Categories
Tourism Malaysia

20 Must-Have Souvenirs from Malaysia

If you are anything like me,
you will look for the MOST interesting, out-of-the-ordinary souvenir from
places you’ve been.

It used to be very
conventional, like postcards, keychains, decorative plates and the like but
these stuff take up space and require some kind of maintenance as years go by.

The novelty of a souvenir has
changed, and it is no longer something that you show off as a statement of
“I’ve been there!” It has evolved into something else, where we want to share
with our loved ones back home a little piece of the adventure, so to speak.

So, here’s my take on some of
the things that you just HAVE to take back with you:

#1 – If
you travel to the state of Melaka,
then look out for the dainty Nyonya beaded
slippers
. They may not be the most practical footwear, but then again, they
ARE unique, and quite fancy!

Nyonya Beaded Slippers and Embroidered Kebaya Top

#2 – If
you got yourself that beaded slipper, then you just HAVE to bring back a
traditional kebaya top! The intricately-embroidered tops are a must-have in
any wardrobe.

#3
#4
– If you have a passion for cooking, and are always on
the hunt for that ‘umami’ flavor, bring back some shrimp paste, or belacan,
and if you’re brave enough, cencalok. Cencalok is a condiment made
of fermented small shrimps or krill, and is usually served together with sliced
chillies, finely sliced shallots and lime juice.

Bottom – A stall selling belacan and cencalok

#5
–  Look out also for the sticky coconut
‘cakes’, or dodol, available in a variety of flavours including pandan and durian.

#6
Moving further South to Johor, you can visit the herb farm along the way and
get yourself some stingless bee honey
or madu kelulut. Stingless bee honey is  twice as nutritious as ordinary honey,
according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI).

#7 – A
trip to Johor would be meaningless without bringing back the mandatory 434 Coffee. Malaysian Coffee a.k.a
Kopi-O is special in color, flavor and taste, thanks to its special roasting
technique and recipe that commonly includes margarine and sugar as ingredients.
It has been long enjoyed by the locals and also is popular among coffee lovers
in South East Asia. While the sweet, hot beverage may take some getting used to
for those who are used to taking it black, you will definitely fall in love
with it by the time you sip the last drop.

#8 – If
you travel to the north of the Peninsula, then Penang will be one of the places for the best souvenirs. The
Chowrasta Market will be a good place to start, where you can get nutmeg-based products. More than just a
spice, you can get massage oils, ointments and even candy made from nutmeg.

Nutmeg-based products

#9
Another product of Penang that is worth bringing home is Tambun biscuits, or Tau
Sar Pneah
. This delicacy is a mixture of sweet and savoury, and is flaky
and soft at the same time. Traditionally, it is made from wheat flour, sugar,
green bean paste, fried onions, lard and salt. However, there are many
available in the market which are lard-free to cater for the Muslim market.

#10
Pickled fruits are also a must-buy
when one visits Penang. It is a popular souvenir especially among Malaysians. Among
the most well-known is from Pak Ali’s,
best known for its distinct aroma and taste. They claim to use apple cider
vinegar and honey in the pickling process, which sets them apart from the rest.

#11
– Also known as the Food Paradise of Malaysia, especially Indian food, you can always
bring back a mix of your favourite spices
so that you can replicate the dish back home. Head to Little India in George Town, and you’ll be
spilt for choice!

Packed dry spices or ready-cooked pastes to bring home

#12
– If you are into White Coffee, then
by all means, buy a pack or two to bring home. For those who don’t know, the
coffee beans used to produce white coffee are not white. Instead, coffee beans
are roasted with palm oil margarine, ground, brewed and served with
sweetened condensed milk. The drink gets its color from the milk that is
used. 

There’s even Durian Coffee!

If
you are in Kuala Lumpur, or any other major city in Malaysia, the following
suggestions are for you.

#13
– Malaysia batik or songket are also great souvenirs to take home. These
hand-crafted textiles are versatile and can be made into clothing, soft
furnishings and even wall decorations. Malaysian batik differs from others in
the region in terms of design and motif, as well as technique.

Batik and songket

#14
– A fan of durian? You may not be
able to bring back the fruit, but there are a whole multitude of products made
from the King of Fruits available in most supermarkets, and packed safe for
your journey home. There’s durian chocolates, cakes and even coffee!

