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Malaysia Remains Top Destination for Muslim Travellers in GMTI 2022 Report Rentak Selangor Kita Ke Kampung National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030 (NAP 2.0) 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit The State Of Selangor In 2022! Be A Smart Consumer Be A Sustainable Consumer The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Religious Affairs, Consumerism and Halal Industry 8 Places to Visit in Kuala Selangor
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Interview with YB Arifin bin Deraman, Terengganu State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Culture Interview with Mr Fadli Yusof bin Haji Zakaria, Terengganu State Tourism Department Director
Rentak Selangor 6.0: A Kaleidoscopic Spectacle of Cultures
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Halal Selangor Highlights the Diversity of Muslim-Friendly Businesses in Selangor IT’S TIME FOR PAHANG! 9 Underrated Family-friendly Attractions in Perak Worth Exploring 10 Places to Explore in Putrajaya Experiencing Ramadan in Kelantan Playing Tourist in Kuala Lumpur A Culinary Adventure in Kuching 11 Places to Go Food Hunting When in Kuala Terengganu
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Feast Your Eyes and Palates at Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur Positano Risto, where Quality and Craftsmanship are on Full Show
Hotels & Resorts 116. 122. 128.
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi: A Heavenly
Tropical Hideaway Like No Other The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa: The Perfect Getaway to Find Your Balance A Sassy Stay Experience at Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah
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Digital Illustration by Rain Hamzah (Facebook: Rain Hamzah
It is time to hit the road again. After what seems like the longest time of soldiering through the adversity and uncertainties that come with COVID-19 pandemic, we’re happy to say the wait is reaching an end. Travel has now progressively increased as more countries are now opening up to travellers, and the hospitality industry is ready to welcome them again despite facing reopening challenges. In this issue, we explore the many purposes travellers often take into consideration when selecting destinations. For some, ultimate relaxation is key. Others seek ways to satisfy their adrenaline fix and cultural curiosity, while the rest are simply on the lookout for the best places to eat. Whatever your goal is, we have curated unique and accessible recommendations in the following pages to satisfy those longings.
On that note, we would like to point out that we continue to highlight destinations within Malaysia because just like the rest of the world, the local tourism industry was severely affected by the pandemic, hence worth supporting. For the time being, we advocate travellers to continue exploring Malaysia first before flying off overseas. Our writers have explored ways to unplug and enjoy the off-beaten paths in Pahang (page 60); the family-friendly getaway in Perak (page 68); the green metropolis called Putrajaya (page 74); the culturallyrich Kelantan (page 84); and our colourful capital, Kuala Lumpur (page 92). For foodies at heart who are constantly mapping out their meals, we highlight two towns in Malaysia, which are Kuching (page 96) and Kuala Terengganu (page 104), both are already popular for their unique cultural identities but still under the radar for their culinary offerings. Now, they can be your next favourite gastronomic destinations. Closer to Klang Valley, we review Trip Advisor’s number one Halal Italian restaurant, Positano Risto (page 112) and visit the only Condé Nast establishment in South East Asia, the dazzling Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur (page 110). And as for the staycation ideas, we team up with our friends at Marriott International and bring you three tropical sanctuaries in Langkawi that not only deliver in terms of impeccable design and services, but also replete with cultural immersions for a memorable and satisfying vacation. The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi (page 116) and The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa (page 122) allow guests to bask in opulence, while their vibrant sister, Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah (page 128), retains its playful and sassy side, suitable for the younger crowd. Gaya Travel team had fun recalling our travel experiences from the places we visited for this issue, and hopefully when you read these stories, they will remind you again of the joys of travel and persuade you to pack your bags and go off somewhere soon... See you in the next issue, and safe travels! JUHAN KAMARUDDIN@JEREMY KHALIL
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01 Body Temperature Screening All travellers must undergo body temperature screening before entering the terminal building. If your body temperature exceeds 37.5 C, you will not be allowed to proceed. Do check on the requirements for any additional documents or medical tests i.e., COVID-19 swab test that is required before arriving at the airport. O
he resurgence of the COVID-19 cases early this year has Tresulted in the reinstatement of the ban on interstate
travel. However, the public are still allowed to move about if they have the necessary documentation and justiﬁcation for their travel. Thus, it is crucial for travellers to adhere strictly to all safety measures during their journey including scanning the MySejahtera QR code before entering any premises. As the main airport operator in Malaysia, Malaysia Airports has always prioritised the safety and security of the airport as they look forward to hosting joyful connections for all travellers that passes through its gates. Hence, the implementation of strict safety guidelines at all airports will ensure safe and seamless travel experience for all guests.
02 Contactless Airport Experience As part of the digital transformation efforts, Malaysia Airports has deployed face recognition technology and contactless security screening at checkpoints to minimise physical contact during your journey throughout the airports.
03 Sneeze Guard Protector To further ensure your safety, sneeze guard protectors have been installed at the airports as an additional safety barrier.
04 Physical Distancing Markers Keeping a safe distance from others is key to breaking the chain of COVID-19 infection. As such, you will ﬁnd physical distancing markers throughout the airports to help you maintain a 1-metre physical distancing from others.
07 UV Escalator Handrail Steriliser The installation of UV handrail sterilisers at the escalators is to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the passengers. The device acts to eliminate germs and disinfect the handrails 24/7.
Good Personal Hygiene
Ultraviolet Chambers (UVC) at the Washrooms Airport washrooms are equipped with UVC device to interrupt the transmission of airborne infectious pathogens through the technology of ultraviolet. It is also worth noting that they always maintain a strict cleaning schedule for the facilities throughout all airports.
Wash your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser frequently to reduce the risk of infection. Hand sanitisers can be easily found throughout the airports.
08 Go Cashless It is highly recommended for you to go cashless and utilise the contactless payment to minimise physical interaction. Malaysia Airports premises accept major credit cards and online payment applications. Your body temperature will be screened prior to entering any of the retail outlets.
Automated UV Disinfection Tunnel at Baggage Conveyor Belt All arriving bags will now be sanitised automatically as it passes through the conveyor system. This will mitigate the risk from infectious airborne microbial contaminants not only for passengers but also the ground staff handling the baggage.
We hope to see the decline of COVID-19 daily cases for the interstate movement ban to be lifted and start to travel again soon! In the meantime, do not forget to adhere to all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and safety guidelines provided at all airports and together break the chain of COVID-19 infection.
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#44. Perak Glitters in 2017 GTN Issue 12.1
#47. Belum Beckons in Harmony GTN Issue 12.4
At the time of writing, Malaysia had just shifted to the endemic phase of COVID-19; in fact, the world is entering its third year dealing with the pandemic. Honestly, we even thought that the Movement Control Order (MCO) – which restricted Malaysians’ movement and closed the Malaysian border to control the spread of COVID-19 – was never going to end! With reassurances by the Malaysian government that there will be no retracting of this decision, Malaysians have been actively making travel plans. While some are braving international travel at the get go, we feel that it is best to go local first. Most of the Malaysian hospitality industry players have been badly affected by the MCO, and some even went out of business. We are glad to see that businesses are fast picking up when the interstate travel ban was lifted. After ten years of active international travelling, we felt this is a good time to explore domestic travelling, and help our local industry players. So, the first question that comes to mind is: WHERE SHALL WE GO? We shortlisted cities that are within two hours’ drive away from Klang Valley. Should it be Melaka, for some good ol’ Nyonya
Peranakan food? Or Port Dickson for a quick beach getaway and a good dose of fiery masak lemak cili api kampung fare? Or maybe a laidback getaway to Ipoh for some ice-cold desserts since the weather has been too hot lately?
GAYA Traveller First article on Perak in Gaya Travel Nusantara GTN Issue 4.3
Alas, we settled on Ipoh, the capital of Perak state. Undeniably, Ipoh is a convenient getaway destination for Klang Valley residents. Like Melaka, Ipoh is just a short drive away from the capital with heaps of good food and attractions to offer. Some may opt for a day trip, but we opted for a two-night getaway because we are just not wired for daytrips!
Ipoh Fun Facts » The name Ipoh is derived from a local tree, Pohon Epu. Its poisonous sap was used by indigenous people to coat the tips of their blowpipe darts for hunting. » Ipoh replaced Taiping as the capital of Perak in 1937. » Ipoh is in the middle of the Kinta Valley, on the bank of the Kinta River and the confluence of Pinji River and Pari River. The city is surrounded by iconic limestone hills. » Ipoh people are called Ipohites. » “Ipoh mali” (loosely translated; from Ipoh) is the nation’s favourite comeback phrase whenever “Ipoh” is mentioned in a conversation.
Restoran New Hollywood
Ipoh MUST EAT!
Image By: https://mroof.mboutiquehotels.com
Where to Stay
Since everything is within a short distance away from each other, choosing a place to stay in Ipoh is not an issue for us, as long as the accommodation is comfortable and comes with adequate facilities. Ipoh has plenty of lodging options. From hip boutique hotels in the Old Town to high rise hotels and apartments, Ipoh has many accommodation options at competitive prices.
Gaya Travel Nusantara’s Team accomodation of choice whenever we are in Ipoh: M Roof Hotel & Residences.
Images By: Bond Holdings Sdn Bhd.
What Brought Us to Ipoh? Anuar Zain! 024
Guest of honor His Royal Highness Raja Jaafar Ibni Almarhum Raja Muda Musa, The Raja Muda Perak Darul Ridzuan with his Consort Her Royal Highness Raja Puan Besar Perak, Raja Nazhatul Shima Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, His Royal Highness Raja Iskandar Dzulkarnain Ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris A’fifullah Shah, The Raja Di-Hilir Perak Darul Ridzuan and his Consort Raja Puan Muda Perak, Her Royal Highness Tunku Soraya Binti Sultan Al-Haj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.
Besides ice cold desserts as the pull factor, we received news that our favourite crooner the legendary Anuar Zain will be performing in Ipoh. Since we are his fans and would catch his shows whenever possible, Ipoh seems like the natural choice for our first official interstate travel destination. As interstate travelling, the government has also eased restrictions against public events like concerts. Many rejoiced upon hearing the good news, since it meant that life could somewhat get close to pre-Covid times. After almost two years of being cooped up, Malaysians are ready to party. Anuar Zain charity dinner show “Karena Aku Cinta” took place on 5 March 2022 at Ipoh International Convention Centre (IICC). The organisers, which were Bond Holdings Sdn Bhd, Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) and Sycal Ventures Berhad, pledged that the proceeds from the show will go towards the families of fallen frontliners, including artistes who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hoped that the dinner show help to kickstart Perak’s arts and tourism scene, as well as promote the 32,000 feet squared convention centre as the state’s latest landmark.
900 fans attended the dinner show, with ample spacing in between to adhere to COVID-19 standard operating procedures. With only six seats to a table, it is clear that the organisers were serious in keeping everyone safe while enjoying the one-hour dinner show. The show opened with a surprise opening act, the multi-talented Adibah Noor, who sang two songs to warm up the crowd. Then, Anuar came out mesmerising the audience with his still powerful vocals and good interaction with the audience, which are his hallmarks. He kept the audience entertained by belting out 10 songs non-stop. The show closed with another surprise: a performance by His Royal Highness Raja Iskandar Dzulkarnain Ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris A’fifullah Shah, The Raja Di-Hilir Perak Darul Ridzuan, who sang and played the guitar skilfully. The charity dinner show raised a total of MYR130,000 and the audience went home with big smiles on their faces and
wonderful memories. We are truly shocked by the sudden demise of Adibah Noor on 18 June 2022 due to Ovarian Cancer. We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the late entertainer’s family. May she be placed among the righteous. Thank you Adibah Noor, for sharing your talent and love to the world.
“Karena Aku Cinta” Charity Dinner Setlist 1. Kau Bunga Cintaku 2. Keabadian Cinta 3. Karena Aku Cinta 4. Jera (Agnes Monica) 5. Jangan Bersedih Lagi 6. Hanya Milikmu 7. Bila Resah 8. Lelaki ini 9. Ketulusan hati 10. Sedetik Lebih
MUST-EATS As recommended by Ipoh people!
We prefer to ask our friends, especially natives, for their favourite food haunts at their hometowns. We thank our friends Sara Naquia and Aidil Rusli for their inputs in our food quest. A special thank you to our Ed Junaidi who drove and guided us everywhere.
We then spent the rest of our stay in Ipoh by exploring this charming city. We especially love the old buildings and the nostalgic vibe that reminds us greatly of Muar, where we spent our early childhood years. Ipoh during weekends, however, is bustling and full of out-of-towners!
A nice observation to make is that Ipoh is split into two by the Kinta River. On the west side of the city is the Old Town where most of Ipoh’s shophouses, heritage buildings and museums are situated. On the east side of the city is the New Town, where parks, gardens and most of the city’s popular restaurants and hawker centres can be found. Ipoh Old Town can be easily explored on foot. If you were to drive, make sure you use Park@Perak mobile app, which is convenient to use and puts your mind at ease while discovering the city.
Ipoh’s food culture is driven by its majority Chinese population. Hence a visit to Ipoh is deemed not complete without a kopitiam (traditional Chinese coffee shop) meal. Did you know Ipoh is the birthplace of the famous white coffee? At the same time, the kopitiam perfectly captures Malaysia’s multiculturism at its best because locals of different races or backgrounds go to kopitiam regularly for their meals. Ipoh is indeed a perfect getaway consisting of good food with good company.
KOPITIAMS AND FOOD COURTS » Restoran New Hollywood Perhaps this is the most popular kopitiam whenever Ipoh is mentioned. Expect a long queue during weekend mornings, so be smart with your timing. GAYA Traveller Recommends: Hong Kong style Chee Cheong Fun, Curry Noodles, Char Kuay Teow, and Cream Caramel Pudding.
38 Lorong Cecil Rae, Taman Canning 31400 Ipoh Opens: 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily » Restoran Vegas This kopitiam is located behind New Hollywood and serves equally good food selection. GAYA Traveller Recommends: Char Kuay Teow and iced white coffee. 1, Lorong Cecil Rae, Taman Canning 31400 Ipoh Opens: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. » Medan Selera Stadium Sara Recommends: Char Kuay Teow stall facing the Aquatic Centre. Jalan Ghazali Jawi Ipoh Garden Kompleks Sukan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh Opens: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. » Pasar Tani Kampung Simee On the way to our kopitiam breakfast, we chanced upon a Pasar Tani (farmer’s market) just outside Stadium Perak and decided to make a quick detour. We found Perak’s traditional snacks (Putu Perak, Putu Piring and Kuih Dangai) here; they are so good because they are all freshly made on site. Opens: Every Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. DIM SUM Dim Sum for breakfast is another must when one is in Ipoh. There are not many dim sum restaurants that are suitable for Muslims, but we managed to track some Halal ones (certified by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, also known as JAKIM).
» Canning Dim Sum GAYA Traveller Recommends: EVERYTHING! We totally love this restaurant and every little morsel we tasted is as good as they look. It was such a nice treat for us. 1, Lebuh Cecil Rae, Taman Canning 31400 Ipoh Opens: Daily except Wednesdays, 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. We only had time for one dim sum breakfast, but here are two other options just in case you still have some space in your stomach and have time to check them out. » Dimsum Café Greentown 10, Persiaran Greentown 4 Pusat Perdagangan Greentown 30450 Ipoh Opens: Weekdays 9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. » Jom Dim Sum Greentown 19, Persiaran Greentown 4 30450 Ipoh Opens: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. daily NASI GANJA/ KANDAR Of course, Ipoh’s cuisines are not only limited to Chinese fares. Travellers will be thrilled to know that the city is well known for its Nasi Ganja or Nasi Kandar, being close to Penang. Restaurants serving Nasi Ganja or Nasi Kandar are aplenty in Ipoh, and the three eateries listed below come highly recommended. » Kedai Kopi Yong Suan 2 Jalan Yang Kalsom 30250 Ipoh Opens: Sunday – Friday 9:30am – 6:00 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. » Nasi Kandar Ramli Pekan Lama Rumah Pangsa Jalan Bijih Timah
MBI 125, 30000 Ipoh Opens: Daily 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. » Majeedia Nasi Kandar 66,58 Jalan Leong Boon Swee 31650 Ipoh Opens: Daily 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. CHICKEN RICE Chicken with beansprouts on the side is another popular Ipoh dish not to be missed. Although Hainanese Chicken Rice can easily be found in Klang Valley, we wanted to find out if what we read many years ago about Ipoh having the best tasting tofu and beansprouts in the country is true; we truly weren’t disappointed. » Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice 107 Jalan Raja Musa Aziz, Kampung Jawa 30300 Ipoh Opens: Monday - Friday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Saturday - Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. » Nasi Ayam Fuziah As recommended by Aidil, Nasi Ayam Fuziah has been around since 1980. When a business has been in existence that long, the food must surely be good! 78, Jalan Mustapa Al-Bakri, Taman Jubilee 30300 Ipoh Opens: Sunday - Friday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. DESSERTS & SNACKS Ipoh’s sweltering hot weather calls for cold desserts, and we never missed the chance to enjoy some! » Funny Mountain Soya Bean 50 Jalan Mustapa Al-Bakri, Taman Jubilee 30300 Ipoh Opens: Daily except Tuesdays 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. » Rojak N Cendol This place was recommended by Anuar Zain himself when we asked him which cendol shop he patronised when he was in Ipoh. Our verdict? He’s right – the
cendol here tastes more delicious than what we would normally get in Klang Valley! 17, Jalan Tun Sambanthan 30000 Ipoh Opens: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily » Deen CT Corner Cendol 21B Jalan Mustapa Al-Bakri, Taman Jubilee 30300 Ipoh Opens: Daily except Fridays, 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. » Bits & Bobs (Ais Kepal) 99 Jalan Sultan Yussuf (Kong Heng Square) 30000 Ipoh Opens: Monday 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays. WORTH TRYING » Mee Daud Mat Jasak This eatery’s Yong Tau Foo in Curry Noodles make a wonderful light evening meal for us, while the Mee Kicap is a tad salty for our liking. Mind you, all of the Mee Kicap we had in Ipoh were salty, so maybe it is due to our low tolerance for salt. 1 Jalan Datuk Onn Jaafar Taman Jubilee 30300 Ipoh Opens: Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. – 9:30pm; Friday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. – 9:45 p.m., Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. » Miker Pizza Miker has several branches all over Ipoh, and their pizzas come highly recommended by friends. We love the thin crust pizzas! 1, Jalan Tun Sambanthan 30020 Ipoh Opens: Daily 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Where to go? We are impressed with Perak State Government’s effort in turning Perak into a tourism destination. Ipoh is a clean city, and all of the attractions we went to are well kept and well planned. Thanks to social media, we noticed that more visitors are making Perak as their holiday destination.
» Kong Heng Square and Concubine Lane These two attractions are right next to each other, and visitors flock to this part of Ipoh especially during weekends. Have fun hunting for street art murals scattered all over Ipoh’s Old Town. This area is like a free entry to an amusement parks. Every corner is a good photo opportunity. For something unique and quirky, stop by at the BookXcess’s basement in Kong Heng Square and step into Yasmin Ahmad Museum. BookXcess is housed in a former bank, complete with bank vaults and safety deposit boxes. » Kinta Riverwalk Take a nice night stroll along the Riverwalk, its ambiance reminded us of Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon. Apart from the three beautifully lit up iconic bridges, Kinta River is lined with colourful decorative trees that add to the cheerful atmosphere. There are shops and stalls selling arts and crafts, including food and drinks. There is an entertainment space for children too, with bicycles and electric toy cars available for rent. Address: Jalan Lim Bo Seng 30000 Ipoh
» Ipoh Night Market This is a huge area with many stalls selling food and other items under one roof. Parking is aplenty and free of charge. This is a nice place to chill at night. There are buskers performing on stage while visitors enjoy their dinner. Aidil mentioned that the Ayam Taugeh (chicken with beansprouts) here is delicious. Lot 158408 Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah Utara 30350 Ipoh Opens: Daily 4:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. See you again, Perak! All in all, we enjoyed our time in Ipoh. Our tummies were never hungry, and the weather was agreeable too. Ipoh makes a nice getaway for everyone, but we would probably come back during weekdays just to escape the weekend crowd! Other parts of Perak are just waiting to be discovered as well, so we look forward to venturing to other towns in Perak when time permits.
YB Arifin bin Deraman Interview with Terengganu State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Culture
Gaya Travel team sits down with Terengganu State ExCo for Tourism and Culture The Honourable (YB) Ariffin bin Deraman for an update on the state’s plan to revive the tourism industry.
