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Gaya Travel

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W R I T E R Shahida Sakeri D E S I G N E R Intan Ishak I L L U S T R AT O R Emila Yusof C O N T R I B U T O R S Tourism Malaysia | Lily Riani P H O T O G R A P H E R S Photography Unit, Gaya Travel Magazine

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Contents ISSUE 13.4

Cover Illustration by Emila Yusof

w w w. iss uu. co m /gayatrave l

Departments

014. Editorial Jottings

Gaya Special Feature 016. 018. 020. 021.

Malaysia to Attract More Tourists from Azerbaijan Malaysia Wins Four PATA Gold Awards 2018 Road Tripping with Your Kids in Sabah Borneo Eco Film Festival 2018

Gaya Traveller

025. Self-Driving Around Scenic Jeju 012

Gaya Tech

033. Sony RX100 Mark 3 – One for Travelling Shutterbugs

Gaya Interview 034. 040. 046.

Empowering Selangor as International Tourism Hub Enhancing Selangor’s Tourism Competitiveness – The Honourable Datuk Abdul Rashid Bin Asari, Executive Councillor For Tourism, Culture, Malay Customs And Heritage Selangor Marketing Selangor As A Top-Of-Mind Destination – Madam Noorul Ashikin Binti Mohd Din, General Manager Of Tourism Selangor

www.emilayusof.com

Destinations

050. #ETW7: The Regalement Of Selangor #ETW7 #DISCOVERSELANGOR #TAKEMEANYWHERE 058. Journeying through Hulu Terengganu 064. Answering ‘Dah Ke Belum?’ 070. From KL to Terengganu We Ride 074. Exploring Taipei and Northern Taiwan 5D4N 080. Blooming Kunming 086. MUAR, The Royal Town of Johor 092. Unwinding at Seribu Islands & Jakarta 096. Jungfrau Region - High Alpine Wonderland 104. Cambodia Travel Mart

Hotels & Resorts 110 . 114. 118. 122. 125. 128.

Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay – A Manifestation of the Real Meaning of Class Berjaya Tioman Berjaya Tioman Resort, An Unforgettable Tropical Island Getaway Putting Berjaya Tioman Resort on All Travellers’ Maps. Mr Charles Eman, Resort Manager, Berjaya Tioman Resort Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel – KK’s Latest Bastion for those who Travel Brilliantly Of Sun-kissed Memory in Hua Hin Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta – A Discreetly Luxurious and Accessible Stay Four Points by Sheraton Bandung – International in Standard, Local in Sensibility

Travel Anecdotes 132. Sean LJE


Editorial Jottings

As for destinations outside Malaysia, we invite you to read our take on northern Taiwan (page 74), Kunming in China (page 80), the islands off coast Jakarta called Kepulauan Seribu (page 92), Jungfrau Region of Switzerland (page 96), and Cambodia Travel Mart 2018 that was held in Phnom Penh (page 104).

014

By the time we finish putting together this issue, we are already nearing the end of 2018. It also means that we are entering the period when people are starting to travel for the upcoming year-endand new year holidays - there is no better time for readers to pick up a copy of Gaya Travel Magazine or read it online via https://issuu.com/gayatravel and https:// www.gayatravel.com.my/, including https://www.facebook. com/gayatravel/, https://www.instagram.com/gayatravel/ and https://twitter.com/gayatravel for more enriching travel ideas. For travellers who wish to discover more of Malaysia, do read our articles in this issue regarding our team’s first-hand experience in the greener parts of Selangor (page 50), Hulu Terengganu (page 58), Royal Belum in Perak (page 64), and Muar (page 86) - not forgetting the chance to explore parts of Terengganu by big bike (page 70) - which we find uplifting and able to stimulate travellers’ senses (and appetite).

On top of that, those who loves staying at hotels and resorts will be pleased to find out that in this issue, we also share our valuable experiences staying at reputable properties like Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (page 110), Berjaya Tioman Resort (page 114), Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel (page 118), Novotel Hua Hin Cha Am Beach Resort & Spa (page 122), Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta (page 125), and Four Points by Sheraton Bandung (page 128). All of these properties have their own charms and strengths that appeal to travellers of all types, so be sure to stay there soon. Even after a whole year of travelling, our team still finds that there are so many places that we have yet to see and activities that we have yet to do. And we can’t wait for 2019, which happens to be the Visit Year for the Malaysian states of Melaka and Sarawak, both possessing their own charms and offering amazing travel experiences. Do watch our future issues as we will continue to bring you the said destinations, and more! See you in the next issue. Safe travels! JUHAN KAMARUDDIN@JEREMY KHALIL

Email your comments to jeremy@gayatravel.com.my

O F F I C I A L W E B S I T E www.gayatravel.com.my S U B S C R I P T I O N , E D I TO R I A L A N D A DV E RT I S I N G E N Q U I R I E S A D V E R T I S I N G E N Q U I R I E S advertising@gayatravel.com.my | +6 03 7972 0952 E D I T O R I A L E N Q U I R I E S editor@gayatravel.com.my E D I T O R I A L O F F I C E Suite 3-57, The Scott Garden, Jalan Klang Lama, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | +6 03 7972 0952


Gaya Special Feature

Malaysia To Attract More Tourists From Azerbaijan Mr. Zulkafli Yahya said, “The cooperation between both tourism parties is timely and strategic as Azerbaijan is a growing market with great potential for us to tap into the leisure and high-end market segments. We look forward to seeing flight and tour packages developed for this market as we welcome more Azerbaijanis to Malaysia.”

016

Tourism Malaysia has announced a MalaysiaAzerbaijan cooperative tourism initiative, marking a strategic bilateral effort to woo more tourists from Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region to Malaysia. The initiative is between Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), who both signed a Partnership Memorandum today at Malaysia Tourism Information Centre (MaTiC), Jalan Ampang, during the Malaysia-Azerbaijan Tourism Networking session. The two parties were represented by Mr. Nahid Bagirov, Chairman of AZTA and Mr. Akil Yusof Deputy President for MATTA). The event was witnessed by Mr. Zulkafli Yahya, Senior Director of International Promotion Division for America, Europe and Oceania, Tourism Malaysia along with Datuk Nargiz Safarova, Tourism Ambassador for Russia & Central Asia. The two-year cooperation (2019-2020) will see both parties working with local travel agents to develop special tour packages for both countries. It will also pave the way for discussions to establish possible flight connections.

In 2017, Malaysia recorded a total of 1,035 tourist arrivals from Azerbaijan, an increment of 12.1% in comparison to 2016. The growth trend continued this year with an increase of 18.8% in arrivals in the first four months, bringing the total of Azerbaijani tourist arrivals to Malaysia to 448 between January and April 2018. The arrival figures, though small, indicate a growing demand for Malaysia by the Azerbaijanis despite the absence of direct flight connections, limited tourism promotions and lack of a Tourism Malaysia representation in the country. Azerbaijan is currently served by Tourism Malaysia offices in Turkey and Moscow. The country’s neighbors include Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey, a region that is gaining more political stability and opening doors for more tourism activities.


Malaysia Wins F o u r PATA G ol d Aw a rd s 2018 I m a g e s b y PATA

Malaysia bagged four PATA Gold Awards 2018 in praise of the branding and marketing efforts of the country as a premier tourist destination. The awards were presented during the PATA Travel Mart 2018 in Langkawi.

018

Tourism Malaysia won the coveted PATA Gold Award 2018 in the category of Marketing Media – E-Newsletter for its in-house electronic newsletter, a monthly publication called “Experience Malaysia.” The newsletter covers news on tourism events and updates on tourist attractions around the country, sharing them with the public, industry players and media from around the world. Meanwhile, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) also received an award for its marketing efforts in adventure travel through its reality show entitled “Difference Aside.” The show features some of Langkawi’s best tourist attractions. In the Environmental Education Programme category, Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, Malaysia, won a Gold Award for its initiative of implementing 300 ways to save the earth through green practices. The resort is well-known for its environmentallyfriendly operations and has won other similar awards before. In addition, AirAsia, Malaysia, won a Gold Award under the category of “Marketing – Carrier” for its “Adventure Live” interactive video series. PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy said, “On behalf of PATA, I would like to congratulate the 2018 PATA Grand and Gold Award winners, as well as all of this year’s participants for their submissions. This year’s

winners exemplify the true values of the Association in working towards a more responsible travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region.” The PATA Gold Awards are a recognition of excellence, innovation, and the best tourism standards in Asia Pacific’s travel and tourism industry. This year’s awards attracted 200 entries from 87 organisations and individuals worldwide. The 34 Grand and Gold Awards winners were selected by an independent judging committee consisting of fourteen senior executives from the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. PATA Travel Mart 2018 was hosted by Tourism Malaysia and the Langkawi Development Authority from 12 to 14 September at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC), Langkawi, Malaysia.


Gaya Special Feature: Sabah

ROAD TRIPPING with your kids in SABAH Te x t & I m a g e s b y ELA I N E C LA RA M A H

My husband and I were determined to introduce our child to the beauty of Sabah. When we took our twoyear-old toddler to Kudat over the long weekend, many told us we were brave. When it comes to traveling by road, it is no secret that Sabah is a great destination. Picturesque terrains line our view while Mount Kinabalu mesmerises our sights. While many enjoy the wonders of travel, many yet fear the troubles of travelling with young children. Since the journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat takes four hours by car, we didn’t quite know what to expect, but our trip turned out awesome and our son loved it! Here are some tips to make your trip enjoyable for all, especially when travelling with children!

3. Plan ahead 1. Adjust your expectations. Instead of opting for thrilling adventures that gives you an adrenaline kick, look for the ones that the whole family can enjoy. For instance, when you and your family plan to holiday on the beach or by the sea, substitute parasailing for snorkelling or sandcastle-building if your children are younger. When we were in Kudat, we were content to just spend some quiet time on the beach while our son shovelled sand into buckets.

2. Pack plenty of food The younger your children are, the more difficult they can be when it comes to adapting to new food in a new environment. Travelling is not a good reason to allow your children to binge on junk food, so be sure to pack a variety of healthy snacks!

Accept that nothing is set in stone. You may have your day all planned out, but your children may have other plans. We had intended to visit the Tip of Borneo quite early in the morning to avoid the hot rays of the afternoon sun but our son took an earlier morning nap. While waiting for him to wake up, my husband and I lounged by the balcony sipping coconuts. We left after our son woke up, with plenty of time to spare for sightseeing. As for the sun? It was hot, so be sure to have an umbrella on standby!

Other useful tips to keep in mind: • Plan your travels to a nearby destinations first and then lengthen your journey from there. • Bring along insect repellent. • Pack a complete set of medication. • Pack familiar toys from home to help your child adjust to new surroundings.


Gaya Special Feature: Sabah

Borneo ECO Film Festival 2018 The much anticipated Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF) - an annual non-profit event celebrating Borneo’s biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films to nurture local community film-making and empowering youth towards sustainable action - was held again in Kota Kinabalu from 2 until 4 November 2018. It was a weekend filled with environmental films from around the world, screened to the public for free at Suria Sabah. Many leading experts, filmmakers and community members participated in panel discussions, workshops and interactive activities at the same time, while participating NGOs, social enterprises and creative craft-makers opened booths, bringing more excitement to the festival. Members of the public also discovered the fun approaches towards adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Among the highlights for BEFF in 2018 was The Eco Art Carnival, featuring eco-inspired art installations. Be sure to check out www.beff.org.my for more information. BEFF is organised by the voluntary society Melapi (Society for Holistic Outreach, Research and Environmental Action). Know more about BEFF on Facebook at Borneo Eco Film Festival and Instagram: @beffsuara


Tokyo

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Taipei

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Travel well with us to over 30 cities in Asia Treat yourself to an amazing Asian getaway. Explore Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, shop till you drop in Seoul, experience Taipei’s vibrant night markets or soak in culture and history in Beijing. Choose from 4 daily flights from Kuala Lumpur and travel well with us to over 30 cities in Asia. Visit cathaypacific.com to learn more


Los Angeles

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New York

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Travel well with us to the United States and Canada From the dynamic, vibrant cities of New York and Chicago, to the beautiful coastlines of California, the great outdoors of Seattle and the majestic mountain ranges of British Columbia, your North American getaway begins with us. Visit cathaypacific.com to learn more


Borneo Xmas JAM! The Jesselton Artisan Market (JAM) is a curated showcase of Kota Kinabalu’s skilled artisan and their creations. From decorative arts, jewellery, furniture, clothing, food items to handmade creations. Come and be inspired by the kaleidoscope of Kota Kinabalu’s unique and whimsical artisanal goods. Happening in Dec 1st and 2nd is the Borneo Xmas JAM. A night market filled with Christmas carols, performances, Christmas themed products/food, early gift shopping for Christmas, and charity drives. Vendors from Sabah, Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Singapore, France, Japan and Korea are expected to be displaying their arts and goods. The aim of JAM is to showcase local, Malaysian creative talents and services. The event will be a venue for artisan and creative talents alike to meet and be connected to the right audience. It is a bi-monthly event, usually held on the first weekend of the month. February will be the next date to remember. For more updates on future events, you may check out their IG and FB at @jesseltonartisanmarket.


ESCAPE + EXPLORE + EXPERIENCE

Te x t & I m a g e s b y I RN EE N O RRI S & I RI NA N O RRI S FB | TW | IG | YOU TUBE @gayatraveller #gayatraveller

SelfDriving Around Scenic Jeju There is something about the autumn season that makes us want to go for a road-tripping adventure. Promises of golden hues from fall foliage and crisp air are enough to get us frantically searching for a good and affordable destination. We decided on Jeju Island in South Korea for our quick island getaway. Air Asia X has been offering direct flights four times weekly to Jeju Island since December 2017. The flight between Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and Jeju Island takes about six hours one way.

025


Nicknamed the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju is popular among honeymooners and hikers. We’ve never been to Hawaii, therefore cannot vouch whether the nickname describes the island accurately. We can, however, tell you that Jeju is A LOT like Ireland! Jeju is georgeous; it is filled with interesting natural landscapes and formations that usually comes with volcanic island. Sadly, we came just a tad too early for the foliage to turn amber. We recommend that travellers should instead visit Jeju in the first week of November because the leaves were still green when we were there in mid-October. How unfortunate! If you are keen to do road-tripping in Jeju, do read on. We are going to share with you the essence of Jeju. Do stay for at least six days on the island. We stayed for four, which we felt was a bit rushed. Although Jeju is relatively small (it is only 73km long and 31km wide), do not let this fact fool you – it is actually a bustling island. We were expecting Jeju to be along the lines of Langkawi, but instead, it is more like a complex version of Penang! What To Do Before Your Flight to Jeju 026

» Apply for an International Driving Permit at JPJ (Road and Transport Department) or Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), which is mandatory for all foreign visitors. » Go online at www.visitkorea.com.my and get yourself registered as a Kaki Korea Club member. Members may redeem “Discover Korea Your Way 2018” guide and discount vouchers booklet. » Make a list of all telephone numbers of the places you wish to visit (hotels included). GPS uses telephone numbers to detect your destinations. » Book your portable Wi-Fi device at Roaming Man Malaysia (https://www.roamingman.my/). Pick up is available at KLIA2 and KLIA, and they are open 24 hours a day. » Install Google Translate App on your smartphones. Use them to translate the mysterious Hangul (Korean alphabets). Unfortunately, English is not widely used in Jeju. » Currency exchange is more favourable in Malaysia, so convert your cash before flying off. As rule of thumb, a main meal is around KRW15,000 (MYR55) to KRW20,000 (MYR73) each at a restaurant. A cup of latte is about KRW6,000 (MYR22).

Driving Tips in Jeju » South Korea is a left-hand drive country, so please be vigilant. » Driving speed limit varies, and it is relatively low compared to what we are used to in Malaysia. It is generally between 70 and 90 kilometres per hour on highway; 50 kilometres per hour in the city and 30 kilometres per hour if you were to pass by areas close to schools. » Speed cameras are aplenty, and so are speed bumps. Listen to your GPS warnings. » Roundabouts are tricky. Cars already in the roundabout must give way to oncoming cars. » Designate a good co-driver to be your extra pair of eyes. There are many signboards and lines on the roads, so we are glad that the speed limits are low!


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B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

Gimnyeong Seonsegi Beach

N

김녕해수욕장

Gimnyeong Yacht Tour

Hamdeok Seoubong Beach

김녕요트투어

함덕해수욕장

W

Gimnyeong & Woljeong Geo Trail

1

김녕&월정 지질트레일

Samyang Black Sand Beach The Blue/Tammora

Yongduam

추자면

더블루/탐모라

용두암

Badapungkyung

제주국제공항

이호테우해수욕장

제주민속오일시장

우도면

구좌읍

바그다드

1136

페인터즈히어로

제주도립미술관

브릭캠퍼스

Gwakji Gwamul Beach

1117

Mt. Hallasan

비양도

Soul Tree Arboretum 솔트리수목원

산굼부리

Jeju Venice Land

섭지코지

Sinyang Seopjikoji Beach

포니벨리

Seongsan-eup Hallim-eup

협재/금능해수욕장

성산읍

Dynamic Maze

한림읍

1132

Seopjikoji Cape

Jeju Dinosaur Museum 제주공룡휴게소박물관

Pony Town

1139

아쿠아플라넷제주

혼인지

베니스랜드

97

한림공원

Hyeopjae/Geumneung Beach

성산항

Aqua Planet Jeju Honinji

제주해양동물박물관

제주미니랜드

1118

1119

Jeju Marine Animal Museum

Jeju Artland

Jeju Miniland

붉은오름자연휴양림

Seongsan Port 성산일출봉

1132

sangumburi

Bulgeun Oreum Natural Recreation Forest

한라산

Hallim Park

4

제주씨월드

Seongsan Ilchulbong

제주아트랜드

제주불빛정원

테디베어사파리

1112

1131

Jeju Garden of Light 1135

Teseum

1136

Biyangdo

제주절물자연휴양림

신비의도로

애월읍

한림항

Jeju Sea-world

제주레일바이크

탐라신화공원

에코랜드

Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest

Mysterious Road

Aewol-eup

1121

제주난타

러브랜드

제주공룡랜드

곽지해수욕장

Hallim Port

Baengnokoegwan/Uribong Jeju Rail Bike

1136

Tamra Myth Park

Eco Land

제주시

Jeju Nanta

Jeju Love Land

Jeju Dinosaur Theme Park

메이즈랜드

백록회관/우리봉

거문오름

Jeju-si

Jeju Museum of Art

Brick Campus

1112

Geomum Oreum

엘리펀시아

The Painters Hero

Maze Land

다희연/짚라인 선녀와나무꾼테마파크

수목원테마파크

Elefunsia

물메골

비자림

The Anger & Woodcutter Theme House

97

Sumokwon Theme Park

제주엔터테인먼트

Mulmegol

Bijarim

한울랜드

Daheeyeon/Zipline Jeju

시외버스터미널

Nexoncomputer Museum

넥슨컴퓨터박물관

Jeju Entertainment

1132

애월항

Hanull Land

Jocheon-eup

조천읍

Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal

천해천

Aewol Port

우도면

Gujwa-eup 1136

Bagdad

라지마할

Cheonhaecheon

Udo-myeon

1118

Samsunghyeol 삼성혈

Rajimahal

Jeju 5-day Market

2

대원가

S

1132

Jejueomyeon 제주에오면

Daewonga

Jeju International Airport

Iho Tewoo Beach

아라리오뮤지엄

바다잔치

제주이슬람문화센터

E

1132

북촌돌하르방공원

Arario Museum

Badajanchi

바다풍경

Jeju Islamic Cultural Center

3

Gimnyeong Maze Park 김녕미로공원 Dolhareubang Park

삼양검은모래해변

Chuja-myeon

신양섭지해수욕장

1132

Ilchul Land

다이나믹메이즈에피소드3

일출랜드

1136

Blue Mountain Coffee Theme Park

블루마운틴커피테마파크

Vicheollin

The Ma Park

더마파크

비체올린

Hangyeong-myeon

Banglimwon

Spirited Garden

서귀포시

1115

1116

생각하는정원

Miracle Art Museum

Jeju Glass Castle Jeju Peace Museum

Suwolbong

수월봉

Jeju Geopark Suwolbong Trail

수월봉트레킹코스

6

1136

Alps Ice Jewely Palace Theme Park Museum

대정읍

Camellia Hill

소인국테마파크

제주항공우주박물관

Daejeong-eup

World Automobile Jeju Museum 세계자동차박물관 Toy Park 토이파크

Norimae Park

카멜리아힐

Jeju Glass Museum ChunSimine

초콜릿박물관

천제연폭포

제주조각공원

Jusangjeolli Cliff

주상절리

Sanbangsan Yongmeori Coast

용머리해안

Hwasun Geummorae Beach 화순금모래해수욕장

Moseulpo port

Marado Ferry Pier

모슬포항

마라도잠수함

Jungmun Saekdal Beach

중문색달해수욕장

1132

Jungmun Tourist Complex

중문관광단지

Botanic Garden Yeomiji

· 여미지식물원

INDEX

Sinyoung Cinema Museum 신영영화박물관

Namwon Keuneong Coastal Scenic Point

Tourist Information 이동형안내소

남원큰엉해안경승지

1136

플레이케이팝

Museum · Africa 아프리카박물관

산방산

7

테디베어박물관

Play Kpop

Chunjeyun Pokpo

Jeju Art Park

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번개과학체험관

Teddy Bear Museum

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춘심이네

건강과성박물관

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Lightning Museum Jeju

대유랜드

제주유리박물관

The Museum of Sex&Health

돈내코

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WE호텔

헬로키티아일랜드

점보빌리지

Chocolate Museum

Pyoseon Beach Jeju Folk Village

제주민속촌

Namwon-eup

Donnaeko

WE Hotel

Hello Kitty Island

Figure Museum Jeju Daeyoo Land Outdoor Shooting Range 피규어뮤지엄제주

Jumbo Village

노리매

제주허브동산

남원읍

Soingook Theme Park

Jeju Aerospace Museum

알프스보석궁전 테마파크뮤지엄

Jeju Herb Dongsan

표선해수욕장

휴애리

오설록티뮤지엄

제주평화박물관

표선면

Hueree

상효원

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O’sul’loc Tea Museum

Pyoseon-myeon

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Sanghyowon

미라클아트뮤지엄

유리의성

차귀도

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Seogwipo-si

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방림원

Chagwido

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안덕면

제주돌마을공원

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세계술박물관

1100고지휴게소

Andeok-myeon

그리스신화박물관

한경면

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Jeju Fossil Museum

1100 Meter Point Rest Area

Greek Mythology Museum

Jeju Stone Park

Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal 서귀포시시외버스터미널

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SOS Museum

World Seashell Museum

SOS박물관

세계조가비박물관

Seriworld 세리월드

Seokbujak(Natural Stone Art Museum)

Joanne Studio

Alive Museum

천지연폭포

외돌개

Munseom Beomseom 범섬

문섬

Islam-friendly Restaurant

Tourist Attractions

Jeongbang Waterfall 정방폭포

Seogwipo Seashell Fossils

Tourist spot

서귀포층

· 조안베어뮤지엄

· 박물관은살아있다

Islamic Prayer Room

서부작박물관

Cactus Museum 백년초박물관 Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Oedolgae

Seopseom 섶섬

Jigwido 지귀도

Pacific Land

Hyeongjeseom Mt Songaksan

송악산

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형제섬

· 퍼시픽랜드

Yacht Tour

· 요트투어샹그릴라

Believe It or Not Museum

· 믿거나말거나박물관

Gapado 가파도

Marado 마라도

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Jeju Icons

that appealed to us.

Haenyeo (female free­divers) The role of these hardy ladies (some well in their 80s) in harvesting oysters, abalone, clams, seaweed and other marine life without the aid of breathing apparatus or professional equipment has been around since the 17th century. You can catch these brave ladies demonstrating their vocation at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily (Tel: +82 64 7831135) or visit Haenyeo Museum (Tel: +82 64 7829898).

