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THAILAND

Perlis Langkawi

Perhentian Islands

Kedah Penang

Kelantan

Terengganu

Perak Selangor Pahang KUALA LUMPUR Negeri Sembilan Melaka

SOUTH C

Tioman Island

Johor

STRAITS OF MALACCA

SINGAPORE


CHINA SEA

SULU SEA

Labuan BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Sarawak

INDONESIA

Sabah


Malaysia is home to many natural wonders, which are wreathed in legends. From popular island getaways to tranquil lakes and awe-inspiring mountains, there are fascinating stories behind them all. Be enthralled by these mystifying tales, which have been told and retold over the years from one generation to the next. Rich in adventure and sagas about fairies, heroes, magic, curses and heavenly celestial beings, these legends are fascinating to all. Interesting characters, some heroic, others destructive make these legends most engaging. As the pages turn, you will be drawn into their stories, believed to have unfolded hundreds of years ago at various locations in Malaysia. This particular collection of treasured Malaysian legends will be of interest to those who are generally fascinated by legends, adventure and magical stories. These enchanting tales have many local variations. We do hope you enjoy the ones highlighted here.

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THAILAND Mount Mat Cincang Cave of Stories

PERLIS

Langkawi Island Kuah Pregnant Maiden Island Straits of Malacca

Alor Setar Mount Jerai

KEDAH Located in the northern region of the peninsula and known as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Malaysia, Kedah’s scenic beauty is unrivalled. Her great expanse of green paddy fields against the backdrop of ancient hills provides a serene ambience that adds to the appeal of this picturesque state. Steeped in history, culture and heritage, Kedah was the birthplace for many ancient kingdoms believed to date back to the 6th century A.D. Its capital city, Alor Setar, depicts a harmonious fusion of the state’s past and present.

Sungai Petani

Off its western shores are clusters of the sun-drenched archipelago of Langkawi, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and home to many well-loved Malaysian legends.

PENANG


Panoramic view of Gunung Mat Cincang

Langkawi’s

Legendary Brawl In the heart of Langkawi Island sit two prominent mountains called Gunung Raya and Gunung Mat Cincang. And seeming to separate the two is a third mount called Bukit Sawar. Local legend believed the three were actually local giants by the names of Mat Raya, Mat Cincang and Mat Sawar.

Belanga Pecah in Lagenda Park

A long time ago, during a grand engagement kenduri or feast thrown for his daughter, Mat Raya was enraged when he caught his future son-in-law (Mat Cincang’s son) flirting with another maiden at the feast. Such insolence resulted in the most furious fight between the two gigantic families. So intense was the battle that it transformed Langkawi. The engagement ring was irately flung and the place where it landed became known as Tanjung Cincin or Cape of the Ring. In the brawl, the crockery was angrily kicked around and its gravy spilt.

From the broken pieces of crockery emerged the village of Belanga Pecah or Broken Crockery and the area of the spilt gravy became the town of Kuah, which means ‘gravy’ in Malay. And the Hot Springs at Air Hangat is the exact spot where a giant cauldron of hot water is smashed. The fracas had disturbed the sleep of Sang Gedembai of Gua Cerita or Cave of Stories, a bigger giantess possessing malevolent powers of casting deadly curses to anyone who displeases her. Infuriated, she stormed out cursing the brawling giants into mountains of stone, Gunung Mat Cincang and Gunung Raya. Alas, Mat Sawar who tried to reconcile the two was also transformed into the hill called Bukit Sawar, which now separates the two mountains. Besides the panoramic view of these lush mountains, visitors can envision the legendary brawl and other mystifying local legends by visiting Langkawi’s scenic Lagenda Park, situated only 400 metres from Kuah Jetty. The 50-acre sprawling open-air museum allows visitors to journey through local history that is rich with romantic legends and folklore. Opens daily from 8am to 11pm, visitors will also enjoy its serene lakes, charming landscapes and imaginative monuments.

Brawling Giants in Lagenda Park

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One of the Seven Magical Wells

The Telaga Tujuh or Seven Wells Waterfall is a unique natural formation of seven pools with one pool cascading on top of the other, to a height of over 90 metres. The waterfall is an ideal site for family picnics or a friendly get-together. Located on the slopes of verdant Mount Cincang, locals believe the waterfall has a deeper significance than mere natural splendour. Legend has it the bewitching waterfall is the favourite haunt for fairies and sprites, in particular seven sprightly fairies. Each has her favourite pool to bathe and frolic.

Seven Magical Wells These celestial beings are believed to possess supernatural healing powers, therefore the waters here are said to have curative properties. Every time they descend to their favourite playground, the air will be lightly blanketed with sweet pleasant perfume. And, if one listens carefully, one might also be able to hear their giggles of delight. Nature lovers must never miss trekking to the top of the waterfalls as the view along the way is absolutely rewarding. One may even catch a glimpse of some wildlife such as the long-tailed macaques and giant creamcoloured squirrels.

The waters are said to have curative properties

Visitors enjoying the view at the Seven Magical Wells

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Mahsuri...

A Woman Wronged The most famous legend to emerge from Langkawi Island is of Mahsuri, a ravishing maiden who lived over 400 years ago. The tale begins with a childless couple that prayed for a child of their own. Their prayers were answered when they were blessed with a beautiful daughter they named Mahsuri. Mahsuri grew into a beautiful and captivating woman that captured the heart of Mat Deris, the son of Langkawi’s ruler. Mat Deris and Mashuri married. However, their idyllic lives were disrupted when Mat Deris, went off to Siam to trade. After his departure, Mahsuri was lonely and yearned for company. In his absence, she befriended a travelling minstrel named Deramang.

