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South China Sea

BEING IN THE ZEN

Ahhh…who doesn’t love a good massage? In fact, just entering a spa centre and inhaling its pleasant aromas already melt away half of your aches and pains. Imagine what a good hour of pummeling and kneading would do to the rest of it!

 

Due to our multi-cultural population, Malaysians are the lucky recipients of some awesome traditional treatments that combine massage techniques, tools and local ingredients that are prepared into massage oils and potions.

 

After a tired day of touring your favourite spots in Malaysia, surely a massage would be a welcome relief? If you have a chance, book a session at these award-winning spa centres, who were duly recognized at the 20th Malaysia Tourism Awards 2016/2017. You won’t be disappointed!

 

SPA VILLAGE BY TANJONG JARA

WINNER OF BEST SPA (HOTEL/RESORT CATEGORY), MALAYSIA TOURISM AWARDS 2016/2017

 

Location: The Tanjong Jara Spa Village is located by the sea in Terengganu’s beautiful coastal village of Dungun. It sits within the sprawling grounds of Tanjong Jara luxury resort, a relaxing hideaway reminiscent of a Malay kampong.

Ambience: The spa pavilion faces the South China Sea and offers the chance for quiet reflection and contemplation. It is nice to have the wide open sea right in front of you as well, and one can easily be lulled into a restful state just by watching the waves come to shore. This beautiful complex of structures, gardens and pools, houses a therapy centre featuring programs for relaxation, reinvigoration and stress relief based on traditional healing methods.

 

Treatment philosophy: Spa Village’s treatment philosophy is rooted in the ancient Malay way of life that emphasises purity of spirit, health and well-being, a philosophy they call “Sucimurni.” Local ingredients are sourced and concocted into potent oils, creams and scrubs.

 

These unique restorative Malay treatments have been handed down from generation to generation, ensuring their authenticity, and therapeutic value. With a history of more than a thousand years, the practices are believed to have their origins in the convergence of Malay, Arab, Indian and Chinese influences during the days of the Malacca Sultanate.

Signature touch: Try out the Malay Signature Experience that extensively uses parts of the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) in a “three-course” experience consisting of the asam relaxing massage and the Roselle cream scrub, ending with a perfect cup of Roselle tea. The Roselle flower has vitamin C, fruit acids, calcium, iron, potassium and has long been used in traditional medicines. Together with other local herbs and spices such as galangal, ginger, nutmeg and coconut, the treatment delivers a soothing and aromatic experience.

 

Tip: Being in the east coast by the sea will get you closer to the traditional Malay way of life and it’s an opportunity to see how the farming and fishing communities here survive in such a beautiful and relaxing environment. Dungun is a fantastic small town that delivers on great food, beautiful seaside scenery and the authentic Malay lifestyle.

 

BANYAN SPA, IPOH

WINNER OF BEST SPA (INDIVIDUAL PREMISE CATEGORY), MALAYSIA TOURISM AWARDS 2016/2017

 

Location: Banyan Spa is strategically located right in the middle of Ipoh town in the state of Perak. While the vibe within this wellness centre is so “zen,” the central location means that we get the best of Ipoh, too, recently hailed as a hip and happening destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambience: What used to be a century-old colonial house has been transformed into a warm and cozy wellness centre that’s very inviting. Considered one of the best wellness centers in Ipoh, it brings about a “kampong feeling” despite being located within a busy city. The tropical-styled zen garden is home to individual attap sheds where private treatments are carried out.

 

Due to its location within a thriving city centre, Banyan Spa intends to provide a sanctuary for its guests to escape the hustle and bustle. The spacious compound, soothing sounds of water and aromatic air immediately lend a sense of peace.

 

Treatment philosophy: It provides a full range of treatments such as massages, facials and manicures and pedicures for the busy person working in the city. As a one-stop centre, it offers detox, lymphatic drainage, body peeling, Chinese traditional massage, reflexology, aromatherapy massage and others. In other words, you can get all your wellness needs addressed here.

 

Signature touch: The Banyan Exclusive Spa Treatment begins with a luxurious rose bath, which then proceeds on to a bamboo-and-lotus body scrub. The client is then wrapped up in clay, algae and marine minerals, before finally receiving a gentle aromatic massage to bring balance and harmony.

 

Another unique treatment here is the Chroma Therapy which uses the seven colours of the spectrum to enhance the body’s seven chakras and stimulate the healing process.