#15
– Believe it or not, instant noodles!
Seriously. The flavours available out there is UNBELIEVABLE! Even if you might
not buy them, it’ll still be nice to walk into a supermarket and browse the
aisle. You will be amazed at the array of choices you have! Locals enjoy curry
flavor, but there’s also a whole array of flavor combinations that might peak
your curiosity.

#16
BOH tea is one of Cameron
Highland’s product that is worth bringing home, too. BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is
the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia, with both domestic and
international distribution owned by BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd.

#17
Asian drinks. I kid you not! There
are fizzy and non-fizzy versions, in all imaginable flavours and combinations.
From winter melon to passionfruit, pear and ginseng to watermelon and lychee,
feel free to indulge!

#18
– Another one of the things that will sound weird, but go try (and buy!) 100 Plus. 100 Plus is the first thirst-quenching, isotonic beverage to be
launched in Malaysia in 1983. It is caffeine-free, specially formulated to help
restore what the body has lost during physical exertion and rehydrate the body
to its optimal hydration balance. Its unique formula combines fluids,
carbohydrates and electrolytes for quick and efficient absorption of fluids
into the body.

#19 – Pewter goods are also a favourite among tourists. The best
place to get your pewter items are of course from Royal Selangor Pewter,
located in Kuala Lumpur. Royal Selangor International Sdn Bhd is a Malaysian pewter
manufacturer and retailer, the largest of its type in the world.

#20
Adopt and animal! While you cannot
bring the animal home with you, you have at least left a piece of yourself
here, and helped conserve a little bit of Malaysia for our future generations.
A lot of programs are available, and offered, online where you can adopt a
tiger, elephant, turtle, even an orangutan, and receive a certificate and
regular updates on your ‘child’.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

IN CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

A long, long time ago, the Mayans were believed to have first discovered cocoa, which they considered as a sacred treat. Nowadays, chocolates are still considered precious delights. They certainly make wonderful treats during festive seasons and who would ever say no to a chocolate souvenir! Yup, chocolates are some of the popular things tourists buy as souvenirs to bring home. Malaysia certainly has its own home-grown chocolate brands, but besides that, while you are here in Malaysia, why not indulge in something more chocolate-y? Perhaps a tea-time treat at a chocolate café…or a tour of a chocolate factory?

Malaysian chocolate flavours

Typically, you can always count on the standard flavours of chocolates such as white, milk and dark (with various percentages of cocoa). The chocolate experience is a bit novel in Malaysia, though, as Malaysian chocolatiers have taken chocolate-making a step further by infusing local flavours into their creations.

For instance, you find many chocolate brands in local shops, with unique flavours that you cannot find elsewhere. Try mango chocolates…or for those who love the King of Fruits, there are many durian chocolate selections…these are popular flavours among tourists. How about Gula Melaka chocolates and Teh Tarik chocolates? Well, we leave it to you to taste!

Here are some Malaysia-brand chocolates you may wish to bring home as souvenirs, which can be easily found in most supermarkets and shopping malls: Beryl’s, Camior, Daiana, Fidani, Hoko, Vochelle and many more.

Chocolate Cafés

Chocolate cafes are booming fast, almost overtaking those trendy cafes and their coffees! Well, it’s a blessing for all chocolate lovers, then. If you want to really savour your chocolate indulgence, make a visit to MyTown Shopping Centre in Cheras, where you will find chocolate decadence at The Dark Gallery (https://thedarkgallery.com). Reading the menu list itself will make you drool, but if you are overwhelmed by the choices, it’s wise to go with the tasting platter that combines their best chocolate pastries, ice creams and hot chocolates.

The pretty décor of Nayuta Chocolatasia (http://www.nayuta.com.my), meanwhile, will remind you very much of the Far East. The café, located within Isetan Japan Store in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, prides itself in the high quality of cacao beans cultivated right here in the Southeast Asian region, namely Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and of course, Malaysia. They call themselves the “chocolate label produced by Asian people to suit the Asian taste palate” for milky, caramel-infused and soft textured chocolate. Spend an afternoon here to sample their delicate 8g bonbons with typical Asian ganache such as lime, pineapple and yuzu, or delight in a huge bar of chocolate with cashew nuts, dried mango and caramelised coconuts. With all that sweetness in your mouth and the artful décor, you will want to daintily sip that cup of hot chocolate!

Chocolate Museum

Looking for more? Apart from the trendy cafes, some established chocolate manufacturers have also introduced a specialty concept-store known as the chocolate museum.