» Seongsan Ilchulbong (also known as Sunrise Peak) This is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site featuring a hydro volcano towering 180 metres above sea level. Tel: +82 64 7830959 / +82 64 7107923

Dol Hareubang (“Old Grandfather”) These are actually large rock statues carved from porous volcanic rock considered to be deities that offer protection and fertility. These carve statues are placed outside the gates, believed to be protectors and guardians to cast away demonic entities. Newly wedded couples who would like to conceive male heirs are encouraged to touch these statues when they are in Jeju. MUST VISIT! There are too many attractions available in Jeju, ranging from natural attractions to man-made ones. Don’t forget to obtain the Map of Jeju for Islamic Tourists from Korea House in Kuala Lumpur so you can choose wisely. We find this guide helpful, as there is a comprehensively marked map of Jeju. The following are some of the attractions

» Hallasan National Park Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, is the highest peak of South Korea, standing at 1,950 metres above sea level. Tel: +82 64 7139950 » Jusangjeolli (Columnar Joints along Jungmun and Daepo Coasts) The Jusangjeolli cliffs have amazing columns similar to honeycombs formed from volcanic lava flows that turned into such shapes as they cooled down, similar to the ones we saw at Giant’s Causeway, Ireland and Black Sand Beach, Iceland. Tel: +82 64 7381521 » Osulloc Tea Museum & Plantation Come learn about Jeju green tea as well as other Korean teas. There is a tea gallery and a café here offering yummy desserts! Don’t forget to take a stroll around the plantation. Tel: +82 64 7945312

https://www.visitjeju.net/

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Âť Jusangjeolli (Columnar Joints along Jungmun and Daepo Coasts)


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» Innisfree Jeju House


» Innisfree Jeju House Innisfree is a well-known personal care brand that embodies nature. At Innisfree Jeju House, there are plenty of activities that visitors can partake such as making soap and face pack. There is a lovely café here that serves organic menu using fresh local ingredients. Enjoy your meal here while overlooking a tea plantation. Tel: +82 64 7945351 Beaches There are plenty of beautiful beaches around Jeju. We managed to go to three: Hamdeok Beach, Hyeopjae Beach and Woljeongri Beach. We love Woljeongri Beach the most because there are wind turbines nearby that make the landscape unique. Also look out for the colourful chairs by the beach. Tel: +82 64 7283989 (Hamdeok), +82 64 7966001 (Hyeopjae), +82 64 7406000(Woljeongri). » Seogwipo Maeli Olle Market What makes this traditional market unique is the clear water that runs through the market with plenty of goldfishes swimming in it. Highlights include live seafood, huge vegetables (compared to ours), and of course, ready to eat food! Tel: +82 64 7621949 » Dongmun Market Place This traditional market is open from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., but it also has a night market that starts operating right until midnight. Look out for the various street food peddled at the night market – we spotted a Fish n Chips stall bearing a halal sign that we simply couldn’t resist. Tel: +82 64 7523001 » Jeongbang Waterfall This is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly to the sea. Quite a walk down the stairs to reach this waterfall. Tel: +82 64 7331530 » Seongeup Folk Village Formed 500 years ago, this village continues its traditional lifestyle and culture to this day. Look out for the black lava rock walls, the straight but curvy alleyways that block the wind, and of course the grandfather (Hareubang) statue. Free tour is available. Tel: +82 64 7106797 » Iho Tewoo Lighthouse Horses These red and white functional lighthouses that are modelled after Jeju horses add a quirky and fun element to the area, besides being Instagram-worthy. Tel: +82 64 7406000

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What to Eat » Oranges and orange-based snacks The role of these hardy ladies (some Being a volcanic land means Jeju is blessed with fertile soil. Jeju is famous for its oranges and they are delicious. Be sure to eat them in Jeju DO NOT bring them back to Malaysia because oranges belong in the Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services’ (MAQIS) quarantined list. Instead, purchase orange-based snacks as souvenirs. Some of them are even certified halal! » Obunjagi Ttukbaegi It would be a crime not to eat fresh seafood when visiting Jeju. This spicy hot pot stew consists of live obunjagi (blue abalone), crab, octopus, prawns, mussels, mushrooms and ramen (noodles) gets more delicious by the minute. We had ours at one of the many seafood restaurants just across the street from Seongsan Ilchulbong’s entrance.

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» Binggrae’s Banana Milk / Uyu This is probably the most popular milk ever produced in South Korea. Friends who have been to South Korea always rave about this particular milk. Besides banana, there are other flavours available too. Do drop by Yellow Café in the Jungmun Resort, which serves desserts concocted from Binggrae’s iconic Banana Uyu. Tel: 064739-1140. Our final thoughts We travelled in Jeju as a group of four ladies. Safety-wise, Jeju is safe for lady travellers, as well as solo travellers. If you do not wish to drive around like we did, the public transportation here is quite extensive. The public bus network covers the whole island. There is also a City Tour Bus that starts the tour from the airport. English is not widely spoken, especially among the elderly, but the people here are helpful and courteous. Jeju is indeed a nice place for a vacation. It is lovely, and the food unique and delicious. Café culture is big in South Korea, so Jeju is not spared from this trend. Take time to enjoy unique lattes and cakes at the quaint cafés around the island. We had strawberry, peanut, and even sweet potato lattes during this trip. The coffee is good, too. Would we repeat visiting Jeju in the future? DEFINITELY, and so should you… Useful website : https://www.visitjeju.net


Gaya Tech

Sony RX100 Mark 3 – One for Travelling Shutterbugs Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A KERI | I m a g e s b y S O N Y M A LAY S I A

DSLRs are often bulky, heavy, and quite frankly, become a hassle to travel with as they require special care, especially when it comes to packing them. Imagine going on a hiking trip with an already heavy bag full of supplies and gears – wouldn’t a light compact camera that fits in your pocket be an easier travel companion? Not forgetting, due to its conspicuousness, DSLRs draw unnecessary attention, turning photographers into easy targets for mugging. However, after having said all that, all aspiring and avid photographers would agree that lightweight devices wouldn’t worth anything if the reduction in size jeopardises the quality of the images. This is where Sony RX100 Mark 3 stands out: it is a premium compact camera that delivers in capturing exceptional stills and videos, suitable for both photography beginners and professionals in need a lighter second camera. The camera comes in a tough, aluminium alloy body that is sturdy enough for casual outdoor photography. At the back, there’s a three-inch 180-degree tilting Xtra Fine liquid crystal display (LCD) for more flexibility in taking photos and videos, a feature that travel vloggers would surely appreciate. Solo travellers could benefit from this as well when they are too shy to ask strangers to take their photos. But if you are like us, who prefer taking stills through a viewfinder, you’ll be happy to know that Sony RX100 Mark 3 features a retractable electronic viewfinder (OLED Tru-Finder™ with a ZEISS® T* coating) that stays hidden when not in use. It is suitable for a day-long tour as its battery life lasts up to 320 shots per charge.

Sony RX100 Mark 3 combines the ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 2470mm F1.8-2.8 lens with 20.1 effective megapixel 1.0-type back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor and BIONZ X processing engine that create unbelievably clean and sharp images. Such powerful combination lets users proficiently create depth-of-field or background bokeh effects. Its impressive light-gathering power of the lens, moreover, allows rapid shutter speeds to effectively shoot fast-moving subjects, for example dancers or skateboarders. The camera also performs exceptionally well in low light. It nimbly determines the focus and exposure even as users begin to lose light, and excels in noise reduction. There are various shooting modes available for users to play around and test their creativity, but beginners or those in a hurry may conveniently opt for the Intelligent Auto mode that automatically chooses one of the 11 pre-optimised settings to best suit the scene or subject. The camera also has a Memory Recall (MR) mode, permitting users to set up three custom configurations and save them for speedy use in the future. Sony RX100 Mark 3 also features a five-axis stabilisation system that make handheld video footage anti-shake, especially when walking. And speaking of video recording, the camera supports XAVCS Video format, you can shoot at higher data rate (specifically 50MB/second), which is unusual for point and shoot cameras. Though the camera doesn’t possess 4K resolution, if you are the type who only publishes materials on social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, then be rest assured that the camera produces top-notch video quality. Besides, 4K videos take up a lot of space, anyway. By now, if you are wondering “why should I choose Sony RX100 Mark 3 and not its latest cousins in the Cyber Shot™ RX100 series”, the answer is clear: at the suggested retail price of MYR3,149, this model is one of the most affordable premium compact cameras in the market, ideal for those who are on tight budget but still prefer brilliant picture quality. The camera is remarkably easy to use, and definitely more versatile compared to the most flagship smartphones and other point and shoot cameras. For more information about this model, read www.sony.com.my/ electronics/cyber-shot-compact-cameras/dsc-rx100m3.

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“ We are expecting a steady growth of domestic and international tourist arrivals in the next five years. Through partnership between private sector and government, the state’s tourism industry will achieve its full potential by delivering the Tourism and Culture Brand Promise. ”

The Right Honourable Tuan Amirudin bin Shari


Gaya Interview

Empowering Selangor as

International To u r i s m H u b Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor, Tuan Amirudin bin Shari

Gaya Travel Magazine recently had the opportunity to interview the newly appointed head of government of the state of Selangor, The Right Honourable Tuan Amirudin bin Shari, who is officially addressed as Yang Amat Berhormat (YAB) Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor. Youthful, charismatic and forward-thinking, YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor shares with us on how important tourism is to Selangor and what plans does the state have to further boost tourist arrivals.

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a. How important is the tourism industry to the state of Selangor? How does the state of Selangor value the tourism industry compared to the other sectors in the economy? Selangor is the main getaway to Malaysia because Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), KLIA 2 and Subang Airport are all actually located in Selangor. In 2017, KLIA itself recorded almost 53 million visitors. On top of that, Port Klang, one of the busiest ports in the world, is also situated in Selangor. With all these advantages, Selangor is highly accessible. Tourism is one of the main pillars of Selangor’s economy. The state government values tourism as one of the main sources of income and economic growth. The Selangor State Government, through Tourism Selangor, actively promotes Selangor’s tourism attractions, products and services to encourage the influx of tourists to the state. Continuous travel campaigns such as “Discover Selangor” help to increase public awareness, attract more tourists to visit the state and boost tourism sector’s revenue. These campaigns are constantly carried out to introduce and promote tourism products available in Selangor so that the state remains at the top of domestic and international tourists’ minds. b. Could YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor share with us how much has the tourism industry contributed to the state of Selangor in the past few years? How has the tourism industry impacted the state? Is it expected to contribute more this year onward? Selangor has been receiving large number of arrivals from domestic and international tourists. The state has played host to many exciting events and activities in the towns and cities across the state. In 2017, the state recorded over 7.4 million tourist arrivals, and so far this year, until March 2018, the number has reached over 1.8 million with the percentage increase of up to 12.18% compared to the previous year. For 2018, we target to receive 7.5 million domestic and international tourist arrivals. On top of that, the stretching goal for tourism in Selangor is to increase tourist arrivals up to 7.9 million per year by 2020. c. Are there new legislations or policies that the state of Selangor intends to introduce to make Selangor’s tourism industry more competitive? We follow the existing policies that have been implemented and monitored by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia. We also enhance promotional activities at the state level to international and domestic markets by attending expositions and exhibitions to attract tourists to come and visit the beautiful state of Selangor. Promotional activities conducted during the international and domestic roadshows are intended to increase the number of tourists from each market that we target. While the promotional activities are on-going, Tourism Selangor’s team members who are responsible in Branding, Corporate and Communications firmly uphold the “Discover Selangor” brand. In terms of product development, I believe in facilitating infrastructure and developing the Selangor Personalised Packages. Due to its competitive geographical position, Selangor is also recognised as an events destination among tourists. I also believe in the niche market, whereby Selangor will see the contribution from various other tourism market segments such as Cruise, MICE, Medical and Golf Tourism. Indeed, we are now developing a program of cross-cultural training and awareness opportunities that help to improve mutual understanding between local community and industry expectations. We will have a worldclass trained host community to ensure strong growth in income from tourism and sustainability of the state’s tourism products and attractions.

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d. Could YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor share with us what portion of the investments that come into Selangor is classified under the tourism sector? Would there also be more investment in infrastructure by the Selangor state government to help boost tourism? By developing new hotels close to Selangor’s attractions, we consider this as part of the investments to help boost tourism in our state. There are many attractions that meets the expectations of business travellers, families, couples or even individual travellers. We cater to different kinds of travellers’ needs. For example, the development of DoubleTree by Hilton in i-City Shah Alam will cater to both the business community and leisure travellers with expected Gross Development Value worth MYR200 Million. In other example, the TWO Theme Park in Rawang is a new and ambitious lifestyle project that sits on a 20.4-acre

piece of land. With indoor and outdoor entertainment theme park, including shopping mall and recreational area, this is a well-planned investment to boost tourism for the next five years to be developed in several phases. e. What are YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor’s hope regarding Selangor tourism industry in the next five years? We are expecting a steady growth of domestic and international tourist arrivals in the next five years. Through partnership between private sector and government, the state’s tourism industry will achieve its full potential by delivering the Tourism and Culture Brand Promise. There are many people depending on the tourism industry and it is an important sector for economic development. We expect Selangor’s sustainable economic growth and strategies taken will positively impact tourist arrivals to the state.


Gaya Interview

E N H A N C I N G SELANGOR’S TOURISM COMPETITIVENESS 040

The Honourable Datuk Abdul Rashid Bin Asari, Executive Councillor For Tourism, Culture, Malay Customs And Heritage Selangor

a. What are Selangor’s plans to enhance its tourism competitiveness? Does the state provide incentives to the tourism industry players so that they can boost their businesses? We rely on rich natural resources and competitive prices to appeal to tourists. The industry players also tend to be global, through our open policies. We realise the strategic role that tourism plays in creating opportunities and support the sector proactively. There are still gaps in terms of infrastructure (air, road, tourism service infrastructure) and ICT readiness within the industry, which the state government is currently addressing. Besides that, Selangor state government also participates in annual expositions and exhibitions such as MATTA Fair and Selangor International Expo through Tourism Selangor to showcase the state’s tourism products and services, creating awareness and directly attracting the public towards them, including expanding the industry players’ network.


b. Which areas of tourism (culinary, sports, culture, heritage, festivals, nature, MICE, etc.) do you think is Selangor strong in? Are there plans to tap on other areas of tourism (medical tourism, edutourism, voluntourism, extreme sports, e-sports, etc.) that can be successfully done in Selangor? Being located at the heart of Malaysia, Selangor possesses all of the mentioned areas, which are remarkably accessible compared to the other states. Selangor is one of the states with the highest number of healthcare centres in Malaysia and it houses hospitals with Joint Commission International ( JCI). Based on the prevailing currency exchange rate that results in Selangor’s medical cost to be 65% to 80% lower than in Western countries, it is wise for medical tourists to come to the state, which provides vacation opportunities to their families as well. The state also taps into edutourism to not only boost income, but also nurture lifelong learning through edutourism packages that combine leisure with guided experiential learning, thus exposing edutourists to unique knowledgebased attractions that could lead to positive changes in perception and attitude. We are in the midst of collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture on these areas. For extreme sports, Selangor is preferred because of the existence of several parks dedicated to such sports throughout the state. These parks receive support and cooperation from local authorities and district offices. I believe this can be done successfully. Lately, the Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia encourages for e-sports to be commercialised in Malaysia by collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia. We have responded to this initiative by looking into the impact towards the tourism industry, and it could be implemented in the next few years.

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c. Selangor’s heritage appeals to many international travellers for example Klang Old Town (including Istana Alam Shah), Kuala Kubu Bharu, Kuala Selangor and Jugra. Are these sites difficult or costly to maintain? May we know what are the state’s plans to make these sites more popular, especially among foreign tourists, and more profitable so that they eventually could pay for themselves? Conserving heritage buildings is crucial because it provides the sense of identity and continuity in the fast-changing world for future generations. Heritage buildings basically represent the past history and culture of a nation. I must admit that it is difficult and costly to maintain these, but we are committed towards promoting it through our local and overseas promotional series to attract sophisticated tourists, especially from foreign countries, to visit these historical sites. By collaborating with municipal and district offices in the state, we plan to promote Selangor’s popular historical sites to foreign tourists through overseas promotion. For instance, during Japan Tourism Expo ( JATA) 2018 held from 19 until 23 September 2018, in collaboration with Klang Municipal Council, we introduced LocoMole app for tourists to explore and enjoy the Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk on their own. As the royal town and former capital of Selangor, Klang is replete with historic buildings, including quaint and traditional structures. The Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk aims to highlight Klang’s charm, character and unique attractions, including clusters of colonial vestiges, places of worship, school, fire station, royal gallery, and warehouse built by a local Malay chieftain. Apart from that, Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) is worthy of world heritage listing because it was designed by Malaya’s first town planner Charles Reade, based on the influential ‘garden city movement’ of urban planning, first initiated by Sir Ebenezer Howard back in 1898. Selangor state government, through the state agency PlanMalaysia@Selangor, and MDHS (Hulu Selangor District Council) have initiated a study – conducted by a professional consultant – to identify KKB’s strengths that reflect ‘Universal Outstanding Value’ (UOV) so that KKB town can be gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

or a National Heritage under the National Heritage Act. By December 2018, Selangor state government would have obtained the outcome of the study for further action. In the meantime, several development and conservation projects have also begun at the MDHS level such as repainting of a building in KKB town, renovating the old fire station and converting it into the district tourist information centre, upgrading of public facilities, adding more accommodation options, improving public recreation facilities and more. d. What is the prospect of cruises in Selangor? Is Port Klang still a port of call for cruise providers? Are there plans to encourage more cruise providers to stop at Port Klang? Cruise tourism is one of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) intended to increase the number of tourists specifically to Selangor and generally to Malaysia. The statistics from the Ministry of Transport Malaysia show that the number of stopover cruises increased in January 2018 through Boustead Cruise Centre Port Klang, which received 27 cruise calls from 10 cruise ships, bringing some 50,895 cruise passengers to Selangor. We are now looking at the feasibility of opening an information centre at the cruise terminal building to cater to these cruise passengers. The cruise experience to Selangor offers an exciting fusion of colourful culture, fascinating history, scenic landscapes and exotic cuisine. The Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang is operating as the port of call for major cruise lines like Cunard, The Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Star Cruises, with more joining in. e. what are your hope regarding Selangor tourism industry in the next five years? Travel and tourism are important economic contributors to many countries around the world because they bring indirect and induced impacts, which are significant. Selangor, being one of the most developed states in Malaysia, fittingly complements the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. I believe in the next five years, Selangor’s cities will be on the same par as the other developed cities that meet the needs of tourists and offer world-class facilities to all.

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Discover Selangor, #TakeMeAnywhere digital campaigns are carried out to introduce and promote various tourism products that are available in the state. We conduct familiarisation tours for media and tourists, including domestic and foreign travel agencies, to promote tourism products directly to key players, travel agencies and the general public, consequently bringing them closer to Selangor’s attractions.


Gaya Interview

Marketing Selangor As A Top-Of-Mind Destination Madam Noorul Ashikin Binti Mohd Din, General Manager of Tourism Selangor 047


maps, and infographics to provide comprehensive and interesting information about any event or type of tourism that can be experienced in Selangor, among them are the Informative Fun Map of Selangor, Selangor Breakaway directory and Selangor Travel Guide. To lure international tourists, throughout 2018, Tourism Selangor has participated in several major international travel and tourism exhibitions such as Arab Travel Mart in Dubai, JATA Tourism Expo in Tokyo, South Asia’s leading travel and tourism event SATTE in Delhi, World Travel Mart in London, ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai and more to introduce integrated tourism packages and boost foreign tourism promotion programmes to specific target markets. With the additional promotion campaigns through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and WeChat apps, Tourism Selangor are able to attract more international tourists via different tourism segments to visit Selangor.

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a. How popular is the state of Selangor as a tourism destination among domestic and foreign tourists? What are Tourism Selangor’s plans to promote Selangor to more domestic and foreign tourists? In the first quarter of 2018, Selangor received a vast number of tourists compared to the previous year. With the increased percentage of 9.04% of foreign tourist arrivals and 15.16% from domestic tourist arrivals, it is evident that Selangor is a favourite tourism destination. Those who are either already familiar or not yet familiar with Selangor would be pleased to learn that the state has new attractions that are becoming popular with tourists. Discover Selangor, #TakeMeAnywhere digital campaigns are carried out to introduce and promote various tourism products that are available in the state. We conduct familiarisation tours for media and tourists, including domestic and foreign travel agencies, to promote tourism products directly to key players, travel agencies and the general public, consequently bringing them closer to Selangor’s attractions. We also published travel brochures such as travel guides,

Tourism Selangor aims for the targeted markets to obtain better understanding and knowledge of the attractions and facilities available in Selangor, hence increase the number of tourist arrivals into the state in the next few years. Familiarisation trips will be continued to widen exposure, enhance opportunities and increase bilateral cooperation with travel agencies and media. b. What are Selangor’s current popular spots? Which areas in Selangor should tourists visit in 2018 and beyond? Are there any new spots coming up within Selangor that tourists should know about? Recently, we received high demand from tourists who want to experience the Blue Mosque in Shah Alam, Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor, Selangor Fruit Valley, Royal Klang Heritage Walk, Rainbow Staircase in Batu Caves, Eco Adventure Activities in Kuala Kubu Bharu, Kajang Heritage Walk, and Tanjung Sepat, among others. We consider these spots as the most popular in 2018. On top of that, ecotourism is also rising in prominence; the public has begun accepting the concept of Leisure Park for agrotourism, therefore demand towards this segment has increased and the facilities have been upgraded. I believe that in 2019, other tourism players will be highlighting new exciting products like Upin & Ipin Theme Park in Sepang district and Major Project for Eco Tourism in Bagan Lalang Beach. For shopping malls, the opening of Central i-City Shopping Centre in Shah Alam is much anticipated, believed to be one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.


c. Which Selangor tour packages do you think are popular in 2018 onward? Are there new products and attractions in Selangor that Tourism Selangor actively sells to tourists? Cruise shipping is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components within the leisure industry worldwide. It is fast emerging as a new marketable product. We are keen in selling this package by promoting Selangor as the preferred destination for shore excursions to worthy tourist spots and attractions located within an hour’s drive from Port Klang. This includes Royal Klang Heritage Walk, Carey Island, i-City, Sunway City, Shah Alam City Centre and the Blue Mosque in Shah Alam. Tourism Selangor also works towards positioning Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang as the country’s busiest cruise terminal. The increase of cruise tourism has positively impacted the number of visitor arrivals to Selangor. d. What are your hopes regarding Selangor tourism industry in the next five years? Tourism Selangor draws up comprehensive plans to further strengthen the state’s tourism industry every year by closely collaborating with Tourism Malaysia and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. With the abundance of facilities and attractions, Selangor perfectly meets the needs of all travellers and remains as a leading tourism destination in Malaysia. We also maintain good relationship with the local tourism industrial players such as travel agencies, airlines and hoteliers. Such strong rapport allows Tourism Selangor to aggressively promote tour packages that feature various destinations within the state and initiate tie-ups with local and international travel agencies to launch special travel packages based on market demand. “Discover Selangor, Heart of Malaysia” and #TakeMeAnywhere are effective campaigns that increase awareness and market demand towards tourism and travel-related services in Selangor, subsequently creating a benchmark for quality tourism products and services. Tourism Selangor increases the use of digital marketing in promotional and advertising activities as well to boost Discover Selangor campaign. We hold tourism events too to boost promotion both locally and abroad, including those organised by external organisations, to attract more domestic and international tourists.

As a progressive state, Selangor doesn’t fall behind in turning itself into one of the preferred tourist destinations among domestic and international tourists. The uniqueness and diversity of the state’s tourism products offer varied experiences to all travellers. Based on the efforts and emphasis shown by Tourism Selangor, we feel confident that the state of Selangor is well on its way to become the destination of choice among tourists from the world over. - Khuzaimah Jamaluddin, Promotions and Industrial Development Manager

Through various efforts including advertising campaigns, collaborations with media, corporate social responsibility programmes and publicity events, Tourism Selangor continues to remain prominent in ensuring that all these initiatives can be maximised to position the state of Selangor as one of the preferred tourist destinations so that it brings the biggest impact in boosting the state’s economy. - Ahmad Nazri Tashriq Rahmat, Corporate Communications Manager

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Destinations

#ETW7 : THE REGALEMENT OF

SELANGOR #ETW7 #DISCOVERSELANGOR #TAKEMEANYWHERE Te x t b y A I NA NA B I H A H

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Images by AMIRUL ADZIM

Eat.Travel.Write (ETW) programme – organised by Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN), in collaboration with Gaya Travel Magazine – returned for the seventh time to continue introducing to the media the unique and distinctive tourism attractions that local and international travellers can experience in Selangor as a means to solidify the state’s position as a leading tourism destination in Malaysia. The journey of explosive flavours and memorable experiences was held to uncover the hidden gems in the districts of Hulu Selangor and Kuala Selangor. A group of media practitioners, bloggers, and influencers were taken on a familiarisation trip to feast on the abundance of good food and entertainment during the four-day and three-night programme. The participants savoured delicious gourmet and participated in exciting activities, making the trip worthy of lifetime reminiscing and revisiting. Here’s a guide to what and where the participants were brought to during the programme…


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Clockwise from top: Scrumptius and buttery kaya puff at Teng Wun Bakery and confectionery; Warung Ibu serves her Nasi Ambeng in a tray full of bold flavours and love; Unique and refreshing bowl of sorbet cendol at Auntie Foo Cafe.


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Clockwise from top: Light rain at the Kg. Kuantan makes the tour cool and peaceful; Stingless bee honey tasting activity at the Selangor Fruits Valley; Amma’s Signature Bamboo Briyani rice is a myriad of authentic flavours and bold seasonings; The behind the scene of Kunya Kunya’s delectable Bahulu production.