 

Tip: When in Ipoh, one must certainly indulge in its street food offerings. After all, in a New York Times article “Why Ipoh, Malaysia, should be on your travel radar,” its vast choices of local fare was highlighted as a star attraction. Ipoh is also a great starting point to learn about Malaysia’s colonial history and a walking tour of its heritage area is highly recommended as many of the old buildings and landmarks still stand.

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8 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT BACHOK

Take an amazing road trip on Federal Route 3 along the east coast of the country, and you will be passing scenic countryside, agricultural farms, and yonder, the azure blue of the South China Sea. Make a stop at Bachok at the edge of the sea where coconut trees sway peacefully in the breeze, and experience one of Malaysia’s best-kept secrets.

 

Malay woodcarving culture

Spend an afternoon at Akademi Nik Rashiddin (Nik Rashiddin Academy) for a thorough understanding of the Malay culture through its strong roots in traditional woodcarving.

 

The founder, the late Nik Rashiddin Nik Hussein, was an accomplished woodcarver who was passionate about the history of the region’s woodcarving traditions, particularly the Malay’s. The gallery is a treasure trove of valuable artefacts such as the traditional wooden Malay house and its architecture, Malay kris (dagger), bird cages, bird traps, traditional cake moulds, bed frames and more, all of which reflect the sophistication of the Malay culture. Special guided tours are available and, if lucky, are conducted by Nik Rashiddin’s widow, Rosnawati, who herself, is deeply knowledgeable on the subject.

 

You will leave the gallery awed and inspired by the brilliance of the Malay people whose deep affinity with nature was reflected in their highly astute sense of design and artistry.

 

Temple-hopping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a predominantly Muslim state, there sure are plenty of Buddhist temples around, but that’s due to Kelantan’s proximity to Thailand. In Bachok, make time to visit the Photikyan Phutthaktham temple famous for its 108-foot gleaming white standing Buddha statue which can be seen from miles away. A pair of colourful dragons framing the entrance welcomes visitors to this temple. Other sights at the temple include the wishing three, where devotees throw colourful ribbons of wishes onto its branches, and the seated Buddha image behind a seven-headed dragon.

 

The call of the sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bachok’s seaside attraction is Pantai Irama, or the Beach of Melody, so-named due to the lulling call of the wind and waves as it hits the shore. It’s a major gathering place for the locals over the weekends (the east coast states consider Fridays and Saturdays as the weekends) so it’s the perfect place to get into the local action. Expect to see lots of activities then, such as banana boat rides, kite flying, fishing and such. Pack a picnic, light a barbecue or get snacks from the nearby vendors, and just chill with your feet in the sea – highly therapeutic! It faces the South China Sea and gets some fierce waves during the monsoon season (usually from November to March), so swimming is not advisable then.

 

Jetty to yonder!

Planning to visit the Perhentian Islands nearby? Bachok is a great place to put up the night before you make the 30-minute journey to Kuala Besut where boats await to speed you off to the twin tropical paradise islands. Tip: get the earliest boats in the morning before the waves get choppy.

 

Kelantan delicacies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelantan food is quite different from what you get in the west coast cities. Here, rice is a big thing, especially eaten for breakfast. There’s even a local festival that celebrates the 101 types of rice dishes in Kelantan. In Bachok, it’s easy to find a variety of rice dishes including nasi dagang, nasi berlauk, nasi tumpang and nasi kerabu. At tea time, don’t forget to order a nice cup of hot, sweetened tea to go along with the glutinous rice eaten with freshly-grilled fish, a real delicacy here. And if possible, always go for the seafood; fishing is one of the main economic activities of those living on the east coast, and you are always guaranteed to get the freshest catch of the day! Our favourite? The etok salai, freshwater shellfish that’s beautifully smoked with local herbs and spices to bring out its best flavours.

 

A history lesson

Bachok was one of the first landing points of the Japanese army when it invaded then-Malaya in 1941. A visit here would be an insightful experience for history buffs of how the war was fought between the British Indian Army and the Empire of Japan on the east coast.

 

The Nami Island of Kelantan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagrammers on the lookout for unique landscapes that capture the social media world’s imagination will not be disappointed with what Senok Beach has to offer. This beachside locale is a stretch of land where pine trees stand erect in neat rows, their pines needles catching in the gentle breeze. It’s a favourite spot not only for selfies and wefies, but also to commemorate special occasions such as weddings and graduation forever. The backdrop of the sea and the pine trees make a natural landscape for memories you want to keep.

