Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Perak 2011

October 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

A traveller once said that what really makes a journey truly memorable was not where you went, but the people you meet and travel with. We learnt the truth of this statement during the Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia to Perak trip recently. We learnt that a grand palace filled with the finest finishings is nothing but a hollow meaningless artifice without the man who gifted it to his people as a museum; that a simple humble lunch turns into a joyous feast when affection and warmth are its main ingredients; and a simple media trip to Perak brings with it a trove of treasured memories just because of a bunch of complete strangers.

The media trip to Perak took place between 14th and 17th October 2011

And so we would like to share some of those memories with you, our readers, in hopes that you will find them as special as how they are to us.

We will start with the people who actually made this trip possible – Gaya Travel Magazine. As the organisers of the Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia to Perak 2011, they were more than mere hosts, their dedication and effort were equally matched with their warmth and sincerity. Their energy was infectious, and their carefree personalities set the easy-going, happy-go-lucky atmosphere throughout the trip. Although young, this team performed professionally, handling every challenge that came along with a welcome smile and a cheery remark. If we seem like we’re singing praises of them, it’s not because we want to be invited for upcoming trips, but because they’re just such a fun bunch to be with. Especially Ed.

The organisers of the trip, the Gaya Travel Magazine team. Really great job, guys and girls! The guy in the hat is Mr. Ed, not the horse

To be really honest, the most memorable part of the trip that everyone will NOT admit outright, was the fact that we loved being treated like royalty, thanks to Malaysia’s men in blue. This time around, we were accompanied by five dashing police officers from the Royal Malaysian Police. They made sure we were safe and, most importantly, that we got to our destinations on time. They may look stern, but they are actually very friendly, approachable and upright individuals. Thanks a lot, abang polis, because of you guys, we now know how VIPs feel when they travel. Trust us, that in itself, is a wonderful feeling.

From left to right – Jasasmurni, Shafik Izuan, Hassan, Malik, Abdul Latif. Their work ethics and professionalism are beyond compare.

At Kampung Beng, you will discover why the annual pilgrimage home known as balik kampung is something many Malaysians hold dear to their hearts. Here they wait, warm sincere smiling faces, waiting to greet complete strangers and welcome them into their homes. Willing to share everything they have, no matter how little or simple it may be, asking nothing in return except that we leave with fond memories of them and their village. Sememangnya syurga terletak di telepak kaki ibubapa – truly, paradise lies at the feet of our parents.

These ladies may be simple, but their charm lies in their elegance, sincerity and kindness.

The ladies of Kampung Beng hard at work preparing lunch for their guests

And what of Perak? The state is a beautiful place, surpassed only by the many lovely people who call it their home. The Tourism Malaysia, Perak Office welcomed us with open arms, and through them we realise that the best that Perak has to offer are its people, so many colourful and interesting personalities, and that they are what makes the state such a special place. Thank you, Puan Norshamshida, you and your staff made Perak so welcoming for all of us.

A very lovely lady with a great sense of humour. Can you spot the praying mantis on her head?

Dinah, one of the many volunteer rangers at the Taiping Zoo conducting a night safari tour, for us nonetheless

Mr Annuar Isa, the man behind the First Galleria in Taiping, is a man who loves to share what he knows about history

Mr Lingam, explaining the history of tin mining in Perak and its wide reaching consequences

Zamri, a local craftsman specialising in making labu sayong, ceramic water containers, happily answering all our questions

An elderly man selling soya bean drinks and bean curd. His stall in Ipoh, known as Kacang Soya Funny Mountain, actually has a drive thru service!

Mr Chin sharing with us the many stories about the sweet pomelo. That’s Ed in the red shirt by the way

The best kind of journey you can ever take is one where you all begin as strangers and end as friends. With that we would like to end this little stroll down memory lane by sharing some of the fun times we had getting to know our fellow travellers, no longer strangers, but kindred spirits and sincere friends. It was great spending time with all of you, we hope you enjoyed it too!

Our fellow travellers seated in the front of the bus

Our fellow travellers seated in the middle of the bus

Last but not least, our fellow travellers seated at the back of the bus

To our readers, we hope that your journeys will be filled with as many great memories as ours.

