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G Hotel Penang

g-hotel-penang-1

G Hotel Penang is seen as one of the best hotels at the Penang Island. We stayed here during the opening season, and had a very positive experience. The hotel shines because of its modern decoration, the relaxed mood, and the beautiful, big rooms and also the stunning pool. A nice side note is that the hotel is located right next to the popular shopping mall Plaza Gurney and it also lies within a few minutes’ walk of Gurney Paragon, another popular mall in Georgetown. Between the mall and the G Hotel you’ll find a Food street, with a diverse range of small restaurants and coffee houses (including Starbucks and Coffee Bean). Within walking distance you will find a large hawker, where you will be able to eat delicious local meals for little money.

The G Hotel lies at Gurney Drive, which is a popular street at the edge of Georgetown, the capital city of Penang Island. This street is also situated along the strait that divides Penang and the mainland. The sea isn’t very spectacular (especially during low tide), but in general the views are excellent as you can see into the mainland. Across Gurney Drive you will find several hotels, plenty of nightlife, numerous diners and a couple of shopping centers. At the entrance of the hotel you have a taxi stand, from where you can take a taxi to the many sightings across the island. If you’d like a cheaper way of traveling you will have to walk to the main road (5 minutes’ walk) from where you can take the RapidPG bus.

The rooms in the G Hotel are simply magnificent. Even though we only had a standard room, it was already perfect. The room was decorated in style, it came with a large bed and a big television. You also have free internet; which is handy for hotel guests who bring their laptop, tablet or smartphone. The lobby was beautiful and there was a nice atmosphere all around. In the evening the lobby became a cozy cocktail bar; where they can make almost every cocktail you order.

The breakfast was very good as well, with plenty of choices in bread and spreads or toppings from which you could make the ultimate Western breakfast. Something we have noticed in Malaysia, is that a lot of hotels do not pay much attention into offering a good Western breakfast. Usually you get offered an English breakfast, but this is completely different from what the average traveler wants for breakfast. At the G Hotel all of this was taken care of, and the coffee wasn’t bad either.

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The Regatta Lepa Colourful and Excitement

The Regatta Lepa Colourful and Excitement

Every year in April there is a water festival held in Semporna, a small town in the eastern coast of Sabah, called The Regatta Lepa, one of the major important events in our National Tourism Calendar.

This year, the 20th Regatta Lepa will be held from 26th – 28th of April 2013 and the event attracted thousands each year. “Lepa” means “boat” is believed to be originated from the Pa’alau Bajau people who live in Bum Bum Island and used by fishermen along the coast of Semporna.

The unique lifestyle and festival is celebrated by the Bajau Laut ethnic community, the major dwellers in Semporna. The Bajau Laut people are seafarers at heart and well known for their Lepa, which is the traditional single-mast sailing boat used in their daily lives.

 

colourful Lepa

Nowadays, the practice of this traditional lifestyle is slowly dispersing with modernity. Few modern Bajaus use the Lepa today as many of them migrated to the mainland. Nonetheless, Lepa remains a symbol of tradition and a precious legacy for the Semporna Bajau community.

With the change of time, the Lepa might not be used in the same way as it used to be but the Lepas will never be forgotten for yet another year as the symbol of pride of the Bajau people and a cultural heritage.

The Bajau seafarers’ proud maritime heritage came alive in this annual festival of Regatta Lepa, featuring their boats, the Lepa with participants dancing at the helm of their boats, decorated with bright colour sails known as sambulayang and tapis (small triangular flags).

The sleepy Semporna town comes to life as the colourful sails take to the sea to compete for the prize of the most beautiful Lepa! The highlight of the event is the sail-past of the Lepa, each boat decked with smiling dancers and lively musicians, hoping to be crowned `Most Beautiful Lepa’ – the grand prize of this much-anticipated water festival.

Every Lepa family has their own or daughter beautiful girl welcoming visitors with graceful igal-igal dance, a traditional dance of the Bajau.

beautiful girl welcoming visitors with the traditional igal-igal dance

The Regatta Lepa is not just a water festival, in fact the whole town of Semporna has a carnival atmosphere, what with the various concerts staged, and so many stalls set up to promote or sell products and services to the population, visitors and tourists that have certainly swelled manifold.

 

Further Information

Organiser : Semporna District Office
Venue : Semporna, Sabah
Contact Person : A.M Ibnu Haji A.K baba
Telephone : 6089-781518, 6089-781663
Fax : 6089-781472
Email Contact : AmIbnu.Baba@sabah.gov.my
Event Website : http://www.sabahtourism.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeng Keng Hotel Georgetown Penang

yeng keng hotel georgetown penang 1

Yeng Keng Hotel is located along Chulia Street, one of the best and most popular areas to stay in Georgetown, Penang. Yeng Keng caters to the more wealthy travelers, instead of to back packers. It is a beautiful boutique hotel. Yeng Keng has two floors with only 20 rooms in total. There are 7 different room types, ranging in size and price. The cheapest room, Mansion Double, costs RM300 per night. The most expensive Yeng Keng Suite costs over RM500 per night. All rooms include breakfast and wifi broadband.