The importance of tourism to Terengganu “The Terengganu state government’s main concern is the people’s happiness and livelihood, and that is why raising the economic standard of the rakyat (citizens of Terengganu) is one of the state government’s priorities. Tourism has always been vital to Terengganu’s economy because it is one of the means for the people to gain income,” says YB Ariffin, kickstarting the interview. During the movement restrictions imposed back in May 2021 to stop the spread of COVID-19, many businesses that depend on travel and tourism were negatively affected. When travel within the state was made possible, these businesses began receiving intra-state patrons, though not as many as when interstate travel was eventually allowed beginning 11 October 2021. Since Terengganu is now open to travellers from outside the state, these businesses, including the tourist attractions like Pantai Batu Buruk, which is close to the Terengganu Drawbridge, are starting to pick up again. “When the state’s tourism reopens, many enterprises, for example those in Pasar Payang, stand to benefit. These places are now receiving large crowds, bringing in the much-needed revenue to the local enterprises,” observes YB Ariffin. “Compared to other industries, tourism brings in more direct returns, especially when it comes to local employment. Though we do not have the exact figures, we can clearly see that the number of businesses and people employed increase as tourism expands. That is why tourism is crucial for Terengganu,” he reiterates. Terengganu’s main economic sector is oil and gas, while tourism is the second. However, the number of locals employed in oil and gas is not as large and only limited to certain areas like Kerteh, Paka, and Kemasik; this sector is highly concentrated in the districts of Dungun and Kemaman, hence not extensive. In comparison, tourism is more extensive because tourism attractions can readily be found throughout the state, from the north-most district of Besut down to the south-most district of Kemaman. For instance, Perhentian island belongs to Besut district; Kuala Terengganu itself is a major tourism cluster that includes the drawbridge, Pasar Payang and Pantai Batu Buruk; Tasik Kenyir in Hulu Terengganu; and Kemaman is replete with businesses producing local gastronomic delights like sata and keropok, including turtle sanctuary in Pantai Teluk Mak Nik. Effects from MCO The movement control order (MCO) imposed by the Malaysian government in 2020 and 2021 – which restricted
both interstate and intra-state travel to contain the spread of COVID-19 – brought about immense negative impact not only to the tourism industry players in Terengganu but nationwide. Because Malaysians were cooped up at home since March 2020, tourism activities notably spiked right after interstate travel was first permitted back in June 2020, resulting in unusually high traffic into Terengganu in July, August and September, before the number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia began climbing again. “In 2021, tourism activities reopen at a much slower rate because the number of cases remain high, unlike the previous year. Nonetheless, I am positive that tourism is bound to pick up beginning late October and early November, particularly during weekends. I recently went to Pengkalan Gawi jetty close to the Kenyir Elephant Conservation Village to explore Kenyir by boat, but forced to turn around because the place was too packed with visitors, who were lured to the destination due to the state’s promotional efforts, besides not been able to go out of their houses for some time. Visitors to Kenyir can do a day trip around the lake by speedboat or stay overnight in a houseboat, or even do some shopping at several duty-free outlets,” YB Ariffin explains. It is heartening to see that the number of tourist arrivals to various Terengganu attractions remains high. “When I asked the tour operators in Merang jetty, they confessed that business is brisk, especially in the weekends, even though they have been relying only on tourists from within Terengganu (before interstate travel is allowed). The tourists are there, either for a day trip or overnight stay at any of the lodgings on the island, to take advantage of the relatively calmer waters before the arrival of Peninsular Malaysia East Coast monsoon season at the end and beginning of the calendar year. I am sure that once interstate travel commences, the number of tourist arrivals to Terengganu will shoot through the roof,” he beams. Helping tourism back on its feet When Terengganu was reeling from the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 restrictions, the state government took advantage by using the downtime to re-evaluate its tourism products and strategies. At the same time, the business owners made use of the time to upgrade their product offerings; recently, the popular eatery Nasi Dagang Atas Tol proposed the opening of a new dining venue to the state government on any suitable site owned by the state as a way for both business and state to raise income. Conversely, whenever the tourism industry faces difficulty, the Terengganu state government offers assistance to them. For example, the state worked together with 12 selected hotels in Terengganu by converting them into quarantine centres for the oil and gas industry employees so that these
needed to develop, maintain or upgrade,” reveals YB Ariffin. “The allocation for tourism might be among the highest for the state, approximately 3% of the budget, due to its contribution to the economy. Though quantifying the direct returns from tourism can be tricky, this sector remains crucial because it is the rakyat who stand to directly gain from it in the form of employment or retail. At the same time, the state need not be weighed down by issues concerning unemployment since many can easily find employment or do business in this sector,” he adds. Since last year, the state government has been able to collect fees and levies. YB Ariffin notes that in Besut, for example, Jabatan Laut used to be the only party that collected revenue from travellers who use the jetty in Kuala Besut to get to Perhentian Island. Nowadays, Besut District Council imposes fees for jetty usage too, while those who head to Kapas Island need to pay small fee to the local authority so that the proceeds can help to fund the local authority’s operations.
hotels can continue generating income during the pandemic. “We met up with the representatives from Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and requested them to provide food and beverages – paid by the Terengganu State Tourism Department – to the Vaccination Administration Centres,” YB Ariffin recalls. He further mentions that the state government empowers community-based tourism (CBT) by providing funding totalling MYR800,000 to around 50 CBT projects throughout Terengganu, each receiving between RM10,000 to RM 30,000 for upgrading their venues via gotong royong (communal work) as preparation to receive the tourists, who possess diverse interests. “For instance, some tourists prefer motorcross, while others are into kayaking and mountain-climbing. As a matter of fact, Terengganu has many mountains that are yet to be explored that are bound to amaze hikers. The state government continues to upgrade and promote the attractions despite constraints, for instance Kampung Budaya Terengganu, which reopened only on 3 October 2021. We constantly search for new tourism products, besides preserving, conserving and promoting the existing ones,” he elaborates. Allocating money for tourism In the state budget for 2022, Terengganu state government intends to allocate more budget for tourism in each district. “We plan at the state level, then we go down to each district to understand its strengths and uniqueness when it comes to tourism offerings, including what tourism infrastructure
Generally, whenever a local authority in Terengganu faces problems in funding its operations, the state government shall step in to cover the relevant costs like employee salaries. However, if the local authority were able to source its own funds, the revenue collected by the local authority is deemed as indirect revenue to the state, hence can be used for operations as well. Monitoring compliance to SOPs Since Malaysia is not yet entirely out of the COVID-19 woods, Terengganu state government appeals to all tourists to abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and health protocols issued by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health when coming to Terengganu to enjoy its delights. “Terengganu is ‘Reopening Safely’ as Malaysia is approaching COVID-19 endemicity. Over 90% of adults in Terengganu are already fully vaccinated, and now we are embarking on vaccinating school-going children, beginning with Forms 4 and 5, to be followed by Forms 1 until 3. Tourists are therefore recommended to continue to stick to the SOPs, wear masks in public and follow the health protocols required by the Malaysian government,” urges YB Ariffin. Moreover, even though the islands like Redang, Perhentian and Kapas are far from the mainland and dense population settlements, these islands are home to villages inhabited by locals, therefore the state government advises the tourism business operators to get their patrons tested for COVID-19 to ensure that they are negative whenever they go to these islands for diving or snorkelling, similar to what was carried out in Langkawi during the travel bubble period. “We do not want to hear frets from locals saying that the tourists are the cause of rising COVID-19 cases in Terengganu,” he cautions.
On the same note, the tour operators are required to control the crowds coming to the islands by ensuring the boats that bring in tourists are capped at 50% capacity, whilke making sure that the jetties are not overcrowding. On top of that, wearing life jackets on the boats are made mandatory, no matter how long the rides take. Uniqueness of Terengganu YB Ariffin sees that the islands off-coast Terengganu are the state’s main tourism attraction. “Terengganu has 13 islands, of which six of them are the most strategic, surrounded by clear waters. In Peninsular Malaysia, Terengganu has the most islands. Besides, Terengganu is popular for its beautiful beaches since the state has 244 kilometres of coastline, the longest in Peninsular Malaysia. The white sandy beaches in Terengganu have different characteristics than those found along the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which tend to be muddier. That is why at times you might bump into film production teams do their recording along the beaches in Terengganu such as Kemasik and Jambu Bongkok. Other notable beaches are Rhu Sepuluh, Bukit Keluang and Kuala Kemaman. As such, the state government provides just enough touches on those locations so as not to compromise on their natural beauty. Terengganu is blessed with other unique tourism products too. As travellers venture further inland, they should head to the breathtaking Chemerong Waterfall. To access the site, travellers need to make reservation and apply permits since the local authorities have capped the number of people who can hike up to the waterfall at only 60 in one day; some travellers need to wait up to one year for their turn to visit the site, yet they are willing to do so. Travellers should take the opportunity to explore Terengganu’s rural areas using allterrain vehicles (ATVs), which offer extraordinary experience. To expand the state’s offerings, Terengganu is tapping into sub-sectors such as sports tourism, whereby the state government works with Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) and Terengganu Football Club (TFC) to attract sports enthusiasts to Terengganu, especially when TSG is one of Malaysia’s best teams. The state is also gearing up for medical tourism by collaborating with private hospitals and medical facilities based in Terengganu like Kuala Terengganu Specialist (KTS) Hospital and Salam Specialist Hospital so that tourists can come over for their medical check-ups and treatments while vacationing. As a matter of fact, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UNISZA) in Kuala Terengganu is in the midst of opening its own cardiac and vascular hospital in the near future, which can attract patients from out of state. Culinary is another tourism draw. When it comes to food, YB Ariffin understands that it all boils down to individual taste, hence people would already have their own preferences regarding which place serves the best kind of dish. For
instance, those who love nasi dagang tend to seek the dish at their own favourite eatery like Nasi Dagang Atas Tol, while others prefer Nasi Dagang Surau Panjang or Nasi Dagang Gong Pipit. Another delicacy that travellers should savour is keropok keping (fish fritter) and one of the suggested places for them to buy it is in Kampung Pengkalan Setar in Kuala Terengganu, home to nearly 100 keropok keping producers and popular among locals. What makes the fritters produced in Kampung Pengakalan Setar special is because they contain more fish compared to those produced elsewhere, giving them more distinct in flavour. Travellers should attempt at eating boiled fritters as well, which might come as unusual at first, but no less tasty. Other places where travellers can find keropok are Losong, Seberang Takir and 008 Kelulut in Marang. Due to Terengganu’s lengthy coastline, many dishes in Terengganu are based on fish, for example sata. In the agricultural areas, travellers should seek out traditional dishes like lok lik, made from newly harvested normal or glutinous rice that has been pounded. Post-COVID-19 tourist arrival target In terms of the source markets for foreign tourists who come to Terengganu, based on the number of arrivals to Malaysia up until 2019, the main is China due to its volume and higher penetration rate. “Chinese tourists love the islands like Redang and Lang Tengah, which operators promote to them directly by collaborating with the travel agents in Kuala Lumpur. We even have the traditional Kampung Cina (Chinatown) in Terengganu inhabited by a community of Peranakan
Chinese called Mek and Awang that is different from Baba and Nyonya found in Melaka and Penang. We are also mulling with the idea of targeting the sizeable and affluent Muslim Chinese market. At the moment, as far as I know, Muslims in China do not have direct passage to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah and they are required to transit in another country like Malaysia before proceeding to Makkah. Therefore, if possible, I hope that the Chinese Muslims can detour to Terengganu on the way to Saudi Arabia, likewise for other countries like Indonesia,” YB Ariffin contemplates. Other markets that Terengganu intends to target are Europeans and Americans, including West Asians, who mostly go to Kuala Lumpur and Penang for shopping since they are big spenders and long stayers. “Recently, I interacted with an Iraqi student who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in UNISZA. When I asked him how he finds Terengganu so far, he said it has been fascinating because the experience is different than his time completing his master’s degree in agriculture at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). He has now stayed in Terengganu close to four years, able to converse in basic Malay and finds Terengganu more fun and peaceful,” he shares. Hopes for the tourism industry Because the tourism industry is important for the rakyat, YB Ariffin hopes that the people of Terengganu and the state government uphold the concept of ‘Think Tourism, Act Tourism’, similar to what is being carried out in Melaka and Sabah, including Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia because these destinations have been successful in receiving many international tourists and able to give Terengganu a run for its money. “I am sure that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia is readying up the country because competition for tourists will be fierce once the borders reopen, thus Terengganu does not want to fall on the wayside. That is why Terengganu makes it a point to join as many international tourism trade fairs such as ITB Berlin and World Travel Mart in London because attending those events is crucial for Terengganu’s visibility in the international scene, even though it is a long-game play. As such, it is my hope that tourism is appreciated by many, especially the people of Terengganu, and recognised as one of the state’s main economic drivers. In the next five to ten years, I wish to see that people have Terengganu at the top of their minds whenever they think about travelling,” cites YB Ariffin as he concludes the interview.
Mr Fadli Yusof bin Haji Zakaria Terengganu State Tourism Department Director Gaya Travel team catches up with the newly appointed Director of Terengganu State Tourism Department Mr Fadli Yusof bin Haji Zakaria to find out how he plans to assist Terengganu’s tourism industry back on its feet
New role Prior to his appointment as Terengganu State Tourism Department Director, Mr Fadli Yusof was attached to several local authorities, namely as the President for Marang District Council, the Secretary for Kuala Terengganu City Council, and the Secretary for Dungun Municipal Council, respectively. His roles required him to directly solve the grassroot issues faced by the local residents and provide facilities to the local communities. The local authorities he served support tourism too by organising relevant programmes and giving priority to public places that attract many visitors because most of the complaints and grievances received by the local authorities relate to these public places. “Regarding my role now, it is more to do with promotions, whereby we basically want more people to come to Terengganu, which is the main objective of tourism. In fact, it is the department’s mission to make tourism as one of the main contributors to the state’s economy. At the same time, we intend to encourage and invite as many people as possible to visit and spend in Terengganu,” reveals Mr Fadli. “The department has its own targets it would like to achieve as benchmark to gauge the actual returns that the state receives from tourism. However, for the past two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to obtain sufficient and complete data to analyse and make decisions because movements were restricted, interstate travel was prohibited, and borders were closed,” he sighs. Weathering the COVID-19 pandemic The entire tourism industry was negatively affected in 2020 and 2021. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tourism Department listened attentively to the tourism industry players’ grievances, complaints and sense of despondence. “Our department tried to assist the tourism industry players as much as possible so that they can survive the pandemic by giving them one-off financial aid in two tranches (Berkat 1.0 and Berkat 2.0) to the tour guides, tour boat operators, and businesses whose incomes were totally wiped out. At the same time, several of the large hotels were converted into quarantine centres for the oil & gas industry to house its personnel destined for the off-shore platforms, while the hotels’ kitchens were asked to supply food and beverages to the frontliners stationed at the vaccination administration centres. Such initiatives allowed the hotels to sustain financially, pay their staff, and retain their workforce,” Mr Fadli recounts. Once COVID-19 becomes endemic and interstate travel is allowed, Terengganu State Tourism Department is determined to carry out its plans in earnest beginning October 2021 well into 2022. “Terengganu will go all out as it enters Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan by late October 2021,” he expresses enthusiastically.
One of Terengganu’s upcoming eco-tourism hotspots categorised under nature is Setiu Wetlands, recently gazetted as a state park that combines various types of ecosystems including freshwater, seawater, brackish and lagoon. Other worthy sites include the Chemerong, Berembun and Langsir (CBL) trek, Lata Kolam Air Deru Ecopark, and La Hot Spring. Terengganu is rich in culture and heritage. One venue that travellers should not miss is Kampung Budaya Terengganu (Terengganu Cultural Village) that nestles within the grounds of the Terengganu State Museum, where visitors can witness educational live demonstrations of traditional craft-making, traditional games, traditional food-making and traditional musical performance on daily basis. Travellers can simply come over to Kampung Budaya Terengganu and witness Terengganu culture and heritage all in one place. Kampung Budaya Terengganu also invites cultural troupes from different districts in Terengganu to perform shows that are popular in their own respective locality for public pleasure. Another place where travellers can head to is Besut, where they can marvel at fine wood craftsmanship, including purchasing Terengganu’s iconic songket (traditionally woven fabric) and batik.
Terengganu’s unique selling points Terengganu has identified five specific clusters for tourism: islands and beaches; Kuala Terengganu and surrounding areas; Tasik Kenyir and surrounding areas; culture and heritage; and nature. “We try to highlight features that are not available elsewhere,” claims Mr Fadli. Under islands and beaches, Terengganu continues to promote its popular islands like Redang, Perhentian, Kapas, Tenggol, and Lang Tengah, which are considered as Terengganu’s icons because these islands are known internationally. As a matter of fact, Tenggol is recognised as the best dive site in Peninsular Malaysia As the state capital, Kuala Terengganu is replete with notable landmarks like Terengganu State Museum, Taman Tamadun Islam (Islamic Civilisation Park or TTI in short), TTI River Cruise, Pasar Payang for shopping, Terengganu Drawbridge, and Kampung Cina (Chinatown). Being the largest man-made lake in Malaysia, Tasik Kenyir is not only a haven for anglers but suitable for family members of all ages too since there are other attractions available such as Orchid Garden, Butterfly Garden, mahseer sanctuary and Kenyir Elephant Conservation Village (KECV).
Community-based tourism Terengganu is preparing its community-based tourism (CBT) as one of its latest offerings. “For example, when travellers come to Redang, they would not only be spending their time at the resorts and on water-based activities, but they are encouraged to explore the local villages too where they can watch traditional performances by the local community and savour the island’s food specialty – the community on that island is roped in to create experiences that can be enjoyed by the tourists. Hence tourism on the island mean spending time at the island resorts as well as learning about the actual locals who live there. This is what Tourism Department is working on so that the local community can receive the direct economic benefits from tourism,” Mr Fadli explains. There are currently 30 CBT projects that Terengganu State Tourism Department is grooming throughout the state, and each CBT project is developed based on the characteristics of those localities, for example waterfalls or hills that offer activities like hiking, which promises a new experience. Among the CBT projects that are becoming popular are Dataran Batu Putih with its floating and traditional market, Merchang Lestari with its traditional fishing community, and Kalang Warisan with its activities based on nature. These CBT projects also offer rare traditional delicacies that are almost extinct and not served at the normal eateries anymore, inducing nostalgia among the older generation while educating the newer generation at the same time. These CBT projects emphasise on traditional elements that denotes a strong sense of place. Besides, tourists can take selfies at these CBT projects due to their inimitable atmosphere and vibe. Mr
Fadli recognises that the fundamentals of these CBT projects are already established but they need to be polished further to make them suitable for tourism. Since these CBT projects are built upon initiatives undertaken by local communities or individuals who carry them out as hobbies or youth activities, Terengganu State Tourism Department comes in to help bring their project to scale for commercialisation and eventually turned into a tourism product. “We work together with those who started the initiatives by sharing with them the guidelines on what they have to do and what they need to prepare. Out of those 30 CBT projects, Tourism Department will then select the best ones that we can highlight as ‘hubs’ for the other districts to emulate. At the same time, Terengganu State Tourism Department provides financial assistance in the aspects of beautifying the CBT projects’ venue to turn them cheerful again, just like before the pandemic,” he elaborates. Considering the CBT projects have mostly been in hiatus for the last two years due to the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the CBT projects’ structures are already dilapidated. Restarting the CBT projects can be challenging for the community due to financial constraints, therefore Terengganu State Tourism Department assists the CBT project owners in sprucing up of their venues by extended financial help so that they can be ready for the influx of visitors once interstate travel is allowed come November 2021. In managing the costs of the CBT projects totalling nearly MYR1 million, Terengganu State Tourism Department supports their restoration by organising gotong-royong (communal work) to instil the sense of ownership among the community members over the CBT projects since these projects are situated within their respective localities and formed in accordance with their desires. “We do not want to impose the kind of projects that are not in tune with their preferences,” shares Mr Fadli. The gotong-royong activity allows Terengganu State Tourism Department to control the costs while meeting the needs of the local communities. Funds have also been channelled to the District Officers to repair and maintain all tourism amenities and public spaces such as beaches and recreational parks in each district. “In October and November 2021, we anticipate that all of the tourism facilities, for example the broken staircases at the tourism sites, are repaired and tourism attractions and products like waterfalls and beaches are cleaned up to prepare for tourists once interstate travel is possible,” he assures. “I remember when interstate travel was allowed in 2020, many popular areas in Terengganu became congested. For instance, there were 2,000 to 3,000 people visiting Pulau Kapas alone, many of them day trippers because all accommodations on the island were fully booked. And we anticipate that once
interstate travel is allowed again, the same scenario might recur. All attractions, including the CBT projects, should be ready to receive large number of visitors coming to their places,” notes Mr Fadli. Monitoring SOP compliance among tourists Mr Fadli Yusof is confident that the tourists who come to Terengganu are responsible and cooperative in following the SOPs because they are already accustomed to the new norms. As such, Terengganu State Tourism Department reminds the tourism industry players to diligently implement the SOPs and ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated. “We recommend the island resorts to request their guests to conduct COVID-19 self-test at the jetties prior to taking the boat to the islands as part of the guidelines, even though the guests are fully vaccinated and have taken their test earlier elsewhere. Though this additional step might be an inconvenience, it is a still small price to pay to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind, which the resorts agree. This spurs confidence among guests, who themselves are increasingly fastidious. The resorts shall monitor the results of the COVID-19 self-tests and take the necessary actions if any of their guests were to be found positive of COVID-19,” he clarifies.
Target markets When asked about the international source markets for Terengganu, Mr Fadli discloses that the state does not specifically focus on any particular source market. “Our priority now is to focus on domestic tourists since we are not certain when the borders will fully reopen and what SOPs are required for international travellers. But after saying that, we do work with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia and follow the ministry’s recommendations on how best to market Terengganu internationally. Based on the plans, our target is more of the tourists from West Asia, thus we need to identify which attractions and products would suit that market. However, it is still difficult to say when exactly Terengganu would be able to expect international tourists to come to the state,” he confesses. Irrespective of the tourists’ origins, whether Malaysia or abroad, Terengganu must be ready for their arrival in terms of safety, health, and facilities similar to the level before the pandemic. “It is my goal to see that the conditions in Terengganu are back to normal as closely as possible and the tourists will find Terengganu to be in good shape, safe and conducive. Once Terengganu reopens, I want all facilities to be in tip top condition so that the tourists who come to Terengganu will be satisfied with what is offered. Thus, Terengganu State Tourism Department is working hard towards this end,” pledges Mr Fadli.
Based on the feedback received from the tourism industry players, most of the domestic tourists who come to Terengganu are families who have not been travelling for some time and they are taking advantage of the affordable and too-good-to-miss prices offered by the tourism players. Many of the families, including groups of travelling adults, tend to choose the islands for holidays. Hope for the tourism industry For the next two to three years, Mr Fadli hopes that Terengganu achieves its target to receive the number of tourists back to the pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, Terengganu recorded 5.5 million tourist arrivals. “For 2022, we hope to at least receive 5.5 million tourist arrivals as well. I pray that the whole country, including the whole world, recovers from the COVID-19 onslaught after battling it for two years. Terengganu looks forward to smoothly kicking off its tourism plans in 2022 so that it can make huge contribution to the state’s economy,” he declares. Finally, Mr Fadli asserts that the ease of restrictions instituted by the government should remain indefinitely because the tourism industry is opposed to the intermittent series of lockdowns and reopening, resulting in the players shying away from continuing their tourism business because those measures increase uncertainty and eat into their revenue. Evidently, Terengganu is determined to take all necessary measures to shine again as one of Malaysia’s leading tourism destinations.
