Opinion | Where is Asia’s longest escalator and will Malaysia challenge the title?

That leaves the field open to a trio of joint winners of the genuinely longest (single) escalator title – at least as far as the public is aware; who knows whether there is a longer one in some secret subterranean bunker designed for the military or a prepping billionaire? And all three are 138-metre-long escalators in metro stations in St Petersburg, Russia.

Who visited Hong Kong the most in 2023, and where did Hongkongers fly to?

The longest single stretch of rising moving walkway in Asia is the Huangguan (aka Crown Grand, aka Lianglukou) Escalator in Chongqing, China. It opened in 1996 and connects the Chongqing railway station to the Lianglukou metro station, a distance of 112 metres.

And that claim to fame looks safe for the time being – since the Crown Grand’s grand crown is unlikely to be knocked off by a new escalator going up in Malaysia, even though this one is likely to be the longest in Southeast Asia, and perhaps second only to the Huangguan in all of the continent.

The planned escalator at Malaysia’s Batu caves will give visitors an alternative to the 272 brightly coloured steps that take people up to the Sri Subramaniar cave temple. Photo: Shutterstock

Following the completion of this week’s Thaipusam celebrations – the Tamil ceremony in which devotees pierce their skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers and spectators wince – at the sacred Batu Caves, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, construction will begin of an escalator to give visitors an alternative to the 272 brightly coloured steps that climb to the Sri Subramaniar cave temple.

It is not clear exactly how long this new piece of infrastructure will be, but an anonymous “insider” told Malaysia’s The Sun newspaper, “The inner temple in Batu Caves has an elevation of almost 100 metres from ground level and if the escalator is built along the full terrain of the hill alongside the 272 steps and into the inner grounds of the temple, then it would easily be the longest in Southeast Asia and one of the longest in Asia.”

It is likely to be busy, too.

“Thousands of tourists and Hindu devotees visit the cave and temple every day, with numbers rising to an estimated 1.6 million over the four-day Thaipusam period in 2023,” reports The Straits Times.

A Hindu devotee with hooks in his back takes part in the Thaipusam festival at the Batu Caves on January 25, 2024. Photo: AP

For a cave system that is perhaps 400 million years old, change is coming thick and fast to Batu, a name derived from the Malay word for “rock”.

It was only in 2018 that the concrete steps, originally completed in 1940, were painted in most of the colours of the rainbow, causing some controversy but also creating an overnight Instagram sensation.

The surrounding area has also undergone a transformation, growing from what you might have called a “village” a decade or so ago into a fully fledged suburb of the Malaysian capital, complete with its own Komuter station.

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated on the first full moon of the Tamil month of Thai and commemorating god of war Murugan’s victory over the demon Surapadman.

A procession during the Thaipusam festival at the Batu Caves on January 25, 2024. Photo: AP

This year, the main procession to the Batu Caves began in the early hours of January 25 from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur.

Devotees carried milk in huge decorated carriers, called kavadi, on their shoulders as offerings to Murugan. These containers can weigh up to 100kg (220lb) and to get to the Sri Subramaniar cave, devotees must lug them up the 272 steps.

Presumably, carrying their loads on the new escalator won’t be an option for devotees taking part in Thaipusam processions of the future.

Thailand’s Really Cool Airlines to start operating in March

Really Cool Airlines is one of several new carriers set to start operating in or from Thailand this year. Photo: Really Cool Airlines

This summer, we could see Really Cool planes flying into Hong Kong International Airport.

No, we’re not talking about World War II vintage fighters or the Solar Impulse 2, the first plane to circumnavigate the Earth without using a drop of fuel (that would be cool), but rather the Airbuses of a Thai airline that is set to launch this quarter.

Really Cool Airlines is one of eight or nine (depending on which news report you read) new carriers set to start operating in or from Thailand this year.

Founded by Patee Sarasin, a former CEO of budget carrier Nok Airlines, Really Cool will initially fly from Thailand to cities in Japan and later to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, most reports agree.

Patee Sarasin, founder and CEO of Really Cool Airlines, talks at a press conference on November 6, 2023. Photo: Instagram / reallycoolairlinesofficial

The airline plans to start operating in March, and in October posted a call for cabin crew applications on its Facebook page. Applicants “must be really cool”, of course, and be “passionate individuals with a heart for hospitality and a desire to make every flight unforgettable”.

We can’t speak for everyone, but Destinations Known prefers our flights to be as forgettable – as in uneventful and safe – as possible.

Still, more flight options between Hong Kong and Thailand will be warmly welcomed.

This article was originally published by a amp.scmp.com . Read the Original article here. .