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A replica of Mahsuri’s house

Mahsuri’s friendship with Deramang soon gave rise to vicious gossip, as many villagers believed she was a faithless wife. Mahsuri’s mother-in-law, jealous of her beauty, falsely accused Mahsuri of committing adultery. Enraged by her alleged affair, Mahsuri’s father-in-law, Dato’ Seri Kerma Jaya, who was secretly enamoured with Mahsuri ordered that she be captured and immediately put to death. Mahsuri was caught and tied to a tree. Protesting her innocence, she begged for mercy. Her executioners ignored her pleas and threw spears at her. Their efforts were useless, as Mahsuri remained uninjured. Resigned that only her death would appease them, Mahsuri revealed that only the sword kept at her home could kill her. Someone fetched the sword and Mahsuri was stabbed to death. The villagers were shocked to discover white blood flowed from Mahsuri’s wounds signifying her innocence. With her dying breath Mahsuri cursed the island for seven generations to come. Soon after her death, Siam invaded Langkawi. To protect the island, Dato’ Seri Kerma Jaya decided to starve the Siamese soldiers by burning all the rice on the island at Padang Mat Sirat. A foolish act, for soon the people of Langkawi were faced with starvation. Dato’ Seri Kerma Jaya and his family were killed during the battle.

Mahsuri’s tomb

Decades after Mahsuri’s death, Langkawi became an island plagued by misfortune. Many believed Mahsuri’s curse had truly befallen the island. Mahsuri was laid to rest near the main town of Kuah. Her tomb aptly named Kota Mahsuri is now a famous tourist attraction. Many come to Langkawi to experience and see the evidence of this heart-rending legend. Kota Mahsuri is made of fine white marble that is surrounded by white walls – a clear reminder of her innocence. Here, visitors can read the full story at her tomb or view a recorded interpretation of the legend at the museum in Kota Mahsuri, which opens from 8am – 6.30pm, daily. Not far from her tomb visitors can also visit the well, where she washed and bathed known as Telaga Mahsuri (Mahsuri’s Well). Even the burnt rice grains can still be seen on the ground at Padang Mat Sirat till this very day. Mahsuri’s life and sad story is also commemorated at Mahsuri Memorial located near Padang Mat Sirat where she was unjustly executed.

Mahsuri’s headstone

Mahsuri’s well

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The Maiden Stone viewed from Lake of the Pregnant Maiden

The Magical Lake Of

The Pregnant Maiden Another prominent Langkawi legend is a story of a pregnant maiden or Dayang Bunting. The legend is intricately intertwined with the amorous exploit of Mat Teja, a male genie, and Mambang Sari, a beautiful female sprite.

Visitors taking a pleasureable boat ride on the lake

Mambang Sari and her maids loved to frolic at a cove called Teluk Lawak. One day, as he was passing through, Mat Teja caught a glimpse of Mambang Sari and was struck by her beauty that he instantaneously fell passionately in love. Fearing his love might not be reciprocated he sought Tok Dian’s advice, the local sage (Dian is old Malay for candle). To win her heart, Tok Dian informed Mat Teja to wipe his face with mermaid tears. After following the instructions diligently, Mat Teja swiftly sought after the love of his life. When Mambang Sari saw him, she fell in love immediately and before long, they were happily married. During her pregnancy, Mambang Sari sojourned at a serene lake, now famously known as Tasik Dayang Bunting or Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. Soon it was time for Mambang Sari to give birth but the baby died seven days later. In intense sorrow, she laid the body to rest in the deep lake. Since then, villagers began to associate the lake with magical powers. They believed the lake’s water possessesed mystical ability of healing barren women.

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As time went on, another legend that is closely connected to the magical powers of the lake emerged. A powerful King came with his hunting entourage. Upon reaching the lake, Dayang Telani, the King’s maid drank from it. Suddenly, tempestuous wind, thunder and lightning raged across the land. Soon after, Dayang Telani was expecting but the King was furious because her child was not naturally conceived. As a punishment, she was sent to reside alone at the lake and there she gave birth to a handsome boy. One day, she spotted a boat and as she longingly looked on, her toddler accidentally drowned in the lake. In her distress, Dayang Telani pleaded with the magical force of the lake to save her boy and take her instead. Immediately, at the very spot the boy drowned, emerged a white crocodile and Dayang Telani was instantly transformed into a rock, now known as Batu Dayang or Maiden Stone, which looks like the shape of a maiden lying on her back. Locals also believe the white crocodile occasionally seen guarding the lake is actually Dayang Telani’s son. Though many have allegedly caught sight of the white crocodile, it is held that only the pure and innocent may do so. Located in an island south of Langkawi, Tasik Dayang Bunting is Langkawi’s largest freshwater lake. Equipped with modern conveniences, the lake is a cool and enjoyable destination for picnics, water biking, swimming, canoeing or just basking in the lushness of its surrounding beauty.


Garuda’s battle with Jentayu

Entrance to Gua Cerita

The Mystical Gua Cerita or Cave of Stories is a cavern alive with captivating legends. The most famous is the one concerning the origin of Kedah’s royal lineage as related in the Epic of Merong Maha Wangsa or Hikayat Merong Maha Wangsa. The legend recounts of an eagle reporting to the Garuda or Phoenix that the emperors of China and Rome were planning to marry off their children. He received this auspicious news from a Cockatoo, who also revealed of a big fleet that will accompany the Roman Prince to China. Such plans were resisted by the legendary Garuda who saw the union as a severe threat to other smaller kingdoms. Determined to prevent the marriage, Garuda sought an audience with the wise Prophet Solomon. Having failed to convince the Prophet, Garuda decided to use brute force and pledged an oath to destroy himself, if he fails. Without delay he flew straight to China, abducted the Chinese Princess with his huge talons and hid her in his favourite hideout located in a far away enchanting island, now known as Langkawi, and the secret den is believed to be Gua Cerita. He then attacked the Roman Prince’s fleet, which was commanded by the phenomenal Merong Maha Wangsa, who is believed to be of supernatural origin, son of an Indera, a descendant of a minor deity, and a Gergasi, a giantess who is a daughter of a powerful ogre.

