Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

Little Known Secrets of the Beads of Borneo

From the Zulu warriors in South Africa, to the ancient Egyptians of North Africa, to the pilgrims of the Middle East or South America, beads have a presence in many cultures but the one commonality is that they have always been more than an eye-catching accessory. The story of the beads of Borneo is no exception.

For many cultures, they were a currency, or perhaps a sign of faith, a symbol of wealth or a family heirloom to be treasured for future generations. Whatever the purpose, the one consistency is that they are always a way of expression.

Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo has a unique relationship with the beads of Borneo. Although there isn’t any definitive evidence of when exactly the beads came to the region, there is evidence to suggest beads were first used in Borneo by visiting sailors for bartering. Back then, beads were made out of shells, teeth, bones and stones that were perforated and worn as ornaments.

Some Sarawak tribes believe that the longer a bead lasts, the more powerful it becomes and the bearer can draw strength from the bead. However, to do so, the bearer must have a strong soul.

Source: Sarawak Tourism Board

There are over 30 tribes in Sarawak and each tribe has its own way of adorning themselves with beads. Some of them use them as necklaces, others as beaded head caps or beaded skirts, others as bracelets or even rings. Beads would also be used as decorations during festivals or other big gatherings.

The baby carriers used by Orang Ulu women to carry their infants are adorned with beadwork and finishes made out of wild boar or leopard teeth. Apart from indicating status, the tingling of the Hawk’s bells and large beads attached to the upper rim of the carrier would soothe the toddler on long journeys through the rain forest.

Many of the antique beads of Borneo are hard to find now. There are a number of reasons for this. Historically, the beads were sometimes buried with their owners as part of their grave clothes, or as “grave gifts”, for the deceased to use in their long journey to the underworld.

As mentioned, beads were also used as currency, often traded with visiting sailors or lost in the sometimes devastating longhouse fires that could rip through 100 doors in less than an hour.

As beads were increasingly hard to come by and time became a precious commodity, modern day beads are mostly imported from Indonesia and China, according to Heidi Munan, Sarawak Museum’s curator of beads. However they are still influenced by the original beads of Borneo.

So while these new beads are still traded, they are no longer the currency of trade. And despite being mass produced, they are increasingly expensive yet have little of the character of the original beads. At the same time, the number of communities still making the beads of Borneo in the traditional manner is slowly diminishing.

Preserving the traditionality of beadmaking

However, the Lun Bawang community in Long Tuma village, Lawas, northern Sarawak continues to make ceramic beads the way they’ve always been made. Partly to generate income for the community but also because they want to keep the tradition alive and let everyone have the opportunity to wear the beads during traditional festivities.

The process begins with a group of five women wading almost nonchalantly into the crocodile infested waters of Pa’ Lawas river to find and dig up the smooth fine clay, which they call “tanah salit”.

The clay is taken to the village by hand, pounded and kneaded to the right consistency and shaped into tiny beads, roughly the size of a pea. The beads are then sun-dried, and strung up on wire loops and fired in a backyard bonfire.

Patricia Busak, daughter of Litad Muluk, who manages the ceramic beads centre, was interviewed by the Star newspaper some time ago and talked through the process, “It takes at least three pairs of hands to make just one bead: one to gather and process the river clay before shaping it into beads; another to paint the underglaze pattern; and a third to paint the glaze and arrange the beads in an electric kiln at the community-owned workshop in the village.”

She went on to say, “It’s very specialised; for instance, only three women in our group are skilled at rolling the beads. I can’t roll, but I’m good at painting the pattern.”

The Long Tuma women are the only beadmakers in Sarawak. Even though their business is thriving, the most important thing for the Lun Bawang community, is the opportunity to preserve their heritage.

“The kind of beads we have, how we string and wear them, give us our sense of identity as a Lun Bawang,” concludes Patricia in the interview.

Beads of Borneo - Painting a bead

Source: Borneo Talk, “The Glistening Beads Of Kampung Long Tuma”

Because beads have been used for so long and came from various parts of the world, the types of beads found in Sarawak vary. Here are a few examples of the types of beads you should look out for during your time in Sarawak and especially if you go to a festival.

Lukut Sekala

The Lukut Sekala beads are worn almost exclusively by members of the Kayan tribe. These beads serve as a symbol of longevity to the community. This is because the beads last for so long that they have become heirlooms, passed down through multiple generations.

Source: @taytayxanadu on Carousell

There are also the Lukut Bela Laba, which are considered male or female depending on whether the shape of the bead was long or flat. The beads are considered extremely valuable. These beads are often of great value to the Kayan.

