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Banana Leaf Rice – A Mouthwatering Introduction

The beautiful and colourful kolams that decorate the floors of our shopping malls remind us that Deepavali is just around the corner. To get into the spirit of the festival of lights, the blogging crew decided to indulge in one of Malaysia’s favourite Indian meals – banana leaf rice. After all, if there’s one thing that brings Malaysians together, it’s food!

So armed with our hungry tummies, we ventured to our neighbourhood banana leaf rice eatery for a satisfying meal.

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What is banana leaf rice?

It’s a traditional method of serving rice dishes on banana leaves instead of plates that was brought over to Malaysia during the migration of South Indians. A unique dining experience, it will tickle your taste buds with all kinds of flavours, while filling your tummy with contentment.

A typical serving of banana leaf rice

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There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to banana leaf rice. No two restaurants are alike, with each having their own specialties. Some of our favourite side dishes are fried ikan bulus (silver whiting fish), mutton curry and telur ikan (fish roe).

How should I eat it?

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For a more authentic experience, we were encouraged to use our hands as it is said to heighten our senses and enhance the taste. However, we were reminded to never eat with your left hand, as it is considered unclean.

To fold or not to fold

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At the end of our meal, we learnt that we should fold our leaf to signify that we are done. It is best to fold the leaf inwards towards you, as that shows our appreciation for the meal. Folding the outwards is usually done at funerals and wakes as a sign of condolence to the family of the deceased. So, remember, always fold it towards you!

Help, my stomach is on fire!

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For those of us with delicate stomachs, a mango lassi is the perfect accompaniment to the meal. It’s a yoghurt-based drink that is not only refreshing, but helps put out the fire in our tummy too!

Where can I get a taste?

Indian restaurants are aplenty at Brickfields, home of Little India in Kuala Lumpur and it’s easily accessible by public transport. But if you’re feeling adventurous, here are some of the most popular banana leaf rice eateries around Klang Valley:

  • Devi’s Corner (14, Jalan Telawi 4, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur)
  • Krishna Curry House (D-G and E-G, Jalan SS9A/14,Seri Setia Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya)
  • The Lotus Family Restaurant (13 15, Jalan Gasing, 46000 Petaling Jaya)
  • Raju’s Restaurant (27, Jalan Chantek 5/13, Off Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya)
  • Sri Ganapathi Mess (47, Jalan 1/10, Seksyen 1, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor)
  • Sri Nirwana Maju (43, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur)

 

Know of any other must-try banana leaf places that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to be part of some Deepavali festivities? Join the Deepavali Open House celebrations, which will be held in Malacca on the 1st of November 2014.

Find out more at www.tourism.gov.my and get to know other cultures and heritage in Malaysia.


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Ratatouille La Gourmet – Tea room – Bar

Ratatouille La Gourmet (N1.54783 E103.74606) is located at the corner lot of Jalan Adda 3/1 in Adda Heights, Johor Bahru.
Few months ago, Ratatouille was a stall in one of the food court situated in Taman Setia Indah. After several months of hardwork and effort by Chef Brian and the team, they successfully upgraded from a small stall to the well known restaurant in Johor Bahru today.
I admired their achievement!

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Ratatouille selected the white English theme as one of their attraction of the restaurant, it’s also became the ‘first’ theme’s restaurant in my favorite list.
The restaurant provide a clean and tidy outlook which really impressed! On the right side, there are some dining table for those customers who prefer natural air without air-conditioning.

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Greeted by the friendly staffs once we stepped into the restaurant. I love the deco very much! The area is spacious which provide a comfort and cozy dining environment.

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The windows at the both side have the white English tudor design, also choices for those diners who like to have window seat.

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There’s also a Victoria design’s sofa especially for those who enjoy their afternoon tea and scones…

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The dining area is comfortable for diner and even a small group of friends gather around…

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I was impressed by the owner’s idea with the well design and the provide different types dining tables for customers to choose their own preference.

Our food served on table pretty fast…let me show you the delicacies one-by-one…

Appetizer :-
Escargot – served in half dozen, with garlic breads side dish.

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Nice cheesy taste and the stuffing was not overly salty, always a good starter for your dinner.

Pepper steak.
Medium doneness, well prepared with pepper and served with mashed potatoes and ratatouille.

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I always like the steak of Ratatouille. Well marinated and the pepper level was just nice! If you are steak lover, you shouldn’t miss this!

Oxtail stew.
Whole oxtail being prepared for the dish. Magic cut by the Chef provide the true taste of the savory collagen within. The dish also served with potatoes, tomatoes and the nice beef gravy.

