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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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5 things to do in Teluk Intan

Teluk Intan is a small town that is just 2-hours away from Kuala Lumpur. Once known as Teluk Anson, (Anson Bay) it was named in honour of Major-General Sir Archibald Edward Harbord Anson who planned for its modern township in 1882. A century later in 1982, the name was finally cemented as Teluk Intan which translates to ‘Diamond Bay’, where Perak rulers once held court for hundreds of years.

With a rich history solidified by ancient landmarks and friendly townspeople, Teluk Intan is sure to provide lasting memories for every visitor.

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For a town that is barely 127 square kilometres wide, it is surprisingly busy. With the town in constant motion, the hustle and bustle of people about their day allows for visitors to immerse themselves entirely with the pulse of the place. From it’s colonial architecture, to its accessibility to the river bank and its colourful shop lots, the different elements come together to give travellers a sense of paradise. It also has all the modern day essentials for the urban traveller with shopping malls, a movie theatre and fast food joints scattered around town.

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Of course, no trip to the riverside town would feel complete without fishing! For a fetching price of RM300 a day, you have the option to rent a boat from the town’s jetty and fish the day away! The calming waters and the cool and crisp breeze could just be what you need to escape the routine lifestyle. Just sit back and be part of nature. Leave it to the local boatmen to take you to the best fishing spots. While fishing, travellers (who are advised to bring a pair of binoculars) can engage with nature and enjoy some birdwatching. You will definitely walk away with a deeper appreciation for nature and seafood for dinner.

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Menara Jam Condong Teluk Intan or the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan is certainly a must visit. Built under the guidance of Leong Choon Chong, a 19th century contractor, this beautifully designed building was once used as a Japanese watchtower during World War 2 before becoming a national monument in 1957. Standing tall at height of 8-storey, this tower chimes every 15 minutes and only needs its mechanisms rewound every 7 days. Even though the tower looks like it has 8-storey, it actually only has 3 very tall floors. The lean of the tower is what makes it unique and is most prominent when standing in front of the tower. Although it is more of a tourist attraction nowadays, the tower was once used to store water for the town during a drought or in case of fire. A trip to Teluk Intan would certainly not be complete without a visit to this Malaysian wonder.

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No town in Malaysia would be the same without its street food! With a wide variety of choices, Teluk Intan’s street food has all the local delicacies along with food native to the town. Eateries are accessible and available at any hour of the day. Freshly made ‘Mee Rebus’ (blanched noodles) and ‘Chee Cheong Fan’ (rice noodle rolls) are available for the hungry traveller regardless of the hour. Among the local desserts found is the famed ‘Apom Balik’ (turnover pancake). It is believed that the best stall for this dessert is located near the Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan. The stall that is manned by a charming Malay couple that have served this delightful dessert for years.

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Teluk Intan is also known for their fruit orchards and the produce can be seen with the availability of fruits everywhere. Travellers should not miss the chance to sample the assortment of fruits sold by street vendors. There are dozens of dusuns (fruit orchards) bearing all sorts of fruits from bananas, papayas, dragon fruit, mangoes and jambu batu (guava) to the local specialty, pineapples. A visit to the ‘Bazar Nanas Kampung Selabak’ (Kampung Selabak Pineapple Bazaar) is a must for any fruit lover. Fruists sold here are fresh from the orchard with a new batch arriving every 3 to 4 days. Besides fruit, the bazaar also offers other locally made snacks and condiments such as wild honey, rojak sauce (black fish paste sauce to be mixed with fruits) and another local delicacy, salted fish.

For an up close experience of the Teluk Intan Leaning Tower, check out this video:

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A budget guide to travelling Malaysia

By Lloyd Green

Okay, if you’re coming to Malaysia to spend two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands, you’re probably not going to do it on the cheap. But there’s also plenty of people who pass through Malaysia on their way north from Singapore en route to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

For these people, every dime is important and in a city like KL where extravagance is flashed in your face on every corner, finding things suited to your budget can be difficult. This also applies to travelling across Malaysia, with knowledge of how and when to travel, important to your attempts at saving money.

So let’s start with your arrival.