Cave of Stories Though Garuda’s assaults were intense, these attacks were steadily repulsed by Merong Maha Wangsa, who invoked the assistance of Jentayu; a powerful mystical bird of water. As each attack on Jentayu became more ferocious and each assault more violent, Garuda was finally victorious. Garuda returned to the presence of Prophet Solomon with the intention of bragging, only to be told that the Roman Prince survived and was washed ashore on the island where the Chinese Princess was hidden. Fate decreed that the couple fell passionately in love with each other. Greatly humiliated and disgraced, the Garuda kept his vow and set himself on fire. Merong Mahawangsa, who was spared the fate of many of his men, decided not to return to Rome for he too thought that the Prince was dead. He sailed on, keeping to the coastline till he found a place to settle, he named Langkasuka – the ancient civilisation of Kedah. Later, the prince and princess met Merong Maha Wangsa again and were crowned the sovereign of Langkasuka.

View from mouth of Gua Cerita

Located in the northern part of the main island of Langkawi, Gua Cerita is easily accessible by boat from Tanjung Rhu. Cave explorers can expect to find fascinating stalactites and stalagmites as well as faintly legible ancient inscriptions on the walls.

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Mount Jerai at dusk

Raja Bersiong

-Kedah’s Legendary Fanged King

The ancient Malay book Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa narrates how during the time of the early kingdoms on the Malay peninsula, there was a Raja or King named Ong Maha Perita Doria in the state of Langkasuka (today’s Kedah). He was an ill-tempered and cruel king who terrified everybody. His realm was believed to be at Kota Aur near the foot of sacred Mount Jerai, near Gurun district.

Steps towards a candi

One day, his food was not ready when the Raja was already hungry. And a hungry Raja is an angry king. He furiously scolded the palace cook. In his haste to prepare the royal meal, the cook accidentally cut his finger and blood trickled into the ingredients. Alas, he was too scared to waste time washing the blood. When the King ate the food, it was amazingly tastier. He was so fond of it that he summoned the cook demanding to know his secret. Fearing for his life, the cook admitted the incident. Thereafter, the King decreed that all his meals must have blood in it. The King became addicted to human blood and after a while, his incisors grew longer and became distinctly like fangs! He became known as Raja Bersiong or the Fanged King. As his greed for blood continued to intensify, he ordered his guards to capture villagers for their blood. Local legend recounts they were kept in Gua Penjara or Prison Cave near today’s Pantai Merdeka beach town, before being brought to the royal kitchen.

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Eventually the people rebelled and Raja Bersiong’s palace was stormed, but he escaped. He hid in the surrounding jungle. Although many tried to kill him, none could. In the end a pawang or shaman managed to turn the Fanged King into a wild boar. Until today, the wild boars reign the jungle with fangs in their mouths. Raja Bersiong’s dominion was near Mount Jerai, a then sacred mountain, where many HinduBuddhist candi or temples were built that have now been excavated and preserved at the Lembah Bujang Archeological Museum. Recent findings also revealed the existence of the “Temple of the Ninth Water Pool” believed to be Raja Bersiong’s favourite pool. Locals also believe his tomb is situated in Kampung Seberang Tok Soh, Pinang Tunggal in the district of Kuala Muda.


KEDAH Straits of Malacca

Georgetown

Butterworth

PENANG Batu Maung

Bukit Mertajam

Bayan Lepas

In the olden days, Penang also known as the Pearl of the Orient was a harbour for ships on their way to China because of its strategic location at the entrance of the Straits of Malacca on the northwestern coast of the Malay peninsula. Since its original beginnings as an important port, this beautiful island has developed and grown as a famous tourist destination that is rich in history, culture and captivating legends. Its capital city, Georgetown, is one of Malaysia’s oldest cities renowned for its century-old colonial buildings juxtaposed against modern skyscrapers.

PERAK


The entrance to Fort Cornwallis

One of the cannons in Fort Cornwallis

Sri Rambai, The Magical Cannon

Fort Cornwallis was built in 1786 to commemorate the site of Sir Francis Light’s historical arrival in Penang. Sir Francis Light was a prominent captain in the British Imperial Navy. Erected between 1808 and 1810, Fort Cornwallis holds numerous cannons among which is Sri Rambai, a brass cannon with an intriguing history. The Dutch first presented Sri Rambai to the Sultan of Johor in 1606. Nevertheless, the Portuguese seized the cannon and it ended up in Jawa in 1613 and remained there until it was brought to Kuala Selangor in 1795.

Cannon balls used during the British colony

Sri Rambai cannon

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The Sri Rambai cannon was shipped off to Penang in 1871. Before it could reach the shores of Penang, pirates stole it and threw it into the sea near the Esplanade. It is believed that the Sri Rambai possesses magical powers and many attempts to retrieve the cannon failed. However, in 1880, it was salvaged from the Straits of Malacca and placed in Fort Cornwallis.

Nearly two centuries old, Fort Cornwallis may be the only remaining fort built by the British in this part of the world. Restoration efforts were made in 1984 and now the fort stands as formidable as ever with its new ornamental wooden gate and observation tower. Today, an open-air amphitheatre, a history gallery and a handicraft and souvenir centre occupy the interior of this fort that holds the Sri Rambai. Located near Padang Besar, Fort Cornwallis has become a fascinating tourist destination. It opens daily from 8.30am to 6.30pm.

