SIXTH SENSE OF THE
Who doesn’t know Bali? It has everything, from crystal beaches to green mountains, beach clubs to scenic temples, adrenaline-pumping waves to peaceful ashrams, beautiful cottages, together with smiling people. But now, Indonesia has another “Bali”, and it’s called Labuan Bajo. Blessed with beautiful and natural sceneries (including beaches and offshore islands), foreign and domestic visitors will surely have a great experience. Here are sixth interesting locations to visit while traveling in Labuan Bajo.
1. Pink Beach Pink Beach Lombok has its own charm because of the uniqueness of the color of its sand. The pink hue is the result when the white sands get mixed with the red coral beads, which are carried by the waves to the shore from the shallow waters of the Tangsi Beach. This pink hue turns into even darker shade when the sands come into contact with the sea water. To see the pink shade at its most striking, visit in the late evening. 2. Komodo Island Komodo Island is famous for ancient animals called Komodo, which still survive
and live well in its natural habitat. It was designated as the Komodo National Park in 1980 and was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The island also has a diverse underwater biota, including more than 385 species of coral reefs, 10 species of dolphins, 6 types of whales, various types of sharks and stingrays, and home to 70 types of sponges â€“ it is no wonder that the island is a paradise for lovers of diving or snorkeling! 3. Padar Island Padar is the third largest island in the national park, after Komodo and Rinca. It is surrounded by several other small
islands that form a unique panorama, as can be seen on top of the hills after pleasant hikes. In some parts of the island, visitors can find a stretch of beach with pink coloured sand (pink beach), which is suitable for swimming and snorkelling. 4. Taka Makassar Taka Makassar, a sand island right next to the Komodo Island, is surrounded by clear, turquoise waters. Swimming or snorkeling here is safe because of the slow currents. In fact, many diving course instructors would use Taka Makassar as a training area. Large ships are prohibited from approaching this sand island as they may damage the coral reefs. 5. Wae Rebo Known as the village above the clouds, Wae Rebo is located at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level surrounded by very beautiful hills. Wae Rebo was declared as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in August 2012. To reach Wae Rebo, visitors must travel about six kilometres from Dintor Village to Denge Village on motorbikes. The journey takes approximately three hours of riding along a remote area surrounded by unspoiled dense forest. Although the location is far from the crowds and difficult to reach, Wae Rebo remains popular among the visitors, alluring them in with its traditional architectural flair and cultural uniqueness. Highlight includes the conical traditional houses with palm leaves roofs. Localsâ€™ handicrafts, coffee products, vanilla and cinnamon bark are among the highly sought-after souvenirs bought by visitors at satisfactory prices. 6. Kenawa Island Kenawa is a beautiful, uninhabited island in West Sumbawa Regency, West Nusa Tenggara, precisely near the Poto Tano Sea Harbor on Sumbawa Island. It is a part of Gili Balu, an archipelago comprising eight islands that are now declared as protected area by the West Sumbawa Regional Government. Kenawa Island covers around 13 hectares of gorgeous landscapes of white sands and grasslands. When the sky is clear, visitors can witness Mount Rinjani in the west and when the sun goes down, the view of the sunset makes an unforgettable sight. #WonderfulIndonesia Find the best packages and deals about Labuan Bajo only on www.indonesia.travel, discover now!
a country rich in culture that will never cease to amaze you Thanks to its strategic location at the cross-roads of East and West, many airlines have stopovers at one of the world’s top 5 airports (according to 2018 Skytrax awards), the Hamad International Airport in Doha. While most passengers dread long layovers, in Qatar they have the perfect chance to explore the pearl of the Arabian Gulf. Whether they are vacationing or making a quick stopover on their way to a final destination, Qatar has something in store for everyone - from adventure seekers to luxury travellers. There is an abundance of sights to see and things to do in Qatar. Step away from the city life with a desert adventure filled with activities that you can enjoy among the vast sand dunes, such as sand boarding and dune bashing. As the sun starts to set, you can unwind at campsites set up in the middle of the desert and drift off into a night of tranquillity as you stargaze by a bonfire. Soak in the Qatari culture as you make your way to the iconic Souq Waqif. The traditional market is filled with alleys of shops – spices, fragrance, jewellery, fabrics and a large array of eateries for
you to explore. The Souq provides you with an authentic experience that leave you appreciating and understanding their deeply-rooted traditions and the unique Qatari architecture. No trip to Qatar would be complete without paying a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). Just the exterior of the Museum is breath-taking as it sits on the edge of the Corniche giving the illusion that it is floating on water, there is no surrounding buildings to obstruct the view of this beautiful structure. The MIA does not only showcase the large collection of Islamic art spanning 14 centuries of history but is also home to Alain Ducasse’s first restaurant in the Middle East offering an exquisite selection of fusion food with a perfect balance of both local and French flavours. Qatar has a massive selection of world
class shopping malls. Each mall offers unique experiences with different entertainment choices and global luxury brands. Villagio Mall in Doha has even made it to Forbes Lists as one of the best malls in the world. Villagio gives you a taste of Venice with their indoor gondola ride, alongside detailed interior design to create an incredible shopping and entertainment experience for everyone. Qatar takes luxury to a whole new level with their wide selection of prestigious five-star hotels that promise to indulge your every whim. Offerings include restaurants by world-famous chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Matsuhisa, Gastón Acurio, Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges, Richard Sandoval and Masaharu Morimoto; all found in these lavish hotels that boast impeccable menus for a fine dining experience like no other.
is no strict dress code for either men or women in Qatar. The best guideline is simply to show respect for local culture by dressing appropriately in public places and confining beachwear to the beach. Female visitors, whether travelling alone or in a group experience no special restrictions of dress or behaviour in day-to-day life in Qatar.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely spoken and understood. A wide range of other languages are spoken within the hospitality industry.
Tips on visiting Qatar » Travelling Visa
Thanks to a host of visa facilitation measures, Qatar is now the most open country in the Middle East and 8th most open destination in the world. Visitors from all around the world can now enter Qatar either visa free, or by filling out simple online applications, depending on the passport they carry. Nationals of more than 80 countries including Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are eligible for visa-free entry into the State of Qatar. For more information, please visit https://www. visitqatar.qa/
Qatar has a desert climate with yearround sunshine, hot summers and mild winters. Mean monthly temperatures range from 17oC in January to 36 oC in July, sometimes reaching highs of 40 oC during the summer. Rain is infrequent, falling in
brief showers mainly in winter. Perfect months to enjoy outdoor activities in Qatar is between November to early April. During summer, one can enjoy numerous indoor recreation activities. Typically located inside shopping malls, these offer everything from ice skating rinks to arcade games, multiscreen movie theatres and amusement park-style rides, bounce houses and bowling alleys, karaoke and kid-friendly indoor playgrounds. Qatar also hosts a Summer Festival featuring great deals in hospitality, shopping & entertainment.
» Common Arabic phrases to learn:
Tel: +603-2143 8877 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The monetary unit of Qatar is the riyal (abbreviated to QR or QAR). The exchange rate is fixed at US $1 = QAR 3.65. ATMs can be found in many locations and most shops and restaurants accept major credit cards.
» Dress Code
Qatar is an Islamic country however there
Ma’a as-salaama – This is a way of expressing farewell or goodbye. Assalamualaikum – “Peace be upon you” a common Islamic greeting to greet someone humbly and formally. Walaikum assalam – This is to response to the phrase above, which means, “And unto you peace”.
» For Tour Packages to Qatar, please contact the following Qatar Specialists: » Apple Vacations:
» Corporate Information Travel: Tel: +603 2091 9988 Email: email@example.com
» Sedunia Travel:
Tel: +603-2142 0222 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
13 SHUTTLE STOP DISCOVER MORE THAN 30 ICONIC PLACES
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THE NEW HOME OF TURKISH AIRLINES The airline that flies to more countries than any other awaits you in the worldâ€™s new aviation center
Contents ISSUE 14.3
Cover Illustration by Mohd Nor Adli Ahmad Jaffar
w w w. iss uu. co m /gayatrave l
014. Editorial Jottings
Gaya Special Feature 002. 004. 044. 060. 066.
Sixth Sense Of The New Bali Turkish Airlines Grand Train Tour of Switzerland Tourism Terengganu Tasik Villa Resort
Gaya Luggage and Travel Accessories 012
016. 5 Reasons to Love the American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner!
023. Starting at Zero: A JB Heritage and Food Trail Walkabout
Gaya Dine & Café
032. My Own Bakes Café: No Fuss, Yet So Delicious
034. Dato’ Seri Aminuddin bin Harun, Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan – Polishing Up Negeri Sembilan’s Tourism Potential
040. Sabah: Beauty beneath the wind, more than meets the eye 046. South East Turkey’s Mesopotamian Allure 056. Costa neoRomantica Ports of Call - Where the Anchor Drops 062. The Other Side of Muslim-Friendly Taiwan 068. A Romantic Escapade from Japan to Taiwan 072. The Quintessentially Charming Region of Southwest Germany 082. Langkawi, the Year-Round Island of Attractions 088. ETW9: Scouring Selangor’s Top Treats 098. Grand Train Tour of Switzerland with Sedunia Travel 106. Moyo Island: Travellers’ Next Awe-Inspiring Secret Hideout 112. Solo Immersion 116. Terengganu Now and Forever!
Hotels & Resorts
126. citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang: Affordable Luxury like You have Never Seen 128. Beating the Heat at Gloria Residences
Travel Anecdotes 132. Njwa
TURKISH AIRLINES, A Wor ld - Leading C a r r ie r Turkish Airlines began its journey back in 1933 with only five planes. Today, Turkish Airlines boasts a fleet totalling 341 aircrafts (passenger and cargo), yet still continues its journey with the same vigour. Turkish Airlines is expected to continue climbing the ranks in service quality by maintaining its fleet age average. Having one of the Europe’s youngest fleets with an average age of 8.2 years, Turkish Airlines’ fleet comprises 224 narrow-body aircrafts, 94 wide-body, and 23 freighters. Given the large-scale aircraft orders, including aircrafts to be leased and expiring, the total number of aircrafts is expected to be around 500 by the end of 2023. Currently flying to 311 destinations in 124 countries, Turkish Airlines is entering new markets while deepening existing markets from its homebase at Istanbul Airport, the largest airport in the world, located 35 kilometres from the city centre on the European side between Tayakadın, a neighbourhood on the Black Sea coast, and Akpınar villages. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the airport from city centre by taxi and costs around TRY100 to TRY110 one way. Leveraging on Istanbul’s position as an international transfer hub, a centre of world airline traffic, and a city that is blessed with heritage and cultural diversity, Turkish Airlines seeks to elevate the flight experience to a whole new level and surprise passengers through its innovative services at every stage of their journey. Turkish Airlines carried 10.4 million passengers in 2003. This figure rose to 29.1 million, 32.6 million, 39 million and 48.3 million passengers in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. In 2014, an impressive period of growth saw this number rose to around 55 million. The
number of passengers carried in 2015 was 61.2 million, and this increased to 62.8 million by the end of 2016. While the number of passengers carried by the flag carrier reached 68.6 million in 2017, Turkish Airlines’ total load factor registered 79.1%, while international load factor increased to 78.4%. In 2018, the number of passengers reached 75.2 million, rose 9.5% from the previous year, chalking up 82% passenger load factor. The airline aims to carry 80 million passengers in 2019. For more info about Turkish Airlines and to book your flight, visit https://www.turkishairlines.com/.
What to experience when flying Turkish Airlines: The ultra-spacious Turkish Airlines Lounge at Istanbul Airport, which admits Business Class and selected Economy class passengers, has an area of 5,600 metres squared and seats 765 people. Passengers are invited to refresh themselves at the lounge that houses 12 suites with 12 showers. An efficient and wellthought-out prayer room is available within the premises too. Passengers are encouraged to sit back and relax on comfortable couches while enjoying specially prepared delicious treats comprising Turkish and world cuisines. There is also cinema, console gaming experience and spacious children’s playground for neverending fun, besides meeting rooms and library. Browse https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-my/ istanbul-airport/turkish-airlines-lounge for more info regarding Turkish Airlines Lounge.
to research on the weather forecast but also the air quality or pollution index of the places they are heading to as part of their travel preparation, which becomes increasingly pertinent in this day and age.
At the time of writing, parts of Southeast Asia (mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) are blanketed by haze due to the hot, dry weather and prevailing monsoon winds that fan the forest fires within the region. Not only this phenomenon dents travellersâ€™ plans to explore the various parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, it is also found to be depressing. However, fret not, because there are still parts of Southeast Asia that are less affected by the September 2019 haze such as Langkawi, Sandakan, Tawau, Semporna and Mabul in Malaysia; Brunei; Krabi and Phuket in Thailand; Danang in Vietnam; and Banda Aceh, Banyuwangi and Lombok in Indonesia. It would be best for travellers to earmark the mentioned places as alternative getaway destinations whenever the almost annual haze hits Southeast Asia. The lesson to be had is this: travellers are urged not only
Meteorologists forecast that the haze would be gone by October 2019 when rainy season begins, making that time ideal for travellers to return to places in Malaysia like Johor Bahru for its heritage and food (page 23); Sabah for its nature and culture (page 40); Langkawi for its tropical island tranquility (page 82); Selangor for its exuberance and diversity (page 88); and Terengganu (page 116) for its East Coast idyll. For destinations outside Malaysia, this issue shares with you our take on mesmerising Southeast Turkey (page 46); rewarding experience on board the neoRomantica Cruise (page 68) that brings passengers to vivacious ports of call in Japan and Taiwan (page 56); Muslim-friendly and welcoming Taiwan (page 62); charming Southwest Germany (page 72); highly accessible Switzerland (page 98); dreamy Moyo Island in Sumbawa, Indonesia (page 106); and creative Surakarta, better known as Solo, also in Indonesia (page 112). It is our sincere hope that you will find the contents in this issue enriching, and look forward to meeting you again in the next issue. Safe travels! JUHAN KAMARUDDIN@JEREMY KHALIL
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Gaya Luggage & Travel Accessories
Discovering 5 Reasons to Love the AmericanTourister Curio 29” Spinner! Te x t & I m a g e s b y A N A S A B A S
Recently my wife, eight-month old baby boy and I had the opportunity to use one of American Tourister’s latest offerings: The Curio 29” Spinner in Spicy Peach colour! After lugging it around for our family trips to Kelantan and Perak from Kuala Lumpur, we find American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner remarkably nifty, and below are our reasons why!
1. Light weight The first thing we noticed about the American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner is its nett weight, which is only 4.9 kilograms, surprisingly lighter than the other luggage that we have already owned. Those who often travel by air will find this a boon because luggage weight is a serious issue – you wouldn’t want to pay additional hundreds or thousands just for excess weight. The frame is light, allowing you to maximise on the luggage allowance. However, please take note that some international airlines impose restrictions on the maximum dimensions or sizes of check-in luggage even though the luggage weight is within limit. 2. Built tough and durable The shell of this suitcase is made of 100% polypropylene, a strong plastic material – now you understand why it is light. The material’s durability allows the luggage to withstand bumps and crashes while travelling, on top of holding the weight of all other luggage being dumped above it during check-in. One caveat though: the shell is prone to scratches and you might want to get a suitcase cover. But since the American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner has ribbed shell, it helps to hide those scuffs so that the luggage remain looking good. 3. Easy Handling Thanks to the luggage’s four sturdy double wheels with reinforced corners, manoeuvring the American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner is really smooth! You can push it without having to tilt your luggage because the wheels can turn 360 degrees and save yourself from straining your arm dragging a heavy load luggage.
4. TSA Approved Lock If you’re a frequent flyer, you must be familiar about the TSA lock and its importance, especially for checked-in baggage. We hear many cases of people being held up and locked away for hiding something illegal in the luggage. Though you might not be the one who placed that questionable thing in your luggage but done by somebody else instead, you are still responsible for the luggage and bear the consequences. Hence, NO ONE ELSE other than the airport authorities should be able to open your luggage! When you have the TSA friendly lock, it pretty much helps the authorities inspect your luggage without damaging it because it would be easy for the authorities to unlock and then lock it back after checking. 5. 7 chic colours The American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner comes in seven vibrant and fun colours to fit your taste, personality and even wardrobe: pink, purple, black, white, spicy peach, golden yellow and denim blue! So, there you have it, the reasons why I consider the American Tourister Curio 29” Spinner is fantastic, especially for a couple travelling with a baby, infant or toddler because you can simply stuff everything inside one whole luggage and ready to go! Visit https://www.samsonite. com.my/brands/brand-americantourister/american-tourister-all/ for more info.
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Starting at Zero: A JB Heritage and Food Trail Walkabout
Johor Bahru (JB), the southern gem of our beloved Malaysia, is fast becoming an international city. New skyscrapers, shopping malls and theme parks are being built at a rapid pace throughout the state of Johor. Despite this rush ofnew developments, it is heartening to see the city’s heritage buildings are being refurbished and spruced up of late. Just a short walk from Kilometre Zero is the charming of what used to be JB’s old city centre, which is unique because it has a good mix of old and new, and it used to be called Coronation Avenue. Currently, Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru (Johor Bahru City Hall or MBJB) is carrying out beautification works of the city centre. Upgrading works on walkways and landscaping are being done to make the city more attractive for pedestrians, in time for Visit Johor Year 2020 and Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020. It there is one word to best describe Coronation Avenue, it must be ‘eclectic’. The people of Johor, or Bangsa Johor is very proud of its harmonious living. You are able to see the different houses of worship located close to each other along Coronation Avenue. So let’s start our adventure from Kilometre Zero. There is so much to see and experience just a short walk from that starting point.
Do you know what “Kilometre Zero” means? Honestly we were not aware of the existence of this term, let alone knowing what it was until the year 2012. We were on assignment in Bandung, Indonesia, and we asked our host at the Grand Royal Panghegar Hotel what else is there to see within Bandung’s city centre. “Have you been to our Kilometre Zero?” he asked. And so began our fascination of Kilometre Zero wherever we go travelling.
Kilometre Zero, to put it simply, is the heart of a city. It is the point from where the intercity distance is measured. The early development of a town grows out from Kilometre Zero. For Johor Bahru, the location for the city’s Kilometre Zero is the General Post Office. Interestingly, Johor Bahru’s Kilometre Zero is extra special because it is also the Kilometre Zero for Peninsular Malaysia; and yes, its monument is located right in front of the same General Post Office!
You might want to make the Johor Tourism Information Centre (JOTIC) your first stop to get a map of the city! The building is next to the High Court, just a stone’s throw away from Kilometre Zero. You can also spot the Istana Besar (Main Palace) from JOTIC. Istana Besar used to house the Royal Museum that showcases the history of the Johor Royal Family, including the family’s collectibles and gifts received from foreign dignitaries. We heard that there is a plan to reopen the museum in the near future.
Walk the Heritage Trail of JB
What to Eat
The heart of Johor Bahru we believe, is best discovered on foot. Get yourself on Jalan Tan Hiok Nee or Jalan Pahang, and simply wander around the pre-war shophouses. Most of the shops here have been around ever since we were children, and chances are they were already in business earlier than what our memory served us.
This area is dotted with various places to eat that have been around for some time, including new joints catering to the Instagram generation’s appetite (not necessarily the edible kind, if you know what we mean).
While walking, you would be able to notice the majestic grey coloured Sultan Ibrahim Building nearby. Perched on Bukit Timbalan, this was the tallest building in Johor Bahru when it was completed in 1940. This building was used as a fortress by the Japanese army during World War 2. Sultan Ibrahim Building was the state government administrative office which also house the state assembly hall and the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) office until 2009. Located next to the Sultan Ibrahim Building is another historic building: the old Royal Johor Military Force headquarters. Formed in 1886, this independent military force is the only one in Malaysia maintained by a state.
» Hua Mui Established since 1946, this kopitiam (coffee shop) was, and still is, the place to meet. Seats are limited, but patrons seem to be patient enough to wait. Come for the ambience. 131 Jalan Trus, 80000 JB Opens daily 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. » It Roo Their claim to fame is that they serve “the best chicken chop in town”, an actual award given to them by The Star newspaper back in 2003. Their other offerings are equally good too. Our usual order? Deep fried chicken chop with mushroom gravy. Proteinloving friends may add 2 sunny side eggs on top.
17 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 JB Opens daily from 10:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. » Hiap Joo Bakery This bustling bakery has been using wood fired oven since 1919. Do try the bakery’s popular banana cake, besides other types of buns and breads. 13 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, 80000 JB Opens from 7:30 a.m. until 5: 00 p.m. on Tuesdays until Saturdays Sundays 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Mondays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. » Salahuddin Bakery Located just across the street from It Roo, Salahuddin Bakery has been in business since 1937. Indian styled breads and pastries will definitely remind you of the good old days, especially when little has been done to update the look of the bakery! 26 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 JB Opens Sundays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.; closed on Fridays
Breakfast in JB A short hop distance from JB’s historic city centre are several lovely places where you can find Johor culinary gems. We Johor Bahru folks are early risers, and we take our breakfast seriously. A good and hearty breakfast is what you need to make your day right. Some food outlets open as early as 7:00 a.m.; by 8:00 a.m., most of the good stuff will be gone. The following are our favourite breakfast haunts. » Warung Saga What we love: Lontong (compressed rice cubes bathed in coconut milk gravy loaded with plenty of vegetables, and a dollop of spicy sambal), and Mee Siam Kuah (fried vermicelli doused with tangy and hot gravy). If you are lucky, you might also get Johor’s traditional buns, Roti Naik, here. 5, Jalan Mahmoodiah, 80100 JB Opens from 7:00 a.m. until midnight on Mondays until Thursdays and Saturdays Fridays 6:00 a.m. until midnight Sundays 6:00 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. 028
» Hutan Bandar Food Court What we love: Lontong kering (compressed rice cubes served with plenty of side dish options) and Kuih Lopes (steamed triangle-shaped compressed glutinous rice coated with grated coconut, served with palm sugar syrup) at Gerai Fatimah. Hutan Bandar MBJB Jalan Tasek Utara, 80100 JB Opens daily from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. » Del’s Kitchen What we love: Laksa Johor (spaghetti doused with thick fish based spicy gravy, topped with the iconic spiralled cucumber and other garnishes) and Mee Siam Kuah (fried vermicelli doused with tangy and hot gravy). Ground floor, Plaza Pelangi, Jalan Kuning, Taman Pelangi, 80400 JB Opens daily from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. » Selera Johor Food Court This place seems to be the hub of Johor food all under one roof! We usually come here for brunch since the stalls we frequent open slightly later than the opening time. It is about 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre, just behind Larkin Sentral, the city’s main bus terminal. What we love: 1. Rojak Asma (similar to Penang’s pasembur, comprising battered and deep fried fish cakes, potato, flour dumpling doused with sweet and spicy gravy. Sliced cucumber, lettuce and green chilli are added in the mix to give an interesting bite) 2. Murtabak (pan fried spiced minced beef or chicken cooked with onions and wrapped nicely in a thin dough parcel) 3. Mee Rebus (yellow noodles doused in sweet and savoury gravy, topped with crunchy batter bits and boiled egg) 4. Asam Pedas (fish cooked in thin hot and tangy gravy, to be eaten with steamed rice) 5. Goreng Pisang (deep fried battered bananas). Be sure to eat it in Johor style: dip the fried banana in sambal kicap (sweet soy sauce blended with fiery bird’s eye chillies and garlic) before eating. 2, Jalan Garuda, Taman Dato’ Onn Jaafar 80350 Johor Bahru Opens daily from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
AFTER THE SUN COMES DOWN
» Tepian Tebrau Food Court When night falls, head to this spot for food, which has plenty of stalls selling asam pedas, seafood and the usual local hawker fares. What we love: Cold desserts from Gerai Yong Yong, especially Cold Cikong (a magical concoction of boiled dried longan, barley and other secret ingredients topped with shaved ice) and ice jelly (plain jelly topped with soursop pulp, fruit cocktail, sea coconut, shaved iced and a squeeze of calamansi)! Intersection of Jalan Sg. Chat and Jalan Mohd Amin Opens daily until midnight (some stalls are open from 8:00 a.m. for breakfast, some open for lunch, all are open for dinner) » Bazar JB / Bazar Karat Located right in the middle of the city by the famed Sungai Segget, this bazaar is where you could find great bargains for antiques, second-hand clothing, food, and knick knacks. Opens daily from 6:00 p.m. until late » Sky Screen Just a few metres away from Kilometre Zero is a 120 metres by 20 metres sky screen made up of 540,000 LEDs spread over 9,000 strips displaying attractive moving graphics. It is quite an exciting experience driving underneath this brightly lit screen. Opens daily from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Conclusion This is just the beginning of what you can experience in our home city, Johor Bahru. Of course, there are definitely more things you can do. We recommend staying for at least three nights in JB because there are more attractions await as you travel further from Kilometre Zero.