 

The clay-makers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelantan is one of the main producers of singgora tiles – hand-produced thin clay tiles used on the roofs of many traditional wooden homes in the east coast. These tiles are favoured here due to the cooling qualities of clay and its ability to reduce indoor temperatures naturally.

 

The singgora tiles workshop (which can be visited) run by these two elderly ladies – Madam Noraini and Madam Natrah – are said to be the only one left in the entire of Malaysia.

 

END

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REDISCOVER REDANG AT THE TAARAS BEACH & SPA RESORT

Redang Island has long been a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. With long stretches of sparkling white sand overlooking gorgeous turquoise water and complemented by a protected marine park, it has become a destination of choice for weddings, honeymoons, family getaways, corporate retreats and those seeking adventure and thrills.

Most will head to Long Beach where there are plenty of accommodation and restaurant choices. But for those who want to escape the crowd and want to feel like they have the whole island to themselves, head to the Berjaya Redang Island, a self-sufficient island, where the aptly named Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Sanskrit for Goddess of the Sea, is located.

The Taaras itself is a vision of paradise. No matter which part of the resort you choose to stay in, it will give you visual pleasures, be it overlooking the ocean waters, or gorgeous landscapes of the garden, or the scenic steep cliffs of the island.  With 184 rooms and suites in various layouts, there is a perfect option for everyone. Even though everything about Taraas screams luxury, the ultimate in luxury and opulence is its Taaras Villa, with its dedicated butler service, gorgeous cliff-side location, and impressive 16m-infinity pool overlooking the bay.

Now, you can travel to Taaras in style following the recent partnership between the Berjaya Hotels Resorts with Prima Air, which provides chartered flights between Subang Airport and Berjaya Redang Island. Guests of The Taaras will be flown to the island using Prima Air’s 10-seater Cessna Grand Caravan EX light aircraft.

Imagine yourself strolling barefoot along a sandy beach while an aircraft flies low over the island. It is reminiscent of the opening scene from the 1980’s Fantasy Island TV show where one of the characters, Tattoo rings the tower bell while screaming “The plane, The plane” whenever he sees a plane coming to the island.

The Taaras has its own private beach with its powdery white sand and crystal clear water. Be warned though that in such an idyllic setting, you may not want to do anything except laze around on the beach or perhaps take a dip in the beautiful ocean in between that.

Knowing the thrill-seekers though, they will want to partake in both water and land activities such as diving, snorkeling, island hopping, kayaking, jungle trekking, and beach volleyball, to name a few. The resort has one of the best diving spots with a 5-star PADI Dive Resort Instructor Development Centre, if you are too lazy to go to the nearby marine park. There are also swimming pools for both adults and children at the resort, where you can rent various shapes of inflatable floats. Mind you, who can resist a unicorn and doughnut-shaped floats.

Guests can also charter the Berjaya Belle Private Yacht for a half or full day experience on the South China Sea exploring the nearby islands in search of dolphins or even whale sharks.

As for food and beverages, you can fill your stomach and quench your thirst at these in-house restaurants comprising the Beach Brasserie, the Asean All Day Dining, the Asean Terrace Lounge and the Bayu Bar.

In the evening, you can sit at the bar by the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset and at night, have a quiet conversation at the same open bar with the sound of soft and gentle waves hitting the shoreline in the background. You can listen to a live band or check into the karaoke rooms to belt out your favourite songs, watch a movie, or simply read a book at the modest library.

Taaras is indeed, a self-sufficient resort. It has everything that you need while holidaying in a secluded island. It even has a small village outside of the resort, where you can interact with the locals, if you feel like it. Oh, if you are in Taaras, don’t forget to look out for Jojo, Taaras’ very own resident turtle who might show up when you are snorkeling at the resort’s reef or turtle watching by glass-bottom boat.

GETTING HERE:

By Road:

All express/long-haul bus and coaches are available daily via the central bus terminal for eastern region (Hentian Putra Station) located near PWTC. The journey will take about 7-8 hours with several stops and the final stop will be at the Kuala Terengganu Terminal (MPKT). The Kuala Terengganu Shah Bandar Jetty is 5 minutes away where you can opt for public ferry transfer to Redang Island.

