cuts
Getting around Kuala Lumpur has launched a bus service to shuttle visitors around the city's major landmarks.

Hot Spot
Visitors to Kuala Lumpur should be sure to check out Masjid India, the shopping square where many Malay and Indian residents head for traditional clothing, herbal cures and street food.

Travel Watch Archive Browse hundreds of Asian travel tips

The Selangor River still offers decent whitewater rafting just an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur. But conditions along the once-pristine waterway have declined markedly since work started on a $565 million dam project earlier this year. Clear-cut logging in the future basin of the dam has caused a section of the river to silt up. Meanwhile, the refuse left by more than 1,000 construction workers now mars the riverbanks. Tour operators spend their free time clearing up garbage and making sure the rafting course is not blocked by newly felled trees.

The damage is more than just a shame. Along the Selangor is a 14-km navigable stretch that has long provided visitors with unforgettable whitewater thrills. The rapids in the lower section, where most of the group rafting takes place, are rated as class 4, while the second set of rapids is almost a class 5. (In the international rating system, class 6 is considered nearly suicidal.)

Once the dam is completed, water will be released periodically to satisfy the demands of the capital. The resulting torrent will squirt rafters down a 4-km run in 15 minutes—a stunning example of nature transformed into an amusement park. More sedate vacationers will be able to swim and boat on a new lake that will be created above the dam and, for the daring, a 2-km stretch of whitewater will still be available above the dam. The best time for rafting is the rainy season (November to June), according to Rubin Gan, who owns Tracks Outdoor, the largest operator on the river for both rafting and kayaking. To contact Tracks Outdoor, call (603) 804-4228.

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