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Gaya Dine & Café
My Own Bakes Café: No Fuss, Yet So Delicious
Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I I m a g e s b y K A M I L A Z I M N A S I R
I don’t know about you, but I’m slowly growing tired of hipster cafes. You know, those with heavilyor over-designed spaces, complicated menu with funny names (Monster Mashed Pie, anyone?), and crowds that seem to be hungrier for pictures rather than food. What happened to the old simple places where our parents flocked to for proper, satisfying meals?
This is when My Own Bakes (MOB) Café at Eight Kinrara comes in, a casual, cosy restaurant and – yes – without an ounce of that ‘hipster’ vibe. This is the place where you’ll see friendly servers chat with regulars. The kitchen churns out no frills, but only comfort food in generous portions. The design is kept minimal: black and white walls with a pop of colours coming from the striking canary yellow chairs and turquoise sofa in the lounge area. There is also a designated children’s play area so that parents can dine in peace. In fact, the café’s location itself screams family; Eight Kinrara is in Bandar Kinrara 5 that is close to residential areas, supermarkets such as Giant, ample parking spaces, and convenient amenities like banks and a post office. So, why not pop into MOB when you’re in the neighbourhood? One might say MOB Café sailed into the scene with a humble yet inspiring beginning, starting with a humble home-based operation where they sold their heavenly baked goods at booths during special events in shopping malls. Kayla, the Head Baker, learned most of her tricks from YouTube videos in her early days until a growing demand prompted her to take this field professionally. She began to attend classes, honed her skills, and team up with Adibah who currently handles the management side of the business along with another partner (who would like to remain anonymous). One day, Subang Parade knocked at their door to offer them a permanent spot in the mall, and they never looked back since then. In 2017, the second outlet was opened in Eight Kinrara with an extended menu comprising Western cuisines, while the third one has just recently been launched at Sogo Central i-City Shah Alam.
Among the highlights at MOB Café Eight Kinrara are the cakes, of course, including the butter chicken rice and pasta with five different sauces: seafood creamy marinara, carbonara, aglio olio, Bolognese, and salted egg prawns. My favourite is the classic Bolognese, cooked slowly and prepared with care by Chef Aiman, a graduate from Taylor’s University in Culinary Arts. Perhaps his reverent approach to the classics makes this dish brilliant; everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients in the café’s kitchen, resulting in a well-balanced, tongueteasing dish that I think, even the likes of Madame Mallory from the movie ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ would approve. For a richer Asian flavour and a blush of spiciness, go for the salted egg prawns’ sauce that is equally satisfying to the point that I don’t have any unkind words to say about it.
The myriad of decadent cakes here are also worth for you to save extra space in your tummy, ranging from salted caramel, tiramisu, and red velvet to the classic New York cheesecake. The bestseller is the Pandan Gula Melaka flavour, made with real extract from aromatic pandan leaves. The cake comes out as dense, moist and a touch of sweetness, making it a perfect indulgence that creates an indelible impression. By pairing it with a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, your day is surely made. MOB Café uses special blend comprising Brazilian mediumroast beans from a local supplier, Roast & Grind, to give it a well-balanced flavour with a hint of chocolate to suit most Malaysians’ taste buds. Today, MOB Café has a bakery training centre and a central kitchen for bakers. Kayla is leading a team of bakers who provide freshly made cakes to all MOB outlets daily. They also accept requests for customised buttercream cakes. On top of these, the café offers packages for private events such as birthday parties and high teas. MOB Café Eight Kinrara opens every day from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., except Sunday, which is from 12:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. MOB Eight Kinrara www.myownbakescafe.com B-LG-11 Eight Kinrara Jln BK5A/3B Bandar Kinrara 47180 Puchong, Selangor +6 013 236 5998
Dato’ Seri Aminuddin bin Harun, Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan
Polishing Up Negeri Sembilan’s Tourism Potential Gaya Travel Magazine recently sat down with the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of the southern Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan to learn more about what his state intends to do to further boost tourist arrivals, since he also holds the portfolio as the state’s Executive Councillor for Tourism.
According to Dato’ Seri Aminuddin, the state government of Negeri Sembilan views tourism as crucial for Malaysia, particularly Negeri Sembilan, because of its significant contribution towards the economy and ability to improve the livelihood of the people. Though Negeri Sembilan does not tax the industry directly (as a way to obtain revenue), the state’s local residents are able to obtain income from this industry in a quicker manner, bringing them benefits. Tourism opens up economic opportunities since tourists bring with them funds to the destination they are visiting. As these tourists spend, they help to create income and jobs for those who reside at the destination. This is clearly evident in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan’s most popular destination. “I see that when we focus on tourism, it gives direct impact onto the citizens. We should not treat tourism as a sector that is unimportant. To me, various forms of businesses and enterprises make up the tourism industry such as food and beverage, transportation, and accommodation, including smallscale services operated by youths like boat rental and jet-skiing, allowing them to thrive,” stresses Dato’ Seri Aminuddin. In 2018, Negeri Sembilan registered a 14% increase in its domestic tourist arrivals. “When I first started holding the portfolio as the state’s Tourism Exco, I realise that the most important factor to attract travellers to Port Dickson is cleanliness, therefore I ordered the cleaning contractor, SWM, to ensure that on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at 8:00 a.m., the beaches in Port Dickson are ready to receive visitors. Before this, cleaners started their work at 8:00 a.m. and continued until late morning in the presence of tourists. These days, I have requested the cleaning to be done from as early as 6:30 a.m. so that by 8:00 a.m., the work would have already finished and not get in the visitors’ way. We even monitor the cleanliness of public toilets in Port Dickson. I suppose that might be why we see the increase of domestic tourist arrivals into Negeri Sembilan, particularly Port Dickson,” he reasons. Dato’ Seri Aminuddin further reveals that investors are returning to Port Dickson to set up hotels. “Two hotels at the 7th Mile, which remained unfinished over the years, are now being revived. One new hotel is currently under construction. On top of that, Lexis Hotel Group recently announced that it will add more above-water villas at Lexis Hibiscus. These developments bode well for the state’s tourism industry. At the same time, our eyes remain fixed on ecotourism,” chimes Dato’ Seri Aminuddin. When it comes to domestic tourists, Negeri Sembilan intends to take advantage of its proximity to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Putrajaya and the conurbations within Klang Valley. As for international tourists, the state receives many from mainland China, who would normally overnight at one of Port Dickson’s beachside accommodations after touring Melaka, while those from Singapore tend to come over during weekends and public holidays.
Banking on culture Negeri Sembilan seeks to expand the state’s tourism offerings by highlighting on its unique culture that could not be found elsewhere. The state is the only one in Malaysia that widely practices Adat Perpatih (a culture that emphasises on the matrilineal system of inheritance and administration), which is reflected in its dialect, traditional attire, customs, folk songs, culinary and architecture, rendering the state incomparable. “Adat Perpatih should be showcased not just to Malaysian travellers but also worldwide, to remind them that the only place to see this culture is in Negeri Sembilan,” beams Dato’ Seri Aminuddin. Though Negeri Sembilan is historically connected to Pagar Ruyung in West Sumatera because Negeri Sembilan was settled by the Minangkabaus who hailed from there and brought along their customs and traditions since the 1400s. However, the culture has considerably progressed over the ages and now stands in its own right. “Travellers who come to Negeri Sembilan will be able to make the distinction when comparing the state with Pagar Ruyung, recognised as the place where most of Negeri Sembilan’s customs and traditions originated. Though we are considered as an off-shoot of the Minangkabau diaspora, the differences are clear, especially in terms of the royal family who still rules over Negeri Sembilan. In contrast, due to Indonesia’s historical developments, Pagar Ruyung is no more ruled by royalty, though the generations of Minangkabau nobility still hold strong attachments to Pagar Ruyung. Negeri Sembilan of today offers a distinct cultural and tourism experience, to the point that Negeri Sembilan receives many academicians from West Sumatera who study the state’s culture to learn how it evolved over the centuries. For example, the roofs of the traditional houses in Negeri Sembilan is not as sharply pitched as the Minangkabau houses found in West Sumatera that tend to strongly follow the shape of buffalo horns,” he explains. “Talking about the state’s architecture, I see that the old Seri Menanti palace should be given more attention as a state icon, especially since the palace has just completed renovation. It is uniquely designed, built without using any nail, and set amidst a serene setting, making it a must-visit attraction all year round, either in the morning, evening or at night. The structure alone attracts thousands of students and those involved in construction engineering who want to learn about how it is built. Besides the palace, we are looking into upgrading the nearby mosque and selected houses, which are all high in heritage value,” Dato’ Seri Aminuddin ruminates. Developing ecotourism and agro-tourism potential Because the state possesses undulating natural landscapes, caves, rivers, waterfalls, and agricultural areas that are worth promoting, it is now exploring the ways on how best to tap on its eco-tourism potential. Dato’ Seri Aminuddin is confident that ecotourism can become one of Negeri Sembilan’s tourism pillars.
visitors, particularly during fruit season. Dato’ Seri Aminuddin says that the state possesses corn fields and produces succulent honey pineapple labelled as MD2 that is increasingly popular, including the export-quality jackfruit labelled as M33 that is cultivated in Tampin. Durian orchards are aplenty, and when durian season comes, the entire road leading towards Jelebu around Jalan Pantai area is flanked by durian sellers, turning the place festive, a haven for durian lovers. Establishments like NS Dairy Farm provide the chance for travellers to source for fresh milk, while ostrich farms allow travellers to learn about these majestic birds and ride on them, besides purchasing lowcholesterol and healthy ostrich meat. Negeri Sembilan boasts homestays with paddy fields like Kampung Lonek where travellers can learn about rice cultivation.
“During weekends, we notice that many cyclists, motorbikers and commuters head to areas like Jelebu and Kuala Pilah to relax. We also receive information that Negeri Sembilan’s bukit (hills) and gunung (mountains) namely Gunung Datuk, Gunung Angsi and Gunung Tampin, are popular among hikers on Saturdays and Sundays. Gunung Angsi attracts up to 500 hikers every Saturday and over 400 hikers every Sunday, which is significant. Those who prefer more leisurely and less arduous hikes can head up to Bukit Melati and Bukit Kepayang,” he recommends. Negeri Sembilan state government is currently evaluating the state’s ecotourism attractions to upgrade the infrastructure that supports them. One attraction that has been identified with the most potential is Kenaboi State Park, where travellers can experience a marvellous atmosphere since the park is still pristine. “My favourite place in Negeri Sembilan, besides Port Dickson, is Kenaboi,” Dato’ Seri Aminuddin smiles. He deems that Kenaboi State Park should be promoted because the area contains the point where the states of Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Selangor meet, which is attractive to nature lovers, hikers and international travellers. Since Kenaboi is still pristine, it needs to be studied and preserved further so that its potential can be tapped to the fullest. The state government is setting up more facilities in the park such as campsite and proper accommodations so that more people can come over.
Culinary haven in the making Though Negeri Sembilan’s cultural origins can be traced back to West Sumatera, its culinary choices remain different. Each district in Negeri Sembilan has its own specialty, and the state government is all set to tap on gastronomic tourism to bring the state’s dishes to the fore. Interestingly, Negeri Sembilan has various types of rendang, one of them is rendang maman (beef or chicken rendang cooked together with the Cleome gynandra leaves that elicit an appetising flavour) that can be found in Tampin, where travellers can also find tart Bangkahulu (local bite-sized pastry). Travellers are encouraged to search for dishes like sabak salai (smoked beef or duck cooked in coconut gravy laced with bird’s eye chilli) in Pedas; satay tulang (grilled skewered chicken bones) in Jelebu; apam (traditional steamed dough made of rice flour, coconut milk, yeast and palm sugar) wrapped in rambai (Baccaurea motleyana) leaf in Johol; mutton head curry in Seremban, served in a shop close to the Negeri Sembilan State Museum; nasi ambeng (traditional cuisine originted from Java that consists of white rice, chicken, vegetable, fried sambal, coconut floss and fried noodle, all served in a tray meant to be shared between four or five persons) in Pachitan, which is different from the once found in Johor and Selangor; and Siew Paw Restaurant in Seremban 2 that is popular among Chinese travellers.
Another destination that can be tapped further is Sungai Linggi, which could be designated as a crocodile sanctuary, alongside the existing firefly colony found along its banks and the abundance of giant freshwater prawn in the waters. Cruising along Sungai Linggi has the potential to be marketed internationally as a must-do when being in Negeri Sembilan.
Some of the dining places in Negeri Sembilan are even located in bucolic locations like Kuala Pilah, thus worth to be promoted to tourists. In fact, the road from Kuala Lumpur leading to Kuala Pilah becomes busy because along the way, day trippers from Klang Valley and Putrajaya stop by during the day simply to relish on delicacies like roti canai (Indianinfluenced pan-fried flat bread) dipped in mutton curry for breakfast or savour a wholesome lunch while taking in the views of the surrounding paddy fields. Kuala Pilah is famous for kuih sepang and smoked duck too, including lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), a delicacy often served during Muslim Eid festivals, but made available all year round in Negeri Sembilan.
There are delightful agro-tourism attractions in Negeri Sembilan too because the state’s farms and orchards attract
Activating the homestays There are currently several homestay programmes organised by
villages such as Kampung Pachitan, Kampung Teluk Pelanduk, Kampung Rawa and Kampung Lonek that are active and popular in Negeri Sembilan. Since the homestay programmes are located close to ecotourism and agro-tourism attractions, popularising them help spur the state’s ecotourism and agrotourism segments. Dato’ Seri Aminuddin shares that some homestay programmes are becoming less active because those who run them are aging, compounded by the fact that not many from the next generation are interested to continue with the business. “The homestays are facing a challenge in terms of continuity because the up-and-coming generation prefer to work in offices as career option compared to running homestays. To address this, the state government intends to train and motivate the next generation to continue the business. We are also attending to requests from other villages within the state that are interested to start new homestay programmes so that there are more homestay options for travellers,” iterates Dato’ Seri Aminuddin. Fortunately, things are looking up: in early August 2019, the homestays in Jelebu and Port Dickson successfully hosted around 2,000 officers who pursued their Diploma in Public Administration from the National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN). Based on the officers’ feedback, they were captivated by Jelebu and cherished their stay with their foster parents who made them feel like they were part of the family; some requested to extend their stay at the homestays for another week, proof that the people in Negeri Sembilan are hospitable and go out of their way to make guests feel at home, making the idea of expanding the homestay programme to cover more villages within the state viable. Negeri Sembilan homestays receive many students from China and Japan too who stopped by for four to five hours to refresh themselves before continuing their journey. That short visit is enough to show what these homestays could offer to travellers, beckoning these students to return in the future for a longer stay. “To that end, our society needs to be educated in ways of how to become more customer-centric and make guests feel at home by welcoming them and providing comfortable facilities like bedroom and bathroom with appropriate amenities. Though the host may not be able to converse fluently with their guests due to language barrier, guests will still be able to appreciate the host’s graciousness and have a memorable experience out of it,” advises Dato’ Seri Aminuddin. The way forward In conjunction with Visit Malaysia (VMY) 2020, the state government is working with Tourism Malaysia to come up with packages to sell Negeri Sembilan more effectively. “I always remind all state officers to be ready and make preparations now to receive guests in 2020,” claims Dato’ Seri
Aminuddin. As such, the state government is strategising the most effective way on how best to promote Negeri Sembilan possesses. “It takes time to properly formulate and effective plan. I confess that we need to pick up the pace in promoting the state since it has many interesting attractions that travellers are bound to appreciate. We will market the state domestically and internationally once all of the state’s tourism infrastructure is in place,” he acknowledges. On the same note, the Negeri Sembilan Fest (NS Fest) – organised by the state government and held on 17 until 20 October 2019 in Nilai – aims to add more vibrancy. All Negeri Sembilan state departments are involved in the NS Fest to promote everything related to the state and its districts, ranging from gastronomy and attractions to customs and traditions, to make the public understand better what Negeri Sembilan is all about. “It is my hope that during my tenure, we are able to develop and sell Negeri Sembilan’s ecotourism and agro-tourism attractions, drawing more international tourists to visit them. In the next three years, we intend to push the tourist arrivals up to 10 million annually. In 2020, when promoting Negeri Sembilan, the state government intends to reach out to neighbouring Sumatera, which has a population of 53 million, representing a sizeable market that is in close proximity. By receiving just two to three percent of Sumatera’s entire population to visit Negeri Sembilan, the state’s tourism industry is sure to benefit economically from their arrival. We might begin with medical and wellness tourism to attract more tourists from Sumatera. At the moment, there is only one ferry service that connects Dumai in Sumatera to Port Dickson daily. We hope the frequency can be increased to four times a day, consequently bringing in 1,000 people daily into Negeri Sembilan,” concludes Dato’ Seri Aminuddin.
Sabah: Beauty beneath the wind, more than meets the eye
Te x t & I m a g e s b y LI LY R I A N I
Me: Regatta Lepa? I get to cover THE Regatta Lepa? Editor: Yes, would you be free during the said date? Me: Yes, I would be free (Read: I stealthily began rescheduling all my confirmed appointments in the background just so that I could attend Regatta Lepa while managing to sound collected and nonchalant…)
Lepa or lipa refers to traditional single-mast sailing houseboats belonging to the Bajau (sea-gypsies who live off-coast Sabah). Since many have moved onto the mainland and left their sea-faring lifestyle, the lepa are now used as fishing boats or to transport goods. Regatta Lepa is an annual regatta festival in Semporna presenting their beautifully decorated lepa. This is the time when the Celebes Sea is filled with flotillas of 5-metre lepas donned in beautiful and vibrant decorations, pimped up to covet the title as ‘Most Beautiful Lepa’. One fascinating activity during this regatta is the reenactment of a rescue mission by Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM). Regatta Lepa Festival Around town This is the time when the sleepy town of Semporna comes to life in full force to celebrate the Regatta Lepa festival, and business owners enjoy brisk business from the abundance of tourist flocking their quiet town. You will be surprised to find that the town is full of activities, from cultural performances to Lepa Beauty Pageant to craft markets to performance by Siti Nurhaliza, and more. The lepa owners go all out in decorating their boats. They don’t only use streamers and flags; some of them are even dressed in traditional attire to present us with local dance and song. The rescue mission reenactment staged by Water Rescue Unit under the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia and ESSCOM was impressive. The latter reenacted the hostage crisis in Sipadan, and spectators cheered when
ESSCOM boat came and freed the ‘hostages’. It was like watching the Malaysian movie PASKAL in real life, with Sabah’s own superheroes at work. #TravelTips • Spend at least three days in Semporna as there are activities everywhere and every day. • Allocate seven to 10 days to cover the outskirts of Semporna.You will never regret it. • Book your accommodation three to six months prior to the event day as there are not many hotels in Semporna. Well, since you are already in Semporna, don’t just stop there! Go outside Semporna and discover other destinations in Sabah. The following are some of the worth checking out.
Clockwise from Top Left: Beautiful Bajau Laut ladies at Sempornaâ€™s Regatta Lepa; The walkway that leads to the Giant Clam Hatcher y on Bohey Dulang; Visitors obser ving an exhibit at Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Heritage site; Nasi kuning at Restoran Haji Tamrin in Tawau.
Semporna Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Heritage Site It has been recognised that Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Heritage Site has existed approximately 3,000 years ago and noted as the largest pottery manufacturing site in Southeast Asia. The Heritage Gallery at the foot of Bukit Tengkorak exhibits samples of stone tools, polished stone adzes, shells and bone artefacts, including educational materials. Lahad Datu Tower of Heaven The best place to view the town is on Mount Silam, the highest point in Lahad Datu. Tower of Heaven is a structure for you to get the best view of the surrounding mountains and forests, not forgetting the beautiful Darvel Bay, known as the ‘Mouth of Borneo’. Open to the public since 2012, Tower of Heaven or Menara Kayangan stands 33 metres tall on 620 metres above sea level, located within the Sapagaya Forest Reserve (Protection Forest Reserve) boundaries.
Top : Kadazan-Dusun’s nasi buluh. Bottom : Alif Satar distributing sweets to local children in Mabul.
Mount Silam is popular among locals for weekend family picnic and hiking trips. Its two most unique flora and fauna are the orange-red crab and Pairin bamboo. The bright and small orange-red crab is believed to be an endemic species only confined to Mount Silam. The Pairin bamboo is tufted bamboo top cum sheath recessed towards the middle with auricles and bristles not present, only to be witnessed in the east coast of Sabah. This species is named after Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Sabah’s former Chief Minister.
#TravelTips • There are seven hiking trails for nature lovers to explore the Kayangan Trail, Kalung-kalungan Trail, Kubang Badak Trail, Kubu Jepun Trail, Air Terjun Lompat-lompat Trail, Air Mata Air Trail and Syurga Binatang Trail. • Entrance fees for Malaysians are MYR5 per adult and MYR 3 per child; for non-Malaysians, the fees are MYR 15 per adult and MYR7 per child. • Come early as the operating hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily.
Tawau Nasi Kuning (yellow rice) My first encounter with the famous nasi kuning was at Tawau Hills Park. I first thought the ‘old school’ way of eating this dish was on-the-go, before discovering the full course of nasi kuning later. Generally, one eats nasi kuning with ayam masak merah (casseroled chicken with chillies and tomatoes), but here at Restoran Haji Tamrin in Tawau, I got to sample everything in
one plate: ayam masak merah, ayam percik meleleh (roasted marinated chicken), rendang daging (beef slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices), sambal tempe (compacted soy beans cooked with chilli), ikan masak merah (fish cooked with chillies and tomatoes) and telur rebus sambal pedas (hard-boiled eggs smothered in chilli). The dish is so generous that some people might find it overwhelming. Tawau Hills Park An excellent place to spot unique wild animals.You stand a chance to see the rare white-crowned hornbill and red leaf monkey, including the albino monkey. Frog- and snake-spotting by the creek at night is also another unique activity you can experience here. On top of that, Tawau Hills Park is home to the second tallest tropical tree called Seraya Kuning Siput, towering at the height of 88.32 metres. It is highly recommended to stay a night at the Bombalai Jungle Lodge or Magdelena Chalet at Tawau Hills Park Headquarters, or at the Mountain Lodge located at kilometre 10.55 along the trail to Mount Lucia, where you get to hear the sounds of cicadas and birds chirping while enjoying the fresh morning breeze.
#TravelTips • Restoran Haji Tamrin is located on Jalan Sim Hua Seng, Tawau. • One should puasa (fast) the day earlier prior to sampling Nasi Kuning. • Plan to stay at least one night in Tawau, either at the town or at Tawau Hills Park.
The Sea Gypsies or Bajau Laut – made famous by National Geographic in 2018 due to their seafaring and nomadic lifestyle – are now part of the beautiful Mabul, Bohey Dulang and Tatagan seascapes. As quoted by National Geographic, the Bajau Laut ‘takes free diving to the extreme, staying underwater for as long as 13 minutes at depths of around 200 feet’. As a result, travellers near and far would often visit them to catch a glimpse of how the children conduct free diving.
#TravelTips • There are nine species of giant clams in the world and seven of them can be found in Sabah. • All species of giant clams are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). • Do visit, share and support the Giant Clam Hatchery initiative.
Kota Kinabalu Nasi Buluh Another unique local must-try delicacy is nasi buluh (rice cooked in bamboo), a Kadazan-Dusun cuisine. It comes with linopot (red rice and yam steamed in Doringin leaves), soko soup (soup made of bamboo shoots), pinasakan (fried Basong fish), tuhau (wild ginger), hinava (raw marinated fish), bambangan (local wild mango), bosou (pickled or fermented river fish) and pumpkin. This traditional Kadazan-Dusun cuisine is light in flavour since there is no sambal, coconut milk or anything pungent, yet no less tasty.
Mabul, Bohey Dulang and Tatagan Island
A walk to remember A walk around Mabul Island is a must. The friendly residents of Kampung Sama Relaut waved and greeted my travelling companions and I, asked us where were we from and whether we would like to sample local delicacies. But then again, it was probably because popular Malaysian celebrity Alif Satar was also in the trip, as I could hear children running ahead of us announcing his arrival. Familiar with Sabah, Alif brought sweets for the children to share, greeted local fans, and even explained to us what to expect when in Sabah. I was every bit captivated by him, just like the locals.
• The D’Place Kinabalu Restaurant is located at Plaza Shell, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kota Kinabalu. • Operating hours are from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. • For the adventurous few, do try the butod (sago grub or sago worm) sushi.
Being the second largest island within the Tun Sakaran Marine Park archipelago, Bohey Dulang Island has more to offer besides its much touted Instagram-worthy views. The island hosts the Giant Clam Hatchery, which educates the public regarding the types of clams and how overfishing endangers the giant clams’ breeding patterns and the surrounding ecosystem.
Now that you know there are more to Sabah than meets the eye, come and rediscover Sabah now! Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Tourism Malaysia for making the writer’s trip to Sabah possible. Visit https:// www.tourism.gov.my/ for more information regarding Sabah and Malaysia.