According to legend, a trader who wanted to travel by river to the interior of Sarawak bought a second-hand outboard engine with just one Lukut Sekala bead.

Beads of Borneo - bead designs

Source: Rustic Borneo Travel, “Borneo Beads – Beautiful Status Symbols”

Ba’o Rawir

The Ba’o Rawir, or the drinking straw beads are created by Kelabit ladies. The Kelabit tribe originates from the Bario Highlands located in the northernmost part of Sarawak. The Kelabit people have a close association with the Lun Bawang tribe as they are geographically close to one another.

The Ba’o Rawir beads are used to create intricate designs on the Peta, a hat worn by Kelabit ladies. It is a status symbol which had the equivalent value of one buffalo in the old days when owning a buffalo was considered a sign of wealth. Today, an antique Peta hat made out of Ba’o Rawir can fetch up to RM 30,000 (US$ 7,150).

Beads of Borneo - Kelabit woman head gear

Source: Kelabit Wiki, “Peta”

Experience bead making yourself

Located in the north of Sarawak, the Long Tuma village is close to the Brunei border. The Ceramic Bead Centre holds workshops where you can learn how to make the beads and create your own piece. The Beads centre is currently managed by Litad Muluk and her daughter Patricia who is quoted above.

These women work the fields during the day and use the bead centre as an extra income stream while keeping the tradition alive. You can even see how this group of dedicated women put together beautiful pieces of jewellery.

And if you like what you see, you can support their efforts by purchasing beads from the souvenir shop.

Here is where it’s located:
Pusat Kraftangan Manik Seramik
Kampung Long Tuma, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak
Tel: +6013 565 6951

If you’re interested to learn more about the beading culture of Borneo, Heidi Munan’s book on Bornean beads is a highly recommended read. In it, she explains the historic significance of beads and how they transcend its mere aesthetic appeal.

You can also order beads online and support the Lawas bead community at the same time. These 3 online stores offer authentic products sourced from Sarawak:

  1. Gerai OA
  2. Gaya Borneo
  3. Bonita and the Beads
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Travel to Melaka

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

STF Launches Short Video Competition

STF Launches Short Video Competition

Indie video contest

The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) launched their two short video competitions, the “Indie Video Competition” and “Instagram Video Upload Competition,” today at 2.00pm at the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) office, in collaboration with STB and in conjunction with the Visit Sarawak Campaign.

Participants stand a chance to win RM10,000 for the Indie Video Competition and RM1,500 for the Instagram Video Upload Competition, with both competitions will require videos of maximum 60 seconds.

The videos will be centered around the theme of the Visit Sarawak Campaign, which is “Sarawak – More to Discover,” which aims to show the world that there is so much more to see, do, eat, and to experience in Sarawak, and so this could include Culture, Adventure, Nature, Food and Festival, and many more.

The Indie Video Competition is open to the general public, targeting amateur video-makers and especially Sarawakians, and can be entered individually or as a team of up to 5 members, with a maximum of 3 entries.

A winning video will be selected by a panel of judges and used to promote Sarawak both internationally and domestically, with the two runner-ups will also be accorded cash prizes of RM 5,000 and RM 3,000.

instagram video RM1500

The Instagram Video Upload Competition is open to the general public, especially Sarawakians, and must be entered individually through the participant’s personal Instagram account, where participants must follow STF’s account @sarawaktourismfederation and hashtag #SarawakMoreToDiscover.

The competition officially begins on November 3 and will end on December 7, at 11.59pm. Winners to be announced on December 10 2018.

From left, Micheal Lu (Senior Manager, Digital Marketing STB), Hj Ibrahim Nordin (Chairman Sarawak Chapter Malaysian Associations of Hotels (MAH)), Philip Yong (President of STF), Hii Chang Kee (Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth Sports), Mdm Ngui Ing Ing (Board member STB), Pauline Lim (Assistant Marketing Manager, Long Haul STB), Catherine Huong (Marketing Manager for Mandarin Speaking Market, STB)

For more information on the guidelines for participation, read here…

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

10 DRINKS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TRY IN MALAYSIA

What else is so special about Malaysia beside its beautiful tourism spots and great infrastructure? Yes, you have guessed it right! They are the Malaysian local food and drinks. Being a multicultural country, Malaysia’s diverse community offers a wide variety of drinks to choose from. The influence of this diversity can be traced back to the Sultanate of Malacca era where traders from Europe, Arab and China brought in spices and herbs from their mainland to Malaysia, thus, creating the Malaysian drinks that can be found at the local restaurants and food vendors nowadays. There are ten drinks you absolutely need to try in Malaysia, namely Teh Tarik, Sirap Bandung, Kit Chai Ping, Teh C Peng, Cendol, Air Batu Campur (ABC), Air Mata Kucing, Leng Chee Kang, Milo Dinosaur, Pak-ko-pi and Air Kelapa Bakar.