Gaya Special Feature
Zahir Mosque in Alor Setar, Kedah
Malaysia Remains Top Destination for Muslim Travellers in GMTI 2022 Report Malaysia has maintained its position as the preferred destination for Muslim travellers in the released “MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2022” revealed during the Halal in Travel Global Summit (HITGS) 2022. The country was named the “Top MuslimFriendly Destination of the Year (OIC)” at the Halal in Travel Awards, held in Singapore. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), YB Dato Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri congratulated CrescentRating and MasterCard on the launch of GMTI 2022. “Malaysia is honoured to have topped the Index since it was first launched in 2015. We remain dedicated in advocating for Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) in the local and global scale,” she said in her keynote address following the report’s launch. There is so much potential in the global Muslim market, whose population stands at 1.9 billion individuals worldwide. MasterCard and CrescentRating reported that prior to the pandemic, the burgeoning Muslim traveller market exhibited a strong growth with 108 million Muslim travellers in 2013, jumping up to 160 million in 2019. The latest GMTI report, moreover, announced that this market is expected to pick up again now that global borders are reopening, with a forecast of 230 million Muslims travelling by 2028. The prospects of the Muslim traveller market are promising for Malaysia as well, as it contributed to 5.3 million international arrivals with an expenditure of RM16.72 billion (USD3.8 billion) in 2019. The Minister assured that moving forward, the government and industry stakeholders would continue to attract Muslim tourists into choosing Malaysia as their travel destination. In addressing the way forward for tourism, YB Dato Sri mentioned that the new tourism landscape required a shift in tourism thinking and sustainability. She said that “sustainability has taken on a new meaning that encompasses the sustainability of the environment and beyond including the tourist, the investor, the industry player, the community, the government, the country, and more.”
Malaysia is loved by the Muslim traveller market for its access to halal food, beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and incredible shopping experience. Apart from that, it also offers a wide-range of Muslim-friendly tour packages for tourists to enjoy its history, mosque architecture, heritage, gastronomy, nature, arts and culture. As a Muslim-majority country, Malaysia has the advantage to leverage on its existing infrastructure that includes its accessible prayer rooms, halal food, and water friendly toilets. Through Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), an agency under MOTAC, the country always strives to do better to ease Muslim travellers in fulfilling their religious obligations during their travels. ITC provides training and capacity building, research, and standards and certification development to ensure that industry players understand the needs of the Muslim tourists and are prepared to provide value to this segment. To strengthen the Muslim-Friendly tourism ecosystem, ITC has developed the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR), a programme that allows Muslim travellers to easily identify hotels with Muslim-friendly facilities in Malaysia. Currently, there are 53 MFAR hotels in Malaysia, and more have expressed their interest in signing up. ITC has also trained a group of 62 Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guides (MFTG), equipping them with the knowledge and expertise needed to serve the Muslim traveller market. Director-General of ITC, YBhg. Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, who participated in the HITGS panel discussion entitled, “Preparing Destinations for the Next Phase of the Muslim Travel Market Growth”, observed that the modern Muslim travellers have sophisticated needs. “Muslim travellers now seek meaningful and transformative experiences that will hopefully contribute to their growth as human beings upon returning to their homeland. Destination managers could create value for this particular group of Muslim tourists by offering them to sign up for volunteer programmes at the destination they are visiting, mingle and socialise with the local community and get themselves involved in activities like going to religious classes and joining community clean-up programmes,” he explained. On Malaysia’s favourable position in GMTI 2022, the Director-General expressed his gratitude to local industry players: “Alhamdulillah, Malaysia retaining the topmost spot in the GMTI rankings this year is a testament to the dedication of the industry practitioners and stakeholders in advocating for the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) sector.” He added that the recognition was the drive the Malaysian tourism industry needed to rebuild itself after the pandemic, and that it would encourage more tourism industry players to focus on the Muslim tourist market.
She asked audiences to consider Islamic Tourism and its Muslim-Friendly branding as a strategy for tourism growth, especially as it “reflects the values of the new tourism landscape and promotes sustainability in many forms, from economic, social and spiritual sustainability, to environmental, cultural and heritage sustainability.” She also highlighted the increasing role of technology and its potential in Islamic Tourism as travellers become more technology-savvy and more reliant on digital applications. “Travel technology will help Muslims around the world to identify halal food, get prayer times notifications, download Muslim-friendly entertainment on-the-go, and create Muslim-friendly trip itinerary suggestions from their mobile devices before and during their travels,” she added.
Halal food is abundantly available across Malaysia
RENTAK SELANGOR Reviving the sounds of Selangor
The ‘Rentak Selangor’ programme that began in 2016 aims to revitalise the intangible cultural heritage found in Selangor, from old traditions that survived the test of time, to the modern-style live performances enjoyed by youngsters. The programme is organised by the Committee of Rural and Traditional Villages Development, Malay Customs, Culture and Heritage; the Selangor State Government State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN); and supported by the Majlis Kebudayaan Negeri Selangor (MKNS); Gaya Travel Magazine; and the Selangor media. Facebook: Rentak Selangor Hashtag: #RentakSelangor
RENTAK SELANGOR 6.0 A Kaleidoscopic Spectacle of Cultures Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I Images by AZREEN ZEEN
Rentak Selangor continues to celebrate Selangor’s rich cultural legacy in its sixth edition; this time focussing on the performing arts that have been flourishing in the districts of Sabak Bernam and Kuala Selangor where its communities are predominantly of Javanese lineage. Interestingly, despite the many years that have gone by since the first generation of Javanese people immigrated to this part of Malaysia, the customs and traditions from their place of origin prevail. But of course, this is not to say that such legacies have not met with the inevitable pressure of local assimilation and reformation, all of which are explored during this programme. Speaking at the opening ceremony, The Honourable Borhan Bin Aman Shah (the Selangor State Executive Councillor for Rural and Traditional Villages Development, Malay Customs, Culture and Heritage) shares that the programme sees a new addition, which is the syair, a classical Malay poetry that is recited in set rhythms. He hopes the programme can help increase the public’s appreciation towards Selangor’s cultural spectacles, and eventually cement the state’s position as a hub for art, culture, and national heritage. Read on to discover the cultural assets found in Selangor this time around.
Kuda Kepang Many historians believe that Kuda Kepang is a tradition originated from West Java, made popular by the Wali Songo (the Nine Saints) who used the art to spread the message of Islam throughout the region. Some, however, believe that its origin was more mystical – it was a ritual performed by villagers to interact with a guardian or an ancestral spirit during a village cleansing (bersih desa) ceremony to garner prosperity and protection from natural disasters. Kuda Kepang arrived in Malaysia through the influx of Javanese immigrants into Malaysia, particularly Selangor and Johor. The performance features a group of dancers riding on flat horses and dancing in formation to the chilling beating of the demung, gendang, gong, and saron. Sometimes, it can also be accompanied by dancing characters from old folk stories such as a tiger, a monkey, a snake or even a princess. On top of these, kuda kepang is famous for being a trance dance in which the performers are said to be possessed by spirits; however, most of the performances these days have omit such ritualistic aspects, and executed for entertainment purposes only. Syair Syair is a poetry form that sometimes can be narrative or instructive. Either way, it is often used to communicate local ideas or knowledge within a given society. But unlike the Arabic syair, the art of the Malay syair is said to be less rigid and sometimes include the element of figurative language. Today, Malay syair is actively preserved and practiced throughout the Malaysian Peninsula, including Selangor where it gives birth to many prolific litterateurs such as Ahmad Sarju. Ronggeng Ronggeng by definition in Javanese language means professional female dancers who perform along with a group of musicians. During the ancient Java period, this entertainment troupe would travel from one village to another. A typical performance would require the dancers to invite male audiences by throwing shawls to them in exchange for tips. Unsurprisingly, this eventually had given the genre a shady reputation. Fast forward to the 1940s and ‘50s, ronggeng had spread out within the region, including Thailand and Malaysia. However, the genre received a new transformative purpose, performed at social gatherings as a medium of courtship for the people at the time. Couples would usually get to know each other during these performances as they danced to the traditional tempos such as the joget music.
Above: The flat horses ridden by kuda kepang dancers are made from woven bamboo and decorated with traditional batik motifs. Below: Ronggeng during its golden era served as a medium for courtship.
Clockwise from above: Kompang Java was traditionally performed at mosques during religious ceremonies; Poja dance over time has been reformed to reflect local cultures; Some claim that Dabus dance has the power to heal and prevent illnesses.
Poja Dance Poja dance was originally performed to worship spirits before the arrival of Islam; however, when Islam becomes widely practiced, the dance is then used to entertain the Sultan. It is believed to be brought into Selangor from South Sulawesi, Indonesia, and gradually became popular in the early 1990’s. Over time, the dance has been reconstructed to reflect more on the tradition of Selangor people. The dance normally lasts up to five minutes accompanying the song ‘Ati Raja’, involving a long list of graceful steps such as tindih kasih, kilas angin, and tabur bunga. The dancers, whom generally are women, wear traditional costume called baju bodo embellished with elaborate headgear, bracelets, and flowers. Dabus Dance Like the Haka in Maori culture, Dabus is believed traditionally performed by men to prepare for battles during the time of the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. It combines singing and lively dancing, which when performed properly, could invoke fearlessness among its performers. This selfmotivating art form remained popular over the years, and is said had drawn the interest from Raja Omar bin Raja Salleh, a Bugis Sultan who ruled Sabak Bernam, Selangor, over 250 years ago. Naturally, it spread to the neighbouring districts of Jeram, Kuala Selangor and Klang. Today, a dabus performance typically requires sharp weapons like ‘anak dabus’ (a spikelike instrument decorated with bells at the hilt) incorporated into the choreography and accompanied by berzanji (hymns praising to the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h.) Kompang Jawa The throbbing beats of frame drums, or kompang as locals call it, is a common sound one might hear during festivities among Malay communities such as weddings and the celebration of prophet’s birthday. But did you know that it was once used by Arab traders to attract customers? Many believe that kompang was brought to Malaya through Java by Arab traders in the 13th century during the Malacca Sultanate. The migration of Javanese people to Malaya, especially in the states of Johor, Selangor and Melaka then propagate the art of kompang further within the local community. Moreover, the popularity of kompang at the time had also influenced some religious teachers to use it to disseminate Islamic beliefs. This is why you would hear the pulsating beats of kompang today are often accompanied by praises to the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. Balle Balle Kampong Api Api For the love of traditional music, a long-time musician, Isnain Abdul Rahim, forms a six-piece band to popularise and make folk music enjoyable for all generations. But the one thing that sets his group apart from others is that he even introduces a new instrument called Balle Balle, a percussion-like item that is made from a tree branch with flattened bottle caps attached to strings, making the sound
Above: Balle balle Kampong Api Api often entertains the crowd with its own renditions of popular songs.
similar to the tambourine. When matched with the eloquent tones from the bass, bongo, guitar, timbales and violin, a compelling music is created. Interestingly, the band members wear tudung saji (traditional Malay food cover) as headgears, including batik sarongs, colourful shirts and wooden clogs, making them an amusing sight to behold. Isnain’s band takes bookings for social functions and can be contacted at +6 019 281 4535. Peacock Dance This religious dance, or also known as Mayil Attam, is said to have originated from the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is performed to honour Lord Subrahmanya who according to legends, rides a peacock and uses his bow to lead the army in battles. The dance involves hypnotic choreography by women dressed in glittering clothes resembling peacocks. ‘Rentak Selangor’ is a joint programme organised by the Committee of Rural and Traditional Villages Development, Malay Customs, Culture and Heritage; the Selangor State Government State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN); and supported by the Majlis Kebudayaan Negeri Selangor (MKNS); Gaya Travel Magazine; and the Selangor media.
Mural Art, Ipoh Old Town
Ubudiah Mosque, Kuala Kangsar
Pulau Bangau, Teluk Intan
KITA KE KAMPUNG Championing Selangor’s crafters
Kita Ke Kampung programme is part of the Selangor State Government’s initiative to boost the rural communities’ socioeconomic standing. It is implemented through the Selangor State Rural Development and Culture Committee in collaboration with the Selangor State Media Organisation. In addition to improving the standard of the economy through generating and increasing income, the media also plays an important part to promote products produced by the rural communities.
Facebook: KitakanSekampung Hashtag: #KitaKanSekampung
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Highlights the Diversity of Muslim-Friendly Businesses in Selangor limited to food and beverages alone, but also covers services such as logistics, packaging, branding, and marketing. In fact, the issue of halal is even relevant in pharmaceuticals, grooming and cosmetics, finance, investments, and tourism, to name a few. 054
The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Affairs, Consumer Affairs and Halal Industry, The Honourable Zawawi Mughni
The Selangor State Government – through the Islamic Affairs, Consumer Affairs and Halal Industry Committee, and in coordination with Selangor State Economic Planning Unit and Selangor State Media Association – has organised the inaugural Selangor Halal Industry Media Documentary and Promotion Familiarisation Trip, known as Halal Selangor in short. The trip was participated by selected members of media, content creators and influencers. According to the Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Affairs, Consumer Affairs and Halal Industry, The Honourable Zawawi Mughni, the scope of halal industry is not only
As such, Halal Selangor highlights the diversity of the halal offerings available in Selangor that encompasses various economic sectors and provide opportunities for businesses, especially the small and medium scale enterprises, to further promote their products or services to the public. The following are the businesses that Halal Selangor introduced to the participants during the trip.
Hijrah Selangor Foundation’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Normaiza Binti Haji Yahya
Top: A patient getting his right knee checked up at Amalmedik in Kota Damansara, which offers safe interventional and noninterventional pain treatments. Bottom: A staff member of SelCare Clinic giving an injection to a patient.
MUSLIM-FRIENDLY HEALTHCARE PROVIDER: KLINIK AJWA
Klinik Ajwa (https://klinikajwa.com.my) is a family-friendly clinic headed by husband-and-wife team Mr Hanizam bin Samsudin and Dr Leny Marlina in Shah Alam that specialises in outpatient and paediatric treatments, including antenatal packages for expectant mothers. The clinic also offers ultrasound packages such as gynae and breast scans for women done by female doctors; kidney, ureter and bladder scanning for men; thyroid scans; and wellness screening. Another special service provided by the clinic is male circumcision for babies, children, teenagers, and adults. Klinik Ajwa even offers drivethrough and walk-in Covid-19 testing services, as long as patients make appointment first.
Amalmedik (https://www.amalmedik.com) in Kota Damansara focusses on interventional pain management and accurately executed minor surgery. The personnel are highly qualified and well-trained professionals including attentive doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, who are always ready to serve and provide the best treatment possible to all patients. Among the services dispensed by the clinic are ear wax microsuction; hyaluronic acid injection to treat knee pain caused by osteoarthritis; minor surgery to remove lumps or cysts; care for various types of wounds; and circumcision using the latest technology and techniques that promote fast recovery. The clinic is also a pioneer in the country for using pain-free, needless local anaesthetic in its medical procedures.
SelCare Clinic (https://selcareclinic.com) is a well-integrated network of healthcare practices under the Selangor State Development Corporation and SELGATE Corporation Sdn. Bhd. It has 15 branches in Klang Valley, all known for providing attentive and cost-effective outpatient medical care to the community. Three of the clinic’s branches (SelCare Clinic Desa Mentari, The KL Clinic Sri Rampai, and The KL Clinic Queen Avenue) primarily serve those who are from the bottom 40% (B40) income bracket. On top of general practitioner services, SelCare offers Covid-19 vaccine and testing services every day. Recently, they even deploy mobile vaccination centres across Selangor. The clinic has a team of dedicated female doctors specialising in prenatal care as well.
HALAL F&B OU TLET: HOMST RESTAURANT
Considered as a pioneer in Chinese Muslim cuisine in Malaysia, HOMST (https://homst.com.my) is committed to providing halal Chinese cuisine for generations to come. The restaurant offers authentic Chinese cuisine that reflects China’s different regions. When preparing the dishes, HOMST uses fresh ingredients that result in visually more alluring, and nutritious servings. Among its most popular dishes are steamed sea bass (siakap) and buttered chicken. HOMST’s chefs strive towards precision when serving up the dishes, testifying to their own calibre and experience. Every detail - from dish placement to service delivery - is carefully and meticulously scrutinised. Over the years, HOMST has now expanded to include branches in Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Damansara, Shah Alam Seksyen 13, Kajang, Setia Alam, Bangi Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.
BAKER’S COT TAGE
Baker’s Cottage (https://thebakerscottage.com) is a bakery chain that receives its halal certification since 2006 and now has 184 outlets throughout Malaysia, of which 34 outlets are in Selangor alone. These outlets are all located in strategic locations that are easily accessible by local communities.
Top: Every Baker’s Cottage outlet prepares fresh roasted chicken daily. Bottom: Shoppers inspecting items on sale at an outlet owned by Siti Khadijah, a market leader in Muslim ladies’ prayerwear.
The chain makes an ideal one-stop bakery for party meals where customers are not only able to purchase cakes and pastries, but also its popular roasted barbecue and black pepper chicken at affordable prices because the chain’s owner, Leong Hup International Bhd, is Malaysia’s largest integrated poultry producer, allowing Baker’s Cottage to supply among the cheapest roasted chicken in the market.
SYARIAH-COMPLIANT LOAN: HIJRAH SELANGOR
Hijrah Selangor (https://www.hijrahselangor.com) is a scheme by the Selangor State Government to provide microcredit facility through the injection of additional capital to micro and small-scale entrepreneurs as one of the means to expand the size of the state’s middle class. This microcredit facility is only available to Malaysians aged 18 and above with sound mind and body who are citizens or permanent residents of Selangor, vote in Selangor, directly involved in a business that is based at a premise, and not blacklisted by any financial agency or body. According to Hijrah Selangor Foundation’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Normaiza binti Haji Yahya, the microcredit funding is interestfree and only requires entrepreneurs to pay the service processing fees. So far, Hijrah Selangor has 20 branches throughout the state. For 2022, Hijrah Selangor aims to disburse funding worth MYR160 million to benefit 10,000 applicants. Hijrah Selangor is among the quickest to approve funding applications in Selangor, taking around 10 business days. It also plans to train 23,000 entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship skills. The organisation even funds micro, small and medium scale businesses for the digitalisation of their operations.
SYARIAH-COMPLIANT APPAREL: SITI KHADIJAH
Siti Khadijah (https://sitikhadijah.com) is a popular premium ladies’ prayerwear in Malaysia. Established since 2009, the brand now has
38 boutiques around the country. The brand features beautiful and comfortable collections that are divided into three categories: the Basic Label (priced under MYR200), the Maroon Label (priced between MYR200 - MYR499) and the Black Label (priced at MYR500 and above). Loyal fans of the brand appreciate the awnings and chin covers of its prayerwear, which are made of soft, stretchable fabric to ensure utmost comfort. It avoids using fabrics that hug ladies’ figures to remain shariah-compliant. It even comes up with its own innovative Khadijah Ultrafine fabric that is not only soft and flowy, but also wrinkle-free, dries quickly and protects from ultra-violet rays. Today, Siti Khadijah has expanded its offerings by including a variety of readyto-wear collections that are not only hip and trendy, but also modest.
Founded by a dynamic couple (Nur Hidayu Zorkafli Iskandar and A. Suffian), Shawlpublika (https://www.shawlpublika.com/home) is famous for its saree-inspired or styled baju kurung and dresses for women, with men’s collection launched occasionally. This local brand is also lauded for catering to a wide audience, including breastfeeding mothers, plus-size individuals and those seeking modest apparels, without compromising on the designs and quality. In fact, the brand also collaborates with multiple notable brands like Body Shop, Garnier, Urban Decay, and Nyx since it outstandingly keeps up with the current trends.
HALAL BEAU T Y PRODUCTS PRODUCER: V ’ASIA COSMETIC & HEALTHCARE
Owned by the charismatic Dato’ Azril bin Mohd. Radzi, V Asia Cosmetic & Healthcare (https://www.vasia.my) has been producing affordable and halal-certified health supplements since 2010 for the local market using natural ingredients, especially relating to weight loss. Today, the company has expanded to include postpartum care kits, natural herbal products for general health, and cosmetics. According to Dato’ Azril, the company has even begun exporting its products to some extent to Thailand, and Brunei, while currently working towards penetrating the lucrative Indonesian market. The company avoids using hazardous ingredients like hydroquinone and lead in all its products since it strongly believes in educating the consumers regarding health product safety.
SYARIAH-COMPLIANT HOTEL: MARDHI Y YAH HOTEL & SUITES
Mardhiyyah Hotel and Suites (https://mardhiyyahhotel.com) is a syariah-compliant hotel located in Shah Alam’s commercial hub. Every modern room here comes with a large window with some rooms offering spectacular views of the grand Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, nicknamed the Blue Mosque. The hotel has Muslim guests’ comfort in mind by equipping a prayer mat in each room, on top of the usual amenities such as satellite TV, mini bar, and coffee- and tea-making facilities. Moreover, the hotel makes an ideal choice for MICE events as it boasts a well-equipped ballroom and several meeting rooms along with a dedicated surau for guests to conveniently perform their prayers in a comfortable space in between their affairs. Guests can also enjoy fully halal meals at its three food and beverage outlets, including Tung Yuen Chinese Restaurant, which is popular among locals for its dim sum.
Above: Owners Nur Hidayu (right) and A.Suffian readying a shawl to be packed inside a beautiful gift box. Below: A room at Mardhiyyah Hotel & Suites.
Gaya Special Feature
National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030(NAP 2.0) Malaysia’s National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030 (NAP 2.0) has been formulated with the vision of developing a sustainable, resilient, and technology-based agrofood sector in driving economic growth, improving people’s well-being as well as prioritising food security and nutrition.