WHAT TO EAT? Durian Cendol Borhan (https://www.facebook.com/pages/CendolDurian-Borhan/338747142838067) Nothing beats the sensation of a good bowl of cendol (green noodle dessert immersed in coconut milk mixed with shaved ice) on a hot day. Tucked beside the Klang-Teluk Intan freeway, Durian Cendol Borhan is the place to go for refreshments. Although durian cendol is quite common, Borhan’s recipe is in a class of its own. Smooth and creamy coconut milk is poured into the bowl together with palm sugar, then soft pandan jelly that melts in the mouth and a slab of durian flesh are added. Once you start sipping the cendol, you will find the sweet taste of the palm sugar mixed with the creamy coconut milk make the whole concoction magical. At Durian Cendol Borhan, another delicacy that travellers should not miss is the rojak. Covered generously with ground peanuts, compared to the rojak served at other places, Durian Cendol Borhan’s rojak is spicier thus leave you feeling heaty; but after a few bites, it gets pretty addictive. Teng Wun Bakery & Confectionary (https://www.facebook.com/teng.wun) Started in 1980, this 40-year-old bakery is still going strong with a delicious line of pastries that sell out on daily basis. Also known as Kaya Kok, this particular pastry lived up to its fame with buttery, brittle crust and sweet, creamy kaya paste filling. The airy crust mimics a soft puff pastry texture; once combined with thick kaya, the puff tastes so gratifying. Another popular choice is the spongy durian cake that is laced with a mix of fresh whipped cream and durian paste, making the whole dessert rather light yet intense. If you are not a fan of both, then there is an assortment of other desserts available that might suit your taste. The bakery’s cakes and cupcakes are popular too. Ran by the owner’s family members, Teng Wun Bakery has long gained the respect and attention of the media with its uncompromising taste and quality.

One of the most historical moments for the owner was when the bakery was visited by Malaysia’s former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak in 2010. Opens five days a week (closed on Tuesday), customers are advised to make reservations due to high demand. Auntie Foo’s (https://www.facebook.com/ AuntieFooKualaSelangor/) Auntie Foo’s, situated near Melawati hill, is an eccentric, hip and edgy café that attracts the younger generation of tourists to hang out and indulge. The air-conditioned interior and free Wi-Fi offers respite from Kuala Selangor’s scorching weather. Auntie Foo’s offers a great number of scrumptious food and beverages, ranging from nasi lemak to English breakfast. But the one dish that is a must-try is their signature cendol with smooth-textured sorbet made from coconut milk mixed with home-made palm sugar that does not cloy, hanging saccharinely between the creaminess of the coconut and the lightness of the cendol (green noodles). It is an interesting approach to the traditional dessert, and it works like wonders. Warung Ibu Nasi Ambeng (https://www.facebook.com/ Warungibunasiambeng/) Known as a Javanese traditional dish, Nasi Ambeng is usually served during celebrations such as weddings and events. It also signifies unity and egalitarianism. Traditionally, the dish is served in a big tray and shared by four or five people at once. Warung Ibu Nasi Ambeng prepares the dish purely out of its original intent, as the set of rice, chicken, spiced coconut shavings and fried noodles are served in a big, round tray and shared by two customers at a time. The portion is actually quite large it could even be shared up to three persons per tray. Only 16 minutes from Kuala Selangor, this restaurant is worth the stop because the food served is made with love and sincerity consistently by Ibu (Malay word for mother) since ten years ago. Open: Everyday Operating hours: 10:00 a.m. until sold

out (usually at around 2:00 p.m. on weekends) Price: MYR7.00 to MYR18.00 Batang Kali Bamboo Biryani (https://www.facebook.com/ ammassignatures/) Commonly found at the streets of Karnataka Tamil-Nadu, India, locals can now have a taste of Bamboo cooked biryani rice in Batang Kali, Selangor. Amma’s Signature is a catering company that specialises in this exotic dish, and they recently converted their headquarters into a restaurant that accepts dine-in customers. The Bamboo Biryani served is so aromatic, the scent of spices and herbs wafts all the way to the exterior of the cosy dining area. The portion is big and can be shared up to three people at one time. Their specialty ranges from normal meats such as chicken, meat and lamb all the way to seafood, especially the lobster Bamboo Biryani Rice at MYR160.00 per set. All their spices like garam masala are imported from India, so the food at the restaurant tastes undeniably authentic. Customers are advised to make reservations before dining in. Operating Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Price: From RM18.50 to RM160.00 Kunya-Kunya (https://www.facebook.com/ kunyakunyaofficial/) Dried chips are one of the staple snacks that can be found in most Malaysian houses, eaten in the afternoon with tea. The supplier of local snacks called Kunya-Kunya has been in business since 1999 and is famous among locals but operates from a humble store, which is an extension of the owner’s home that doubles up as a factory where the cooking and preparing of the snacks such as dried banana chips, onion chips and bahulu (bite-sized soft cakes) take place. The store also sells items from other vendors. With innovation at the heart of the business model, Kunya-Kunya is open for tours and manufacturing demonstration. Open: Everyday Operating Hour: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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to the public. Thrill seekers can opt for outdoor sports for instance kayaking, mountain bike-riding and off-road, fourwheeled driving around the farm. Children, especially students, can obtain an educational experience to help them with their studies through a short demonstration of Tissue Culturing technique developed by SFV’s own lab within the premises. For animal lovers, Selangor Fruits Valleys provides a chance to get up close and personal with animals at the petting zoo and barn. This wholesome valley spells family-friendly fun, complete with amenities like trams, cafe, and comfortable toilet. Open: Everyday except Friday Operating hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Price: Adult (MyKAD): MYR10.00 Child (MYKID): MYR5.00 Elderly: MYR5.00 Non-Malaysians: MYR20.00

Unending line of seafood delicacy at D’Rimba Shell Out

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D’Rimba Shell Out (https://www.facebook.com/pages/DrimbaShellout/571953309679991) The culture of ‘shell-out’ dining has always intrigued and interested locals who love the experience and do it repeatedly. At D’Rimba Shell Out, the experience of dining out with friends is heightened by the restaurant’s ambience and range of menu that includes butter-cooked crab, tom yam soup, black pepper lamb, chilli mussels and three-flavoured sea-bass. The spicy ones are not for the faint-hearted, but with frothy chrysanthemum tea on the side, the dishes become totally irresistible, screaming to be finished to the last drop. Located less than two hours’ drive away from Kuala Lumpur, this restaurant is worth the trip because the recipes are all uniquely crafted by the owner. Price: RM49 per set (4 persons) WHAT TO DO? Selangor Fruit Valley (https://selangorfruitvalley.my/) Founded in 2003, Selangor Fruit Valley (SFV) reopened in 2017 after six years of hiatus and reconstruction. This agricultural theme park sits on a staggering 1,500-acre land that was once belonged to Selangor State Forestry Department. It was then transformed by Selangor Agricultural Development Corporation (PKPS) into an agro-tourism spot. The park sports the motto of ‘Sharing the experience’ in its operation as travellers are allowed to pick and choose their activities along with how many people they desire. Fruit-shopping, farm tour, vegetable-picking, rubber-tapping, and various other activities related to agriculture are offered

Kampung Kuantan Fireflies (T: +60332891439) For those who love gazing over the stars and spending the night in the quiet serenity of nature, Kampung Kuantan Fireflies experience provides just that. Even better, it allows travellers to get intimately close with these little brilliant creatures. The Fireflies in Kampung Kuantan is mostly made up of Pteroptyx tener species, which is a type of beetle and that exclusively reside in the Berembang tree that grows wildly in Selangor river mangroves. The round trip takes about 20 minutes and on darker nights, these fireflies brightly illuminate the side of the swamp. The small boat fits four, and the experienced rowers who has been doing this for decades make the ride smooth and safe. Be careful not to take flash photos and make loud noises because that would disrupt the fireflies’ and cause them not to flicker for a while. Operating Hours: 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Admission fees: RM50 per boat (4 persons) Open: Everyday Cholo Cholo Hot Springs (https://www.instagram.com/ontokontok/) One of the major attractions in Batang Kali is the Ulu Tamu Hot springs. Right beside it is Cholo Cholo Hot springs and restaurant with smaller and shallower pools that comfortably fits around fifteen to twenty people. The landscaping of Cholo Cholo almost reminds you of a Japanese hot springs spa. This small and private establishment offers facilities such as clean toilets, restaurant right next to the pool and in the near future, a few private hot spring pools and normal swimming pool. The construction of these new additions is expected to be finished by March 2019, but the rest of the area is open for business. To get to this place, it only takes 40 minutes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur and 30 minutes’ drive from Genting Highlands. Kuala Selangor Nature Park (https://www.mns.my/kuala-selangor-nature-park-ksnp/) One of the most interesting stops during ETW7 was the visit to Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Managed by Malaysian Nature


Society since 1987, the conservation park has been maintained for 21 years and recently gain strong attention from local and international travellers, particularly bird watchers because over 100 species of endangered and migratory birds can be spotted here. Travellers can explore the area by traversing the 3.5-kilometre track that takes about 45 minutes to complete entirely, bringing them to the secondary forest and mangroves. Travellers can take in the park’s glory by utilising its watchtowers, peep-hole gazebos and shaded rest-stops when exploring it. For those planning to sleep over, the park offers a variety of accommodations such as A-frame huts (MYR30), chalets (MYR60), dormitories (MYR200) and hostels (MYR140). Open: Daily Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Entrance Fees: Adult: MYR4 Child: MYR1 Senior Citizen: MYR2 Melawati Hill (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/GovernmentOrganization/PERBADANAN-ADAT-MELAYU-DANWARISAN-NEGERI-SELANGOR-197117280329624/) Melawati Hill is already an established and charming tourism hotspot that includes a lighthouse and historical fortress. Travellers can choose to go uphill by taking the tram, and then spend a few minutes appreciating the panoramic view that stretches all the way to the Straits of Malacca from the top of the fortress. In the past, the fortress was once owned by a Malay kingdom and then reinforced by Dutch colonisers with cannons. The lighthouse (also known as Altingburg Lighthouse) played an integral part in guiding ships across the peninsula from 1907 until today! Travellers could also get acquainted with troops of friendly yet mischievous silver leaf monkeys that are unique to only a handful of countries, and one of them is Malaysia. Do also spend a few moments at Kuala Selangor Historical Museum to learn more about the historical significance of the site and admire the ancient artefacts. During the ETW7 trip, the participants were entertained by a talented group of students from Citra Ugik Art Association who performed a type of silat (traditional Malay martial art) called Silat Sendi Cemara Bugis that was inspired by a local pine tree called cemara (casuarina). Operating Hours for Kuala Selangor Historical Museum: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tram Tickets: RM5.30 per adult RM3.20 for child

Painted in contrasting palates such as white, red and black, this establishment commands immediate attention as the design of the containers blends in with the surroundings. The rooms are space-efficient with built-in furniture and cleverly thought bathrooms, similar to the kind of comfort found in normal hotels. Complete with swimming pools, multi-purpose field, karaoke room equipped with foosball game and an array of rentable vehicles; residents would have to stay at least two nights to fully enjoy what The Kabin has to offer. Only an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur via LATA highway and surrounded by multiple restaurants, The Kabin is fully booked during the weekends, so do reserve three months prior to check-in date to ensure availability. Check out their rates at www.thekabin.com.my Eco Murai Rimba Strategically situated next to a river and only an hour from Kuala Lumpur, Eco Murai Rimba is the right accommodation for travellers who are city-weary. This resort has small chalets that line up by the roadside and right below is the Batang Kali River that is clean and suitable for swimming. The area is covered with a wall of of trees that shields it from the sounds of passing vehicles, and there is also a small porch on site where cooking and barbecuing can be done and even encouraged. The rooms are basic but comfy, and the shared toilets are constructed in eco-friendly manner to keep the environment clean. A small, hovering lounge affords an unobstructed view of the river and becomes a great spot to unwind to the symphony of nature. Walk-in customers are not accepted and reservations need to be made beforehand. Rate: RM130 per night including breakfast

WHERE TO STAY? The Kabin (www.thekabin.com.my) Nestled between the series of large green fields and a walking distance to Remis beach, The Kabin is a concept accommodation consisting of 18 container units converted into guestrooms that are optimised to maximise comfort.

Aerial view of The Kabin’s spacious vacinity

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Gaya Special Feature: Terengganu

Image by Studiyo Mung. stu dyomung/ ter beautiful nge ps/sekmu

engganuap xplorer

B E A U T I F U L T E R E N G G A N U -Malaysia’s Hidden JemTe x t b y RA I H A N F O Z I A N , RAY YA N H A RI ES , A N I S ROZALINA RAMLI (CONVERGENCE MAGAZINE) & AZMI ABDULLAH (TOURISM TERENGGANU)

Beautiful Terengganu is a must-visit Peninsular Malaysia East Coast state that encapsulates treasures of nature, tradition and heritage. Terengganu State Tourism, Culture and Information Technology Committee Chairman, the Honourable Haji Ariffin Deraman, strongly believes that travellers to Terengganu are bound to be enchanted by its host of wonders ranging from emerald islands surrounded by crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and cool splashes of waterfalls to batik, songket, wood carving and various other handicrafts with exquisite designs, including rich local culture. The following are some of Terengganu’s off-the-beaten-track experiences that travellers should not miss when visiting the state.


1. Setiu Wetlands State Park – Sustaining the Nature, Benefitting the Community The Setiu Wetlands is made up of three river basins that converge into one continuous 14-kilometre long lagoon. It has nine interconnected ecosystems: sand islands, mudflats, mangroves, peat swamp, riparian forest, seagrass beds and sandy beaches, including a lagoon filled with brackish water. Out of 23,000 hectares of land in Setiu, 432 hectares has been gazetted as State Park under Terengganu’s State Park Enactment 2017. The wetlands are crucial because they support biodiversity, control flood, mitigate erosion, function as natural grounds for aqua culture breeding, provide abundant resources like wild honey, crabs, clams, oysterfarming, including rushes for mat-weaving. Nature lovers can witness endangered terrapins and green turtles thriving in their natural habitats, making the wetlands their home. It is also a favourite stopover point for migratory continental birds coming from as far as Siberia and Northern China during Northern Hemisphere winter. Travellers are recommended to go on a slow boat tour to observe the mangroves and stop by at one of the fish breeding farms in the lagoon or saunter leisurely along its boardwalk. Contact Ayah Ku (+6 017 930 6736) of Persatuan Sahabat Alam Setiu for an informative guided tour around the wetlands. Facebook : Sahabat Setiu 2. Nature Redefined at Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark For outdoor adventure seekers, Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark offers rugged experiences and accommodations such as camping, hammocking and even glamping via its three ‘tubotels’ and two dormitories for families or groups. Located a few kilometres away from La Hotspring and Lata Tembakah in Besut, the place offers activities such as river-crossing, flying fox, archery, combat archery, mountain-biking, ATV ride, jungle-trekking and waterrafting. The best time to enjoy rafting using rubber dinghy is during the monsoon months (October to February) when more water flows from the hinterland. Air Deru means soothing sounds of flowing water where natural pools are formed, suitable for those wanting to take a dip. Those who prefer not to indulge in any activity could simply enjoy the symphony of the jungle comprising the sounds of water, rustling leaves, birds and insects. Plans are underway to provide more accommodation and facilities, including fruit orchards and an obstacle course. Contact Kaswadi (+6 013 927 6998) and Facebook : Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark for more information. 3. A Simple Approach to Hospitality in an Oil Palm Plantation Not many know that there is a survival campsite in Seri Bandi in Kemaman offering back-to-nature experience with accommodations in the form of hammocking, camping or glamping. Located in an oil palm plantation, it is an ideal place to organise survival camp, motivational camp, team-building, self-reflection getaway and weekend family retreats. Due to its expansive grounds, this ‘palmstay’ does not feel too crowded even when there are many travellers staying at any one time. Activities include trail-hiking, fishing and visiting the nearby Jeram Penitih waterfall. The dishes prepared here are unique such as it’s grilled catfish, fern sprout and other raw herbs served together with rice on a large leaf. Contact Che Ghani (+6 019 917 4012) for prior booking. Facebook : Kelip Kelip Palmstay Seri Bandi.

every egg laid on Teluk Mak Nik Beach has higher chance of survival. Turtles are endangered species and the government is working hard to control the number before they go extinct. Turtles could lay up to 100 eggs at any one time. Once they are done, staff from the conservation programme record the number of eggs and transfer them to a special hatchery to minimise the risk of those eggs being eaten by predators. At Teluk Mak Nik Beach, travellers can join in releasing baby turtles into the sea or even witness turtles come to shore at night to lay eggs. Call Pak Su (+6 013 906 4828) to arrange for a guided tour to the hatchery as well as turtle-watching at secluded beaches within the vicinity. For further information, visit www.dof.gov.my. 5. Unbelievably Lucid River in Malaysia Sungai Bangan is one of the least visited rivers in Terengganu and largely untouched by human activities. Recently discovered by hikers, the river is located within a beautiful nature reserve park comprising the areas of Gunung Chemerong, Berembun and Langsir (CBL for short) in Hulu Dungun. Travellers need to spend at least two days to complete the trail, preferably with experienced hikers and local rangers, so they need to be physically fit. Hikers know it is definitely worth the journey when they are able to plunge into the cooling and lucid water that is rejuvenating beyond words! The trail starts at Hutan Lipur Chemerong within Hulu Dungun, roughly 100 kilometres away from Kuala Terengganu. Besides crystal clear water, this is the place where one of the highest vertical waterfalls in Malaysia, Chemerong, is located. Hikers then make way to the peak of Mount Chemerong and Berembun, spending the night at Langsir waterfall campsite to watch the panoramic sunrise from the peak of the waterfall in the morning after while getting ready for the next leg of the journey, which is another three hours to reach Bangan River. Contact the South Terengganu District Forest Office (+6 09 848 1404) for permit and Siti (+6 09 845 2978) for experienced rangers. Facebook : Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Terengganu www.trgforestry.terengganu.gov.my. 6. Visiting the Islamic world landmarks at Taman Tamadun Islam Taman Tamadun Islam (TTI or the Islamic Civilisation Park) offers an immersive experience relating to Islamic civilisation through the replicas of 22 significant monuments erected in this park that greatly contribute towards the advancement of Islam. Among them are The Sacred Mosque (Masjidil Haram) in Saudi Arabia, Al-Hambra Citadel in Spain, Kalyan Minaret in Uzbekistan, Lutfallah Mosque in Iran and more. There are choices of trams, buggies or rented bicycles available for travellers to complete their tour of this park. Alternatively, they can also explore at their own pace by foot to learn about the monuments and Islam more closely. One of Terengganu’s icons, the Crystal Mosque, is just a five-minute walk away from TTI. So, after completing the tour of TTI, travellers can head to the Crystal Mosque and be fascinated by its dazzling architecture. Travellers to TTI can also cruise the scenic Terengganu River while stopping over at the State Museum and other interesting attractions along the way like Pulau Duyung, the traditional fishing village of Seberang Takir, and Payang Market. The cruise starts and ends at the jetty close to the Crystal Mosque. There are also night cruises with dining experience where passengers can savour authentic Terengganu or western dishes while taking in the mesmerising panorama.

4. Up Close and Personal with Turtles

Taman Tamadun Islam opens daily except Tuesdays. Call +6 09 627 8888 or browse www.tti.com.my for more information.

All animal lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit Teluk Mak Nik Beach in Kemaman, which recorded the highest number of turtle landings. The Turtle Conservation Programme has been set up here to ensure that

Browse beautifulterengganu.com for more information. Like, Follow & Share Beautiful Terengganu Malaysia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


Destinations

Journeying through

Hulu Terengganu Te x t & I m a g e s b y S H A H I DA S A KERI

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Images by FIKRI MAHAD & AMIRUL ADZIM

Pristine beaches, colourful underwater corals and gorgeous islands has undeniably put Terengganu on the world map as the idyllic tropical destination. But believe it or not, this beautiful eastern state has plenty more to offer to travellers, including centuries-old legacies and one of the biggest man-made lakes in South East Asia. Follow us through these pages as we introduce Hulu Terengganu, the state’s hinterland district, blessed with not only untouched natural beauty, but also sense of adventure. Whether you are hoping to relax or seeking a thrill, Hulu Terengganu will give you no shortage of things to do.


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A visitor feeding the mahseers with organic fish palettes at Kelah Sanctuary.


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KUALA BERANG

contains codified Islamic law), was laid to rest.

Warisan Pahlawan Resort Why not start your journey by learning about traditional local architecture? Established since 2009, Warisan Pahlawan Resort was founded by Tuan Ahmad Tuan Abdullah, a passionate 58-year-old antique collector cum excellent craftsman with deep love towards all things classic. This family-run resort features 11 restored old houses, including the original house belonging to Mat Kilau (legendary Pahang warrior – read https://www.gayatravel.com.my/discoveringland-mat-kilau/ for more information) that has been around for almost 165 years.

Kuala Berang Wildlife Conservation Centre Today, terrapins are a critically threatened species due to its low rate of reproduction. Their nesting season happens only once a year, which is in February, and each female terrapin normally lays between six to 10 eggs per season. It will then require another two months for these eggs to hatch and obtain 70 to 80 percent of survival rate for each batch. Recognising this alarming situation, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) of Terengganu has set up a conservation centre to breed the species before releasing them to the wild once they reached two years old. Here, visitors can learn about the conservation efforts that PERHILITAN does and play with these cute little animals at the same time. However, be mindful when playing with terrapins because unlike their chelonian cousins, they have impressive claws.

The traditional Terengganu houses at the resort boast intricate ukir tebuk carvings, senggora (gable) roof, buton columns, and uses tanggam and pasak technique (a series of interlocking joints to connect the woods). On top of these, they are made of chengal wood that is known for its ability to survive the test of time and harsh weather. We suggest staying here for a night if you are an avid fan of traditional architecture. The entire premise exudes alluring charm of a glorious past, so convincing that even film directors are attracted to shoot movies here. One such movie is a local horror flick called Puaka Niang Rapik. Kampung Jenagor Perkampungan Sumber Warisan Budaya Melayu Step back into the past and experience how it was like living in 60s and 70s in Terengganu. This village, which located around two hours from the capital, offers visitors just that: a glimpse of the bygone era. Visitors will be garbed in traditional attire and need to take a boat ride for 10 minutes along Sungai Berang before reaching the village. Upon arrival, they are treated to a welcoming ceremony comprising silat (Malay martial art) performance and a traditional dinner where they have to sit on the floor like how it was back then. They will then proceed to Panggung Raja Sakti, an open stage where a group of dancers and musicians entertain guests with age-old songs full of pearls of wisdom and sketches. I was particularly drawn into the Puteri Gunung Ledang sketch and especially amazed with the graceful moves of the dancers. Only then I discovered that these talented performers have performed for the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak five times. Today, they perform to the public every Friday from 10:00 p.m. until midnight at this village. Besides conserving heritage, Jenagor Village is also believed to be the place where the first Terengganu sultanate was declared and where Syarif Muhamad Albaghdadi, the one who established and enacted the famous Batu Bersurat (Inscription Stone that

Terengganu Inscription Stone Memorial Kuala Berang is also famous as the place where the wellknown Batu Bersurat (Inscription Stone) carrying the earliest evidence of Jawi writing was found. To commemorate this important discovery, local villagers built an on-site memorial in Padang Tara, Kampung Buloh, near Sungai Tara bank. The replica of the Batu Bersurat is placed here while the original version is exhibited at Terengganu State Museum. This Inscription Stone makes an invaluable heritage treasure for the country as it serves as testimony of the advent of Islam into South East Asia. Multiple theories cited that the script was written between 1303 to 1387 C.E. by Syarif Muhammad al-Baghdadi, an Arab missionary who eventually created a fiefdom in ancient Terengganu and instrumental in spreading Islam throughout the region. Today, this artefact is protected under the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. D’Aroma Kampung Gaung For a taste of authentic traditional dishes that even the locals approve, D’Aroma Kampung Gaung Restaurant may be the answer. Do not be fooled by the humble façade of this eatery as the food offerings do speak for themselves. Ikan baung (a type of catfish) is the star here, typically cooked in either mildly spicy tempoyak (fermented durian) gravy or asam pedas (spicy and sour gravy). Sekayu Waterfall Terengganu is undeniably one of the warmest (temperaturewise) states in Malaysia, so why not cool off in the refreshing waters of beautiful waterfalls while admiring the pristine surroundings? One of the locals’ favourites is the seven-tier


Sekayu Waterfall that is located around an hour’s drive from Kuala Terengganu. The cascading waterfalls along with resting huts, camping sites and affordable chalets make an ideal picnic getaway for visitors to relax for a day or two, and should they want to see more, there is a huge State Agriculture Park nearby, complete with tropical fruit orchards, a restaurant, a mini zoo and a swimming pool.

visitors to admire the beautiful surrounding greenery.

Little Amazon Sungai Berang If swimming at the waterfall is not enough, then head on to Terengganu’s very own Little Amazon and explore the beautiful jungle in the most fun ways. There are a few activities available here including tubing, rafting, kayaking and cruising along the Sungai Berang near Kampung Lebak.

Kelah Sanctuary How do you feel about having hundreds of fish not just swimming but also slithering between your feet? Well, you won’t know until you try it at the Kelah Sanctuary, which is the breeding and nursery ground for the king of river fish known as kelah (mahseer). This endangered fish, commercially valued at MYR100 per kilogram, is facing extinction due to overfishing and the destruction of its habitat. Besides, mahseer takes three years to grow to a size of three kilogrammes when it is sexually mature, thus require more time to reproduce.