Grand Train Tour of Switzerland Switzerland’s most beautiful panoramic lines Discover and explore the highlights, sights, landmarks and diversity that Switzerland has to offer simply from the comfort of the train by embarking on the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, which merges the most beautiful panoramic lines into one unique route of 1,280 kilometres! Whether at Zermatt or St. Moritz, in the Canton of Ticino or the Lavaux, at the Rhine Falls or Lake Lucerne, travellers can hop on and off wherever they please. The big train adventure is arranged in several route sections offering different focuses. Each section promises thrilling railway adventures, magnificent scenery and numerous opportunities for discovery. And best of all: The entire tour can be explored with one single ticket – the Swiss Travel Pass.
In a nutshell, the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland… • Merges all premium panoramic lines into one route (Luzern–Interlaken Express, GoldenPass MOB Panoramic, Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Gotthard Panorama Express) • Includes further railway highlights (Voralpen-Express, Lötschberger, Centovalli-Bahn) • Permits numerous mountain excursions (Rigi, Pilatus, Stanserhorn, Titlis, Brienzer Rothorn, Jungfraujoch, Schynige Platte, Schilthorn, Harder Kulm, Niesen, Glacier 3000, Rochers-de- Naye, Gornergrat, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Säntis) • Combines Swiss cities and Alpine resorts into one round trip (Zurich, Interlaken, Montreux, Zermatt, St. Moritz, Lugano, Lucerne, St.Gallen, Schaffhausen) • Offers an opportunity to visit sights, landmarks and natural wonders (Chapel Bridge, Chillon Castle, Matterhorn, Rhine Falls); leads to UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Swiss Alps/ Jungfrau/ Aletsch, terraced vineyards of the Lavaux, Rhaetian Railways Albula/Bernina, Castles of Bellinzona, Abbey District St. Gallen) • Offers immersion in the diverse world of Swiss museums (such as FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, Olympic Museum in Lausanne or Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva) • Runs along the eleven largest lakes (Lake Zurich, Lake Zug, Lake Lucerne, Lake Sarnersee, Lake Lungernsee, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, Lake Geneva, Lago di Como, Lago di Lugano, Lake Constance) • Traverses 3 Alpine passes (Brünig Pass, Oberalp Pass, Bernina Pass) • Leads through all 4 language regions of Switzerland
Good to know: » Swiss Family Card For families, Swiss public transport is tops The Swiss Travel System is family-friendly. Thanks to the Swiss Family Card, children under 16 years of age travel free of charge on the entire Swiss public transport network as long as they are accompanied by at least one parent holding a Swiss Travel System ticket. The Swiss Family Card can be obtained free of charge. Ask your Rail specialists for details. » Luggage Services Relaxed travel through Switzerland – without bulky luggage or long waiting times
Swiss Travel Pass
Thanks to the innovative and efficient public transport system operating in Switzerland, international visitors can have their luggage transported by train direct to their holiday destination immediately after landing at Zurich Airport. There is no need to waste time waiting for their luggage.
The Swiss Travel Pass is the key to hassle-free travel by public transport throughout Switzerland and the only ticket needed to travel on the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. With a single ticket, visitors can travel 3, 4, 8 or 15 days throughout the entire country by train, bus and boat. The ticket includes popular panoramic routes such as the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, GoldenPass Line and Gotthard Panorama Express, as well as trams and buses in no fewer than 90 towns and cities. In addition, Swiss Travel Pass holders are entitled to free admission to more than 500 museums nationwide and 50% reduction off most mountain railways.
Tonight in St. Moritz, tomorrow at lunchtime in Berne and arriving at Interlaken in the evening? While travelling within Switzerland, guests’ suitcases can be picked up at the guest’s hotel on the evening before checkout and dropped off at the destination hotel the next day. This is particularly advantageous for round trips such as the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. There are a wide range of options available that offer simple solutions for travellers’ maximum comfort and convenience. Ask your Rail specialists for details.
The all-in-one ticket
Swiss Travel Guide App
(Free download in the App Store and Google Play Store) The first public transportation app for tourists in Switzerland The Swiss Travel Guide is the ideal public transport app for tourists and the essential companion for travelling by train, bus and boat throughout Switzerland. Thanks to this app, any journey through Switzerland can now be planned to perfection, and the visitor never misses a highlight. A relaxing boat cruise on Lake Zurich? Or a cultural afternoon at the Matterhorn Museum? The digital travel guide readily inspires tourists during the planning phase of their Switzerland tour. Once arrived, the Swiss Travel Guide indicates local highlights that can be added to the individualised travel cockpit, on an integrated map. The cockpit and help area are accessible at any time, even during offline. On top of that, the Swiss Travel Guide continuously provides relevant facts and important information regarding the Swiss Travel Pass and its additional benefits. Thanks to the Swiss Travel Guide and direct access to the SBB timetable, guests can maximise the benefits of their journey and never miss a highlight.
Visit grandtraintour.swisstravelsystem.com or myswitzerland.com/ grandtraintour for more information. Also, check out @swisstravelsystem on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
For bookings and enquiries, please contact any of the following Rail Specialists: » Apple Vacations & Convention Sdn Bhd Tel: +6 03 2143 8877 https://applevacations.my/fit/packages/switzerland-swisstravel-pass/ » Boustead Travel Services Sdn Bhd Tel: +6 03 2912 9788 http://bousteadtravel.com/raileurope/ » Pacific World Travel Sdn Bhd Tel: +6 03 2141 3040 http://pacificworld.travel/about/swiss-travel-pass/
S o u t h E a s t Tu r k e y ’ s
Mesopotamian Allure Te x t b y J U H A N K A M A R U D D I N Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
Gaya Travel Magazine team recently travelled to the fascinating South Eastern Anatolian Region (South East Turkey). Travellers who have experienced visiting the more established North East and Western parts of Turkey should complement their experience by setting foot in this captivating up-and-coming region. 046
Clockwise from Top Left: Diyarbakir Great Mosque; Inside Diyarbakir Great Mosque; Enjoying meze breakfast spread at Hasan Pasha Hani in Diyarbakir.
But why should travellers go all the way to South East Turkey, you might ask? To Gaya Travel Magazine team, the top two most compelling answers come in the form of the groundbreaking Gobeklitepe archaeological site and the wondrous Mount Nemrut, both enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your trip to South East Turkey must include these two gems, including the charming city of Sanliurfa. But take note: these are not the only attractions to be found in South East Turkey; the region is actually full of breathtaking sceneries, culture, heritage, food and shopping, thus should be on all travellers’ bucket list! In South East Turkey, locals tend to behave more conservatively, yet no less welcoming. The region’s culture is not only Turkish but incorporates Kurdish and Arabic influences as well, making it distinctly Mesopotamian. During summer, South East Turkey turns arid; this becomes more apparent as travellers get closer to the Upper Mesopotamian plains representing
the northern part of the historically significant Fertile Crescent spanning from the Upper Egypt all the way to western fringes of modern-day Iran passing through Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, South East Turkey and Iraq. Due to its fecund soil, South East Turkey’s local economy runs on agriculture, mainly wheat cultivation. The region is also famous for producing juicy and refreshing watermelons. Exploring South East Turkey region: Diyarbakir – Hasankeyf – Sanliurfa – Gobeklitepe – Mount Nemrut – Halfeti – Gaziantep One of the gateways to South East Turkey is Diyarbakir, part of the Sanliurfa sub-region. This city sits along the banks of Tigris (Dicle in Turkish or Dijlah in Arabic), one of the two great rivers (the other being Euphrates), which replenish the Mesopotamian plains. Interestingly, various heritage landmarks found in Diyarbakir such as the Prophet Solomon Mosque and Diyarbakir Great Mosque are made from basalt, rendering them dark grey
or black, built in Seljuk architectural style, different from the Ottoman’s. Prophet Solomon Mosque is also important to Islamic history since this is the place where travellers can locate the tombs of Prophet Muhammad’s 27 companions. There are Roman vestiges too like the ramparts of the formerly six-kilometre long Walls of Diyarbakir and the Citadel in the city, denoting Diyarbakir’s cosmopolitan past. As you head to Sanliurfa, be sure to swing by Hasankeyf in Batman Province, an hour and a half ’s drive from Diyarbakir. Hasankeyf is a quaint settlement along the banks of Tigris River with history spanning over a millennium. It once stood at the first East and West crossroads and became one of the hubs for agriculture and scripture in Mesopotamia. Travellers can witness the sight of Hasankeyf directly from the opposite shore of the Tigris River and imagined how majestic the settlement would have been like during its heyday. From Hasankeyf, it takes another three hours and a half to arrive at Sanliurfa.
The city of Urfa – now called Sanliurfa after the founder of Turkey Republic Kamal Ataturk declared it so to mean ‘Glorious Urfa’ – is renowned as the place where prophet Abraham – a major proponent of monotheism whose faith serves as the foundation for Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was thrown into the pyre by the evil King Nimrod for rejecting idol worship. As the story goes, the pyre miraculously cooled and transformed into a lake, while the pyre’s glowing embers turned into fishes. The lake, referred to as Balikligol or Halil ur Rahman pool, including the fishes, are considered sacred and popular among travellers. Balikligol sits at the foot of the imposing Sanliurfa Fortress, where travellers can climb up to enjoy the panorama of Sanliurfa city from a higher terrain. Sanliurfa is also the base for travellers to check out Gobeklitepe.
Another place to visit within Sanliurfa region: Old Halfeti The old Halfeti village – around an hour and a half ’s drive from Sanliurfa – is a settlement inundated by a man-made lake due to the construction of Birecik Dam to supply water and hydroelectricity to the surrounding communities. Travellers are recommended to cruise around the lake to see Rumkale (Byzantine Fortress), built in 678 A.D.; caves inhabited by man since 3,000 B.C.; and traces of an old village now submerged, particularly the dramatic yet at the same time melancholic-looking half sunken minaret of an old mosque.
Top row from Left: The half sunken minaret of an old village mosque in Halfeti; Balikligol or Halil ur Rahman pool; A bazaar in Gaziantep that mostly sells spices. Bottom row from Left: Beautiful mosaic design depicting ancient mythology displayed at Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep; baklava at Imam Cagdas in Gaziantep, claimed to be the best in the world.
Travellers can choose to culminate their South East Turkey journey at Gaziantep, Turkey’s city of gastronomy, popular for dishes like lahmacun (delicious pizza topped with spicy meat and herbs) and baklava (Turkish pastry sweetened by sherbet, a light syrup made from sugar, water, and lemon juice). The city is also great for shopping because it has bazaars brimming with exotic goods like spices, hand-made soaps and handicrafts. Another attraction that travellers should never miss when being in Gaziantep is Zeugma Mosaic Museum (https://muze. gov.tr/muze-detay?SectionId=GZN01&DistId=GZN) to feast their eyes over inspiring ancient mosaic designs that are as old as 2,000 years, salvaged from the ruins of public baths and villas found around the area. During ancient times, Zeugma was home to many villas and public buildings embellished with elegant and timeless mosaic designs as a way for the citizens to flaunt their wealth, contributed by trade and commerce because Zeugma was strategically positioned along the old Silk Road connecting Antioch (modern-day Antakya in Turkey) to China. Lovers of art and design are sure to be in awe of these masterfully-crafted mosaic designs, notably the iconic Gypsy Girl, proof of the ancient local craftsmen’s outstanding workmanship and sense of aesthetics. Where to enjoy good food in South East Turkey • Diyarbakir – Savour the beguiling and lavish spread of
meze comprising delicious home-made small dishes alongside locally baked bread for breakfast at Kahvalti Evi & Café (+90 412 228 0818), housed within a remarkably wellpreserved Ottoman caravanserai first built in 1547 called Hasan Pasha Hani, now filled with contemporary eateries and shops. • Batman – Have a satisfying local lunch at Comce Aile Et Lokantasi (+90 488 213 1776). • Urfa – Have dinner amidst upscale setting while enjoying traditional musical performance at Cevahir Han (http://www.cevahirhan.com/). • Gaziantep – Salivate over the best baklava in the world at Imam Cagdas (https://www.imamcagdas.com/). • Eski Halfeti – Have local fish for lunch on one of the floating restaurants tethered along the shores of the manmade lake created by Birecik Dam, submerging the old Halfeti village.
Tip: If you are constipated during your trip in Turkey, be sure to load up on ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink) at the end of every meal other than fish. Consume as many fruits and vegetables and drink as much plain water as possible. Conversely, if you find yourself purging, drink up thick Turkish tea to help reduce the frequency of having to go to the toilet.
Clockwise from Top: Capturing sunset from the Western Terrace of Mount Nemrut; Visitors admiring the sculptures on the The Western Terrace of Mount Nemrut; The Western Terrace bathed in gold light as the sun sets.
Absorbing the surrounding landscapes of Mount Nemrut Situated 85 kilometres from the city of Adiyaman, 180 kilometres from Sanliurfa, 240 kilometres from Gaziantep, and 2,134 metres above sea-level, Mount Nemrut (http:// mtnemrut.com/) is the tomb of Antiochus 1, the halfArmenian (father was of Persian descent), half-Greek (mother was Macedonian) king who ruled from 70 B.C. until 38 B.C. over the kingdom of Kommagene, a swathe of land ensconced between the Seleucid (Eastern) and Roman
(Western) empires, today covering northern Gaziantep and Adiyaman. Antiochus Iâ€™s tomb reflects the convergence of Eastern and Western cultures resulting from his mixed parentage and Kommageneâ€™s unique geopolitical position. Tip: Since travellers need to climb steep steps up Mount Nemrut, they need to wear comfortable footwear and clothing. The weather could get chilly up in the mountains, so bring along jacket, sweater or blanket to keep warm.
Clockwise from Top Left: The Eastern Terrace of Mount Nemrut; The column with sculpture of a bird that gives the mound its moniker, Karakush Tumulus; Severan Bridge.
Gaya Travel Magazine rates Mount Nemrut as one of Turkey’s most photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the presence of the amazing larger-than-life sculptures and statues that infuse Persian, Hellenistic and Anatolian styles. These sculptures, comprising deities and mythical characters, are grouped into two terraces facing different directions: the sculptures representing characters with Persian names are placed on the Eastern Terrace facing sunrise, while characters with Greco-Roman names, including certain Persian deities, are on the Western terrace facing sunset. With its East-West orientation, Mount Nemrut is one of the best places in Turkey for travellers to catch sunrise or sunset from the respective terraces. Good to know: The best time to watch sunrise and sunset on Mount Nemrut is between April and October.
Other places to visit near Mount Nemrut: • Karakush Tumulus – A burial mound where Kommagene royal family were laid to rest, this site is marked by a column with a sculpture of karakush (‘black bird’) at the southern side. Three other columns found here are topped by a lion, a bull and relief of King Mithridates II (the one who ordered the creation of the mound) shaking hands with his sister Laodike. The mound is known to contain the remains of King Mithridates II’s mother, sister and niece. • Severan Bridge (Cenderan Bridge) – Built in 198 A.D. by four Kommagenean cities in honour of the Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus, this is the second largest Roman arch bridge still in existence. The bridge and its natural surroundings offer a lovely setting for travellers to take in and take selfies.
Clockwise from Top: Excavations are still ongoing at Gobeklitepe; Travellers can conveniently view the excavated parts of Gobeklitepe from the platforms surrounding the site; The replica of Gobeklitepe main temple within Sanliurfa Museum offers deeper insight; Ancient detailing on the limestone pillars that can be seen at Gobeklitepe.
Following the footsteps of the ancients at Gobeklitepe Discovered in 1963 and enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, Gobeklitepe (https://www.sanliurfa. bel.tr/icerik/226/30/gobeklitepe) is a ground-breaking archaeological site believed to be a temple for funerary ritual and place of gathering during the Neolithic period, confirmed to be as old as 12,000 B.C. to 9,000 B.C., making it the oldest temple in the world, approximately 7,000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge! Even the wheel and writing were not yet invented during the time when the site was built, indicating humansâ€™ capacity to achieve impressive engineering feats way earlier than what was thought before. Before the discovery of Gobeklitepe, located around 12 kilometres from the centre of Sanliurfa, it was once thought that between 12,000 B.C. and 9,000 B.C., during the era called Mesolithic, humans still lived in caves and constantly moved from one place to another. It was then followed by Neolithic, the era when humans started to settle down, begin farming and domesticate animals like dog, cattle, sheep,
goat, and pig. The discovery of Gobeklitepe challenged the previous Neolithic timeframe because there are now evidences to show that humans had already been erecting large structures, living in permanent settlements, cultivating crops, domesticating animals, and developing organised society as far back as 14,000 years ago. The structures of Gobeklitepe were created entirely based on human effort and power through the use of rudimentary tools made from stone â€“ neither metal tools nor animals were involved in constructing the site as this was way before the Bronze and Iron Ages. No other site as old as Gobeklitepe could rival or even match its decorative richness, attesting to Gobeklitepe buildersâ€™ prowess. The core of the site is the main temple, where travellers can clearly observe the unearthed large T-shaped pillars representing humans and limestone slabs with carvings of animals, among them bull (believed to represent robustness and brawn); fox (cunningness); snake (symbolising healing since snakes were used for treatments during Neolithic times, as well as leadership because traces of snakes were found winding the heads of important individuals like leaders,
Top: Harran conical houses.
chieftains or shamans) and crane (resembling selflessness and service to others – monks during Neolithic times covered themselves with crane feathers and replicated the movements of the crane during rituals, and the community who built the Gobeklitepe temple mimicked animal movements when praying). Huge amount of animal remains was also found around the site, confirming the area’s verdant past. The site’s significance increased over time as more ancient people from communities living within the 200-kilometre radius from the site arrived at the area to worship, exchange goods and find marriage partners, enhancing Gobeklitepe’s role as the centre for ritual, social and economic functions. Those who arrived at Gobeklitepe eventually realised it was more efficient to settle down close to the site and grow crops rather than moving from place to place to hunt and gather food. To learn more about the impact that Gobeklitepe has on history, Sanliurfa Museum (http://mezopotamya.travel/index. php/en/sayfa/sanliurfa-muzesi), with its valuable artefacts and exhibits, explains how life at Gobeklitepe was like and how its story fits into the entire narrative of human civilisation. Travellers can even walk around the exact replica of the main temple of Gobeklitepe to personally have the sense of the structure’s actual scale and feel, deepening travellers’ appreciation towards Gobeklitepe even more. A stone’s throw away stands the 6,000-metre squared Haleplibahce Mosaic Museum where travellers can admire beautiful mosaic designs – specifically the depictions of Amazon queens hunting and Orpheus – found on site of what used to be the grounds of a Roman villa dating as far back as 4 B.C. to 3 B.C
Another place to visit near Gobeklitepe: Harran Located 44 kilometres from Sanliurfa, Harran is the place mentioned in the Bible where prophet Abraham and his family stayed for a few years while journeying to Canaan from Ur. Now just a village, Harran was once a commercial hub straddling on a crossroad of major ancient trading routes. Travellers can explore the ruins of Harran university (claimed to be world’s first Islamic university and the principal centre for translating the classical works from Greek to Syriac and Arabic). Travellers can then proceed to the conical beehive-shaped mud-brick houses nearby, which provide natural thermal comfort to the houses’ inhabitants because the houses’ domed-roofs allow hot air to efficiently circulate upwards, away from the floor – the houses’ building technique had been used in the region for 3,000 years.
The best way to get to Turkey, especially South East Turkey, is to fly on Turkish Airlines (https://www.turkishairlines.com). For more information on South East Turkey and Turkey, browse https://hometurkey.com/en, http://turkeytourism.com. my/, and https://www.goturkeytourism.com/destinations-turkey/ southeastern-anatolia-region-of-turkey.html. Gaya Travel Magazine team members express our heartfelt gratitude to Turkish Embassy Tourism & Information Office, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Turkish Airlines for making our trip to South East Turkey possible.
Costa neoRomantica Ports of Call - Where the Anchor Drops Te x t & I m a g e s b y LI LY R I A N I
Iâ€™ve been on a few cruises before this but all those did not prepare me for my first time onboard Costa neoRomantica by Costa Cruises, a nine-day cruise that dropped anchor at four beautiful port cities: Kobe, Kochi and Miyakojima in Japan; and Keelung in Taiwan.To experience Costa neoRomantica, I explored various urban destinations, ranging from metropolitan Tokyo to resort city Miyakojima and gold city Keelung. My exciting journey did not start during the cruise but extends before and after taking it. For this trip, I began my journey in Tokyo and concluded it in Yokohama.
Oi Terminal, Tokyo Located around half an hour away from Oi Terminal is the Tsukiji Outer Market, a seafood loversâ€™ haven. It is strange how the human mind works the same regardless of ethnicity, status or interest when it comes to food: our curiosity and fascination over the market took the best of us as we explored it, thus reduced our walking speed. I finally understood why some say that an hour or two at this place is simply not enough. Tsukiji Outer Market Its lively and energetic atmosphere is highly contagious - I jump in excitement every time I see a dish that is
interesting and refreshing, vegetables packaged cleverly and desserts presented beautifully. The torched scallops, fresh sea urchins, sashimi, barbecued tiger prawns and strawberry desserts wrapped inside a mochi ball are the must-trys here. Tsukiji Honganji Temple Located right next to Tsukiji Outer Market is the Tsukiji Honganji Temple, built in Asakusa in 1657 and later relocated to Tsukiji after it was leveled by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. It is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple known for its architectural design that takes cue from several South Asian temples.
Top : Costa NeoRomantica docking at one of Japan’s cruise terminal (Image by : Sirichai Thanabenchaphol); Middle left to right : The majestic Weathercock House; Well marbled wagyu beef with ikura topping on skewer.
Port of Kobe, Kobe ‘God’s Door’ or ‘Kanbe’ is Kobe’s original name. A spectacular spread of land from Mount Rokko towering above Kobe and Osaka Bay, offering yesteryear views of ijinkan homes, colourful skyline and serene seascape sceneries. It comes as no surprise how Kobe got its name, blessed with both mountain and sea, and the city a beautiful God’s lawn in between. Weathercock House Kobe holds an amazing treasure that not known by many: a seaside colonial town or ijinkan situated in the area of Kitanocho. The majestic Weathercock House dates as far back as 1909, and was once owned by German trader G.Thomas. It is made popular by the weathercock ornament on the roof and its distinctive architectural style, with brown brick walls embellished with Art nouveau décor. It is now designated as an Important Cultural Property in Japan.
#TravelTips • Savour street food at Tsukiji Outer Market - torched scallops, sashimi, tiger prawn BBQ and strawberry desserts are definite musts. • Allocate a minimum of three hours to explore both Tsukiji Outer Market and Tsukiji Honganji Temple, otherwise you might feel like you missed them in entirety. • Purchase the famous hand-made knife at Tsukiji Outer Market as a souvenir.
Information • Tsukiji Honganji Temple operating hours are from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Temple admission is free. • The Tsukiji Market, also known as the ‘inner market’ famous for its tuna auctions, was closed on October 2018 and has since moved to a new site in Toyosu, reopened as Toyosu Market. • Tsukiji’s Outer Market is still open and remains in business. Tsukiji Outer Market : http://www.tsukiji.or.jp/english/ Tsukiji Honganji Temple : https://tsukijihongwanji.jp/
Kobe Port Tower Glittering night scenes, 360° city panorama, a landscape view from Mount Rokko to Kobe Bay - you can experience all this from Kobe Port Tower Observation Deck. Reserve some time to visit the Kobe Maritime Museum, located at the Kobe Port Tower, and drink a cup of hot coffee at the tower’s revolving café - it will be the perfect way to end a wonderful day in Kobe. #TravelTips • Wear good walking shoes and prepare for an uphill climb to Weathercock House at Kitano-cho area. • Walk from Mosaic Mall to Kobe Port Tower, the area looks beautiful from sunset onwards. • There is an Ultraman Shop in the Mosaic Mall, if you are looking for a ‘Japanese souvenir’ for kids.
Information • Weathercock House operating hours are from 9:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m. Admission fee is ¥500. • Kobe Port Tower operating hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and the admission fee is ¥700. • Take the City Loop Bus to visit Kobe’s main attractions. Weathercock House : https://www.kobeijinkan.com/en/ ijinkan_list/kazamidori Kobe Tower : http://www.kobe-port-tower.com/ City Loop Bus : https://kobecityloop.jp/
Top left to right : Broiled Katsuo Tataki at Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade; Jiufen’s Amei Tea House; Middle left to right : Kochi’s hilltop samurai castle; Wind turbines at Miyakojima Island (Image by : Sirichai Thanabenchaphol).
