This blogspot is being created to promote visitors to historic Melaka.
We hope to write our comments and views on the development of the tourism sector in Melaka so that old cultural jewels can be retained and new ones generated to attract more visitors to our Melakan shores.
For us to continue our journey, we like to invite visitors to pen their comments and views so that we can create a sustainable and vibrant tourism sector in Melaka.
They say travel broadens the mind, and I totally agree with that statement. However, the more I travel, the more I begin to appreciate all things back home, be it food, culture, nature or even our wildlife. I mean we saved enough money to go all the way to Africa for example, so that we can see the lions or cheetahs running wild in their own habitat but did it ever cross our mind to do the same thing in our own country. Do we even know what kind of species of wildlife that are unique to our country or native to the Asian region?
I wonder whether we care enough about our wildlife to do at least the simplest thing or take the smallest step to conserve and protect our animals whether they are endangered or not.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu
My quest to learn more about our wildlife had taken me all the way to the east coast of Sabah, Lahad Datu, to be exact. It is where Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the largest of its kind in Malaysia is located. Mind you, it took me about 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach the wildlife reserve from the airport in Tawau. I chose to stay at the river lodge owned by Tabin Wildlife Resort, which was located within the wildlife reserve.
While waiting for
the sun to go down so that I could go for the night safari, I took the
opportunity to visit its Visitor Centre to learn more about the wildlife
reserve. This was where I met Puntung, well, the mummified remains of her, that
is. Puntung was one of the last trio of the Sumatran Rhinos that lived in
captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve after the species was declared extinct
by the Government of Malaysia in 2015. I could hardly hold back my tears when the
guide told me the story of Puntung’s life. When they found her in the wild in
2011, she was missing a front left foot, believed to be caught in a poacher’s
snare when she was a baby and yet she survived for so many years in isolation.
However, Puntung had to be euthanized in 2017 because she was suffering from
Last May, we also lost the only male rhino we had, Tam, who died of old age. Right now, Iman is the nation’s sole remaining member of its species in Malaysia but she is also suffering from cancer. The Borneo Rhino Alliance or BORA, a non-profit company, had tried so hard to keep the Sumatran Rhinos from going extinct but it wasn’t meant to be. The heartbreaking story of our Sumatran rhinos made me feel helpless but at the same time just made me more determined to go and see our native animals in the wild as many as I can before they disappeared.
Finally, the time had come for me to take a ride on the makeshift truck to hunt for the nocturnal animals in the wild, and instead of a rifle, I was equipped with camera and handphones. I was hoping to see some magnificent creatures along the way, but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough. However, I did get to see the pygmy elephants’ droppings and footprints though. I suspected my guide was one of those nocturnal creatures himself because his eyesight was so sharp, he could spot a small flying squirrel on top of the trees in the dark of the night. For the first time ever, I got to see a flying squirrel glided through the air between trees in the blink of an eye, thanks to my guide.
We spotted a Buffy Fish Owl trying to capture its victim at the lake, hornbills, a family of civets climbing up the trees probably looking for a new home, a couple of Bornean wild cats roaming between the tall grass looking for rats and that’s about it. It’s probably not much but the experience was exhilarating and it was such a great feeling to know that our wildlife can roam free at this wildlife reserve and I could just imagine the orangutans making their nests to sleep at night deep in the forest, and somewhere out there the pygmy elephants (the world’s smallest elephant) were having the time of their lives. And also, during the whole journey, don’t forget to look up because you will get to see all the beautiful twinkling stars with your own naked eyes, something that you can’t experience in the big cities.
The next morning, I went for a short hike to check out the well-known Lipad mud volcano and I was so glad to see an eagle, one of the eight species of hornbill, a monitor lizard and the macaques along the way. The active Lipad Mud Volcano is an elevated muddy hill with warm, salty mud bubbling from below the surface almost continuously; occasionally, the mud volcanoes have mild eruptions that add to their height and scatter small stones around. It is an area frequented by wildlife and birds for much-needed minerals and nourishment – and the evidence is in the foot/paw prints left behind on the grey mud. I saw a few footprints of the pygmy elephants at the mud volcano. While there, I came across a couple of tourists returning from the mud volcano and was informed that they camped all night at the observation tower at the mud volcano to spy on the animals that visited the place at night. Oh my, why didn’t I think of that?