This vision has been translated into policy statement based on three main principles of sustainable development, namely; economic, social and environment. This resolution is in line with the national development agenda and global goals as aspired in the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) and Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG 2030) respectively. The implementation of NAP 2.0 is driven by six policy objectives, supported by five policy thrusts, 21 strategies and 77 action plans that will be realised through various departments and agencies over a period of 10 years up to 2030. The policy thrusts include embracing modernisation through smart agriculture and intensification of research, development, commercialisation, and innovation (R&D&C&I) activities; strengthening the agrofood product value chain for domestic and international markets; developing talent and skilled manpower; advancing towards sustainable agricultural practices; and creating conducive business ecosystem including land use, finance, infrastructure, investment and governance. At the same time, NAP 2.0 specifically focuses on four subsectors, namely; paddy and rice; fruits and vegetables; livestock; and fisheries and aquaculture; through the implementation of 18 strategies and 58
action plans. The strategies focus on high value activities along the food value chain that could generate higher income to the target groups and improve the socioeconomic status of farmers, breeders, fishermen and agropreneurs. Thus, the aspiration of NAP 2.0 will be achieved with the support of all stakeholders involved. It is hoped that this policy inspires and motivates the private sector and industry players to collaborate with the Government to accelerate the development of the Malaysian agrofood sector in becoming a competitive and modern sector, subsequently ensuring the success of NAP 2.0. Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries Block 4G1, Wisma Tani, No. 28, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 4, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62624 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Telephone: 03-8000 8000 Fax: 03-8888 6020 Email: email@example.com Reference: bit.ly/3xMPwvp
IT’S TIME FOR PAHANG! 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
Being the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia, Pahang surely has a lot to offer. Each of its districts tell different stories that worth to be explored, enjoyed and appreciated. In late 2021, Gaya Travel Magazine took part in a media familiarisation trip with the theme ‘Rindu Melancong? Jom Singgah Pahang’ (‘Miss Travelling? Come Visit Pahang’) organised by Tourism Malaysia East Coast Region, which provided good ideas on how to enjoy Pahang in the year 2022 onwards.
JANDA BAIK Bidaisari Resort https://www.bidaisariresort.com.my Around 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, Bidaisari Resort is ideal for travellers who wish to experience a close-to-nature getaway far from the hustle and bustle of the city. It has several types of accommodations such as Twin Chalet, Deluxe King, Water Cottage, Bougain Villa and the private bungalow Aruuma. Besides swimming pool, the resort offers many facilities and activities such as dining at Gebang Gebang Café, horse-riding, hiking, exploring the area using the all-terrain vehicle (ATV), visiting fig farm and feeding deer! Now that’s a real staycation experience we all need!
Good to know: FJ ATV at Bidaisari Resort promises a fun, thrilling experience. For around one hour and 30 minutes, travellers can rev into the jungle while traversing the muddy trails and obstacles. The journey is 3.4 kilometres long with eight checkpoints along the way. The price starts from MYR150 up to MYR300, depending on the size of the ATV’s engine.
Canopy Villa Glamping Park https://www.facebook.com/canopyvilla.glamping Located in Kampung Cheringin, this glamping park features 20 accommodation units, including well-equipped safari tents and bell tent. Since it sits on an eightacre land surrounded by lush greenery with stunning mountain views, this place is where travellers can enjoy a well-deserved outdoor staycation without giving up their comforts. Plus, they have plenty of activities for travellers to kill time such as archery, cycling, swimming at nearby river, as well as cooking your own barbecue! Istana Lemuni https://www.istanalemuni.com Istana Lemuni is a traditional 1800s Malay Terengganu Palace that houses Lemuni Restaurant and Lemuni Gallery. Besides admiring its unique design, which used to be the residence of the Sultan of Terengganu’s wife and daughters, this place is famous for its traditional menu, ideal for lunch. The set includes white rice, gulai kawah dan rebung, singgang ikan, fried chicken, salted fish, ulam, budu, and sambal belacan, which can all be enjoyed while taking in the tranquil and bucolic surroundings.
Clockwise from Top Left: The Temerloh Titik Tengah Semenanjung (T3S) Monument; Feeding the rabbits is a must-do at Rabbitland Jengka; A satisfying lunch menu at Selera Patin Bangau, which includes Patin Tempoyak; Muhaimin Hasbullah showing the process of wood carving at his workshop.
TEMERLOH Temerloh Titik Tengah Semenanjung (T3S) Monument https://www.facebook.com/ titiktengahsemenanjung Based on the research done by the Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia ( JUPEM) in 2009, Temerloh has been identified as the centre point of Peninsular Malaysia. The exact location is in one of the buildings of Madrasah Darul Ulum. An iconic monument with meaningful features has been built to commemorate such recognition. It is located in a park that is suitable for families with small children to enjoy the area and opt for the available recreational activities. Inakraf Owned by the multiple awardwinning Muhaimin Hasbullah – the only ‘adiguru’ (master) of wood craftsmanship recognised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) – Inakraf proudly produces high quality wood carvings. Many of its pieces are currently exhibited throughout Malaysia and around the world such as the Malaysian Houses of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Khat Balairongseri Istana Alam Shah (Alam Shah Palace Throne Room calligraphy), Malaychan Restaurant in Tokyo, and Mahsuri Spa in London. At its workshop in Temerloh, travellers can get up close and learn how the pieces are painstakingly made, apart from purchasing some of the readymade wooden crafts to bring back home. For the public, advanced booking is required before coming to Inakraf. Contact +6 011 1099 5769 or +6 019 612 4923 for more information.
Selera Patin Bangau https://www.facebook.com/selerapatin. bangautemerloh Patin tempoyak (silver catfish simmered in fermented durian gravy) is Temerloh’s staple dish. Though travellers may find countless patin tempoyak restaurants around the area, one in particular, situated in Kampung Bangau, has become popular among locals and outsiders. Owned by Rohazlina Yusof, the restaurant has been in operation since 2010, serving silver catfish-based menus like fried and grilled silver catfish. Travellers are advised to come early for lunch because the place will be packed on midday! Amani Vanilla https://www.instagram.com/vanilla_ temerloh Famous for its homemade signature vanilla ice cream, Amani Vanilla lies within Malaysia’s first vanilla commercial farm. Aside from vanillabased menus like waffle ice cream, salted caramel cornflakes ice cream, ‘fried’ ice cream, cassava set, and vanilla coffee ‘o’, the cafe also sells vanilla extract and powder, on top of dispensing advice to vanilla growers. To make the place more interesting, Amani Villa even offer activities like riding ATVs! MARAN Rabbitland Jengka https://www.facebook.com/ RabbitlandJengkaofficial A perfect place for families, especially those with small children, this fiveacre zoo exhibits friendly animals that include Spanish cow, deer, horse, raccoon, peacocks, and more. The place is also replete with beautifullydecorated sections that are Instagramworthy such as the Fairy Garden, Hobbit House, Cactus Garden, and
Old Well. Inquisitive tiny travellers might become intrigued by the list of activities that include feeding the animals, taking a train around the zoo, and riding the horse among others. Talk about spending quality time with your family! The place opens every day. The entrance fees are MYR8 per adult and MYR5 per child. JERANTUT Kota Gelanggi Cave Complex This cave is one of the most fascinating caves that travellers may find in Malaysia. Within it, there are several caverns that tell different stories and legends such as Gua Tongkat, Gua Angin, Gua Batu Sanding, Gua Kota Balai, Gua Penyu, and Gua Kelawar. One of the most interesting must be Gua Batu Sanding, where travellers can witness a mystical formation of rocks that arguably resemble a scene of a grand wedding ceremony. Legend has it that it is here where the supernatural creature, Sang Kelembai, cursed everyone and everything in the wedding into stone. It is entirely up to you to believe whether the story is true or otherwise, but the cave complex does contain various formations of stalactites and stalagmites that blow travellers’ minds away. This caving experience costs only MYR35 per person (minimum of four persons per group) and can be booked by calling Azmi Frogman at +6 011 2548 3624.
CHERATING Holiday Villa Beach Resort & Spa Cherating https://www.holidayvillahotels.com/ holiday-villa-beach-resort-spa-cherating This beachfront resort has 100 rooms with balconies or terraces that face either the view of the pool or the garden. It also has two swimming pools, outdoor jacuzzi, tennis court, and fitness centre. Since it has a private beach fronting the South China Sea, travellers can take in the soothing breeze by walking around it or even partake in exciting outdoor and waterbased activities at additional charges. KUANTAN Natural Batik Village https://www.naturalbatikvillage.com From the beginning of the batik manufacturing process to the end products displayed for sale at the gallery, travellers can learn how batik is produced, as well as joining a batik-painting session! This place is huge and travellers can find many types of batik products ranging from clothes to accessories. Natural Batik Village opens daily, including during public holidays, from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Pusat Pengembangan Tenun Diraja Sungai Soi Pahang is known to have its own type of songket, a traditional handwoven fabric that has now evolved into one of the state’s most treasured heritages. Believed to have originated from Riau or Sulawesi in the 16th century, the songket fabric, which is generally used as sarong, sampin or selendang has been adapted for modern lifestyle and current fashion. At this centre, travellers can understand how the fabric is meticulously produced and what makes it so distinctively unique and special, hence become a favourite among royalties and celebrities. Travellers may also buy Pahang songket directly from this centre’s own gallery.
A staff member at Pusat Pengembangan Tenun Diraja Sungai Soi demonstrating the painstaking process of songket-weaving.
Gaya Travel Magazine team members extend our heartfelt gratitude to Tourism Malaysia East Coast Region for making our trip to Pahang a reality and smooth sailing.
Gaya Special Feature
6 R E A S O N S W H Y YO U S H O U LD V I S I T The State of Selangor in 2022! Te x t b y TOURISM SELANGOR
MahMeri by nazriphotoelements @ IG
LRT Subang Jaya by klia2.info
066 Tropicana Gardens Mall, Kota Damansara @ FB
Well-known for its unique tourism appeals, travellers are invited to “Pusing Selangor Dulu” (“Visit Selangor First”) The State of Selangor possesses many interesting attractions, including cultural diversity. It also boasts modern architecture alongside traditional buildings that can be commonly seen at historical sites, including fabulous range of gastronomic delights. Read on to find out the six main reasons why you should visit Selangor in 2022.
1. CULTURAL DIVERSIT Y
Address: Jalan Pekeliling , Kuala Lumpur International Airport, 64000 Sepang, Selangor.
2. VARIET Y OF FOOD
Well-known for its ethnic diversity, Selangor offers a wide range of modern and traditional dishes that are full of flavours and spices such as Nasi Lemak, Sate, Dim Sum, Nasi Ambeng and more! If you feel like eating Nasi Ambeng, you may try it at Nasi Ambeng D’Rebung Restaurant, Sepang. Selangor is indeed one of the best places for travellers to go food-hunting!
3. GREAT AT TRACTIONS
Though Selangor is the most developed state in Malaysia, there are also swathes of tranquil greenery being preserved, which travellers will find soothing. At the same time, active and outdoorsy travellers can head for soft adventure at Kuala Kubu Bharu town, admire intriguing artefacts at Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery in Klang, and shop at popular malls like 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Sunway Pyramid and Mitsui Outlet Park.
4. SAFET Y FIRST
Feeling safe while on a vacation is one of the crucial factors for all travellers. As such, strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) has been implemented by the Selangor State Government to ensure travellers’ safety and peace of mind. Only those who are fully vaccinated are allowed to travel in Selangor. Tourism industry players also practice strict adherence to the SOPs in their operations, including reducing the maximum capacity of their premises up to 50% from normal to ensure physical distancing.
Rawang Bypass by heartpatrick @ IG
When you travel to the State of Selangor, you are bound to be amazed by its diversity of cultures and customs, which are the backbone of the country’s tourism industry. The combination of different ethnicities makes the State even more noticeable through its colourful festivals and cultural events. You can also get up close and personal with the Mah Meri tribe by visiting Mah Meri Cultural Village in Kuala Langat. Despite the differences in culture, religion and race, the residents of the state lives in peace and harmonyl. anyone who love the airplanes. At Anjung Spotter, they are able to capture taking-off or landing airplanes from various interesting angles; the closest they may be too! The open concept gives an exceptional experience to the visitors, especially to children; creating one-of-a-kind memories.
5. TECH SAVVY
Selangor even embarks on digital tourism transformation, especially in overcoming the impacts of from the COVID-19 pandemic. This transformation allows travellers to experience digital tourism in Selangor, and get the best out of their travels. The Selangor State Government via Tourism Selangor extends support in the development of ‘Go Selangor’ mobile application, which will be launched in the first quarter of 2022, promising a comprehensive digital tourism experience.
6. CONVENIENT CONNECTIVIT Y Selangor is highly regarded for its advanced connectivity, accessible transportation services and up-to-date communication networks. It is so easy to “Pusing Selangor Dulu” because travellers can move from one attraction to another with ease within the state using efficient modes of public transport such as the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services, including the Smart Selangor Bus that offers commuter free rides to selected routes.
Apart from the reasons mentioned above. Exploring Selangor in 2022 guarantees a unique experience. With a unique blend of modern urbanity coloured by cultural and heritage diversity, the State of Selangor maintains its status as a leading tourist destination in Malaysia.
Nasi Ambeng by nadhque @ IG
Nevertheless, all travellers and tourists are reminded to kindly adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the National Security Council in accordance to Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan, such as ensuring social distancing, wearing face mask at all times in public, and applying hand sanitiser regularly, for the well-being of many. Log on to Tourism Selangor’s official website, www. selangor.travel for ideas on what to do and see in Selangor, as well as follow Tourism Selangor on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube platforms to stay inspired! What are you waiting for? #PusingSelangorDulu!
9 Underrated Family-friendly Attractions in Perak Wor th Exploring 068
Te x t b y A LI F F A S H R A F Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
We often hear that people go to Ipoh city when they visit Perak, either to savour the popular Nasi Vanggey or to frolic around Mirror Lake. However, to further enrich your experience in Perak, how about exploring more places or attractions, especially those that are underrated and family-friendly? Read on to obtain some ideas on where to go somewhere new with your family…
1. RUMAH SUNGAI KAMPUNG KUAK, LENGGONG https://www.facebook.com/ rumahsungaizgsalc
Perfect for finding peace, Rumah Sungai promises a refreshing environment and serene atmosphere. Operational since 2018, this quaint property offers seven accommodation units in total, with rates at MYR220 per night for air-conditioned units and MYR180 for non-air-conditioned unit. All units face the soothing view of the shallow stream, which can be easily accessed and safe for children. Some activities that you can do here are simple hiking at the cost of MYR60 per person and fishing. You can make bookings by contacting the property through its Facebook page. 069
2. SUKA-SUKA LAKE RETREAT, LENGGONG https://www.facebook.com/ SukaSukaLakeRetreat
This retreat, which resembles a traditional Malay village, has been welcoming travellers for 25 years. Owned by Mr. Aziz and Mrs. Asiah, this place is a must for those who long to immerse themselves in an authentic Malay kampung environment. The retreat contains a collection of reassembled 11 traditional Perak Malay houses close to a body of water. One of the houses, Rumah Makan Mak Limah, is designated just for dining and serves tasty Malay homecooked meals. Guests can indulge in various activities such as village walk, cultural dinner, kayaking, fishing, playing traditional games, and cooking class. The retreat charges MYR125 per person per night, which it includes meals and unlimited kayak rides. Those who want to escape the hectic city life should come here.
3. RUMAH AYAH AN RUSA & KELULUT LENGGONG https://www.facebook.com/ herlyzaLOVEakram/
Could you imagine petting a tame deer and sitting next to it? You can do so at Rumah Ayah An Rusa & Kelulut Lenggong, which is home to a total of 10 deer and travellers are allowed to freely pet, feed, and take photos with them. Besides, the place also has a stingless bee farm, which you might be able to sip the honey straight from the hive. This place is open every day from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The entrance rate is MYR5 per adult and MYR3 per child. 070
4. TT5 MAZE PARK, BATU GAJAH https://tt5perak.com/attractions
This Maze Park has been opened since December 2020, and it is specially designed for family enjoyment and education about Perak’s tin mining history that is slowly being forgotten. Being 750 metres long, this park is divided into eight zones: Stone Maze as a walkway; Stone Gallery to educate about types of stone; Bengal Tunnel; Bamboo Maze; Art Gallery that pays homage to the tin mining history through paintings; Bunny Maze; Recycle Maze that has walls constructed from glass bottles and recycled footwear as planters; and Tree Maze. There is also a playground, and an open concept petting zoo for children. Travellers can also savour dim sum and pau (filled buns) at The Can Tin café upon exiting the maze. The ticket price is MYR5 per person.
5. SUNFLOWER GARDEN, BAGAN DATUK https://www.facebook.com/ ladangbungamataharibagandatukperak
If you feel like walking through a field of sunflowers, you need to come to this sunflower garden in Bagan Datuk because the place is filled by 2,000 sunflower plants and look amazing in pictures. You can also feed the fish and ducks. The entrance fees is MYR5 per person, and this garden is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. So, dress vibrantly and bring along props for images that can bring in more likes and shares on social media. 071
6. PULAU MISA MELAYU, BOTA https://www.facebook.com/misamelayu/
This Cultural Heritage Village on Pulau Misa Melayu is a meeting point to hold a variety of cultural activities like music, dance, and traditional fashion exhibition. Established since 1996 within an area covering four hectares, this village gives travellers the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of ancient Malay lifestyle. Symbolically, the location of this village is not far from the first ruling centre of the Sultanate of Perak called Tanah Abang. On weekends, the locals often hold celebrations in the style of old, complete with the accompaniment of nobles and warriors, betel ceremony, and traditional song and dance performances. This place is amazing for those who are interested to immerse themselves in an ancient Malay atmosphere.
7. LATA TEBING TINGGI, SELAMA https://www.mdselama.gov.my/ms/ pelawat/lata-tebing-tinggi
Looking for a breath-taking waterfall in Perak? Then head to Lata Tebing Tinggi in Selama, which is a popular picnic spot near a waterfall with enchanting nature and environment. The place is supported by public facilities, and there are chalets for travellers to rent by hours or per night. Fun activities that can be experienced here are swimming, having barbecue, and riding on all-terrain vehicles (ATV) under the supervision of welltrained guides. 8. SUNGAI KLAH HOT SPRING, SUNGKAI
Sungai Klah Hot Spring Park is one of the best maintained hot spring parks in Malaysia. The serenity here allows you to destress. It possesses several natural hot springs that range from 35°C to 100°C. You can even boil eggs in one of the pools. For those who prefer to keep cool, there is a cold-water pool as well with slides for children’s use. On top of that, you can book a private jacuzzi and pamper yourself with a therapeutic traditional Malay massage. A food court serving local delicacies is available as well. 9. HORNBILL FEEDING, PULAU PANGKOR
Have you ever fed a hornbill before? At Teluk Nipah, you get to look at hornbills up-close. The species of hornbills found on Pangkor island is Oriental Pied, often seen flying near Sunset View Chalet owned by Pak Nordin. These hornbills frequent the area at 6:30 p.m. every day, without miss because that is the time when Pak Nordin feeds the birds; he will also invite visitors to join in feeding them. Though the experience might seem scary at first, it is fun to see those birds being fed. For interesting pictures, set your camera on slow motion mode when recording the birds flying in to take food from your hand.
P l a c e s t o E x p l o r e i n P u t r a j a y a Te x t b y H A D Y A R M E E N
Putrajaya is Malaysia’s seat of administration. The site, which was formerly covered by rubber and palm oil plantation, has now converted into a lovely well-planned ‘green’ metropolis, complete with charming parks, lakes and communal gardens. Putrajaya isn’t just known for its lush greenery; this modern city is also home to a plethora of interesting attractions, stunning structures and unique monuments that make it a fascinating location to explore. Let’s see the interesting places that can be visited in Putrajaya!
Saujana Hijau Park consists of three zones: European Garden (Bustan Eropah), Oriental Garden (Bustan Oriental) and English Garden (Bustan Inggeris). Image by Hasif Hamsyari.
1. SAUJANA HIJAU PARK https://www.ppj.gov.my/en/second-menu/taman-saujana-hijau Picnics are a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine while meeting up with friends and family, and Taman Saujana in Putrajaya is one of the best places for picnics. This 41-hectare park, filled with shady pine trees, picturesque slopes and a beautifully landscaped park, has three gardens and plenty of open spaces where you may spread your mat while being surrounded by lots of pretty flowers. Besides picnics, you can also jog and cycle here. Don’t forget to bring along a kite or bubble sticks; the little ones are sure to be thrilled!
Taman Botani Putrajaya is among the earliest parks to open in Putrajaya. Image by Shahevenddy
Putrajaya Wetlands Park is the place to appreciate wildlife, especially the birds, including tranquil scenery. Image by Hasif Hamsyari.
2. PU TRAJAYA BOTANICAL GARDEN https://www.ppj.gov.my/en/second-menu/taman-botani
4. CRUISE TASIK PU TRAJAYA http://www.cruisetasikputrajaya.com
3. PU TRAJAYA WETLANDS PARK https://www.ppj.gov.my/en/second-menu/taman-wetland
5. PU TRAJAYA LAKE RECREATIONAL CENTRE https://www.facebook.com/PutrajayaLRC
Putrajaya Botanical Garden, which spans 230 acres and sits across a large lake, is known as the ‘mother of all gardens’ in this federal territory. The gardens have an ethnobotany and conservation sector that plants crops and endangered wild plants for research and conservation purposes, on top of floral attractions with over 750 plants from several continents. Take a leisurely walk or cycle around Putrajaya Botanical Gardens; a leisurely tour might take hours, especially when you stop to photograph the many unique tropical trees and flowers from around the world.
The Putrajaya Wetlands Park is Malaysia’s first and largest man-made freshwater wetland. The wetlands function as the city’s kidneys and the park is now a popular ecotourism destination, besides serving as a wildlife refuge, attracting a wide range of animals, including various species of birds. The vast park is ideal for a rejuvenating and relaxing stroll, especially if you were searching for a quick midday retreat.
Take the cruise around Putrajaya Lake, a man-made wonder spanning 650 hectares of magnificent waters and exotic wetlands. At the same time, you can admire over 20 landmarks that can be seen from the lake while cruising. There are two types of cruise boats to choose from: a sleek and elegant yacht; or a traditional wooden perahu (traditional Malay boat) called Dondang Sayang. You also can bring your loved one for a romantic dinner on a love boat!