Port of Kochi, Kochi Bestowed with vast unspoilt greenery, mountain views, sparkling rivers, castles and museums, Kochi is the perfect city for avid nature lovers to experience incredible historical landscape. Famed for its Kochi Castle and local delicacy Katsuo Tataki, I explored the said hilltop samurai castle and sampled the broiled bonito or skipjack tuna. Kochi Castle It is amazing how Kochi Castle managed to survive the fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post-feudal age. Constructed between 1601 and 1611, Kochi Castle used to be the seat of the Yamauchi lords, but now serves as a museum displaying palanquins, samurai warrior models and historical facts. The Kochi Castle grounds is also a popular location for hanami or cherry blossom viewing. Katsuo Tataki I was told this is a must-try Kochi delicacy: a straw fire-broiled bonito that is also known as skipjack tuna, garnished with ginger, garlic and onions. It is lightly broiled so that the bonito’s outer layer is grilled a little. What I find entertaining and cool is that you can watch the cooking process, from straw fire-broiling to bonito-slicing and garnishing at Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade.
#TravelTips • Kochi Castle is a five to 10-minute walk to Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade. • Drop by Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade if you wish to sample the delicious Katsuo Tataki. • Allocate three hours or more if you are planning to cover both Kochi Castle and Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade.
Information • Kochi Castle operating hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission fee is ¥420. • Obiyamachi Shopping Arcade is the perfect place to sample local delicacies and souvenir shopping. • Yosakoi Gururin Bus circles the downtown area at ¥100 per journey. And the MY Yu Bus card is at ¥1,000 for one day, allowing you to hop on and hop off. However, it is available only on weekends and national holidays. Kochi Castle : http://visitkochijapan.com/things_to_do/ history/kochi_castle.html
Hirara Port, Miyako Miyako is the fourth largest island in the Okinawa Prefecture. It is largely covered by sugar cane fields, small towns and beaches. Its main attraction is the salt factory, watersports and sea turtle-spotting. This quaint little island is perfect for those who wish to escape city noise and light pollution, ideal for honeymooners and watersports junkies. Miyakojima Marine Park Miyakojima Marine Park is an underwater observation facility built around the sea. With its 24 acrylic windows and fourmetre depth, you will get to see tropical fishes, sea snakes and coral reefs. You can also request for a guide to explain and enlighten you about the fishes and their ecology. Yukisio Salt Factory Yukisio’s snow salt is admired and renowned for being ‘silky smooth that is moist rather than dry, soft rather than grainy, and powdered to perfection’. Yukisio salt also contains the highest number of minerals (18 to be exact) and helps in lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Yukisio also produces a number of delicious snacks made from snow salt that truly melts in your mouth, leaving you craving for more. #TravelTips • Rent a car as it is a small island with limited public transportation available. • Plan your day well since the attractions are easily accessible but relatively far from each other. • Best time to visit is during summer with plenty of water activities for you to indulge.
Information • Miyakojima Marine Park operating hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission fee is ¥1,000. • Miyako Airport is accessible via Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which takes three hours flight time. From Osaka’s Kansai Airport, it takes two hours flight to get to Miyako Airport, and 45 minutes from Naha Airport on Okinawa Main Island. • Miyako is a small island that spans 25 kilometres from south to north and 15 kilometres from east to west. Miyakojima Marine Park : http://miyakojima-kaichukoen.com/ Yukisio Salt Factory : https://www.yukisio.com/
Port of Keelung, Taipei Located in northern Taiwan and just 30 kilometres away from Taipei City, Keelung is the centre of Taiwan fishing industry. It is also the seventh largest container harbour in the world. Conveniently accessible via bus and train, you can head to
the nearby popular attractions such as Jiufen, Shifen and Yehliu Geopark. For heritage and architecture enthusiasts, Jiufen is not to be missed as it is rich in history. Jiufen Jiufen was born from the gold rush during Japanese occupation in 1893, resulting in many Japanese architectural buildings. However, the mining activities declined when World War II ended. Jiufen became a popular tourist destination as they are able to preserve and conserve the Chinese-Japanese architecture until today. The must-try street food options here include taro snacks, brown sugar ginger tea, mushroom BBQ and bubble tea. Souvenir shops are abundant too, ranging from postcards to fridge magnets, stationary sets to bags, and more. I can spend hours here without getting bored. #TravelTips • Jiufen is a street food haven, so be sure to try the taro desserts and brown sugar ginger tea. • Allocate one full day to cover Jiufen, include Shengping Theatre and Gold Museum in your must-cover places. • Plan your trip well because it takes approximately an hour’s bus ride from Taipei City to Jiufen.
Information • Jiufen is filled with cafés, tea houses, and souvenir shops. • If language is a problem, book a Walking Tour as you will be well guided along the crowded old street and house crossing lanes.
Cruise holidays can be a lot of fun both onboard and at their ports of call, whereby each port city gives a different experience whenever the cruise ship stops, different from the typically popular and ‘expected’ overland city experiences. You get to venture into new coastal cities that are rarely frequented by travellers, introducing them to new friends and family, perhaps creating a new traveling trend and experience. To find out more about Costa Asia and Costa neoRomantica, check out www.costaasia.com for fleet in Asia and www. costaasia.com/fleets/neoRomantica for Costa neoRomantica. Gaya Travel Magazine extends its heartfelt gratitude to Costa Cruises for making the writer’s cruise experience on Costa neoRomantica possible.
Gaya Special Feature: Terengganu
What’s the latest in Terengganu Te x t b y A Z M I A B D U LL A H
Terengganu is a must-visit Peninsular Malaysia East Coast state that encapsulates all treasures of nature, tradition and heritage, truly reflecting its tagline ‘Beautiful Terengganu, Malaysia’. Terengganu’s Tourism, Cultural and Information Technology Chairman, The Honourable Ariffin Deraman, strongly believes that visitors to Terengganu will be enchanted by the state’s unforgettable charms that range from emerald islands with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and cooling splashes of waterfalls, to exquisitely-designed batik, songket, wood carvings, and various handicrafts that signify the state’s rich cultural heritage. Although there are other destinations in Malaysia that offer their own uniqueness, visitors will never get tired of Terengganu due to its bucolic, laidback, fishing village vibe, making it incomparable elsewhere. Time and again, the state never fails to lure travellers to its destinations and engage in its unique activities. Read on to find out about Terengganu’s latest attractions.
1. Terengganu Drawbridge – Kuala Terengganu’s Latest Icon The latest attraction in Terengganu is the majestic Terengganu Drawbridge that has quickly become one of the state’s iconic landmarks and a major attraction in Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC). This alternate route crossing the estuary provides a strategic land connection and reduces travelling time between the charming Kuala Terengganu city in the south and the booming Kuala Nerus district in the north, thus boosting the state’s economy. Built at a cost of MYR248 million, this 638-metre bascule bridge with its 16-storey towers and two connecting sky bridges is the first of its kind in South East Asia, designated as a component of KTCC that includes boat docking facilities, 30-storey Kuala Terengganu City Council tower, and the Kuala Terengganu City Centre Mall containing 200 shops, a 10-screen cineplex and a 48-lane bowling centre. Taman Tamadun Islam (+6 09 627 8888) and Cas Ligas (+6 09 727 8000) offer Payang water taxi services and river cruise packages, including tours to the drawbridge. Alternatively, contact Emraz Travel (+6 010 862 2700) for special group tour packages. 2. Grape Vines at The English Countryside of Marang, Terengganu What began as a hobby by an owner of a holiday home, Pine Hill’s Garden exudes the aura of an English countryside that is fast becoming an attraction in the district of Marang. Located 61 meters above sea level in Kg Bukit Kemas, Kelulut, it offers a scenic view of the surroundings, including Pulau Kapas and the South China Sea. What began as a hobby, the owner of Pine Hill’s Garden established a unique grape-farming concept within the grounds. The owner also grows strawberries, figs and passion fruit, including plans to diversify into other grape species and four-season fruits. Pine Hill’s Garden is definitely a unique agro-tourism attraction not to be missed in Marang. Contact: +6 014 500 9315 (Muhammad Salleh Anggulia Isa) 3. Turtles are making a comeback All turtle lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit Rantau Abang Turtle Sanctuary in Dungun, Terengganu because the sanctuary has been recording one of the highest number of turtles coming in to lay eggs. As such, the Turtle Conservation Program has been set up to make sure that every egg laid has higher chance of survival. Turtles could lay up to 100 eggs at any one time and once they have completed laying their eggs on the beach, workers of the Conservation Program will record the number of those eggs
and transfer them to a special hatching area for safety. This is also to minimise the risk of those eggs being eaten by predators. The green turtle recorded up to 44 nests with 3,695 eggs in 2019 compared to 20 nests with 1,522 eggs in 2018. At Rantau Abang or any other secluded beaches in Terengganu, travellers can join in the release of baby turtles into the sea or even watch turtles come to shore at night to lay eggs. However, prior arrangements need to be done with certified nature guides. Call Mohd Khairul of Terengganu Nature Guides Association (+6 013 939 7837) to arrange for a guided tour to the hatchery sites and turtle watching at secluded beaches within the vicinity. 4. Bukit Maras – Urban Dwellers’ Outdoor Retreat
by the late Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah on 31 August 1968, who was the fourth Yang diPertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King). The name Kedai Payang is retained to preserve the history of the market’s original site, which was once filled with traditional local boats called perahu payang as the main mode of transport to carry goods and produce along the Terengganu River. The present Pasar Payang will be upgraded to make it more modern, comfortable, cleaner, neater and visitor-friendly. While the upgrading works take place, the traders currently operating at Pasar Payang will be housed at Pasar Payang 2, located 80 metres away. For Kuala Terengganu City Tour packages, contact the following local travel agents: • Go Nature Travel (+6 019 925 1511) • Addeen Travel (+6 016 326 7940) • Hedaco Travel (+6 019 953 9144)
Considered a hidden gem, Bukit Maras started gaining attention lately by the locals for hiking and camping activities. It is situated around 20 kilometres north of Kuala Terengganu, peaking at 329 metres above sea level overlooking the state’s airport, paddy fields, rivers and durian estates.
When to go:
Bukit Maras is a growing tourist destination with interesting activities such as paragliding, camping, exploring bat cave, hiking, night trekking in the forest and picnicking. There are plans to develop an orchard homestay at the nearby farms and plantations too.
Please check on Terengganu weather before going. The state experiences heavier rainfall and flooding in certain areas during monsoon season when the north-east winds blow between November and January. Although it is assumed that Terengganu receives rain every day during this period, in between the wet spells, there are perfectly sunny days too, as in most places in the Peninsular Malaysia. However, trips to the islands are not advised during monsoon season due to uncertain sea conditions; most resorts on the islands are also closed at this time of year. On the bright side, the monsoon season is the low season, thus travellers get better deals on accommodations.
From the foothill at Maras Village, it takes about 20 minutes of hike to reach the peak of Bukit Maras, a popular sunrise spot for locals to catch the breathtaking sight. The large clearing at the peak has ample space for setting up camps and outdoor recreational activities. Interestingly, there are no mosquitoes at the peak and at night, you’ll get to enjoy cool fresh air and lights illuminating from the city! If you travel without your camping equipment, camping facilities and hammocks are available for rent at RM10 per person. For further enquiries and bookings of any recreational activities, email to hikingmaras@ gmail.com or call Bukit Maras Paragliding & Recreational Park at +6 012 295 6302 or +6 016 621 7227. 5. Pasar Payang Refurbished The iconic central market of Terengganu, locally known as Pasar Payang, is located by the Terengganu River and is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kuala Terengganu. It is basically a wet market selling fresh sea products combined with open-air shop lots within offering visitors a variety of traditional handicrafts such as batik, silk, songket, brocade, textiles, brassware and jewellery, including fresh produce, spices, dried seafood and groceries. It was in 1968 that Pasar Payang was officiated
Sundays to Thursdays are the working days for Terengganu, while Friday and Saturday are public holidays. Banks, government offices and most businesses in Terengganu operate from Sunday to Thursday.
Driving tips: • Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu (approximately 455 km): Take the Karak Highway, then proceed via the new East Coast Expressway. Those who prefer a drive along the scenic coastal road could exit at Jabor toll. Continue towards Kuala Terengganu on Federal Route 3 via Chukai town in Kemaman. • Singapore/Johor Bahru to Kuala Terengganu (approx. 562 km): Take Federal Route 3 to Kota Tinggi, Mersing, Kuala Rompin, Pekan, Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu. • Penang to Kuala Terengganu (approx. 460 km): Take Federal Route 4 via Grik to Jertih, then turn into Federal Route 3 to Kuala Terengganu. Flights: Fly to Kuala Terengganu Airport from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) by Malaysia Airlines, from KLIA2 by AirAsia; or from Subang Skypark (Kuala Lumpur) by Firefly and Malindo Air.
The O ther S ide of Muslim-Fr iend l y
Taiwan Te x t & I m a g e s b y LI LY R I A N I
Famed for its night markets, shopping and street food, Taiwan is believed by many to be a city fit for city dwellers, shopaholics and obviously foodies. This is true until you learn about the other side of Taiwan - the nature that forms the backbone of this wondrous island, the customs and traditions that endured despite the influences of colonisation, along with cross-cultural architecture that amazes the world over. All you need is just one trip to this other side of Taiwan to change your mind – it would leave you spellbound. The land of earth, wind and fire You may realise that this beautiful country is prone to typhoons (wind), has active volcanoes (fire) and is ‘strategically’ nested on the intersection of the Yangtze Subplate, Okinawa Plate, Philippine Plate and Sunda Plate (earth). Yet, the typhoon season is when they celebrate the summer flower festival, the active volcanoes help flourish the hot springs townships such as Beitou, and the heavily forested Taiwan mountain ranges contain the Taroko marble gorge and towering Qingshui cliffs, among others. This charming island has so much to offer but so few has been discovered.
Flying Cow Ranch You will see no cows flying, but the place is remarkable nonetheless Passion and vision is the guiding light of the Flying Cow Ranch. Life, education through edutainment content and conservation serve as key factors for this attraction’s sustainable operation. Situated on the higher grounds of the Nanhe Village and surrounded by over 60 grazing cows accompanied by goats, rabbits and strolling ducks, you are neither bored nor lonely here. And if you actually are, enrol yourself in a pizza or yoghurt pudding, or even an art class. #TravelTips » Different sets of utensils for Muslims and nonMuslims are provided. » Muslim meals can be catered, but early request need to be made. » Overnight trips are highly encouraged because there are plenty of activities for all age groups. » Accommodation ranges from camping to Family Suites at NT$6,200 per night. » The journey from Taipei takes approximately two hours and a half.
More info Entrance Fee Room Rates Address Website
Top : Barn-style Main Building at Flying Cow Ranch; Bottom : Quaint Sun Moon Lake town (Image by : Chu Chin Huei).
: Adult - NT$220, Kids - NT$150 : From NT$3,600 per night for Deluxe Double Room onwards : No 166, Nanhe Village, Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County, Taiwan : www.flyingcow.com.tw/en/
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Fun Taiwan Adrenaline rushes and culture don’t seem to be a perfect combination, yet Taiwan is able to marry them amazingly well. Tribes such as Atayal, Paiwan, Rukai and more contribute to a colourful and flavourful culture with years of rich heritage that not only enriched the island, but also pleasantly surprised us. Their sharp facial features, and semantics, including the detailing and motifs on their traditional wear are strikingly similar to Malaysian Borneo cultures. Showcasing their aboriginal homes, traditional attires and dance performances offer an uncommon glimpse of Taiwan’s diversity. There is also an amusement park that complements the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, injecting more fun to the experience. Caribbean Adventure park is the latest addition to the existing Mayan Adventure, UFO Adventure and Gold Mine Exploration attractions.
Sun Moon Lake World’s best cycling route Noted as one of the 10 best bike routes in the world for cyclists by CNN Travel, on top of being designated as one of 13 national scenic areas in Taiwan, the Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest freshwater lake, the perfect place to enjoy nature, local culture and street food. Make your day by taking a sunset boat ride after enjoying the scenic cycling routes or a doing hiking. It is highly recommend that you disembark at Ita Thao Pier to either sample street food of the aboriginal Thao people, do souvenir shopping or just chillaxing over a cup of bubble tea. #TravelTips » Summer is the peak season so heavy traffic should be expected, so plan your transportation well. » You can take the cable car from Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village to Sun Moon Lake and vice versa. » It is best to combine the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and Sun Moon Lake into a two-day and one-night trip. » It is advisable to stay around Sun Moon Lake area. » The journey from Taipei takes approximately three hours.
More info Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Entrance Fee : Adult - NT$850, Kids - NT$650 Address : No 45, Chihtien Lane, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan Website : www.nine.com.tw/ Sun Moon Lake Address : Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan Website : www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/ Taipei 101 The famous wind damper
Unlike other tall buildings in the world, Taipei 101 is unique, not because of its east-meets-west architecture, but more on the fact that it is built on an island that is prone to typhoons and earthquakes. Therefore, the focus of Taipei 101 is more about the gold coloured wind damper or steel pendulum, possibly the only wind damper in the world visible to the public, which serves as a tuned mass damper, placed between levels 87 and 92. Its main objective is to minimise the swaying of the tower during typhoon or earthquake, preventing further damage. Footages on damper movement due to actual typhoons and earthquakes can been watched at the observatory level. And if you are (un)lucky, you might even get to see the damper swaying! #FunFacts » Officially the world’s tallest from its opening in 2004 until 2010. » Possessed the world’s fastest elevator until 2016. It is capable of moving at the speed of 60.6 kilometres per hour from the 5th to 89th floor in 37 seconds. » Awarded the Platinum rating under the LEED certification system for being the tallest and largest green building in the world in 2011. » Possibly the only largest and heaviest wind damper in the world that is visible to the public. » Famous spot to celebrate new year countdowns and celebrations.
Heping Island Park Sun, sand and swim Heping Island Park definitely has its own charm. Meaning ‘peaceful’ in Mandarin, Heping Island Park is a great representation of nature and development done right. Popular among locals, this seaside attraction is a great place to enjoy a little bit of sun and swim. Preserving the geographical structure of the seaside, the local authority has improvised three natural pools to cater for children, adults and pets. Meanwhile, the picnic area is sectioned and is positioned close to the stream, and includes a sandbox play spot for small kids. The sandstone park is safeguarded to ensure it is not vandalised. In order to protect the rock formation and seaside rockscape, you are required to join a guided tour to earn more about it.
#TravelTips » Allocate one full day if you intend to do a little bit of sun, sand and swim. » Changing rooms and toilets are available. » Information centre, souvenir shop and cafe are located in the main building. » A short hike is required to reach the famous ocean pavilion. » The journey from Taipei takes approximately an hour.
More info Entrance Fee Address Website
: Adult - NT$80, Kids - NT$40 : No 360, Ping 1st Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Keelung City, Taiwan : https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/ m1.aspx?sNo=0002105&id=R80
More info Entrance Fee : Adult - NT$220, Kids - NT$150 Address : No 166, Nanhe Village, Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County, Taiwan Website : www.taipei-101.com.tw Heping Island Park’s natural pool
Yangmingshan National Park Flower and fire It is strange that the same mountain that has the best and most beautiful seasonal flower also contains a post-volcanic geological crater attraction site at the same time. And this same national park also has a hot spring area, hiking trails and rolling hills of grassland. The Yangmingshan Flower Festival 2019 starts from February until March, the Calla Lily season from end March to May, Hydrangea from May to June. This is also the best spot to catch the cherry blossom season. Tip: Take a short hike along the scenic trail and stop by the flower farm for some photos, before dropping by at the crater and culminate at the hot spring ponds to wind down. That would be a perfect day spent at Yangmingshan. #TravelTips » There are shuttle buses to each attraction area within Yangmingshan. » Wear proper hiking shoes if you intend to hike as there are a few hiking trails. » Xiaoyoukeng is a post-volcanic geological crater that you can visit. » Stop by Lengshuikeng hot spring area to dip your leg into the hot springs. » Bring towels, clothes and toiletries if you plan to dip into the hot springs. » The journey from Taipei takes approximately 45 minutes.
More info Address : No 1-20, Zhuzihu Road, Beitou District, Yangmingshan, Taipei City, Taiwan Website : www.ymsnp.gov.tw
Top : Taipei 101, Taiwan’s engineering mar vel; Bottom Left : Hydrangea Flower Festival at Yangmingshan National Park.
Salam Taiwan Halal eateries and Muslim friendly hotels With an increasing number of Muslim tourists, it has become easier to find for halal eateries and Muslim friendly hotels in Taiwan. Certain famous local delicacies can now be sampled by Muslims, and hotels are now more sensitive to Muslim guests’ needs by providing them with qibla direction, and prayer mats, including prayer times and copies of the Quran. Few hotels can arrange for halal utensils to accommodate halal dining, making it easier now for Muslims to visit Taiwan. Certified halal restaurants » Chang Beef Noodles Shop, Taipei » Master Diced Beef Nankan Restaurant, Taipei » Yunus Halal Restaurant, Taipei » Kunming Islamic Restaurant, Taipei » Ice Monster, Taipei Muslim friendly hotels » Chateau de Chine Taoyuan, Taoyuan (https://taoyuan.chateaudechine.com/en/index) » amba Taipei Songshan, Taipei (https://www.amba-hotels.com/tc/songshan/) » Flying Cow Ranch, Miaoli (https://www.flyingcow.com.tw/) » Grand Mayfull Hotel Taipei, Taipei (https://www.grandmayfull.com/) Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Malaysia for making the writer’s trip to Taiwan possible. Visit https://www.taiwan.net.my/ for more information regarding Taiwan.
asik Villa International Resort is strategically located in the heart of Port Dickson. The resort offers 220 units of spacious suites complete with kitchenette appliances and essential amenities that serve as an ideal setting for business, family and leisure travellers. All 220 units are built surrounding our man-made lake, which features the Water Chalet, Clubhouse Deluxe with Jacuzzi, Clubhouse Superior, Family Villa Private Pool, 2-Room Villa with Private Pool, and VIP Villa. Safety is our priority, therefore, all our floors are well-equipped with closedcircuit TV surveillance cameras (CCTV), computerized room key card access and 24-hours security. As for ease and convenience of our guests, we offer daily housekeeping services, convenience store and spacious parking spaces. Our recreational facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and children’s pool, bike and Harley Bike rental, outdoor volleyball courts, gymnasium, sauna and indoor games centre. Tasik Villa International Resort Port Dickson has all it takes when it comes to organising corporate functions and events. Our conference halls, ballroom and meeting rooms make the perfect venue for the exclusive events and business functions. Our experienced staff will render you the most memorable service to meet your expectations. On the other hand, our VIP Lounge provides a comfortable private space for business meeting or any other functions. We offer two well-appointed F&B outlets to gratify our guest’s preferences – either the elegant Tasik Restaurant & Café, or the unique De Tasik Italian Restaurant on the cruise at our lakeside. Dine and satisfy your taste buds at Tasik Restaurant & Café as it offers a selection of local and international cuisine at a reasonable price. Contact us for booking or more information: Tel: 06-644 8888 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com Website: www.tasikvilla.com.my Instagram: @ tasikvilla Facebook: @ tasikvillaintl
Romantic Escapade from Japan to Taiwan Te x t & I m a g e s b y LI LY R I A N I
Call me a hopeless romantic, but when you are crossing the seas and pit-stopping at coastal towns on a cruise as majestic as Costa neoRomantica, it is hard not to be. Even the cruise calls itself so. Based in Genoa, Italy, Costa Cruises is owned by Carnival Corporation, one of the world’s largest cruise lines with fleets available in all continents, taking passengers along the world’s most scenic routes. Besides Costa neoRomantica, Costa Cruises’ fleet includes Costa Venezia which was launched in March 2019 and Costa Firenze which will launch in October 2020, apart from Costa Serena and Costa Atlantica that are meant for the Asian region. Currently, the cruise departs from Taiwan and China to cater for the East Asian region, and Italy for Eastern Mediterranean covering Greece and Croatia. Meanwhile, for Northern European and Scandinavian regions, Costa Cruises covers countries such as Finland, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Scotland and Iceland, depending on package.
Top from Left : Costa Romantica underwent a major renovation and refurbishment in 2012; Outdoor Jogging Track. Middle from Left : Ristorante Botticelli after dinner conga line, Grilled lobster at La Fiorentina Steakhouse Restaurant; Enjoying a warm Italian coffee
Entertainment Costa neoRomantica comes with a full suite of entertainment options, from Casino to Tango Disco and Grand Bar Piazza Italia with a dance floor. There is also the Cabaret Vienna that stage performances. What excites guests are the daily activities shared in their ‘Today. The Daily Program’ sheet. The cruise is packed with activities that are bound to suit your particular interest, fitness level and time. Costa Cruises ensures that you will not be bored when being under their care. Italian Lesson – A Romance Language Being an Italian liner, it comes as no surprise that one of the activities offered to passengers is learning Italian. It is advisable for those planning to visit Italy – or even avid linguists – to take up a
Romance Language (not to be confused with language of romance) for a more enriching experience. Dance Class – Express yourself They say ‘dance like nobody’s watching’. That said, I lost to the elderly folks (perhaps I was too concerned with people watching me dance). Latin tends to be the favourite on this cruise, receiving the highest and most active participation, primarily for Rumba and Salsa. The passengers literally danced like nobody’s watching since their dancing skills, enthusiasm and stamina are definitely better than mine. Cruise Activities – Spoilt for choice There are plenty of activities for you to choose: Karaoke Night, Live Band, Arts and Crafts, Animation Team activity,
Video Quiz and more. You are bound to bump into the same person and perhaps ended up becoming good (travel) buddies. Top 3 #CruiseTips for Entertainment • Dance Class is a must-do, especially the Latin Dance Class as you will get to experience dancing with a Latino dancer! The easiest dance to learn will be the merengue. • Any activity with the Animation Team is fun because they are, after all, animated… • Try at least one new activity each day: Arts and Crafts, Video Quiz, Cooking Class, Bingo and more!