Kinabatangan River, Bilit Village
My plan to chase the wildlife of Borneo did not end at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. This lowland part of Sabah has plenty of spots for wildlife sightings. I took another one hour and a 22-minute journey to the Lahad Datu airport to fly to Sandakan for another wildlife adventure. After the half an hour flight, I arrived at the Sandakan airport and went straight to Bilit in Kinabatangan, which took me about 2 hours and 9 minutes to reach the place. I chose to stay at the Mynes Resort, which was situated on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Upon arriving at the resort, my guide brought me straight to the jetty for a river cruise. My aim was to take a closer look at Sabah’s most famous primates – the proboscis monkeys or also known as the “dutch monkeys”, as well as the orangutans.
The cruise took about 45-minutes and at first all I saw were the macaques and gibbons until the boatman suddenly steered the boat closer to the river bank, and that was when I saw a male proboscis monkey with its harem munching on leaves while sitting on the branches on the top of the trees. Oh, what a beautiful sight! Endemic to Borneo, these endangered monkeys are easily recognisable because of their comical appearance e.g. big noses and protruding bellies. Compared to other exotic creatures in Sabah, the proboscis monkey is the most likely to be spotted in the wild, due to their proximity to the rivers. I was a bit disappointed about not being able to spot orangutans, pygmy elephants or even Irrawaddy dolphins, but sunset at the Kinabatangan River was simply breathtaking, that I can guarantee.
The next morning I took another chance on the river cruise because I wanted to see more of the wildlife there. Lo and behold, I got more than I bargained for because my guide spotted a huge female crocodile on the river bank patiently waiting for its prey while a baby crocodile was playing near the water. I was, you can say, entranced by the size and beauty of the crocodile. This was my first time seeing wild crocodiles in their natural element. It was exhilarating but also a bit scary. I could just imagine their massive jaws crushing down on their victim before drowning it. But that was the highlight of my morning cruise though. On the way back, I spotted a troop of silver leaf monkeys, and pig-tailed macaques. Not bad for an early morning cruise but I was a happy camper, after all I was dealing with nature, and they didn’t follow our rules, we followed theirs. So I left Bilit with beautiful memories and headed back towards the city of Sandakan for another 2-hour plus journey.
I know that orangutans live a solitary existence so it is almost impossible to see them in their natural habitat, which was why I made the decision to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located about 25km north of Sandakan. This internationally well-known centre helps rehabilitate the orphaned, injured and displaced orangutans before returning them to the wild. I arrived early to secure the best spot at the feeding platform so that I could get a closer look at our beloved orangutans. I started to get excited when I saw two rangers arriving with fruits and sugar canes and placing them on the feeding platform, approximately 60 feet from the viewing platform. It was just my luck I guess, no orangutans turned up to eat the fruits that day. So many international visitors were there waiting patiently for the orangutans to appear but we all left with disappointment.
However, fret not because there was an outdoor nursery, which was just a short walk from the feeding platform where you can watch orphaned youngsters at play. I spent almost half an hour observing the youngsters eating and playing behind the glass window. When the youngsters were moved to the outdoor nursery, it meant that they had become more independent and were less emotionally dependent to their care-takers, and for that I am thankful for the hard work done by the staff at the rehabilitation centre.
I ended my quest to see as many wildlife as I can in the lowland of Sabah by visiting one of my favourite animals, the cute sun bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC), just next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The BSCC is the only sun bear conservation centre in the world. I must tell you that sun bear is listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. So, I suggest that you add seeing sun bear before they disappear in your bucket list. The sun bear is the smallest and the second rarest bear species, after the giant panda. Wouldn’t you feel proud to have such rare bears in your own backyard? Once I met them, it was love at first sight. They were just so adorable, thus making you feel like wanting to protect them from any threat. All 43 of them at the centre were rescued sun bears.
If you plan to visit
the centre, look up for the lovable Mary, the cutest little sun bear I have
ever seen and she’s very friendly towards us, human despite her sad upbringing.
She was captured by poachers and kept as a house pet in Ranau district (West
coast part of Sabah). Due to her unbalanced diet, she showed symptoms of
calcium deficiency like walking in an abnormal way and shorter body structure.