Teh Tarik

 

What is it? Malaysians consider Teh Tarik as the country’s national drink. Teh Tarik or literally translated as Pulled Tea is a drink that is famous among the Malaysian community. Its origin can be traced back to the Second World War where Indian-Muslim immigrants opened up tea stalls at rubber plantations to serve the workers there.

What is it made of? Teh Tarik is a mixture of black tea with condensed or evaporated milk. The tea used in preparing the drink is grown locally or regionally and has a strong bitter taste. The hot concoction is then pulled back and forth during its preparation between two cups or vessels from a height to release heat which results in a thick, frothy topping.

Where to get it? Teh Tarik can be found at all Malaysian restaurants, especially the Mamak shops (restaurants operated by the Indian-Muslim community). One of the most popular versions of Teh Tarik can be found in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, where Warung Pak Mat is well known for its foamy and extra creamy Teh Tarik Madu.

Sirap Bandung 

What is it? Pink coloured drinks are often associated with strawberries but it is a different case with the one and only, Sirap Bandung, a sweet and creamy drink that is simply irresistible.

What is it made of? Rose flavored syrup is mixed together with condensed or evaporated milk to create the pink coloured drink. There are many versions of Sirap Bandung that can be found throughout Malaysia. One recipe incorporates soda water for a fizzy taste while another adds grass jelly or what Malaysians call Cincau for texture.

Where to get it? This drink is famous and it can be found in almost every restaurant in Malaysia. It is also the drink of choice served at Malay weddings and during the breaking of fast (iftar) in Ramadhan.

Kit Chai Ping 

What is it? When you are in Sabah, be sure to try the modest Kit Chai Ping. This drink is famous for its refreshing properties and Sabahans love to drink it during hot, sunny days. With its sweet, sour and salty taste, the Kit Chai Ping is presumably the ‘national drink’ of Sabah.

What is it made of? The ingredients used to make this drink can be found locally in Malaysia. It is made basically with Kalamansi limes, sugar syrup, water and the Chinese salted sour plums which the locals call Ham Moi. It can also be served chilled by adding ice cubes.

Where to get it? Due to the popularity of this drink, most restaurants and cafes in Sabah have it. You can just go into any restaurants there and simply request for Kit Chai Ping, and on the off chance that you do not like it to be too sweet, say “kurang manis”.

Teh C Peng 

What is it? Talking about ‘national drinks’, if the previous drink is for Sabah, then Teh C Peng would definitely be the ‘national drink’ of Sarawak. This ice-cold drink is also called three-layer tea due to how the different ingredients of the tea are layered in a tall transparent glass. Teh C Peng would make an awesome revitalizing drink particularly on blistering hot days.

What is it made of? There are three main ingredients in Teh C Peng. The bottom layer is liquid palm sugar, over which condensed milk is poured, finished off with a top layer of strong black tea. The density of each ingredients results in the triple layers. One would give it a good mix before enjoying the drink.

Where to get it? This drink has gained popularity over the decades and it can also be found in peninsular Malaysia but if you are looking for the original Teh C Peng, Sarawak is the place to go.

Cendol 

What is it? Who can refuse the flavor of Cendol? A family favourite, Malaysians would queue up in the hot weather just to grab a bowl of Cendol.

What is it made of? A basic bowl of Cendol will have a mountain of finely-shaved ice, generously drizzled with palm sugar syrup and coconut cream. Slivers of green jelly made of rice flour add a nice texture and colour to this sweet dessert. Additional toppings can be requested such as sticky rice, durians or red beans.

Where to get it? According to some people, the best Cendol is in Melaka and Penang but rest assure, it can easily be found at roadside vans that sell rojak or laksa all over Malaysia.

Air Batu Campur 

What is it? Trifles for the Brits, tiramisus for the Italians, crème brulees for the French, banana splits for the Americans, and Malaysians have their own Air Batu Campur, fondly called ABC or sometimes Ais Kacang. The name actually means ‘mixed ice’ and it is one of the most adored dessert drink in Malaysian gastronomic history.