Restaurants Food is abundant when you are onboard Costa neoRomantica. There are dining and self-service restaurants, bars, pizza places, ice cream stalls, cafes and more to choose from. Ristorante Giardino is a self-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a beautiful formal dining restaurant named Ristorante Botticelli. Another restaurant that you should try is the La Fiorentina Steakhouse Restaurant (you will never, ever regret this). Of course, famous Pizzeria Capri too, the only restaurant on a cruise ship with a wood-fire oven. You can also experience a three-Michelin-star eight-course menu prepared by Chef Umberto Bombana at Ristorante Casanova fine-dining restaurant. End your night with a glass of wine at Enoteca Verona wine bar with over 80 wine labels from around the world to choose from. There are also two popular dinner parties. The Captain’s dinner party is where ship officers are dressed in tuxedos and cocktail dresses, giving a chance to the passengers to dance with them. The White Party is a thematic dinner party when everyone is dressed in white with Venetian masks, where they will be entertained by captivating live opera performances followed by the crew dance show. 070
Top 3 #CruiseTips for Dining • My personal favourite is the La Fiorentina Steakhouse Restaurant where I had the lobster. The restaurant also serves Wagyu beef cooked to perfection. • The only cruise with wood-fire oven restaurant, Pizzeria Capri serves the best pizza: crispy crust, savoury tomato sauce, fresh ingredients with unique wood oven smell and smoky flavour, feels like you were transported to Naples, Italy. • Ristorante Casanova, a fine dining restaurant that features a special 8-course menu curated by Italian “Truffle King” Umberto Bombana, chef & owner of the only Michelin three-starred Italian restaurant outside Italy, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. Health & Wellness Taking care of its passengers is what Costa Cruises does best, and this is further enriched by its health and wellness programme that educates everyone on the need to take care of their health (encompassing overall mental and physical condition of a person) and wellness (achieving optimal mental and physical health). Talks, tracks, gyms and spa are all within easy access, at any time. Health Talk – Shape it up! Usually held at the Aerobic Room and conducted by subject matter experts, the topics selected focuses health and wellness
Clockwise from left : Pizzeria Capri’s wood-fire oven pizza; Pasta cooking class; Sea view gym.
- essentially on eating well, eliminating swelling and tired feet and relieving back pain through better ligament and posture among others. Outdoor Jogging Track – Circle the deck to keep fit Many passengers put the jogging track to good use, but what fascinated me most was when I saw an elderly couple in their morning walk chatting, smiling and greeting passersby. They seemed to be enjoying the sun, the view, the breeze and most importantly themselves. Despite being on water for many days, none suffered from dizziness or seasickness, except for myself, probably due to lack of air and exercise… Fitness Center – Gym with a sea view Nothing beats this gym that puts the other gyms facing the pool, hill slope, forests and city skyline to shame. Running your treadmill as the ship cruises makes you feel as if your running single-handedly power the ship’s engine and propel it forward, make you feel like you are one of Marvel’s Avengers. But be sure to keep your ‘superpower’ a secret… Samsara Spa – Therapy on the Seas The largest spa at sea with thalassotherapy pool, treatment rooms, sauna, Turkish bath and even UVA solarium. Holiday is the perfect time to wind down and spoil oneself, thus Samsara Spa helps you to achieve just that. The spa’s employees are more than happy to pamper you without having to travel far from your room, providing extensive treatments to ensure that you are well rested, fully relaxed and rejuvenated in mind, body and soul.
Cabin and Suites Costa neoRomantica is literally a floating hotel. It was designed with comfort and experience in mind, ensuring their guests remember every beautiful moment onboard while providing service that exceeds expectations. Costa neoRomantica features 789 cabins in total, including 28 suites with private balcony and 46 cabins with private balcony. Every section has a dedicated room steward taking care of your every need, attending to room queries and sharing valuable cruise tips. ‘Today. The Daily Program’ programme sheet is sent to the room every evening for easier activity planning the next day, and housekeeping replenishes the fruit platter daily. The room and turndown services are immaculate. If you are one of those who are skeptical in taking cruise holidays, I suggest that you give Costa Cruises especially Costa neoRomantica, a try. Who knows, it may just convert you into an avid cruise traveller who constantly wants to sail away, sail away, sail away, just like the chorus of Enya’s song Orinoco Flow… Top 3 #CruiseTips on the overall cruise experience • Vegetarian meal is available for Muslim travellers upon request, and seafood is easily and readily available. • Duty free items and cruise souvenirs are available at the Galleria via Condotti. • Cruise holiday is especially fun for bachelorette getaways, school reunion trips, family get-togethers and of course honeymoons!
Teen’s Club – Nobody is left out on this cruise Making sure that no age groups are left out, activities for teenagers such as dancing and music classes, sports tournaments, games, themed dinners and more are specially prepared for them. These help them create new friendships and enjoy their holiday onboard Costa. They got your backs! Squok Club (Children’s Area) – It’s not school nor babysitting, it’s entertainment! Only for children over 3 years old, the Squok Club organizes games, dances and mini tournaments so that parents can have some quiet time for themselves, perhaps a romantic dinner together. There is also a play area where parents can send their kids for a playdate or participate in activities at the designated areas such as a parents vs kids family game, ‘Where is the ghost?’ game, bubble game and object’s hunt. Top 3 #CruiseTips for Health & Wellness • Outdoor jogging track is both fascinating and popular because it is not often that you get to jog in the middle of the sea. Try it! • The cruise offers direct engagement and free consultation with subject matter experts on health and wellness on-board. • Relax and enjoy the gentle stroke at the thermal and thalassotherapy pool in Samsara Spa.
Why you should go on a cruise holiday? • Stress-free holiday as daily programmes are well planned by an experienced cruise team. • All-inclusive activities. There is an activity for passengers of all ages and interest groups. • Library, spa, gym and outdoor jogging track cater for those who prefer a ‘me-time’. • Stopovers at memorable ports-of-call that offer passengers brief breaks from cruising. • In some cases, you can visit more than 2 countries minus the hassle of packing and unpacking. • All-day dining - 5 meals a day, including snacks and midnight buffets.
To find out more about Costa Asia and Costa neoRomantica, check out www.costaasia.com for fleet in Asia and www. costaasia.com/fleets/neoRomantica for Costa neoRomantica.
The Quintessentially Charming Region of Southwest Germany Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A KERI I m a g e s b y G E R M A N N AT I O N A L T O U R I S T B O A R D , U N S P L A S H A N D P I X A B AY
Germany is the worldâ€™s economic and innovations powerhouse, and its rich culture and heritage should also be given the same regard. As travellers venture to the countryâ€™s southwest region, they will be treated to riveting history that goes far back to the time of the Roman Empire, gorgeous landscapes of greeneries, enduring traditions, and outstanding architectural styles across multiple art periods. And then, there is also endless list of well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage sites, all possess their own stories. This region is perfect for travellers to get cultured and be inspired.
Postcard-perfect view of Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard (Image by GNTB).
TRIER 1. Porta Nigra If walls could talk, imagine the stories that the walls of this piece of historic legacy would divulge. Built in 170 A.D. during the Roman Empire – or 1,849 years ago – Porta Nigra is the only surviving gate out of the quartet of gates that used to guard Trier city. Its original Roman name remained unknown up until today, but as the facade began turning dark in the Middle Ages due to age, locals started calling it Porta Nigra (‘Black Gate’), which comprises two towers with a small courtyard in between, all built in typically Roman mortar-less technique (the structure’s large stones are held together by iron rods).
In 1030, a hermit named Simeon moved into the tower of Porta Nigra with the approval from the archbishop of Trier. When he died five years later, he was sanctified and his body was buried inside the gate. Porta Nigra soon transformed into a church, and because of its religious significance, the gate had been safe from the ever-changing marauders that came after. However, when Napoleon arrived in the city, he asked for the church to be dissolved and ordered it to be restored to its original role for defence. Today, visitors are welcome to explore the towers on their own at a small fee; but for more in-depth experience, opt for a tour complete with a guide dressed as a centurion. 2. Aula Palatina (Basilica of Constantine) Built in 310 A.D., the throne room that once belonged to Emperor Constantine is today the largest surviving ancient Roman single-room structure. Its huge size often fascinates visitors, but one could only imagine the grandeur that the hall once commanded before it was remodelled and repurposed throughout the span of its history. In the Middle Ages, the hall had been converted into a fortress, living quarters for the city’s archbishops, and finally the first Protestant church for the city in 1856.
An air raid during World War II almost destroyed the building, but a thorough repair work managed to preserve the historical inner decorations from 19th century. 3. Amphitheatre Almost similar to the huge stadiums found today, amphitheatres were crucial in ancient Roman culture since they were built in major cities (often where emperors resided) to bring large-scale entertainment like gladiator fights to the people. The one in Trier could seat up to 20,000 spectators, connoting the city’s magnitude at that time. 4. Barbara Baths In the past, baths were a community centre where Romans bathed together and socialised. Some of them were so big that they could incorporate multiple hot and cold baths, library, gymnasium and garden. One such infrastructure was the Barbara Baths, the oldest public bathing facility in the city. At the time of its construction, it was presumed to be almost the size of six American football pitches, making it the second largest of its kind in the whole of Roman Empire! Today, visitors can only witness the ruins, but there’s a visitor’s walkway built across the area for those who are interested to learn more about this splendid architecture and the conservation efforts initiated by the city council. 5. Imperial Baths Another great example of Roman bathing facility in Trier is the Imperial Baths, relatively the newest in the city, considered as one of the most impressive complexes ever built in terms of grandeur. It comprises two areas: the thermae (baths) that was large enough to fit a present-day 650-seater opera, and the palaestra, which was a courtyard used for exercise. The complex was eventually converted into a castle during the Middle Ages. 6. Church of Our Lady Originally, there was a Roman double church stood on site, until its southern section was torn down around 1200 and
replaced by the Early Gothic Church of Our Lady, making it the first and oldest gothic church in the country. 7. Saint Peter’s Cathedral This Roman Catholic church, also known as Trierer Dom, is the oldest bishop’s church in Germany, commissioned by the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, in the fourth century. The church continued to flourish and stood the test of time, rebuilt and renovated along the way according to multiple period influences such as Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. Yet, the Roman central section with the original walls remains intact and can still be seen today as part of this architectural masterpiece. The church also contains impressive Christian art and holy relics like the Seamless Robe of Jesus, though it is kept in an annex and rarely shown to the public. 8. Roman Bridge Being the oldest bridge in the country that can still withstand heavy use up until today, Trier’s Roman Bridge is a fine example of the Roman’s architectural prowess. It was built in the second century, connecting the west bank to the city across Mosel River. While the foundation remains strong till today, the upper part had to be renewed twice over time due to destruction from wars. 9. Igel Column At 23 metres tall, Igel Column is the tallest Roman burial tomb in the north of the Alps, built in 250 A.D. It pays tribute to the rich cloth merchant family called Secundinier, whose trading business believed to reach as far as Rome. Watch closely, and visitors would be able to admire the original ancient images on the column that show a glimpse of everyday scenes of trading life from about 1,800 years ago.
Tip: Travellers can take advantage of the city’s relatively small size to explore the entire area on foot, with places of interest being located just a stone’s throw away from each other. But if you are pressed for time, there is also the special Römer Express train (www. roemer-express.de/en) that can bring visitors around the Old Town on a 35-minute tour.
Above: A lasting Roman legacy, Porta Nigra (Image by Cornelia Schneider-Frank from Pixabay). Below: Baroque west choir ceiling at Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Trier (Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay).
Tip: The most popular way of exploring Rüdesheim is by taking a romantic cruise along the river (www.k-d. com/en/landing-stages/ ruedesheim/) that passes by the Loreley Rock to St Goar and St Goarhausen. But if you prefer to travel by land, a slow train service also takes visitors to all major landmarks for a small fee.
RÜDESHEIM AM RHEIN This storybook town will leave a mark in one’s heart as a romantic destination, filled to the brim with pretty timbered houses and a string of medieval castles, draped in gorgeous vineyards that also known to produce worldfamous Riesling wines. The town is also a part of UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley. 1. Niederwald Monument In the late 1860s, France was regarded as the most powerful country in mainland Europe, but its dominance was challenged by the rise of Prussia (historically prominent German state) that defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks’ War in 1866. The news of potential alliance between Prussia and Spain provoked France and led to the now famous Franco-Prussian War from 1870 to 1871. Prussia won, and subsequently resulted to the unification of various German states that formed the German Empire. A monument in Niederwald was created between 1870 and 1880 to commemorate this historic unification. This 38-metre tall monument now towers above the Rhine Valley, treating its visitors not only lessons in history but also a fantastic panorama over the shimmering Rhine River, quaint villages and romantic vineyards. In fact, the best seat in the house to enjoy Rudesheim’s bewitching beauty is by taking a short cable car ride from the village to Niederwald Monument. Alternatively, visitors may also take the chairlift from nearby Assmannshausen village to the top of the hill. 2. Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard (www.abtei-st-hildegard.de/english/) Built in the 20th century on top of the hill graciously overlooking the magnificent Middle Rhine Valley, the abbey evokes drama in the landscape with its Romanesque structure rising between the greenery of the surrounding vineyards. Inside, it displays beautiful frescoes, and sometimes used for concerts such as the Rheingau Musik Festival. 3. Drosselgasse Step back in time in a charming cobblestoned alleyway that runs through
the heart of the old town, where its origin dated back to the 15th century. The street today spills out quaint artisanal shops and garden taverns, echoing conversations and music that blend well with the magical chimes from the nearby bell tower. For a true German hospitality, make way to Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schlosss (www. ruedesheimer-schloss.com/en/), a familyrun restaurant that serves delicious regional cuisine for over 60 years, often accompanied by outstanding live band that plays both folk and contemporary music. 4. Rheinstein Castle Fulfil your fairytale fantasy with a visit to an actual castle, Rheinstein, which depicts the Romanticism period at its best. Built in the late 13th century, this castle was originally a customs castle meant to protect the Mainz territory against robber knights, but later got heavily destroyed due to wars around the 17th century. In 1823, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia acquired the ruins and revived it according to Romanticism style by adding a beautiful courtyard and Gothic altarpiece in the castle’s chapel. Travellers are allowed to roam within the towers, where they get to admire gorgeous stained-glass windows and three-dimensional paintings.
SAARBRÜCKEN Saarbrücken is the capital of Saarland, which is one of the smallest states in Germany. But despite its modest size, the city prospers as an economic heart where a majority of people from the state work, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Its laidback lifestyle attracts locals, whilst the gorgeous Baroque architectures and vibrant cultural scene draw travellers. Interestingly, the city also has a strong French influence since it borders with France, so don’t be surprised if you hear French being widely spoken here!
1. Völklingen Ironworks (www.voelklinger-huette.org/en/ welcome/) Being a largely industrial city since the 18th century, Saarbrücken celebrates many engineering milestones in its history, including the Völklingen Ironworks, which is the world’s only surviving smelting works from the late 19th century. Up until today, the plant is considered as what UNESCO says “a symbol of human achievement during the First and Second Industrial Revolutions. At the height of its operation, Völklingen Ironworks employed 17,000 people.” Its finest technological innovations had benefitted the smelting industry at large, therefore when its production ceased in 1986, numerous efforts were taken to make sure that the plant doesn’t disappear in vain. In 1994, the plant became the first industrial site to be added to the World Heritage List. Today, this somewhat surreal complex remains the same at most parts, and now opens as a museum where visitors can learn about the history of ironmaking. Information are presented in great detail, and travellers can even explore the production area. Guided tour is also available; however, advance booking is required. There is a 30-metre charging platform on site, now becomes a viewing platform that affords a spectacular view of the complex. From time to time, the complex plays a host to concerts
and multiple art exhibitions, including the popular UrbanArt Biennale® that showcases incredible works from urban artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Futura. WIESBADEN Wiesbaden is distinctively German, identified by its modernity and functionality. But upon closer look, it actually bursts with art, history, architecture and nature – a perfect combination that provides travellers a well-rounded experience. It is also known as one of the oldest spa towns in Europe, boasting a total of 26 hot springs, including the famous Kochbrunnen that can be found right in the city centre. 1. Kurhaus (www.wiesbaden.de/microsite/kurhausen/) Following its popularity as a spa destination that peaked in the 19th century, Wiesbaden attracted many upper-class visitors to the area, which eventually called for a larger and grander spa house to be built. The city’s original spa house was then demolished and replaced with a majestic neoclassical complex with two concert halls and a wine hall. A magnificent casino was later included in the building in 1949. During the 1980s, the structure was given an extensive renovation to equip it with modern technology upgrades to transform it into a world-class conference venue as it is today. 2. Hessian State Theatre (english.staatstheater-wiesbaden.de/) The Hessian State Theatre on its own is a work of art, designed to personify the imposing and majestic Baroque Revival style in all its glory as visualised by two great Viennese architects, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. Eight years after its inauguration, as if the building wasn’t extravagant enough, an incredibly gorgeous Rococo styled foyer complete with cotton candy colours, gilded decorations and inset paintings was later added into the building, which until today, never fails to sweep you off
your feet. Today, Hessian State Theatre has the busiest calendar in the country’s performing arts industry, offering more than 900 performances each season. It also hosts the annual May Theatre Festival, one of Germany’s oldest festivals since 1896. 3. Museum Wiesbaden ( www.museum-wiesbaden.de/en ) The museum comprises two sections: art and natural history – the former showcases expressionism artworks of the 19th and 20th centuries, while the latter presents informative displays on zoological specimens and fossils, along with interactive zones that are especially fun for young zoologists. Since June 2019, the museum opens its permanent display of Art Nouveau collection by Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess, featuring 570 objects ranging from ceramics, furniture, and paintings to artworks, including Alphonse Mucha’s incredibly gorgeous bronze sculpture, La Nature. 4. Neroberg Neroberg refers to the 800-foot high hill that offer spectacular views of the city as far as the slopes of Odenwald. One may take the Nerobergbahn (Neroberg Mountain Train) to reach the top in less than four minutes, while those who are fit should opt for a 15-minute pleasant hike to the summit. The hill is the spot where travellers can find a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth, built by the grief-stricken Duke Adolf of Nassau in loving memory of his wife, Elizabeth Mikhailovna, who died during childbirth only after a year of marriage.
The writer’s experience in Germany was truly amazing and insightful. Gaya Travel Magazine therefore extends its heartfelt gratitude to the German National Tourist Board for the wonderful trip and ensuring that the writer’s journey to Southwest Germany was smooth-sailing.
Clockwise from Top Left: ‘We the People’ artwork as displayed in Völklingen Ironworks (Image by Adrienguh on Unsplash); the 38-metre tall Niederwald Monument; the wall sculpture at the spa assembly room (Image by GNTB); and the dreamlike facade of Kurhaus (Image by GNTB).
Travel Pointers when Exploring Germany
• Cash is essential because most local vendors would not accept credit cards. The best and easiest way to get cash is by withdrawing it at the ATM, preferably the bank-run ATMs as they usually do not charge usage fees and are generally more secure. • Speaking of cash, do carry loose change at all times because free public restrooms are rare. They usually cost 50 cents per entry. • Sunday, in Germany, is the day of rest, so expect to see almost all shops, including grocery stores, closed. Exceptions might apply to bakeries and restaurants. • When dining in restaurants, the fizzy, sparkling water is served by default whenever you request for a glass of water. If you prefer still water, be sure to clarify when ordering. • Germany, probably, has the most impressive transportation system in the world. Taking the low-cost airlines (Germanwings, Condor, etc) across the country saves time, but if you are not in a rush, taking busses (Flixbus, etc.) or trains are better since they take and drop passengers right in the city centre. And try to book well in advance when possible because it can save you a lot of money too. Alternatively, make use of the regional day tickets available by the national railway, the Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.com/en/view/index. shtml), for bigger savings when travelling between cities. • The country may not be the cheapest country to visit in Europe, but budget travel is still possible! Do budget at least MYR350 to MYR500 per day, taking into account staying at hostels and cooking your own meals to control cost.
Above: The gorgeous Rococo-styled foyer at Hessian State Theatre. Below: The cable car ride over the picturesque Rhine Valley (Image by GNTB).
L angk awi, t h e Ye a r - R o u n d I s l a n d of At tr ac tions 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 E L A N I
During the recent Eid Fitr (the celebration that follows after the ending of the Muslim fasting month), Gaya Travel team together with a group of media members, bloggers and social media influencers headed to Langkawi, dubbed as the Jewel of Kedah. Staying true to its title, Langkawi has long been one of Malaysiaâ€™s favourite destinations that offers wonderful natural wonders, world-class hotels and resorts, exciting water-based activities and happening events all-year long. Visiting this island of the legendary Mahsuri and other local folklores during Eid Fitr was nothing short of amazing. We explored a few places on the island and experienced some of the attractions. We even had the opportunity to attend a special Eid ul Fitr open house organised by Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) with the theme Langkawi Aidilfitri Special 2019. The event showcased delectable selection of dishes served by four- and five-star hotels and resorts around Langkawi, on top of colourful traditional performances and games that enthralled local and international spectators. Good to know: In 2007, UNESCO declared Langkawi as a UNESCO Global Geopark due to its outstanding geo-heritage features. It is also recognized as the first geopark in South East Asia.
Clockwise from left: Ziplining at Umgawa Legendary Adventure will give travellers a fun and memorable experience; Our guide, Mr Ros Effendi at Darulaman Sanctuary explaining some facts about the faunas in Langkawi; The Eagle Square from our cruise boat with SeaSplash Adventure.
Clockwise from left: Glorious sunset that we witnessed on our cruise boat with SeaSplash Adventure; One of the 3D arts at 3D Art Museum; Riding on jet ski is a must-do at Paradise 101; The Sky Bridge that stands 709 metres above sea level; Pak Su showing one of his horshoe crabs.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO » Umgawa Legendary Adventure (www.ziplinelangkawi.com) Recommended for adventurous souls, this is the place where you can be one with nature. Umgawa has 12 ziplines, in which the longest spans 200 metres. The experience gliding from tree to tree within the over the ancient rainforest that is part of the Matchinchang Geopark, including the dramatic Seven Wells Waterfall, is absolutely exhilarating! Umgawa’s Safety Sky Rangers are helpful and informative too, explaining the do’s and don’ts with clear instructions, making the experience safer and enjoyable. T: +6 013 343 8900 » Darulaman Sanctuary (www.sanctuary.bdb.com.my) Do you know that birds function as highly sensitive indicators to the wellbeing of an ecosystem? With over 200
species of birds in Langkawi that can be observed at Darulaman Sanctuary, many travellers will find this piece of information eye-opening. Among the birds that travellers can spot are the collared kingfisher, great hornbill, crimson sunbird, black-hooded oriole and of course, the proud Brahminy kite eagle, or locally known as Lang Merah, said to be the inspiration behind the name Langkawi.
opt for SeaSplash Adventure, which brings them on a relaxing voyage on a well-equipped vessel. Departing from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, we cruised around Langkawi, passing by some of the island’s iconic attractions such as Pulau Dayang Bunting and Eagle Square, finally witnessing the memorable sunset while being served with refreshing beverages and delicious barbecue dinner.
Along the way, travellers are also able to come across various kinds of wildlife such as butterflies, scorpions, monkeys and spiders.