To see some more photos of the trip, make your way to the photo album on Facebook here.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Kathina at Wat Bukit Perak

October 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

What is a Wat? And what is Kathina? These are two terms that might be unfamiliar with some, especially Westerners. Wat is the term used mostly in the South East Asian region for a Buddhist temple or monastery. Buddhism heavily influenced the region, including the many kingdoms located in what is now Malaysia. Even today, there is a considerable percentage of Buddhists and numerous Buddhist wats in Malaysia. Some, like Penang’s Wat Chayamangkalaram – with its reclining Buddha – are famous, while others, like Wat Bukit Perak in Kampung Gajah Puteh, Kedah, serve as community centres and places of worship for local Buddhist communities.

The pagoda and a statue of Kuan Yin on the grounds of the wat

Many Buddhist observations, celebrations and festivals are conducted at these wats. Out of these, the Kathina is considered one of the most important. Kathina is a ceremony where robes and other requisites are presented by lay devotees to monks. Kathina marks the end of the Vassa period, a 3 month rainy season, during which monks remain inside monasteries and temple grounds. This year, Wat Bukit Perak will be holding its Kathina on Sunday, 30th October 2011 at the temple grounds in Kampung Gajah Puteh, Kedah.

There will be a simple program on 29th October 2011, the eve of Kathina, with the illumination of the temple and candle lighting around the pagoda at 7 pm, followed by chanting by the monks at 8 pm. On Sunday, the Kathina begins at 10:30 am with Puja service and the symbolic offering of rice in alms bowls.

This is followed by the Sanghadana at 11:30 am, when the monks receive the offerings of alms and have lunch. Lunch for devotees will follow at 12:30 pm. The circumambulating of the pagoda with Kathina robes will begin at 1:30pm and the ceremony will end with the presentation of Kathina robes and chanting by devotees and monks.

Those who are interested in attending are welcome to the Kathina. Any donations for Wat Bukit Perak’s Kathina are welcome as well. For more information, please visit the temple’s Facebook page

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Categories
Cuisine in Melaka

MELAKA AXES SFI RELOCATION PROPOSAL

Monday January 10, 2011
Malacca axes SFI relocation proposal

By MARTIN CARVALHO malacca@thestar.com.my

MALACCA: The state government has shelved a proposal to relocate the 131-year-old St Francis Institution, currently sitting within the Unesco World Heritage site, to Pulau Melaka.

This follows a deluge of requests on Facebook to allow the school to stay put at its current site.
Former Franciscans had campaigned against the idea of relocation on a Facebook page, We Dont Want St Francis Institution To Be Relocated, which garnered 1,000 responses in five days.

Status quo: The 131-year-old St Francis Institution will remain at its present location.
“I was surprised at the swift and overwhelming response from the school’s former students and the public,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who has agreed to overturn the earlier decision.

“I thank them for voicing their thoughts,” he told The Star, when contacted while on transit in Dubai on his way to attend the 39th World Boy Scouts Conference in Brazil.
“I understand that over 90% of them disagree with plans to relocate the school. So, the school can stay put,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mohd Ali said the state government would consider offering land to SFI and another school, SK Banda Hilir, on Pulau Melaka, touted as Malaysia’s first Twin Island City Centre.

The waterfront development project involves the reclamation of two islands, approximately 0.5km off the coast of Malacca new town centre.

The reclamation of the first island and construction of a 30m bridge linking it to the mainland has been completed.

The chief minister’s statement caused a furore among former SFI students, who launched their Facebook campaign to get feedback on the issue.

The issue of relocating the school, which has over 1,200 students, was first mooted in the early 1990s, following plans to convert the area and nearby St Paul’s Hill to a tourist hub. It was deferred following protests by former students.

Mohd Ali said the suggestion was meant to preserve the school building as an education museum, which will now be set up on Pulau Melaka instead.

Responding to the change of heart by the state government, SFI director Rev Bro Ambrose Loke said he was happy with the decision.

“I am glad the state has accepted the views of the former students and the public,” he said.
SFI Old Boys’ Association president Ong Eng Khiam said he was also happy.

“There is no need to turn SFI into a museum as it is already a living museum, with a rich legacy and is a tourist landmark,” he said.

Webmaster: I hope this decision covers SK Bandar Hilir (better known as BHES) as well. BHES is about 103 years old and we want a living school, not a museum devoid of the pupils. History is not about buildings and artifacts but buildings with people. The schools are where different generations of pupils have passed through their gates and nurtured by dedicated teachers.

We do not want these schools to be re-located in Melaka. In KL, famous schools such as Bukit Bintang Girls’ School and St. Mary’s were re-located because they sit on invaluable land in KL. These schools were there before development and they were part of the landscape of the city.