What is it made of? The basic components of a traditional ABC consist of shaved ice and red beans, finished off with a rose or sarsaparilla syrup as the topping. Be that as it may, the current ABC has an assortment of colours and a huge selection of toppings. Nowadays, one can enjoy theirs with frozen yogurt, palm seeds, sweet corn, grass jelly and alongside the syrup, it is ordinarily finished with sweetened condensed or evaporated milk as a final touch.

Where to get it? This dessert drink’s popularity is spread all across Malaysia and can be found everywhere. The hot and humid climate of Malaysia can make everyone dehydrated on a hot scorching day and ABC can simply quench that thirst away.

Air Mata Kucing

 

What is it? A standout among the most well-known drinks in Malaysia is perhaps Air Mata Kucing. It is a natural herbal drink which is nutritious and refreshing, particularly when the sun is blazing. It is no big surprise that Air Mata Kucing anchored the sixth place in the rundown of “50 Most Delicious Drinks From Around The World” by CNN.

What is it made of? The main ingredient of this drink is the Mata Kucing fruit (scientific name: Euphoria malaiense), which belongs to the same family as the Longan fruit. Researchers claim that Mata Kucing can help ease depression, prevent cells from becoming damaged and act as an anti-aging agent.  The other key ingredient is the monk fruit, which gives Air Mata Kucing its dark colour and sweet flavour. The undeniable benefits of monk fruit are widely known in the world of Chinese medicine.

Where to get it? The drink is sold throughout Malaysia but the most famous one is at Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. During a scorching sunny day, people would queue up in front of the stall just to get a sip of the Air Mata Kucing.

Leng Chee Kang

What is it? Leng Chee Kang is a healthy dessert drink made popular by the Chinese community. Believed to have a cooling effect on the body, it can be served warm or cold and is particularly favoured during hot and humid days. While it is not exactly a Chinese New Year dish, it is one of the most loved treats for numerous celebrations and festivals.

What is it made of? The fundamentals for this dessert drink may differ from place to place yet the primary ingredients used are lotus seeds, longans, dried persimmons and malva nuts, which the Malays call Kembang Semangkuk. Other versions of Leng Chee Kang may contain nuts, grains, quail eggs, collagen, grass jelly and basil seeds.

Where to get it? This dessert drink is famous in Malaysia and it can be found everywhere, not only during the festive seasons. Many restaurants and stalls in Malaysia offer a variety of Leng Chee Kang but the traditional one is always the best!

Pak-Ko-Pi 

What is it? It is a type of coffee that originates from Ipoh, ranked among the top three coffee towns in Asia by Lonely Planet. Truth be told, Ipoh is a popular stopover for people to appreciate nearby attractions and obviously, to take in the taste of that renowned Pak-ko-pi.

What is it made of? Pak-ko-pi is the Cantonese word for white coffee which represents the brewing process of the coffee beans. It is processed without added substances or ingredients. The word white here means that the coffee is unadulterated or pure. The roasting procedure for a standard coffee ordinarily includes roasting the beans with sugars, margarine and wheat. White coffee on the other hand is roasted with margarine, without the sugar, which gives the coffee a lighter colour. When you drink the white coffee, you can taste the diverse layers of flavours in the coffee, which is thick and aromatic.

Where to get it? As mentioned, Ipoh is the city that offers the original white coffee. OldTown White Coffee is one of the Malaysian restaurants that is famous for their white coffee so whenever you happen to be in Ipoh, be sure to try the Pak-ko-pi.

Air Kelapa Bakar

What is it? Those who love the refreshing taste of coconut may want to try the Air Kelapa Bakar version. In addition, those who drink it swear by its medicinal properties in increasing the body’s immune system, preventing diabetes and kidney stones and promoting fertility. They say that the Air Kelapa Bakar has softer coconut flesh, the consistency of jelly.

What is it made of? Fresh young coconuts are roasted whole inside a hearth or on a grill for up to four hours until the coconut water inside has boiled. Afterwards the coconut is left to cool before it is cut open and served. Some people drink it with a dash of powdered herbs – cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and clove – to enhance the taste and aroma.