KENYIR LAKE Kenyir Eco Resort Haven’t had a long peaceful sleep? We invite you to try staying on houseboat, which does not only offer you serenity and slumber-inducing still nights but also allows you to be one with nature. Our personal pick is the Kenyir Eco Resort with its comfortable beds and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, including the fun banana boat rides and fishing. The boathouse is run by a lovely local man, whose wife prepares delicious meals for guests to savour. Kenyir Eco Resort is closed from November to December due to monsoon season. The rate for a Quadruple Room (Sleeps 4 Guests) is between MYR280 to MYR300 per night (depending on season), but there is also the dormitories option for larger group of guests. I personally love swimming in Kenyir Lake because the freshwater remains comfortably warm throughout day and night. However, due to the notable depth of the lake (up to 145 metres), it is always important to wear lifejackets when swimming. During clear weather, travellers could even witness the beautiful starry sky at night. Facebook Page: @excelladventurekenyir (Kenyir Eco Resort) Kenyir Elephant Conservation Village If you love watching adorable elephants up close, consider visiting this sanctuary, which is home to 18 rescued elephants. There is a show held twice a day, and if you don’t mind getting wet, visitors are welcomed to bathe the elephants at a nearby tributary. The village spans 256 hectares, but only 10% of the area is developed to provide the best natural habitat possible for these elephants. There are also canopy walks in the area for

Website: www.kecv.com.my Entrance Fee: MYR40 per adult (MyKad Holder) and MYR100 per adult (Non-MyKad Holder); MYR20 per child (MyKad Holder) and MYR50 per child (Non-MyKad Holder)

At this sanctuary, visitors are welcome to play with the fishes and feed them with fish pallets that can be purchased for MYR2 per pack, but no fishing is allowed in the area. Visitors also need to trek 1.75 kilometres on easy trail before reaching the tributary where the fishes can be found, therefore wearing appropriate and comfortable footwear is strongly recommended. Besides feeding the fishes, there is also a 100-metre canopy bridge that visitors can walk along to appreciate the surrounding greenery. The sanctuary is closed from November to February due to monsoon season, as well as the ideal time when the fishes start to breed. Entrance Fee: MYR10 (MyKad Holder) and MYR20 (Non-MyKad Holder) Boat Transfer Rate from Pos Kawalan Jetty: MYR5 for return trip Lake Kenyir Herbal Park The park sits on Sah Kecil Island, covering over 15 hectares of land with almost 26,000 trees of 240 herb species. Visitors are welcome to roam around the small island and explore the herbs on their own, but if they want to listen to more in-depth explanation, guides are available upon request. There is also an on-site spa that offers traditional treatments such as aromatherapy and herbal baths. Be sure to taste the complimentary Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah and Mahkota Dewa drinks while you are here and learn about their health benefits. Free entry from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.

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Clockwise from top: The replica of Batu Bersurat, the ukir tebuk carvings often found on traditional Terengganu houses; Dried Mahkota Dewa that has a number of medicinal uses; The rescued terrapin at KBWCC; An elephant taking a splash at KECV; The bird’s-eye view of guests at the Kenyir Eco Resor; Celup tepung: popular local tea time snack; Rumah Tok Pauh: another classic house at Warisan Pahlawan Resort.

ARRIVING IN TERENGGANU Hotel Seri Malaysia

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Kuala Terengganu is the usual gateway for travellers entering the state by air, before continuing their journey further to the other parts of the east coast. We suggest that travellers stay at a hotel in the middle of Kuala Terengganu and take the time exploring the city. Hotel Seri Malaysia makes an ideal base for travellers because it sits right within the commercial district and is only a stone’s throw away from various tourist attractions such as Chinatown and Pasar Payang. The rates are also affordable. Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Tourism Malaysia Terengganu and the Central Terengganu Development Authority (KETENGAH) for making our trip to Terengganu a reality. Interested travellers who need assistance in arranging their trip to the above locations can contact Go Nature Travel Agency (www.facebook.com/GoNatureTravel) for a fuss-free holiday experience.


A ns we ring

‘Dah Ke Belum?’

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The writer admiring the beauty of Royal Belum State Park


Destinations

Te x t b y M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J ELA N I Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI & AMIRUL ADZIM

Royal Belum State Park in northern Perak is a 130-million-year-old rainforest, a fact that not only put the park on the world map, but also Malaysia for having the world’s oldest rainforest. Interestingly, Royal Belum State Park was only discovered around 200 years ago by a couple of Siamese royalties. The British then took over the forest and included it as part of Perak through the AngloSiamese Treaty 1909. On 3 May 2007, this 117,500-hectare park was gazetted as State Park after being bestowed with royal status by the late Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, on 31 July 2003. It is important to note that Royal Belum State Park is part of the Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex which is four times the size of Singapore! The name ‘Belum’ is said to have derived from a stick insect called belalang (grasshopper), which is believed to emit sounds that are similar to the pronunciation of the name. To fully admire this wonderful gem, Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Perak recently organised a familiarisation trip called ‘Dah Ke Belum?’, which loosely translates as ‘Been to Belum?’. 25 journalists, bloggers and social media influencers were brought to experience and promote Royal Belum State Park as a premier tourism destination in Malaysia, together with Ipoh and Tanjung Tualang.

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WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN ROYAL BELUM STATE PARK? Cruising along the river From Hentian Royal Belum Amanjaya in Pulau Banding, Gerik, we departed on a cruising houseboat for two days and a night. From the moment the jetty disappeared in the distance, we began to be surrounded by a panorama of seemingly untouched forest and river. We were lucky that the weather during the first day on the houseboat was clear, allowing us to truly enjoy the pristine tropical environment. On the second day however, it rained heavily and the wind was strong. Thanks to our experienced houseboat pilot, all of us remained safe and we continued enjoying our experience. We even get to see a family of wild small-clawed otters swimming in the lake and gambolling along its bank from our boat while waiting for the rain to stop.

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Bamboo rafting One of the exciting activities that we did was bamboo rafting while swimming in the lake that was green in colour due to the chlorophyll-containing algae that indicates the richness of the lake’s biodiversity. It was not easy navigating the raft with a bamboo paddle, but the experience was fun and worthwhile, giving us ample opportunity to take interesting photos and selfies. Swimming with mahseer at Kelah Sanctuary, Sungai Ruok We arrived at this place in 10 minutes by speed boat before continuing the journey for another 15 minutes by foot. The trek to the place can get tough and slippery trek as long as you wear suitable footwear and be cautious all the times, it surely is safe. As soon as we arrived, the view of a waterfall and mountain river filled with hundreds of kelah (mahseer) fish kept us in awe. In no time, we found ourselves already in the refreshing water, swimming and frolicking around with the ticklish, friendly fishes. Visit the Orang Asli settlement The Jahai tribe is indigenous to Royal Belum and it is a must for travellers to pay them a visit. The famous village is called


Kampung Aman Damai but during our visit, the villagers were already in their fifth day of moving to a new area that would incorporate vegetable farms such as tapioca, lemongrass and chillies. Interestingly, their houses are made of natural wood and materials such as medang, meranti, kayu arang and bamboo as main components and cucuh leaves for the roof. The head of the village named Pangwa explained to us about their lifestyle and culture, and even showed us the footprints of the elephants that roamed the area the day before. The new place where the village is moving to is inhabited by 12 families. Exploring the Salt Lick at Jenut Papan Along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, Salt lick is a sort of ‘natural animals’ clinic’ where animals, mostly herbivores, obtain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and zinc. To arrive at this location, we trekked for about 15 minutes, passing through a camp site and a suspension bridge. This salt lick is produced from a spring that naturally exists amidst rocks. If you wish to witness animals like tapir, barking deer and mouse deer licking the salt, come here between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Since it is an actual wildlife sanctuary, do not be surprised if you happen to bump into predators like tigers, so it is important to trust and pay attention to your guide’s instructions at all times. Plenty more activities to experience if you intend to stay longer: • Spot the enormous Rafflesia • Fish for the giant snakehead • Trek to waterfalls such as Sungai Kooi, Semelian, Tiang and Mes • Visit Gua Batu Putih

Clockwise from Top Left: Heading to our houseboat named Casuarina@Temenggor 1; The breathtaking view of Royal Belum State Park; Participants passing through the suspension bridge on the way to the salt lick; The newly built house of Jahai tribe; Visitors feeding the kelah fish at Kelah Sanctuary Sungai Ruok.

Note: Interested travellers should visit Casuarina Hotels’ website at www. casuarinahotels.com.my/hotel/boathouse/ boathouse-casuarina-temenggor1/ or call +6 05 529 9999 to arrange their houseboat trip to Royal Belum State Park.

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Clockwise from Top Left: Participants trying out the ATV at PATRO; The half-sized walnut which contains 100 figurines at Miniature Wonders Art Gallery; The instagram-worthy rainbow cheese toast fits well with the setting of Concubine Lane; Spacious guestroom at Casuarina@Meru Hotel; Our scrumptious Ikan Purbakala Sayong at Labu Sayong Signature; One of the exhibitions at Han Chin Pet Soo that portrays the activity of its members here.


WHAT WE EXPERIENCE IN IPOH? Miniature Wonders Art Gallery At only MYR5 per person as the admission fee, this twostorey gallery mainly features dough-made sculptures depicting Chinese legend, folklore and history created by Phoon Lek Kuin and his father-in-law. Travellers are bound to be amazed by these painstakingly detailed artworks, especially the half-sized walnut that contains 100 figurines that can only be seen clearly under a magnifying glass! Other impressive exhibits include dioramas such as ‘Along the River during the Qingming Festival’, ‘Terracotta Warriors and Horses’, ‘The Monkey King Caused Havoc in Heavenly Palace’ and ‘Tang Dynasty Royal Banquet’. A: 49, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak T: +6 018 579 0492 F: www.facebook.com/MWAGallery Concubine Lane In the heart of Ipoh, Concubine Lane charms local and international travellers alike due to its beautiful, colonialstyled buildings, besides its adumbral history; this was where Chinese tycoons and British officers hid their concubines back in 1908. These days, the area has been turned into as a fancy tourist spot where travellers can find stylish souvenir shops and eateries that peddle snacks such as iceball and rainbow cheese toast. Though this lane is connected to two other lanes (Wife Lane and Second Concubine Lane), it remains the busiest. Han Chin Pet Soo Hakka Miners’ club named Han Chin Pet Soo was established back in 1893. The place was so mysterious that no one other than the club members and VIPs were allowed to step inside. It turned out that the place was notorious because it was the place where miners engaged in vices also known as ‘The Four Evils’ such as gambling, opium, prostitution and The Triads (Secret Societies). Today, it has been converted into a museum where travellers can learn more than the dark past such as the advent of the lucrative tin-mining industry in Perak and the early history of the Chinese in Ipoh. A: 3, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30100 Ipoh, Negeri Perak T: +6 05 241 4541 W: www.ipohworld.org Labu Sayong Signature Set within a traditional Malay house, the recently opened Labu Sayong Signature is a restaurant offering authentic Perak

dishes such as Ikan Purbakala Sayong (deep fried seabass stuffed with 27 herbal ingredients served with chilly ginger sauce), Kurma Kambing Biji Ketumbar (braised lamb with coriander, cumin, fennel and coconut milk), Udang Lemak Asam Payas (simmered tiger prawns with tamarind, shrimp paste and turmeric coconut gravy) and Wadai Kiping Gula Kabung (flour dumpling with palm sugar), all of which are totally gratifying. A: Labu Sayong Signature, Persiaran Meru Raya 1, Bandar Meru Raya 30020 Ipoh, Perak T: +605 237 5237 W: labusayong.com.my Casuarina@Meru Hotel Whether it is for business or leisure, Casuarina@Meru Hotel is a meritorious choice. Conveniently located at Bandar Meru Raya that is only minutes away from Ipoh, the hotel offers 146 cosy and stylish guestrooms complete with high-speed Internet access. It also has a Business Centre, an executive boardroom, three meeting rooms, seven function rooms and Aman Jaya Convention Centre, which which is the largest ballroom without pillars in Ipoh, making it suitable for conferences, exhibitions or even weddings. A: Casuarina@Meru Hotel, No. 1-C, Jalan Meru Casuarina, Bandar Meru Raya, 30020 Ipoh, Perak T: +6 05 529 9999 W: www.casuarinahotels.com.my/hotel/hotel/hotel-casuarinameru/ WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN TANJUNG TUALANG Perak Agrotourism Resort (PATRO) Spanning across 268 hectares of land, PATRO is an integrated boutique agrotourism resort that combines the elements of nature, agriculture and rural tourism. It has six types of accommodations namely tube camp, deluxe villa, Peranakan villa, super deluxe villa, family twin villa and Kutai suite. More than just a stay, it also has six educational attractions such as mango orchard, duck pen with salted duck egg production, chilli fertigation, stingless bee farm, and forest secret herbal garden. Guests can also partake in horse-riding, bike-riding, petting zoo, paintball, ATV-riding, camping, paddle-boating and kayaking. A: A15, Tanjung Tualang, Perak T: 1 800 22 8772 W: www.patro.com.my

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Destinations

From

KL to Terengganu We Ride

Te x t b y M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J ELA N I Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI & AMIRUL ADZIM

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Recently, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) and Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau (KLTB), together with Gaya Travel Magazine, organised a convoy tour entitled Eat, Travel, Ride (ETR) International 2.0 involving over 100 bikers from local and international members of Kingz Motorcycle Group (MG) who snaked their way to the Peninsular Malaysian east coast state of Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur (KL) in the span of three days, covering the distance of approximately 400 kilometres one way. Beginning the ride from Kuala Lumpur Tower, the convoy stopped at multiple places of interest, including Taman Sinar Harapan in Kuala Terengganu, which is an institution that provides care, protection and rehabilitation to 65 children with learning disabilities, as part of the group’s corporate social responsibility initiative. These highly spirited and sharply-witted children were given the chance to ride on big bikes around the neighbourhood. Kingz MG also donated MYR5,300 to the institution for it to meet its needs. If you intend to vroom your big bikes like we did to Terengganu from KL, the following are the places worth stopping by along the way.


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Top: The view of Cherating Beach which is just in walking distance from ēRYAbySURIA Cherating; Bottom: Aerial view of participants’ Harley Davidsons parked at ēRYAbySURIA Cherating.


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Clockwise from top left: Photo op at National Museum; Hotel Seri Malaysia Kuala Terengganu, our accommodation during three days and two nights; Satar and otak-otak that we savoured at Pantai Teluk Mak Nik; Giving the children of Rumah Sinar Harapan the ride around the neighbourhood; The fluffy roti paung; Delicious ikan patin masak tempoyak with ulam at Restoran Terapung D’Mukmin; Riding along Penarik Beach.


National Museum (www.muziumnegara.gov.my) This attraction’s landmark facade is ideal for group photo-op. But if travellers wish to stay longer, then they should step inside the museum for a rewarding visit. Costing only MYR5 for foreigners and MYR2 for MyKad holders, the museum takes travellers on a deeper discovery and understanding of Malaysia’s prehistoric age until today. ēRYAbySURIA Cherating (www.eryabysuria.com/hotels/cherating/) Our pit stop for lunch was at this beach-front resort, located in Cherating, Pahang. More than just the place to enjoy delectable local fare, the resort boasts 114 spacious rooms that open to two types of views: the garden, or the South China Sea. Hotel Seri Malaysia Kuala Terengganu (www.serimalaysia.com.my/my/hotels/HsmKualaTerengganu) Being the convoy’s official accommodation for two nights, this hotel stands right in the heart of Kuala Terengganu, making it incredibly convenient for those who plan to explore Terengganu’s capital city, including Chinatown and Pasar Payang, both accessible by foot. Crystal Mosque (www.serimalaysia.com.my/my/hotels/HsmKualaTerengganu) They say that no trip to Kuala Terengganu is complete without visiting and taking selfies with this shimmering mosque as the backdrop. The mosque is famous due to its outstanding architecture, especially the exterior that is cladded in steel, glass and crystal. Travellers are bound to be in taken in by the mosque’s external appearance whenever they visit it either the day or night. Terrapuri Heritage Village (www.terrapuri.com) True to its name, which means ‘Land of Palaces’, this resort has 29 classic Terengganu traditional houses that are over a century old; 20 of them has been converted into luxurious villas. The layout of this resort is inspired from the 17th century Terengganu palace and drew inspirations from the ancient Langkasuka kingdom. Even unique, it is located between Setiu Wetlands and Penarik Beach that are brilliant for travellers stroll around peacefully and unwind. Pantai Teluk Mak Nik Also known as ‘Monica Bay’, Pantai Teluk Mak Nik is another beach where travellers can sit back, relax and enjoy the pleasing breeze of the South China Sea. Satar (grilled fish-based snack with coconut and chillies wrapped in a pyramid-shaped banana leaf ) and otak-otak (grilled fish cake with spices) are famous here, especially those served at Warung Aziz Satar, which travellers should not miss.

Roti Paung Durian Burung Besides satar and keropok lekor, the lesser-known favourite snack in Terengganu is roti paung that comes in various versions such as Roti Paung Durian Burung, which refers to the name of the place where it is made. We tasted this local delicacy upon our visit to one of the riders’ houses in Kuala Terengganu. The fluffy bun that is made from wheat flour is best eaten when it is hot and complements hot beverages well during breakfast, morning break or tea time. Restoran Terapung D’Mukmin On the way back, we stopped by for lunch at this floating restaurant in Temerloh, Pahang. This place is famous for its Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak (silver catfish cooked in curry-like gravy with fermented durian), arguably Pahang’s most favourite dish. It was so satisfying to savour this dish along with ulam (raw side dishes such as vegetables, fruits and herbs) while sitting on the floating gazebos made from bamboo planks. Craven Café Popular for its nasi kandar, Craven Café in Bukit Antarabangsa is usually a hot spot for bikers and youngsters to chill out while having meals and enjoying football shows on a huge LCD screen. It is here where all the participants bid farewell and parted ways. Plan to travel around Malaysia in style like these gentlemen with big bikes? Here are some tips from the founder of Kingz MG, Azulhairi Berkhanuddin also known as Harry, if you want to explore Malaysia using two-wheelers: 1. Prepare yourself » Make sure you bring all important documents such as identification card, riding license and others, safely kept inside a bag. 2. Prepare your bike » Make sure your bike is in a good condition and safe. Be vigilant on every aspect and parts of your bike so that you remain safe and do not endanger other people at all times. 3. Follow the rules and regulations » Ensure that your bike is free from illegalities and always abide by the road safety rules. 4. Be extra prepared » Wear suitable and comfortable riding gears such as helmet with visor, hand gloves, jackets, pants and boots. Bring along global positioning system (GPS) and bike-to-bike intercom to ease the journey.

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Destinations

Exploring

Taipei and Northern Taiwan 5D4N Te x t & I m a g e s b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N

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Being in Taiwan for the first time in my life to cover the awe-inspiring 2018 Taiwan Culinary Exhibition, I was totally impressed with Taiwan and I must say that I regretted for having not visited the destination sooner. My five-days-and-four-nights trip to Taiwan’s northern parts was indeed an eye-opener. Though the Taiwanese do not widely speak English, I found them generally helpful, urbane, mild-mannered, down-to-earth, real, industrious, honest, no-nonsensical and possessing sensibilities that are similar to the Japanese, probably because the island had been under Japanese rule from 1895 until 1945 and the fact that Taiwan is popular among Japanese travellers. Some parts of Taiwan, especially Taipei, might remind travellers of Japan, with its emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness (which means travellers can be rest assured that the toilets are generally clean), as well as hospitality. On top of that, the Taiwanese also stress on safety: before embarking on long journeys, bus drivers conduct safety briefings and show safety video to passengers to inform them what to do in case of emergency.

Though we do hear that Taiwan tends to be hit by earthquakes or typhoons, such incidences are rare. Most of the earthquakes recorded in Taiwan occurred on the east coast and caused little damage, while the typhoons mostly affect the northern part of the island because they usually come from the northeast; the western part of the island is generally sheltered, which is probably why Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is located there. The Taiwanese is also known to be among the most prepared in the world when it comes to emergency response, therefore travellers should not be overly worried – in case anything happens, travellers should not panic and instead follow the safety procedures abided by the locals.


Taiwan At A Glance » Taiwan lies in the Pacific Ocean 160 kilometres off

southeastern coast of mainland Asia, across the Taiwan Strait from Mainland China. It is a mountainous island with great terrains ranging from tropical beaches to spectacular Jade Mountain, as the highest non-Himalayan mountain in North East Asia standing at 3,952 metres. » The island’s total area is 35,563 square kilometres with its dimensions being 394 kilometres long and 144 kilometres wide. » The island was given the name ‘Formosa’ (meaning ‘beautiful’) by the Portuguese in the 16th century when they first laid eyes on this leaf-shaped island. » Taiwan is only a four-hour and a half flight away from Kuala Lumpur. With many airlines flying to Taiwan, it became the perfect travel destination for travellers from various parts of the world. Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei is the world’s 5th busiest airport in terms of international freight traffic. » Taiwan is in the same time zone as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Bali. » The New Taiwan Dollar, denoted by TWD, is the official currency of the Republic of China (ROC), commonly referred to as Taiwan. It has been the currency of the island since 1949, when it replaced the Old Taiwan Dollar (NT$ 100 = approximately RM13.50). » Some of the goods in Taiwan might be sold with different expiry date (for example the expiry date might indicate as 107 instead of 2018 A.D.) because it is based on the calendar that is set from Year 0 when the Republic of China was first formed by Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek back in 1911 A.D., denoting the starting point of China being free from imperial rule. » Though Mandarin is the official language, other languages are also spoken on the island such as Taiwanese Hokkien (spoken by the majority of the population), Hakka and aboriginals. » Besides the Han majority, Taiwan is also home to 16 aboriginal tribes that make up 2% of the total population. » The most popular religion in Taiwan is Buddhism, with almost 4.9 million followers. » Free Wi-Fi is easily available at most places of interest, including restaurants and hotels. » Cycling is the Taiwanese favourite pastime. » Taiwan enjoys the four seasons: • Spring is March to May • Summer is June to August • Autumn is September to October • Winter is November to February Note: It does not snow in Taiwan, perhaps only at the highest peaks. Taiwan, however, is blessed with rain. It could get very windy (and cold!), so bring a raincoat or a windbreaker and umbrella!

Eat It is heartening to know that food is not too expensive in Taiwan. As a matter of fact, travellers are bound to save more when they eat local. Taiwan is proud of its fresh, organic produce due to its fertile soil and ample water. The destination is confident in its culinary heritage and offerings that it actively markets its produce to the world through various initiatives; 2018 Taiwan Culinary Exhibition being one of them. There are now more and more options for Muslim travellers to enjoy halal food when being in Taiwan. Though Muslims are a minority, to the delight of Muslim travellers, there are now over 30 halal restaurants available throughout Taiwan, all certified by the Chinese Muslim Association. These restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, including local, Indian, Thai and Turkish. To find out whether a local restaurant is halal, travellers can simply ask whether the food is ‘Qing Zhen’ (pronounced “ching tsen”), the Mandarin phrase referring to halal food.

What to eat: » Halal beef noodle on Yanping South Road in

Zhongzheng district, which is legendary for its tender meat and flavourful broth. » Divine lunch consisting of fresh seafood and local produce at Shangrila Boutique Hotel (http://www.shangrila.com.tw/) in Yilan county, which really knows how to treat their guests like royalty when it comes to dining. And the food served here is certified halal. » Guanxiang Century Hotel in Yilan county serves up truly lavish and halal dinner spread for us all made from the freshest ingredients, may be due to the fact that Yilan is bountiful, may it be in terms of seafood or rice or kumquat – foodies should not give Yilan county a miss. » Taste and buy Taiwan’s unique halal-certified pineapplebased food products as souvenirs to bring home at Vigor Kobo (http://www.vigorkobo.com/en_version/index.php), which is the place for travellers to be introduced to Taiwan pineapple cultivation and processing. Having been in business since 1992, Vigor Kobo now has two factories, one in Taipei and another one in Kaohsiung. Taiwan grows pineapples in abundance in the island’s southern region. Travellers can try their hands at preparing their own pineapple cakes and learn about pineapple-cake production when visiting Vigor Kobo in Taipei city. » Fine-dining traditional Chinese cuisine at the Muslimfriendly Michelin three-star restaurant called Le Palais (http://www.palaisdechinehotel.com/en/restaurant-info. php?id=6) on Le Palais de Chine Hotel’s 17th floor, which is bound to elevate diners’ senses. Be sure to savour the restaurant’s succulent meats.