One of these chocolate museums that the public can visit for free is the Chocolate Museum by Fidani (www.chocolatemuseum.my)   at Kota Damansara. Apart from the boutique shop selling more than 100 chocolate brands, the premise is well-equipped with a large gallery full of informative facts and displays about the art and science of chocolate-making. Learn about the history of cacao beans, the farming process and how it is transformed from bean to bar. They also have a live-kitchen demo by a chef on the makings of chocolates.

Another worth-visiting museum is the Beryl’s Chocolate Museum (www.berylschocolate.com.my), about 20 kilometres from the city centre. The museum is well-laid out with informative chocolate displays on history, chocolate facts and more. You’ll also be able to purchase all sorts of chocolate flavours from the Beryl’s brand.

Chocolate Cupid

For the serious chocolate lover, head over to the heart of Bangsar, where the Chocolate Concierge (www.chocconcierge.com) will be most happy to match you with the right chocolate that you’ve been craving for, selected from their large selection of chocolate flavours and recipes. And if your chocolate urge is still not satisfied, they’ll even custom-make the chocolate for you, of course, with a low minimum order. With passion-driven care for chocolates and bean origin, Chocolate Concierge is mighty serious about their bean-to-bar process, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been featured in the Michelin food guide as a rising chocolatier. Try the soft filling chocolate morsels with hints of cappuccino, strawberry, or wasabi, and their hand piped truffles. Or for something truly local, go for the freshly-made Pahang Origin Dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.

 

 

 

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

The Melanau Cultural Experience and the Pesta Kaul

The Melanau Cultural Experience and the Pesta Kaul

Mukah, a small town located in the central region of Sarawak always rich with its cultural value. Populated by the majority of Melanau people, Mukah now is a well-develop town/district and well known by its famous “Kaul” festival that celebrated every year. The Melanaus’ are one of the most celebrated ethnic tribes in Sarawak, known for their gentle, loving nature and seafaring skills besides making “Sago” and “Umai” as part of cultural practices that expose their popular traditions.


 

Among Mukah’s popular attractions, the crown jewel remains the “Pesta Kaul Mukah,” a festival full of the cultural heritage of the Melanau people in the region.

This product experience team will be experiencing the Mukah, Dalat and Oya as a tourism attraction while visiting the local yearly event held in Mukah on this 4D2N trip. During those four days, they visited sites such as the Sibu Central Market, Kut River jetty, the Church by the River and Jerunei Gardens, Kampung Judan the home of ‘kuih asli’ (a type of snack), an authentic Melanau Tallhouse Lamin Dana as well as the Pesta Kaul Mukah.

The first day of the expedition brought the team to Sibu for the night, with the journey beginning the next day.

 

Day 2: Sibu to the Church by the River, home of the Kuih Asli and the Melanau Tallhouse

The team began early in the morning to see the charming Sibu Market. Famous for its diverse organic jungle and farm produce, the fresh catches of the day and their traditionally preserved food. Sibu is a colourful representation of the Sibu community, a peak into their daily lives and dishes.




 

Next, the team traveled to Sungai Kut by speed boat, before stopping by at the Sungai Kut jetty to see the school and village.




An exciting boat ride



A quaint village

 

By afternoon, they arrived at the Church by the River and the Jerunei Gardens. The ‘Church by the Rover’ actually seems more like the church ‘on’ the river, with most of its structure supported on stilts over the moving waters of the river. It is a pillar of the community and a place for congregation every sunday and during ceremonies and community events.



 

The Jerunei Gardens is named so after the towering Jerunei at the centre of it, also known as a Kelidieng.  A plaque decorates the centre of the garden explaining the creation of Jerunei/Kelidiengs. While the English translation is not the best, vital information can still be gleaned from it. For the purpose of clarification, we have transcribed the message below:

“Jerunei or Kelidieng is a wooden post which measures up to an armful in diameter and is made of Belian timber, a type of wood that can withstand  exposure to extreme weather conditions for centuries. The Jerunei is carved with various kinds of patterns. Some have simple patterns, some of them are carved with complicated designs which takes years to finish. Those patters are made by the Melanau craftsmen. According to the legends, when a king dies, his corpse will not be buried immediately but will be placed inside a *casket. The casket later will be placed inside a special shelter near the Jerunei. After the corpse has rotted, the bones will be gathered and placed inside an urn. The urn containing the King’s bones will then be placed inside the Jerunei.