The hotel has a small pool in the back which is very nice if you want to relax and cool off for a bit after walking around in Georgetown. During the day but especially in the evenings you can enjoy a beverage at the Yeng Keng Café Bar. We loved their cocktails and desserts.

Breakfast is always included in the room price. The breakfast was very nice. The local treats were delicious, the bread was fresh and the coffee was of very good quality. Non-guests can also have breakfast here for RM20 per person (which is a steal).

Rooms are all very tastefully furnished. They are spacious and cozy at the same time. The same goes for the area outside the rooms, where you have multiple seats, chairs and sofas where you can sit and relax. Overall the hotel has a wonderful atmosphere. If you are looking for a nice boutique hotel within the historic center of Georgetown, be sure to visit Yeng Keng.

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The Road to Old Terengganu

The Road to Old Terengganu

Anis Ramli takes a road-trip on one of the earliest-built highways in Malaysia to discover the old-world charm of Terengganu…

The deep seas off Terengganu may be rich in oil and gas reserves, making the east coast state among the region’s leaders in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, but some argue that its real treasures are all found on the mainland.

With a documented history reaching as far back as the 2nd century, Terengganu certainly has accumulated a wealth of heritage influenced by the Langkasuka and Srivijaya kingdoms it was part of, and the Majapahit, Khmer and Chinese empires it traded with. Despite modern developments, the old Terengganu still remains – and the best way to explore it? Via Federal Route 3 – approaching a hundred years old, but still one of Malaysia’s most scenic highways.

At 739km long, Route 3 runs alongside the coast of four Malaysian states from Johor Bahru, Johor, in the south of the peninsula, through Pahang and Terengganu before ending in Rantau Panjang, Kelantan. From here, it goes on as part of the Asian Highway Network that connects Asia to the upper reaches of Europe.

It’s ironic that 20 years after it was built by the British for economic reasons, Route 3 would bring the ultimate fall of the Allied Forces when, in 1941, Japanese troops used it to swiftly advance south on bicycles during the Battle of Malaya.

Having served for economic and political purposes in the past, it must be said that Route 3 today is best suited for more leisurely pursuits. The relatively flat and straight two-lane single carriageway road provides an easy, scenic drive.

Traveling northwards, the South China Sea with its glittering blue waves in the midday sun would be your constant companion – and distraction – on the east. Some sections of the highway run alongside lush pockets of mangrove forests along the coastal estuaries.

There’s no escaping the countryside charm of Terengganu, even as the bigger towns try to shed its pastoral image with concrete buildings and foreign franchise retailers. Fishing villages just on the outskirts of towns speak of the population’s time-honoured source of income; fishermen bring their boats ashore on public beaches; chickens and cows roam about freely along main thoroughfares; while many of the wooden homes here are still built on stilts in a compound of coconut trees.

Even the stretch of road from Kerteh to Paka – where Malaysia’s oil and gas refinery activities are based – makes for excellent night driving. As the sun sets, the huge complex of pipes, steel tanks, smoke stacks and gas flutes lights up spectacularly like a space station about to launch a rocket ship.

Chukai
A great way to get to know Terengganu is through its food and what better place to start than in Chukai (in the district of Kemaman), among the first towns you encounter along the Terengganu section of Route 3 northwards. Kim Wah (also known as Kin To Wah) Restaurant is a spartan corner establishment on Jalan Masjid with an even simpler menu, selling nothing else but chicken rice. It opens daily from 11 am to 2:30 pm, but its plates of roast chicken over rice with a side of soy sauce and chili dip often run out by 1pm.

One of the enduring legacies of the Chinese community in Malaysia is the kopitiam. Usually established in smaller towns, but increasingly franchised in urban centres, these old-style cafés are famous for their Asian coffee (usually thicker and more bitter than its European version) and charcoal-toasted bread generously slathered with butter and kaya, a coconut cream-based jam. Kemaman’s very own – Hai Peng Kopitiam on Jalan Sulaimani – has been enjoying a good reputation since the 1930s. Besides the toast, their other specialty is the typical Terengganu dish nasi dagang – beautifully steamed rice with a serving of rich tuna curry wrapped in banana leaf parcels.

In the evenings, join the locals at Pantai Geliga beach for traditional east coast tea-time treats of satar (fish cakes wrapped in banana leaves, skewered in threes, and grilled over red-hot charcoal), keropok lekor (fish crackers) and sotong celup tepung (deep fried squid). Down it all with fresh coconut juice, served straight from the husk!