Statue of Sir Francis Light


The Mysterious The Legend of Big Foot has long been recounted in the state of Penang. In Batu Maung, a fishing village near the south end of the island there is a rock with a large footprint that many believe belongs to Bigfoot. Nevertheless, the origin of this 33-inch long footprint has never been determined and is steeped in myth and folklore. According to some of the local Indians, the footprint belongs to the Indian God Hanuman, who while leaping over the ocean took a thunderous step in Penang. It is said that he was searching for medicine for Lakshamana, the brother of the legendary Rama who was wounded in the Great War depicted in the Ramayana epic. Others believed he was on his way to secretly meet Ramayana’s wife Sita in Lanka. This is based on the beliefs of the Indonesian people who say Lanka is located in Sumatra. Interestingly enough, the footprint faces the sea towards the southwest, in the direction of Sumatra. The local Malays also have a different belief. According to them over 100 years ago there lived a strong giant named Gedembai that was greatly feared. One day, while cutting some bamboo a villager inadvertently caused a long piece to fly high into the air. Gedembai seeing this from afar mistook the bamboo for another

Giant

Footprint giant. Frightened, he bolted, thumping heavy steps on the earth. He was never seen again, but his footprint remains at the very spot the local Malays call Tapak Gedembai. As for the local Chinese, they believe the footprint belongs to the famous Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho (Sam Poh) who visited Malacca in the 15th century. Today, the print is carefully enshrined in a small temple built by the local Chinese community and is officially called “Sam Poh Footprint”. Regardless of the print’s origin, it has left a permanent mark in the hearts of several cultures by bearing the faith and beliefs of a people through time. At present, Batu Maung, located in a secluded district on the southeastern tip of Penang, offers an idyllic place to get away from the bustling city with its quaint wooden coffee shops, village houses, an old Chinese temple and a jetty.

The Chinese Temple that houses the Sam Poh Footprint

The giant footprint in Batu Maung

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The Adventures of

The Singing

Sea Captain In the early days, Malay seafarers were renowned for their adventures on the high seas. Great sailors, these virile young men sailed through uncharted territories to build their empires. One such man was Nakhoda Ragam, a nakhoda or sea captain famed for his sea exploits around the Malay Archipelago. Well-known for his musical abilities Nakhoda Ragam was often seen playing his set of musical instruments on his ship hence the nickname ‘Singing Captain’.

Penang at dawn

It is believed Nakhoda Ragam was the first person to give Penang its name while trading in the Straits of Malacca from Lingga to Kedah. As there was no higher or larger isolated island in his travels, he named it Pulau ke Satu, directly translated as Single Island. He also gave names to other bays, rivers and points on the island. Once, at the southwestern end of the island, his kendi or water-pot fell into the sea and was immediately transformed into an island by a genie, which is now known as Pulau Kendi. On leaving Pulau Kendi, Nakhoda Ragam pulled into a bay on the southern coastline of Penang.

At the mouth of the river that flows into the bay, he released a tame bird called Bayan, which led to the origins of Bayan Lepas. Similarly, while passing Pulau Betong on the western coast of Penang, he encountered a heavy gale. At one point, the storm grew fiercer and his wife’s face turned place with fear. From then on the place was referred to as Pucat Muka, which means ‘pale faced’. Today visitors can visit the places Nakhoda Ragam named as he travelled around Penang. Pulau Kendi is a beautiful uninhabited island famous for its pristine natural surroundings. Bayan Lepas has emerged as a successful and thriving industrial town in Penang. Nevertheless, hidden within Bayan Lepas is Pantai Jerejak a beautiful stretch of beach along the fairly new highway known as Lebuhraya Kampung Jawa. Here visitors can enjoy shady trees, powdery white sand and a view of Penang Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world. As for Pulau Betong, it is a quaint fishing village that should not be missed.

Nakhoda Ragam freeing the Bayan bird

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THAILAND KEDAH

PENANG Kuala Kangsar KELANTAN

Ipoh

PERAK

Straits of Malacca

PAHANG

The largest state in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia, Perak is steeped in history with exquisite fascinating culture and arts, timeless architectural grandeur, alluring sundrenched island resorts, verdant recreation parks and various museums. Perak meaning silver in Malay is renowned for its rich tin deposit. The state capital, Ipoh, is located in Lembah Kinta (Kinta Valley), the biggest tin mining area in Malaysia that once had the distinction of containing the world’s richest tin deposits.


Perak Royalty Rituals

View of the Perak River

The present Perak sultanate was established in 1528 and draws its origins to Sultan Mudzaffar Shah the eldest son of the last Sultan of Malacca. His courtiers along with the Royal Regalia escorted the Sultan’s journey to Perak. When his ship approached the Perak River mouth, a ferocious storm suddenly arose. The ship was tossed around, powerless to journey on. Sultan Mudzaffar commanded that all unnecessary cargos be thrown overboard, as he thought it was due to the ship’s load. As the storm worsened, the ill-fated ship rammed a sandbank that surfaced suddenly in the middle of the river mouth.

Perak State Mosque

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At that point, an enormous genie appeared from the sea, so massive that his head touched the sky. Terror surrounded everyone including the Sultan. The great genie commanded the Sultan, “Should you desire to be proclaimed the Sultan of Perak, cast your crown into this very sea...”. Fearing for the lives of his loyal subjects, the Sultan promptly charged his captain to fetch his crown and throw it into the river. Miraculously, the genie vanished, the water turned calm and the huge sandbank receded. Everyone was utterly overwhelmed and amazed.

Perak Royal Mausoleum

Sultan Mudzaffar, then, commanded the ship to dock. Once the anchor was dropped, he came ashore to the place currently known as Beting Beras Basah. He decreed that he would be proclaimed as the Sultan of Perak at the exact spot before journeying on. The event marks the historic site for all his descendants ever since. Newly elected Sultan of Perak is obligated to pay homage to the very place after being crowned. From then on, the State of Perak only bears the title of Raja Muda (Heir Apparent) instead of Tengku Mahkota (Crown Prince) because the royal crown is in the possession of the great genie, Sri Mahkota Si Raja Jinn. To experience the grandeur of Perak’s royal history and observe the state’s impressive Royal Regalia, pay a visit to Muzium Diraja Kuala Kangsar (Kuala Kangsar Royal Museum), previously known as Istana Kenangan (Palace of Memories). The museum opens daily and rests majestically on the hilly landscape of Bukit Chandan.