Where to get it? Popular since 2009, this drink can be found mainly in Sabah and on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is often sold at roadside stalls for RM 4.00 or RM 5.00.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

10 DRINKS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TRY IN MALAYSIA

What else is so special about Malaysia beside its beautiful tourism spots and great infrastructure? Yes, you have guessed it right! They are the Malaysian local food and drinks. Being a multicultural country, Malaysia’s diverse community offers a wide variety of drinks to choose from. The influence of this diversity can be traced back to the Sultanate of Malacca era where traders from Europe, Arab and China brought in spices and herbs from their mainland to Malaysia, thus, creating the Malaysian drinks that can be found at the local restaurants and food vendors nowadays. There are ten drinks you absolutely need to try in Malaysia, namely Teh Tarik, Sirap Bandung, Kit Chai Ping, Teh C Peng, Cendol, Air Batu Campur (ABC), Air Mata Kucing, Leng Chee Kang, Milo Dinosaur, Pak-ko-pi and Air Kelapa Bakar.

Teh Tarik

 

What is it? Malaysians consider Teh Tarik as the country’s national drink. Teh Tarik or literally translated as Pulled Tea is a drink that is famous among the Malaysian community. Its origin can be traced back to the Second World War where Indian-Muslim immigrants opened up tea stalls at rubber plantations to serve the workers there.

What is it made of? Teh Tarik is a mixture of black tea with condensed or evaporated milk. The tea used in preparing the drink is grown locally or regionally and has a strong bitter taste. The hot concoction is then pulled back and forth during its preparation between two cups or vessels from a height to release heat which results in a thick, frothy topping.

Where to get it? Teh Tarik can be found at all Malaysian restaurants, especially the Mamak shops (restaurants operated by the Indian-Muslim community). One of the most popular versions of Teh Tarik can be found in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, where Warung Pak Mat is well known for its foamy and extra creamy Teh Tarik Madu.

Sirap Bandung 

What is it? Pink coloured drinks are often associated with strawberries but it is a different case with the one and only, Sirap Bandung, a sweet and creamy drink that is simply irresistible.

What is it made of? Rose flavored syrup is mixed together with condensed or evaporated milk to create the pink coloured drink. There are many versions of Sirap Bandung that can be found throughout Malaysia. One recipe incorporates soda water for a fizzy taste while another adds grass jelly or what Malaysians call Cincau for texture.

Where to get it? This drink is famous and it can be found in almost every restaurant in Malaysia. It is also the drink of choice served at Malay weddings and during the breaking of fast (iftar) in Ramadhan.

Kit Chai Ping 

What is it? When you are in Sabah, be sure to try the modest Kit Chai Ping. This drink is famous for its refreshing properties and Sabahans love to drink it during hot, sunny days. With its sweet, sour and salty taste, the Kit Chai Ping is presumably the ‘national drink’ of Sabah.

What is it made of? The ingredients used to make this drink can be found locally in Malaysia. It is made basically with Kalamansi limes, sugar syrup, water and the Chinese salted sour plums which the locals call Ham Moi. It can also be served chilled by adding ice cubes.

Where to get it? Due to the popularity of this drink, most restaurants and cafes in Sabah have it. You can just go into any restaurants there and simply request for Kit Chai Ping, and on the off chance that you do not like it to be too sweet, say “kurang manis”.

Teh C Peng 

What is it? Talking about ‘national drinks’, if the previous drink is for Sabah, then Teh C Peng would definitely be the ‘national drink’ of Sarawak. This ice-cold drink is also called three-layer tea due to how the different ingredients of the tea are layered in a tall transparent glass. Teh C Peng would make an awesome revitalizing drink particularly on blistering hot days.

What is it made of? There are three main ingredients in Teh C Peng. The bottom layer is liquid palm sugar, over which condensed milk is poured, finished off with a top layer of strong black tea. The density of each ingredients results in the triple layers. One would give it a good mix before enjoying the drink.

Where to get it? This drink has gained popularity over the decades and it can also be found in peninsular Malaysia but if you are looking for the original Teh C Peng, Sarawak is the place to go.

Cendol 

What is it? Who can refuse the flavor of Cendol? A family favourite, Malaysians would queue up in the hot weather just to grab a bowl of Cendol.

What is it made of? A basic bowl of Cendol will have a mountain of finely-shaved ice, generously drizzled with palm sugar syrup and coconut cream. Slivers of green jelly made of rice flour add a nice texture and colour to this sweet dessert. Additional toppings can be requested such as sticky rice, durians or red beans.

Where to get it? According to some people, the best Cendol is in Melaka and Penang but rest assure, it can easily be found at roadside vans that sell rojak or laksa all over Malaysia.