T: +6 04 955 7114
T: +6 04 955 8080 » Sunset Cruise with SeaSplash Adventure (www.seasplashlangkawi.com) Sunset in Langkawi is quite spectacular and should be admired by all travellers when the weather permits. To experience this, travellers may
» Langkawi Cable Car & Sky Bridge (www.panoramalangkawi.com) Notably Langkawi’s most prominent attraction, Langkawi Cable Car or SkyCab has been officially operating since 2005. It is also known as the steepest cable car ride in the world. The ride from the base platform brings passengers to the peak of Matchincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, believed to have been formed 500 million years ago. Once arrived, travellers can enjoy the
breathtaking panorama of Langkawi alongside the majestic Andaman Sea. There is also a curved Sky Bridge that stands 709 metres above sea level for travellers to admire the majestic surrounding landscape even further. T: +6 04 959 4225 » 3D Art Museum (http://artinparadise.com.my) This is the largest 3D Museum in South East Asia, second in the world. It has as many as 105 interactive art pieces by 23 artists, all categorised into nine exciting zones such as Optical Illusion Zone, Aquarium Zone, Safari Zone, Fantasy Zone, Malaysia Zone and more. Meant to fire up your imagination and creativity, this museum is brilliant and should be included into your family vacation in Langkawi. Fair warning, though: you will need more than an hour to fully experience the museum because it is huge! T: +6 013 509 1209 » Skyrex (www.panoramalangkawi.com/skyrex) Put your seatbelt on and get ready for a thrilling 4D adventure on a tram-styled simulator! Once you are ready, you will be brought to enter an otherworldly park filled with benign and fierce dinosaurs, guaranteeing a thrilling experience. Get ready for suspense and adrenaline rush as you encounter some of the most well-represented theropods, including the much-feared Tyrannosaurus rex! » Paradise 101 (www.paradise101.com) This is a man-made, private, day-resort island that is fast becoming Langkawi’s premier water sports destination. Either to simply relax by the beach or get wet by doing water activities, this island offers the best at both. It has a bar, plenty of chairs and well-equipped toilet and bathrooms, including a list of water activities like water park, kayaking, banana boat and jet ski. T: +6 04 963 9200
» Kilim Geoforest Park This is one of the three geo-site parks in Langkawi dedicated as a sanctuary for the island’s extensive mangrove eco-system, wonderful karst hills and caves. A myriad of wildlife can be found here, including monitor lizards, squirrels, monkeys, mud crab and birds like kingfishers and kite birds. There is even a spot where travellers can witness Brahminy kite eagles swooping by. A tour inside this park also brings travellers to meet the 69-year old Mehad bin Daud (famously known as Pak Su), who is fluent in several languages, including Japanese, explaining about the life of a fisherman and introducing some of his ‘native friends’ such as stingrays and horseshoe crabs. T: +6 04 959 2323 WHERE TO EAT » Selera Akmal Restaurant Popular for grilled fishes including stingrays, catfishes and torpedo scads, this restaurant is usually packed during lunch hour. It mainly serves local cuisine comprising dishes like pucuk ubi masak lemak tempoyak, rendang daging, local salads and many more. T: +6 012 594 4638
» Seashells Restaurant, Laman Padi With the concept of Malay kampung surrounded by sawah padi (rice field) in Kedah, this restaurant serves local menu fused with Western influences. More than just the view of an authentic sawah padi, the Malay kampung experience is made even better by the restaurant’s rustic decor and traditional music playing in the background. T: +6 04 955 3581 » Kak Yan Nasi Campur Another popular restaurant for lunch, Kak Yan Nasi Campur offers Langkawi’s favourite dish called kerabu bronok, which is basically a traditional salad with bronok, a sea cucumber-like marine life found around the island. But if you are not into this exotic food, there are other delectable options available that you will be spoilt for choice! T: +6 017 408 4371 » Warung Jati Aisyah This eatery, located in Kedawang, is rather small, but brims with delicious local cuisines. This place is a must for travellers who seek for the authentic taste of Langkawi. The eatery also serves up refreshing local desserts like ais kacang, cendol, pulut mangga and pulut durian. WHERE TO STAY
Kerabu Bronok which can be savoured at Kak Yan Nasi Campur.
» Langkawi Yacht Club Hotel (http://langkawiyachtclubhotel.com) This is one of the establishments owned by Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, an award-winning marina with 250 berths, besides Fisherman’s Wharf and Charlie’s Bar & Grill. This boutique hotel boasts 44 rooms that come in different categories such as Marina View Cottage, The Admiral Presidential Suite, Standard Room, Courtyard Room, Seaview Room, Hillview Room and Skylight Room with open-air shower. It also has a spa and sea-side swimming pool. T: +6 04 966 4078
ETW9: Scouring Selangor’s Top Treats Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I Images by N U R U L S Y I FA A RA M LA N
Great food and amazing adventures make an unforgettable journey for most of us. Thus, in conjunction with the EAT.TRAVEL.WRITE 9 (ETW9) Selangor International Culinary Adventure programme organised by Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) together with Gaya Travel Magazine, we invite you to visit these excellent places to dine, play and stay in the state – ideal for not only visiting travellers from afar, but also locals looking for more ideas to rediscover home. 088
EAT Summit Bamboo Garden Chinese Thai Restaurant, Subang Jaya Let’s start the list with a great place to dine that we will swear by: Summit Bamboo Garden Chinese Thai Restaurant, which serves fantastic flavours, unique menus of Chinese-Thai fusion and excellent service. Food is cooked fresh every time and most importantly, with the absence of MSG. Crowd favourites include the satisfying tom yam nam khon, the addictive prawns fried in Thai curry powder, and the steamed fish laced with lime juice and garlic. Be sure to also make space for the succulent barbecue-styled harimau menangis, a buttery grilled sirloin meat dish that tastes as memorable as it sounds! The shop opens every day from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. T: +6 03 8025 9088 Garage 51, Bandar Sunway Ultimately one of our top picks for specialty coffee and gourmet brunches, a visit to Garage 51 often transports us to the Land Down Under with its creative take on flavours and the overall mood of the place. It is cosy,
perfect for sipping a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and indulge in comfort food with good company. But on top of these, we are greatly impressed by the way its founders, brothers Choong Kar Wai and Choong Kar Heng, cleverly transformed the used-to-be garage to a rusticindustrial aesthetic in the form of a seemingly unfinished room outfitted with a rustic communal table made from age-old sampan, high ceiling, full glass window that lets in ample natural light, dangling light bulb and a custommade container that serves as the kitchen. Garage51 opens every day from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. T: +6 03 5612 5618 BoomTown USJ11 What started as a cafe now has expanded into warungstyle dining spot with busker performances on weekend nights. Patrons will be spoiled for choice, but for definite pleasers, be sure to try the melt-in-your-mouth brisket burger or the creamy macaroni and cheese. The place opens every day from 6:00 p.m. until midnight. T: +6 016 688 5157
Clockwise from above: Happy faces of ETW9 participants post-dinner at BoomTown USJ11; scrumptious Southern Thailand dishes as served in Summit Bamboo Garden Chinese Thai Restaurant; and specialty coffee and gourmet brunches at Garage 51.
Chong Kok Kopitiam, Klang The walls of Chong Kok Kopitiam probably have witnessed some of the most amazing moments since its establishment in 1940. Back then, it was also a hotel and a bar before being transformed into a solely food and beverage venture. Expect to feel a high sense of community here with patrons of all races and backgrounds come together over their love for food and camaraderie. The nasi lemak sold here is incredibly delicious, while the charcoal toast accompanied by homemade kaya and butter brings back childhood memories. Coffee lovers shouldn’t skip the smooth and aromatic local brew, undeniably a cup filled with love and pride. The shop opens every day from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. T: +6 03 3371 0996
Nasi Kandar Kari Kepala Ikan Tepi Sungai, Klang Good luck finding a spot at this hugely popular dining joint, especially during the peak of lunch hour. The menu focuses on simple, straightforward dishes but oh, its satisfyingly rich gravy of fish head curry, which is a perfect balance of spiciness and creaminess, make all the waiting time worthwhile. To keep it up a notch, do pair it with a plate of fragrant fluffy biryani while enjoying the afternoon breeze by the river. The shop opens from 11:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. every day. T: +6 018 316 3638 Mohana Bistro, Klang Nestled in Klang’s Little India, Mohana Bistro is a haven of delightful Indian snacks, filled with endless choices of colourful desserts fit for festivities. Ladoo (ball-shaped sweets often made of either chickpea flour,
semolina or ground coconut) is perhaps the most popular choice, but do also try the addictive jaleebi (deep-fried chickpea flour batter soaked in sugar syrup) or gulab jamun (deep-fried dumplings soaked in sugar syrup laced with rose water). Our favourite is barfi, a fudge-like sweet made of condensed milk, sugar, coconut and a variety of nuts. T: +6 03 3372 7659 Muara Ikan Bakar Tanjung Harapan, Klang Built on wooden platform overlooking the Straits of Melaka, the ambience of the restaurant becomes more magical when the sun goes down. Patrons get to choose from an extensive selection of fresh seafood on site, and request them to be cooked according to their liking. T: +6 03 3176 6929 Fruits Farm in the City, Damansara Utama Located right in the commercial area of Damansara Uptown (Damansara Utama), among countless shoplots, is the greengrocer that promises to bring only pesticide-free produce either from their own farm, trusted suppliers, or even the wild jungle into its shop. The racks are stacked with only the freshest and tastiest fruits, and its indoor setting makes it a comfortable shopping experience on any day, no matter the weather. Besides fresh fruits, the shop also sells refreshing juices and detox drinks, including unique durian pizza, made from durian paste base and topped with tropical fruits, definitely fitting for all adventurous palates. Those who are less brave may instead settle for the sought-after durian-flavoured soft serve ice cream made from real durian flesh, and it’s incredibly cheap
too! The shop opens every day from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. T: +6 03 7732 8463 Curry Leaf Restaurant, Damansara Utama Hailed from Seremban, this restaurant has been operating for more than a decade before high demand led the owners to open a joint in Damansara Utama. It is cosy and small, but with enough seats for comfortable dining experience, and feels homely with the framed family photos and newspaper clippings on the wall; this is the kind of place where you’ll spend a night catching up with friends and families over conversations and divine food. For instance, the fish curry is packed with fiery punch that you would probably lick the plate long after the meal has finished, and we swear that one of our dining companions even scraped the bottom of the spicy mutton varuval bowl served here because it is THAT good. The restaurant opens daily from 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. T: +6 03 7726 5880 Tempurung Kitchen, Shah Alam This is a casual cafe serving a good selection of Kelantanese delights, including the lip-smacking Nasi Kerabu Bedo’oh, which is steaming blue rice tinted naturally by butterfly pea flower garnished with generous amount of fresh herbs, toasted grated coconut, salted egg and grilled lamb or chicken. The singgang (a soupy dish typically made with fish) served here is equally appealing. The restaurant opens from 11: 30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays until Thursdays, it is closed on Fridays. T: +6 012 310 0400
Top from Left: Breakfast classics in the forms of kopi-o and toast as served at Chong Kok Kopitiam; and mackerel fish curry at Nasi Kandar Kari Kepala Ikan Tepi Sungai. Middle from Left: The colourful desserts available at Mohana Bistro; and the delectable nasi kerabu served at Tempurung Kitchen. Bottom from Left: The tender barbecue styled Harimau Menangis; a visitor experiencing the VR game at The Pantheon; and the durian pizza at Fruits Farm in the City.
PLAY The Pantheon, Subang Jaya (thepantheon.co) Avid gamers would have likely watched the movie called “Ready, Player, One”, a science fiction adventure that centres on an all-consuming virtual reality game that utilises multisensory gadgets, an experience that fans often dream about. But what if we tell you that you could relive similar experience as shown in the movie in real life? That’d be exciting, wouldn’t it? Enter The Pantheon, a gaming temple equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that will ultimately satisfy your gaming fantasy. In fact, it is the first eSports arena in Malaysia that received the Platinum NVIDIA GeForce GTX iCafe certification, dubbed as the Michelin star rating for the eSports industry. 094
The Pantheon features a variety of experiential zones incorporating VR equipment (Virtuix Omni), racing simulator, PS4 as well as top of the line computers from renowned gaming brands such as Alienware, Legion, MSI, Omen by HP, Predator and Republic of Gamers. Our personal favourite is of course, the said VR experience whereby player gets to wear head-to-toe multisensory gadgets while being immersed in a chosen world, for example a land full of zombies. It will make you run, both in virtual and real world, while strapped on an incredible Omni VR motion platform. But for those who prefer to train in private, the VIP rooms are also available, offering computers with higher specs for seamless experience. There is also an in-built 123-seater auditorium where gamers gather up to watch eSports tournaments. In order to enjoy the facilities at the centre, one is required to register for
membership at MYR10 per person. Members will then get to top up their account with money that will be deducted automatically as they play; each session costs between MYR5 to MYR50 per hour, depending on the chosen experiential zones. 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama (www.1utama.com.my) Aiming to be the one-stop centre for unique dining, entertainment, recreational and shopping experiences, the world’s seventh largest mall (as at May 2018), 1 Utama Shopping Centre is indeed a destination in its own right. Expect to see hundreds of major brands gracing the hallways, while its Sportszone features exciting activities for all to enjoy such as Camp 5 (Asia’s largest indoor rock climbing gym), Sealantis (PADI 5-star scuba diving centre), Padang (rooftop futsal), Ubowl (36-lane bowling centre) and It’s a Hit! Rooftop Baseball (South East Asia’s first and only automated baseball and softball centre). On top of these, the mall’s latest additions – AirRider (indoor skydiving) and FlowRider (outdoor surf centre) – are also fast becoming the go-to places for adrenaline junkies to satisfy their craving for thrill. Those who long for a quiet place to find solace, on the other hand, could opt for the mall’s Secret Garden, the largest rooftop garden in South East Asia, featuring over 600 species of carefully nurtured rare tropical and temperate plants. Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery, Klang (www.galeridiraja.com) Apart from being the former state capital of Selangor, Klang is also known as the royal town where generations of Selangor Sultans have called home. One such Sultan was
HRH Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz, the eighth Sultan of Selangor, who reigned from 1960 until 2001. When he passed away, his successor – HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah – built a royal gallery dedicated to him. A trip to this museum opens up an opportunity to admire an impressive collection of the late Sultan’s personal memorabilia up close. For those who are more interested in the rich history of the Selangor royal family, detailed explanations on the family’s lineage since 1766 are also presented here. When visiting the museum, take time to appreciate the gallery’s stunning colonial architecture. The building was designed by well-known architect, AB Hubback, who was also the brain behind many other Malaysian architectural masterpieces like the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur railway stations. The gallery is open on Tuesdays through Sundays; from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Chocolate Museum Kuala Lumpur, Kota Damansara (www.chocolatemuseum.my) For chocoholics, this museum is the ultimate sweet spot. It spans over two hectares of land divided into two major sections, each offering interactive education on chocolate-making and the industry respectively. Of course, tasty samples are provided as a part of this delicious experience. Creative folks can test their skill on chocolate sculpting, while those who prefer to only eat chocolates, prepare to be spoilt by over 100 brands available for purchase at the museum’s shop at affordable prices. The first section of the gallery offers free admission, while entry to the second section costs MYR5 per adult and MYR3 per child above seven years old. The museum opens every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Clockwise from above: A three-year-old visitor trying out the AirRider experience; the crown of His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor; and M&M portraits of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah at Chocolate Museum.
Desa Temuan Bukit Lanjan, Damansara Perdana Who would have guessed that in the middle of modern high-rises and commercial developments in the upscale Damansara Perdana, there is a thriving orang asal (aboriginal) settlement? This orang asal community hails from the Temuan tribe, relocated from the Orang Asli Reserve Land at Bukit Lanjan in 2002 when a local developer decided to give the area a major facelift. Each family received a bungalow while bachelors were given an apartment unit each, including MYR45,000 worth of shares in Amanah Saham Berhad, as a compensation for their relocation. The developer also built a school and multipurpose hall for the people. Today, Desa Temuan’s community has slowly assimilated into modern society, but the community’s traditional customs and celebrations such as Gogo (Bogeng) – a village ceremonial dancing typically performed during weddings – is still practiced. Visitors can learn more about this tribe and the neighbourhood at a local museum in the area. STAY
Premiere Hotel, Klang (www.premiere-hotels.com) This hotel wins guests’ heart as a modern business hotel, strategically located in the modern township of Bandar Bukit Tinggi with many places of interest being only a short drive away. It has 250 spacious rooms equipped with amenities that meet the needs of guests. It also boasts an outdoor swimming
From top: Beautiful moon cakes by Dorsett Grand Subang Hotel; The Premiere Hotel’s signature dish: Ikan Bakar Tepian Tebrau; and The Junior Suite at Dorsett Grand Subang Hotel.
pool, a relaxing spa, a gym and Klang’s largest ballroom that is ideal for corporate functions and weddings. Breakfast options at its all-day dining outlet, Buzz, are abundant, but guests should not miss the opportunity to try the hotel’s version of Ikan Bakar Tepian Tebrau, a successful attempt to recreate the popular grilled fish dish originated from Johor. Dorsett Grand Subang, Subang Jaya (www.dorsetthotels.com/en/dorsett-grand-subang) One will be impressed when stepping into the opulent world of Dorsett Grand Subang with its unmistakably Malaysianinspired lobby embellished with marble, wood and intricate artworks. The hotel’s 478 rooms and suites are spacious and tastefully designed, including four food and beverage outlets, one of them being the award-winning Chinese restaurant The Emperor, which dishes out sinfully delicious moon cakes for Mid-Autumn Festival. There is also swimming pool and a spa on site. Should guests feel like venturing out, the hotel offers free shuttle service to nearby shopping malls. EAT.TRAVEL.WRITE 9 (ETW9) Selangor International Culinary Adventure is a Media, Bloggers & Social Media Influencers familiarisation trip organised by Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) together with Gaya Travel Magazine, and supported by Wardah Cosmetics and Berjaya Food Berhad.
Grand Train Tour of Switzerland with Sedunia Travel Te x t b y ED J U NA I D I I m a g e s b y ED J U NA I D I , RHAETISCHE BAHN/CHRISTOPH BENZ/ANDREA BADRUTT
On July 2019, I joined a trip to Switzerland that was organised by Sedunia Travel together with Swiss Travel System AG. The trip gave me the real experience of traveling across Switzerland using Swiss Travel Pass. Although the trip did not cover all 8 sections of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, it painted a clear picture on how the tour works and how flexible it is to customise your own itinerary when exploring Switzerland by train. In a report produced by World Economic Forum, Switzerland topped the list of quality railroad infrastructure and train efficiency in 2018, leaving Japan and Hong Kong in second and third places (http://reports.weforum.org/pdf/gci-2017-2018scorecard/WEF_GCI_2017_2018_Scorecard_ EOSQrailroad.pdf ). It comes as no surprise because Switzerland has the best integrated train system in the world. The first train system in Switzerland was introduced back in 1847 and the first Alpine railway operated under the Gotthard Pass began in 1882. After more than 150 years, Switzerland now boasts the most sophisticated railway system in the world; and with other public transportation systems connecting commuters daily, Switzerland has become the most interconnected country in the world. On top of that, trains in Switzerland run on time right down to the second. This surely helps when travellers explore this amazing country. Back to our journey from Kuala Lumpur to Switzerland, we flew to Zurich via Singapore on
SWISS, which connects Switzerland from its bases in Zurich and Geneva to over 100 destinations around the world. Flying for the second time on SWISS, I enjoy the airline’s sophisticated service marked by its ‘Swissness’, which I define as ‘efficient yet quiet and understated’. Flying on the airline is the best way to experience Switzerland even before arriving at the country. It was summer when I arrived in Switzerland, and it was hotter than usual. According to locals, the temperature spiked up to 38°C when they were hit by the heat wave back in early July 2019. Typically, summer in Switzerland should be between 19°C and 24°C in the northern and central regions, while the southern regions reach up to 32°C. The best part about summer in Switzerland is that the sun shines longer and only sets around 9:00 p.m. If travellers were to stay at the hostels during summer, they should expect that these hostels do not come with air-conditioning. As a matter of fact, most buildings in Switzerland are generally not air-conditioned.
Swiss Travel Pass The key to Switzerland’s Grand Train Tour is the Swiss Travel Pass. It offers unlimited rides using public transport covering trains, buses and boats across more than 90 cities, towns and villages, including mountain excursions to Rigi, Schilthorn, Stanserhorn and Stos. The pass also includes free admission to over 500 museums throughout Switzerland and carries digital coupons with thrilling discounts up to 50% for attractions and cable cars. This pass can only be purchased by travellers with permanent residence outside Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. Read more about travelling in Switzerland using public transport here: https://www.swiss-pass.ch/ The Grand Train Tour When someone asks me what is the best way to explore Switzerland, I totally recommend taking The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, likened to taking a scenic train ride across a spectacular theme park, except that the theme park here refers to an entire nation, and travellers can simply hop on and off anywhere they wish along the route. With a total of eight recommended sections for an eight-day trip, the tour brings travellers to witness Swiss traditions and customs, quintessential Swiss experiences, and panoramas ranging from big cities to small towns, villages, lakes, rivers and mountains. Just by looking out from the window, travellers can easily feast their eyes on spectacular views. You can read more about The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland here: https://www.mystsnet.com/en/information/ swiss-travel-system/grand-train-tour-of-switzerland/)
Experience the Grand Train Tour with Sedunia Travel by purchasing the 8-Day Swiss Rail Adventure package (http:// seduniatravel.com/tours/europe/switzerland/swiss-rail-adventure) starting from MYR5,100 per person. Customise the experience by adding, removing or rearranging the sightseeing tours with Sedunia Travel’s Discovery Tours, or choose from the Swiss travel packages offered. Sedunia Travel Services Sdn. Bhd. Level 12, 13 & 15, Menara Genesis, 33 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur Tel: +6 03 2141 5259 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.seduniatravel.com / www.seduniamuslim.com
On the opposite page, clockwise from Top Left:The most spectacular Alpine crossing experience. (Image by : Rhaetische Bahn/Christoph Benz); There are paintings on the Kapellbr¸cke that tell a collection of stories beginning from the founding of Luzern; Reuswehr Needle Dam is the last remaining needle dam in the world that is still preserved and functioning until today.
Swiss Travel System AG – a Zurich-based marketing company co-founded in 2011 by Swiss Federal Railways, Switzerland Tourism and five private railway companies – recommends tours consisting 8 days and 7 nights exploring the 8 sections using the train system: 1. Zürich/Genève*/Basel – Luzern – Interlaken (Luzern–Interlaken Express), from 2 h 51 min 2. Interlaken – Zweisimmen – Montreux (GoldenPass MOB), 3 h 5 min 3. Montreux – Visp – Zermatt, 2 h 31 min 4. Zermatt – St. Moritz (Glacier Express), 7 h 46 min 5. St. Moritz – Tirano – Lugano (Bernina Express), 6 h 46 min 6. Lugano – Flüelen – Luzern (Gotthard Panorama Express), 5 h 30 min 7. Luzern – St. Gallen (Voralpen-Express), 2 h 17 min 8. St. Gallen – (Stein am Rhein) Schaffhausen – Zürich/ Genève*/Basel, from 2 h 34 min * When arriving from Geneva, it is recommended to start and end the tour at Montreux.
EXPLORING LUZERN Luzern is a compact city boasting thousands of years of history, heritage architecture, old alleys, guild houses, clock towers and the last remaining needle dam in the world that is still preserved and functioning until today. The city is built along the shores of Lake Luzern and surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The remains of Musegg Wall, a 14th-century fort, can still be seen bordering the old town, Altstadt, on the north. Although now fully disconnected, the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) was part of the fort structure that is still in existence, linking both riverbanks flanking the Reuss River. The paintings on the Kapellbrücke tell a collection of stories beginning from the founding of Luzern. Travellers are recommended to tour around the city of Luzern, beginning from the train station, crossing the Kapellbrücke heading into the Old Town of Altstadt. There are many places to visit such as the Jesuit Church that possesses Baroque-style architecture, Franciscan Church built in Gothic style, Lion Monument that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred during French Revolution, Musegg Wall, Pfister Guild, Town Hall Clock Tower that tells the lunar calendar, Reuswehr Needle Dam and more. 100
Shopaholics and collectors should stop by at the Gübelin boutique on the Schwanenplatz. Gübelin is famous for its fine jewellery creations and luxury timepieces of its renowned watchmaking partners. Travellers with more time in their hands should stay longer and learn about Gübelin’s centurylong history and how it positions its brand to the world. In the evening, return to the train station and head to Pier 1 to board the MS Diamant to cruise around Lake Luzern, also known as the Lake of the Four Settlements. The cruise serves as water transport and stops at almost every major pier on the lake. You can hop on and off the cruise boat anytime and at any pier using the Swiss Travel Pass. Special sunset cruise dinner can be booked in advance and typically leaves Pier 1 at 7:12 p.m. everyday, depending on season. The dinner costs CHF49.50 (MYR210) per person. Read more about Luzern here: https://www.luzern.com/en/
Thirsty when walking around the cities in Switzerland? Did you know that you can drink directly from the tap of any fountain across Switzerland? Unless labelled “Not for drinking”, you can refill your tumbler whenever you find a fountain. Sometimes, the fountain offers two taps: one is positioned lower than the other, at around below waistline, because that one is reserved for animals.
Top: MS Diamant takes passengers cruising around Lake Luzern; Above: Titlis cable car rides offer exhilarating view of majestic mountain ranges with contrasting colours of the vegetation and layers of snow.