Istana Kenangan now known as Kuala Kangsar Royal Museum


Kuala Selangor Melawati Hill

PAHANG

SELANGOR KUALA LUMPUR

Shah Alam PUTRAJAYA Jugra Straits of Malacca

Banting

NEGERI SEMBILAN

The gateway to Malaysia, Selangor encompasses both the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Port Klang, the largest port in the country. It is one of the most progressive states and extends along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia at the northern outlet of the Straits of Malacca. The capital city Shah Alam is a modern township, hailed as one of the most well-planned cities. The heartland of the nation, Selangor’s infrastructure and communication facilities are among the best in the region. The state is also renowned for its world-class sports facilities, which include the Sepang International Circuit and the Shah Alam Stadium. Despite its progress, Selangor remains a captivating and scenic destination in Malaysia, providing visitors with numerous sightseeing as well as shopping opportunities.


The Intriguing Tales of

Melawati Hill Melawati Hill or Bukit Melawati has a colourful past that is steeped in history and preserved by time. During the reign of Sultan Ibrahim, the second Sultan of Selangor (1778-1826), a fort was built on this very hill to defend the state against the Dutch invasion. Nevertheless, in 1784 a brutal fight ensued and the Dutch conquered Kuala Selangor and with it Melawati Hill.

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The Hundred Steps leading to Batu Buruk docks

In the heat of battle, the fort collapsed but was reconstructed and renamed Fort Altingsburg, in honour of the Dutch Governor, General Alting. Sultan Ibrahim and his men retreated to safety but the desire to reclaim their land burned fiercely in their hearts. In 1785, the Sultan spearheaded an attack against the Dutch and reclaimed the fort. Alas, such victory only signified the beginning of more battles to come. The fort continued to serve as a battleground in several other wars involving different forces that tried to gain control of this stronghold until the British intervention in 1874. Today, Melawati Hill is a popular tourist attraction for those who want to revel in its rich and intriguing past. The silent figure of the Altingsburg Lighthouse, perched on the summit of the hill offers a commanding view of sea and land. Still in working condition, the lighthouse is out of bounds to the public. Nevertheless, its sheer magnificence is a sight to behold. Next to it are the ruins of the first fort. An outer wall of the fort with three original cannons still overlooks the sea. Part of the fort’s original gates remain intact as is the courtyard with the executioner’s stone block known as Batu Hampar that was used to behead criminals. Legend has it a girl residing in the fort, caught committing adultery was executed at the stone and her blood was then sprinkled around the fort as a warning to anyone else who would defy the law.

Poisoned Well at Melawati Hill

Leading up to the courtyard are the remains of the “Hundred Steps”, aptly named after the number of terraces leading down to the Batu Buruk docks. In the old days, travellers and merchants had to pass through these steps before heading towards the markets in Kuala Selangor. Other attractions at Melawati Hill include the Poisoned Well used to execute traitors. Filled with a lethal mixture of latex and juice from bamboo shoots, many infidels, met their doom by being slowly lowered into this well. In addition to these intriguing places, tourists can also visit the Kuala Selangor Museum and the Royal Mausoleum where the first three Sultans of Selangor were laid to rest. A Penggawa or Chief Cannon, ceremonially draped in yellow cloth, sits in the mausoleum. It was discovered in 1966 in the Buluh River, about 19 kilometres from Kuala Selangor and was originally known as Petai Boga. Melawati Hill is located in Kuala Selangor, 75 kilometres northwest of Kuala Lumpur.

The Altingsburg Lighthouse

Batu Hampar, the executioner’s stone

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Panoramic view of Jugra Hill

The Mysterious

Jugra Lighthouse Jugra Hill or Bukit Jugra offers a panoramic view of a horizon that overlooks mountainous divides and stretches beyond the Straits of Malacca. This hill with its spectacular landscape is also the home to the great Sri Jugra Lighthouse.

Jugra Lighthouse compound

In the early days, many ships had tried but all of them failed to reach the beach that supports this great Jugra Hill, which locals then called Bukit Kerang, directly translated as Cockle Hill. In the late 19th century, British vessels had been travelling for weeks along the Straits of Malacca and each time they closed in, the shores of Bukit Kerang sneakily moved backwards further inland, breaking these mighty fleets as they yielded to mounting frustration. Tired and thoroughly aggravated by the situation, the English constructed a lighthouse on top of the hill to guide their vessels. From then on, deep into the night, when all were asleep a beacon of light would part the darkness searching for ships to welcome ashore. Violated by the construction of the lighthouse atop its sacred peak, the hill bled continuously for 30 long days. The waters surrounding this great knoll assumed the rusty-red colour of the cockles that resided in the area. Ironically, the cockle population started to dwindle and slowly disappeared not long after the incident.

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The immortal Jugra Lighthouse still stands proudly within its idle and unmoving compound that welcomes no visitors. Silence fills the air except for the quiet and unimposing hum the lighthouse makes as its light moves in a circular motion, day and night beckoning ships at sea. Today, people gather at Jugra Hill to admire the mysterious Jugra Lighthouse. The hill offers a panoramic view of the horizon and of the Langat River that cleaves the lowlands. No other peak in Selangor can boast such spectacular landscape. While in Jugra, tourists can also visit the Sultan Alaudin Mosque built in 1932, which has elements of classical Moorish architecture, the Istana Bandar or Town Palace and the Royal Mausoleum. Jugra town is located 10 minutes away from Banting, in Selangor.