 

By Air:

The closest airport to Redang is the Kuala Terengganu Airport . There are various airlines flying in and out of this airport daily. Land and sea (at Merang Jetty) transfers are available with prior reservation. The accumulated journey is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

 

Chartered Flight – Prima Air:

The Wednesday, Friday and Sunday flights between Subang Airport and Redang Airport are scheduled as below:

Subang Airport to Redang Airport:

Depart at 11.30 am

Redang Airport to Subang Airport:

Depart at 2.30pm

 

WHO TO CONTACT

For more information, please contact:

The Taaras Beach Spa Resort,

Pulau Redang, 20928 Redang, Malaysia.

T : + 60 (3) 2149 1788 F : + 60 (3) 2149 1499

E : [email protected]

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Lingering at Lang Tengah Island

By Anis Rozalina Ramli

On the 45-minute boat journey from Merang, Terengganu, it was evident which of the many islands on the horizon belonged to Pulau Lang Tengah. It was the only one circled by a lone eagle, or lang, in flight.

The island’s geographical location, sandwiched between Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang, explains the other part of its name.

Like the middle child in a family, Pulau Lang Tengah does suffer somewhat from the middle child syndrome. It is often overlooked in favor of Pulau Redang’s famous marine park and Pulau Perhentian’s Long Beach – both having earned a following among tourists and backpackers from foreign countries.

When it comes to Pulau Lang Tengah, even the locals in Terengganu could only offer a blank stare as to its location.

Beautiful Rock formation on Pulau Lang Tengah

Well, perhaps, this disregard is not such a bad thing because, in the end, it puts Pulau Lang Tengah where it should be – left for the quiet enjoyment of those who truly appreciate the peaceful nature of this secluded gem in the South China Sea. Because unlike its siblings, Pulau Lang Tengah is best enjoyed unhurriedly, like that slow sip of fine champagne or the melting of a truly fine piece of chocolate on the tongue.

Without the crowd of lounging backpackers, swaggering divers, and tired-looking families, you get the sense that the island is all yours. There is no one around to block the sun while you sunbathe, no one to elbow at the buffet counter, no one to fight with over the last deck chair. With only a handful of resort operators spaced out on separate beaches on the island, there really is space for you to breathe and relax, whether on land or in the water.

Of course, when in the water, you might have to jostle about with the schools of fish, but again, that’s not a bad thing. Not when you have colorful parrot fish, silver needlefish, and sergeant fish coming up close to inspect their new swimming partner.

With just a mask, fins and, for safety, a life jacket, one can already enjoy what Pulau Lang Tengah serves up best – abundant marine life in its beautiful blue waters. Most resort operators here offer full-board package deals that already include a few snorkeling trips around the island.

Snorkeling off the beach easily offers encounters with colourful fish and corals. With a boat, snorkelers can explore the underwater world at other parts around the island like Batu Bulan, Karang Nibong and Blue Coral where the best snorkeling sites are Fry fish, silvery pompano, red-breasted Maori wrasse, snapper and masked rabbitfish are among the common underwater denizens. The various types of coral here include a table, boulder, brain, cabbage and staghorn corals.

There have been sightings of blacktip sharks around the rocky outcrops in the sea by snorkelers. Harmless, the guys at the dive shop say. Still, a close encounter with this shark may stir memories of another dorsal fin that struck fear in many. Besides spotting a shark or two, the other highlight would be to see turtles coming up to lay eggs on the beach at Turtle Bay. It happens but is a rare occasion. Guests can check with the resort operator for details.

For an even closer look at the underwater world, there is diving to be done. Most of the resorts on the island have their own dive shop with PADI-certified dive guides. The ten or so dive sites around the island are colourful feasts for the eyes.

So yes, despite being the hidden gem that it is, Pulau Lang Tengah has plenty to keep its guests occupied. But then, who cares about all that when you’ve come to escape from it all.

 

 

 

 

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DANANG, HUE IMPERIAL GROUND

Besides Hoi An, we visited Danang and Imperial grounds in Hue.

DANANG used to be a small fishing village before it was transformed into a modern city with a deep sea port.

The Dragon Bridge is one of the many bridges that crosses the Han River. The dragon head sprays out water and spits out fire every Saturday at 9.00 pm.



DANANG Bay has a very long beach and is very scenic.

Overlooking DANANG Bay is a 65 meters high of Kwan Ying, Goddess of Mercy. It glows at night where fishermen can see her from South China Sea.



Hue used to be the Imperial capital of Vietnam before it was colonised by the French in 1858.r

Entrance into Hue Imperial Grounds. A most surrounds the entire palace grounds.
Vietnam pushed out the French in 1950s.

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