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New Year Resolutions the Malaysian Style

Right after midnight, people from northern to southern hemispheres will celebrate the first glimpse of the New Year with lively concerts, spectacular fireworks, as well as a public holiday. Of course everything new is exciting but the beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we hope to go next.

And every time a New Year rolls in, people around the world will have one thing in common, which is making a New Year’s resolution. It is actually a 4,000 year-old tradition and dates back to the Babylonians. So what are our goals for the New Year? Mostly, our New Year’s resolution involved topic such as health, love, career, finance and education, right?

So far, I think many people have failed to keep their resolutions but come to think of it, I believe that it will be much easier if we keep a resolution that is tied to the things that we love. For travel aficionados, creating a New Year’s travel resolution list is the perfect way to start dreaming about where and how they want to wander in the coming year. It can also be about starting a healthy travel lifestyle or trying more outdoor activities, searching for the best local food or learning new skills or volunteering.

So, whether you live here or are simply on holiday in Malaysia, here are some 2018 resolutions to consider. Here goes nothing!

GET FIT

I think numero uno in most people’s minds every time the New Year comes is to exercise more and have a healthy lifestyle. There are lots and lots of gymnasiums in Malaysia either in shopping malls or provided by hotels or resorts for you to exercise, but if your new resolution is to engage in more outdoor activities, you don’t have to worry because we have plenty of that too.

The easiest and cheapest way to get fit and enjoy the outdoor activities at the same time, as well as savouring the beauty of nature is by doing the running, hiking and climbing circuit. And Malaysia definitely has places and events for that in abundance and here is the list for some of the popular activities that you can do in 2018:

Broga Hill in Semenyih, Selangor

The best way to see the sun rise above both the rainforest and the city is by climbing the Broga Hill as early as 5 am. It will take at least 40 minutes to reach the peak but the view is so magnificent that you will forget about your sore muscles. There are four peaks on Broga Hill and additional jungle trail from the summit to the peak of Gunung Tok Wan, which will take another two hours to reach. You have to overcome a series of ascending and descending hilly terrains to reach the top, which is simply a perfect workout in nature.

Broga Hill in Semenyih takes about 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. It sits on the edge of the Titiwangsa Range and is frequented by casual hikers. It is approximately 400m in altitude and takes its name from the local river, Buragas.

Mt Kinabalu Via Ferrata

Via ferrata (or iron road in Italian), is a mountain path consisting of a series of rungs, rails and cables embracing the rock face. There are more than 300 via ferrata routes around the world and the world’s highest via ferrata can now be found on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, whereby the highest point starts at 3,400 m and ends at 3,800 m. This is the first time that the sport of via ferrata climbing is being introduced in Asia.

An activity for everyone, the via ferrata is devised to give people with little or no climbing experience access to rock faces normally reached by mountaineers and rock climbers. There are several requirements for one to take part in the via ferrata activity, including having an average fitness level, being able to hike up to 3,200 m in 6 hours, being at least 10 years of age, being at least 1.3 metres tall; and, especially, not fear heights (or willing to conquer their fear of heights).

This is a challenging adventure, and those interested to experience via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu should note that the beginner’s route will let the climber take their first experience along the granite walls of Mount Kinabalu (a journey of about 2–3 hours).

The intermediate route will let the climber experience a 4- to 5-hour journey, which will reward the climber with a breathtaking view of the heights and sights.

Marathon Fun Run

The easiest way to get fit is through running and there are lots of public parks and gardens equipped with jogging tracks all over the country. However, I believe that it will be much more meaningful if you can get fit but at the same time doing it for charity. Here in Malaysia, come rain or shine, there is not a month that goes by without a half or full marathon or fun run being organised by various organisations for myriad of reasons.