Jugra Lighthouse


NEGERI SEMBILAN

PAHANG

MELAKA Gunung Ledang Tangkak Muar

Endau

Endau Rompin National Park

JOHOR

South China Sea

Kota Tinggi

Johor Bahru Straits of Malacca

SINGAPORE

Situated at the southern end of Peninsular Malaysia, the state of Johor is also a neighbour of Singapore. It was named after the Sungai Johor (Johor River), the longest river in the state. Its capital city, Johor Bahru is a vibrant and thriving commercial city, offering a host of sporting events, pulsating nightlife, wideranging accommodation and a myriad of restaurants. It also offers shopping opportunities in the form of modern malls, arcades, handicraft centres, bazaars and open-air markets. Johor is also known as a golfers’ paradise as the state has the highest number of golf courses in the country. Johor Bahru is also linked to Singapore via its 1,056-metre causeway across Selat Tebrau or the Straits of Johor.


The Fury of

Laksamana Bentan Laksamana or Admiral Bentan was a fearless warrior that served under Sultan Mahmud Shah II of Johor who resided in the town of Kota Tinggi. Legend has it the brave Laksamana was ordered to put an end to a mounting rebellion in the territory of Haru and Jambi. Although a loyal servant, Laksamana Bentan hesitated because he was worried about leaving his pregnant wife, Wan Anum alone. The Sultan understood Laksamana Bentan’s dilemma and knowing the Laksamana would be risking his life for the royal Sultanate promised to take care of Wan Anum in his absence.

Sultan Mahmud’s tomb at Kampung Makam

One day, an old man came to the palace with a huge jackfruit from his first harvest. As fate would have it the Sultan was out attending to royal duties. Wan Anum, heavy with child saw the jackfruit and desperately craved for it. Unable to suppress her desire, she ate a piece. When the Sultan returned to the palace and learnt of this transgression, he became very angry as it was against custom for a subject to eat before the king. Wan Anum repeatedly apologised to the Sultan and tried to explain that she would not have eaten the fruit had it not been for the child in her womb that needed it. Overhearing this, Tun Bija Ali, one of the governors in court, who had previously failed to marry Wan Anum advised the Sultan to cut open Wan Anum’s stomach to determine that it was her child that really needed the fruit. So it came to be that Wan Anum was slain on her stomach at the hands of Tun Bija Ali,

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The tomb of Laksamana Bentan at Kampung Kelantan, Johor

who was assigned to execute the plan. When Laksamana Bentan heard of this atrocity, he was filled with fury and plotted revenge. He returned to Kota Tinggi and wreaked havoc in the palace court and eventually killed the Sultan, while he was being carried on the royal palanquin. Before the Sultan died, he flung a keris at Laksamana Bentan’s feet and cursed his next seven descents to emit forth blood and die should they ever come to Kota Tinggi. The locals believe that although the Sultan was clearly in the wrong, his curse should not be taken lightly. Sultan Mahmud II was laid to rest in Kampung Makam or Tomb Village about 2 kilometres from the Kota Tinggi town centre. The tomb is located within a magnificent complex of beautiful architecture. Nearby Sultan Mahmud’s tomb is the quirky Makam Kucing Bertanduk or Horned Cat’s Tomb, reputedly belonging to Sultan Mahmud’s favourite cat. Visitors to Kota Tinggi can also visit Kota Tinggi Historical Centre to fully appreciate the historical significance of the town as well as the relics that can be found there. For a more relaxed and refreshing outing, visit the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls. Originating from the top of Gunung Panti, the waterfall cascades down the rockface some 34 metres into a small pool below. It is a favourite tourist spot with modern chalets, camping sites and food stalls. The tomb of Laksamana Bentan is located at Kampung Kelantan in Johor. For more information, please contact the Tourist Information Centre at 607-222 3590/1/2.


Buaya Sangkut waterfall

The legends of Buaya Sangkut and Upeh Guling are about two breathtaking waterfalls located along the main river that forms the backbone of the EndauRompin State Park. The Upeh Guling waterfall comprises of a four-stepped cascade of water that derives its name from an ancient Orang Asli (Aborigine) legend. According to the enduring legend, the waterfall was named after a young Orang Asli named Upeh. One day Upeh met with a fatal accident. As he was about to cross the river at one end of the waterfall, he saw his fiancÊe. He slipped upon turning and rolled (guling) down the cascading slope and died at the foot of the falls. Hence, the reason the waterfall was named Upeh Guling. Similarly, Buaya Sangkut tells the tale of a beautiful five-stepped waterfall that is as mysterious as its name. Based on the Orang Asli legend, a woman gave birth to a baby girl but was haunted by a dream of a crocodile (buaya) that was coming to kill her daughter. Believing the dream was an omen, the woman and her family moved uphill to prevent this catastrophe. Nevertheless, the crocodile managed to follow them. To protect their baby girl the woman’s husband summoned a python to kill the crocodile. This led to a fierce fight where both python and crocodile were killed. The husband relieved at the outcome, lynched the crocodile’s skin and hung it on a wall. Unfortunately, a few days later it fell on their daughter and killed her anyway.

The Tragic Tales of

Upeh Guling whirlpool

Buaya Sangkut & Upeh Guling Till this very day, many believe, that the crocodile-shaped stone that can be seen at the foot of the falls, when the water level is low, is the same crocodile recounted in the legend. Today, tourists can visit these magnificent waterfalls if they make their way to the Endau-Rompin State Park. The Upeh Guling waterfall, located midway to the Buaya Sangkut waterfall, has a series of whirlpools formed by ancient volcanic rocks, supposed to be the oldest existing landmark in Malaysia at 240 million years old. Upeh Guling is a great place for a refreshing swim and picnic. The awesome Buaya Sangkut waterfall requires a testing six-hour trek from the Visitors Control Centre along Sungai Jasin or Jasin River. Experiencing the force and wonderment of this 40-metre-wide fall gushing a million gallons of roaring water from a drop of 120 metres, makes every effort worthwhile. Endau-Rompin State Park is the second designated national park of Malaysia with numerous exotic and newly identified species of flora and fauna. Permits must be obtained before entering this nature reserve. Visitors to EndauRompin State Park have four campsites to choose from located at Kuala Jasin, Batu Hampar, Upeh Guling and Kuala Marong.