During the burial ceremony, a female slave’s daughter will be brought to the king’s family. THe child be be strung to the top of the Jerunai and left to starve to death. The reason behind this is so that hte spirit of the slave can serve the king in death, just as they had in life.

A male slave will be thrown into the Jerunei. His spirit will become the guard, waiter and oar craftsman for the King’s spirit on his way to the Death Realm, Likow Matai.

According to the given information, the earliest known location of a Jerunei is at Kampung Seberang Tengah and has been moved several times before settlng in its final location in front of the Dalat District Office in 1971. This Jerunei is estimated to be centuries old and is the last preserved and taken care of by the Dalat residents under the management of the District Office.

On 28 April 2008, the Jerunei was officially recognised for its historical and cultural significance and turned into the essential landmark at Taman Poket Dalat, becoming an eternal reminder for the Melanau Society on the lives of their ancient nobles, as well as a tourism spot.”

 


 

By evening, the team departed to Oya and transited to Kampung Judan, the ‘centre’ of ‘Kuih Asli’ making. Here they witnessed the preparation of the traditional ‘kuih’, which are crispy biscuits or snacks, as well as packaging. The famous kuih featured here are the Kuih Sepit (love letters), Tebaloi (dry sago), Kuih Jala, and Keropok Ikan (fish snacks).



Arriving at the Kuih Asli headquarters


A woman preparing Kuih Sepit
Packaged and ready for sale

 

 

The team then arrived at Lamin Dana where they stayed overnight, an authentic replica of a Melanau Tallhouse.






The Tallhouse has cosy rooms, decorated with traditional displays, photos and attire throughout.

 

 

Day 3: Mukah and Pesta Kaul

Bidding Lamin Dana farewell after a good night’s rest, the team cruised along the Telian River and Misan River towards Mukah. They stopped by Kampung Telian to view the village and see the logs of Sago in the river, the traditional method of transporting the logs through the natural waterways still the main method for these Sago farmers.





They arrived at the Mukah Waterfront and Market. The Waterfront is a great place to take leisurely walks, appreciate the sights and enjoy the sun and serenity. The Mukah Market sells dry and wet foods, with their signature being chopped fresh fish made especially for umai, a traditional delicacy made from raw fish which is cooked with the juice of limes, with other additional ingredients added for flavour.






Finally, the group headed to the main event: the Pesta Kaul.

 

It began as a  religious ceremony to appease the spirits of the sea, land, forest and farm. It is a ritual of purification and thanksgiving as well as one of the propitiation for good fortune. Today, the festival remains an annual event where the Melanau people of Mukah (though now no longer religiously practicing) keep their culture alive, gather together as one community and celebrate their traditions.

The Pesta takes place at Paintai Kala Dana and begins with the “Kaul Serahang Kakan Mukah,” an offering of traditional food in a special offering basket (the serahang) symbolysing the commencement of the ceremony.

The rest of the festival is full of fun and games, both traditional and modern, competitions and contests, food, decorations and traditional dance performances.

Tibau, a traditional game where you hold onto the rope, climb up the ladders on the left, and swing sometimes two at a time.

Lubak Salui Lukut, or the Lukut Longboat Races. The boats are made from wood and lukut leaves for sails.



Traditional displays and decorations throughout the festival grounds

Dancers preparing to dance the Mukun Ria, traditional dance of the Melanau

After the Pesta came to an end, the team headed back to town. Their journey through Melanau-land undoubtedly left them with fond memories, with the fun boat rides and breathtaking scenery that accompanied it, as well as the fascinating insights into Melanau traditions, from their architecture to their ancient funeral rights, to their Pesta Kaul where they continue to preserve their traditional games, food, dances, crafts and ceremonies.

Mukah, and Pesta Kaul, remain a great destination for visitors looking for a pure cultural experience among the Melanau people.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Malaysia’s best kept secret: Gunung Mulu National Park

By Vishnu Krishnan
Gunung Mulu National Park can only be described as pure magic. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has a plethora of animal and plant species that dwell within the confines of its lush primary forests, dozens of caves and Mulu Mountain.

One of the most unique features of this national park is its vast cave system that is centuries old.

The Wind Cave system, as its name suggests, is famous for the strong winds that gust through its chamber. The crowning glory of Wind Cave is the cathedral-like cluster of stalagmite and stalactite formations in the King’s Chamber.