Among the interesting marathons that you can participate in Malaysia this year include:

  • The iHero Charity Run 2018 involves a 7 km and 12 km marathon, a 3 km fun run and a 1 km wheelathon for participants with mobility issues. This run is a nationwide call for action to help make a meaningful change in the lives of people with disabilities. (21 January 2018, Menara DBKL).
  • KL World Urban Run 2018, an event by PERSADA and Urbanice Malaysia in conjunction with the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum. This session in Kuala Lumpur will be the second session hosted in Asia after 10 years. The categories comprise 5 km, 10 km and 15 km run (11 February 2018, Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur).
  • International Orangutan Run 2018 is held to create awareness on the plight of the critically endangered orangutan in Borneo and Sumatran Islands, as well as commemorate and celebrate the “World Wildlife Day 2018”. It will be a 30 km run for the heavyweights while the beginners can run for 8 km. (24 March 2018, Sandakan, Sabah).
  • Route 68 Challenge is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Now into its fourth year, the race will see participants run for 168 km (two loops) and 84 km through the beautiful and scenic landscape of remote Gombak. The route will start and end at an orang asli settlement, winding through hilly roads surrounded by lush green forests. It will give participants some of the most unique ultramarathon race experience. (28-29 April 2018, Orang Asli Community Multi Purpose Hall at Km. 24 Gombak, Selangor).
  • Penang Eco 100 was the first ever ultra trail event in West Malaysia with a 50 km and 100 km category before an additional category of 160 km and 30 km were added. Held in Bukit Mertajam (Penang, Malaysia), the 30 km, 50 km and 100 km categories start from the eco village of Sungai Lembu, taking runners through oil palm plantations, rubber plantations, pineapple plantations, several Malay kampungs, Chinese new villages, and Indian temples, paddy fields, the challenging hills of Seraya, Mengkuang, and the by now iconic Tokun Hills. This race showcases the typical Malaysian geographical, social and cultural heritage where the runners will meet and see ordinary Malaysian people and wildlife, flora and fauna in the rural settings with a distinct small town feel. During the race, the runners will be sampling the local cuisines in the food and drinks provided at the aid stations along the course of the race. (12-13 May 2018, Bukit Mertajam, Penang).

For more info on other marathons and fun run, please visit www.runsociety.com.

WATCH YOUR DIET

Come New Year, you may plan to drop 10 kg, lower your cholesterol or simply to create a clean eating habit. Is it possible to watch your diet when you are travelling to a country that is well-known as food paradise? Wouldn’t you want to try the delicious food that the locals consume day in and day out?
I might as well recommend a list of the best local food for you to try and you can worry about your diet later, much, much later. Here are some of the local dishes that any sane human should try when they are in Malaysia:

Nasi Lemak

No visitors will leave Malaysia without tasting our very own Nasi Lemak. Hot cooked rice with pandan aroma steamed with coconut cream goes heavenly well with sizzling spicy sauce or “sambal”. Generous sprinklings of roasted peanuts and salty dried anchovies with a hard boiled egg perfect this dish. A platter of everything good all wrapped up in banana leaves to further enhance its unique taste. Nasi Lemak is truly a national heritage of Malaysia. (Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa in Kg. Baru, Kuala Lumpur).

‘Char Kway Teow’

‘Char Kway Teow’ or ‘stir-fried ricecake strips’ is arguably one of the most popular dishes among Malaysians of all races. The name is derived from the Hokkien term for ‘fried’ which is ‘char, while ‘kway teow’ refers to the ‘flat rice noodles’, which is the main ingredient. The latter is stir-fried over very high heat with light or dark soy sauce, chili, prawns, de-shelled cockles, bean sprouts, chinese chives and eggs.

‘Char kway teow’ was said to have its origins in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei) but the common consensus is that the Penang version tops the list when it comes to taste and originality. (Sisters Fried Kway Teow, Penang).

Laksa

Laksa is a famous noodle soup from Peranakan culture with coconut soup as a base to which are added tofu puffs, fish sticks, shrimps, cockles and others. It is served with a spoonful of chilli paste or “sambal” and traditionally garnished with Vietnamese coriander, or laksa leaf. There are many varieties of delicious Laksa in Malaysia such as Sarawak Laksa, Johor Laksa, Kelantan Laksa, Penang Laksa and many others. Try out as many as you can. (Restaurant Puteri, Kuala Lumpur).

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. 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. Indian restaurants are aplenty at Brickfields, home of Little India in Kuala Lumpur and it’s easily accessible by public transport.

Satay

Satay is a Malay food made up of meats that are marinated, skewered and grilled on sticks and served with delicious peanut sauce. In Malaysia, the more popular type of skewered meat would be the chicken and beef served with a sauce dip, and slivers of cucumbers and onions. (Sate Kajang Hj Samuri, all over the Klang Valley).