Refreshing swim at Upeh Guling waterfall

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Gunung Ledang at dawn

The Fairy Princess of

Gunung Ledang The Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir) legend tells the tale of the vain Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca, who wished to marry a woman superior to the wives of any other prince in the world. Obsessed with this notion the Sultan decided to ask for the hand of the fairy princess of Gunung Ledang. The Fairy Princess of Gunung Ledang was a stunningly beautiful being with graceful movements that accentuated every curve of her body. Adorned with silk and gold, this legendary beauty resided in a cave at the summit of Gunung Ledang.

View from Gunung Ledang

The princess’s guardian Dang Raya Rani, one of the four beautiful fairies and a princess herself, was not happy with the Sultan’s proposal. In order to dissuade the Sultan, she set impossible stipulations as a dowry. The Sultan was given the task of acquiring a betrothal gift of seven trays of mosquito hearts; seven trays of the hearts of mites; a vat of water from dried areca nuts; a vat of tears from virgin maidens; a bridge made of the purest gold from Malacca to the peak of Gunung Ledang and a bowl of his young prince’s blood. The cruel and impulsive Sultan agreed to the dowry and severely oppressed his people for his own pursuit. Not even the sacred relationship between father and his only heir could stop his madness. He was willing to kill his only son in order to fulfil his selfish desires.

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Just as he was about to plunge the blade of his knife or keris into his child the Fairy Princess appeared. She swore that she would never marry a man who was so cruel and capable of murdering his own son. The Fairy Princess eventually wed Nakhoda Ragam, a renowned seafarer. Unfortunately, that joyful union would too end in tragedy. One day, as the princess was sewing, her husband surprised her by tickling her ribs. Startled, she accidentally stabbed him with the needle, killing him immediately. Heart-broken, she made a solemn decision to return to Gunung Ledang and vowed never to set eyes on another man again. Straddling the Johor-Malacca border, Gunung Ledang is the highest mountain in these southern states and can be accessed via the Malacca or Johor route. The mountains plateau-like summit peaks at 1,276 metres above sea level, and offers a panoramic view of the Straits of Malacca and the Sumatra coastline on a clear day. Nestled among the verdant mountain is a refreshing waterfall that delightfully cascades from the top to the foot of the mountain. Gunung Ledang is ideally suited for picnickers, nature lovers, birdwatchers, rock-climbers, jungle trekkers and those who seek nature’s raw splendour.


Pahang is blessed with famous hill resorts with cool mountain air, internationally renowned beaches and islands, serene lakes, spectacular waterfalls and intriguing caves. This largest state in Peninsular Malaysia is also home to the world’s oldest rainforests filled with exotic and even endangered flora and fauna. At its coast, the virgin jungle relaxes into peaceful and rustic fishing villages, a stunning contrast to the multicultural and sophisticated state capital, Kuantan.

South China Sea

TERENGGANU Jerantut Kota Gelanggi

Kuantan SELANGOR

PAHANG

Pekan

Lake Chini NEGERI SEMBILAN JOHOR

Tioman Island


An Aborigine hut

An Orang Asli man fishing

The Dragon of

Lake Chini The true enchantment of Lake Chini lies in the secrets lurking beneath its surface. One legend relates to an ancient mighty Khmer city, as magnificent as the Angkor Watt in Cambodia, which reputedly lies on the bottom of the lake. Interestingly, linguists claim to have established remarkable resemblance between Thai and Orang Asli Jakun (Aborigines of Jakun tribe) languages. For example in Thai, the word ‘Chini’ means gibbons, and until today the lake’s forest is still home to many of these longlimbed carefree primates. Still, the most celebrated of Chini’s legends is the lake’s numinous sentinel the iron-scaled and mighty Naga Seri Gumum (Seri Gumum Dragon). A local crafting his canoe

Long time ago, the first Jakun people settled in Chini were skilled hunters and expert farmers. One day, as the Jakun settlers were clearing more area for cultivation, an old woman emerged from the forest declaring the recently cleared area was hers and that the Jakun men were greedy because they have taken more than they should. In claiming her rights, the mysterious old woman planted her walking stick into the ground and warned the men never to remove it. Swiftly and humbly they apologised, and the elderly woman allowed them to continue working so long as they did not infringe on her area again.

Days later, the dogs started to bark angrily at a mossy-coloured log-like shape near the forbidden area. The Jakun men went to check out the excitement. One of the men hurled his stick at the log and it started to move and bleed. All of them stood in shock, as deep red blood kept gushing out. As they watched, the sky above darkened, lightning pierced the land and deafening thunders stifled their horrified screams. In panic, one of the men knocked over the old woman’s walking stick and a fountain of water shot sky high. For years the water gushed, forming the lakes, which now has become the dwelling of Naga Seri Gumum that was transformed from the magical log. Located 100 kilometres away from Kuantan, Lake Chini is a humbling place, offering numerous inspirations to its visitors. Its refreshingly lush background is home to exotic equatorial flora and fauna that will astound and educate. From late June to January, the lake’s surface is teeming with stunning pink and white lotuses, yielding a mesmerising contrast to its verdant setting. There are also more than 200 species of birds recorded around the area, making Lake Chini one of the premier bird watching locations in Peninsular Malaysia. The monsoon season swells the lake, making it the best time for anglers to try their luck at the 144 species of fishes living in the lake. It is also a fantastic time to enjoy the lake in its entirety, via a boat ride for a unique lake safari experience.