Now that Mary’s physical condition has improved, she can climb around like
other bears. And if you are lucky, you will get to meet the founder of the
centre, the Penang-born wildlife biologist Dr. Wong Siew Te who was once hailed
as a CNN Hero. (CNN Heroes is created by the American Cable News Network to
honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and
make a difference in their communities).
It is my hope that this article can help evoke the interest among Malaysians to visit the east coast of Sabah to see the wildlife that is endemic to Borneo. Many of them are either extinct, endangered or vulnerable, so it is not too late for us to explore those places and the most important thing is the proceeds will go to protecting more habitats and conservation activities. It means that playing tourist can actually help save, protect and conserve our wildlife.
The social recognition has now made mural a form of arts with a status. From Berlin to Rio de Janeiro; from Bronx, New York to the fame London’s Banksy, murals are taking its rightful place in other part of the world – slowly but surely.
Murals in Malaysia are broad in themes and subjects. Decorating (forgotten sides of) a town – murals in Malaysia now take centre stage, presented by talented local artists – or talents from afar.
Today, there are many places in Malaysia embrace murals or street art – Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and other cities, but let’s update some selected venues for you to grab your camera and – smile!!
This year, Penang street art took another accolade after awarded as the 7th Most Instagrammed City for Street Art in the world. Well certainly, Penang streets outshine the most, if you are looking for something different. By combining a life-size images, plus the original piece or 3D objects, murals in Penang are ‘interactive and real’.
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic revitalised Georgetown with his unique take on street art featuring children. Pieces like Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur and Boy on Bike are so cool that you can’t help but want to pose with them, commented https://thefreedomtravellers.com.
So just stroll down the lanes, and take your own sweet time to admire some of the finest ‘free souvenirs’ from Penang. Mind that Georgetown is not only place to find the murals, but also Balik Pulau is also picking up the trend. In fact, Russian artist Julia Volchkova painted her Old Fisherman and Silat (2015) murals there.
Even though the publicity of art murals in Malaysia is dominated by Penang, Malacca also stepped up their game in the street art scene. The state known for its rich history and culture also jumped on the bandwagon with their River Art Project in 2012 where 9 groups of graffiti artists collaborated to produce artworks on buildings along Bandar Hilir river, making art to beautify the city with more Malaysian elements. Aside from the project, many guesthouses and hotels along the river also feature street art murals to add a touch of personality to their walls. An example of this is the “Welcome to Malacca” mural that decorates the side of the 906 Riverside Hotel.
Local artist Charles Cham has a number of notable murals that grace the more famous buildings in Malacca Old Town such as his mural on the wall of “The Orangutan House” and the more political “Freedom of Speech” mural. Just like the street art in Penang, there are many murals in the streets of Malacca that incorporate the element of interaction with the visitors.
In an alley near Jalan Hang Kasturi, there is an interactive murals lane where the art includes perspective-altering images which allows visitors to pose creatively to create the impression as if the visitors are also a part of the art created. More recently, the cosmetics brand Kiehl’s commissioned for the walls of its store in Jonker Street to be filled with street art that portrays vibrant colours as a celebration of Malaysia’s colourful heritage.
The long lines of olden Chines brick shop houses in Ipoh, offer much opportunities for street artists to pen their colours. Like a big canvas, the theme is very much associated to the once a mining town.
So in 2014, Ipoh introduced the Mural Art trail in collaboration with the City Council of Ipoh, – again – Ernest Zacharevic and the Ipoh coffee brand Old Town White Coffee. To make it better, they came up with an Ipoh Mural Art Trail map depicts nine street art mural locations together with GPS coordinates.
As an icing on the cake, another local talent Eric Lai, added up his pieces depicting rich cultural heritage of Malaysia in a joyful and playful way. Now you know why Lonely Planet picked up Ipoh as their favourite destination before!
The small town in Johor – Muar – keep the best secret of Malaysian street art for years now. Elegantly adorning the walls of the shop houses, many artists contributed to the decoration of the town which focus on the ‘Malaysian faces and activities’.