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Left: A hanging sculptural installation inspired from Jiimy Liao’s picture book at Jimmy Park in Yilan county; Right: Yehliu Geopark from another angle where travellers can admire the geological colours and forms

Travel

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The current population in Taiwan is 23 million with 25% of them living in Taipei and New Taipei City, both packed with friendly people, top-notch sights and excellent food trail. When in Taipei, check out the pulsating Ximending area, considered as the city’s retail hub and dubbed as the ‘Harajuku’ or ‘Shinjuku of Taipei’. The area’s main landmark is the Red House that used to be a market built by the Japanese almost 100 years ago. Another interesting site that travellers should visit is Beitou, one of the major resort areas in Taiwan that is replete with hot spring pools and numerous lodgings, developed since Japanese rule almost 100 years ago, located only 30 minutes’ drive north of Taipei city centre. Travellers could also get there easily by using the city’s mass rapid transit system, simply known as Taipei Metro (https://english.metro. taipei/Default.aspx). When being in Taipei or anywhere in northern Taiwan, travellers should head to Yilan county, situated a bit to the south along the east coast that is famous for hot springs, nature and gastronomy, making it the getaway place of choice among Taipei-weary urbanites. Visiting Yilan county offers a glimpse into a more laidback life outside the more urbanised Taipei city and the west coast. The distance between Taipei and Yilan county is over 50 kilometres, and the journey brings travellers pass by scenic hills and mountains along the Taipei-Yilan highway, besides going through several tunnels, especially Hsuehshan Tunnel, which is the longest in Taiwan at 12.94 kilometres. Completed in 2006, the tunnel took 15 years to build and was dubbed ‘mission impossible’ because the

builders had to negotiate six major faults and 36 underwater reservoirs when boring it. During weekdays, the journey should be around 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic; on weekends or public holidays, the journey could take two hours (more if there is accident along the way) because more citydwellers would flock into Yilan county. However, that is still a smaller price to pay compared to the time when Hsuehshan Tunnel was not yet built: the journey between Taipei and Yilan at that time took at least three hours minus the congestion. After Hsuehshan Tunnel opened, property prices in Yilan country doubled because many affluent Taipei residents purchase their second home there.

Tip: There is no toilet facility along the highway between Taipei and Yilan county, so travellers need to be prepared.

Besides Yilan county, another destination that travellers should visit is Yehliu Geopark, considered as Taiwan’s tourism crown jewel, which is a 1,700-metre long otherworldly geological formations facing the Pacific Ocean. To get to Yehliu Geopark From Yilan County, it takes around 75 minutes’ drive on weekends (less than an hour during weekdays when traffic is not heavy). The name Yehliu came from the nickname ‘Punto Diablos’ (Devil’s Cape) given by the Spanish who were there from 1626 until 1642 because it was thought that there was a demon residing in the dangerous waters surrounding the area and claiming the lives of many seafarers.


What to see: Taipei Grand Mosque (https://www.taipeimosque.org.tw/) Taipei Grand Mosque, located in Da’an district, is the biggest mosque in Taiwan built in 1960 using funds from local and foreign donations, including the King of Jordan and Shah of Iran at that time. Today, travellers are welcome to appreciate the classic charm of its architecture or join in one of the public classes held every Sunday. Male Muslim travellers are encouraged to join the congregation for Friday prayers and then check out local halal food and Muslim-related goods on sale in the room next to the mosque’s General Office. Lungshan Temple (http://www.lungshan.org.tw/) When you are in Ximending area, remember to swing by Lungshan temple, which is the oldest in Taiwan. The faith, which is a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and folk religion, was brought to the island by immigrants from Fujian province in China who worship the Goddess of Mercy Kwan Yin. Agrioz (https://www.agrioz.com.tw/) Learn how to make preserved calamondin at Agrioz in Yilan county, around 50 kilometres (approximately 1.5 hours without traffic) from Taipei, which is popular for the production of kumquat candies. 90% of kumquats produced in Taiwan come from Yilan county alone, and none of these kumquats are exported. Travellers need to come here if they want to taste good quality kumquats, and travellers should buy the kumquat candies from Agrioz’s retail shop as souvenirs. Agrioz also has a quaint café that is Instagram-worthy. Jimmy Square in Yilan County Jimmy Square or Jimmy Park, located on the south side of the Yilan Train Station, is full of adorable-looking and whimsical sculptures and murals inspired by the works of the famous illustrator Jimmy Liao, who hailed from Yilan and used to work at an advertising agency before being diagnosed with leukaemia in early 1990s. After surviving from the illness, he began producing artworks and illustrations. In 1998, he published his first picture books ‘Secrets in the Forest’ and ‘A Fish with A Smile’, which garnered him accolades. He then published another internationally acclaimed picture book entitled ‘Turn Left, Turn Right (A Chance of Sunshine’), which has been translated into different languages. Lovers of art and illustrations will surely enjoy hanging out at this area and photographing the public sculptures and artworks that have childhood dream-like quality, all based on Jimmy Liao’s picture books. Yehliu Geopark (http://www.ylgeopark.org.tw/ENG/info/ YlIntroduction_en.aspx) The rocky formation of Yehliu Geopark in the form of a fascinating 1,700-metre long cape that stretches out from the town of Wanli is one of the famous wonders in the world. The strong waves, rock weathering, earth movement and crustal movement contribute to the formation of such rare and stunning

geological landscape. A number of rocks have been given creative names based on their shapes. The most popular are the ‘The Queen’s Head’, which became an iconic image of Taiwan. Other formations include ‘The Fairy Shoe’, ‘The Bee Hive’, ‘The Ginger Rocks’ and ‘The Sea Candles’. Some also look like mushrooms, a tail of a whale, and a marine bird. Be prepared to be amazed by nature and spend at least two hours just photographing the area and taking selfies! The admission fee to this park is TWD80 per person. Beitou Thermal Valley Beitou Thermal Valley refers to a large pool filled with hot spring water that continuously emit steam that shrouds its surroundings, turning it magical and bewitching – no wonder the ancient aboriginals call the place ‘Paqtau’, which means ‘Witch’, as they thought that the steam must be due to her practising witchcraft. The beauty of the Thermal Valley is evident as soon as we walked into the park – the steam blankets the air much like a light fog, hovering above the translucent turquoise-coloured waters, beautifully contrasting the brown rocks at the edge of the springs. Take note that travellers need to contend with the lingering sulphuric smell. Beitou Thermal Valley opens on Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Beitou Museum (http://www.beitoumuseum.org.tw) After visiting Beitou Thermal Valley, travellers should also swing by the historic Beitou Museum that used to be a luxurious hotel called ‘Jia Shan’ or ‘Kazan’ (which means ‘Beautiful Mountain’ in Chinese and Japanese, respectively) meant for the rich (per night here cost half month’s salary of an elementary school teacher) and built by a Japanese lady back in 1921. This is one of the only two historical wooden buildings that still exists in Taiwan. It took six years to restore the building to its original glory without sacrificing its integrity and authenticity – be sure to take note of the exquisite detailing of the transom panels called ranma in the traditional Japanese-styled rooms that allow natural light and air to pass through. Admission fee is TWD120 per person. Leefoo Village Theme Park (http://www1.leofoo.com.tw/village/en/) Families with children and travellers with young hearts should visit Leo Foo Village Theme Park , the largest theme park in the north of Taiwan , located in Hsinchu county, about over an hour’s ride from Taipei city. It boasts various rides, from the adrenalinepumping corkscrew roller-coaster ride called ‘Screaming Condor’ to the gentle carousel. The park also possesses various types of animals obtained from different corners of the globe, including the endangered American bison and white tiger. Muslims will find this park friendly because it also has a halal-certified restaurant called Aladdin serving Western and Asian cuisine, which has a Muslim prayer room in its premises. Leofoo Village Theme Park opens on weekdays from 9am to 5.30pm and on

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public holidays it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission fee is TWD999 per adult to access Leofoo Village Theme Park, while entrance into the adjacent Water Park only is TWD599. To access both parks, the cost is TWD1,299 per adult.

Where to sleep: Palais de Chine Hotel (http://www.palaisdechinehotel.com/tw/index.php) The strategically located Palais de Chine Hotel in Taipei , Taiwan, is attached to Q Square shopping centre and situated opposite Taipei Main Train Station. Love the hotel’s thoughtful gesture in preparing the Muslim praying mat, a copy of the Al Quran, qibla direction, and halal menu.

Guan Xiang Century Hotel (www.hotspring-hotel.com.tw) Guan Xiang Century Hotel in Yilan county is popular for travellers wanting to enjoy the recuperative hot spring water because the hotel pipes in the water directly into the tub next to the shower inside the guests’ rooms. The hotel is also Muslim-friendly and offers wonderful dinner. A few steps away from the hotel is Jiaoxi hot spring, where locals come to soak in their feet as a way to relax – this place becomes lively and crowded during weekends, a lovely getaway from the bustling metropolis.

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The Gaia Hotel (https://www.thegaiahotel.com/en/)

I really love my refined and sophisticated room at The Gaia Hotel in Beitou. It even has qibla direction including Muslim prayer times, which Muslims will surely find helpful. Hot spring water is also piped into the stonecladded sunken tub in the bathroom, allowing guests to luxuriate within the confines of their rooms. Guests also have the option of utilising the hotel’s atmospheric public bath facility that is equipped with personal lockers, dressing room, relaxing area, indoor hot springs and cold pool, sauna, steam room and outdoor open hot springs.

Conclusion

Top: Seeing a live meerkat up close at Leefoo Village Theme Park; Middle: Hearty dishes for lunch at Shangrila Boutique Hotel in Yilan County; Bottom: Visitors learning how to make pineapple cake at Vigor Kobo in Taipei

Remarkably open towards foreigners and Muslim-friendly with excellent infrastructure and high quality of life, Taiwan leaves travellers impressed. Fast shedding its underrated status tourism-wise, Taiwan deserves more attention than just being a high technology manufacturing and logistics hub in Asia. The time for Taiwan is definitely now… Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Taiwan Tourism Bureau for making our writer’s trip to Taiwan a reality.


Destinations

BLOOMING

K U N M I N G Te x t & I m a g e s b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N

Gaya Travel was invited by the leading low-cost airline, AirAsia, to join the airline’s Media Familiarisation Trip to Kunming for four days and three nights (29 June until 1 July 2018). Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, serves as the gateway to China’s southwestern region. 080

Located in the middle of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau at an altitude of 1,890 metres above sea-level and surrounded by mountains from three sides and a large lake, picturesque Kunming enjoys interesting landscapes and less harsh weather. It is dubbed as the City of Eternal Spring or Flower City due to its annual average temperature of 15° Celsius during winter and 18° Celsius during summer. The city also prides itself for having good air quality throughout most of the year. Being a mere four-hour flight from KLIA2 on AirAsia, Kunming’s popularity as a getaway destination increased over the years, especially when AirAsia flies directly to Kunming from Kuala Lumpur 14 times weekly since five years ago. As a matter of fact, the city welcomed 104,000 Malaysian tourists in 2017, turning Malaysia into Kunming’s third most important tourism inbound source market . The destination is bound to welcome more tourists from South East Asia in 2018 onward since AirAsia introduces direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Kunming beginning 30 November 2018. Kunming teems with people, businesses, commerce, buildings, infrastructure networks, vehicles – all what you could expect from a city on the up. Walking around Kunming is also relatively safe. Besides cars and public transport, the city’s residents utilise electric battery-operated motorcycles, which are comparatively quieter and cleaner since they do not emit carbon – Malaysia (and even Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam for that matter) should take a leaf out of this practice by actively propagating the use of such motorcycles in their respective cities.


With numerous economic opportunities that attract people in droves, the city provides varied culinary offerings to suit various palates, including Muslim-friendly restaurants like Xiao Dao Ya halal restaurant on Chongren Street (walking distance to Yongning Mosque) that offers divine meat dishes (especially its spicy lambchops); Dalv Xingyue Bay No. 9 (a short drive from Yunnan Nationalities Village) serving lavish local dishes; and the compact Yi Yan halal restaurant (located in Qiancheng Square in Chenggong District close to the Dounan International Flower market) that is famous for its fusion flower-inspired cuisine. One dish that travellers should also try when visiting Kunming is the legendary ‘crossing-the-bridge’ noodles. Its name was derived from an old tale regarding an imperial scholar who was studying for his exams on an island in the city of Mengzixian in Yunnan. Every day, his wife would bring him food but found that by the time she crossed the bridge, the soup became cold and the noodles soggy. She then started separating the ingredients and only mixing them together after crossing the bridge, hence the name. So, when travellers order ‘crossing-the-bridge’ noodles, they will get a bowl of rice noodles, a platter of chicken, vegetables, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables and chicken broth; all ingredients and condiments are served on separate plates and travellers need to mix them on their own. The dish tastes similar to the Malaysian laksa but more flavourful when the ingredients are mixed together. But Kunming’s attractions are not only limited to its city and its culinary offerings. Travellers should take the advantage in learning more about the geography and ethnic cultures of Kunming (and even Yunnan). The destinations’ crown jewels like the iconic Stone Forest and Jiuxiang Scenic Area, including Xishan (Western Hills), are unrivalled natural wonders that should not be missed, so much so that that you are not yet considered having been to Kunming if you have not been to these places. Even a trip to Yunnan Nationalities Village (which purists might dismiss as inauthentic) proves worthwhile since it is eye-opening and educational to the uninitiated, making travellers appreciate more of Yunnan’s ethnic diversity that make the province one of the most colourful and enigmatic in China. With year-round Spring-like weather, amazing natural landscapes, diverse cultures and cuisines, excellent flight connectivity, modern infrastructure and burgeoning economy, Kunming is increasingly attracting travellers from the region and beyond. With all that is going for it, Kunming seems destined to continue blooming for a long time to come…

Good to know: 1. Malaysians need to apply for normal visa from the People’s Republic of China’s embassy prior to visiting Kunming. The People’s Republic of China also offers 72-hour visa-free transit tour to Kunming to 51 foreign countries via Kunming Changshui Airport; Malaysia IS NOT one of those countries (refer to http://www.chinese-embassy.info/ for more information). Travellers from the specified 51 countries need to show international travel documents and flight tickets to be granted visa-free transit status. 2. Travellers need to keep their arrival card until the end of their trip in China because they are required to present it at immigration during departure. 3. Though breezy, the weather in Kunming is dry, so travellers are recommended to drink plenty of plain water. During our visit in summer time, the temperature went up to between 29° and 33° Celsius. 4. Avoid visiting during mid-July to August, which coincides with local summer vacation, including the People’s Republic of China Golden Weeks (semi-annual seven-day national holidays): one falls during Chinese Lunar New Year ( January or February), while the other is in conjunction with China’s National Day, beginning 1 October. March, early April, late October and November might be ideal for international travellers to visit Kunming. 5. Travellers who are into plants and flowers should visit Kunming’s World Horticulture Expo held annually in March (the best times to see flowers in Kunming are in March and April). 6. When travellers explore Xishan Scenic Area and Stone Forest Scenic Area, they will need to walk a great deal. Be sure to wear comfortable and practical footwear! 7. Be sure to savour local delicacies such as flower cake (Muslims need to ask whether the pastry uses lard when it is being made) and rose jam. 8. To understand Kunming’s urban history, travellers should walk along GuangHua Street (the city’s oldest commercial centre that first began 900 years ago) to witness the area’s traditional structures called ‘seal-like houses’.

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WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN KUNMING: Yunnan Nationalities Village (http://en.ynmzc.cc/) Yunnan Nationalities Village – 10 kilometres or 30 minutes’ drive from Kunming city centre, depending on traffic – is an attraction where travellers can witness Yunnan’s 26 ethnic groups and their respective villages all in one area like the Achang with their blacksmithing skills; the Miao with their colourfully embroidered attire; the Wa with their sexy bronze skin; and the Bai with their obsession towards the colour white. It is important to note that Yunnan is home to 52 ethnic groups out of the 56 that can be found throughout mainland China. At the same time, the combination of the minority groups makes up a third of Yunnan’s population, while the Han makes up the majority. Yunnan Nationalities Village is huge, so travellers might need to spend one full day if they want to cover all of the villages. At the Yunnan Nationalities Village, replicas of traditional houses and cultures of these ethnic groups are brought to life by local minority people who are hired to re-enact their respective cultures and lifestyles, making it more interesting and educational since travellers can learn about these ethnic groups in interactive and personal ways. Besides traditional ethnic structures, the area is replete with lush vegetation, calm bodies of water and panoramic landscapes. 082

Entrance fee: RMB90 per person Foreign language tour guide: RMB200 for two hours Xishan Scenic Spot and Dragon Gate Tip: Be sure to wear proper footwear when exploring Xishan Scenic Spot. It is also advisable that travellers bring their own snacks and drinks to boost their energy walking up and down the stairways.

To better understand the topography of Kunming, travellers should head 15 kilometres west of the city to Xishan (Western Mountain, also known as Biji Mountain) Scenic Spot, which we found ideal to enjoy the bird’s eye view of Kunming. To get up to Xishan, be sure to first take the cable car across Dianchi Lake (Yunnan’s largest freshwater lake), and then continue up by riding on the chairlift that fits two persons each. Once travellers get off from the chairlift, they could simply follow the steps down towards the popular Dragon Gate that is built along the Arhat Cliffs overlooking the entire Kunming city, situated 1,900 above sea-level. Expect a great deal of climbing up and down narrow stairways and passages when trying to reach the Dragon Gate and heading downhill.

Stone Forest Scenic Area (http://www.chinastoneforest.com/) Tip: Travellers should wear comfortable and practical footwear when visiting the Stone Forest because it involves lots of walking and climbing steep and narrow steps.

The Stone Forest – situated around 82 kilometres from Kunming city centre – is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites that travellers should not miss. Officially established since 1931 and covering 400 kilometres squared, the Stone Forest – characterised by soaring huge stones that are as tall as trees or even more – offers the chance for travellers to admire the wondrous karst topography that has been in existence for over 270 million years. The intricate formation of these natural stones is unbelievably breathtaking and gorgeous. Gaya Travel Magazine suggests that travellers spend at least two hours exploring the Stone Forest. We spent almost three hours here, which still felt like it was not enough. Interesting to know: The Stone Forest is situated in Shilin Yi Nationality Autonomous County, home to the tiger-worshipping Yi minority whose members prefer red and black colours (the community shuns white colour). Ethnic Yi women are required to learn embroidery because they are expected to embroider their own wedding dresses by hand, a custom that is fast disappearing due to modern-day progress. Shilin Yi county is strong in agriculture (it is popular for goat cheese production) and tourism (dramatic karst geological landforms). The Yi people also holds the spectacular Torch Festival or Fire Festival, which is held annually in August.

Jiuxiang Scenic Area (http://www.ynjx.com) Tip: Since exploring Jiuxiang Scenic Area requires a great deal of walking and climbing steps (some of them are slippery), good quality footwear is a must when exploring the caves. Alternatively, travellers may choose to be ferried on sedan chairs (each carried by two able-bodied men) if they find it too exhausting to finish exploring the caves.

Located in Yilliang County, 90 kilometres from Kunming city centre, Jiuxiang Scenic Area is famous for its karst caves, including views of rivers, valley, and mountains that leave travellers awestruck. Travellers may begin their exploration of the Jiuxiang Scenic Region by first heading down to the lower part of the mountain on an elevator to cruise along


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Yincui Gorge using boats that are powered by silent batteryoperated engines to admire the rock formations that flank the gorge. After admiring the gorge, travellers can then start exploring the caves. While walking along the trail within the caves, travellers are bound to be fascinated by the geological formations that are accentuated by mesmerising lighting effects, made more mysterious by the presence of streams, waterfalls, mist and cascading sediments. My favourite two spots within the Jiuxiang Scenic Area are the Twin Waterfalls (the film location for the movie called ‘The Myth’ starred by Jackie Chan) and the beautifully lit ‘Fairy Palace’, which is a collection of majestic stalactites huddled together that look like a pantheon of fairies or folkloric beings. After three hours of walking through caves, crossing bridges and climbing numerous rock-hewn steps, travellers will eventually reach the point where they need to embark on chairlifts that whisk them to the exit point, offering them the rewarding view of the majestic Jiuxiang Scenic Area landscape from the air as a way to relax and nurse their tired feet. Entrance fee: RMB90 per person Chairlift: RMB30 per person Tour guide: RMB80 for one time

Clockwise top left: Visiting the Dragon Gate that overlooks Kunming City; Stalagmite formation called ‘Kiss of a Billion Years’; Lip-smacking noodles with beef at Yi Yan halal restaurant; A picturesque scenery of stones set against a body of water at the Stone Forest.


Kunming City » Dounan International Flower Market, the largest flower trading market in Asia Dounan International Flower Centre – the largest flower market in Asia that sells over 1,600 kinds of flowers – is open only at night to ensure that the flowers remain fresh. About 20 million flowers are sold every night at this market through auctions and online bidding. In 2017, it was estimated that around 6.5 billion flowers were sold in this market, generating revenue worth RMB5.33 billion. Besides being sold for the domestic market, these flowers are also exported to 50 countries, including Malaysia. As a matter of fact, 70% of China’s flower exports comes from this market. Travellers would never know how significant flowers are to the Kunming economy and why the city is called The Flower City until they come to this place! 084

» Yuantong Temple, Kunming’s Largest and Oldest Buddhist Temple Yuantong temple is one of the major landmarks in Kunming, and simultaneously home to Mahayana, Hanayana and Tibetan Buddhism. This temple showcases the diversity of design styles drawn from the three distinct Buddhist schools presented in harmonious way, while at the same time offering travellers respite from Kunming’s urban bustle. First built in the 8th and early 9th century by Nanzhao Kingdom during the Tang dynasty empire, the temple has expanded to its current size through funding from Thailand. As travellers step into the temple’s forecourt, they will be greeted by the smiling Buddha; as they walk further in, they will encounter the ‘God of Protection’ Wei Tuo, including other statues like the gilded Copper Buddha contributed by Thailand and myriads of Buddhist iconography, all sheltered in ornately colourful halls, pavilions, cloisters and pagoda. Entrance fee: RMB6 per person

» Yunnan Military Academy Museum Just a 30-minute walk from Yuantong Temple through Kunming’s green lung called Cui Hu (Green Lake) Park, the ochre-coloured Yunnan Military Academy Museum is the place where travellers can learn about the military academy’s contribution to the history of modern China and appreciate the people of Yunnan’s struggle for self-determination. Founded in 1909 to train the military officers for the Qing Dynasty and ceased operating in 1935 due to the Second SinoJapanese War, the military academy had trained over 9,000 students during its 26-year existence. Many famous military leaders graduated from the Yunnan Military Academy such as Zhu De, who taught at the Academy after his graduation in July 1911 and recognised as one of the founding fathers of People’s Republic of China; Ye Jianying, Marshall of the People’s Liberation Army; and Zhou Baozhong, a commander of the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army and Vice chairman of Yunnan People’s Government after the Chinese Civil War. All of these leaders played important roles during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Travellers will be able to witness over 2,000 items on display in the forms of photographs, pictorials, models, dioramas, sculptures, bas-reliefs, artefacts and high-tech multimedia presentations relating to the military academy’s history, which is intertwined with the formation of modern China. Travellers could also witness military servicemen in assembly on the academy’s quadrangle and changing of the guards if they are lucky. » Grand Original Native Song & Dance Show of ‘Dynamic Yunnan’ (https://www.yangliping.com/) At night, we went to Dongfeng Road to watch the famous Chinese theatre, Dynamic Yunnan, an energetic and colourful musical extravaganza that

showcases Yunnan’s culture through six separate performances: Prologue – The Dawn of Life; Act One – The Sun; Act Two – The Earth; Act Three – Homeland; Act Four – Pilgrimage; and Epilogue – Spirit of the Peacock. China’s outstanding dancer and choreographer, Yang Liping, created Dynamic Yunnan with her heart and devoted her life and passion towards dancing while staying true to her roots. We loved the performances and were blown away by the choreography and the dancers’ amazing prowess. We were told that this theatre had been performed almost 4,000 times in over 42 cities around the globe! Entrance fee: RMB360 per person » The City of Flower, Asia’s largest flower-themed tourism complex The City of Flower is a complex located in the eastern side of Kunming and only 20 minutes from Kunming Changshui Airport that comprises a resplendent greenhouse filled with flowers from all over Yunnan (a wonderful place to take selfies, especially around the statue of a peacock with its tail made up of 1.5 million colourful flowers), a hotel and shopping centre. It is interesting to know that before the French revolution began in 1789, France had been importing flowers from Yunnan for 300 years to use as ingredients in making perfumes and cosmetics specially for the French royal family. Gaya Travel Magazine expresses our heartfelt gratitude to AirAsia and Kunming Municipal Tourism Bureau for making the trip to Kunming a reality. AirAsia operates 14 one-way weekly flights between KLIA2 and Kunming Changshui International Airport. Visit www.airasia.com for more information.


Gaya Special Feature: Muar

MUAR,

The Royal Town of

JOHOR

Te x t b y A I NA NA B I H A H

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Images by LENSA MUAR

Known as one of the best culinary destinations in Johor, this humble town is comparable to a diamond in a rough due to its underrated reputation among locals. In fact, it seems that Muar is home to various attractions for city dwellers and tourists to enjoy a more quaint and laidback atmosphere. Formally called Bandar Maharani Bandar Diraja, it was declared as Johor’s Royal Town by the current ruler of Johor His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Baginda Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj back on 5 February 2012. When we talk about Muar, we are not only talking about the town because it also actually a district within the state of Johor that possesses ancient Malay heritage comparable to the golden age of Melaka Sultanate with legends such as Hikayat Malim Deman (Malim Deman’s Tale) and Lembing Awang Pulang ke Dayang (The Return of Awang’s Spear to Dayang). These days, the district - especially around town area - beams with updated charm in the form of hipster cafes and children parks. Let’s discover Muar’s own surprises, shall we?