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Garlic bread, mashed potatoes and broccoli as side dish for Oxtail stew.

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Beside the delicious chewy bite of the oxtail, we like the beef gravy very much! The collagen was tender and fresh, we’re really enjoyed this Oxtail stew from Ratatouille La Gourmet.

Grilled Lamb Rack
Grilled rack of lamb served with broccoli, ratatouille and the mint sauce. (serve in medium doneness)

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The combination of the aromatic skin and the tender inside was marvelous! We took our time to taste this yummy lamb rack really slow…

Teriyaki Cod fish
Grilled cod fish bathing with teriyaki sauce, served with broccoli, carrots and mashed potatoes.

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The fresh cod fish with the Teriyaki sauce provide a perfect taste. It was juicy and nice to have for our dinner. It was a bit sweet for my personal taste bud.

Dinner won’t complete without the desserts…
Ratatouille signature cheese cake

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The signature cheese cake was rich with cheese but not overly sweet. Aromatic tiramisu was a favorite dessert for most of the customer in the area. Lemon sugar pancake was a surprise where the pancake doesn’t overly sweet and nice to have. According to the owner – Sherman, the Ratatouille Apple pie has a strong demand from the local, the special apple pie really filling after the main course.

The Ratatouille restaurant is also a perfect place for afternoon tea break with some cakes or scones, because of the special assign ‘Hi-tea’ area.

We will make our effort to drop by Ratatouille La Gourmet every now and then, not just only pass-by Adda Heights area. It is a excellent restaurant for lunch, tea break and dinner, even enjoy some beers in the evening.

Specially thanks to Brian and Sherman for the warm hospitality.

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Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel at Senggigi beach, Lombok island

Kila Senggigi Beach Resort (S8.49782, E116.04846) is located at the northwest of Lombok island. The resort just situated next to the beautiful beach as the name of it.

The check-in process was smooth and everyone got their keys in less than 15 minutes.

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There are many water features at the lobby and beautiful garden surrounding…with beautiful lush tropical gardens and a magnificent view.

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The friendly staffs of the hotel were welcome us, the lobby area was nice with a open concept and well ventilated. Decorated with the Lombok culture design…

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Kila Senggigi Beach Hotel is actually a resort type of hotel, located in Senggigi town, on a 12 acres land along the beach, beautiful.

Most of the rooms are chalet type, basically 8 rooms in one chalet…situated in spacious manicured gardens with plenty of shade trees. The grounds are absolutely immaculate.

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We had a double beds room, and let me show you around the room…

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The room albeit dated, size-wise was adequate with necessary furnishing, satisfied with it especially the cleanness. Every room has its own verandah with comfort sitting area, we were enjoying our beer and chatting session on the first night.
It’s advise to choose the 2nd floor if you going for the sea view room, brilliant views from the room and Mt Agung over in Bali is visible.
Remember :-
Don’t leave your room door open after six p.m., unless you don’t mind a generous spray of insecticide in your room which the hotel graciously offers each evening.

Kila Senggigi beach hotel is an old hotel, first in Lombok, surrounded by greeneries and right at the seafront. Wi-Fi service is available throughout the whole resort with good bandwidth. The Italian restaurant is just sitting on the beach front and you can enjoy the spectacular sunset of Lombok accompany with the house’s live band. The SPA also available but too bad we don’t have enough time to enjoy it. The breakfast was good, so was the ala carte food served by the friendly and helpful staffs and good service.

If you are photography enthusiast, you can have a chance to take the milky way during the midnight at the dark beach area.

All-in-all, Kila Senggigi beach hotel is a nice and comfortable place to stay with, recommended.

Related post for Lombok island trip :-
Airasia media FAM trip to Lombok Island – Indonesia on July 2014

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Flight accidents affect tourism sector

Malaysian government proactively tries to improve growth of its tourism sector on backdrop of back-to-back flight accidents

Summary: The article talks about how the tourism sector can improve the growth of the country. Even against the backdrop of the flight accidents, and slackening tourist flow, the country is desperately trying to improve its image to ensure the growth of the travel sector.

One of the largest and fastest growing industries, the travel and tourism sector in Malaysia contributes significantly towards the economic advancement of the country. It is also instrumental in creating various job opportunities. The growth of this sector also encourages formulation of infrastructures and government policies that would help the country progress.