Kuala Dungun
About an hour’s drive north of Chukai is Kuala Dungun, a town that once enjoyed the wealth of its iron ore mining activities. Nothing much of its glorious past remains except for the nondescript concrete pillar in the sea that some say was part of the railway line that transported iron from Bukit Besi to Kuala Dungun. About 30 km inland, in Bukit Besi, are a few more of these legacies – the stockpile buildings, tunnels and chimneys used during the tin-mining days – left by the Japanese who first discovered the riches within the area.

Seemingly bereft of any tourist attractions, Kuala Dungun is an unlikely stop for those passing through Terengganu if not for Tanjong Jara Resort. Despite its modest kampung location, the resort, part of the luxury YTL property chain, has gained a worldwide reputation for its unique architecture and welcome. Taking a cue from its east coast residents, Tanjong Jara Resort has adopted the spirit of gentle and humble Malay service and hospitality. Its “Unmistakably Malay” tagline is reflected throughout the resort – the Malay palace-like architecture, the local menu which features the region’s unique cuisine, and the age-old Malay treatments at its award-winning spa.

The district of Dungun, especially the beaches at Rantau Abang, used to be the calling place of giant leatherback turtles who return yearly to the beaches here to lay their eggs. In the 1970s, as many as 1,000 leatherback landings were reported but these nesting giants are a rare sight these days due to modern developments and human interference; however it is still possible to view green turtle landings in other parts of Dungun. Tanjong Jara Resort has a turtle watching programme exclusively for guests at Kerteh. The oil-refinery town of Terengganu may be an unlikely port of call for these nesting turtles, but the midnight trips arranged with the local fisheries department are highly recommended. Complement the experience beforehand with a trip to the Turtle Information Centre in Rantau Abang just 15 km north of Tanjong Jara Resort to learn about the miraculous journey made by these gentle marine creatures to nest and the subsequent fight for survival by their young hatchlings.

Kuala Terengganu
After the tranquil panoramas of Kemaman, Dungun and Marang, the bustle of capital city Kuala Terengganu takes a while to get used to. Pasar Payang is the central market where all manner of trade is conducted. It’s the place to get your fish and chicken, fruits and veggies, dried fish crackers, some fashionable wear, souvenirs, even your gold jewellery. It would almost be a sin to leave town without at least purchasing the signature east coast fabric, the batik, here. Or indulge in the Terengganu brocade – a textile of royal origins made using fine gold and silk threads.

Spend a quick afternoon on the Terengganu River Cruise, from the Islamic Civilisation Park jetty, to learn about the history and development of the area. Then, hop over to Pulau Duyong to walk within the walls of an old fortress. Built in the 1920s, Kota Lama Duyong is a traditional Terengganu house with Greek Corinthian elements in its columns and Islamic influences in the decorative woodcarvings.

Penarik
Continue northwards from Kuala Terengganu and you will soon reach Penarik in the district of Setiu. This serene fishing village has a unique geographical landscape – a narrow isthmus of casuarinas and coconut groves flanked by the Setiu River on the west and the South China Sea on the east. It is the setting of Terrapuri Heritage Village, part conservation project, part boutique guest house, and on-going 20-year labour of love by local entrepreneur, Alex Lee, to preserve the authentic traditions of the Malay Terengganu house.

Here, guests are accommodated in hundred-year old dwellings, each one personally sourced by Lee from various parts of Terengganu, dismantled, carefully restored and assembled again on this piece of beach-front land in Kampung Mangkuk. Rich in history and displaying the refined carpentry and design skills of highly-respected master craftsmen, each of these 29 houses may be the last legacies of a fast-diminishing Terengganu culture and heritage. The hospitality by locals employed from nearby villages is genuine and unpretentious – at the end of your stay, you’ll be bidding goodbye to friends and family instead of service staff.

Beaches
With a coastline that runs for 244 km, Terengganu’s beaches are some of the best and prove to be a great distraction to those driving along Route 3. There’s no point resisting its allure; turn off from the main road anywhere and cherish the serendipitous discoveries not marked in any tourist map.

Teluk Bidara in Dungun is a bay near Tanjong Jara Resort where one can explore the cave and lighthouse on Tanjung Api Hill at low tide. Kuala Abang and Kemasik beaches have some interesting sea-side rock formations on which to perch and enjoy the miles of blue, while Penarik tears you in two with the river wetlands on one side and gorgeous beach on the other, and the shade of casuarinas and coconut palms in between the two.

The long Terengganu coastline may be inviting but beware of the strong under-currents in certain places. Instead, pull a chair beach-side and munch on keropok lekor as you take in the views of the nearby islands, listen to the waves breaking on the shore and fantasise of owning a beach-front property here.