LEARN NEW SKILLS

Experts say you’re never too old to learn to play the guitar, dance the waltz or cook a delicious dinner. Mastering new skills offers many benefits for the mind, body and soul. So, let’s make 2018 our year to learn new skills and here are some new skills that we can acquire here in Malaysia:

Hands-On Pewtersmithing Workshops

Founded in 1885, Royal Selangor is the world’s foremost name in quality pewter, a brand synonymous with design and craftsmanship. In the hands of its skilled craftspeople, this versatile alloy of tin, copper and antimony is transformed into an endless variety of homeware and gifts, sold today in more than 20 countries around the world.

Its Visitor Centre is located in Setapak Jaya, just 20 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur city centre. A modern glass-clad foyer set within a scenic lush landscape, greets visitors upon arrival at the Visitor Centre. You certainly won’t miss it as there is a giant-sized Royal Selangor tankard fronting the entrance.

Visitors with a little more time on their hands may not want to miss out on making their own pewter products. For a nominal fee, visitors may participate in Royal Selangor’s School of Hard Knocks pewtersmithing workshop where the participants create their very own pewter dish, or The Foundry where they get to make pewter accessories from scratch.

Royal Selangor

General Line: +603 4145 6000

Art of Shoemaking

What better way to channel your “inner Jimmy Choo” than learning the art of shoemaking at the place where the world renowned shoe designer Jimmy Choo learned his craft. Hong Kong shoe store, located in George Town, Penang, was where 15-year-old Choo started his apprenticeship under Master Wong, a famous shoe maker in Penang.

Today, Master Wong Jr has created a 4-hour Introduction to Shoemaking course for anyone who wants learn the art of shoemaking using traditional methods.

Hong Kong Shoe Store
Address: 20 Kimberley Street, 10100, George Town, Penang
Telephone / Fax: +604 261 4695
Hotline: 019-409 4663

A Chef In the Making

Malaysia is a melting pot of culinary delights. Being at the crossroads of so many cultural influences has made Malaysia a gastronomic heaven which promises a potpourri of wonderful food to please and enchant every palate from all four corners of the world.

So, grab the opportunity to learn how to cook an authentic taste of the Malaysian cuisines by joining the LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class. Each day of the week, the instructor will teach a different ethnic menu and provide detailed explanations of ingredients and cooking methods. Students will individually prepare their own 4-course lunch, usually consisting of an appetizer, main course, side dish and dessert.

For more details on LaZat Malaysian Cooking Class, please visit http://malaysia-klcookingclass.com.

VOLUNTEER MORE

Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but at the same time we as volunteers get the benefits too. This is because volunteering and helping others can help us reduce stress, combat depression, keep us mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.

In tourism, we called it voluntourism, which is a combination of volunteering and tourism. It is a popular form of international travel that allows you to contribute to sustainable development while exploring a new country and culture. Among the voluntourism activities that we can participate in include:

Heart2Heart with Orangutan

The Heart2Heart with Orangutan programme is a unique conservation initiative run by Sarawak Forestry in collaboration with the Sarawak Convention Bureau. It is a one-day programme, which allows participants to actively participate in orangutan rehabilitation at the Matang Wildlife Centre and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. It aims to showcase the orangutan conservation efforts in Sarawak to the global community and to raise awareness on the importance of saving the orangutan from the brink of extinction.

The Heart2Heart with Orangutan and Adoption programmes will definitely give its participants a renewed sense of purpose and fulfilment. No matter how small your contributions are for the rehabilitation and preservation of the orangutans, I’d like to believe that your tiny efforts will bring in big benefits in the larger scheme of things.

SARAWAK FORESTRY Corporation Sdn. Bhd.
Tel: +6082 610088   Fax: +6082 610099
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.sarawakforestry.com

Juara Turtle Project

TAT (Tengku Arif Temenggong) Turtle Sanctuary is a turtle hatchery facility located in Kampung Juara, on the eastern coast of Tioman Island, Malaysia. It is operated and maintained by a small group of dedicated individuals with the help of local and international volunteers. The Juara hatchery was established in 2006 when Juara’s Riverview Resort adopted a local government-run turtle hatchery at the end of its five year contract. Over the last few years the project has grown steadily as a “minimal interference, strictly conservation-aimed” hatchery.

The facility looks forward to and will appreciate working with anyone who supports similar perspectives on conservation efforts, through funding, environmental education, or physical participation.