For examples, Julia Volchkova’s ‘Loving Sisters’ embraces the love theme of life, and touches our inner feeling with calmness and harmony. Hailed as the biggest mural in Malaysia, it stands out proudly at 11.8 meters x 10 meters in size.
My all-time favourite artist, Volchkova always able to present an ultra realistic piece of artwork, which connect to local elements and sentiments. Caratoes, a Belgium-born artist, also contributed with his works of many themes that made Muar a colourful town to visit.
Not to be left out, the cultural city of Kota Bharu, Kelantan in East Coast, instils a fresh breath onto street art in Malaysia. With interesting themes and vibrant colours, Kota Bharu offers a new outlook for tourists to be part of the town’s heritage.
Try walk past the amusing Riverside area, or the Jalan Dato’ Pati, Kota Bharu, which houses Palestine Street Alley art and around 20 artworks – with different local and international images. These variety of themes and styles – either pop art or realism – simply catch your eyes and thought-provoking. You’ll be amazed that even the road is turned into painted carpets!
Local artists Fazirul Ezran and many more contributed to the scene.
Darul Hana Bedestrian bridge spanning the Sarawak river
‘Sarawak’s gateway city of Kuching is a quick hop from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, loaded with heritage, culture and culinary discovery. From a Kiwi perspective, it’s still an under-the-radar destination as Mike Yardley writes.
It’s easy to fast become enamoured with Kuching, sweeping you up in its warm, hospitable and clingy tropical embrace.’
Kuala Lumpur, 8th September 2019 – ‘Sarawak Ethos’, the latest initiative by the Sarawak Tourism Board (‘STB’) in collaboration with Old Kuching Smart Heritage (‘OKSHE’), was showcased at the 16th Piala Seri Endon (PSE) Competition Finals, held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre today. The showcase revealed a range of Sarawak batik collection to boost visibility of the Sarawak ‘brand’, encapsulating various aspects of Sarawak in the design.
Sarawak Ethos batik collection was introduced by a local design-house, Batique Sdn. Bhd. (‘Batique’) in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM) fashion school. The theme chosen for this Designers’ Showcase, was inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Sarawak, depicted in the usage of motifs from ‘Melayu’ Sarawak and the indigenous communities of Sarawak.
This 16th Edition of the PSE was graced by the DYMM Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah binti Al-Marhum Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj. This annual batik design competition was organised by Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia (PENYAYANG). Founded by the late Tun Paduka Datin Seri Endon Mahmood in 2003 as part of the “Malaysia Batik – Crafted for the World Movement”, it seeks to discover and provide a platform for support, recognition and encouragement of Malaysia’s batik-making talents.
According to Batique Director and shareholder, Shaharom Nor Azlina Merican, “We are indeed privileged to be given this opportunity by PENYAYANG, to showcase our newly-designed batik collection at this prestigious event, inspired by various aspects of Sarawak. We chose to present batik in the light of Sarawak as we believe that there is much more to discover from Sarawak that could inspire ideas of motifs and designs in batik-making. Aptly, STB and OKSHE have come forward to sponsor our collection as well as the ‘Sarawak Ethos’ showcase, reflecting their full commitment to ensure that the visibility of the ‘Sarawak brand’ is also ‘stamped’ in the batik and fashion arena.”
According to Azlina, the first collection, a range of elegant Batique’s shawls and evening wraps, inspired by ‘Bunga Tabor’ and ‘Mawar’ depicting Sarawak’s Malay heritage from the ‘Songket’ and ‘Keringkam’. “The ‘Tudung Keringkam’, which is a luxurious veil heavily embroidered with gold thread, has been the crowning glory of the Melayu Sarawak traditional wear for centuries and has been passed down as priceless family heirlooms. As a fitting tribute, OKSHE had specially flown in the intricately-designed ‘Keringkam’ to be featured together with our Sarawak batik collection,” she added.
The showcase also featured the ‘Lembayung Collection’ – a set of four beautifully designed evening wear which reflects various natural shades of blue to depict the sky, water and the atmosphere, symbolic of Sarawak’s vast primeval, rich ecological and environmental natural assets.
The highlight of ‘Sarawak Ethos’ was Batique’s contemporary collection – a collection of casual and formal wear, illustrating motifs of “buah bangkit”, “pating betulak” and “buah anyam” captured from the renowned Pua Kumbu theme.