WHERE TO GO… Nasuha Herbs & Spice Farm https://www.facebook.com/pg/HerbaMalaysia Awarded as the biggest Herbs and Spice Plantation by the Malaysian Book of Records, Nasuha Herbal and Spices farm is a 1,500-hectare cultivated paradise that does not just supply abundant spices and herbs, but also multiple activities for travellers. The farm has chalets, a dormitory, and other accommodation of its own, a spa and a recreational park where travellers can burn that extra calories off after dining at Nasuha Herbal Restaurant. Although the restaurant accepts walk-in customers, the farm doesn’t, so call ahead and plan big, as they have tour packages (lunch included) for groups larger than 20 persons at MYR37 per head. Located only 45 minutes from Melaka, travellers can take Lebuh AMJ (Alor Gajah-Central Melaka-Jasin route) to reach Muar for an interesting road trip. Muar River Cruise https://www.facebook.com/pg/rivercruiseinmuar/ The Muar River Cruise is the perfect choice for those who love being on boats or ships. Although this is is not a fancy cruise, this 40-minute tour allows travellers to take in the scenery of the town from Muar River and soak in its beauty without having to contend with traffic or brace through the hot sun. There is narration about the history and facts about Muar during the cruise, so keep your ears open for interesting and educational info about the Royal Town of Johor. The fares are MYR12 per adult for MYkad holders and MYR15 for non-Malaysians, while children are charged MYR6 each. The cruise operates every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Muar Cultural Walk committee and have an educational spin around town. There are also other attractions such as performances from local buskers and cultural shows, including street vendors that peddling home-made items in the evening from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight every Friday to Sunday. There are other murals scattered around Muar too, so be mindful whenever you pass by. One of the well-known murals is the ‘Loving Sisters’ by Russian mural artist Julia Volchkova, who drew the iconic Indian Boatman mural in Penang. Admirers of her work can now see a piece of her enchanting touches in Johor. Call Mr. James @ Teo Peng Heng at +6 017 8895899 for more information. Muar Walking Tour https://www.malaysia-traveller.com/muar-walking-tour. html While Muar Cultural Walk is an activity that celebrates the current and past-time of Muar that is arranged and showcased, Muar Walking Tour on the other hand is a self-initiated discovery leading to historical remains of the colonial and pre-war age, including Muar’s longstanding heritage. As written by the Malaysian Traveller (https:// www.malaysia-traveller.com/muar-walking-tour.html), this seven-kilometre trail through Peter Street shows you the best historical gems of Muar that you can discover by foot, so lace up and prepare to step back in time.

Muar Cultural Walk https://www.facebook.com/pg/laluanbudayamuar For those seeking selfie opportunities should follow the Muar Cultural Walk, arguably the most Instagram-worthy route in Muar. Rows and rows of murals are painted at the back of the commercial buildings, making the back alley bursting with creativity and urban zest. Aesthetically pleasing three-dimensional artworks such as the old Muar cinema and satay stall beautifully complement the pre-war architecture that exude nostalgia. Contact the

The “Satay Stall ” 3D art mural in Muar Cultural Walk is known to be a local hotspot.

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#ICYDK Jalan Peteri

» Tanjung Emas Recreational Park

Have a stroll at this park for some peace and quiet, or stare out to the majestic river that stretches out to the Straits of Malacca. Try out Muar River Cruise for a different but memorable perspective of the town. » Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim and Masjid Sultan Ismail Initially a wooden madrasa built in 1888, it was eventually converted into the iconic blue-hued Western-meetsMiddle Eastern-influenced Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim in 1925 to commemorate Sultan Sir Ibrahim’s then 35-year rule. Seven decades later, the sister mosque that replicates the architecture of the original was built across the river in Tanjung Agas and named Masjid Sultan Ismail as a tribute to Sultan Ismail who succeeded Sultan Ibrahim. From afar, these two mosques look grand as they stand opposite of each other, separated by Muar River. » Royal Resting Place This well-maintained edifice looks like a flashback from the 60’s with early modernist architecture that emphasised boxy structures and rigid symmetrical lines. » Sultan Abu Bakar Building This marvelous-looking blue building that sports colonial architecture houses local government offices.

Top:‘Loving Sisters’ by Russian mural artist Julia Volchkova; Middle: Masjid Sultan Ismail in Tangkak, right across Muar is said to be an indentical mosque that mirrors Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim; Bottom left: Cafe 434 fragrant coffee that is served in their own iconic cups; Bottom right: Mee Bandung Central has been a longstanding local favourite for years. Aiming to push Muar as a UNESCO World Heritage Site similar to Malaysia’s Melaka and George Town, Lensa Muar passionately documents Muar’s residents, history, food, scenery and buildings. Find out more about Lensa Muar by checking out https://www. facebook.com/LensaMuar/ or call +6 017 785 0265 or email to lensamuar@gmail.com.

Jalan Maharani » Muar Royal Customs and Excise Building Built in 1909, this building has a steeple to indicate Victorian influence over its architecture. » Old shophouses Make a quick detour at the old shophouses along the street and bring home local produce such as dried seafood as you turn back time when exploring the row of century-old commercial buildings. Jalan Yahya

» Muar Clock Tower

The still-functioning clock tower in the middle of the street is Muar’s most prominent landmarks, embellished with white and neutral paint, complementing the sunny blue sky.

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WHAT TO EAT… Mee Bandung Central Muar https://www.facebook.com/FuadBandungCentral/ Although the location is slightly out of the town centre, Mee Bandung Central enjoys a huge number of footfalls due to its reputation as one of Muar’s culinary holy grails. The store operates from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., but it only serves Mee Bandung in the afternoon, so travellers are advised to visit around that time. Patience is also needed when visiting this stall because the queue could be long. However, the wait is guaranteed to be worth it! Sai Kee Coffee 434 https://www.facebook.com/pg/muar434

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Founded in the 1950s, Sai Kee’s 434 coffee is now a household name in Malaysia. Fans of this brand can have a taste of 434 coffee right at the source by visiting Cafe 434 located along Jalan Maharani. Painted in bright yellow, travellers are bound to be smitted by this cafe with its unique and rustic Norwegian-inspired interior. The cafe’s specialties include the Elephant Coffee, Original 434 Coffee and the Monalisa Coffee. The prices are reasonable and the aromatic coffees are deep with flavours, which is why patrons could never get enough of them. Gluttony Street Muar One of the oldest culinary attractions in Muar is the Gluttony Street. Called in many names and terms, this street’s charming atmosphere remains the same throughout the years. The one in Muar dates back from 1952 and since has been the go-to food spot for local Chinese society. Located along Jalan Haji Abu, the highlights are fried oysters, pork satay, chwee kueh (water rice cakes) and the ever classic herbal tea to knock off the midday heat. The selling of food begins in late afternoon and ends by 8:00 p.m., perfect for those seeking early dinner.

it operates every day except Tuesday. With the price tag of MYR0.70 per skewer, travellers may indulge as many as their tummies could fill. WHERE TO STAY… Pop Chuco Art Gallery Homestay https://www.facebook.com/POPChucoHomestay-661500280531731/ One of the most intriguing lodging options in Muar would have to be PopChuco Art Gallery Homestay. This art gallery cum cafe also provides accommodation, with the concept of shared space experience. Even its exterior oozes with hip, local artistic charms with bright paints and abstract murals. Charges are applied per head, starting from MYR85 for two persons to MYR210 for six persons. Located near the town centre on Jalan Othman, sightseeing by foot would be a breeze. PPT Muar Hotel http://pptmuarhotel.gbs2u.com/bd/index3. asp?userid=80938593&idno=1 As one of the few container hotels in Johor, PPT Muar strikes the most attention with contrasting coloured containers and block-red roof, unlike any other hotels that travellers have seen. All rooms, are equipped with modern amenities and flat screen television sets. The rates are affordable, starting from MYR98 for a Single Room, MYR128 for Standard Master and all the way to MYR231 for Executive Suites. Guests are invited to bask in its picturesque interior at the centre of the hotel.

Breakfast Satay in Muar https://www.facebook.com/ZZ-SatayWarisan-334600226686838/ ZZ Satay Warisan Muar is one of the most popular spots in Muar to have breakfast. Unlike in other places that serve this smoky and juicy delicacy only in the evenings, satay is served as a breakfast staple along with other iconic dishes like nasi lemak and roti canai. Located on Majidi Street, the stall opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 2:45 p.m.;

PPT Container Hotel’s facade is strikingly unique and hip, perfect for trendy guests and curious visitors.


Stay Connected in Japan

FREE

SECURE Wi-Fi Access

TRAVEL JAPAN Wi-Fi by Wire and Wireless Co., Ltd. A useful app to use when travelling around Japan is the Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi. Currently, Japan has 92,000 registered W-Fi hotspot, mainly at major airports and train stations, including places like Seven-Eleven, Japan’s largest convenience store chain. Travellers can download the app from Googleplay or AppStore onto their smartphones. Once downloaded and opened, e-mail registration is required for first time usage. Be sure to turn on the Global Positioning System (GPS) and then use the search feature on the app to locate nearby Wi-Fi hotspots.Travellers can then start getting connected to Wi-Fi at various hotspots by pressing the connect button on the app. In addition, the app recommends translation apps, ATM locaters and other services that make travel in Japan easier.

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iPhone

iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google LLC.

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Android


Destinations

Unwinding at

Seribu Islands & Jakarta Te x t & I m a g e s b y M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J ELA N I

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Though it literally means ‘A Thousand Islands’, the Kepulauan Seribu archipelago located north of Jakarta’s coastline actually comprises 110 islands – only 45 of them are open for tourists such as Macan, Pelangi, Puteri and Ayer. Interestingly, the size of Seribu Islands is seven times bigger than mainland Jakarta. Sepa Island or Pulau Sepa, the island of our choice, is only seven hectares wide. To get here, we had to endure a two-hour boat ride from Marina Ancol Jetty, ample time for us to catch some sleep. Sepa, means ‘kick’ in local language. From lazy sunbathing by the beach to myriads of fun-filled water activities like banana boat, jet ski, snorkelling and canoeing, this island is definitely ideal for a weekend getaway. I tried snorkelling and canoeing for the sake of the experience and I found it exhilarating. The waters are abundant with fishes, even though near the shores. Most of the time, I just swam nonchalantly and later found myself sitting back and felt at home while listening to good music and reading a book. I only realised how fast the time flew when the glorious sun began setting on the horizon. My short stint at the island was only a teaser, tempting me to revisit it soon. Sepa Island is operated by the only resort on the island, Sepa Island Resort, which has been operating for 30 years. It has 38 cottages styled in a rustic, Indonesian vernacular whereby each of them can accommodate a minimum of two guests and a maximum of four. It is a non-flashy kind of resort and feels homely with welcoming staff, comfy rooms, delicious local buffets and of course, amazing natural surroundings.


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Clockwise from Top Left: A serene view at Sepa Island; the writer enjoying the glorious sunset at Sepa Island; the iconic Monas Jakarta located in Central Jakarta; excellent Javanese dĂŠcor which can be experienced at Plataran Dharmawangsa.


youngsters and families hang out, specifically in front of the iconic Jakarta History Museum. Besides street performances, travellers can also savour various kinds of food at nearby trendy restaurants. Thamrin City For batik lovers, this place is definitely a haven to those seeking this form of textile that are not only available in various designs and colours, but sold at fairly reasonable prices. Bargaining is part of the culture here, therefore travellers can try their luck in purchasing batik at a more discounted price, be it for personal collections or as souvenirs. Monas Jakarta A proud symbol of Indonesians’ struggle for independence, Monas or the National Monument is a 132-metre tall building located in Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta. The dimensions used for the monument incorporate the date 17 August 1945, which is Indonesia’s Independence Day, while the concept is said to derive from linga and yoni in Hinduism, altogether meaning of balance and harmony.

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Top: One of the installations named ‘Infinity Mirrored RoomBrilliance Of The Souls’ by Yayoi Kusama at the MACAN Museum.

How to book? If you wish to experience Sepa Island, you may book yourself at www.sepaislandresort.com. A night here costs IDR1.9 million (around MYR520) per person including dinner, lunch and return boat transfer.

While in Jakarta… Plataran Dharmawangsa www.plataran.com/venues-dining/plataran-dharmawangsa This fine dining restaurant in South Jakarta is famous for serving Indonesian delicacies. Set in authentic royal Javanese décor, the restaurant’s distinctive value has put itself as ‘the Best Indonesian Restaurant in Jakarta’ by Indonesia Tatler. Among the must-tastes are utak-atik ikan, kerapu bakar madura, bebek mawur and iga lada hitam. Kota Tua Jakarta Also known as Jakarta Old Town, this historical area that dates back to the times of Dutch rule has now become a centre of attraction for both local and international tourists alike. Travellers should stroll around Fatahillah Square where

Masjid Istiqlal Said to be the largest mosque in Southeast Asia with the capacity to accommodate over 200,000 worshippers at any one time, Masjid Istiqlal holds philosophical meaning behind its outstanding architecture by Frederich Silaban. This includes the 45-metre diameter of the dome that signifies the country’s year of independence (1945), seven entrances to symbolise layers of heaven, 12 pillars to indicate the Prophet Muhammad’s date of birth (12 Rabiulawal) and five floors that denote the pillars of Islam. MACAN Museum Honoured by TIME Magazine as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places 2018, MACAN Museum is Indonesia’s first modern art museum. The name is the acronym of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara. Opened in 2017, the museum has been dubbed as an oasis for arts and culture enthusiasts to appreciate artworks by local and international artists. During our visit, the museum was running the highly acclaimed Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibition, which is a survey of 130 masterpieces spanning over 60 years by celebrated Japanese contemporary artiste Yayoi Kusama. Gaya Travel Magazine expresses our heartfelt gratitude to the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta Tourism Board for making the writer’s trip to Jakarta possible. For more information about Jakarta, please browse jakarta-tourism.go.id/2017/.


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First Cliff Walk by Tissot


Destinations

JUNGFRAU REGION H i g h

A l p i n e

W o n d e r l a n d Te x t & I m a g e s b y ED J U NA I D I

As I arrived at Interlaken train station, I took a long deep breath with great excitement for finally setting foot at my dream holiday destination that had been on my wishlist for so long. I almost cried with joy when fresh autumn air filled up my lungs. The cool climate was about 11° Celsius, just the way I liked it. Though still predominantly green, the leaves had started turning brown, red and orange – it seemed like the trees were preparing to welcome autumn with open hearts. The surroundings were so gorgeous that I forgot my exhaustion from the 14-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur earlier. I knew instantly that I would have a great time in this special Swiss region.

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Jungfrau is one of the regions in Switzerland. Its towns and villages are mainly located between the mountains across the Bernese Alps. The region is famous for its three iconic peaks: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, making it a great destination for high alpine experience.

radiates romantic belle-epoque charm; and a restaurant that serves one of the best apple strudels in the world, including gratifying Swiss chocolate drinks. Schynige Platte is also the starting point for one of Switzerland’s most beautiful highAlpine trails leading to Grindelwald-First, taking around six hours to complete.

Jungfrau Travel Pass For convenient travel around Jungfrau Region, traveller should purchase the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Starting from CHF139, the travel pass offers three to eight days of unlimited travel using various modes of public transport and discounted price for the trip to Jungfraujoch. Details on the travel pass can be obtained at https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/ jungfrau-travel-pass/.

Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe 3,454m above sea level The real Jungfrau experience began when I was taken on a trip to the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch, one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It took about two hours to get to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken, through an interchange at Kleine Scheidegg station, either via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen routes. There is a trail along a vast green field from Kleine Scheidegg to Eigergletscher station for hikers who like to walk casually to view the Eiger Glaciers that extend towards the foot of the mountain. For hardcore climbers, Kleine Scheidegg is the starting point to climb along the mountain walls to Jungfraujoch.

Interlaken is the main city in the heart of Jungfrau Region, located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The walk across Interlaken, which is literally getting from one lake to the other, takes about 30 minutes. Along the way, I passed by shops, houses and farms, while breathing in the crisp air that is sometimes mixed with cinnamon-laden bread, sometimes chocolate and hot milk, and at other times the fresh smell of cut pine wood, grass and cow manure. From Schynige Platte to Jungfraujoch, and Harder Kulm to Grindelwald, the trip to Jungfrau Region – courtesy of Jungfrau Railway Group – is indeed unforgettable and exhilarating. I am so grateful to have participated in this trip. Schynige Platte - Top of Swiss Heritage 1,967m above sea level The same morning of my arrival at Jungfrau Region, Jungfrau Railway brought us to Schynige Platte by taking the Schynige Platte Railway that has been in operation for 125 years plying the tracks between Wilderswil and Schynige Platte using cogwheel trains. The tracks remain the same since inception, while the newest locomotives are over 100 years old, making the 50-minute ride romantic and full of nostalgia, offering spectacular vistas of the Alpine mountainscape, including Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, as it slowly ascends to the top. The glass windows on the trains can be opened by sliding them down and I took the opportunity to breathe in the fresh air of the Alpine forest filled with the smell of fresh grass and pine trees covered in ice, which I found invigoratingly woody, sometimes minty and even tangy. As we reached Schynige Platte, the summits of Bernese Alps (Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau) majestically enter the frame. Once arrived, travellers should enjoy The Botanical Alpine Garden replete with edelweiss, gentian and 700 other alpine plants; Natural Cinema with two giant picture frame for photos; Schynige Platte Mountain Hotel that

The train ride from Interlaken Ost to Jungfraujoch passes by surreally beautiful small towns and villages. Wooden houses – each positioned on a wide field of green grass and accompanied by black and white, and sometimes brown, herds of cattle – scattered along the hills and mountain terraces, quaint in its dramatic backdrop of ice-capped mountains and waterfalls. This picturesque landscape should have fired up anybody’s imagination; interestingly, I discovered that JRR Tolkien hiked through the valley when he was 19 years old, fell in love with it and became inspired by the location, especially Lauterbrunnen and Wengen, so much so that he created the Elven village Rivendell in his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy along the lines of Lauterbrunnen, dubbed as the Sister of Rivendell. Jungfraujoch Station is the highest train station in Europe and among the top ten highest train stations in the world. It operates 365 days a year since 1912 and garners UNESCO recognition. Jungfraujoch offers unique and exhilarating ice and snow experiences such as walking on the longest and mightiest glacier in the Alps, the Great Aletsch Glacier; witnessing the magnificent panoramic view of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, including the Aletsch Glacier that stretches far into Italy, Germany and France, from the Sphinx and the Plateau viewing platform; trailing into the maze of the Ice Palace; following the Alpine Sensation audio-visual presentation; and high-altitude shopping at the Berghaus. Jungfraujoch also has held various world-class events and became the location to break the Guinness World Records including highest mass yoga session, football match, cricket match, pop concert and the recently Hole-in-One by OMEGA tournament with Mr Rory McIlroy, joined by young golfers from all of Switzerland.

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Grindelwald-First - Top of Adventure 2,168m above sea level For travellers and adventurers, Grindelwald-First offers a range of world-class activities and adventures on top of its summit suitable for families and individuals such as aerial cableway, First Cliff Walk by Tissot, First Glider, First Flier, Mountain Cart, Trottibike Scooter and the Snowpark Grindelwald-First during winter. There are also several Swiss high alpine trails for those who love hiking such as the six-hour trail to Schynige Platte and the interactive Marmot Educational Trail, suitable for families with children. No time for hiking? Fret not, for you can choose the one-hour hike to the Bachalpsee Lake. All trails are rich with stunning views of Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau and Grindelwald Valley. Hikers can even take a peek at the shimmering turquoise waters of Lake Brienz at some points along the trails.

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Harder Kulm – Top of Interlaken 1,322m above sea level An evening at Harder Kulm, located on top of Interlaken, is fascinating. To get there, take a five-minute walk from Interlaken Ost train station by crossing the river that connects Lake Brienz and Lake Thun to get to the funicular train station to climb up Harder Kulm. Using this historical funicular train is nothing short of exhilarating – the carriage is compact yet the view from it is outstanding, especially in early evening as the town of Interlaken starts to light up. Seeing this aerial view is part of a memorable Jungfrau experience. Harder Kulm is a small area on the peak. There’s a new theme trail opened by Friends of Harder to celebrate Harder Railway’s 100th birthday two years ago. The trail is circular and takes around two hours to complete, which can be divided into several stages. Information panels about Harder Kulm’s history, geology, flora and fauna are installed along the trail. The main anchor on Harder Kulm is the Panorama Restaurant that overlooks the Bernese Alps (Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau) and the valley of Interlaken. The restaurant is open from morning and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner until the last train departs at 9:40 p.m. Other than that, the Two-Lakes Bridge and daily Folklore Show are attractions not to be missed on Harder Kulm.

Clockwise from Top: The Great Aletsch Glacier with The Plateau Platform on the peak of Jungfraujoch in the background; Lake Brienz and Interlaken as seen from the scenic romantic Schynige Platte Train; The Great Aletsch Glacier that stretches far into Italy, Germany and France, as seen from the Sphinx viewing platform.


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OMEGA Museum and Omega Factory Two hours from Interlaken, in Biel, we were welcomed by OMEGA President & CEO Mr Raynald Aeschlimann at OMEGA’s new eco-friendly state-of-the-art factory, which will be launched in 2019, in conjunction with OMEGA’s 125-anniversary celebration in the business of delivering perfection to the watchmaking industry. The factory is the place to witness how OMEGA watches are made by more than 200 employees, each of them working delicately to produce each watch with their own hands. OMEGA stands by the principle of ensuring that each watch produced is crafted by humans to maintain its artisanship, timelessness and value. Each glass-walled workplace within the factory is kept clinical, sterile and clear from dust. The factory is also well equipped with a cutting-edge facility for watch assembly, quality control and training.

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Top: One of the giant photo frames called Natural Cinema. Middle: The villages along the shore of Lake Thun as seen from BLS Interlaken Lake Cruise. Bottom: The Two-Lakes Bridge, a vantage point to view the Bernese Alps and the valley of Interlaken.

Across the street from the factory is the two-floor OMEGA Museum that showcases OMEGA’s history since its inception in 1848 by a young watchmaker, a 23-year old Louis Brandt. The museum also showcases vintage and old watches including the iconic Speedmaster (the first watch that was worn on the moon), the Seamaster collection, a watch worn by President John F. Kennedy during his inauguration as America’s 35th president and more. Shopping at Jungfrau Region Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most expensive destinations in the world, thus it is a haven for haute couture, designer watches and accessories, including high quality local dairy products like chocolate and cheese. For great value buys and centralised haute couture shopping place, I recommend the duty-free Kirchhofer-Watch & Trend Shop and the highaltitude shopping experience at Jungfraujoch called Berghaus.

Other things to check out and experience – There are virtually endless activities to do and see in the Jungfrau Region, but travellers should not miss cruising along Lake Brienz/Lake Thun with BLS Interlaken Lake Cruises. Jungfrau is also famous with skydiving and BASE jumping – imagine witnessing the landscape that inspired JRR Tolkien to pen lurid details about Middle Earth namely Rivendell, Mordor, Peaks of Moria and the Fangorn Forest in Lord of the Rings Trilogy from the bird’s eye view. During winter, Jungfrau is one of the most popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding, sledging and more. Do not miss every opportunity to savour the taste of one of the best chocolates in the world, too.

The media trip to Jungfrau Region was organised by Jungfrau Railway Group, along with Kirschoffer and Omega with the support of Interlaken Tourism, Jungfrau Region, and Grindelwald Tourism.


Destinations

CTM 2018 Cements Cambodia’s

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Position as Impor tant Tour ism Destination Te x t & I m a g e s b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N

The largest annual business-to-business (B2B) travel event in Cambodia called Cambodia Travel Mart (CTM) 2018 was held in Phnom Penh at Diamond Island Convention & Exhibition Centre, involving 130 buyers and 22 international media representatives, including travel and tourism industry affiliates. The participating exhibitors during this event opened a total of 170 booths, registering 30% increase compared to the previous year.

Now in its second edition, CTM is progressing towards realising its vision in becoming a veritable platform where travel and tourism industry regional players can advance their respective businesses and grow their network. The event serves as a foothold for Cambodia to further enhance its position as a credible leisure and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and expositions) destination within the ASEAN region, while aiming to maintain and even increase the number of tourist arrivals into Cambodia. Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism collaborated with Phnom Penh-based Slickbooth Event Management Company and international travel and tourism publisher and event organiser TTG Asia Media in staging CTM 2018.


Left: Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism H.E. Dr. Thong Khon welcoming the attendees during the opening of CTM 2018. Right: Ministry of Tourism Cambodia’s Director of Marketing & Promotion Department Mr Thoura Lor updating the audience on the state of Cambodian tourism industry.