If, like most people, you arrive in Malaysia by air at either KLIA or KLIA2 terminals and have booked accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, you will have a few options of varying cost and duration to reach your destination. Often backpackers fly blind during this process and can waste money without even knowing it. The KLIA Express train is the fastest way to and from the KLIA airports from KL Sentral, but it is not the cheapest.

shutterstock_209459323 (Picture by Sorbis / Shutterstock.com)

The cheapest route to Kuala Lumpur is by bus with a one-way ticket for adults from KLIA or KLIA2 terminals to KL Sentral priced at 10 Ringgit. Peak hour traffic in Kuala Lumpur can cause lengthy delays, so if you are on a tight schedule and want to get to the city as soon as possible, KLIA Express train is the best option. It takes 28 minutes and is RM55. If you want to save five Ringgit make sure you pay with your credit card at the kiosk and not at the counter. It will be RM50.

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(Picture by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com)

In terms of accommodation, there are two main places to stay for backpackers; Changkat in Bukit Bintang and Chinatown not far from Pasar Seni LRT station. There’s a host of backpacker accommodation in both areas with single rooms as cheap as RM40-50 and dorms beds priced at around 20 Ringgit. Of course, the quality of your hostel will vary with price. Changkat is closer to KL’s nightlife, KLCC and the Petronas Twin Towers, but Chinatown is more conveniently located near the city’s main transportation hub — KL Sentral. Many coaches to Malacca, Johor Bahru, Penang and Ipoh now leave from TBS bus station, which is approximately 20 minutes from KL Sentral.

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Jalan Alor off Changkat is foodie-central with Chinese seafood restaurants and hawker stalls selling an array of local delicacies and international cuisines until the wee hours of the morning. Petaling Street in Chinatown is also famous for food with its night market chock-full of shops and stalls selling goods and street food. Be aware, both of these areas are aimed at tourists and as such prices can be inflated.

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(Picture by Calvin Chan / Shutterstock.com)

Most of KL’s main attractions are aimed at families, couples and those who are dazzled by the bright lights, so if you prefer a bit of adventure but want to stay within in the perimeters of the city I suggest you check out Petaling Jaya and in particular areas such as Subang where an urban youth culture has evolved. If you are able to make friends with locals, that’s even better and ask them to take you out of KL City. The food in areas such as Klang, Petaling Jaya, Ampang and Cheras is just as good (and cheaper) and is where most of the locals eat. Also keep an eye out for local night markets known as Pasar Malam. They offer amazing delicacies and fresh produce and are more authentic than the ones in the city. If you want a quiet night at the cinema, Wednesday is the cheapest evening with tickets as cheap as 10 to 12 Ringgit.

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Just a stones throw away from KL are a places such as Chilling Falls and Broga Hill. These are quite popular amongst locals and provide a nice respite from the concrete jungle of the city. They are free and relatively easy to get to by car. Check out the best places for hiking, camping and waterfalls in and around Kuala Lumpur here.

Budget guide 3(Picture by Travelblog.com)

The bus and train are the cheapest options for making your way around Peninsular Malaysia. For Ipoh, catch the rain as Ipoh Railway Station is located in the centre of town, whereas the coach terminal is some 15 minutes away. You will only save five Ringgit if you catch the bus. The bus from KL to Penang is the best option as it takes you directly to the island and within five minutes of George Town. If you want relax on Malaysia’s famed beaches like Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands, the bus and ferry is the way to go.

shutterstock_115589299For those interested in checking out Borneo’s wildlife, make sure you book your flights to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in advance as flights to East Malaysia can be expensive.

Strangely, food prices also vary between Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia with Indian food slightly more pricier in Borneo. Popular music festivals such the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak and the Penang Jazz Festival on the mainland are relatively cheap compared to other international events, but again book in advance to save yourself some cash.

A great, inexpensive way to see Malaysia is to volunteer. Malaysia offers volunteering opportunities for every taste and interest: from wildlife projects in the untamed jungle of Borneo to teaching English to children in urban and rural environments. Most places provide free accommodation and sometimes food and you’ll have access to remote communities you probably never knew existed. Read more here.

When exiting Malaysia, consider the bus trip north to Hat Yai in Thailand. It is less than 60 Ringgit and you can split the journey up by stopping over in Penang for the night. Cheap flights from KL to popular tourist destinations in Asia such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines can be found via Air Asia, but any additional items such as luggage over 20 kilograms can increase the price.

In summary, Malaysia is a wonderful place to explore and the more adventurous you are, the better your experience will be. Doing it on the cheap is possible but having a friend to show you around or give you advice definitely helps with your budget.

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Things To Do At Night In KL

By Lloyd Green

Lost at what to do at night in Kuala Lumpur? Never fear, we have all your answers.