The sponsorship by STB and OKSHE is in line with Sarawak’s aggressive promotional campaign ‘Sarawak – More to Discover’, which seeks to share what Sarawak has to offer in the areas of Culture, Adventure, Nature, Food and Festival (‘CANFF’). The Sarawak Ethos theme encapsulates and shares a glimpse of Culture and Nature of Sarawak.
“Batique aims to ‘contemporarise’ Malaysian batik, providing quality batik wear and products at affordable prices. We hope to present our batik collection in a more attractive and ‘contemporary package’ in terms of motifs and design, so that Malaysians will one day embrace batik as, not only formal wear but also casual, daily wear. We believe it is high-time that batik, as our heritage, be ‘revived’ in modern light, as a trend for the younger generation. The PSE is a wonderful platform to achieve this objective and the support of organisations like STB and OKSHE will further boost the batik industry, at the same time sharing Sarawak-themed batik. We hope that the ‘Sarawak Ethos’ collection will entice the audience to find out more about Sarawak batik and traditional wear,” added Azlina.
This 16th edition of PSE saw 46 entries and 12 finalists vying for prizes in the Fashion, Soft Furnishing and Handicraft categories. The competition aims to highlight new-batik making talents besides injecting creativity and excitement in the batik industry. It also provides a platform for new fashion, fabric and product designers to test their abilities against some of the best talents in the batik industry.
Also present at the event were Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) YB Datuk Mohammaddin Bin Ketapi, Secretary General of MOTAC YBhg Datuk Isham Ishak, Deputy State Secretary Performance Transformation and Service Delivery, Sarawak State Government, Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, ASEAN-Malaysia National Secretariat director-general Datuk Ahmad Rozian Abd Ghani, Member of Parliament of Permatang Pauh YB Nurul Izzah Anwar, CEO of Yayasan Budi Penyayang Datuk Leela Mohd Ali, CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Puan Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor and Batique MD Mohd Said Bani C. M Din.
In conjunction with PSE 2019, the 2nd ASEAN Lifestyle Week will also be held. It is a three-day lifestyle exhibition under the framework of ASEAN’s economic and cultural diversity, which will make Kuala Lumpur as a one-stop centre for buyers and sellers as well as elevate Malaysia’s art and culture scene.
The ‘Tudung Keringkam’, which is a luxurious veil heavily embroidered with gold thread, has been the crowning glory of the Melayu Sarawak traditional wear for centuries and has been passed down as priceless family heirlooms.
‘Lembayung Collection’ – a set of four beautifully designed evening wear which reflects various natural shades of blue to depict the sky, water and the atmosphere, symbolic of Sarawak’s vast primeval, rich ecological and environmental natural assets.
The Sarawak Ethos Batik collection showcased at the 16th Piala Seri Endon (PSE) Competition Finals, from left, CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Puan Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor, Batique MD Mohd Said Bani C. M Din and Deputy State Secretary Performance Transformation and Service Delivery, Sarawak State Government, Datu Dr Sabariah Putit
A kaleidoscope of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals: is the best description for Sarawak. Sarawak comprises 27 ethnic tribes with their own unique traditions, lifestyles, music and food, while sharing their warm hospitality. Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak, endowed with some of the oldest rainforests on Earth. Its vast landscape spans over 120,000 sq kms, with towering mountains and cool highlands, jagged limestone formations and mysterious cave systems, winding rivers and quiet beaches; where adventures are waiting to happen. Festivals are hosted throughout the year celebrate the eclectic blend of modern and traditional culture, food, music and religious practices that can be found nowhere else. In Sarawak, there is always ‘More to Discover’.
About Sarawak Tourism Board
Sarawak Tourism Board is the key promoter for Sarawak. STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines World Music Magazine (2011 – 2015) and won the Golden City Gate 2019 five-star award for the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) promotional video.
The Old Kuching Smart Heritage (OKSHe) initiative encompasses Historical Monuments Heritage, Kampung Heritage, Business Heritage and Rainforest Heritage, covering large areas of the city from old Padungan to Kubah Ria. Explore these trails to uncover a wealth of Kuching heritage offerings.