Juara Turtle Project
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  +6 09 419 3244
Mobile: +6 017 438 3038
Website:http://www.juaraturtleproject.com

 

Teach Refugee Children in Malaysia

While most refugee children would like to go to school, there is only one problem – their education expenses and needs are not met. According to UNHCR, the foremost refugee agency in Malaysia, there are over 11,000 displaced children of school going age yet less than 40% of them have access to any formal education. To fill this need, many communities and NGOs have set up their own education centers.

Come “voluntour” at the local refugee school which has about 60 students mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Voluntourists help teach English, History, Geography, Mathematics and Physical Education. The school is open year round but closed on Malaysian school holidays.

For more details, please visit http://volunteeringinmalaysia.org.

MANAGE STRESS

Come New Year, do the thing you need the most to take care of yourself so that you can start the year stress-free. The most pleasant way to do that is by visiting spas, which can be found all over Malaysia. A good dose of pampering can truly revive the mind, body and spirit, I promise!

In Malaysia, influences from various ancient therapies have been infused with modern spa therapies in a designer ambience, offering you a delightful experience. Here, one can find age-old Javanese beauty and wellness regimens, ancient Ayurvedic treatments from India, and reflexology, acupressure and Shiatsu practices founded in China, among others. Masseurs are well-trained and have a deep understanding of the human body, dispensing herbal recipes for baths, massage oils and scrubs.

Set against lush tropical backdrops, and presented with nutritious and detoxifying fresh fruits and herbal drinks, most of these luxury spas are also equipped with Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, swimming pools and double baths. While there has recently been an influx of designer spas in the capital of Kuala Lumpur, most spas are tucked away in resorts, nestled in lush rainforests or overlooking the lapping seashore.

Spa Village

The award-winning Spa Village brand is the epitome of a luxury spa retreat. Located in all YTL properties in Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor Laut, Tanjong Jara, Cameron Highlands, Gaya Island and Melaka, it uses unique Asian healing rituals and natural resources to give you the most amazing rejuvenating experience.

For more information on Spa Village, please visit http://www.spavillage.com.

Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Tambun, Perak

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is nestled in a 22.7-acre valley, cradled by 260 million-year old towering Paleozoic limestone hills, verdant rainforest, rejuvenating geothermal hot springs, natural caves and cascading waterfalls. Your getaway to regain balance and rediscover your sense of true self, this unique hideaway is designed to luxuriate in, with therapeutic value in mind.

Restore what life takes from your body and soul as you dip into the Geothermal Hot Springs Dipping Pools, or stare and be overwhelmed by the near-vertical rock formations around the retreat. Perhaps take a relaxing stroll through the jungle to breathe in the sights of rarity. Otherwise, simply immerse in a state of enlightenment and inner peace in the Meditation Cave.

This sanctuary of bespoke holistic wellness in the northern state of Perak is only 15 minutes drive from Ipoh city and 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur.

For more information on Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, please visit

https://www.thebanjaran.com.

The Chateau Spa Organic Wellness Resort, Bukit Tinggi, Pahang

Rising majestically amidst a lush rainforest in Malaysia, The Chateau is an organic spa and wellness resort, modeled after a 12th-century ‘Haut Koenigsbourg’ castle in Alsace, France. La Sante, the jewel in The Chateau’s crown, is the first destination spa in Asia that ingeniously blends European spa expertise with renowned Asian hospitality.

The Chateau offers a complete organic experience and advocates a lifestyle approach to personal wellness in a non-regimented way. The Chateau is not only a retreat that embraces holistic ideas and relaxing principles but one that defines the eminent journey towards wellness.

For more information on The Chateau Spa Organic Wellness Resort, please visit http://www.thechateau.com.my.

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur Iridium Spa, Kuala Lumpur

The spa suites are a standout at this St. Regis relaxation haven: each comes equipped with a private Jacuzzi and sauna room. The spa uses ESPA products and technology from Endermologie to achieve lasting results.

Consult with your therapist for a massage that’s tailored to you, with a de-stresser, jet-lag reviver, immune booster, Balinese and hot stone massage as options. In addition to scrubs and wraps, the spa offers signature rituals like the 210-minute Heritage Tea Aficionado inspired by the classic St. Regis Afternoon tea. Begin with a rice and green tea exfoliation, followed by a red chai tea bathing ritual designed to improve circulation.

For more details on The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur Iridium Spa, please visit http://www.stregiskualalumpur.com/spa.

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