Air Batu Campur 

What is it? Trifles for the Brits, tiramisus for the Italians, crème brulees for the French, banana splits for the Americans, and Malaysians have their own Air Batu Campur, fondly called ABC or sometimes Ais Kacang. The name actually means ‘mixed ice’ and it is one of the most adored dessert drink in Malaysian gastronomic history.

What is it made of? The basic components of a traditional ABC consist of shaved ice and red beans, finished off with a rose or sarsaparilla syrup as the topping. Be that as it may, the current ABC has an assortment of colours and a huge selection of toppings. Nowadays, one can enjoy theirs with frozen yogurt, palm seeds, sweet corn, grass jelly and alongside the syrup, it is ordinarily finished with sweetened condensed or evaporated milk as a final touch.

Where to get it? This dessert drink’s popularity is spread all across Malaysia and can be found everywhere. The hot and humid climate of Malaysia can make everyone dehydrated on a hot scorching day and ABC can simply quench that thirst away.

Air Mata Kucing

 

What is it? A standout among the most well-known drinks in Malaysia is perhaps Air Mata Kucing. It is a natural herbal drink which is nutritious and refreshing, particularly when the sun is blazing. It is no big surprise that Air Mata Kucing anchored the sixth place in the rundown of “50 Most Delicious Drinks From Around The World” by CNN.

What is it made of? The main ingredient of this drink is the Mata Kucing fruit (scientific name: Euphoria malaiense), which belongs to the same family as the Longan fruit. Researchers claim that Mata Kucing can help ease depression, prevent cells from becoming damaged and act as an anti-aging agent.  The other key ingredient is the monk fruit, which gives Air Mata Kucing its dark colour and sweet flavour. The undeniable benefits of monk fruit are widely known in the world of Chinese medicine.

Where to get it? The drink is sold throughout Malaysia but the most famous one is at Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. During a scorching sunny day, people would queue up in front of the stall just to get a sip of the Air Mata Kucing.

Leng Chee Kang

What is it? Leng Chee Kang is a healthy dessert drink made popular by the Chinese community. Believed to have a cooling effect on the body, it can be served warm or cold and is particularly favoured during hot and humid days. While it is not exactly a Chinese New Year dish, it is one of the most loved treats for numerous celebrations and festivals.

What is it made of? The fundamentals for this dessert drink may differ from place to place yet the primary ingredients used are lotus seeds, longans, dried persimmons and malva nuts, which the Malays call Kembang Semangkuk. Other versions of Leng Chee Kang may contain nuts, grains, quail eggs, collagen, grass jelly and basil seeds.

Where to get it? This dessert drink is famous in Malaysia and it can be found everywhere, not only during the festive seasons. Many restaurants and stalls in Malaysia offer a variety of Leng Chee Kang but the traditional one is always the best!

Pak-Ko-Pi 

What is it? It is a type of coffee that originates from Ipoh, ranked among the top three coffee towns in Asia by Lonely Planet. Truth be told, Ipoh is a popular stopover for people to appreciate nearby attractions and obviously, to take in the taste of that renowned Pak-ko-pi.

What is it made of? Pak-ko-pi is the Cantonese word for white coffee which represents the brewing process of the coffee beans. It is processed without added substances or ingredients. The word white here means that the coffee is unadulterated or pure. The roasting procedure for a standard coffee ordinarily includes roasting the beans with sugars, margarine and wheat. White coffee on the other hand is roasted with margarine, without the sugar, which gives the coffee a lighter colour. When you drink the white coffee, you can taste the diverse layers of flavours in the coffee, which is thick and aromatic.

Where to get it? As mentioned, Ipoh is the city that offers the original white coffee. OldTown White Coffee is one of the Malaysian restaurants that is famous for their white coffee so whenever you happen to be in Ipoh, be sure to try the Pak-ko-pi.

Air Kelapa Bakar

What is it? Those who love the refreshing taste of coconut may want to try the Air Kelapa Bakar version. In addition, those who drink it swear by its medicinal properties in increasing the body’s immune system, preventing diabetes and kidney stones and promoting fertility. They say that the Air Kelapa Bakar has softer coconut flesh, the consistency of jelly.

What is it made of? Fresh young coconuts are roasted whole inside a hearth or on a grill for up to four hours until the coconut water inside has boiled. Afterwards the coconut is left to cool before it is cut open and served. Some people drink it with a dash of powdered herbs – cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and clove – to enhance the taste and aroma.

Where to get it? Popular since 2009, this drink can be found mainly in Sabah and on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is often sold at roadside stalls for RM 4.00 or RM 5.00.