A chamber for Kings (Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/4677581017)

A chamber for Kings
(Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/4677581017)

Take a 400 metre suspended plank walk to Clearwater Cave. Here you’ll get to see the mighty Clearwater River gushing through the cavernous expanse that leads to a clear pool at the end. The locals believe that swimming in the pool will rejuvenate your youth.

Clear Water is an emerald dream! (Source: http://mulupark.com/tours-activities/advance-level-adventure-caving/clearwater-connection/)

Clear Water is an emerald dream!
(Source: http://mulupark.com/tours-activities/advance-level-adventure-caving/clearwater-connection/)

To get to the next cave system, you need to cross the world’s longest suspension bridge between trees. The Canopy Skywalk stands 30 metres high and is 480 metres long.

On the other end, you’ll come across an ancient Penan tribal burial ground. Beyond that is one of the greatest caves in the world, Deer Cave. The cave dimensions are hard to fathom until you step into the 122 metre tall gaping hole.

In the middle of the cave, is perhaps the most gorgeous sight in the world, the Garden of Eden. Imagine a pristine patch of forest illuminated by the evening sun, shining brilliantly like emeralds. It’s a slice of paradise!

You don’t get much closer to heaven then at the Garden of Eden (Source: http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/As/Malaysia/Sarawak/GardenOfEden.htm)

You don’t get much closer to heaven then at the Garden of Eden
(Source: http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/As/Malaysia/Sarawak/GardenOfEden.htm)

Once you exit Deer Cave, don’t rush off yet. Stay until 6pm to see billions of bats streaming out of the cave to feed. If you have a pair of binoculars, watch the cunning owl hawks swoop on their prey.

Sarawak Chamber is one of the largest known cave chambers in the world by area and the second largest by volume after the Miao Room in China. Its surface area is a whopping 162,700 square metres with a volume of 9,579,205 cubic metres.

Experts say it is so large you can fly a jumbo jet through the middle of the cave without touching the walls. Crazy! The trail to the chamber takes about three hours before reaching the mouth of Gua Nasib Bagus or Good Luck Cave.

The Sarawak Chamber is basically the gaping mouth of the world! (Source: http://afwan.blogspot.my/2006/03/sarawak-chamber.html)

The Sarawak Chamber is basically the gaping mouth of the world!
(Source: http://afwan.blogspot.my/2006/03/sarawak-chamber.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The primary forests of Mulu are among the best places in Malaysia to observe local flora and fauna. The primordial serenity of these jungles are so tranquil and vast. If you are lucky, you can spot bearded pigs, hornbills, clouded leopards, vipers, tarsiers and even tigers.

The trees are extremely tall and beautifully buttressed. If you trek deep enough, you’ll be able to see pitcher plants and many other exotic species.

Finally, for the more adventurous trekkers, Gunung Mulu Mountain is a tough but exciting climb. The rock pinnacles of Gunung Api and Benarat are unique jagged rock formations that tower above the landscape and add to the mystical feel of the park.

The Pinnacles of Mulu Mountain (Source: https://www.experiencetravelgroup.com/borneo/exp/gunung-mulu-national-park)

The Pinnacles of Mulu Mountain
(Source: https://www.experiencetravelgroup.com/borneo/exp/gunung-mulu-national-park)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on Gunung Mulu National Park, including where to stay and how to get there, head to their website: http://mulupark.com/

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– Ruang tamu yang besar dengan kelengkapan sofa dan TV 24”

– 1 Bilik Mandi (Bilik Utama) + 1 Bilik Air berasingan; semua lengkap dengan water heater

– Meja makan 4 tempat duduk

– kemudahan pantry, sinki dan cerek air elektrik

– Peti sejuk

– Sterika dan alas sterika

KADAR HARGA:

– Hari Biasa (Ahad hingga Khamis) dari RM 200.00

– Hujung Minggu (Jumaat & Sabtu), Cuti Umum dan Cuti Sekolah  RM250.00

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Ruang Tamu dengan Meja Makan 4 tempat duduk, sofa dan TV 24″

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Peti Sejuk, Pantry dan Singki

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Bilik Utama: 1 katil KING + 1 katil SINGLE berhawa dingin (aircond) dengan bilik air + water heater

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Bilik Kedua: 1 Katil KING berhawa dingin (aircond).

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Bilik Ketiga: 1 katil QUEEN berhawa dingin (aircond)