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As per the Economic Impact Report that released today, the council said that the total contribution of the tourism industry in Malaysia to the country’s GDP last year was USD 49.4 billion or 16.1%. The sector’s total contribution towards job creation including jobs that were directly supported by the sector was 1.86 million, 14.1% of the total employment. In 2013 alone, the total investment towards the sector stood at USD 6.46 billion and was forecasted to increase by 5.1% in 2014 over 7.7% in 2013. Further actions were undertaken to ensure the growth of the sector in the upcoming years.

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Even when outlook of the sector looks positive with annual growth forecast of more than 4%, it would still require support from the government. The government needs to implement more open visa regimes and adopt intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. The sector also needs more public private partnerships so that most infrastructure and human resource needs are planned responsibly and sustainably to absorb the positive effects of the growth.

Setbacks amidst rising airplane accidents

The recent bout of airplane disasters have however, severely hit the Malaysian tourism sector. Ever since it disappeared on March 8, 2014 which makes it precisely six months this September, Malaysian flight 370 remains to be found. In July this year, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, resulting in severe faculties.

Disasters such as these have shed negative light on the Malaysian tourism sector. Therefore, the government is trying desperately to rope in various methods that will help it sustain growth and generate revenues to meet earlier forecasted figures. As per the travel market report of Malaysia, the tourism sector is therefore keen to promote the country as an outstanding tourist destination that is also safe. Putting behind the string of disasters in recent days, the country is being extra sensitive towards tourists by ensuring their safety.

Promoting tourism

The government and key policymakers are aiming to develop Malaysia as the perfect hub for attractions, culture, conventions, exhibitions and incentives. Malaysia is hopeful that adoption of various advancements and precautions will help the country grow 6.8 percent this year, on the back of a positive performance in 2013. Furthermore, the government believes that by encouraging tourism, it will be able to drive new investments and employment opportunities in the country. By bringing about major improvements in its infrastructure and policies, the Malaysian tourism industry hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists to the country and extend the average length of their stay. All these factors will contribute significantly towards the country’s economic growth and the overall lifestyle of the population.

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The overall outlook of the tourism industry in Malaysia in the upcoming decade looks favorable with a forecasted annual growth of 4%. However, this will only grow when policymakers drive more open visa regimes and adopt intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies. It is also critical to promote both public and private partnerships to ensure long-term plans that would help in sustaining the sector. Only then would the sector experience the inevitable growth that market experts are predicting.

Author bio: Aditi Biswas is a marketing communication specialist who works with Research on Malaysia to develop insightful reports on various sectors in the country, including the Tourism industry in Australia. With the recent spurt of accidents surrounding Malaysian airlines, the country is desperately taking measures to ensure continued growth of the sector.


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Flamingo Hotel By The Beach

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Flamingo Hotel By The Beach (formerly known as the Crown Prince Hotel and as the Crown Jewel Hotel) is located in a place called Tanjung Bungah in the northern part of the island Penang. It’s situated between the capital of Georgetown and the well-known seaside resort of Batu Ferringhi. By taxi, it takes about 10-15 minutes coming down from Georgetown. In front of the hotel you’ll have taxis waiting, but you could also take the free shuttle bus which the hotel provides you in order to go to the city center of Georgetown, and to Batu Ferringhi (for the evening market).

It is a well affordable 4-star hotel. The rooms is big and especially those with a view of the sea are beautiful. There is a nice pool, as well as a magnificent beach. As it usual is, the sea in front of the hotel isn’t really good to swim in, but the pool makes up for it. There is a nice terrace at the sea, from which you can enjoy the beautiful sunset. The entire hotel is provided with free Wi-Fi.

The town of Tanjung Bangah isn’t really a tourist attraction, but in the last couple of years this has been developed pretty quickly. You have a food court, with about 20 little diners. Besides that there is a bank with an ATM, a 7-Eleven supermarket and a few tiny restaurants and bars. In front of the hotel you can take a taxi to Georgetown or Batu Ferringhi.

Ratings
Cleanliness

Gourmet

Services

Location

Transport

Convenient

Overall

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Family Recipes: A Malaysia Day tribute to the country we love

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The best family recipes endure the test of time. Each generation adds a little personality to the flavours, while still keeping the original essence alive for everyone to enjoy. This Malaysia Day, let us remember our culture, heritage and roots as we grow together as one nation.

Happy birthday, Malaysia.

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Malaysia Day is celebrated on the 16th of September every year. It marks the joining together of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, to form Malaysia on the same date in the year 1963. (Singapore separated from Malaysia in the year 1965)

Get to know more about Malaysia and other events at www.tourism.gov.my

 


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Awan Mulan, Negeri Sembilan

Lately, most of the young working adults look for places to relax and take a complete break from their everyday life over the weekend.