Engelberg This small alpine village is located about 43 minutes away from Luzern by the Luzern-Engelberg Express train. From Engelberg train station, walk about 10 minutes or take a three-minute shuttle bus to the cable car valley station. Engelberg is the gateway to Mount Titlis, a year-round winter wonderland. Titlis is considered the jewel in Central Switzerland’s crown and the only publicly accessible glacier in the area. This is a must-visit destination in Switzerland that travellers should include in their travel itinerary. It takes two cable car rides to reach the peak of Mount Titlis, the first is the Titlis Xpress to reach Trübsee Station, then followed by the second ride to the peak on the world’s first revolving cable car, Titlis Rotair.
The cable car rides offer exhilarating view of the Alpine farms, herds of cows and goats, intriguing rock formations, and majestic mountain ranges with contrasting colours of the vegetation and layers of snow. At Titlis Summit Station, there are various attractions for travellers. The spectacular Titlis Cliff Walk is the highest suspension bridge in Europe situated 3,041 metres above sea-level, with a 500-metre off the closest ground and 150 heart-stopping steps. At the end of the Cliff Walk, visit Titlis Glacier Cave to experience the amazing 20-metre walk inside the glacier first-hand. Afterwards, take the vertigo-inducing Ice Flyer Chairlift to Titlis Glacier Park for fun on the ice. For Muslim travellers, fret not, Titlis Panorama Restaurant serves certified halal menu for a savoury treat, from salad, pasta, pizza, grilled chicken and lamb steak. I had grilled chicken served with rice and ratatouille. A multi-faith prayer room is also available. Travellers who would like to stay overnight on the mountain can stay at Trübsee Alpine Lodge, located at Trübsee Station. Otherwise, there are more activities can be done here such as walking around the beautiful Lake Trübsee, canoeing, hiking, hopping on the fun Titlis Adventure Park or trying the Trübsee Flyer Zipline, which is Trübsee’s latest attraction. 102
Read more about Engelberg and Titlis here: https://www. engelberg.ch/en/) Trubschachen Although Switzerland is one of the most developed nations in the world, it still holds onto its traditions. One of them is the production of fine chocolates and biscuits. Kambly is a household brand in Switzerland for generations due to its delicious biscuits, resulted from the determination by its founder Oscar Kambly to prove his love to a girl from Trubschachen, the place where The Kambly Visitor Centre and Factory Shop is located, only a short train ride from Interlaken, Bern or Luzern. Today, Kambly does not only produce baked cookies and biscuits but now has become a Swiss way of life. The Kambly Experience is a complete excursion recommended by Kambly and Switzerland Tourism. Travellers, especially those with family, should partake the Kambly Experience in idyllic Emmental Valley and the rustic district of Entlebuch. It is enriching to visit The Kambly Visitor Centre and Factory Shop to discover the secrets and fine art of biscuit-making; it is wheelchair friendly with no entrance fee and opens almost every day from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The Visitor Centre includes visual representation of Oscar Kambly’s journey, a coffee shop, and demonstrations by in-house Master Confectioners. Read more about Trubschachen and Kambly Experience here: https://kambly.com/en/kambly-experience/
Clockwise from Top Left: Titlis Cliff Walk is the highest suspension bridge in Europe; It is enriching to visit The Kambly Visitor Centre and Factory Shop to discover the secrets and fine art of biscuitmaking; Morcote Pier; Lugano’s charming atmosphere can be seen throughout Morcote; Lugano is a region in Switzerland that maintain its Mediterranean culture.
EXPLORING LUGANO Many regions in Switzerland have their own distinct characters, especially Lugano, which is the capital of Ticino canton down south. The main language in the region is Italian the culture is more Mediterranean. As such, Lugano is a vibrant city with music scenes in the squares, international exhibitions, theatre and culture on the lakeshore. We stayed at the historical Hotel International au Lac that fronts Lake Lugano and within Via Nassa, Lugano’s number one shopping destination along the ancient city porticoes that line the lakeshore. The cobblestoned paths between the alleys are still preserved to maintain Lugano’s charming atmosphere. Right beside the hotel is The Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, home to the famous Renaissance fresco work entitled ‘Passion and Crucifixion’ by Italian artist Bernardino Luini, who worked with and greatly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. His artworks at the church, dating back to 1529, are the most important examples of Lombard Renaissance in Switzerland. Read more about Lugano here: https://www.luganoregion.com/en Morcote Recognised as the most beautiful village of Switzerland in 2016, the village of Morcote is one boat ride away from Lugano Centrale Pier. Swiss Travel Pass holders can hop on and off the boat at any of the piers that the boat stops. Morcote is recognised for its small alleys, arcades of old patrician homes, and a setting of exquisite subtropical flora by the lakefront. It is the place to indulge in tranquillity. Melide From Morcote, use the Swiss Travel Pass to get to Melide by bus to visit a miniature park founded in 1959 called Swissminiatur, which is a must-visit destination, located along the highway between Milan (Italy) and Lugano (Switzerland). Swissminiatur displays miniature replicas of important and famous landmarks across Switzerland. The most prominent ones are the UNESCO-enlisted Castles of Bellinzona, Jungfraujoch Summit Station and the Federal Parliament in Bern. The park turns alive with 18 model trains running non-stop along the custom-built 3.5-kilometre track around the park, including replicas of cable cars, suspension railways, funicular trains and boats. Read more about Swissminiatur here: https://www.swissminiatur.ch/swissminiatur/en/
Above: Bernina Express is crossing the impressive Wiesner Viaduct. (Image by : Rhaetische Bahn/Andrea Badrutt)
Mendrisio When in Lugano, drop by FoxTown Factory Stores, the biggest factory store centre in Southern Europe. Located in Mendrisio, it takes about 18 minutes’ train ride from Lugano Station or 10 minutes’ train ride from Melide Station. To get to FoxTown by train, you need to disembark at Mendrisio S. Martin Station, then walk for 10 minutes down the walkway towards the factory stores. 104
FoxTown Factory Stores boast 160 retail outlets that carry prestigious brands relating to men, women, and children apparel, sporting articles, household goods, accessories and jewelleries, perfumes and cosmetics, all under one roof. Most of the goods are sold at 30% to 70% discount, and many of the collections are from previous seasons. There are over 250 well-known brands such as Armani, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swarovski and more. Read more about FoxTown Factory Stores here: https://www.foxtown.com/en/visit-us The Bernina Express – The Ultimate Alpine experience This is the ultimate and the most spectacular Alpine crossing experience. Connecting the cool north with the warm sunny south, this express passes through various terrains that offer jaw-dropping views comprising snow-capped mountains, canyons, glaciers, lakes, pine forests, Alpine villages, 14 tunnels and 30 bridges. Among these are the impressive Wiesner Viaduct (the highest brickwork bridge built by Rhaetian Railway, the owner of Switzerland’s largest network of private railways operators) and Brusio Circular
Viaduct, where the train ascends or descends by covering two loops, each of them 100 meters in diameter. Most importantly, the pass from Tirano to Thusis managed by Rhaetian Railway itself is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. The train ride plies between Switzerland’s oldest town, Chur, and Tirano in Italy. Although included in the Swiss Travel Pass, travellers planning to ride on Bernina Express still have to pay for seat reservation and supplements. The option for Swiss Travel Pass can be found in the second step of the booking procedure, under Ticket/reduction drop down box. If travellers were to travel from Lugano, take the Bernina Express Bus too and enjoy the fascinating sightseeing trip passing by quaint small towns along the beautiful Lake Comersee between Lugano and Tirano. Read more about Bernina Express here: https://www.rhb.ch/ en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express or https://www.mystsnet. com/en/download/experience-bernina-express/?wpdmdl=15394 &refresh=5d765a03d68e71568037379
Gaya Travel Magazine team members extend our heartfelt gratitude to Switzerland Tourism, Swiss Travel System and Sedunia Travel Sdn. Bhd. for making the writer’s Grand Train Tour of Switzerland experience possible.
Travellers’ Next AweInspiring Secret Hideout 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 E L A N I
To many, this little piece of heaven might be new to the ear. But to some, like the late Princess Diana and a bunch of famous public figures, as I have been told, Moyo Island is where they get to earn some me-time, far away from the paparazzi’s prying eyes. Geographically, this small island is part of the Sumbawa Regency, located within the province of West Nusa Tenggara. Two majestic mountains can be seen from Moyo Island: Rinjani in the west and Tambora in the east. It also lies between two seas that are well-known for its otherworldly underwater beauty: the Flores Sea and Teluk Saleh. As such, Moyo Island is certainly ideal for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. The island has an area of 349 kilometres squared with a population around three thousand inhabitants. It also home to myriads of flora and fauna such as macaques, deer, monitor lizards, oxen and varieties of birds. Oh, I also came across wild boars twice, the first
when I was hiking to the Bat Cave, and the second when riding the motorbike taxi (locally referred to as ojek) to the waterfalls. Talking about the motorbike, it is ultimate mode of transport on Moyo Island. The road is rough and the ride is generally bumpy – you have to strongly trust your ojek rider because the person really knows better on how to navigate the journey. The experience is exhilarating, nevertheless. Though Moyo Island might be a familiar name among celebrities, it came quite a surprise to me as it is still affordable, since the island also offers cheaper food and accommodation options that are truly God-sent for budget travellers. In terms of the destination itself, Moyo Island is nothing short of amazing. It is laidback, relaxing and absolutely not crowded, which I can totally relate why most celebrities decide to spend their hard-earned free time here.
Good to know: • To get to Moyo Island, travellers may take the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Lombok to Sumbawa Besar. Afterwards, travellers can book a speed boat to Labuhan Aji in Moyo Island from Samawa Seaside Cottages. The boat ride takes around 35 minutes. • Alternatively, travellers can also take a speed boat from Pelabuhan Badas (Saturday and Sunday) or large wooden boat from Mulut Kali (daily) to Moyo Island. • The main religion on Moyo Island is Islam with most of the inhabitants come from Mbojo tribe. • The electricity is only available from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. • Best time to visit the island is during dry season (around June to August).
Clockwise from Top Left: A serene view of Crocodile Head Beach; Abundant of bats at Bat Cave; Rope jump is a famous activity at Diwu Mbai Waterfall; Taking motorbike taxi to explore Moyo Island.
T H E G I G A N T I C A N C I E N T C R AT E R
View of Toba Lake with traditional batak-style roofs from Samosir island, North Sumatra, Indonesia
The view of Bakkara Valley
Lake Toba, located in North Sumatra, is one of the most beautiful volcanic lakes in Indonesia. With an area of 1,145 square kilometers, Lake Toba looks like an ocean at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level. Besides being referred to as the largest lake in Southeast Asia, the lake which has a depth of 450 meters, is also the deepest lake in the world. With an altitude of almost one kilometer above sea level and surrounded by rows of volcanoes that are part of the Bukit Barisan Mountains, Lake Toba promises to impress. Thick fog sometimes envelops this cold, mysterious lake. But should there be no mist, the curve of Lake Toba is so beautiful to be admired. Make time to visit Samosir Island when you reach Lake Toba, where one may explore the Tomok Village that has the Tomb of Raja Sidabutar; the Huta Bolon Museum in Simanindo; and Batu Persidangan in Ambarita. Raja Sidabutar was the first to inhabit Tomok. To enter his burial complex, visitors must use the ulos that is provided by officers at the entrance.
Performance at The Huta Bolon museum
The Huta Bolon Museum is no less interesting. Here, visitors can see the Simanindo Batak traditional house which is now used as a Batak cultural museum, featuring a large collection of artefacts that are closely related to Batak culture such as traditional clothing, ulos cloth and coffins containing Sigale-gale dolls. You can even dance with the locals when there is a Sigale-gale show. Another attraction is the Tuktuk Siadong Tourism Village, a beautiful place on a small promontory on Samosir Island. Here, visitors can enjoy a captivating atmosphere with a panoramic view of the lake, and even have fun playing water sports. The village is fast becoming a popular spot among tourists, as proven by the number of high-end hotels mushrooming along the lakeâ€™s edge. These hotels often come with exclusive beaches for inhouse guests; but of course, there are also budget-friendly hotels and homestays nearby with rates starting from IDR 100,000 IDR 500,000 per night. #WonderfulIndonesia
Colorful handmade batak-style scarfs at the market, Lake Toba, Indonesia
Batak people of Samosir Island perform their traditional dance in Sumatra, Indonesia
Find the best packages and deals about Lake Toba only on www.indonesia.travel, discover now!
WHAT TO DO Admiring the enchanting Mata Jitu Waterfall This is arguably Moyo Island’s main attraction, located around four kilometres from Labuhan Aji. It is a multi-terraced, limestone waterfall with a crystal, turquoise water that is genuinely a sight to behold. This is among the places said to have been visited by the late Princess Diana, hence earning it the moniker ‘Queen Waterfall’. Rope jumping at Diwu Mbai Waterfall Diwu Mbai means Crocodile River because in the past, it is said to have many crocodiles in it. But after decades, no more crocodile sightings were reported and the waterfall has become a favourite spot for local teenagers to relax and have fun by playing rope jumping, a popular activity here. As eerie as its name may sound, the waterfall is undoubtedly magnificent, exuding the Tarzan-like vibe because of its dense green setting.
Crocodile Head Beach This is just one out of a few famous beaches on Moyo Island. I was told that the name is derived from a crocodile-shaped cliff found on its shore. Nevertheless, this beach, facing the Flores Sea, is breathtaking. No tourists were in sight when we arrived so I could say that travellers might be able to have the beach all to themselves when they come over. My guide shared that Crocodile Head Beach is also a famous spot to view sunset on Moyo Island. Strolling around the village and enjoying sunset, including night sky Travellers are well-celebrated in Moyo Island simply because the locals are friendly because they rarely see foreigners on the island. It is best to spend some time walking around Labuhan Aji, greeting the locals, sipping a cup of coffee and tasting bakso at small local restaurants. Sunset in Moyo Island is worth-witnessing because it is glorious, similar to its night sky studded with thousands of glittering stars, making the experience one of the most unforgettable memories for me personally. If you are a photographer who likes taking photos of the milky way, Moyo Island could just be the place where you could do so successfully. Visiting the Bat Cave To get to this cave from Sunset Moyo Bungalows, travellers need to ride 10 minutes by speed boat and another 40 minutes by foot. The cave is home to thousands of bats, making it an easy prey for snakes. Besides bats, travellers can also spot at least one snake which feeds on the bats; more than ten if you are ‘lucky’. It is generally safe because the snakes are usually on the cave ceilings where the bats often hang themselves upside down. Take note that you will need to endure the endless screeching sounds, on top of the unpleasant ‘organic’ smell of the bats’ faeces.
Other beaches travellers might want to visit when they are on Moyo Island: • Tanjung Pasir Beach • Ai Manis Beach • Raja Sua Beach • Takat Sagele Beach • Poto Jarum Beach • Brang Sedo Beach
WHERE TO STAY Maleo Moyo Hotel & Dive Resort (http://maleomoyo.com/) This resort offers three types of rooms namely basic fan room, deluxe fan bungalow and deluxe air-conditioned bungalow. Only five minutes’ walk to the beach, Maleo Moyo also has its own restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, besides a dive centre for those who wish to explore Moyo Island’s underwater world. Sunset Moyo Bungalows (http://sunsetmoyobungalows.com/) This humble accommodation near Desa Labuhan Aji best suits budget travellers, but the experience staying here is simply memorable nonetheless. It has a restaurant and an alfresco area where travellers can take in the sunset view. The room is basic but nicely decorated with wooden furniture and accessories, in line with its back-to-nature concept. Amanwana Resort (https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanwana) This is a 5-star, most luxurious resort on Moyo Island with a stupendous list of notable international superstars who have been reportedly staying here to enjoy their private moments. Taking cues from the glamping concept, the resort boasts 20 well-appointed suites that are categorised into two types: ocean tent and jungle tent. Amanwana also has its own dive centre, spa, restaurant and other exceptional services to ensure that its guests get an ultimately relaxing and hassle-free luxurious stay. Samawa Seaside Cottages (https://www.samawaseasidecottages.com/) Opened since 2011, this resort – located in Tanjung Menangis, Sumbawa Besar – is just 35 minutes away by boat to and from Moyo Island. It has 13 wooden cottages beautifully designed with Sumbawa influence overlooking the ocean. It also has a spa centre, dive centre, infinity pool and transfer boat services. Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to the Consulate General of Indonesia in Johor Bahru and Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Sumbawa for making the writer’s trip to Moyo Island smooth sailing.
Sleman Regency Tourism Goverment Oﬃce proudly present Java Summer Camp. This event is not only about camp, but it is about cultural immersion. The participants will have opportunities to live in Desa Wisata. They will have experiences like culture, and traditional lives. Also, the participants will oﬀered to have unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences, by taste the local and authentic recipes. The event will be held on October 11-13, 2019. Mark your calendar, and be there!
Cooking with locals
Together with locals prepare the dishes with traditional recipes and in traditional way.
Interact with locals
Drink a cup of tea from the clay teapot in the morning during your breakfast. Taste traditional dishes called ‘jadah tempe’ and listen to traditional music.
Feel the warmth
Enjoy the warmth of local people while they do their daily activities. You are oﬀered to work together with local on traditional coﬀee process, feed the cattle, play the traditional music, or have traditional cooking class with them. wisatasleman
Experiences the local warmth by playing traditional games together with the locals.
Solo Immersion Te x t & I m a g e s b y J U H A N K A M A R U D D I N
The city of Solo, formally addressed as Surakarta, is an off-shoot of the Mataram Sultanate and was founded almost three hundred years ago. It is small in scale but big in culture and heritage, ideal for a relaxing getaway; as a matter of fact, Solo gets busy during weekends because it receives trippers from the surrounding regions and nearby cities. It also comes alive with various forms of traditional performing arts like keroncong (folk music performed by an ensemble comprising ukulele, cello, guitar, bass, violin and flute), wayang (traditional Javanese play composed of dancing, vocals and characters from Mahabharata and Ramayana epics) and ketoprak (stage performance involving drama, music and literature based on history or legend). Tip: If you use the train to come to and depart from Solo, it is better to stay somewhere close to the Purwosari railway station like Harris Hotel Solo (https://www.harrishotels. com/en-us/HARRIS-Solo) or Pop Hotel Solo (https:// www.pophotels.com/en-us/Pick-a-POP!/Solo). Harris Hotel Solo is the first ever Harris Hotel (https://www. harrishotels.com/en-us/) to opt the new generation look.
Batik city Surakarta is popular among shoppers seeking products and crafts that are rich in heritage and ingenuity, especially batik, which is rich in philosophy, meaning and identity; beautiful and timeless batik motifs are believed to bring out the wearer’s charisma, while attracting positive energy at the same time.
There are two villages in Solo that are internationally renowned for batik: Kauman and Laweyan. Regarding the latter, the village is known to have existed since 1546 A.D. and spans 24 hectares squared, inhabited by batik merchants and traders for generations, who open batik atelier and showroom right at their own homes. Due to the community’s affluence, houses in Laweyan are generally palatial – characterised by two main pillars at the entrance, denoting European influence – since they need to simultaneously accommodate residential quarters and batik workshop. One of the best places to witness a Laweyan house is Ndalem Gondosuli (www.ndalemgondosuli.com), an elegantly conserved two-storey Art Deco building with embellishments signifying batik motifs. The building even comes with an ancient bunker, a typical feature for defence and security back in the period when it was built in 1921. The house now contains meeting rooms, art space, batik workshop, showroom, digital media museum, lounge, and praying room, suitable for travellers coming in groups. Ndalem Gondosuli intends to conserve the skills, workmanship and devotion towards the production of authentic Laweyan batik since this craft embodies high aesthetic value, besides being an essential part of Javanese heritage. Travellers’ brush with batik in Solo does not stop at Kauman or Laweyan villages; they should also head to the largest batik museum in South East Asia, Danar Hadi Batik Museum, where travellers are taken back in time to see how batik evolved over the ages through its collection of over 1,000 resplendent batik pieces procured from Indonesia and around the world, all belonging to the successful batik business owner, Santosa Doellah and wife Danarsih Hadipriyono. The museum – located inside the House of Danar Hadi (http://houseofdanarhadi. co.id/index.php) – assesses old batiks too by determining the era they belong to and how much they are currently worth.
Solo Batik Carnival 2019 On 27 July 2019, Surakarta City Government organised the 12th Solo Batik Carnival (SBC) to further solidify the city’s standing as one of Indonesia’s leading batik cities. With the theme ‘Suvarnabhumi the Golden of ASEAN’, the launch of SBC 2019 held next to Sriwedari Stadium was attended by the Governor of Central Java Bapak Ganjar Pranowo, who supportively donned amazing batik-inspired carnival costume. Besides Indonesia, SBC 2019 saw the involvement of other countries in ASEAN such as Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Timor Leste. The launch of SBC culminated with a grand parade of SBC participants from local communities showcasing remarkable batik carnival costumes while walking for five kilometres along Surakarta’s main thoroughfare, Slamet Riyadi Road, beginning from Sriwedari Stadium all the way to the Town Hall.
cutting right through the middle of Solo at the speed of 20 kilometres an hour. Once the train reaches Solokota station, the locomotive is decoupled from the carriages, filled with water to make enough steam to return to Purwosari, then shunted to change its direction and maintain its position at the head of the train, and finally recoupled back to the carriages. The entire ride consumes five cubic metres of teakwood, used as fuel to feed the furnace to heat up the water in the boiler to produce steam. Maintained and managed by Surakarta City Government, the train runs only up to six times per month based on group requests. This ride comes highly recommended for all travellers, especially MICE groups, because it offers a glimpse of how it was like to travel by rail in early 20th century. To experience this, contact the Surakarta City Government Communications Department at +62 85 4200 5156. The rate starts at IDR3.5 million for a group of 30 persons. Another historic venue is De Tjolomadoe (https://www. detjolomadoe.com/), formerly a sugarcane mill founded by Mangkunegara IV in 1861, now turned into a well curated museum and educational space highlighting the history of sugar production (sugarcane was first cultivated in Papua New Guinea as early as 8,000 B.C.), sugar cultivation process, and the contribution of the sugar industry to the Indonesian economy. Located in Karanganyar (Solo’s most fertile area where sugarcane was once abundant and sent to the mill for processing), De Tjolomadoe is 20 minutes’ drive from Solo city centre. The mill stopped operating in 1997, but parts of the mill’s huge machines can still be seen. De Tjolomadoe provides a state-of-art event space coupled with a concert hall, making it a fitting venue for large-scale meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) purposes.
Stepping back in time It seems like travellers would never be able to escape from history and heritage when they are in Solo. One such attraction is Kraton Kasunanan Surakarta (Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace), built in 1745 by Paku Buwana II when he moved the capital from Kartasura to establish the Surakarta Sunanate at Sala village (old name for Solo). The word sunan refers to the title given to the rulers of Surakarta. Travellers would surely appreciate the collection of artefacts and relics belonging to the royal family such as the golden horse-drawn carriage, palanquins for royal brides, weaponry, sculptures and artworks. The palace is where travellers learn about the city’s royal past and lineage. To literally be transported back in time, travellers should also take the nostalgic Jaladara heritage train ride on Dutch 1920s carriages powered by a German steam locomotive made in 1896 from Purwosari station to Solokota and back,
Top of page: A mural depicting the President of Indonesia Bapak Joko Widodo, who previously served as Mayor of Solo. Above: Guest of Honour Bapak Ganjar Pronowo (left) together with VIPs donning carnival costumes during SBC 2019.
Clockwise from Top Left: Jaladara heritage train, which consists of German steam locomotive made in 1896 and 1920s Dutch carriages; A typical stall in Pasar Gede that sells lenjongan besides other local snacks; Ronde, a refreshing dessert popular in Solo; Gudeg Solo served at Adem Ayem Restaurant; The huge sugarcane-crushing machine that still can be seen at De Tjolomadoe.
Culinary wonders Another element that draws travellers to Solo is the array of local culinary offerings and street food. Wondering what food and beverages to try in Solo? Have a go at the following: » Traditional Javanese concoctions or tonics filled with medicinal properties called jamu, made from selected natural ingredients like turmeric, ginger, galangal, cinnamon, palm sugar, kaffir lime and lemongrass, prepared in different mixtures and flavours for different purposes such as beras kencur to increase appetite and remove body aches and gula asam to reduce weight and improve digestion. » Refreshing local dessert called ronde (glutinous rice balls with crushed peanuts in warm ginger soup). » Gudeg Solo (sweet stew made from young unripe jackfruit mixed with palm sugar, coconut milk, herbs and spices) eaten with rice alongside krecek
(cattle skin spicy stew dish) and telur pindang (eggs boiled in spices, salt and soy sauce). One place to order this dish is at Adem Ayem Restaurant on Jalan Slamet Riyadi. » European-influenced dish originated from Solo called Selat Segar Solo, consisting of braised beef tenderloin served in sweet watery sauce accompanied by vegetables. » Tengkleng (aromatic mutton bones and ribs simmered with herbs and spices) and mutton satay at Pak Haji Bejo Restaurant, one of the President of Indonesia Bapak Joko Widodo’s favourite places when he was the Mayor of Solo. » Dawet telasih (sweet cold dessert containing droplets of green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup with the addition of basil) served at a stall belonging to Bu Dermi – another of Bapak Presiden Joko Widodo’s favourites – at Pasar Gede (Big Market). » Lenjongan, a sweet chewy local snack
drizzled with palm sugar, also can be found at Pasar Gede. » Serabi (a sweet and soft delicacy made of flour and sugar topped with different kinds of toppings) at Serabi Notosuman, one of the best and the oldest establishments in Solo. Browse http://solocity.travel/ and https://www.gayatravel.com.my/goingsolo-surakarta/ for more eye-opening information regarding Solo. Gaya Travel Magazine expresses our heartfelt gratitude to the Surakarta City Government for making the writer’s trip to Surakarta a reality.