When to go:
The state of Terengganu observes Sunday to Thursday as working days while Friday and Saturday are public holidays. Banks, government offices and most businesses in Terengganu operate from Sunday to Thursday.

Also, it’s worth checking out the weather before going. Terengganu experiences heavier rainfall and flooding in certain areas during the monsoon season when the north-east winds blow between November and January. Although the perception is that it rains every day during this period, there are perfectly sunny days, too, in between wet spells. Still, trips to the islands are not advised during this period due to uncertain sea conditions. On the bright side, the monsoon season is considered low season, and travellers get better deals on hotels.

Driving tips:
Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu (approx. 455 km): Take the Karak Highway, then the East Coast Expressway, and exit at Jabor toll. Continue towards Kuala Terengganu on Federal Route 3 via Chukai town in Kemaman.

Singapore/Johor Bahru to Kuala Terengganu (approx. 562 km): Take Federal Route 3 to Kota Tinggi, Mersing, Kuala Rompin, Pekan, Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu.

Penang to Kuala Terengganu (approx. 460 km): Take Federal Route 4 via Grik to Jertih, then turn into Federal Route 3 to Kuala Terengganu.

Flights:
Fly to Kuala Terengganu Airport from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia; or from Subang Airport (Kuala Lumpur) via Firefly.

More info:
Check out an online brochure on Terengganu (and the east coast region) here: http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my/intl_en/ebrochure/pdf/8c26ea7d

 

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1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade 2011 set to glitter at Putrajaya Lake

1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade 2011 set to glitter at Putrajaya Lake


For the first time ever, the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia will be organizing the 1Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade (1MITNFP) 2011, which is set to shine at the Putrajaya Lake, from July 9 until July 17, 2011. Minister of Tourism Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen will be present at the 1MITNFP 2011 to officiate the Opening Ceremony on July 9, 2011. There will also be a closing ceremony on July 17, 2011.

The theme for 1MITNFP 2011 will be ‘Magic of the Night’ which is portrayed by the colourful lights that represent the vibrant floral species and designs as well as the multicultural facade of the ASEAN region. The parade will be presented on boats filled with colourful and spectacular decorations depicting the exotic flora and fauna and icons representing each participant. The parade will begin after sunset.

The event comprises of two components, namely The Parade of the Night Floral Boats at Putrajaya Lake and Static Night Floral Boats Display where all participating boats will be in a static display after the floating parade. Visitors and tourists will be able to have a closer look and appreciate the designs and details of each floral boat.

There will also be a contest in several categories, namely Overall best Boat, Most Creative Boat, Best Lighted Boat and Most Popular Boat where the winners will be chosen based on evaluation by panel judges appointed by the Ministries as well as on public poll.

Other attractions awaiting visitors at the 1MITNFP 2011 include exhibition by 20 tourism related booths that offer various tourism product and packages for the public, a photography contest of Night Floral Boats, fireworks display, performance by musical and cultural group including Shafinaz, Rhythm of Borneo Group, No Noise Percussion Group, Balle Balle, Nakasutra Group, Mokaba Group, PCC Orchestra, Kiruba Group, Fresco Harmonica Group, fun facilities and competitions including 1Malaysia Green 1Malaysia Clean and Tarian Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia.

This parade has attracted participations from 13 countries and organisations, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Melaka, Perlis, Terengganu, Perak, Johor, Putrajaya, Pahang, AirAsia, Sunway Group, I-Berhad and also Tourism Malaysia.

Besides showcasing to the world that the 1MITNFP 2011 is signature event to attract global tourists to the country, this event also aims to introduce and promote the diversity and richness of nature, culture and tradition of ASEAN and the Plus Three Countries. This is tandem with the intra-ASEAN and Plus Three tourist traffic which has always been the largest component of tourist arrivals to the region. Hence, promoting the region as a single unique tourism destination is timely and can maximise the region’s potentials, with close collaboration and cooperation among all the ASEAN Member State and the Plus three Countries.

The 1MITNFP 2011 will be held in conjunction with the Floria Putrajaya Festival, Malaysia’s premier outdoor garden and flower showcase, which displays the best of the Malaysia’s and international landscape and horticulture industry. In 2010, this festival attracted participation from nine countries namely Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Netherland, New Zealand, Serbia, Taiwan and United Kingdom. More than 600,000 international and domestic tourists visited the festival last year. For 2011, some 700,000 people are expected to visit the 1MITNFP 2011.

This event will be broadcasted live on national television as well as through international media and news network participating in the event. Overseas organisations under Tourism Malaysia’s Mega Familiarization Programme are expected to feature this event in their respective publications/network worldwide.

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