Awan Mulan is a collection of small homes in the hills located in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan which is an ideal getaway from the bustling Kuala Lumpur with only 2-3 hours’ drive away. The management over at Awan Mulan is really efficient and would inform much earlier on the necessary procedures before one heads over to Awan Mulan.

(a) Read the map given. According to the manager at Awan Mulan, these homes stand isolated on a hillside where GPS would fail to guide anyone there.

(b) Contact the manager when one reaches the contact point, which is a Chinese school. This is for the manager to guide people on the roads leading uphill as well as to head down to unlock the main gate. The roads leading uphill is quite narrow and one might have to give way to the car from the opposite direction.

Awan means ‘cloud’ in Bahasa Melayu. And it’s no wonder the place is known as Awan Mulan because the windows of the bedroom have already revealed a stunning view of forests and open skies. How nice would it be if one could wake up to this view every day? But, happiness is short-lived. Besides, the huge balcony by the kitchen could accommodate a hammock where one could lie on it at night staring into the sky blanketed with stars. However, be prepared for the area’s occupant; strange insects and mosquitoes. Rest assured, as the kitchen has mosquito coils where one can lit them up and beds with nets if one prefers not to sleep with insects. Quick to notice the intricate design of these homes where the regular glass panes on windows are replaced with painted cement boards making curtains no longer necessary and also more efficient in withstanding the rain. One house with 10 beds is equivalent to RM2000+, but it would be at a cheaper rate depending on the number of pax.

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The main activities would be to relax by the pool which overlooks the jungle, known as the jungle pool where one can catch the sunrise at around 6 to 7am in the morning as well as the sunset pool for the sunset at 7pm. If that’s not enough, the pools do not contain chlorine but purely salt and the water is being pumped down from one of the waterfalls at the hilltops. Besides the pool, one can take a stroll around the place where most of the guests would have a go at the fruits that were planted there, such as mangosteens, rambutans, cikus and even durians.

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When it comes to dinner, it is definitely a home away from home experience where everything from toiletries to kitchen utensils is made available. Steamboat pots, barbeque pits and even charcoal are all provided but with only one condition, remember to clean up the mess when you are done with enjoying all these privileges.

It is completely a unique experience where a group of 22 of us really enjoyed the trip. The organizer for this trip will be planning a trip to this place again sometime in November. Definitely worth going!

About the author: Onn May Ling lives in Petaling Jaya and is currently new to writing on places she has visited. Her interest is on reading, writing on Science subjects and eating.


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Seafood dinner along the Senggigi beach at Lombok island

Traveling almost about 1 hour 30 minutes (approx. 60km) from Sade Village, passed by Mataram City (Capitol of Lombok)…we finally reached the Senggigi beach of Lombok. All of us agree to have our seafood dinner at Warung Menega (S8.52497 E116.06554) before check in to the resort.

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The first scene that caught our attention was the smoky roof of the kitchen…

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Everyone was curious about what happening in the kitchen…then, we discovered the grilling method is using charcoal and coir which resulted the smoky environment…

Let’s have a tour in the kitchen before the dining area…

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The ‘warung’ (common word as a restaurant) had a simple setting, where you have a options of indoor dining area or the outdoor area on the beach. For us, we definitely choose the beach area…

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As usual, everyone was busy photographing the surrounding of the restaurant before the foods serve on table…

Next to the restaurant, there were many fishing boats parking around…felt excited because we will going to experience the boat ride tomorrow for island hoping, looking forward about it…

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The seafood served on table pretty fast, most of us had the same package which were the fish, prawns, clams and squids. Some of us chose only fish and some don’t take prawns… flexible package.
But all of us had one plate of kang-kong (water spinach) with the local recipe sambal chili, and unlimited rice…

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I like the local sambal very much! It was aromatic and hot!
Believe all the seafood grilled with the same sauce and recipe, the prawns, fish and squids were finger-linking good! And the clams taste the best among all…
All the seafood were perfectly succulent, sweet and spicy. Impressed by the local recipes. But the magical part was the yummy sauces…dark sweet soy sauce, garlic, local sambal and chili with onions. Every sauce provided different taste with the seafood, I love the chili onions and the sambal very much!

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It was a total different experience having our dinner here, while enjoying the seafood in our hands and watching the beautiful sunset…

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The outdoor dining area was full after the night fall…

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Beside the seafood delights and the sunset, I like to concentrate on those fishing boats back to the shores…

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We were satisfied with the seafood dinner in Warung Menega. As I look into the menu, prices are reasonable too…I guess I’ll be back again on my next visit to Lombok.