This centre, also known as Pusat Rekreasi Air, rents kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and other watercrafts for use on the 76.8-hectare lake. Travellers can expect to traverse the huge lake set against a backdrop of lush foliage, which is gloriously serene for city inhabitants who crave for respite. The centre has been a magnet for outdoorsy families since it first opened to the public in 2003.
6. PU TRAJAYA CHALLENGE PARK https://www.facebook.com/Putrajaya.Challenge.Park
Putrajaya Challenge Park – better known as PCP among locals – is a vast extreme sports facility comprising wall-climbing, skate park and mountainbiking park. PCP encompasses 30 hectares and is equipped with extreme sports facilities such as a big indoor rock-climbing facility, an intricate BMX skateboard park and outdoor bike paths, designed for sports lovers and thrill seekers. Here you can compete in skateboard trick competitions with your pals or get a full-body exercise via rock climbing.
Try out skateboarding at the Putrajaya Challenge Park. Image by Putrajaya Challenge Park.
Couples can rent and dine on a ‘Love Boat’ provided by Cruise Tasik Putrajaya. Image by Hasif Hamsyari.
The stingless bee honey possesses a sweet flavour with a tinge of sourness. Image by Shah Evanddy
From fresh raw food to ready-to-eat meals, travellers are spoiled for choice at the Farmer’s Market in Precinct 2, Putrajaya. Image by Azwan Ali
7. KELULU T FARMS IN PU TRAJAYA
9. PU TRAJAYA STEPS
Who would have thought that in the middle Putrajaya, there are a number of thriving stingless bee farms? One of them is located at Taman Rimba Desa, Precinct 9, operated by Koperasi Komuniti Penduduk Putrajaya Berhad, while another is a community farm in D’Putra Rimba, Precinct 15, run by the P15H4 Community Association. Both farms are run using proper beekeeping techniques and use hygienic practices to harvest honey. When you come to the farm, you get to taste fresh honey directly from the hives.
8.FARMER’S MARKET, PRECINCT 2 https://www.facebook.com/pasartaniputrajayaselasajumaat
Next to the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque is the Putrajaya Precinct 2 Farmers’ Market, also known as the Putrajaya Night Market. Various types of foods, from traditional to cosmopolitan, are available for you to buy and take home, or munch on site. Aside from ready-to-eat items, raw vegetables, fresh fish, and chicken are sold as well.
Climb up the Putrajaya Steps to reach the Putrajaya Landmark on top of the hill and take in the mesmerising view of Putrajaya. Image by Perbadanan Putrajaya.
People say that these stairs remind them of the Spanish Steps in Rome, the Baha Gardens in Haifa, Israel and the Potemkin Stairs in Odesa, Ukraine. Colourful trees like pink tecoma, bougainvillaea and petunias are planted, flanking the garden-themed Putrajaya Steps. Expect a few food vendors to open here soon for passers-by to enjoy. As a comparison, Batu Caves has a flight of 272 steps, whereas Putrajaya Steps have 250.
10. ORE KAMPUNG https://www.facebook.com/retorekampung
If you want to find local traditional cuisine for lunch, Ore Kampung is the best choice. Located in Precinct 8, this restaurant serves popular food from Peninsular Malaysia’s East Coast like nasi dagang and nasi kerabu. You no longer have to go far to find East Coast dishes to satisfy your craving. The omelette bread here is equally flavoursome. The restaurant opens daily from 6:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. (3:00 p.m. on Sundays).
Some of the mouth-watering dishes served at Ore Kampung, including the popular nasi kerabu. Image by Hasif Hamsyari.
Gaya Special Feature
B e A S m a r t Consumer Do you know that as a consumer in Malaysia, you are protected under the Consumer Protection Act 1999? We all make purchases almost every day in our lives, be it in store or online; but many do not actively practice their consumer rights when making these purchases. This in turn has led to unfairness and injustice, including market abuses prior or post-purchase. Image by Nathan Dumlao
So, to help you become a more informed and smarter consumer, find out your rights and the platforms you could use should things go wrong when you make your purchases:
Image by Alex Hudson
1. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS • The Right to Be Informed A consumer has the right to receive accurate information in order to make wise decisions when choosing a product or a service. Businesses are obliged to provide certain details about their products/services. • The Right to Choose A consumer has the right to make decisions when choosing a product or service with the guarantee that the products or services offered are in satisfactory condition. • The Right to Safety A consumer has a right to products that are safe to use. It is the manufacturers’ legal responsibility to make safe products.
Image by Viki Mohamad
• The Right to Be Heard A consumer has the right to voice out a complaint about unsatisfactory products or services. • The Right to Have Problems Corrected A consumer is entitled to compensation for damaged, substandard, or unsatisfactory products or services. • The Right to Consumer Education A consumer has the right to learn how a market system works in order to make smart decisions when choosing a product or a service. • The Right to Service A consumer has the right to be treated in a fair and courteous manner regardless of race, gender, income, or age.
Image by Duncan Meyer
2. KNOW HOW TO TAKE ACTION The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Religious Affairs, Consumerism and Halal Industry encourages the members of the public to exercise their consumer rights and report any misconduct that happens at any level of business through the official complaint channels as stated below: • WhatsApp: +6 019 279 4317 • E-aduan portal: e-aduan.kpdnhep.gov.my • Call Centre: 1-800-886-800 • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • Phone App: Ez ADU KPDNHEP • KPDNHEP Selangor Operation Centre: +6 03 5514 4393 / +6 03 5518 1810 / +6 03 5512 5485
3. KNOW THE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION The Tribunal for Consumer Claims established under section 85, Part XII of The Consumer Protection Act 1999 [Act 599] offers an alternative dispute resolution between a customer and a seller or a vendor. Should customers receive poor quality of products or unsatisfactory services, they may file complaint against the sellers or vendors through this quasi-judicial body and receive a solution in a convenience, fast manner and at a minimal cost. *This message is brought to you by The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Religious Affairs, Consumerism and Halal Industry.
B e A S u s t a i n a b l e C o n s u m e r As consumers, we need to practice sustainable consumption to live in a clean and safe environment. But how to do it? Well, we can all start by taking active steps to reduce your carbon footprint, usage of natural resources and the amount of waste you produce daily. Here are five tips to help you make conscious efforts towards becoming a sustainable consumer.
MAKE SMARTER FLIGHT CHOICES
CHOOSE CARBON-FREE TRANSPORT
Air travel emissions are one of the significant contributors to climate change. But if you must fly, be sure to pack light to lessen the plane’s load and try to book a non-stop flight. This is because connecting flights usually require flying greater total distances and more fuel usage. When possible, opt for self-propelled modes of transport to get around. They are not only good for the environment, but also a great way to get fit! Production is a major contributor to climate change, so whenever you shop, select products that are meant to last longer from ethical brands. Moreover, you can opt to shop for second-hand items to support circular economy and create less waste.
• INCORPORATES SUSTAINABLE HOUSEHOLD ALTERNATIVES Look around your house and switch your daily items to more sustainable alternatives such as glass water bottles, reusable cleaning cloth, biodegradable trash bags and shower head that uses less water. You can also adopt a simple habit by composting your leftover food waste into fertiliser to reduce waste.
BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
Keep reusable bags in the car or in your everyday bag so that you always have them available.
The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Religious A ffairs, Consumerism and Halal Indust r y
The committee, which was established since October 2020 and spearheaded by The Honourable Mohd Zawawi bin Ahmad Mughni, has been taking a number of steps to spread awareness and provide support to consumers in Selangor. Below are some of the recent programmes that have been organised and supported by the committee. • THE DIALOGUE SESSION ON CONSUMERISM DURING THE KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR 2022
The session, which is also broadcasted on Facebook Live, discusses matters and policies relating to consumerism in the state of Selangor.
• EMPOWERING FAMILIES AS CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE CONSUMERS
The Selangor State Executive Councillor for Islamic Religious Affairs, Consumerism and Halal Industry encourages the public to reduce waste by recycling and repurposing materials through creative exploration. Members of the public also stand the chance to win prizes totalling MYR5,700 by submitting upcycled innovations made from recycled materials.
• HALAL INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT DIALOGUE SESSION WITH SMALL & MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISE (SME) REPRESENTATIVES
The session aims to provide information on Selangor state government’s initiatives to stimulate economic activities related to the halal industry and the incentives provided to help expand businesses in Selangor. During the session, the Honourable Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni announces that the state government is developing an app to make it easier for the public to verify Halal status of products in the market using one platform.
• SAFE CONSUMER IN CYBERSPACE, DEALING WITH THREATS AND CRIMES AGAINST INFOCOMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) TOOLS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEB APPLICATIONS 2022 PROGRAMME
The purpose of this programme is to provide exposure and information on cybercrime that occurs among the people resulting in the loss of millions of Ringgit.
MONITORING CONSUMER COMPLAINTS
The Islamic Affairs, Consumer Affairs and Halal Industry Committee works closely with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Selangor Branch, in tracking and resolving disputes between consumers and businesses operating in Selangor.
• SUPPORTED THE CONSUMER CHOICE AWARD ORGANISED BY MAJLIS TINDAKAN PENGGUNA NEGARA (MPTN), SELANGOR BRANCH
A total of 66 companies out of 213 nominees garner the Consumer’s Choice Award (CCA) for providing exemplary services to the consumers within their respective industries. One of the recipients is Rosyam Mart, a popular consumer goods supermarket chain that operates 24 hours daily.
Kelantan During Ramadan and Beyond 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 Malaysians, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan was experienced differently in 2022 compared to the earlier years of 2020 and 2021 when the Malaysian government imposed many movement restrictions and standard operation procedures (SOP) to contain the spread of COVID-19. Finally, travellers managed to experience Ramadan like the pre-COVID-19 years, or at least close to it since the government has decided to ease the restriction since April 2022; bazaars and mosques throughout Malaysia can now accommodate crowds of people at full capacity! It has been quite some time since Gaya Travel last covered Kelantan, so I decide to travel up to Peninsular Malaysia’s East Coast to the land of Che Siti Wan Kembang to find out what the state is up to of late. Islam is strong in Kelantan, which is colloquially dubbed as Serambi Mekah (‘Mecca’s Verandah’). Gaya Travel recommends this state for travellers who want to experience not only Ramadan but also beyond because the state brims with unique attractions and experiences all year round that are bound to amaze you. Read on to find out about the list of places you can discover when visiting Kelantan... Tip: When visiting Kelantan, especially during Ramadan, travellers are advised to wear modest clothes to respect the local culture and mores.
The facade of Rumah Tiang 12 in Kampung Dusun Muda.
Clockwise from Top: The facade of Masjid Muhammadi; Travellers can witness the process of making akok traditionally at Akok Kampung Padang Enggang; and some of the murals that can be found around Kota Bharu Street Art.
KOTA BHARU Muzium Islam https://muzium.kelantan.gov.my/index.php/en/muzium3/ muzium-islam This museum in Kota Bharu is a good place for travellers to embark their journey in Kelantan. The museum showcases over 350 varying exhibits relating to Islamic socio-cultural heritage, including from other countries. Travellers are bound to learn about the history of Islamic development in Kelantan, including Islamic civilisations in other countries. Besides exhibits, travellers should also pay attention to the building itself because it is also a masterpiece on its own. The building, completed in 1902, resembles the traditional Malay Kelantanese house in near the end of the 19th century. Among its notable features are its singgora-tiled constructed in limas bungkus style and walls graced by janda berhias motifs. Kala Sentral https://www.facebook.com/KALA Sentral-105416861929879 Strategically located in the middle of Kota Bharu, Kala Sentral serves as a one-stop-centre for travellers who want to buy Kelantan-made products. Opened since 6 February 2022, there are more than a thousand products from 175 Kelantanese entrepreneurs being sold here. The products comprise food, crafts, textiles and more.
Bazar Ramadan Stadium Sultan Muhammad IV When you ask the locals regarding which Ramadan bazaar they would recommend, chances are this bazaar would be the first to come out form their mouths! Hundreds of stalls can be found at this bazaar selling mouth-watering delicacies and must-haves during Ramadan like roti john, sosej tongmo, tepung pelita and nasi kerabu. Be spoiled over hundreds of Kelantanese snacks or sweetmeats available here including nekbat, tahi itik, buah tanjung, jala emas and more. Jom Colek at The Grand Renai Hotel https://www.grandrenai.com We stopped by at The Grand Renai Hotel for a special moreh (light meal shared after tarawih prayers during Ramadan) to savour colek, which is a popular snack normally served during the Muslim fasting month. It has multiple version such as colek buah (mixed fruits), colek ayam (chicken), colek paru (cow’s lungs) and colek perut (tripe). The important aspect of colek is that it must be accompanied by thick, black sauce made from sugar, soy and tamarind sauce, among others. To experience this comfortably, the Ramadan-only promotion Jom Colek menu at The Grand Renai Hotel is worth considering. The menu starts from MYR80 for Set A (for four to five persons) and MYR50 for Set B (two to three persons).
Masjid Muhammadi https://www.facebook.com/Masjid-Muhammadi-KotaBharu-301272016549590/ Due to threat of floods, the original wooden structure of Muhammadi Mosque that was built in 1867 was transferred to its current location in Kota Bharu from Sungai Budor, Seberang Paloh. It was in 1921 that the wooden mosque was replaced by a new building. Four 70-foot-tall towers – one of them adorned with four giant clocks – are attached to the mosque. Officiated on 31 July 1931 by the late Sultan Ismail ibni al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad IV, the mosque received the name ‘Muhammadi’ as an homage to Sultan Muhammad IV. It now serves as the Kelantan state mosque and can accommodate 2,400 worshippers at a time.
Telaga Tok Kenali (Tok Kenali’s Well) Muhammad Yusuf bin Ahmad – better known as Tok Kenali – is an eminent, respected scholar in Islamic education. He greatly contributed to the spread of Islamic teachings not only across Kelantan but also Southern Thailand during the early 20th century. Tok Kenali showed an incredible interest in knowledge that he went to as far as Mecca to study. Once he returned, he gave back to his people by establishing the traditional educational institution called the pondok to help deepen the locals’ knowledge about Islam. Besides becoming an Islamic teacher, he was also a translator, and even held the position as the first editorin-chief for Pengasuh, the official magazine for Kelantan Islamic Council that is still in existence today. He passed away on 19 November 1933.
Wakaf Che Yeh Night Market This market is usually packed during weekends because this is where locals find things like clothes and accessories, besides hanging out while enjoying special delicacies like the Kelantanese cherished dish served during the nights of Ramadan (Muslim fasting month) called colek, which consists of mixed fruits and now developed into different variations.
When Tok Kenali was still alive, he would walk to a well that is located four kilometres away from his house to find inspiration for his writings; this well appeared dear to him. In January 2020, Kelantan Mosque Staff and Officers Association decided to give this well a new lease of life to remind the people of Tok Kenali’s valuable contributions to the society.
eggs, wheat flour, coconut milk, pandan leaves, and palm sugar. Travellers can also get a closer look on how the akok is baked manually using charcoal. The recipe is now passed down to the second generation and owned by Sakinah Ismail. For years, this place has become a local favourite to taste the authentic, traditionally-made akok. Rumah Tiang 12 This traditional house believed to be built around 1870 was originally located in Kampung Jalan Atas Paloh. The current owner, Johan Ariff Ismail, was there to research on Malay architecture with his team before stumbling upon this house. At that time, it belonged to the fifth generation of Haji Abdul Kadir. Johan relocated the house to its current location in Kampung Dusun Muda where 80 percent of its original structure are preserved, while the rest are replaced due to irreparable damage. The house is said to have the most complete components to showcase how the majestic Malay Kelantanese house look like back then. That includes the gate, pemeleh, bendul, and singgora roof. To visit this house as a group, contact Muhammad Farhan (+6 011 5665 3661). Pasar Siti Khadijah https://pasar-siti-khadijah-kota-bharu.business.site/?utm_ source=gmb&utm_medium=referral No trip to Kelantan is complete without visiting this longstanding market opened since 1985. Originally, the threestorey market was named Buluh Kubu Market where the majority of its vendors are women. It was then changed to its current name as a tribute to the wife of Prophet Muhammad, Siti Khadijah, who was a successful businesswoman.
Top: One of main highlights of Masjid Noor Aini Pasir Hor is the traditional door with intricate carvings of verses from the Holy Quran near to the minbar (pulpit). Bottom: Succulent ketupat sotong found in Pasar Siti Khadijah.
Masjid Noor Aini Pasir Hor https://www.facebook.com/Masjid-Noor-Aini-Mukim-PasirHor-866855197015685/ The current mosque is actually a new building that replaced the old Masjid Pasir Hor on the exact spot. It was built in 2008 and officially opened on 15 April 2011. The new name is taken from the name of Tengku Datin Noor Aini, the wife of Ahmad Rithauddeen Ismail, the royal prince of Kelantan who sponsored the construction of the mosque. The intricate design is mainly taken from Nusantara motifs with parts of it brought from Sumatra. The mosque can accommodate 1,250 worshippers at any one time. Akok Kampung Padang Enggang https://www.instagram.com/akok_padang_enggang/?hl=en A family-run business, this humble stall only focusses on selling akok, a sweet, wrinkly Kelantanese cake made from
Apart from souvenirs, kitchen utensils and fabrics, there is not much to explore here as the food court is closed during Ramadan. But fret not because travellers are bound to be amazed when they can find many Kelantanese snacks and sweetmeats like nekbat, kuba guling, jala emas, ketupat sotong, labu sira, akok, and piana, are sold here. Kota Bharu Street Art In solidarity with Palestine, the murals that grace the back alley of shophouses near Jalan Dato Pati in Kota Bharu depict the struggles of the Palestinians. Other than that, travellers can take Instagram-worthy shots with murals showing Kelantanese food, art form, public figures, landmarks and more! Hotel Perdana Kota Bharu https://perdana.attanahotels.com/perdana-kota-bharu This hotel is one of the best in Kota Bharu. Its 272 rooms and suites are a warm welcome to those who seek comfortable, value-for-money accommodation. The room comes with thoughtful amenities and access to facilities like the gymnasium and swimming pool. When I stayed at this hotel during Ramadan, I tried the hotel’s Ramadan buffet at all-day dining restaurant, Cerana, which is reasonably priced and
comes recommended. Oh, the hotel also provides wake-up call for guests to have their sahur (pre-dawn meal before Muslims begin fasting)! The hotel also holds tarawih prayer for guests to join. It even offers a shuttle service to Masjid Muhammadi for Muslim guests to perform their Subuh prayer. TUMPAT Masjid Ar-Rahman Kubang Batang https://www.facebook.com/masjidarrahmankubangbatang Completed in May 2021, this majestic mosque is a new religious attraction in Tumpat, Kelantan. Cladded in stunning marble, this mosque took inspiration from other landmark mosques around the globe such as Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, and mosques in Cordoba. The design is painstakingly made to carry different meanings, for example the mihrab chamber has five tiers to symbolise the five daily obligatory prayers, the six main pillars represent the six pillar of faith in Islam, while the seven doors represent the seven owners whose land is where the mosque is built upon. At the total cost of MYR20 million and covering 27,000 metres squared, the mosque can
accommodate up to 3,200 worshippers at any one time. Pengkalan Kubor Duty Free Zone https://www.facebook.com/pengkalankubor Not many travellers know this but Kelantan has a duty free zone too. Established in 1990, this fenced up zone with only two exit-entry points is supervised by the Malaysian Royal Customs. Travellers can enjoy shopping for various things, including kitchen wares, clothes, and the perfect souvenir of all, chocolates! For the convenience of the travellers, it also has facilities like public toilets, food stalls, and prayer room. Kak Yah Budu Paye https://www.facebook.com/kakyah.budupaye Budu, a Kelantanese staple condiment, is actually sauce made from fermented anchovies. It can be found almost in every corner of the state but one of the more popular producers is Kak Yah Budu Paye. Traditionally and authentically prepared, the anchovies are fermented inside a tempayan (a traditional stoneware jar), which is called paye in local slang. But in recent years, due to higher demand, the anchovies are fermented inside larger container.
One of the sections in Muzium Wau where travellers can differentiate traditional kites across Malaysia.
In his lifetime, he was also a good friend of Tok Kenali, another Kelantanese scholar, and studied Islamic teachings in several places, including Patani and Mecca. He even opened a pondok (traditional Islamic school) and was known to be excellent in silat (traditional Malay martial art) and poetry. RS Serunding https://www.facebook.com/rshanenterprise One of the most popular dishes during Eid Celebration in Malaysia is the serunding, which is meat floss consumed with steamy rice. In Kelantan, RS Serunding is one of the established producers of serunding. This company is based in Kampung Laut, a village famous for producing best quality serunding for decades. Though travellers might be able to get delicious serunding in many shops that dot throughout Kelantan, the serunding sold at RS Serunding in Kampung Laut is where they can buy it fresh. There are three types of serunding sold here: beef serunding (MYR56 per kilogram for imported beef and MYR66 per kilogram for local beef ), chicken serunding (MYR56 per kilogram), and fish serunding (MYR45 per kilogram). PASIR PUTEH
One of the stunning facets of Masjid Tengku Razaleigh.
Muzium Wau Kelantan https://www.facebook.com/muziumwau Located in Pantai Sri Tujoh, Tumpat, the museum displays everything travellers need to know about wau, the traditional kite that is close to the hearts of many Malay children in the old days. Each and every type of kites in Malaysia is exhibited here in detail, including Malaysia’s very own traditional kites such as Wau Bulan, Wau Jala Budi, and Wau Kucing, including Kelantan’s official kite, Wau Puyuh. Selected kites from other countries like Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Australia are also on display. The museum organises sessions for groups who wish to learn how to make wau manually as well. Suluk Tok Selehor ‘Suluk’ means to purify one’s soul by bringing oneself closer to God and this concept is strongly connected to Sufism. Suluk Tok Selehor is where the Kelantanese respected scholar, Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Uthman bin Senik (affectionately known as Tok Selehor) brought himself to search for inner peace and remove the feelings of arrogance or pride. To achieve that level of humility and to sharply focus in worshipping Allah, Tok Selehor spent weeks inside a small, narrow chamber located below ground in the middle of a Muslim graveyard, which travellers can visit to this day. Not far from it is Tok Selehor’s tomb lying next to Selehor Mosque.