Open Mic Nights Live Music
KL’s live music scene has it all, and now with the emergence of conceptualised musician-friendly venues, the depth of KL’s talent pool is booming. For a chilled-out evening, check out the open mic sessions at Merdekarya and Gaslight Cafe Music. These laid back music shacks hosts regular open mics before that evening’s featured performer. At Gaslight, it’s strictly folk, country, jazz, blues and soul with antique records from the 60s and 70s available for purchase. Merdekarya has an ‘originals only’ policy, attracting anything from dark, singer songwriter ballads to fusion punk, hip-hop acts. Live Fact is a DIY, self-sustaining space for gigs, band rehearsals, meetings and has already played host to a number of Indie gigs, including a two-day showcase of Swedish bands. No Black Tie has been a stalwart of the KL live music scene for over 14 years and is the birthplace of many Malaysian independent artists. Besides jazz performances, it features bands that play lively Brazilian beats as well as blues and roots.

blog 16.06 pic 1Photo by http://www.livehouse.my/homepage-2/rooms/lol-live-house/

Stand-Up Comedy
 Up for a few laughs? Check out Kuala Lumpur’s comedy scene with stand up events and open mic nights throughout the week. Enjoy the feel of international, big city comedy at the LOL Room @ Live House. Combining chic design with a group of comedians that know how to deliver, this venue packs a punch with early evening comedy shows followed by live music giving you the ultimate live entertainment experience. Crackhouse Comedy holds title as KL’s first dedicated comedy venue and hosts nightly shows featuring the best local, regional and international comics. Expect every joke under the sun, with with improv nights on Thursday’s and raw, unfiltered open mics on Wednesday’s where both veteran comedians and newbies can test their material. PJ Live Arts has played host to a number of local and international shows, with their weekly Tuesday night One Mic Stand show always a hit. It’s also Malaysia’s first open mic platform for stand-up comedy in Malay.

Food Night Markets
Jalan Alor off Changkat is foodie-central with Chinese seafood restaurants and hawker stalls selling an array of local delicacies and international cuisines until the wee hours of the morning. Petaling Street in Chinatown is also famous for food with its night market chock-full of shops and stalls selling goods and street food. If you prefer a bit of adventure check out the hawker-style food in Klang, Petaling Jaya, Ampang and Cheras. It’s just as good as the tourist hotspots and is where most of the locals eat. Also keep an eye out for local night markets known as Pasar Malam. They offer amazing delicacies and fresh produce and are more authentic than the ones in the city. The Monday Pasar Malam next to Setiawangsa LRT station is a hive of activity with stall owners spruiking their fresh produce from early evening until late. Another popular location is the Fiesta Nite Market in Mont Kiara. The market takes place every Thursday in the main courtyard of Mont Kiara and offers visitors a variety of local and international food as well as clothes, jewelry, accessories, bags, toys, books and hand made soaps.

shutterstock_204589072Photo by Calvin Chan / Shutterstock.com

Something Different
Multipurpose venues hosting social activities like trampoline parks, paintball and dodgeball are becoming increasingly popular and are great for late night reunions, work functions and family gatherings. Locations such as Jump Street in Petaling Jaya and Xtion Paintball Park in Bukit Jalil can cater for all kinds of activities including trampoline dodgeball. There are even regular dodgeball competitions and social leagues organised by the Malaysian Association of Dodgeball held throughout the city. Simply join a club or league and remember your five D’s: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. There are also various styles of dance classes on offer around the city, particularly those that double as workouts like Salsa, Zumba and Burlesque. Havana Estudio is regarded as the first salsa dance school in KL and hosts a range of other dance classes in addition to its marquee calorie-burning salsa lessons.

blog 16.06 pic 2Photo by https://www.jumpstreetasia.com/events-programs/programs/dodgeball

If all that fails, you can always grab a ticket to the movies.

About the Author

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Ethical transport destination: Malaysia

Ethical transport destination: Malaysia

Multi-ethnic, abounding in enlightenment and biodiversity, Malaysia is both a place we wish to revisit and don’t wish to spoil by being an “ugly tourist”.

By “spoil” we meant minister to overdevelopment, thereby watering down a normal enlightenment or even destroying a inlet that brought we here in a initial place. “Ugly” tourism fails to honour a internal enlightenment or sourroundings and rather draws people usually for a weather, waves and levity on a wallet.