Related post for Lombok island trip :-
Airasia media FAM trip to Lombok Island – Indonesia on July 2014

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Better Shopping with the Visit Malaysia Visa Prepaid Card

If you love shopping but don’t like carrying around a lot of cash, the new Visit Malaysia Visa Prepaid Card is a viable secure payment solution.

The world agrees: Malaysia is a great place to shop. From bargain hunting in the local markets, to luxurious shopping in some of the world’s biggest malls, it’s a haven for shopaholics. Coupled with the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnivals that stretch for several months, it’s little wonder that Malaysia is crowned fourth best shopping city in the world by CNN. Now, you too can shop till you drop with the new Visit Malaysia Visa Prepaid Card, a cashless and secure payment solution for tourists.

A cashless solution for your convenience

Carrying cash might be a great way to limit your spending while travelling, but when you’re out and about, a prepaid card may be better. The Visit Malaysia Visa Prepaid Card gives you access to your funds without the risk of accidentally losing your shopping money — one less thing to worry about while you’re on holiday.

The Visa-enabled prepaid card is easy to use, and it’s welcomed at over 29 million Visa accepting merchants worldwide. Just ensure there is sufficient funds, and swipe away. Funds can be loaded at any CIMB Bank cash deposit machine or at any designated reload agent.

Other features:
• No credit check or bank account necessary

• Lock in the exchange rate during purchase or reload
• 2-month travel personal accident cover
• PIN protection for cash withdrawal

• Online transaction security and balance checking facilities
• Enjoy discounts and privileges at participating dining, retail and lifestyle merchants

The starter pack can be purchased at RM40 from designated sales channels, and comes with RM500 worth of discount and rebate vouchers.

Mega sale, mega bargains

The Visit Malaysia Visa Prepaid Card can be used at the ongoing 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival. Catch some mega bargains at our megamalls such as 1Utama, Mid Valley, Sunway Pyramid, and the shopper’s paradise of Bukit Bintang and KLCC.


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Sade Village, the native Sasak’s village at Rembitan area, Lombok

The Sade Village (S8.83926 E116.29181) is located northward 8km from Kuta beach, in the Rembitan area of Lombok, the journey took around 20 minutes. Sade Village is the most frequent visit by tourist everyday, therefore the village guide welcome us and explain the culture along the village tour.

The Sasak people live mainly on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, numbering around 2.6 million (85% of Lombok’s population). They are related to the Balinese in language and race, although the Sasak are predominantly Muslim while the Balinese are Hindu. Source from here.

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The most ancient Sasak village in Lombok is the village of Bayan, situated near the foot of Mount Rinjani, which is the stronghold of the Wektu Telu. Wektu Telu is the distinct feature of religion, a syncretic belief of Islam intertwined with elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, and ancient traditional beliefs, unique to Lombok island.

A small minority of Sasaks called the Bodha (estimated population: 8,000) are mainly found in the village of Bentek and on the slopes of Gunung Rinjani. They are totally untouched by Islamic influence and worship animistic gods, incorporating some Hindu and Buddhist influences in their rituals and religious vocabulary. This group of Sasak, due in part to the name of their tribe, are recognized as Buddhists by the Indonesian government.” Source from here.

Nonetheless, despite differences in religious beliefs, the Sasak live in harmony among themselves.

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There were houses, rice barn (lumbung) and ceremonial hall (beruga) in the village. All the roof are covered by elephant plant (alang-alang), providing coolness in hot weather and warmth during night. The wall are mostly made by bamboo and the interesting part is the floor and some half wall is made by the mixture of clay and buffalo feces.Well, it was not stink at all. Beside that, it also works as a mosquito repellent.

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The Sasak’s house basically divided into 3 session : sleeping area, living room and kitchen. Men are restricted at the first session to protect the women in the house, because if the man want to marry the woman, he has to ‘kidnap’ the women (but with the permission). The tradition has been continue until today…

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Men in the village mostly are farmer, while the women stay at home weaving, making handicrafts and souvenirs for the visitors and tourists.

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The modernization seems powerless to change the village, and they still maintained the authenticity which also supported by the local community and their original language – The Sasak language.

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The entrance of their house is designed not higher than adult, so every guest come in have to lower down their head while passing through, it’s a way to respect the host.

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We enjoyed the tour very much and learn a lot from the culture of indigenous Sasak villagers, they were friendly too…

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After visiting the Sade village, it was almost dinner time…and we heading to Senggiri beach for seafood dinner…

Related post for Lombok island trip :-
Airasia media FAM trip to Lombok Island – Indonesia on July 2014

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