Terengganu Now and Forever! Te x t b y M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J E L A N I Images by M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J ELA N I, ED J U NA I D I & N U R U L S Y I FA A RA M LA N
From outstanding local culture to amazing natural wonders, Terengganu continuously brims with exciting offerings for travellers. Compared to other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Terengganu is less crowded and its rural areas are almost unperturbed and sleepy, which explains how local culture and traditions remain intact. Travellers can expect a truly relaxing, local-centric destination that is far away from the deafening cacophony of the metropolises. With Visit Malaysia Year 2020 approaching, this state that claims itself as Darul Iman (â€˜Abode of Faithâ€™) goes full throttle to welcome more travellers. In this regard, Terengganu Tourism, in collaboration with Gaya Travel Magazine, recently organised a familiarisation trip for members of the media and influencers to explore Terengganu, specifically the regions of Setiu, Marang and Kuala Terengganu.
Clockwise from Top Left: Gamelan dance performance at Warisan Sari; Members from one of the competing teams balancing the spinning gasing on the ground; Tengku Mohd Ali showing one of the bottles he collected containing a Chinese-written letter; Cycling around the village is highly recommended when staying at Terrapuri Heritage Village.
Wanisma Craft & Trading Now owned by Wan Mahadi Wan Ismail, this family business started back in 1948. This workshop, located in Kuala Terengganu, still applies the traditional way of producing high-quality brassware, another icon of Terengganu. According to Wan Mahadi, brassware is usually made as accessories during wedding, home appliances or even souvenirs. Besides brassware, Wanisma Craft & Trading also sells authentic Terengganu batik block-prints.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE Penarik Beach This beach in Kampung Mangkuk, Setiu is famous after it served as a filming location for several local movies. With many swaying coconut trees, the beach offers a quaint, serene atmosphere. From here, travellers can get a glimpse of Redang and Bidong Island beyond. If you are lucky, you might even come across fishermen going to or returning from fishing, which will definitely be an eye-opening experience.
Bottle House Feeling obliged to keep the beach clean from dangerous garbage, Tengku Mohd Ali @ Tengku Enduk Tengku Mansur has been consistently collecting bottles since 2005 until now. Hence, ‘Rumah Botol’ or Bottle House is fully dedicated to his one-of-a-kind hobby, housing over 4,000 bottles, each carrying its own significance and meaning. Some of the bottles also originated from as far as Mexico, France, United States and the Philippines. Dusun Warisan This 20-acre farm produces many different kinds of local fruits such as durian, mangosteen, rambutan, pulasan, lanzones, jackfruit, pangolin fruit and more. During fruit season (August and September), travellers can devour fruits as much as they want at a cost of MYR50 per person, including going on a guided tour. Off-season, the farm offers different packages such as picnic, barbecue, family day and camping for those who want to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Rumah Warisan Haji Su The house believed to have been built in 1840 once belonged to a wealthy boat-seller named Haji Su Mohammed Salleh bin Haji Mohammed, simply known as Haji Su. After it was left abandoned since 2008, the state government decided to buy the house and later refurbished it at a cost of MYR3.7 million. The house has been opened to the public since 2017 for people to understand more of about
Above: Admiring the newly completed drawbridge in Kuala Terengganu from the cruise. Below: One of the participants showing off the freshly-picked mangosteen at Dusun Warisan.
Pasar Payang Since 1968, Pasar Payang has become an institution in Terengganu. More than just a marketplace, it doubles up as a cultural hub by providing various locals products ranging from food to houseware, fabrics and more. Following the decision made by the state government to demolish and rebuild the market, another building has been built to temporarily house the shops at the old Pasar Payang. Expect the new Pasar Payang to be completed in two years’ time.
authentic Malay carpentry that is replete in its architecture.
Tok Kite Beach This is a more secluded beach with hardly many people so travellers can unwind peacefully. There are a few restaurants to be found here like Warung SCT Che Am where travellers can savour a popular Terengganu delicacy simply known with the acronym ICT, which means ‘Ikan Celup Tepung’ (fish fried with flour). Alternatively, you can also try the menu using squid and prawn instead.
Boatmen Crafts at Kampung Losong Haji Su When travellers roam around Kampung Losong Haji Su, be sure to visit a local boat-making workshop and learn how the fishing boats are traditionally meticulously made. We got a chance to meet Azman Mohd, who has 30 years of experience making boats. In fact, he was in the middle of completing another giant boat with the help of his two colleagues. Once finished, the boat that is made from cengal and seraya wood is sold to the tune of MYR1.5 million!
Sunset Cruise at Taman Tamadun Islam (TTI) (http://www.tti.com.my/) This is one of the services provided by TTI (Islamic Civilisations Park). In the course of 45 minutes, travellers are brought on a cosy cruise along Terengganu River to witness charming attractions old and new that lie along its coastline such as fishing villages, mangroves, Crystal Mosque, Terengganu State Museum, Pasar Payang and Terengganu’s latest icon: the Terengganu Drawbridge.
Kampung Jambu Bongkok The name is said to be derived from a crooked jambu laut (Syzygium grande) tree. With a population of 1,853 people, the village is popular among locals due to its serene, laid-back surroundings defined by towering coconut trees and white, sandy beach. There are also a few wooden houses on the beach dedicated for travellers seeking a peaceful hideout accompanied by soothing breeze from the sea. Bris Sand In contrast to the calming atmosphere of Kampung Jambu Bongkok, this newly-discovered hidden gem located near the village offers a more dramatic and surreal ambiance, where travellers can find an otherworldly forest, pretty much along the lines of some dark, fantasy movies, making it an Instagramworthy spot. Manis Sokmo Enterprise With 15 years of experience, Suri Abdul Ghani has consistently been producing nisan nira (sugar taken from coconut blossom). With a five-acre coconut grove just at her backyard, she can produce up to eight to ten thousand pieces of nisan nira a day. Besides nisan nira, she also sells dodol daun palas (chewy, toffee-like confection made from palm sugar and wrapped in fan palm leaves), coconut candy, coconut vinegar and nira juice, all sourced from the grove. Kekabu Island Designated as a family recreational park, travellers can expect to see families with children flocking this area in droves, especially during weekends. The park is spacious and has various facilities such as toilets, restaurants, playground and more. Lucky travellers could even witness fishing boats by the beach and fishermen coming back from fishing, which make the experience more memorable. Traditional Gasing Tournament For decades, gasing (traditional giant top spinning) has been the locals’ favourite game. Thus, a tournament is organised annually among teams from various villages to find the longest-standing
spinning gasing. Made from penaga wood, a gasing that weighs up to five kilograms can sometimes spin non-stop for over an hour! Gamelan Dance Performance Gamelan is believed to have been introduced to Terengganu from RiauLingga through Johor and Pahang. It was once performed exclusively in palaces and often regarded as a dance that exudes grace, dignity and beauty. Nowadays, it is performed during state functions, including Sultan’s birthday and cultural events. Warisan Sari is an organisation that fully commits to preserving the tradition in the hope that future generations will get to see and appreciate it as one of Terengganu’s cultural heritages. Warisan Sari stages on-demand gamelan dance and music performance on Saturdays. For more information, travellers can contact +6 013 982 8747. WHERE TO EAT Terradala (http://www.terradala.com/) From the outside, this place looks like a heritage museum, but actually serves more than that. The name means ‘The Land of Dala Flowers’, where travellers can admire various traditional ornaments and designs used in Malay architecture. Travellers can even savour traditional delicacies and snacks, besides purchasing exclusive merchandises. Medan Selera Ikan Bakar Kuala Ibai This food court is uniquely located under the Chendering Bridge. It has been a locals’ favourite haunt for quite sometime due to the lip-smacking dishes served with the view of the river. Seafood menu is especially popular here, thus travellers are recommended to try the grilled fish, sweet sour fish and more. Uptown Kontena (https://www.facebook.com/ UptownKontena/) As its name suggests, this place is made of old, recycled containers that were then refurbished into hipster cafes and bundle shops. Various kinds of food
can be found here, ranging from local to international. What makes it more special is its beach-front location! Singgang Budu Restaurant Singgang is a type of dish popular among the locals. This watery dish is simple to make yet tasty. The ingredients include ginger, garlic, turmeric, galangal, dried tamarind peel and fish. This restaurant in Kuala Terengganu serves among the best singgang in town, besides other equally delectable dishes that make it a perfect stop for lunch. Keropok Losong Adik Beradik No trip to Terengganu is complete without tasting its all-time favourite snack, keropok lekor (traditional fish cracker made from fish, flour, salt and sugar and usually served with chilli sauce). This place is said to be among the first to sell it, approximately 40 years ago! Since then, the family business has become successful in attracting not only locals but international travellers too. Good to know During the old days, the Malays used beach sand for frying as an alternative to using cooking oil. The sand is first cleaned several times, then dried under the sun before being heated on a frying pan. The method, however, does not work with any other methods of cooking. To witness the demonstration of this type of cooking using sand, travellers can contact Terrapuri Heritage Village. On the opposite page, clockwise from Top Left: Two girls demonstrating the old method of cooking using sand; Suri Abdul Ghani holding up nisan nira, one of Manis Sokmo’s products; Singgang, a popular Terengganu dish that can be savoured at Singgang Budu Restaurant; One of the workers working preparing keropok lekor at Keropok Losong Adik Beradik; Delicious snacks, including the popular ikan celup tepung, served at Pantai Tok Kite; Nasi dagang that can be savoured at Terradala.
Top: Terrapuri, home to over 100 year-old traditional Terengganu Malay villas for travellers to stay. Middle: The facade of Permai Hotel. Bottom: The facade of Primula Beach Hotel.
WHERE TO STAY Terrapuri Heritage Village (http://www.terrapuri.com/) Living up to its name that means â€˜Land of Palacesâ€™, this classic resort has 20 heritage villas, each of them distinct and carries its own story. These villas, believed to be around 100 to 200 years old, were reassembled on this resort from various places across Terengganu. Staying here feels so relaxing, with myriads of activities offered such as cycling around the villages, getting a traditional massage at the spa, visiting firefly sanctuary or suntanning on Penarik Beach, a few minutes away by foot. Primula Beach Hotel (https://www.primulahotels.com/) Located in Kuala Terengganu, this beach-front property has been operating since 1984 and boasts 248 rooms. Thanks to its strategic location, travellers will find it convenient since many attractions are located nearby. It has a large, family-friendly swimming pool, and those who are active can even play volleyball or football by the beach. The hotel is ideal for business because it provides ample space for meetings, seminars, conferences, conventions and wedding receptions. Permai Hotel (https://www.permaihotelkt.com.my/) Located 15 minutes away from Sultan Mahmud Airport, this hotel has 220 well-equipped rooms, including scenic garden, outdoor swimming pool, gymnasium, coffee house and business centre. Be it for leisure or business, the hotel is ideal for both.
Hotels & Resorts
citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang:
Affordable Luxury like You have Never Seen Te x t b y J U H A N B I N K A M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y C I T I Z E N M K U A L A L U M P U R B U K I T B I N TA N G
Ever since the first award-winning hotel brand citizenM opened in 2008 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the brand has been the choice among mobile citizens, whom the brand refers to as urbane, tech-savvy, open-minded, frequent travellers constantly seeking smart luxuries to enrich their lives such as personalisation in their accommodation and authentic cultural immersion.
The recent opening of a citizenM hotel in Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a breath of fresh air to a row of non-descript buildings flanking Jalan Pudu leading towards Bukit Bintang, one of Kuala Lumpur’s major arteries. Since citizenM’s policy is to celebrate local community, the brand conscientiously captures the identity of the neighbourhood by sporting a colourful hard-to-miss facade showcasing the faces of selected Malaysians with creative fashionable twist, attesting to the hotel’s desire to assimilate with the host community while maintaining its international outlook. It is also just 100 metres from the bustling Jalan Alor, popular for street food, openair restaurants and terraces. Those who stay at the hotel are recommended to utilise e-hailing service or public transport to get around, so that they can immediately engage with their surroundings on a more personal level.
Group, a Malaysia-based integrated hospitality asset owner and developer.
Designed by architecture firm Concrete, with interiors assiduously touched by Bricks Studio, both based in Amsterdam, citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang is the first citizenM property to open in South East Asia and the third in Asia. Following the hotel brand’s Dutch DNA, guests will find the property artistically designed, inspirational, and hip yet functional and pragmatic. Interestingly, despite the property being designed by Dutch companies, citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang is actually owned by Cornerstone Partners
citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang promotes coworking and co-living, ditching the typical conventional hotel layout, similar to working in a welcoming and stylish living room. The hotel lobby sports an open plan that ingeniously integrates the zones for self check-in / check-out, dining (served by an outlet aptly named canteenM) and Vitra-furnished Living Room. Such layout is an extension of the hotel brand’s zesty personality to get the most out of life by blurring the line between business and pleasure.
Unconventional layout and staff Though the hotel is located along Jalan Pudu’s main drag, its inside is remarkably soundproofed and shielded from external noise. Similar to stepping into a well-conceived and homely art space, guests would be able to spot the staircase area where a mini gallery showcasing art pieces from emerging Malaysian artists such as Azizi Latiff and Afiq Faris is located alongside iconic pieces collected from around the world. The hotel’s ultra-modern interior is tastefully curated, treated with splash of colours and receive generous amounts of daylight. The carpeting leading to the guestrooms features a stylised map of KL to give it a sense of place.
Guests are free to explore every corner of the hotel to stimulate their creative juices and get them flowing, making citizenM ideal for getting work done or conducting business meetings, including socialising. Various communal spaces are available within the hotel for people to mingle and do meetings, especially inside the three creative meeting rooms dubbed as societyM on the mezzanine floor above the lobby. The largest room is set up in theatre style for up to 40 participants, while the other two smaller rooms accommodate 14 persons each. The Living Room is my personal favourite space: I could simply pick up a book, remove my footwear, put my feet up and blissfully snuggle in an armchair or a corner of a sofa with abandon without having anybody passing judgment or giving me the evil eye towards my overly casual behaviour. At the same time, I can conveniently order satisfying food and drinks from canteenM whenever I feel peckish. Good to know: Non-staying guests or day-visitors can use facilities by purchasing the daily pass, which allows them to use the facilities on site. On top of the hotel’s unusual layout, another element that breathes personality into the property is the hotel’s team of youthful, energetic, multi-talented and multi-lingual employees called ‘ambassadors’, selected for their sparkling personalities and genuine passion for all things travel. These ambassadors are given free rein to fully be themselves (within reason, of course) when they are at work and eager to share with guests on whatever best can be found in the city, for instance attractions and local cocktails. These ambassadors are claimed to be multi-taskers, neither pigeon-holed into specific departments nor memorise or repeat scripts when serving guests. All of them are trained in helping guests check-in / check-out, dealing with luggage, and assisting with housekeeping, even preparing beverages. Innovative and futuristic citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang incorporates the latest technology to boost efficiency and enhance guests’ experience. To eliminate the usual queues at reception, there are no formal check-in / check-out counters. Instead, guests do the check-in themselves at the designated kiosk by quickly scanning their booking from the phone, taking the key, and straight away whisk to their respective rooms, all completed as quickly as one minute. Checking-out is equally a breeze. When in doubt, ambassadors are always on hand to assist guests. The guestrooms are compact and exude futuristic space age vibe that comes with exceedingly oversized king bed with luxury mattress covered in crisp linen, efficient bathroom with rain shower, and toilet with double-flushing system. Fixtures, plugs and switches are well-thought-out and strategically
placed; at least three multi-standard plug points and one local plug point are deployed to each room so that guests can charge their devices simultaneously. Each room can be controlled by an iPad, allowing guests to change the mood of the room right from their fingertips. Guests are provided access to superfast free Wi-Fi connectivity as well. Tip: If you can, ask for rooms that face the courtyard – greenery bathed in natural light is always soothing to look at. Conclusion To sum it all up, citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang is well on its way to becoming one of KL’s lifestyle hubs, offering upmarket yet affordable stay through cutting-edge technology and competent employees who deliver genuine service. It is a property that is stimulating yet grounded, efficient, intuitive, forward-looking, sophisticated, global in thought and local in action, which are all the attributes of the kind of travellers that it intends to attract… Visit https://www.citizenm.com/destinations/kuala-lumpur/ kuala-lumpur-bukit-bintang-hotel and https://www.citizenm. com/ for more info.
Hotels & Resorts
Beating the Heat at
Gloria Residences Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I Images by GLORIA RESIDENCES ION DELEMEN GENTING HIGHLANDS
As the dry and hot weather in the Klang Valley intensifies, so does my hibernation mode. I often find myself cocooned in the comfort of my home, dreaming of a more pleasant weather like spring in a wisteria-draped London. But then I start to feel restless, and since Europe is far away from where I am currently based, I made a quick escape to the closest destination with cooler climate that I could think of: Genting Highlands.
My abode there is Gloria Residences Ion Delemen Genting Highlands, the slick serviced-apartments approximately 6,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by verdant rainforest. Naturally, serenity is included in the stay experience – one might wake up to the sight of misty highlands, so peaceful that the only noises you hear at the balcony would be the chirping birds and occasional chatters of the guests lounging at the Sky Garden. Even the lobby smells lovely, swaying guests into an absolute calmness. The residences encapsulate 331 unassuming units ranging from Deluxe Studio to Four Bedroom Penthouse. Mine is the former: a contemporary lodging decorated in various shades of grey. A coffee table and sofa make a cosy area for downtime in front of the television, while refreshments can be sourced from the tea and coffee facility. If that’s not enough, a convenient store is also available nearby for guests to stock up their snacks. Safety box, refrigerator, hairdryer, iron and
ironing board come as standard as well; of course, the laundry service is available to compensate the absence of washing machine in each unit. Rosslyn France is the brand of choice for the property’s bath amenities – perhaps a tad too strong-scented for sensitive users. The property boasts all of the perks of a hotel, from concierge service to housekeeping, yet is more spacious than an average hotel. Active guests would enjoy the well-equipped fitness centre, while families will find the Kid’s Club a fun area to let their little ones roam free. To relax and unwind during the stay, head to the sauna or the heated indoor swimming pool lined with plentiful loungers overlooking the First World Plaza. At the outdoor, guests can enjoy the property’s nature walk, flying fox and rock-climbing activities available for booking at the front desk. To cater to their corporate guests, the property also offers 12 meeting rooms suitable for events or functions of various
sizes. Breakfast at the all-day-dining restaurant, HOME, is a traditional spread including Malaysian classics, made-to-order eggs, cereals and plenty other selections that should satisfy most; as for lunch, I enjoyed a chicken sandwich with a cup of handcrafted coffee at the deli-style Hotspot. At night, I dined at The Tavern in the Sky with the beautiful cinematic view of the Titiwangsa Range, framed by its large floorto-ceiling windows. The restaurant specialises in Thai food, and in all honesty, I think the meals served there are some of the best Thai food I’ve ever tasted. The chicken feet skin salad was exceptional, while the chilli lime steam squid (Thai Assam style) explodes with flavours, leaving me intoxicated from each bite. For guests who prefer Western or Chinese offerings, Kembali Kitchen, which is located next door, also does not disappoint and is often packed with satisfied patrons.
During my stay, I noticed that the property has a diverse team that takes care of the guests â€“ from the front desk to those manning the restaurants â€“ all consistently demonstrate friendliness and efficiency to make sure that each guest has a memorable experience. Venturing out is not complicated, either, since there is a shuttle bus that takes guests to the First World Plaza, where abundance of entertainment and shopping indulgences await. It is also the place where one can take a short cable car ride to Genting Premium Outlet. The residences are often fully-booked on weekends, but I reckon, it is going to be a lot more popular once the nearby theme park by Genting is officially launched. The new G-Luxe by Gloria Genting Highlands is also set to open in November 2019, giving guests more accommodation options when staying in Genting Highlands. For more information about Gloria Residences Ion Delemen Genting Highlands, please visit www.gloriahotels.com/hotel.do?id=104&lg=1
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Vivanta Rebak Island, Langkawi
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N J WA
Te x t & I m a g e b y N j w a
I am a recording artiste and songwriter based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Berklee College of Music, Boston. I lived in Melbourne, Australia and New York for a couple of years. I have been blessed to be able to travel to different countries to spread my music for instance Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. I’m currently working on my album and I plan to tour again next year!
Njwa on travels . My favourite destination(s): Paris, France; Bangkok, Thailand; Chefchaouen and Marrakesh, Morocco; Istanbul, Turkey . My dream destination(s): Reykjavik, Iceland . My must-have(s) in the carry on: Lip balm - the air is always dry on the plane, so I always have a lip balm with me to keep my lips moisturised; Gaviscon - I have gastric problems so I never leave home without it; Lavender essential oil - I’m a nervous flyer so this helps to calm me down before and during the flight . My worst nightmare during travel: bad turbulence! . My favourite Malaysian spot(s): my husband took me to Pulau Perhentian Kecil for our third anniversary and the water was absolutely beautiful; Penang is another favourite destination of mine - food is always great! . My best meal taken in Malaysia: I’ve had so many amazing meals here, it’s impossible to pick only one. Assam Laksa in Penang is always a winner. Banana Leaf from Acha Curry House in PJ has never let me down because its sambal ikan bilis adds a nice crunchy element to every bite and just the right amount of kick.
. . . . .
Malaysia is special because… we are multicultural, so you can learn about so many diverse cultures and traditions, including food! Solo or group travel? I always travel with my family, so we’re a big group. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to bond. My husband is also a great travel companion so at least once a year we will travel somewhere just the two of us. Aisle or window seat? Aisle seat See it all or take it easy? Take it easy! I love just walking around and exploring a city without knowing exactly where we’re going. I always discover little gems this way. I travel for…widening my views of the world, learning about different cultures and marvelling in the beauty that God has created.
Njwa in 30 seconds . Night owl or early-riser? Night owl . Back to nature or city slicker? Both . One book everyone should read? I’m not much of a reader although this is something I’m trying to change. . What is the last thing you Googled? Reykjavik . What’s on your playlist right now? Pink Sweat$, H.E.R., ROSALIA, Khruangbin . What is the moment you’re most proud? Every time I complete something, for instance my degree, my album or my songs. . What’s your biggest pet peeve? Tardiness . Whose brain would you like to have had? I’m honestly happy with mine . Life is too short to... not see the beauty God has created, so travel and see the world!
Kuta Mandalika Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Lombok
View from top: Kuta Lombok Mandalika
Mandalika: The Ultimate Paradise in the Heart of Lombok Mandalika Beach, also known as Kuta Beach due to itâ€™s location near the Kuta Village, is one of the popular beaches in the Central Lombok Regency. This name comes from a folklore about a legend of Princess Mandalika, who threw herself into the sea and transformed into a sea worm called Nyale. The allures of this beach include its clear water with calm, unthreatening waves. At low tide, it will be easy to spot marine life such as algae, starfish and sea cucumbers that live on the beach. This is also where visitors may find active corals that expands seawards. Another attraction of Mandalika Beach is its white pepperseed-like sand that fits perfectly with the background of green hills, especially during the rainy season. Naturally, this also makes it an ideal location for photography enthusiasts who love to capture stunning landscape shots of the coastline,
Scenery from the top of Merese Hill, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara
the sea and the hills. Merese Hill near the beach is one of the popular spots to achieve this. Mandalika Beach is set to be a new beach icon in Lombok after Senggigi Beach in West Lombok. It sits within the Mandalika area, which has been recognised as the Special Economic Zone (KEK) or place of natural protection in Indonesia. The development of the Mandalika Resort is also in progress, along with an integrated tourism centre for Central Lombok equipped with world class tourism infrastructure and facilities. #WonderfulIndonesia. Enjoying Kuta Beach at Mandalika, Lombok, Indonesia
Admiring the beautiful seascape view of Tanjung Aan Beach and Mandalika area, Lombok, Indonesia
Find the best packages and deals about Mandalika only on www.indonesia.travel, discover now!
At the time of writing, parts of Southeast Asia (mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) are blanketed by haze due to the hot, dry weather...
Published on Sep 24, 2019
At the time of writing, parts of Southeast Asia (mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) are blanketed by haze due to the hot, dry weather...