Madrasah Ihya Ulumuddin https://www.facebook.com/Madrasah-IhyaUlumuddin-667904679976084 Established in June 2014 by an academician from Kota Bharu, Mohamed Khairudi Mohamed Alwi, this male only Islamic boarding school that sits on a five-acre land in Pasir Puteh currently has around 100 students, including senior citizens. The teaching is based on books such as kitab Turath, Fardhu Ain, and the Holy Quran. Besides religious syllabus, students are taught to develop basic skills such as cooking. In 2017, the school won the Best Inspirational Islamic School in Kelantan. The school organizes events for public to join during certain occasions such as reciting the Quran during Ramadan. Contact Ustaz Di at +6 013 639 3219 for more information. GUA MUSANG Masjid Tengku Razaleigh Spanning 70,000 metres squared above a 1.5-hectare land, this mosque is worth a visit if travellers were heading south from Kota Bharu. The design is said to be inspired from Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and can accommodate 3,500 worshippers at any one time. It has nine 30-metre-tall towers, seven domes and an expansive open area in the middle. At the cost of RM28 million, the mosque’s awe-inspiring interior is just as stunning as its exterior. Gaya Travel Magazine expresses our heartfelt gratitude to Tourism Malaysia East Coast Region Office for making the writer’s trip to Kelantan smooth-sailing.
Playing Tourist in Kuala Lumpur 092 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
Kuala Lumpur is not all about skyscraping towers and concrete buildings. The city is also blessed with beautiful gardens, parks or urban forests that travellers can enjoy. It also possesses treasured, wellmaintained heritage buildings that remind us of the past. And not all restaurants serve modern or Western cuisines; as a matter of fact, there are now more restaurants catering to local and varied tastes. To list everything is simply impossible. However, we hope we could give you some ideas on how you to appreciate this beloved city on your next visit.
FOR FOODIES Malaya Garden www.facebook.com/malayagarden This tropical-rainforest-themed café serves Eastern and Western cuisines with a twist of local ingredients and traditional dishes. Must try: Nasi Lemak Malaya and Smoked Salmon Roti Telur Benedict. Tugu View Café Popular during lunch, this café lying just next to Taman Tugu and Tugu Negara is a must-visit to taste kari kepala ikan (fish head curry), said to be one of the best in town.
D’Tebing Foodcourt Located near the iconic Dataran Merdeka, D’Tebing Foodcourt is an ideal option to visit for a satisfying local or western lunch or dinner. Must try: Nasi Ayam and Kopi Gantung. LaPark www.facebook.com/laparkfoodtrucks There are almost 30 food trucks at this place in Jalan Conlay serving all kinds of foods and drinks! Must try: Nasi Kerabu Daging Bakar, Ayam Gunting Cheese and Cheesy on Fire Toast. Ruma Puteh www.facebook.com/rumaputehcafe This is a good place to take Instagram-worthy shots and hang out with family and friends. Must try: Nasi Rewang and Kacang Phool. Kampung Baru To locals, Kampung Baru needs no introduction. It is a popular destination to savour local and Thai-inspired dishes, making it often packed during dinner. Must try: Nasi Lemak Wanjo and Suraya Seafood.
Previous page: One of the giant murals that reminisces the old Kwai Chai Hong. This page, clockwise from top, left: Some of the dishes served at Malaya Garden; The famous fish head curry that should be savoured at Tugu View Cafe; The entrance of LaPark; One of the Instagramworthy spaces within Ruma Puteh.
FOR HISTORY & CULTURAL AFFICIONADOS Rumah Degil Originally located at No.41, Jalan Chow Kit, the name Rumah Degil (Stubborn House) refers to its status as the last standing traditional Malay house in Chow Kit that seems to defy the surrounding development. Belonged to Haji Jaafar Sutan Sinombar, the house is now located on the grounds of the National Art Gallery. Rumah Abdullah Hukum Abdullah Hukum is a familiar name when it comes to the development of Kuala Lumpur circa 1880’s. Travellers can visit this house, which has now relocated next to Masjid Jamek Abdullah Hukum on top of a storeyed carpark that is now stands on the house’s original ground. It lies. Little India Spanning from Jalan Travers to Jalan Tun Sambanthan, this area is where travellers can find everything related to the Indian community in Malaysia, from sarees and flower garlands to spices and delectable Indian delicacies like laddu, chutney and rose masala tea! FOR NATURE LOVERS Taman Tugu https://tamantugu.my This urban forest park with over six kilometres of jungle trails is suitable for families to trek as it is equipped with convenient facilities including parking space, toilets and helpful signboards along the way. KL Bird Park www.klbirdpark.com Home to around 3,000 birds from 200 species spread across four zones and standing upon 20.9 acres of land, KL Bird Park is the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary. Suitable for all ages, the park is also wheelchair-friendly. Perdana Botanical Garden www.klbotanicalgarden.gov.my Within this garden, there is so much to explore: Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden, Sunken Garden, Cycad Island, Deer Park, Herbarium, Brownea Street and more! Anthophiles and outdoor enthusiasts should never miss the chance to admire the exotic collections of plants available here. Taman Tasik Titiwangsa Another favourite park for locals to jog, have picnic and cycling, this park is educational too. One of the main highlights is the Titiwangsa Range Canopy Bridge where certain unique tropical trees found around the Titiwangsa Range are cultivated here.
KL Butterfly Park www.klbutterflypark.com How does it feel to be surrounded by five thousand living butterflies? That Barbie-kind-of-experience is hard to find except in this 80,000-foot-squared area! There are many species you can find with different sizes, colours and patterns, including the iconic Rajah Brooke’s birdwing. FOR ADRENALINE JUNKIE & INSTAGRAM ROYALTY Hauntu https://ihauntu.com We wouldn’t call it a haunted house because it functions more like a theatrical game where travellers are part of the casts, only without scripts, since they need to solve mysteries and puzzles to get to the ending based on the choices made and actions taken. This experience is surely thrilling, chilling and exciting! Berjaya Times Square Theme Park https://berjayatimessquarethemeparkkl.com This is Malaysia’s largest indoor theme park and it opens daily! There are a many games and rides that leave you awe-struck and excited at the same time such as Supersonic Odyssey, Spinning Orbit and Ooort’s Express. Illusion 3D Art Museum https://illusion3dart.com Located inside the Central Market, this museum displays three-dimensional paintings with easy guidelines for photo-op ideas. Besides paintings, travellers are bound to be in awe of the museum’s 3D WondAR Augmented Reality and Glow in the Dark sections! Street Art Walk around the city and hunt for the giant stunning murals, which are often easy to spot. Among the places that travellers should explore are Jalan Alor, Jalan Gereja, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Tan Siew Sin and Umbrella Walk. Kwai Chai Hong https://www.kwaichaihong.com This alley was once filled with dark stories of gambling, gangsterism, drunkards and drug addicts. But now, after a major facelift, it has become an celebrated landmark in Petaling Street’s Chinatown! Travellers can discover the interactive murals and hipster cafes that turn the place as one of the trendy spots in the city to hang out with family and friends! Clockwise from top, left: Travellers striking their pose at the interactive Illusion 3D Art Museum; Little India is where travellers can find beautiful and affordable saree; Travellers are allowed to feed the birds with designated food at KL Bird Park; The Umbrella Walk is a popular street art in Kuala Lumpur.
A Culinary Adventure in
Te x t & I m a g e s b y MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
Though this is not my first time in Kuching, I am surprised to find out that Kuching has rich and diverse culinary offerings, which I did not realise during my earlier visit. I mean, with over 28 different ethnic groups, Sarawak, with Kuching as its capital, is bound to surprise travellers in one way or another, right? By joining the four-day-and-three-night media familiarisation trip called ‘Sarawak Food Trail – Lan Berambeh Makan di Sarawak’ organised by Tourism Malaysia Sarawak, I got to experience Kuching through my stomach like never before. We discovered new dishes and new flavours every day, to the point that I just couldn’t get enough of Kuching, which is why I decided to extend my trip to discover more of Kuching’s enticing, ambrosial side…
Tip: Though there are many recommended restaurants can be found online, do ask the locals for the hidden spots for better experience. Try to blend in with the locals by saying nang nyaman, which means ‘so delicious’ after a hearty meal!
Top Spot Seafood Restaurant GPS: 1.5563041974072542, 110.35234586825797 Without doubt, this is a must for everyone, be it local, first-timer or regular traveller to Kuching. This place is usually packed with customers who wish to experience some of the best menus in town, especially seafood. Since it is located on the top floor of a cark park that is al fresco and breezy, this place is an intimate space to dine with friends and family. Café Café at The Original Carwash https://cafecafe.my GPS: 1.551237671673162, 110.33311186825804 Set up in a cosy area just next to a carwash, this cafe is known for its delectable and pleasurable fusion dishes. The idea behind it is to give customers a wonderful time treating themselves with good food while waiting for their cars to finish being washed. My favourite picks would be Nyonya beef Rendang, mini tuna toast, and Thai-styled cold midin (a type of local wild fern).
Lepau Restaurant https://www.facebook.com/lepaurestaurant GPS: 1.5535683866240586, 110.35182254049305 Open for dinner, this is one of the finest restaurants that serve authentic traditional cuisine, especially from Orang Ulu and Dayak ethnic groups. Be sure to savour the classic Brown Bario Rice wrapped in itun isip (wild ginger leaf ) alongside other quintessential Sarawak dishes like pansuh (bamboo) chicken, Melanau fish umai, tempoyak goreng pusuk, sambal terung asam and stir fried midin with garlic. Chelum Sarawak Chocolate A chocolate lover herself, Noorasmah, 45, decided to open her own brand of chocolate in 2018 called Chelum (which means ‘black’ in Iban). But what makes her chocolate special is that she incorporates Sarawakian flavours as part of the premium chocolate ingredients. Among the types of chocolates offered are Sagok Pearl, Tebaloi Crunch, Tiong Delite, Blackpepper Seed, and Lazeez Spice. To learn more or order the chocolate, travellers may contact Lazeez Enterprise at +6 013 939 9809 or +6 019 888 8808.
Top, Middle, Bottom: Delicious Nyonya beef rendang served by Café Café at The Original Carwash; Brown Bario Rice wrapped in itun isip (wild ginger leaf ) at Lepau Restaurant; and various types of chocolates produced by Chelum Sarawak Chocolate.
KANTIN at the Granary https://www.facebook.com/kantingranary GPS: 1.5571703237382393, 110.34778745598939 Located within an old building rumoured to be a warehouse for grains, belian (Bornean ironwood) and opium, KANTIN at The Granary sits right at the foot of Marian Boutique Hotel. Focusing on modern Sarawak cuisine, the restaurant’s favourite mains include Rainforest Fried Rice, Nanasi (Nanas + Nasi), and Superdry Laksa while recommended beverages include Kantin Kaffeine, Sarawak Teh C Special (Three Layer Tea), and Three Sour Crush. My favourite must be the thick, juicy chicken satays (also served with Nanasi) which are chargrilled using Sarawak’s iconic natural sweetener, gula apong (palm sugar). Babaganoush Restaurant GPS: 1.5515889425451534, 110.38850499709392 This air-conditioned restaurant serves an array of dishes including seafood, fusion, international, and local favourites, making it suitable for all types of diners. Some of the highlights are ikan kurau asam pedas (threadfin in spicy gravy), dry curry ambal (razor shell), umai obor-obor (Melanau traditional dish with jellyfish), and ikan terubok goreng kering (dry-fried toli shad). Oh, don’t forget to conclude your meal with a refreshing bowl of sago gula apong! Kek Lapis Warisan https://www.facebook.com/keklapiswarisansdnbhd GPS: 1.5470463207187417, 110.33710972654163 For the Malay community in Sarawak, kek lapis is a staple during the Eid celebration and most of the time, it is considered a favourite souvenir for travellers to bring back home. Kek Lapis Warisan is one of the popular producers of this snack. It has over 30 types of kek lapis to choose from with prices ranging between RM10 and RM30. Interestingly, kek lapis produced here are of high-quality with no preservative used. Among the top-selling kek lapis are hati pari, lumut, masam manis, belacan, tiga serangkai and chocolate cheese. Tasters are available for travellers to nibble on before deciding the preferred flavours to buy. Oh, you can even witness and learn the painstaking process of making kek lapis here!
Top, Middle, Bottom: The dish called nanasi, including juicy satay, served by KANTIN at the Granary; Umai obor-obor, Melanau traditional dish made from jellyfish at Babaganoush Restaurant; and kek lapis demonstration at Kek Lapis Warisan.
An Orang Ulu performer playing the traditional musical instrument called sape at Sarawak Cultural Village.
IG Aiskrim Gula Apong https://www.facebook.com/iggulaapongofficial GPS: 1.5603581248554175, 110.34503689998365 Beat the heat by enjoying the toothsome ice cream drizzled with gula apong syrup! The distinctive, sweet taste of gula apong is truly satisfying that you might repeat rightly after. The gula apong ice cream is the shop’s all-time top-selling item but it also sells other luscious options like gula apong bubble milk tea with ice cream and gula apong ice cream with bubble served with toppings! Ais Krim Gula Apong has five branches spread across Kuching: Kuching Waterfront, Emart Batu Kawa, Eco Mall Semariang, Metrocity Square, and Jalan Satok. Chong Choon Café GPS: 1.5571172643478757, 110.35560801488494 This humble eatery has many stalls serving different dishes under one roof. My friends and I tried three of them: Sarawak laksa, mee Jawa, and Hainanese thick toast, which all come recommended. No wonder this restaurant is generally packed with locals during breakfast!
Kubah Ria GPS: 1.5548626564963899, 110.32288327317056 This food court has more than a dozen stalls serving a myriad of local delights for travellers to dig in, ranging from seafood, the legendary mi kolok and a choice of Sarawak signatures to other Malaysian states’ specialities. At the same time, while dining, travellers can gaze at the panoramic view of the newly-rebuilt Satok Suspension Bridge that lights up in kaleidoscopic colours during the night! Indah Café https://linktr.ee/IndahHouseKuching GPS: 1.558089, 110.345890 Located in one of the time-honoured shophouses along the charming Carpenter Street, this café serves Sarawak-inspired cuisine. Established in 2014, among the recommended items include Nasi Lemak Daging Hitam, Ayam Kuah Satay Sandwich and Beef Bolognese Quesadilla. The café also holds an art gallery, event space, and cooking class, among others.
to this museum as well as The Brooke Gallery at MYR15 for local person and MYR30 for non-locals. • Visit The Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita https://www.brookegallery.org Considered as a splendid continuation from the Ranee Museum, this iconic landmark built in 1879 overlooking Sarawak River, travellers can further learn about the Brooke family and the formation of Sarawak that we have come to know today. Travellers who are curious about what comestibles the Brookes consumed when they were in power may also ask the gallery staff for information. Opens Monday to Sunday and Public Holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Admission fee is RM10 per local person and RM20 for non-local person. Alternatively, travellers can buy access to this museum as well as The Ranee Museum at MYR15 for local person and MYR30 for non-locals.
STAYCATION IDEAS IN KUCHING 102
• Astana Wing in Riverside Majestic http://riversidemajestic.com This new, upgraded wing (the other one being Puteri Wing) offers a premium stay experience with 272 modern and spacious guestrooms. Since it lies just next to the Sarawak River, travellers can take in the stunning panorama of Kuching Waterfront and its surroundings. • Damai Beach Resort http://damaibeachresort.com This resort in Santubong has as 224 well-appointed rooms. It possesses two swimming pools as well; however, if that is still not enough, the resort has its own private beach with plenty of leisure activities. WHILE IN KUCHING… • Visit The Ranee Museum at The Old Court House https://www.brookegallery.org The exhibition follows the life of Margaret Brooke, the Ranee of Sarawak. It is inspiring to learn how she fell in love and found her purpose and identity in Sarawak. From her early life to legacy and contributions that she left behind, the exhibition is an eye-opening, great introduction to get to know Sarawak. Opens Monday to Sunday and Public Holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Admission fee is RM10 per local person and RM20 for non-local person. Alternatively, travellers can buy access
• Walk around Main Bazaar Just a walking distance from Kuching Waterfront, travellers should pay a visit to this area as they can find shophouses selling variety of antiques, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Pay attention to the exquisite architecture that has been in place for generations and drop in at any of the quaint coffee shops within the are for a cup of coffee, or two. • Join the cycling tour If travellers were still confused about where to start their journey in Kuching, this cycling tour comes highly recommended. With the help of a guide, travellers will be brought to landmarks around Kuching like the Square Tower, Darul Hana Bridge, and Masjid India Bandar Kuching; learn about the landmarks history; and take photos at each stop. Contact Paradesa Borneo at +6 08 223 8801 or visit https://paradesaborneo.com for more information. • Visit Sarawak Cultural Village This award-winning living museum is best for travellers who want to learn about Sarawak’s major ethnic groups such as Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Penan, Melanau, Malay, and Chinese all in one place. From the replicas of life-sized unique houses belonging to each ethnic group to food, traditional attires, musical instruments, dances and more, travellers are bound to spend hours exploring the entire village! Gaya Travel Magazine team members extend our heartfelt gratitude to Tourism Malaysia Sarawak for turning our trip to Sarawak into reality and making the experience smoothsailing.
11 Places to Go Food Hunting When in
Kuala Terengganu Te x t b y A LI F F A S H R A F & H A D Y A R M E E N Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
Terengganu is well-known for its gorgeous beaches with turquoise sea and white sand that run along the coast. Throughout the year, this east coast state receives many travellers from both within and beyond the country. Terengganu is a state well-known for its cuisine. The first item that comes to mind while thinking of Terengganu is keropok lekor (fish fritters) and nasi dagang (rice steamed in coconut milk and eaten with fish curry). But you probably didn’t realise that you could actually go cafe hunting in Terengganu too. Terengganu has numerous fascinating cafes that you won’t find in Kuala Lumpur. The following is a list of 11 places to go foodhunting in Kuala Terengganu.
1. Kopi Payong www.facebook.com/Kopipayong Many of you must be coffee enthusiasts, right? But what if you want to try something different in your coffee? Then be sure to swing by Kopi Payong in Terengganu, which offers addictive fatty butter coffee! Aside from that, Kopi Payong offers colek (snack dish), including toast and waffles, for you to munch on with friends or family while admiring the beauty of Terengganu beach and the sea. 2. Yogulp Cafe www.facebook.com/Yogulp.Cafe Believe it or not, you can even get llaollao-inspired yoghurt in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, available for dining in or takeaway. There are a variety of toppings available at reasonable prices. Imagine the bliss of melted yoghurt ice cream in your mouth, the sweet and sour taste complemented by the delectable chocolate sauce and fresh fruit toppings, making it perfect for enjoying it in the afternoon or evening in sweltering weather. Yogulp Café is open daily from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. 3. Mek Awang Cafe www.facebook.com/MekAwangKT Have you ever heard of the Terengganu Mek and Awang? Mek and Awang are members of Terengganu’s Peranakan Chinese community, who had lived in the state for hundreds of years. Although they are Chinese, they adopt parts of the Malay culture in their daily lives. Among them are the traditional dishes using local ingredients, which all travellers can savour at the Mek Awang Cafe. Besides coffee, there are 15 satiating classic dishes served by the cafe, and among them are Nasi Kay Hong, Laksa Terengganu Kuah Merah, Keropok Steam, Rojak Betik, and Roti Paung. This cafe also has a gallery that tells the story of Kampung Cina in Kuala Terengganu.
Previous page: Hidden Cafe serves delicious pancakes. Top: Enjoy refreshing iced coffee by Kopi Payong while taking in the view from the beachside. Bottom: The interior design of Mek Awang cafe.
4. Qawa Cafe www.facebook.com/QAWACoffee Can’t locate a Starbucks nearby when you are in Kuala Terengganu? No problem, because you can always drop by at the popular Qawa Coffee, which is a hipster caffeine joint housed in a red-painted container structure. At night, the place is lit by fairy lights, which adds magic to the atmosphere. In addition to kaw kaw (thick) coffee, this cafe serves satisfying cakes and sandwiches. Don’t pass up the opportunity to eat the New York cheesecake, which is excellent!
Clockwise from top, left: Unique style of cooking using charcoal stove at Maggi Dapur Arang Tanjung; Various types of coffee beans available in this cafe; Wide selection of seafood await diners at Warung Dalam Kenangan; Local snacks and tidbits for purchase at Gong Kapas Kue Bazaar.