More tourists are flocking to Cambodia Cambodia places tourism as a priority sector because it contributes to the nation’s socio-economic development, job creation, poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement. For the first eight months of 2018, Cambodia recorded 3.9 million tourist arrivals. During the opening ceremony of CTM 2018, Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism H.E. Dr. Thong Khon announced that Cambodia is well on its way to achieve 6.2 million tourist arrivals by the end of 2018, which is a 12% increase from the previous year. At the current rate, Cambodia is confident in hitting the 7 million mark by 2020. Back in 2017, Cambodia received a total of 5.6 million tourist arrivals, equivalent to USD3.6 billion of tourism receipts and employed over 600,000 people. Cambodia is divided into four main zones: Angkor World Heritage Site and Siem Reap; Phnom Penh and surroundings; destinations in Cambodian Bay (also called the Riviera) such as Sihanoukville, Kep and Kampot; and ecotourism and community-based tourism such as Battambang. To ensure that prosperity from tourism is distributed throughout the country more equitably, Cambodia encourages travellers to go beyond Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to places like Kep and Kampot to discover more of the country. Since Cambodia emphasises more on quality rather than quantity when it comes to tourist arrivals, the Kingdom targets higher quality tourists because they tend to spend more and stay longer. To ensure that higher quality tourists keep returning to Cambodia, the government works closely with the industry to enhance service quality and place controls to reduce negative impact from overtourism and maintain sustainability, particularly in Angkor, which is Cambodia’s main tourism draw and source of national pride. “Cambodia is now a haven for retirees. We can see the steady increase of senior citizens from Europe who

settle in Cambodia over the years,” stated Ministry of Tourism Cambodia’s Director of Marketing & Promotion Department Mr Thoura Lor during his presentation. Apart from this, many expats who are based in Asia are also finding it easy to come to Cambodia because they can conveniently utilise the visa-on-arrival and e-visa facilities. In line with Cambodia’s efforts to attract more tourists by targeting up-and-coming markets like South Asia and Indonesia, Cambodia also targets the Middle East tourists by attending region-specific events such as the Arabian Travel Mart and encouraging them to fly to the Kingdom via hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. Cambodia Airports is in the midst of getting new airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways to fly directly to Cambodia. However, Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism Deputy Director General Seila Hul confessed that Cambodia still has more to do to attract the lucrative Middle Eastern market, including Muslims worldwide. As a start, the government has begun providing prayer rooms that Muslims can use at Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport. Certain accommodations and hotels of international repute like NagaWorld (http://www.nagaworld.com/) also offer Muslim-friendly (pork-free, lard-free and alcohol-free) culinary options and discreet indication of the direction towards Mecca in the guest rooms. Several halal restaurants can be found in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap too. Muslim travellers could even venture out to the local Muslim neighbourhoods in both cities to learn about the residents’ way of life and pray at their respective neighbourhood mosques. Cambodia welcomes investors and its tourism industry has been receiving significant increase in investments, mostly in the form of hotels or accommodations. Besides Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, the one place where this phenomenon is strongly evident is Sihanoukville, which is bent into becoming the ‘Las Vegas of South East Asia’ as more international investors are coming in to build casinos.

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Adopting technology in marketing Cambodia Cambodia understands that the behaviour of today’s tourists is different compared to before because tourists nowadays are more digitally connected, expect instant information on products, and expect the products and services to specifically tailor to their demands. Realising the fact technology impacts tourism and changing the industry, the Cambodian government utilises digitalisation and technology for tourism management system and promotion, for example guides are provided with unique QR codes so that guests are able to evaluate the guide’s services online. In this case, digitalisation is effectively used to maintain high tourist satisfaction because it helps to boost expectations towards tourists’ experience. Though technology can be considered as disruptors, it also functions as an enabler because technology supports the inclusion of local community and smaller players, empowers local community on how they are promoted and efficiently manage resources. Cambodia is among the first countries in the Asian region to introduce e-visa, using technology as an enabler.

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To further enhance Cambodia’s promotional and marketing reach, the Ministry of Tourism plans to rely more on digital technology as a way to make tourism more sustainable since digitalisation uses less paper. Mr Seila Hul shared that tourism promotions by the Ministry of Tourism will be done more through digital in the coming years. As a means to promote destinations digitally, the usage

of hashtags (#) is increasingly important, for example #cambodia and #phnompenh, especially when it comes to promoting landmarks. According to MTCO Executive Director Mr Jens Thraenhart, Cambodia uses hashtags as one of the approaches to create more awareness and further disperse travellers to other parts of the country beyond Phnom Penh, Sieam Reap or Sihanoukville by actively pushing hashtags like #kampot, #kep and #battambang through social media. 85% of millennials say user-generated contents (UGC) influence their buying decision. Destinations therefore need to optimise on UGC to drive their brands, for example #MekongMoments, an initiative by Mekong Tourism Coordination Office (MTCO; www.mekongtourism.org) in the form of Instagram-style social media collaborative platform where travellers can share their Mekong experiences to lure more travellers to explore the destinations within the Greater Mekong Subregion. Mr Jens Thraenhart further stressed on the need for tourism organisations and destination management companies to integrate the brands that they are selling with user-generated content because people are six times more likely to purchase the brands when they obtain the information from social media, giving rise to the term ‘social commerce’. A step further is ‘collaborative social commerce’, which refers to the public-private partnership to promote Cambodia – the more the private entities and tourism organisations interact and engage with members of the public to create interest towards Cambodia as a destination, the more the public will trust and become interested to visit Cambodia.

Left: One of the exhibitors during CTM 2018, Sun & Moon, Urban Hotel. Right: Cambodian snacks and gift items on hand at Ministry of Cambodia booth during CTM 2018.


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The China factor

Wat Phnom’s main pagoda

Cambodia is the top 11th most popular destination visited by Chinese tourists. The top-most destination among the mainland Chinese is Thailand, while Malaysia ranks fifth. Chinese travellers seek destinations that express the notions of harmonious balance in nature and possess classical Chinese cultural associations of yin such as shui (water) representing feminine energy and yang represented by shan (mountain) to denote masculine energy. Destinations intending to attract Chinese tourists need to understand how to make the association between what the destinations have to offer and the mainland Chinese psyche. In this regard, Cambodian tourist spots like those along Tatai River located near the slopes of Cardamom Mountains in south west Cambodia, bucolic Kampot and pristine Koh Rong hold large potential.

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Mainland Chinese tourists choose destinations based on tourism attractions; ease of travel (how easy it is to obtain visa to the country they are visiting), similarity in language, and food (where they can get food that satisfy their palate); cost; promotional campaigns or anything that makes the destinations uniquely attractive; and security (they look into factors such as terrorism risk, public safety and security, and rescue ability). As modern China progresses, mainland Chinese travellers are increasingly becoming more sophisticated with improved travelling habits. Their preference has now skewed towards cultural destinations, island getaways and dining experiences, including comfortable mid-range to high-end accommodations, especially when visiting exotic places like Siem Reap. Mainland Chinese tourists also tend to believe and rely on tourist attraction rating categories or grades as measure of quality when deciding whether they would want to experience an attraction or destination – they would be more interested if the destinations or attractions have been rated or graded in some way to reflect the promised quality. Conclusion CTM 2018 successfully cements Cambodia’s ability to hold international MICE events on large scale, besides being the venue where industry players can obtain valuable information on matters pertaining to travel and tourism, expand their network, and find business opportunities. The travel fraternity looks forward to the following year’s CTM, which will also take place in Phnom Penh at the same venue in October 2019.

While being in Phnom Penh… The last time Gaya Travel Magazine visited the capital city of Cambodia was back in 2008. Without doubt, Phnom Penh has significantly changed over the years. Today, Phnom Penh flourishes as the nation’s bustling political and business hub, especially when investments have been pouring in from overseas, helping to develop the city and turn it into an economic hotspot in the ASEAN region with potential to grow even further. However, economic growth notwithstanding, Phnom Penh still has pockets that resonate with romantic colonial French allure, albeit at risk of disappearing due to development pressures. Travellers who are keen to learn about Phnom Penh’s history and heritage should follow a specially designed game in the form of treasure hunt by a leading destination management company All Dreams Cambodia (http://www. alldreamscambodia.com/). The game brings travellers to interesting local places and experiences, which they would otherwise skip or give a miss such as visiting the 94-year old National Library of Cambodia, admiring the building where the branch of Banque de l’Indochine (Bank of Indochina) used to be based but now converted into a posh restaurant, learning how to play the traditional Cambodian game of chess called ouk, and being introduced to the Black Tower that is believed to pre-date Wat Phnom; including interacting with local students from University of Cambodia’s Archaeology Department.

Tip: Download the nifty PassApp Taxi application (https:// www.facebook.com/passapptaxis/) to book a limousine, car, rickshaw or tuk tuk and conveniently zip from one place to another throughout the city with less hassle. Prices are set in Cambodian Riel depending on distance, thus reducing the possibility of being ripped off. As a rule of thumb, KHR5,000 is equivalent to USD1.


Hotels & Resorts

Four Seasons Resort B a l i

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J i m b a r a n

B a y

- A Manifestation of the Real Meaning of Class Te x t b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y F O U R S E A S O N S R E S O R T AT J I M B A R A N B A Y

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Opened since 1993 and celebrating its 25 years anniversary in 2018, the Kerry Hill-designed all-villa Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay is one of the pioneering resorts to operate within the Jimbaran Bay area. Renowned the world over as a global standard bearer for tropical luxury, the resort reasserts its peerless status after completing a two-year renovation by top Indonesian firm Jaya International Design from May 2015 until June 2017. “Being one of the first resorts on the island, we were able to secure the best location with the combination of both cliff and beachfront land, and views across Jimbaran Bay’s fishing village. It also means that we have had years of guest feedback to learn from, to perfect our offering,” mentioned General Manager Uday Rao. Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay has an exclusive, dreamy village-like atmosphere characterised by hilly sea-side terrain, thatchedroof edifices, water gardens, statues and over 300 shrines that beautifully outline the resort’s 14-hectare undulating landscape. A classic

Balinese slice of heaven on earth overlooking the azure Jimbaran Bay – including the view of aircrafts taking off and landing at Ngurah Rai International Airport at a further distance and the sparkling Indian Ocean all the way in the horizon – the resort epitomises contemporary sumptuousness that is sophisticatedly understated backed up by top-notch hospitality. As guests enter the resort, they could sense that they become calmer and feel that their worldly problems are thousands of miles away, almost like stepping into a different dimension that they don’t want to leave once they enter.


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All of the resort’s 147 villas are protected by high walls that allude to traditional Balinese dwellings for additional privacy. At the same time, each villa contains incredible sense of space, especially after the two-year renovation. The Deluxe and Premier villa categories reflect structural expansion with fifty percent bigger bedrooms. The plunge pool in each villa, which faces the ocean and direction of sunset, is also enlarged and added a swim-up bale, a point that is not lost among romantics, dreamers and honeymooners. The only feature that remains the same before the two-year renovation is the much-loved oversized ceramic bathtub that could simply fit two persons simultaneously. These villas are kept tidy and inviting through the deployment of unobtrusive housekeeping during the day, followed by thoughtful turndown service in the evening.

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The resort relies on an army of people who are brilliant in what they do and deeply understood the significance of delivering exceptional service in a genuinely heartfelt manner to make guests feel at home and want to return time and again. Guests can easily notice that the resort’s staff are generally well-trained and skilled – some even have served at other Four Seasons properties in various parts of the world to further sharpen their acumen and enhance their competencies so that they can exceed guests’ expectations with ease. By simply observing how the staff fastidiously perform their tasks, we can’t help but take our hats off to them for their sheer dedication in making sure that guests’ satisfaction level is kept high when staying at the resort. Still talking about the resort’s staff, Four Seasons Resort Bali’s human resource department must also have been doing something right because not only are the staff

experienced and competent, they are also generally loyal. It is interesting to learn that around 60% of Four Seasons Resort Bali employees have been with the property for over 20 years, which is unusual for an establishment operating in an industry known for its high employee turnover. One such employee is Nyoman Karsila, who was 22 years old when he first joined as a busboy in September 1992, before the hotel opened. Now a butler at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay Residences, Karsila has developed deep connections with guests – some of whom have even invited him to their homes to return the hospitality. “I’ve seen guests grow up from children to adults, and come back with their own children so there are three or four generations staying together,” said Karsila. Without doubt, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay conveys the experience of what it means to stay at a property that possesses class, which in this case is not defined by over-the-top furnishing or uber-hip design or latest gadgets or bling. Instead, class here is reflected by the quintessential virtues possessed by the resort such as constantly setting high standards, committing to serve and meet guests’ needs and demands, delivering at level best with subtlety, remaining authentic and true to identity, and upholding integrity with grace and unpretentiousness – it is this kind of class that make Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay timelessly relevant for many more years to come. And only those who are truly discerning will understand what Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay – or any other Four Seasons property – is all about, hence prefer to stay there because the property personifies their equally classy persona… 9 must-dos at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay: 1. Check out the temperature-controlled desserts room at the resort’s all-day dining restaurant called Taman Wantilan during breakfast or at any other meal times to find out what desserts are being offered (different types of desserts served during different meal times) – there are also fragrant crepes being freshly prepared on the spot on certain days or nights that even health-conscious guests will find hard to avoid. 2. Follow the Hatha yoga session at the Yoga Pavilion. Hatha refers to the need in restoring the two opposing types of energy that is believed to be present within each one of us – ha (the sun) is masculine, while tha is feminine. Under the guidance of an experienced instructor, guests will be able to reap the benefits of yoga by performing the series of Hatha Yoga poses that invigorate blood circulation and flow of energy throughout the body. This activity – which effectively complements weight and cardiovascular training while enhancing flexibility – is recommended to anybody who is serious in maintaining long-term health. 3. Indulge in Bali’s longest brunch at the Four Seasons


Resort- managed chic two-storey beach club Sundara (www. sundarabali.com) every Sunday (11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., last order at 4:30 p.m.) in the form of unlimited all-you-caneat free-flowing tapas comprising modern Asian menu that brims with delightful and surprising flavours and textures served a la carte. Sundara’s sexy, almost Mediterranean chill vibe and atmosphere is a unique, take-it-easy-amidst-luxe experience that surely appeals to discerning travellers. On top of that, while enjoying brunch, patrons can also opt to swim in Sundara’s 57-metre long infinity pool (complimentary), or even take a nap in a poolside cabana (IDR1,200,000++ for two persons) or laze on the sundeck sunbeds (IDR980,000++ for two persons) since Sundara is bedecked with facilities that are purposely designed for day-long utilisation. Due to Sundara’s popularity, especially on Sundays, do reserve your seats first by calling +62 361 708 333. 4. Try your hand at cooking Balinese dishes at the state-ofthe-art Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy by following the eye-opening and remarkably educational four-hour cooking class taught by Chef Kristya Yudha, who will not only teach you the proper cooking techniques that you can apply back at home when preparing scrumptious Balinese-inspired dishes, but also by bringing you to the Jimbaran fish market (Bali’s seafood and fishery hub) right before the cooking class to show you how to spot fresh seafood and ingredients. It is enlightening to learn that Balinese cuisine is almost never prepared without galangal, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic, including coconut milk, chilli, basil leaf, bay leaf and shrimp paste to give the dishes lip-smacking tropical Asian flavours and zest. Guests are bound to turn into budding epicures on Balinese cuisine when they follow this cooking class, which charges IDR1,200,000 per person, inclusive of transfers to the market, refreshments before class and hearty lunch after class. Tip: When you begin chopping the ingredients, begin with the driest and proceed to the wettest; but when you cook, start from the wettest and progressively work towards the driest.

5. Return to Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy in the evening, which by then the place has transformed into Jala Restaurant, not to attend another cooking class but to relish over amazingly divine Balinese dishes that are made from scratch using fresh ingredients and inspired from local mothers’ home-cooking style. Due to Jala Restaurant’s limited seats and increasing popularity, guests need to place their reservation through the resort’s concierge. 6. Simply take in Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay’s serenity and tranquillity by walking around the resort as often as possible when the weather permits; listening to the sound of the waves breaking; appreciating the sight of

the majestic Indian Ocean that can be seen from the resort stretching all the way into the horizon; letting sea breeze continuously caress your face and hair; and welcoming the tropical heat to envelope your body, triggering it to perspire as a way to detox. The resort’s classy setting allows guests to be easily in tune with themselves, their being and their psyche. Guests with children will also be enthralled when they get to encounter wild yet benign monitor lizards that locals call alu roaming around the resort’s well-maintained grounds. 7. Laze by the 2.6-metre deep infinity edge pool (children need to behave if they were to utilise the pool) or the familyand children-friendly plunge pool below that comes with an inviting waterfall. 8. Take a day-trip excursion to the award-winning Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan to immerse yourself in a different environment that is lush and revitalising. If possible, opt for the package offered via https://www.fourseasons. com/jimbaranbay/offers/bali-twice-the-magic/ that allows guests to stay at both properties for a wholesome Balinese experience. 9. Join in a complimentary excursion to the Sila Giri Kesarah temple to understand the Balinese-Hindu faith or treat yourself to a transformative and pampering session at Healing Village Spa. https://www.fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay/

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Hotels & Resorts

Berjaya Tioman Resort, An Unforgettable Tropical Island Getaway Te x t & I m a g e s b y E D J U N A I D I & E LLYA S A B D U LL A H

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Set against the idyllic backdrop of green tropical rainforest mountains overlooking the blissful and pristine seashore, Berjaya Tioman Resort is a perfect choice for anyone seeking a getaway from the city or a retreat with family and friends. Blessed with a stretch of golden sandy beach where guests can walk along to catch the fresh ocean breeze or dip into the warm seawater, the resort’s environs elevate guests’ senses and spirits, as well as reinvigorating the body and soul. The resort also contains well-manicured grounds filled with tropical flora that meet with the preserved rainforest, allowing guests to closely connect with nature. Berjaya Hotels & Resorts has always been known for creating down-to-earth and approachable atmosphere within its properties and Berjaya Tioman Resort is a property that emphasises on bringing guests back to their roots, focusses on the spirit of togetherness while being surrounded by what nature has to offer, and provides solitude to travellers wanting to get away from urban bustle. With its unassuming and unpretentious interiors, Berjaya Tioman Resort’s 268 rooms is a refreshing welcome for those who appreciate value-for-money deals. Characterised by charming rustic vibe that is accompanied by top-notch

service, the resort completed its major refurbishment last year, whereby every room or chalet exudes the feeling of being in a home away from home. There are various activities for guests to choose at Berjaya Tioman Resort. The resort takes pride in its golf course that has a spectacular view of Renggis Island. Whether beginners or experts, golfers are bound to have a memorable time indulging in this sport in Tioman, with its own set of challenges and breathtaking views. Guests who prefer water-based activities are welcomed to ask for the staff in arranging diving and snorkelling trips with certified in-house operators.


As for dining options offered by Berjaya Tioman Resort, the establishment boasts four different outlets serving a wide variety of traditional, local and international delicacies, spoiling its guests throughout the day, ranging from a full meal at Sri Nelayan and Matahari restaurants, to an array of cocktails and beverages at Sunken Pool Bar and Beach Bar with the view of the setting sun that spectacularly compliment the unforgettable happy-hour sessions. ‘By the Sea’ – a cooking and travelling programme aired on the Malaysian television channel ntv7 beginning November 2018 – was filmed at the beach in front of Matahari Restaurant and Beach Bar. Hanie Hidayah, the programme’s host and her guest, Tomok, were filmed preparing light bites, salad, sandwiches and then enjoying a picnic set against the stunning backdrop of the South China Sea. Though located on a out-of-the-way part of a tropical island lying off the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, guests will be glad to know that Berjaya Tioman Resort has no shortage of modern conveniences and present-day facilities expected by travellers such as swimming pool, safe deposit boxes, laundry service, gift shop and complimentary Wi-Fi at the resort’s lobby. Berjaya Tioman Resort is renowned for hosting professional retreats and incentive trips too. Besides having a ballroom that is able to accommodate up to 400 persons and six different meeting rooms to be used by smaller number of people, Berjaya Tioman Resort is also one of the popular venues of choice for couples to exchange vows, set on the resort’s beautiful private beach. Ayura Spa completes the experience of a getaway in the paradise. Guests are bound to emerge rejuvenated after undergoing the spa’s signature treatment using ingredients that are in harmony with nature and help to relax, de-stress and reenergise the body, mind and soul. To get to Berjaya Tioman Resort, guests can take a ferry ride either from Mersing Jetty in Johor or Tanjung Gemok Jetty in Pahang. Either ferry ride takes approximately 2 hours to arrive at Kampung Tekek jetty in Tioman Island. As guests of Berjaya Tioman Resort disembark from the ferry on Tioman Island, they should get ready for an immersive, relaxing and memorable tropical island getaway! Although closed during the monsoon season between end of October and early February, its annual nine-month operation is highly anticipated by couples, families, close friends and those intending to spend quality time with loved ones. W: https://www.berjayahotel.com/tioman/en/home T: +6 09 419 1000 F: +6 09 419 1718 E: tioman.rsvn@berjayahotel.com

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Putting Berjaya Tioman Resort on All Travellers’ Maps Mr Charles Eman Resort Manager

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Berjaya Tioman Resort

Calming, charming, diplomatic and down-to-earth, Mr Charles Eman hails from Jakarta together with his beautiful wife and two daughters. After having worked in the Maldives, Bangkok, Doha, and Chicago, Charles and his family have been in Malaysia for 13 years. He served Four Seasons Langkawi for almost seven of those years, then Legoland Resort Malaysia and Doubletree by Hilton, before joining Berjaya Tioman Resort as the Resort Manager. “I like new things and study different people’s behaviour and culture, so my family and I have no problem adapting to different settings. I like diversity and my vocabulary of culture expands whenever I meet new people,” answers Charles when we ask how does he and his family cope with the change of locations over the years. He also finds the people in Tioman genuine, open-minded, and receptive to new ideas and suggestions. Charles faces no problem in managing staff of different backgrounds and nationalities. “Just because you are different doesn’t mean we have to have conflict and not able to work together. As long as I show respect, the employees reciprocate and I don’t force them to do things but instead make them understand why they need to do their jobs well,” he says, speaking from experience. Nature lover Being in Tioman is a blessing to Charles because his current work allows him to be back on a lush tropical island surrounded by nature. The island is blessed with varied landscape besides crystal clear water. He simply adores nature, land and sea, including the view of sunset, which Charles loves taking pictures of and insists that it is different from one day to the next. “I also take photos of unique mushrooms when I jog in the morning because you don’t see them every day. No matter how stressful my day is, once I get out of the office, Tioman significantly reduces my stress level,” he grins. According to Charles, the strength of the resort lies in its location. “The resort is fronted by a white sandy beach with shallow water, which is ideal for dipping. It overlooks the scenic Renggis island, a popular snorkelling and diving spot because it has many corals. Guests could conveniently head


to Renggis and the surrounding areas for snorkelling when staying at the resort,” he beams. Charles further adds that many of the resort’s Singaporean guests come to Berjaya Tioman Resort specifically to play on the island’s sole golf course that is maintained by the resort amidst spectacularly pristine scenery. “When I wake up in the morning, I enjoy looking at the mountain range at the back of the resort, including monkeys, monitor lizards, and giant squirrels. At night, I could easily hear bats, crickets, and even birds. I even encountered the pandan-smelling Asian palm civet for the first time in my life,” he claims excitedly. Established resort Berjaya Tioman Resort is the first resort to open on the island, as well as the biggest and the only one with complete facilities compared to the other resorts, including a dive centre within its premises with good safety record and diving instructors that can converse in different languages like Mandarin and Cantonese, besides Malay and English. Since inception, the resort puts effort in conserving its natural surroundings because guests come all the way to be immersed in them. It also strives to deliver good service and attempts to meet guests’ demands as much as possible. It is no wonder why the resort sees high percentage of guests returning over the years together with their families, whereby some of their children even grow with the resort. One point that travellers should note is the fact that every year, Berjaya Tioman Resort closes from 1 November until 31 January due to year-end monsoon. It reopens beginning 1 February to capitalise on the Chinese New Year holidays, when demand for the rooms at the resort is high since guests utilise that time to spend with their families. “Though it still rains in February, the resort has rainy day programmes that provide indoor activities like playing billiard at the games room and reading books at the library,” Charles recommends. To make up for the closure of the resort during monsoon, the resort maximises revenue by targetting the right market during the right season, particularly in July and August, when the resort is at its busiest. But guests should not be too concerned about the crowd if they were to stay at the resort during such period. “Though the resort might be full, you would only realise it during breakfast, at the lobby during check in and check out, as well as during functions. At most times, it does not feel crowded because the other guests will spread out to do their own thing,” assures Charles. Depending on season, Malaysians and Singaporeans constitute the largest markets that come to the resort. However, come July and August, around 50% to 60% of

the guests consist of Westerners, therefore at that time, all lounges around the swimming pool are taken up from sunrise to sundown since the guests need them for sunbathing and lazing, which Asian guests seldom do. “Different seasons bring in different guests, thus the resort anticipates different types of guest behaviour,” Charles reveals. To give the resort a stronger sense of place, the accommodation units within Berjaya Tioman Resort are contained in buildings that follow the Malay vernacular with wooden flooring and roofs, but also include contemporary modern conveniences like air-conditioning, hot water and amenities. Beginning 2019, the resort adds a new Chinese restaurant on top of the existing Sri Nelayan and Matahari restaurants that serve Malay and Thai cuisines respectively, so that guests will have more options, especially if they stay for more than three nights. Putting Tioman back on the map Regarding his hope as the Resort Manager for the next one or two years, Charles is determined to get more travellers visit the island because it has massive potential and stay at Berjaya Tioman Resort. While he concurs that it takes time to get to Tioman from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore because guests need to travel overland and then by ferry from Mersing or Tanjung Gemok, Charles strongly feels that they should embrace the journey since it unfolds Peninsular Malaysia’s fascinating vistas and rich culture along the way. “I want to promote Tioman, with or without airline. Last time, when Berjaya Air was still operating, the interest towards Tioman was high, but after the airline closed shop, lesser people head to the island. Why should that be so? The reason why people go to Tioman is because of nature and those who love the outdoors,” asserts Charles. To ensure that Berjaya Tioman Resort maintains high occupancy, Charles also plans to tap into the mainland Chinese market further due to its potential and size. One way to do so is by selling Berjaya Tioman Resort together with the experience of staying at Berjaya Waterfront Hotel Johor Bahru. Charles is confident that marketing both properties to the mainland Chinese under one package could work because it offers them the chance to savour urban atmosphere and shopping in Johor Bahru, followed by an island getaway experience in Tioman for ‘lung-washing’. With Charles at the helm, it is safe to say that Berjaya Tioman Resort in particular and Tioman in general is bound for better times ahead. Based on Charles enthusiastic description, Gaya Travel Magazine team can’t wait to visit the property and the island soon…

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Hotels & Resorts

Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel – K K ’s L a t e s t B a s t i on for those w ho Tr ave l B r i l l i a n t ly 118

Te x t & I m a g e s b y ED J U NA I D I

Riding on Kota Kinabalu’s unique cultural offerings and seamless blending of unparalleled natural attractions, Marriott International further strides into the Malaysian hospitality market by opening the impressive and contemporary Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel. Strategically located at Sabah state capital’s bustling waterfront along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel brought forth its signature brand of hospitality that incorporates innovations and commitment to inspire travellers to “Travel Brilliantly”. It is also a mere 15-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel is conceived with much sophistication and sleekness infused with elements of local culture to pay homage to the rich heritage of Borneo’s KadazanDusun tribe. All of its 332 expansive guest rooms and suites are well designed with warmth and welcoming, light-filled interiors, expressed in soft palette of white and beige. Its stylishness and minimalist aesthetics embody Marriott’s modern design philosophy to reveal flexible living spaces that promote creativity and total relaxation.