Bako National Park, Borneo. Pic: tbSMITH (Flickr CC).

Bako National Park, Borneo. Pic: tbSMITH (Flickr CC).

Ethical travel, on a other hand, does a reverse. The reliable traveller wants to give something behind – and we don’t meant dull drink bottles or even some avocation giveaway shopping. The thought of reliable tourism is not usually to minimise a tourist’s disastrous impact on a destination, yet to try to make things better. An reliable holiday in Malaysia can take a form of proffer vacations (volun-tourism), eco-tourism and tolerable travel. These categories can be distinct, yet can also overlie considerably.

Let’s start with an reliable holiday activity in Malaysia that doesn’t engage a implausible healthy beauty. Hard to believe? Read on.

Ethical business

The Downtown Night Market in a collateral Kuala Lumpur facilities hundreds of marketplace stalls that occupy or are owned by recuperating drug addicts. It was started by a recovered addict who wanted to emanate a plan to assistance ex-addicts stay clean. KL Downtown has now turn a city’s largest night bazaar.

From the BBC:

“The concert (open from 10 pm to 4 am) is a outrageous pull for tourists […] charity all from local, handmade batik fabrics to transport food to feet massages to five-minute haircuts. On weekends, a marketplace invites internal dancers and musicians to perform on a stage. A apportionment of all deduction go to Kuala Lumpur’s Pengasih rehab centre.”

The Downtown Night Market is a good approach to do your holiday selling and assistance a locals assistance themselves.

Volun-tourism

Malaysia has opposite options for volun-tourism including operative on organic farms, volunteering during organizations that strengthen involved sea turtles from poachers, educational stays during orangutan reconstruction centers and more. These stints can be total with eco holidays. A stay during an organic plantation competence follow or convey a jungle trek or stream expedition. Some diving schools incorporate operative with turtle charge projects into their activities.

Turtle in Malaysian Borneo. Pic: LKEM (Flickr CC).

Turtle in Malaysian Borneo. Pic: LKEM (Flickr CC).

Other examples of volun-tourism embody training English in multiple with environmental recognition and there are internships/positions accessible that can final several months. Alternatively another instance would be to revisit an void island to observe seahorses and widespread recognition of their plight.

A illusory classification and apparatus for volun-tourism as good as reliable transport and eco-travel in Malaysia is Wild Asia. Other useful links include Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm and Bubbles Dive Resort.

Homestays

A homestay in a normal encampment is a good approach of experiencing a authentic, nation lives of Malaysia’s genealogical cultures. Your appreciation and financial support encourages these villages to safety their approach of life. It’s also a good approach to see how these normal communities live harmoniously with inlet and to conclude their abounding internal biodiversity.

Homestays can also be total with rainforest camping, jungle movement and rafting trips. See Peraya Homestay for some-more information.

Rainforest lodges and eco-resorts

Though reduction romantic in nature, yet high in environmental recognition are stays in Malaysia’s eco-lodges and identical resorts. These holidays are ideal for those peaceful to spend a small some-more who maybe don’t wish to severe it by volunteering or embracing a normal encampment lifestyle. However these people still caring about Malaysia’s implausible inlet and wish to knowledge it in ethical style and comfort.

Rainforest resort, Taman Kota. Pic: CDN Harv (Flickr CC).

Rainforest resort, Taman Kota. Pic: CDN Harv (Flickr CC).

Rainforest lodges are situated in healthy parks surrounded by Malaysia’s pleasant rainforest. Other forms of eco-resorts embody lush island accommodation on beaches adjacent to mangrove forests and even floating resorts located off a coast.

All rainforest lodges and eco resorts are tighten to inlet and offer plenty opportunities to observe wildlife, such as orangutans, and attend in several nature-based activities like jungle trekking, swimming, rafting, diving and snorkeling.

See Eco Tropical Resorts and Bagus Place for some good rainforest and eco-lodge ideas.

Nature inlet nature!

Most (though not all) of a above varieties of reliable tourism engage Malaysia’s astoundingly biodiverse healthy environment. Malaysia is believed to enclose around 20 percent of a world’s animal class with a high commission of autochthonous species. Two thirds to 3 buliding of a nation are lonesome in forestland. Tourism that encourages a refuge of this different biodiversity is inherently ethical. This means holding advantage of Malaysia’s 26 inhabitant parks and countless state parks and inlet reserves.

Use it (ethically) or remove it!

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