5. Rollie Cafe www.facebook.com/Rollie-Cafe-955891757809490 Stop by Rollie Cafe if you like coffee, especially cold brew, since this is the first café in Terengganu to sell cold brewed coffee. But don’t fret if you’re not a coffee fan because there are also other fascinating options such as Iced Matcha Berry, Coco Berry, and a recent special menu item include Pink soda and Dates Milkshake. The café also serves up desserts such as cakes and croffles. 6. Hidden Café Facebook : Suite18hiddencafe This café is ideal for those who want to enjoy a relaxing time. Various types of delicious food and beverages at affordable prices are available, giving you many choices. However, there are four meals that are considered as the customers’ all-time favourites: Pancake Belgian Chocolate, Spaghetti Spicy Buttermilk, Nasi Pad Krapow Ayam, and Artisan Rye Bread Sandwich. These all-time favourite dishes can suitably be paired with a caffeinated or non-caffeinated drink. Besides the amazing food and beverages, the monochromatic design of this café’s interior attracts customers and conjure a relaxing vibe. This café is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. 7. Icon Café Facebook : ICON CAFE If you want to have a good time eating meals while watching performances by buskers, this café is for you. This airy café has a huge space that is divided into indoor and outdoor areas with contemporary and photogenic industrial container-style design. Most of the dishes served are Western-inspired, for instance pasta, chicken chop, and desserts. However, you can also order a combo menu consisting of a combination of Western fare served on a large plate. This café is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until midnight, so you do not have to worry about timing since the operating hours are long. 8. Gong Kapas Kueh Bazaar Facebook : Gerai Kuih Gong Kapas Terengganu GKGK This family business has been selling kueh (local snacks and sweetmeats) since the 1970’s, and now run by the family’s third generation. Starting from just a small stall, it has now transformed into a well-known eatery serving over 100 types of traditional and modern kueh. Usually, there will be a lot of people here during the evening when people are going home from work. If you come here by car, there are parking spaces in front of this stall to park your car. You are lucky enough if
you could still find kueh available here after 4:00 p.m. because they are often sold out by then. The eatery is open daily from 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., except Fridays when it opens at 2:30 p.m. 9. Warung Belago Angin Facebook : Kedai Makang Belagoangin This eatery began three years ago, specialising in traditional Terengganu dishes. It is located next to a paddy field and the structure this eatery uses a roof made from rumbia (sago palm fronds). Warung Belago Angin serves popular local delicacies like budu goreng, gulai kateh, sambal telur kerengga, ayam masak merah, gulai ikan cermin and more, all laid out in buffet style. This eatery is open daily except Fridays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., or until the food is finished. The view here is enchanting, making the dining experience unique and memorable. 10.Warung Dalam Kenangan Facebook : Warung Dalam Kenangan Already operating for 12 years, this eatery is famous for its freshly caught local and imported seafood offerings like the Alaskan Crab and Spider Crab. Diners who come to this eatery are not only feted with scrumptious seafood but also the mesmerising beach view. This eatery is open daily except Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. However, travellers should take note that the eatery closes temporarily from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. to make way for Muslim prayers; it reopens after 8:00 p.m. 11. Maggie Dapur Arang Tanjung Opened since September 2021, Maggie Dapur Arang Tanjung offers mouth-watering dishes based on the popular instant noodle Maggi that are cooked inside a claypot using the eatery’s own secret spice recipe and cooked on top of charcoal stove to produce a unique flavour. This unique cooking style is not so strange because the owner of this eatery used to be a chef on a ship. Some of the dishes served are Maggi Ayam, Maggi Udang, Maggi Sotong, and Maggi Ketam Niah; the most popular ones are Maggi Sotong and Maggi Ketam Nipah. The eatery also serves up lokching and sausage, which you can eat along with your choice of Maggi dish. The prices are reasonable and commensurate with the dishes’ portion and taste. Since this eatery is located near a beach, you get to eat your Maggi while taking in the nice scenery. The operating hours are from 3:00 p.m. until midnight daily except Mondays.
Gaya Special Feature
KEMENTERIAN PEMBANGUNAN LUAR BANDAR
6 EXPERIENCES TO
S AV O U R I N C E N T R A L TERENGGANU 1. Get Up Close with River Terrapin
to Dungun, one of the centres in Central Terengganu.
Facebook:Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia Telephone: Dr Chen +6 012 696 8238
Travellers who long for a quintessentially local experience should opt to stay at Homestay Kampung Pasir, which is participated by 20 households that have been registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia. Traditional activities like tumbuk emping (pounding rice into bite-sized crackers), gasing pangkah (top-spinning competition), mandi sapat (bride and groom bathing ritual), and rafting can be arranged to make the stay more interesting. However, if you prefer privacy, there are also chalets available on site for MYR80 per unit per night.
Terrapins may not be talked about as much as Terengganu’s most popular symbol, the sea turtles, but that doesn’t mean they are less important. This critically endangered species is considered a valuable treasure of the state as they are hard to find elsewhere. Learn more about them at this centre, located in Kampung Pasir Gajah, Kemaman, where travellers can join a two-hour guided tour filled with interesting insights and a rare privilege to witness live terrapins.
2. Learn about the World ’s Largest Iron Ore Mining Site
Did you know that Bukit Besi was once the site of the world’s largest iron ore mine? As you dig more into the history of the glorious age of iron ore mining at Bukit Besi Musueum in Dungun, Terengganu you will uncover an impressive collection of treasures and complete information on iron ore mining in the area that lasted for almost 60 years since 1916. A guided tour here, moreover, will bring visitors to several mining monuments. Facebook: Muzium Bukit Besi Telephone: Miss Syazwani +6 011 6351 0101
3. Experience a Unique Farm Stay
An accommodation amidst a palm tree plantation is not a common sight, so be sure to experience this when you are in Kemaman, Terengganu. Kelip-Kelip Palmstay Seri Bandi has been operating in the last eight years, offering comfortable lodging, team-building packages and fun-filled activities for guests of all ages. This farm stay also serves delicious local food, for example the locally caught smoked catfish, which is the most popular item. Facebook: Kelip-kelip Palmstay Seri Bandi Telephone: Mr. Ghani +6 019 917 4012
4. Live with a Host Family in a Homestay Programme
Kampung Pasir Raja used to be a pit stop for Malay warriors during the colonial era when they were rebelling against British rule. Today, the residents of this village still maintain the traditional Malay way of life, even though its infrastructure and facilities have already been developed along with the times. The location of this village is very strategic because it is hidden between the mountains and the nearby river, which was once the only access for the village’s residents to go
Facebook: Homestay Kampung Pasir Raja Telephone: Pak Adnan +6 012 343 1649
5. Go Waterfall-hopping and Hiking
Chemerong, Berembun and Langsir (also known as the CBL) are no stranger to avid hikers and nature lovers. Hikers will get to see the beauty of Chemerong waterfall, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Southeast Asia. The climb starts early morning from the Chemerong Amenity Forest and break at camp B, camp Y or near the Langsir waterfall for the night. Out of the three mountains, Mount Berembun is the highest at the height of 1,038 metres. Among the interesting places that can be visited along the trail are the Bonsai Park, Seraya Besar Tree, Bangan river, Hollow Meraga Tree, Wild Orchid Tree and several other untouched natural sites. Facebook: Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Terengganu Telephone: +6 09 622 2444
6. Go Back to Nature in Tasik Kenyir
Tasik Kenyir (Kenyir Lake) is an artificial lake within an area of 38,000 hectares comprising 340 islands, 14 waterfalls, caves, and 130-million old tropical rainforest. It exists because of the construction of the Sultan Mahmud Hydroelectric Dam that was completed in 1985. There are various ways of enjoying the lake to the max; one is by staying on a houseboat as it cruises slowly around the islands. The area is also a popular fishing spot during the monsoon season. But if you were feeling adventurous, you can opt for jungle-trekking or caving at Bewah Cave, where the 16,000-yearold skeleton known as Bewah Man was found. On top of these, Kelah Sanctuary is another major attraction in Kenyir, where thousands of mahseer fish are protected from threat so that they can reproduce and thrive. Facebook: Kenyir Travel Telephone: +6 010 538 1276
Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia
Bukit Besi Museum
Iconic Kenyir Lake Bridge
Kelip-kelip Palmstay Seri Bandi
Homestay Kampung Pasir Raja
Gaya Dine & Café
Feast Your Eyes and Palates at Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
Where do fashionistas dine in style in Klang Valley? At the Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur, of course!
It’s hard not to get carried away by the atmosphere of the Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur. To reach this establishment, one needs to take the lift at Menara SUEZCAP, Bangsar South, up to the 38th floor. As the lift opens, you will be greeted by a hallway that is all glitzy and with a striking LED floor, a mirror ceiling and a series of iconic supermodel portraits gracing the walls. The energy is electrifying and pulsating, as if a glamourous fashion show is about to begin at any moment. Soak it in ladies and gentlemen because it gets more fascinating from here. At the end of the hallway, stands an elegant entrance that leads you to a world of opulence dedicated to the internationally renowned
fashion bible Vogue. Imagine golden teardrop-shaped lighting fixtures hanging from high ceilings, dark green sexy velvet chairs, an even bigger LED platform and of course, beautiful Vogue covers from around the world. The interior is tastefully done, neither too ostentatious nor too boring that even the likes of Miranda Priestly would approve. The venue, which comes with huge windows, also turns into a vantage point where diners can take in the breathtaking view of the city. But if you were yet to be impressed with what you have seen thus far, wait until you see the ladies’ washroom, which is a dazzling sanctuary befitting a true fashion queen.
There is no compromise when it comes to food quality in this stylish joint. The culinary team here is spearheaded by Chef Steve Ariffin, the creative genius behind the delicious menu for Le Petit Chef, Dinner in The Sky, Plane in The City and Whimsy Malaysia. His outstanding reputation continues as he spoils patrons with his clever take on the modern European and Asian fusion cuisines, served in the most exquisite plating combined with elite craftsmanship, fine ingredients, and highest attention to detail. However, do note that there are two different menu lists that patrons can enjoy here: upscale courses, which are served at the main space; and the more laidback sharing options served at the stunning rooftop. But with so much stand-out choices from the menu, ordering your meal could be tough. So, if you were in the mood for laidback communal dining, you can never go wrong with the perfect-for-sharing Poussin & Foie Gras in Peri Peri Sauce (MYR118), a delightful main that refrains from punching intense flavours and instead allows the succulent freshness of the chicken to shine through. Green Asparagus (MYR30) and Baked Potato (MYR35) pair perfectly with the chicken, while the crispy White Baits & Kani (MYR30) makes for a comforting entremets in between courses or over joyful conversations. But be sure to leave some space at the end for the Charcoal Pavlova (MYR32), a timeless treat with an unexpected hint of charcoal for that interesting mix of sweet and earthy flavours. Besides, this dessert’s plating is simply too gorgeous that it could even pass as art! In line with the exceptional décor and menu, the whole dining experience is made even more special due to the attentive and efficient servers that run the place. At the Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur, patrons are in the good hands of the gracious and welcoming staff, from the front desk host to the commis waiters clearing the tables, each one of them fashionably dressed, as expected. So, with classy interiors, unforgettable lip-smacking menu and top-notch service, Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur is clearly making a bold, fashionable statement in the local culinary scene. It is not only the ultimate place to see and be seen, but to witness the craftsmanship where fashion meets gastronomy. So, cue up ‘Fashion’ by Lady Gaga, and strut your way to this chic establishment now. Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur Opens every day except Mondays Reservations are highly recommended W: voguelounge.my
Gaya Dine & Café
Positano Risto, where Quality and Craftsmanship are on Full Show Te x t b y S H A H I DA S A K E R I Images by MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI
“It’s a good thing that food is transportive, because boy, how I miss Italy!”
perfect to whet the appetite. Then surrender yourself to one of the restaurant’s bestsellers, the Super Supreme Calzone, a Roman-styled pizza that punches out strong hits of arugula, burrata, parmesan, mozzarella, beef pepperoni and turkey ham. I learned that Positano Risto specially hired a chef from Verona who took six months to exquisitely craft this recipe. This glorious pizza is bordered by eight handcrafted pockets that are perfect for sharing. The incredibly addictive fettuccine carbonara topped with crispy beef bacon that is luxed-up with a sous vide egg is also worth a try. Wash down everything with any refreshing mocktail such as the Blue Electric Lemonade or the Nojito, which you can never go wrong. Resisting the dessert offerings here would be futile. So, you are recommended to order the cannoli, a beautiful assembly of cocoa shells filled with homemade ricotta cheese infused with orange, raspberry cells and Chantilly cream. This rendition of the classic Italian pasty is whimsical and textural at all the right places.
Being one of the trendiest spots in town, Publika is always buzzing and fuelled by an array of noteworthy eateries. However, there is one particular establishment that proudly holds its own: Positano Risto, a modern restaurant serving authentic Halal Italian specialities. In fact, the restaurant has consistently been impressive that it garnered the firm spot as the ‘#1 Halal Italian Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur’, as well as being listed as among the ‘Top 10 for Italian restaurants in Kuala Lumpur’ by TripAdvisor! I arrive at the restaurant during what could have been a chaotic lunch hour, but instead I am greeted by a remarkably relaxed atmosphere. Oh no, this is not to say that the restaurant is Sahara-desert-empty; on the contrary, all tables are almost filled by diners, some are even occupied by groups celebrating special occasion. It’s a busy day for Positano Risto, yet I see no single frown on the faces of the staff. Kudos to the team for remaining attentive and swift when delivering service. Every patron seems jolly, taking in the ample natural light coming from the floor-to-ceiling windows with the muchappreciated view of the nearby park. The space is also cleverly designed, with wooden panels and a striking huge mural of the eponymous cliffside village that the restaurant is named after gracing the feature wall. No nonsense, just an efficient, welcoming space ideal for leisure meals or work meetings. The menu is extensive, so be sure to come hungry. If you were unsure, start with Arancini, the sumptuously golden rice balls packed with savoury flavours that are classic, precise, and
In short, Positano Risto at Publika seems to be doing everything right, masterfully serving genuine Italian dishes with uncompromising flavours sans liquor and pork, which I understand is the Italians’ favourite white meat. Every dish served in this restaurant has a soul and has the power to make you come back for more. Don’t believe me? Then you better come over and try it yourself… Positano Risto @ Publika Opens every day, from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. W: positanoristo.com.my
Gaya Special Feature
P l a c e s To V i s i t I n Kuala Selangor
Skymirror by Skymirror Tour & Travel
Qi Jian Xian Shi Fo Zu Gu Miao Temple by Shah Shukri
Once in a while, you will need a time to calm your mind by going to places with quiet surroundings and away from crowded urban areas – just to hit that reset button. So, when this time comes, consider visiting the following attractions in Kuala Selangor that are not only accessible but also requires only a short drive from the city.
BREAKFAST LIKE LOCALS AT AUNTIE KOPITIAM
This famous coffee shop has opened its doors since 1935. In addition to sipping delicious traditional Hainanese coffee, there are other delicious treats including Nasi Lemak, toast and the coffee shop’s signature Curry Laksa Mee, which is perfect to start your day!
SAVOUR TRADITIONAL DELICACY AT WARUNG IBU NASI AMBENG
STRIKE A POSE AT SASARAN BEACH SKY MIRROR
Nasi Ambeng is a dish where bold flavours and traditional Javanese condiments, including rice, are all served in a tray to unite and promote rapport among diners. At Warung Ibu Nasi Ambeng, the food here is personally cooked by Ibu for ten years. But be mindful that the portion is huge; a set can easily feed up to three people in one serving. Auntie Kopitiam by Masz_princesshoneybee
Dubbed as the ‘Salar de Uyuni of Malaysia’ due to its mysterious appearance that resembles the salt flats in Bolivia, Sasaran Beach Sky Mirror iis named after its unique mirror-like reflection of the sky. Emerging for only a few days each month and for a few hours each day, the area exposes itself during a low tide and could reach to a size of a hundred football fields!
APPRECIATE HISTORICAL REMAINS AT MELAWATI HILL
Bukit Melawati or Melawati Hill was Selangor’s administrative centre and stronghold of the Selangor Sultanate back in the late 18th and early 19th century. Travellers normally go to the top of the hill to admire the panoramic view of the Selangor coastline. At the same time, travellers can witness various relics of the past, including the fort’s protective walls, a lighthouse, royal graves, seven stone walls, a flat stone where executioners of the past beheaded offenders, a poisonous well and several cannons pointing towards the north of Selangor River.
A trip to Kuala Selangor without stopping by at Kampung Kuantan to watch fireflies will not be complete. The village is situated about 56 km from Kuala Lumpur. You can ride on the traditional sampan accommodating maximum four people to see the lightning bugs, and the view, needless to say, is enchanting!
ADMIRE THE UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE OF QI JIAN XIAN SHI FO ZU GU MIAO TEMPLE
Located at Pasir Penambang, this temple is a popular destination dedicated to deity Di Zang Wang Pu Sa. Its architecture is unique as its upper level consists of a man-made cave with
FAMILY TIME AT SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY
Selangor Fruit Valley is an ideal place to visit with young children as they get to explore the fruit farms and taste the local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit, guava, and many more for free. But that’s not all, there are also a mini petting zoo, an agricultural centre, traditional houses, and a dear as well as stingless bee farm. The complex is huge, so be sure to make use of the tram service to explore the area.
RELAX AT THE KABIN
The Kabin consists of 18 accommodation units made from repurposed shipping containers. Since the interior of each cabin is compact, they are perfect for travellers who travel light. The lodging also comes with a standard-sized pool that is popular among guests. Guests can rent out barbeque sets as well as bicycles to explore the surrounding area. The Kabin
Warung Ibu Nasi Ambeng
DISCOVER FIREFLIES ON A NIGHT RIVER CRUISE
overhanging stalactites, while the main prayer hall on the ground floor is created to mimic a mountainous scene.
Hotels & Resorts
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi: A Heavenly Tropical Hideaway Like No Other Te x t b y J U H A N K A M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y T H E R I T Z - C A R LT O N , L A N G K A W I ; MUHAMMAD HASIF MOHD JELANI; ED JUNAIDI
As the Gaya Travel team members disembark from our transport and set foot on the grounds of The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, we are welcomed by the endless symphony of nature comprising buzzing cicadas, rustling leaves, breaking waves in the distance, chirping birds and gibbering monkeys. A convivial resort staff then whisk us with finesse to the interiors of the immaculately constructed Arrival Lodge to process our check in. It is at this moment that we realise we are being ushered into a pocket of the world where understated contemporary luxury is infused with elements of nature and local charm; we clearly see that The RitzCarlton brand excels in creating atmosphere that is magical based on the uniqueness of the host destination, wherever that may be. Covering 42 hectares, The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi has many nooks and crannies that make you go ‘wow’. As we explore the property, we notice that the owner spares no expense in developing this awe-inspiring and spectacular escapade, a slice of a heavenly tropical hideaway located this side of the world. The resort masterfully cajoles guests to meaningfully appreciate every assiduous element that are either natural or man-made, enriching their experience at the same time.
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi takes pains in ensuring that the impact on environment is kept minimal. For instance, when walking along the corridors leading to the Arrival Lodge and Langkawi Kitchen, we notice these corridors are built around existing trees with space for them to grow by puncturing through the floor all the way the roof, signifying the property’s deep respect towards nature.
Accommodation The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi features 75 guest rooms, 15 suites and 29 villas. Each accommodation unit sports modern-day Malaysian décor in soothing and delicious natural palette as they overlook either the lush rainforest or the Andaman Sea. Complimentary high-speed wireless Internet is accessible not just in the rooms but throughout the property. The rooms can also be childproofed at guests’ request. Housekeeping is deployed twice daily, which includes the evening turndown service. The room furnishings are custom-made with incredible attention to detail using top of the line materials; we are not only talking about the fixtures and furniture but also the selection of refined fabrics, upholstery, and crockery. The resort procures the ultra-comfortable Ritz-Carlton Beautyrest Hospitality bedding system by Simmons for its guests to have a totally restorative sleep. Electronic touch panels control the rooms’ lighting, air conditioning and curtains. Each accommodation unit comes with 48-inch flat screen television; fully stocked refreshment cabinet (also known as the minibar); efficient work area; and spacious marble bathrooms with separate shower and bathtub, together with high quality Asprey toiletries. Though the Rainforest Deluxe Room and Rainforest
Junior Suite are among the smallest units in the property, they are no less outstanding because the smallest size is already 75 to 85 metres squared, comparable to the size of many residential apartments found in major urban centres. All units are sumptuously appointed, with pluses like double height ceiling that expands the interiors to possibly receive more natural light, rainforest views, and air. Meanwhile, guests who opt for the one-bedroom villas are in for a superior treat. Each villa is downright exquisite and equipped with at least one private plunge pool. Villas with the numbers V19 until V28 (aptly categorised as Beach Villas) fringe the stretch of beach between the food and beverage outlets Horizon and The Beach Grill, while the one-bedroom Ocean Front & Grand Ocean Front Villas (numbering V1 until V12) perch on the rocky shores on the other side of the promontory. The larger villas such as Villa Kenari (which has two bedrooms and equipped with an expansive 92 metres squared pool) and Villa Mutiara (three bedrooms with a private beach) occupy the furthest end of that stretch of beach – which the resort identifies as Beach Hub – for added privacy and exclusivity. The remaining villas (V13 to V17) are classified as Rainforest since they are shaded by lush greenery.
Dining The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi has four food and beverage outlets (Langkawi Kitchen, The Beach Grill, Horizon and Hai Yan) that are sure to impress epicureans with their enchanting physical settings and equally tantalising menus. Langkawi Kitchen promises indulgent breakfast and evening dining experience amidst the undisturbed 10-million-yearold rainforest on the edge of the Andaman Sea. This is where guests can indulge in dishes from the region’s biggest culinary influencers such as the Malay Archipelago, India, China, and the West via open kitchens and live cooking stations. Among the recommended signature dishes for breakfast is the comforting curry laksa. For an excellent pick-me-up, guests should give the resort’s freshly brewed coffee a try since it is specially made from The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi Blend. Guests can sit either indoors or outdoors on one of the sheltered decks that jut out on one side of Langkawi Kitchen. Gaya Travel team members prefer to sit outdoors in the morning, of course, so that we can feel closer to the surrounding vegetation and spot wildlife foraging in between the trees. On the flip side, sitting indoors is not a bad option, especially when the weather turns unbearably humid, considering the restaurant is graced by glass walls that let in ample natural light and expansive views of the outside. 118
Tip: Book a stay in one of the Villas, and the Resort’s Kundang will attend to you before your arrival. They connect with guests for preference, amenities, and activities throughout their stay.