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Beyond the guest room walls, the hotel’s extensive facilities include a 24-hour state-of-the-art gym and an outdoor infinity pool with idyllic views of South China Sea. Striving to offer authentic experiences that best represent Kota Kinabalu, the hotel’s all-day dining venue Kitchen@8 features fresh and locally inspired cuisine. Another dining outlet, Teppan Table, is a lively Japanese teppanyaki dining room with an open kitchen where guests can watch chefs prepare their dishes with theatrical flair. Another spot worthy of mention is The Lounge, where they can savour wholesome and healthy dishes consisting of seasonal ingredients while downing a good book and feasting their eyes over picturesque views of surrounding islands at the same time. Alternatively, M Club is the business-focussed executive lounge that functions as an exclusive space for members and club-level guests to retreat, recharge, and refocus. The rooftop bar, Stylo, where the second season of ‘By the Sea’ – a cooking and travelling programme aired on the Malaysian television channel NTV7 beginning November 2018 – was filmed. During the episode shot at the hotel, the programme’s host and her guest were truly enjoying a late afternoon picnic set against the stunning backdrop of the breathtaking panorama of South China Sea while savouring light bites and signature cocktails prepared by Stylo’s well trained staff. Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel is also ideal for events and functions since it can provide up to 14,000 feet squared versatile space filled with ample natural light and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including distinctive dining options for purposeful meetings, business gatherings, conferences, and memorable social

occasions of all sizes. With five flexible function rooms including a Grand Ballroom that accommodates up to 650 guests, the hotel’s dedicated events team is capable in recommending and conceptualising meaningful events that meet guests’ objective. When staying at Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel, guests are not only surrounded by high, international service standards but also exposed to elements unique to Kota Kinabalu the city, which is charming, multi-ethnic and modern yet distinct in identity. Guests will be glad to find out that Kota Kinabalu offers shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities without boundaries. The Waterfront, Oceanus Waterfront and Imago Shopping Mall offer latest trends and exciting lifestyle options, while the lively atmosphere of the weekly Gaya Street Sunday Market asserts authentic cultural experience. Thrill seekers will be glad to know that Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel is only a stone’s throw away to Jesselton Point where they can get an exhilarating 15-minute boat ride to get to Borneo’s longest island-to-island zipline connecting both Gaya and Sapi. The hotel’s location also connects visitors to numerous natural sites such as Kinabalu National Park, home to the 4,095-metre high Mount Kinabalu, pristine beaches with emerald waters and coral islands for aquatic expeditions. KK Esplanade and Atkinson Clock Tower are only two kilometres away, which can be reached by foot on a beautiful clear day. The list of exciting things to do in Kota Kinabalu is virtually endless when guests choose to stay at Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel. W: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bkikk-kotakinabalu-marriott-hotel/ T: +6 088 286 888 E: mhrs.bkikk.info@marriotthotels.com


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Hotels & Resorts

Of Sun-kissed Memor y in

Hua Hin Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A KERI Images by NOVOTEL HUA HIN C H A A M B E AC H R E S O R T A N D S PA

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Unlike many beach towns in Thailand, Hua Hin is underrated. Being the destination where members of the Thai Royal Family head to for their retreat, Hua Hin boasts an interesting mix of sun-kissed beach fun and quiet old town charm, with excellent golf courses and huge theme parks, including well-kept natural parks that are enough to keep pleasure-seekers away from the lure of intense urban environments. The whole vibe is kept peaceful and safe, making it ideal for travellers to bring their family members, especially young ones, for a short laid-back getaway. Many parents would agree with the fact that finding the right accommodation for family vacation is crucial. And this is why I suggest staying at the newly revamped Novotel Hua Hin Cha Am Beach Resort and Spa. During my recent trip to the resort, I found myself repeatedly impressed by the full gamut of activities available for both adults and children. It has 243 modern guest rooms and suites, all with a private balcony boasting the far-reaching view of the Gulf of Thailand. The rooms are equipped with children-friendly amenities and spacious enough to provides ample breathing space and easy movement, especially to accommodate rambunctious and energetic little guests. Parents can also consider booking the Family Fun Room,

which comes with a bunk bed and full of soft toys that are guaranteed to excite the little ones. My sprawling Executive Room is designed in a way that gives a constant reminder of where I was: beach tones, good fabrics, unfussy bathroom and clutter-free space. I also love the big floor to ceiling windows in the room, allowing me to admire the first light peeping through the curtains beckoningly every morning. Guests should try waking up early and sit quietly at the balcony to be treated to one of the most gorgeous sunrises accompanied by relaxing and soothing sounds of the sea and waves breaking – trust me, at that right moment, you would feel the world to be at its most beautiful.


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I dined at the Ocean’s Italian Seafood Restaurant, a casual open-air restaurant that is open from 18:00 to 23:00 (dinner time). This outlet serves flavourful selections of cuisines ranging from authentic Italian dishes, seafood, wood-oven pizza to home-made pasta by the sea. Chef Sunil Ghildiyal, the resort’s Executive Sous Chef, impressively delivers and let the dishes stand out for themselves. There is also an organic garden on site, where the culinary team members source their vegetables. Besides the Ocean’s Italian Seafood Restaurant, there are also five other food and beverage outlets: the all-day dining restaurant, Horizon Cafe; the Champions Sports Bar & Grill; the one stop place for a great coffee or snack, Le Cafe; a stunning rooftop bar, Gravity Sky Bar; and Joe Kool’s restaurant and pool bar – all with distinctive menus enough to whet even the pickiest palates.

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Though it’s tempting to do nothing else other than eating and losing myself in a hammock between palm trees on a lazy afternoon, the resort encourages its guests to remain active, which I do appreciate. There is a plethora of exciting games that guests can partake such as badminton, volley ball, petanque and table tennis. There is even a huge swimming pool with water slide on site. If it rains, young guests can take refuge at the Kids World where they can enjoy movies, art classes, play arcade games and indulge in PlayStation! Adults, on the other hand, are invited to retreat at InBalance Spa, which offers a full menu of treatments. I had the classic Thai Massage that incorporates varying effective massage motions and strokes, and it worked wonders on my body. Alternatively, those who cannot make up their mind may opt for the Spa Buffet Package (THB1,999 per person), permitting guests to choose any treatments from the menu for the duration of 120 minutes. Parents who require some down time can also request for complimentary babysitting service when they book a spa treatment here, or whenever they dine at any restaurant within the resort. And speaking of dining, aspiring cooks can participate in cooking classes led by resort’s professional chefs and savour the meals later amidst beautiful setting by the beach. Of course, besides choosing the activities already available within the resort’s grounds, guests can also opt for fun excursions that take them outside. Since Novotel Hua Hin Cha Am Beach Resort and Spa is conveniently located near interesting landmarks like the Mrigadayavan Palace, Hua Hin Train Station and the Hua Hin Night Market, guests do not need to travel far to experience touristy things. There is also a shuttle service ferrying guests to town daily at the cost of merely THB50 per person one way.

For those who crave to be surrounded by pristine nature, be sure to take a trip to the mystical Phraya Nakhon Cave, located approximately an hour’s drive away from the resort. The site boasts two naturally lighted caves, in which the second one is home to the 19th century Kuha Karuhas Pavilion, built for King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V). However, do be mindful that even though the cave is open to visitors of all ages, the uneven uphill trek leading to the cave could be challenging to some, so be sure to always wear comfortable trekking footwear and pace accordingly (especially when visiting with children) to survive the trek and tell the story when you return home. AirAsia flies four times weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) to the stylish coastal town of Hua Hin, Thailand from KLIA2. W: https://novotelhuahin.com/


Hotels & Resorts

Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta - A Discreetly Luxurious and Accessible Stay Te x t b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y O A K W O O D S U I T E S L A M A I S O N J A K A R TA

Suites La Maison Jakarta is a sharp property that hits the mark in South Jakarta, an upand-coming area teeming with expats, particularly those from Japan and South Korea. Created in the concept of serviced residences, Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is the sole Oakwood Suites in the world thus far, making it a jewel in Oakwood’s crown. Efficient accommodation

According to General Manager Christian Jacob, Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta hosts many Japanese long-stayers. “As a matter of fact, 80% of the property’s guests are long-stayers,” he added. However, the property also welcomes shortstayers, defined as those who check-in only for a night or two up to less than a month. One benefit derived from opting a lodging occupied mostly by long-stayers is that the checkin and check-out experience is hardly hectic. When Gaya Travel Magazine team members were checking into the property, there were no other guests checking in or out at the same time, thus the whole process was a breeze and even felt exclusive because the team received the staff ’s utmost attention. Since Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is rather new, it has the advantage of applying the latest state-of-the-art technologies that meet the

expectations of current lifestyle such as the need for more natural light, latest appliances, highend fixtures, up-to-date furnishings, and sheer convenience. As the team members stepped into the unit where they were to stay for two nights, they pleasantly found the unit to be exceedingly homely, airy, tranquil and private. Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta offers 160 smart and uncluttered serviced residence units with unusually high ceilings and accompanying floor-to-ceiling windows that allow generous amount of natural light to flood into the living room and bedrooms to beat the feeling of claustrophobia and stuffiness normally associated with spaces confined within stratified buildings. These units come in two types of configuration: two-bedroom (127 metres squared), the smallest size offered by Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta but one of the largest in its class in the city; and three-bedroom (169 metres squared), which is more than enough space for a small intimate group of travellers or an expat family.

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As what can be expected from a stylish spacious home nestled within a contemporary landmark building in a prosperous Asian city, the accommodation units at Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta are provided with housekeeping service; bath amenities; fully functioning open kitchen consisting of Smeg refrigerator, Philips toaster, Bentley electric kettle and Webber oven; the increasingly important washing cum drying machine; water purifier and drinking water dispenser; including private corridor, private lift, alarm and intercom to ensure the property remains secure and well-appointed. Gaya Travel Magazine team adores the Grohe durable showering system comprising plate-like shower head that channels out water similar to bathing under a refreshing pouring rain. On the same note, the main bedroom of each unit has a bathtub, and all bathroom sinks are ergonomically designed in the same vein as the specially curated furniture pieces reminiscent of the sleek, timeless and pragmatic Scandinavian style. Regarding facilities available at the property, Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta boasts children’s room, gym and pool on level 7, all open from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., including an executive lounge for business meetings and discussions. There are also treatment rooms to be utilised by guests seeking recuperative massage and treatments in-house. Attached to Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is a lowkey retail mall offering several upmarket dining options and supermarket selling local and imported products for guests’ grocery needs. 15% discount is given to guests whenever they dine at a chic cafe called Glosis situated within the mall on the same level as Starbucks. In terms of rates, long-staying guests are charged USD3,800 per month for a two-bedroom unit, and USD4,800 per month for a three-bedroom unit. Conversely, short-staying guests are generally charged USD250 per night for a two-bedroom unit and USD380 per night for a three-bedroom unit. Travellers are sure to find the property good value for money, especially after dividing the cost per head and realising the high quality of the accommodation. Accessible location What really strikes the Gaya Travel Magazine team when staying at Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is its enviable location. Getting to the airport by car takes 45 minutes since the property is close to the less congested Jakarta outer ring road that zip through West

Jakarta. Besides, it is a mere 40 minutes’ drive from Serpong, dubbed as Indonesia’s Silicon Valley, including other economically-important satellite cities, hence become the property of choice among start-up investors, entrepreneurs, and employees. Being 10 minutes’ drive to Jakarta’s central business district and within proximity to international schools, the property is popular among long-staying expat families. Simatupang Road, where many important oil and gas companies are based, is also nearby. Kemang, where expats usually go for dining and unwinding, is merely eight minutes by car. The golf course in Pondok Indah is 15 minutes’ drive away. Many Malaysians relish their stay at Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta because of its proximity to Block M, a much-loved shopping and entertainment area, including Melawai Raya, dubbed as Little Tokyo since many Japanese expats hang out there. Additionally, Melawai (in front of Blok M Square signage, to be exact) is the place where Indonesian movie enthusiasts can find ‘Filosofi Kopi’, a cafe constructed specifically as the main setting for the box office film of the same name based on an eponymous novel by local author Dewi Lestari – the café was eventually converted into a permanent establishment that promotes coffee and blends primarily sourced from the Indonesian archipelago due to overwhelming response from the public. Another spot where coffee lovers may head to when staying at Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is the café owned by renowned local actor Nino Fernandez serving reasonably priced comestibles and beverages called ‘Di Bawah Tangga’ (literally translated as ‘Under the Stairs’, or more accurately ‘Under the Escalator’) in Gandaria City, located five minutes away by car. Who knows, lucky travellers might just bump into Nino Fernandez in person when dining there… Conclusion It is easy to understand why this solid 32-storey property is deeply appreciated by travellers irrespective of their duration of stay: Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is an efficient, value-for-money, safe and secure lodging, which sophisticated travellers are sure to appreciate not only for its practicality but also for its accessibility to significant places of business, commerce, retail, leisure, culture and entertainment in Jakarta. https://www.oakwoodasia.com/oakwood-suites

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Hotels & Resorts

FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON BANDUNG

– Inter national in Standard, Local in Sensibility Te x t b y J U H A N KA M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y F O U R P O I N T S B Y S H E R AT O N B A N D U N G

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Opened since 2016, Four Points by Sheraton Bandung is one of the preferred properties among domestic and international (particularly Asian) travellers who seek homely accommodation in Bandung minus the fuss and non-functional embellishments. Located in Dago, the hotel is 20 minutes’ drive away from Husein Sastranegara International Airport and conveniently situated near shopping malls, restaurants and tourist attractions. The hotel is a magnet that draws business travellers on weekdays, and leisure travellers during weekends as well as public holidays. Strategically located Four Points by Sheraton Bandung is merely 700 metres away from the iconic Gedung Sate, the office building for the Governor of West Java Governor. The incumbent is currently Ridwan Kamil, the former mayor of Bandung and a highly respected architect and urban planner who successfully spruced up Bandung’s cityscape, turning it friendlier for its citizens and visitors alike, hence improving quality of life. Besides proximity to government offices and businesses, the hotel is a boon for shopping enthusiasts since it is close to Jalan Riau. According to the hotel’s smart and affable General Manager Mr Franklyn Kocek, the Four Points by Sheraton brand started back in 1995 to provide accommodations classified as ‘select service’ due to travellers’ changing habits and behaviours. In line with such principle, Four Points by Sheraton Bandung chooses to be at the centre of action for guests to easily access the best aspects of the city like where to dine and shop, among others. For instance, there is a supermarket and

restaurant available on the same street, and right across is Living Plaza Dago mall. The hotel is also an easy drive to the city’s neighbourhoods located on higher altitudes heading towards Lembang like Dago Pakar and Dago Atas, popular among locals and travellers who seek calmer spots for respite and relaxation. Due to Bandung’s significance as a highland getaway developed since the Dutch colonial era for Europeans to escape the heat of the lowlands, the city’s architectural heritage largely drew inspiration from Europe, especially when it came to adopting the Art Deco style, which was the craze in Europe and North America back in 1920s. The architecture of Four Points by Sheraton Bandung alludes to the Dutch East Indies architectural vernacular found throughout Bandung. To do justice to Bandung’s glamourous past as the Paris of Java, the owners decided to ramp up the Four Points by Sheraton brand a notch further. The result is impressive: Four Points by Sheraton Bandung becomes a hotel that emanates a strong sense of place, international in standard and outlook, yet local in its sensibilities, sensitivities and actions.


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Uncomplicated spaces & facilities A lot of thought has been put into the simplicity and straightforwardness of the property. Uncomplicated, uncluttered, and bright, the hotel strives to provide only what is necessary in the most efficient way with the least amount of waste. The property’s layout raises the bar of functional simplicity to another level and conscientiously attempts to uplift guests’ state of mind by bringing in as much natural light as possible into its interiors through its replete double height windows. Four Points by Sheraton Bandung’s 162 guest rooms have everything that guests require for a rewarding stay, plus easy and fast Wi-Fi connectivity. The hotel provides five types of accommodations: Classic Room, Premium Room, Deluxe Room, Executive Suite, and Premier Suite. The property in Bandung normally sells between USD85 to USD100 per room, depending on season.

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The rooms have high ceilings to avoid guests from feeling claustrophobic. They are located away from traffic, therefore noise from the road is laudably reduced. For more peace and quiet, guests are recommended opt for the rooms on higher floors. Since the rooms are adequately spacious with 28 and 30 square metres in size, the hotel is able to maintain its high-level service delivery and upkeep. Each of the hotel’s twin-sharing room comes with two double beds, whereby each of those beds is extraordinarily large that it could fit up to two persons to ensure better comfort. As a matter of fact, all guests of Four Points by Sheraton Bandung are bound to fall in deep slumber in plush, custom-designed Four Points signature beds incorporated with nine-inch shock absorber foundation, accompanied by particularly comfortable pillows. On the same note, the ergonomic work desks inside the rooms allow busy guests settle their work comfortably. Each room is equipped with at least four multi-standard socket plug points too. To the delight of business and sartoriallysavvy travellers, iron and ironing board await in each of the guest room’s wardrobe. The hotel has no spa but it does have a swimming pool with an imagery of a large blooming orchid created from thousands of singular tiles on the one end of the pool floor. The water is lowly chlorinated, making it safe for swimmers of all ages. There is even a compact fitness centre on the same level as the swimming pool, available


for guests 24 hours. Corporations and event organisers are welcome to utilise the hotel’s 900 square metres of function spaces in the form of eight meeting rooms and a ballroom. Dining pleasure Domestic and foreign foodies flock to Bandung because the city has abundant reasonably priced eats. To reflect Bandung’s allure, Four Points by Sheraton Bandung offers gastronomic options through its food and beverage outlets. Guests should savour the hotel’s breakfast spread set amidst classic ambience at the all-day dining Saffron Restaurant comprising hearty local fare that easily satisfies various kinds of palates, both Asian and beyond; guests must try ordering the restaurant’s eggs benedict, one of Gaya Travel Magazine team’s favourite dishes. Since the people of Bandung constantly look for something new, businesses in retail and hospitality sectors need to update their products and services, sometimes even their look and feel, every six months. Four Points by Sheraton Bandung makes it a point to renew its food and beverage choices every three months, especially when the timing coincides with national public holidays, for example Christmas, New Year, Eid, and Republic of Indonesia’s Independence Day celebration on 17 August every year. In conjunction with the latter occasion that was celebrated in 2018, Saffron Restaurant prepared a mouth-watering brunch spread with the theme ‘Ayo Makan Indonesia’ (meaning ‘Let’s Eat Indonesia’), featuring popular and memorable dishes from 12 selected Indonesian provinces. In the evenings, guests are invited to unwind at the Citrus Pool Bar with the hotel’s local Best Brew beer in hand. To the uninitiated, the Best Brew programme is part of Four Points by Sheraton Bandung’s initiative in elevating the status of local breweries and beers such as Bintang Beer, served together with barbecue, as a way for the hotel to help increase public awareness towards deserving local products. The hotel even holds pool party at Citrus Pool Bar – one of the popular watering holes in Bandung – every quarter by collaborating with a radio station to broadcast the event live. Guests are recommended to find out when would be the next pool party be held so that they would be able to join in the revelry. Another spot where guests should head to is Edelweiss

Sky Lounge on level 12 for afternoon tea and delectable dinner paired with nice wine overlooking Gedung Sate and the greenish Lembang area way in the distance. Guests should check out the range of irresistible pastries at the chic bistro-inspired Buttercup Boulangerie as well, which is situated directly opposite of the hotel lobby entrance and housed in an impressive Art Deco building of what used to be the offices of Kimia Farma, a local pharmaceutical company. From what we gathered, there is never a dull moment when it comes to dining at Four Points by Sheraton Bandung. Conclusion With enviable location, elegant fuss-free design, inspiring interiors and exciting gastronomic offerings, Four Points by Sheraton Bandung is fast carving itself as one of the must-stay places whenever guests visit Bandung, especially when it is also true value for money… www.fourpointsbandung.com. Instagram:@fourpointsbandung Facebook: Four Points by Sheraton Bandung

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Travel Anecdotes

Sean Lee Jia Ern

Hi. I’m Sean LJE, an actor, host, emcee, filmmaker, YouTuber, Atap Roof Cafe owner and social media influencer.

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I have been on local telemovies such as “Biah Sport” and “Hey Orang Kita”. My leading role was in Malay drama series “Keluarga Pontimau” and recently on a drama aired on Astro called “Coffee Prince”. I started making YouTube videos in July 2013 while still in college. Some of my short films on Youtube can be watched via Instill Films channel (“Pray.Hope. Love.”) and BFM Radio Short Films (“Drama Melayu”, “Oh Abang, Mampu ke Nak Kawin?”, “Hang Baca Apa tu?”, “Mari Labur Money!”). Most recently is Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) “Tekad” directed by Tam Suhaimi. I also have been active in performing arts theatre since 2011, starting with Mamma Mia Sapura Smart School Musical, The Playlist theatre project, including showcases put together by DPA’12 students of Sunway University, for example YES Broadway KL Live and Tic-Tac-Toe. Instagram / Facebook / YouTube : seanlje

Sean LJE on travels . My favourite destination(s): South Africa . My dream destination(s): Santorini . My must-have(s) in the carry-on: Vlogging camera, phone accessories, no accessories for quick custom check . My worst nightmare during travel: I almost got robbed (but he asked nicely and didn’t want to let my hand go after a handshake) - the suspect wanted my NB shoes... . My favourite Malaysian spot(s): Pulau Rawa . My best meal taken in Malaysia: Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng . Malaysia is special because… we have the best food in the world . Solo or group travel? With my brother, he is the best. . Aisle or window seat? Window when I’m feeling sad, aisle when I’m feeling cheeky (better view on the stewardesses) . See it all or take it easy? Take it easy. . I travel for…the experience, being able to tell people I’ve

Te x t & I m a g e b y S e a n L e e J i a E r n

stayed at a specific place for a period of time to experience the local lifestyle.

Sean LJE in 30 seconds . Night owl or early-riser? Night owl . Back to nature or city slicker? Back to nature . One book everyone should read? The Bible . What is the last thing you Googled? himpap, later only got to know its ‘hempap’ . What’s on your playlist right now? Spotify: ATAP PARTY . What is the moment you’re most proud? When I heard from my brother that my parents are proud of me for my achievements (acting, social media, business) . What’s your biggest pet peeve? People who aren’t proactive . Whose brain would you like to have had? My dad. He knows and understands a lot about life and business . Life is too short to... not take risk


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