Hitech Grand Prix racer Nazim Azman takes us on a trip around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he grew up. We look at the places to visit, the sites to see, and of course, the motor racing scene.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
“I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but I’ve lived in London for the last five or six years. I recently went back to Malaysia for the first time in nearly two years, so that was quite nice. Now I mainly reside in London, but growing up, I was in Kuala Lumpur for the majority of my life.
“The way I would describe it is that I lived in the suburbs. It’s very open and you need a car to get everywhere. There is public transport, but it’s essential to have a car. It’s very open and that’s the one thing I miss a lot. I was in London for quite a while and it feels very congested and very compact.
“It was around 10 kilometres to my school, but you would travel there on a highway. There is always a highway, it’s kind of like Bahrain in that sense, but with less desert and more modernised. A car is a big essential in Malaysia, let’s put it that way.”
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO LIVING IN THE UK?
“I pretty much consider the UK as my second home. It’s been my home for the last five years, as I’ve spent more days in the last five years in the UK than in Malaysia. I have friends in both countries, and I consider both home. I do enjoy London, it is where I am studying, so it’s where I spent most of my time now.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CULTURE?
“Where I live, it’s pretty diverse. Malaysia is made up of Malay, Chinese and Indian, plus a mixture of other cultures. Everyone speaks English, though - you can live 20 years of your life and not speak a single word of Malay.
“I can understand it quite well, but I mainly speak in English. Everything you read is in English.”
WHERE SHOULD TOURISTS VISIT?
“Malaysia is a relatively decent size. Compared to European countries, it’s bigger. There are so things you can do, the peninsula, there are so many islands, the islands are beautiful places.
“Kuala Lumpur is better for city life and nightlife, so if you wanted to explore Malaysia, you should go to the outskirts. There are a lot of beaches and a lot of corals, you can see a lot of wildlife as well. It’s really diverse. You can visit the islands, go to the beaches, it’s great. It’s where I like to go for holidays now.
“In December I drove around three hours to an island which we crossed by boat and that was a nice getaway for one night. It’s pretty good, and honestly, in terms of tourism, it’s one of the best places to go.”
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
“If you’re British, you’ll probably like it. It’s around 30 degrees, although it is very humid. The moment you leave the airport, you feel the humidity on your face. Besides that, I enjoy it because I just wear t-shirts and shorts everywhere I go. You don’t have to look at the weather, it’s pretty simple: a t-shirt and shorts, and if you see some dark clouds, you bring an umbrella and leave it in your car in case.
“I like it, it’s predictable. January through to December, there’s no real change in temperature at all. If anything, it’s like two degrees up or down. We only have a rainy season and a dry season, that is it. The temperature remains constant.
“In the UK, I have to check the weather before I go out every time to see if it’s going to rain so that I know what to wear.”
WHERE SHOULD PEOPLE EAT AND DRINK?
“I think the cuisine is really unique because the culture is so diverse. You have Malay food, Indian food, Chinese food. There’s always something different to try. You get to try different cuisines all of the time. It’s really interesting for your taste buds and your palate.
“There’s always something you can eat, every day in Malaysia there’s always a different restaurant you can go to and try something different. You’ll always find something to eat.
“It depends on the cuisine, but the national dish is called nasi lemak. It’s quite popular and you can find it in a lot of places. It’s like rice with sambal, which is kind of like a chilli paste, and it has some anchovies and nuts inside, so it’s pretty good. It’s coconut rice, so it’s really fatty and not the healthiest. It’s a treat effectively. A lot of food in Malaysia is high in fat.
“There are a lot of Malaysian restaurants in London. I ate in a Malaysian restaurant in London like two days ago. Even in London, I can have Malay food or there are Chinese Malaysian restaurants as well.”
WHAT IS THE MOTORSPORT SCENE LIKE?
“There’s one main track in Malaysia for race cars – there are a few smaller ones, but the big one is Sepang, which hosted F1. It’s still hosting MotoGP to this day.
“For go-karting, in Kuala Lumpur, there are three or four tracks. When we raced, they always alternated between the tracks, which was quite nice because you never drove the same track more than twice. We would go to Singapore for go-karting as well because it’s so nearby.”