The Beach Grill sizzles with mouth-watering fusion fare. It epitomises Malaysia’s exceptional position as an international destination with a strong cultural identity. Distinctly Malaysian yet enchantingly cosmopolitan, The Beach Grill honours local heritage in the design of its roofs that resemble intricately woven fish traps used for centuries by local fishermen called bubu, including menu consisting of freshly caught seafood. The dishes incorporate international influences, alluding to the world beyond Langkawi. Horizon offers the ideal destination, whether you are in the mood for a relaxing drink by the pool or a romantic bite beneath the stunning Langkawi sunset. Designed for adults only, this restaurant and bar rest atop a rocky outcrop, ideal for admiring the magical sunset over the Andaman Sea. Gaya Travel team rates Horizon as one of the definite best spots to view sunset in Langkawi. Horizon is intentionally designed as the place to revel in pre-prandial drinks, especially the invigorating choices of mocktails like Rosemary, Under the Sea, and Mahsuri under the theme ‘Nature In A Glass’, including innovative
cocktails like the intriguing Hornbill in Cage. Guests can learn how to develop stimulating concoctions involving local ingredients like dragon fruit, ripe mango, kaffir lime, fresh buffalo yogurt, and palm sugar when they join the complimentary one-hour-and-a-half Mixology Class led by a master mixologist. Once the sun is down, guests should make way into the restaurant to savour Horizon’s intimate ambiance and innovatively crafted beverages, including its Modern South East Asian Cuisine dishes like massaman (aromatic, tangy and sweet yet relatively mild Thai curry), green curry, nasi goreng hitam (rice fried in squid ink) and ikan sambal matah (fish cooked in raw chilli relish), all served in tapas style and fun to share with dining companions. After two years of closure, the resort’s newly upgraded modern Chinese restaurant Hai Yan, which possesses spacious decks above giant rocks, has just begun operations with refreshed menu that includes Two-way Main LobsterFried Lobster Head; Ginger Scallion and Pan-fried Lobster Tail with XO Sauce; Braised Homemade Yee Foo Noodles and Hot & Sour Soup; and Lobsters with Fish Maw. Diners can even expect fantastic dim sum choices like Prawn Dumplings with Water Chestnut; Scallop Dumplings; Pan-fried Mushroom buns; Wok-fried Black Angus Beef with Basil Leaf; and Barbecued Chicken Buns being rolled out fresh from the restaurant’s newly minted Dim Sum Room.
rainforest like hot stone massage to soothe aching muscles and the ocean to regenerate tired, dull lifeless skin using marine mud wrap. Conversely, the Lulur Hamam Experience is an age-old treatment originated from the palaces of Central Java, to deeply cleanse and regenerate the skin using natural ingredients. Additional services include therapeutic rituals for the face and body, as well as treatments developed especially for gentlemen. The spa also boasts the island’s only hammam. Each treatment or service aims to restore balance within guests’ body, mind and soul so that all of them simultaneously function in complete harmony. Regarding fitness, guests are entitled to the cardiovascular and strength-training equipment at the resort’s state-ofthe-art 24-hour fitness centre. Personal trainers are available upon request. The indoor and outdoor yoga deck beckons guests to participate in yoga classes. The property has two pools as well: the Family Pool (adjacent to The Beach Grill); and the adults-only pool located at Horizon. Ritz Kids is even equipped with a small pool suitable for children aged 4 to 11 years old.
Recreation There is no shortage of locally inspired activities to engage in when staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi. Guests are welcome to hike through the dense jungle, kayak through mangroves, listen to the whispers of the forest from the balcony, or simply gaze over the ocean during dinner. Parents can enrol their children in the complimentary Ritz Kids programme so that they can access the Ritz Kids’ indoor and outdoor playground, pool, and activities especially created for children. But to the Gaya Travel team, the ultimate thing to do is for guests to immerse in pursuits that boost their wellness, fitness, and health. They can start by booking a session at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Langkawi, the only overwater spa on the island. Its six bubu-shaped overwater pavilion function as treatment rooms (three of them are for couples, and the rest are single). Connected by overwater walkways, each pavilion is bordered by a circular platform with jaw-dropping ocean views. The spa’s menu is comprehensive, drawing inspiration from the healing and beauty rituals of Malaysia’s shamans and midwives. The Mandi Bunga Inspired Ritual, for example, takes its cue from the bathing rituals of the Malay royal houses. But instead of dispelling bad energy, this treatment eradicates stress and tension with a combination of massage and fragrant oils, herbs and flowers. Other treatments worth considering are the Mystical Ocean and Earth Ritual that uses rich natural treasures of the
Another activity that guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi should join is the Cooking Class at Nibong Garden, perfect for those eager to learn how to prepare healthy dishes using locally grown fresh produce. This is an educational opportunity for guests to gain insight into Malaysia’s food culture by trying their hand at preparing fine plantbased creations using techniques taught by passionate and professional chefs. Before the cooking class begins, guests are led around Nibong Garden, tucked away on the edge of an ancient rainforest replete with Nibong tree species that is native to the island and of tremendous importance since it is a profound food source and harvested for traditional medicinal purposes. The garden grows curry leaves, okra / ladies’ fingers, mint leaves, ulam raja (Cosmos caudatus), Brazilian spinach, wilted spinach, butterfly pea / blue pea, turmeric leaves, Vietnamese coriander, and Asiatic pennywort (Centella asiatica). The garden was built from scratch by the resort’s culinary team led by Executive Chef Mattia Salussoglia using recycled materials during the downtimes brought about by the movement restrictions imposed by the Malaysian government in the good parts of 2020 and 2021 to contain the spread of COVID-19, forcing all tourism and hospitality players to stop receiving guests. It is a successful initiative that the team shows to the guests with pride. Once the walk around the garden is done, guests are taken to the newly built gazebo where the cooking class is held. Among the local dishes that guests can learn to cook in class are kerabu daun kaduk (salad from the local creeper Piper sarmentosum) as appetiser, light prawn curry as entree and pisang bunjut (pouched banana) as dessert. At the end of the cooking class, guests receive certificates for their participation.
As guests head to the Beach Hub to rest, they should briefly drop by at the sea cucumber reproduction project site to learn about this benthic creature, which has a lifespan of up to ten years and reproduce through binary fission (asexual reproduction by a separation of the body into two bodies). The resort’s marine biologist, Mr. Fadzli Luqman is more than happy to explain to the guests about The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi’s desire to propagate the number of sea cucumbers found within the shallow waters amongst the rocks along the Beach Hub as the means to save them from extinction. Locals believe that sea cucumbers have healing properties, therefore they are excessively fished and processed into medicine for treating wound. Findings from this project is valuable because there are still not enough studies being done on them. Guests can continue to learn about the local natural environment at the Eco-Discovery Centre, an educational and interpretive centre that nurtures appreciation among guests towards the verdant and majestic tropical vegetation and wildlife found on the land where The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi is situated. The centre encourages guests to take part in preserving the destination’s natural environment so that future generations can enjoy it too.
Conclusion Having the chance to stay at such a world-class property like The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi is truly refreshing, liberating and divine, especially after having to endure lockdowns and COVID-19 uncertainties in the past two years. It is a boon that the resort is run by an army of sharp, well-trained, competent, and highly attentive staff who are eager to serve and please, thus assuring impeccable hospitality. It evokes the feeling of finally finding that one place in our lives where we are treated best and feel belonged, making us feel special. And for those reasons, we will never stop loving The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, and so would you after spending at least a night or two…
Hotels & Resorts
The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa: The Perfect Getaway to Find Your Balance Te x t b y J U H A N K A M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y T H E W E S T I N L A N G K AW I R E S O R T & S PA , M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J E L A N I
Situated on a stunning beachfront in Langkawi, Malaysia, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa is a family-friendly property that falls under the Premium category within the Marriott International stable. Based on Gaya Travel team members’ experience with The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, we associate the brand with the idea that everything is in place, in order, balanced, spot-on, efficient, and sustaining.
Being not just another resort, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa goes out of its way to become an exemplary wellness retreat where guests go to reflect, unwind, restore, and recharge so that they can find back their balance, in keeping with the Westin brand promise, which is “to ensure that guests leave feeling better than when they arrived”. Consequentially, Westin tends to attract travellers who are discerning and affluent, constantly clamouring for getaways that rejuvenate and revitalise their minds, body and soul. Since The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
is only a few minutes’ drive away from the duty-free outlets and Kuah jetty, this awardwinning five-star resort primarily takes inspiration from Langkawi’s natural beauty and balances it with a measured degree of plushness. The Gaya Travel team lauds the fact that the entire property is judiciously constructed, neither too sprawled out nor too compact or dense. Case in point: even though our villa is among the furthest structures from the lobby and adjacent to Heavenly Spa, it only takes around 10 minutes of a hardly exertive saunter along the beach to get there from one of the resort’s dining outlets called Tide.
Accommodation Those who are lucky to stay at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa garner the chance to wake up to the gorgeous view of the sparkling Andaman Sea and the surrounding nature simply from the comforts of the property’s 282 well-appointed guestrooms or villas. The interiors of the accommodations are upscale, homely, clever, and airy. It is worth noting that the sea-facing rooms have balconies and a carefully calculated layout. Wheelchair-friendly room is also available upon request.
To crank the Westin experience up to another notch, guests should stay at the Westin Villas, which come highly recommended since these are amazing beachside private accommodations that allow guests to maintain their distance from the rest of the crowd, albeit with more privacy and exclusivity. These villas can be treated as full-fledged abodes equipped with all the amenities expected from a world-class global property chain. The Gaya Travel team stayed at the twobedroom villa that comes with a functioning kitchen; expansive living and dining area; an additional room turned into an intimate lounge area; four flat-screen television sets; four toilets; four showering areas (three indoor and one outdoor, which is accessible from the master bathroom); two oversized bathtubs; an infinity plunge pool; a gazebo; and countless fluffy towels. This two-bedroom villa, therefore, is perfect for a travelling group comprising family or friends. And how could you talk about the accommodations at any Westin property without even mentioning the legendary Heavenly® Bed? Gaya Travel team members personally vouch that the Heavenly® Bed is one of Westin’s differentiating factors and unique selling points. First introduced in 1999, the iconic Heavenly® Bed system– with its pillow-top mattress supported by a robust box spring underneath, sheets of 250 thread count, duvet and duvet cover, together with finely-cased pillows – has now become synonymous with Westin. Every time you stay at any Westin property, especially The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, you are almost guaranteed a restorative slumber, making you feel healthier, well-rested, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed the next morning.
Dining Guests are invited to embark on a culinary journey with the resort’s selection of dining venues. Travellers can choose to eliminate their hunger at any of the resort’s food and beverage outlets on-site, which present differing eating options to fuel and energise guests without compromising on flavour and taste. Kick-start the morning with a range of local and international staples at Seasonal Tastes, the outlet that serves an inspiring breakfast spread with healthy options like yoghurt, muesli, and berries. The in-room Western dining is also worth ordering, especially the hearty and lavish American breakfast spread that comes with scrumptious pastries. Tide – a relaxing and breezy cabana-styled steakhouse that is devoid of walls and likened to sheltered al fresco dining by the beach – dishes out local favourites during the day and the freshest seafood and succulent steak in the evening. Currently open for lunch and dinner, Tide serves delicious spicy squid ink linguini, crab linguini and grilled seabass fillet marinated in coconut lime with herbed butter on the side, including ribeye and tenderloin, both with a marbling score of at least 6. Alternatively, diners who prefer to share the menu with their companions may order the dishes listed under the ‘To Share’ section. Gaya Travel team chose the generously portioned Seafood Platter comprising grilled tiger prawns, seabass fillet, fried softshell crab, lobsters, squid, and mussels. Breeze is Gaya Travel team’s preferred spot to lounge since it is situated on the well-ventilated terrace connected to the lobby overlooking the nearby islands of Tuba, Payang and Bunting as well as the sea, irresistibly prodding us to absorb the laid-back atmosphere in its entirety while imbibing refreshing concoctions and lip-smacking light snacks. When guests decide to take a dip, they can easily swim up to the scenic pool bar aptly named Splash for refreshing beverages with selections of bar bites or light fares while taking in the view of the Andaman Sea and listening to relaxing acoustic music.
Being on an island, it is only natural for The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa to offer coastal water activities. Guests can enjoy various water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, with assistance from the staff at the water-sports centre located by the beach. Traversing the waters is the best way to explore the beauty of the Andaman Sea. Alternatively, guests can opt for a relaxing swim in one of the resort’s four pools. In case it rains, the resort’s Recreation team gladly readies indoor activities such as the eight-ball and nine-ball pool table, table tennis, board games and local traditional games. In addition, the resort organises adventurous walks guided by the resort’s naturalist for guests to learn about the different species of wildlife and watch hornbills flying from tree to tree. Travellers can learn the traditional art of batik painting while learning about the island’s vibrant culture and traditions at the same time.
Recreation A destination within a destination, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa rolls out a plethora of recreational activities and facilities throughout the resort, including swimming pools, a recreational centre, and a 24-hour well-equipped WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio. Families with younger guests will appreciate facilities such as the Westin Family Kids Club® with its wide range of child-friendly activities and local games. The meticulously designed activities draw inspiration from the Westin Family programme, an initiative guided by the brand to enhance the younger guests’ stays and boost their creativity, curiosity and sense of discovery. Westin stresses on Fitness because it is in line with one of Westin’s six pillars (“Move Well”) so that guests would have no problem sticking to their fitness regime when staying at the resort. Serious gym goers and aspiring bodybuilders can arrange for a private training session with the resort’s certified in-house fitness trainer. Westin also partners with total body training resistance exercise system supplier TRX® in coming up with WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio, a regime that gives guests the flexibility to fully customise their workouts according to their individual fitness goals and levels, alongside the RunWestin initiative that invites guests to undergo a running routine either by themselves using the route suggested by Westin or together with the Run Concierge as running partner. On top of that, complimentary weekly yoga sessions are held at Heavenly Spa’s open-air terrace to help guests stay limber. A tennis coach is available upon request too.
But one experience that guests should never miss is the pampering session at the award-winning Heavenly Spa by Westin™, featuring the most comprehensive selection of spa menu derived from Malay, Ayurvedic, Turkish, Swedish and Indonesian modalities. The spa is renowned throughout the island for its efficacious treatments and emphasis on guests’ well-being and feeling after receiving treatment. It is believed that the therapists draw on the tropical warmth of Langkawi when dispensing the massages or spa treatments to heal the guests’ body and awaken their senses. The spa has nine treatment rooms: five couple rooms and four single rooms. Before undergoing treatment, guests are first welcomed by a refreshing hot pandan tea that helps them to calm down. The popular treatments include the Signature (compress, palm and thumbs - stronger pressure is applied), relaxing Aromatherapy, and the Traditional deep tissue massage to alleviate tension, stiffness or soreness of the neck, shoulders and back using more of the fingers, resulting in guests feeling reinvigorated. Conclusion After staying at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa for three days, the Gaya Travel team clearly sees that the resort stresses more on delivering comfort, restfulness, and homeliness rather than trendiness and ostentation, thereby rendering it evergreen and timelessly relevant. It staunchly upholds the Westin brand promise by deliberately focussing on wellness guided by Westin’s six pillars (“feel well,” “work well,” “move well,” “eat well,” “sleep well” and “play well”), turning it into a veritable sanctuary for travellers who are serious in prioritising their health and well-being, ensuring that they “leave feeling better than when they arrived”… Log on to www.westinlangkawi.com for more information and reservations.
Hotels & Resorts
A Sassy Stay Experience at
Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah Te x t b y J U H A N K A M A R U D D I N I m a g e s b y A L O F T L A N G K AW I PA N TA I T E N G A H ; M U H A M M A D H A S I F M O H D J E L A N I
Offering a resort-style escape that sports urban-influenced design and modern architecture, Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah is a 208-room 4-star property that is conveniently located less than 10 minutes’ walk away from Pantai Cenang and around 20 minutes’ drive away from Langkawi International Airport. As Gaya Travel team members arrive at Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah’s open and airy lobby with ultra-high ceiling to regulate the area’s thermal comfort and bold colour palette, we can quickly identify the property’s statement-making persona and aspirations to stay true to the Aloft brand’s ‘Sassy, Savvy, Space’ tagline. Though the property does not carry additional facilities like spa, retail store, boutique, or fine-dining outlet, the property’s exuberance and fussfree disposition make up more than for what it lacks.
It is heartening to see that Aloft Pantai Tengah’s employees are young, fun, and embody the ‘different by design’ ethos. As part of its policy, the property ditches traditional uniforms or hairstyles and instead permits its staff to express their unique selves; dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos, including modest dressing are all accepted, as long as they personify the hotel’s vibrance, sassiness and efficiency.
Accommodation All of Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah’s rooms and facilities are conveniently housed in one building, making each corner of the property remarkably accessible. Guests are invited to refresh themselves and relax amidst chic, loftinspired accommodations graced in bright warm colours with contemporary furniture, tech-smart features, signature amenities, plush platform beds to snuggle in and inspiring views of the shimmering sea. Tip: Try staying at the higher floors (preferably level 8, which is the highest) to enjoy a more vantage view of Tengah beach, the sea, the nearby islands and the muchloved sunset. Better yet, those who prefer more space should opt for the one-bedroom Sweet Suite, which comes complete with a bathtub for an invigorating bubble bath.
The rooms are efficient and clutter-free, thanks to its spacesaving layout. Each of them comes with desirable wall cladding and flooring that guests might love to have at their very own own pied-a-terre. We believe the room’s durable rustic-looking flooring can withstand long term wear and tear yet remain warm and welcoming whenever guests step upon them barefoot.
Besides nice finishing, all rooms are kitted with smart flatscreen television set, a complimentary mini-bar and added extras like balcony, beach towels and flip flops. The bathroom comes with anti-slip tiles too, a feature we greatly appreciate because there had been many a times during our travels when we almost slipped as we step in or out of the shower in a hotel or resort. It is worth noting that almost all rooms face Tengah beach and the sea, which guests can reach by safely crossing the road fronting the hotel lobby; the rest of the other rooms alternatively face the greenery behind the resort.
Recreation, dining and functions Remember the lobby? It has a name, and it is aptly called Re:Mix because this is where guests converge, socialise, relax, and even catch up on their work at the designated workstations. It is also the place where guests first start experiencing the hotel’s perky vibe and attitude, particularly around the resort’s energetic and flamboyant bar called w xyz that comes alive at night serving crafted cocktails. Just behind the reception is Re:Fuel Bar where guests can pick up any type of refreshment on sale around the clock, befitting the resort’s clientele that demand on-the-go conveniences to suit their fast-paced lifestyle. Good to know: Live@Aloft belts out live music on Saturday nights from 7:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. – an opportunity for guests to grab a drink and chill.
Guests with children can head up to level 3 for the funky Kids Club. The little ones are bound to love the place since it is full of toys and board games that let their imaginations go wild, including comfy cushions. By the way, the Kid’s Club is only available for in-house guests. There is also an open-air Kids Pool (0.4 metres deep) outside the Kid’s Club. Alternatively, parents can keep their children busy by 130
requesting for Camp Aloft (play tent) to be set up in the room free of charge. Besides the Kid’s Pool, adults can swim away in the adjacent Instagram-worthy Splash Pool that is 1.2 metres deep. Without doubt, the Splash Pool – which consists of outdoor infinity pool for adults and two whirlpools encased in a metal birdcage structure – is the best place to enjoy the spectacular Langkawi sunset on a clear day, therefore guests are naturally drawn to it. Fitness-centric guests will be pleased to find out that besides swimming, they can opt to sweat it out at the in-house fitness centre called Re:Charge next to the Kid’s Club. Tip: Guests should refer to the Activities Wall at the lobby to find out what exciting activity is being organised by the hotel each day that guests can join. Being on an island that promises a multitude of experiences, travellers can easily choose to lounge on the beach, take a sunset cruise or explore celebrated local attractions like Underwater World, Kilim Geoforest Park and Telaga Tujuh Waterfall. They can also take it easy by merely having a morning run on Pantai Tengah beach, before coming back for a dip in the stunning Splash Pool, or workout at Re:Charge.
Besides Kids Club, Kids Pool, Splash Pool, and the fitness centre, Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah’s level 3 is also where guests can find the hotel’s all-day dining outlet called Nook that whips up an array of extensive and innovative Western dishes in generous portions. Be sure to start the day at Nook with the Pink Sunset Smoothie Bowl, which is a healthy mix of fresh fruit, oats, almonds, milk, pumpkin seed and honey. Available all day long, this dish is a refreshing pick-me-up to beat Langkawi’s tropical heat. For lunch or dinner, Gaya Travel team recommends that guests try out Nook’s prawn wasabi mango salsa and buffalo wings, then wash them down with refreshing smoothies like Mango Peach Blast and cocktails like Passion Portion and Absolutely Fabulous. Nook also serves up Meat-Free Burger, specially created by the culinary team, for vegetarian diners, which consists of crispy potato patties, creamy avocado spread, and melted cheese, with a side of sweet potato fries. If guests were to hold a productive meeting or a flawless social event, Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah is capable in hosting functions or corporate-related activities since it has 4,973-foot squared pillar-less Grand Ballroom at the lobby level with state-ofthe-art audio-visual equipment, LED TV screens and complimentary Wi-Fi, including smaller functions rooms on level 2 such as the two Tactic meetings rooms with 1,356foot squared of space. As with all Marriott properties, connecting to the property’s speedy Wi-Fi is easy. Conclusion Funky, energetic, colourful, vivacious, youthful, whimsical, adorably unconventional, and sharp, Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah presents a refreshing take on Langkawi, appealing to the younger crowd and those who are young at heart. We suppose it is safe to say that this property pretty much sums up what the up-and-coming generations of travellers seek, a trendy place that emphasises on straightforward efficiency, convenience, comfort and the necessities, all at a friendly price. For more info, visit www. aloftlangkawipantaitengah.com.
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G AYA S N A P S H O T : N AT U R E After having to endure two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the dreaded lockdowns, most of us crave to be free and explore nature. Through #GayaTravel on Instagram, Gaya Travel Magazine team recognises that many travellers now seek serenity and tranquility, therefore activities like hiking to waterfalls deep in the jungle, or preparing a well-deser ved picnic amidst nature, become the activities of choice. W ith this in mind, here are Gaya Travel Magazine’s selected picks of images taken by fellow travellers who state #GayaTravel on their postings. Want to have your images published on Gaya Travel Magazine’s Instagram platform? Simply post your travel photos on Instagram and tag us (@gayatravel). Remember to add #GayaTravel so that our team and other travellers can notice you and follow your journey! W ho knows, your photos might just appear on this page.
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