Lotus in bloom

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Entrance to Kota Gelanggi Cave

Not to be confused with the lost city of Kota Gelanggi in Johor, Kota Gelanggi Cave in Pahang is a 150 million-year-old, cave complex alive with unique flora, fauna and magnificent rock formations. From the several hundred caverns, few are accessible and frequented. As with most ancient spots, Kota Gelanggi Cave is also shrouded in fascinating legends. The word Kota means city and the peculiar feature of this intricate network of caves reveals the impression of an old city. Legend has it that these caves were actually the ruins of an ancient city belonging to forest elves (Bunian), which were turned into stones together with their belongings. An old man of the house can be seen here sitting on his chair by his oven or furnace with loaves of bread and his cupboard filled with flour and sugar, all turned to stone. Some believe Kota Gelanggi was a hiding place for Puteri or Princess Bera and Putera or Prince Jelai. When parents from both sides, particularly Putera Jelai’s father – Maharaja Perba Jelai – opposed of their wedding plan, the couple decided to elope, which resulted in a civil war in Inderapura (City of Demigods), an ancient kingdom of Pahang. Others believe the word Gelanggi is a variant of the Indian empire Kalingga that ruled Kedah in the early days.

Limestone formation in the shape of a cobra head

Mesmerising limestone formations

The Legend of

Kota Gelanggi Cave Still, each limestone cavern has its own captivating tales to tell. Gua Sanding, for example, offers physical proof for its name. Sanding is a Malay word describing a bride and a groom sitting on the dais and at the cave’s mouth, there are two figure-like stones sitting next to each other. Gua Terang Bulan (Moonlight Cave) is one of the most renowned show caves in the region. At the very end of this cave, even in total darkness, looking up, visitors will be able to see a stream of light. Located 30 kilometres east of Jerantut, Pahang, Kota Gelanggi Cave offers a spellbinding and exciting adventure experience. Reputed to be one of the best tropical limestone caverns in the region, visitors from all around come here to witness the caverns’ natural wonders and experience the awe of the stalagmites and stalactites as well as the spectacular rock formations. At the entrance of the area is Kota Gelanggi Museum. The area is opened all year round from 9am to 5pm. Guided tours to Gua Terang Bulan are also available.

The driveway towards Kota Gelanggi

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Chula Naga of Tioman Island

The Isle of

The Sleeping Dragon Tioman Island, located 32 kilometres off the eastern peninsula’s coast, is more than a charming sun-drenched retreat. It possesses an enchanting local legend that claims the island as the manifestation of a forlorn dragon princess.

Jetty at Tioman Island

Locals believed, a long time ago, South China Sea was home to a family of mighty dragons. The dragon princess had just gotten married and the newlyweds decided to explore the southern part of the sea. As the dragon couple frolicked and swam gleefully southward, the dragon princess realised she had lost her silk bridal shawl. She sought the permission of her husband to recover the shawl. The dragon prince was reluctant to let her go because turning back on an intended journey was a bad omen. But, she did lose her precious bridal shawl and she promised him that she would return soon.

Swiftly she traced back her route, northbound. Unfortunately, it took her sometime before she found her silk bridal shawl. Ecstatic, she swam speedily towards her awaiting prince. Alas, when she reached the spot, her prince was gone. Surprised, the princess continued to swim all over in search of her husband. Exhausted and lonely, she stopped. As tears of sorrow fell, she held her silk bridal shawl tightly and pledged to wait for her beloved husband at the very spot. Centuries had past but she waited unrelentingly until she grew weak. A sprite took pity on her and cast a sleeping spell where she now remains, frozen in eternity as a beautiful island with a unique landscape. The granite twin peaks of Tioman Island, popularly known as Chula Naga (Dragon’s Horns), seem to verify this touching tale and the ragged mountain terrain at the back of these twin peaks portrays the profile of a sleeping dragon. Tioman Island is perhaps the best sanctuary to retreat and rejuvenate. It has now become the island getaway for nearby city slickers and holidaying families from all over. Enjoy the cool refreshing breeze and the soothing waves or take a stroll and enjoy the sunset along some of the famous beaches near the following villages: Tekek, Air Batang, Genting, Salang, and Juara. These wonderful golden beaches subside to clear blue waters complete with colourful corals, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Other interesting sites in Tioman include waterfalls nestled in the verdant hill at Mukut.

Gunung Nenek Semukut

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KELANTAN

Pulau Perhentian Kecil Pulau Perhentian Besar South China Sea

Kuala Terengganu Rantau Abang

TERENGGANU PAHANG

Discover the treasures of exotic Terengganu, a state rich in Malay heritage, blessed with an abundance of sun-drenched lush islands, bestowed with a wealth of invigorating natural adventure sites and a myriad of colourful traditional pursuits that include batik printing and songket weaving. Its coastal capital, Kuala Terengganu, is both the royal and largest city in Terengganu offering numerous charming facilities of modern and traditional fusion.


Turtle Stone at Bukit Che Hawa

Baby leatherback turtle

The Tragic Tale of A

Turtle Stone Legend has it, there once lived a loving turtle couple that would always roam and play together. One day, while they were together near the mystical sea garden called Banjaran Sari, they got lost and decided to ask a local puffer fish about where they were. She told them that they were in the waters of Rantau Abang. She also told them about an incredibly beautiful location nearby where the sand was soft and pure but such area was off limits to the fishes because they could not go on land.

Beach at Rantau Abang

Curiosity got the better of both turtles who decided to go and explore the forbidden area. When they finally reached the shore they were reminded once again by a crab of the danger of the forbidden area. The female turtle was afraid and wanted to leave. However, the male was adamant. He told the female that she could stay behind and wait for him if she was too scared to continue. Then the male turtle went off to explore the bay further.

Turtle Stone

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While exploring, he saw a beautiful pond with crystal clear water. Tired and parched, he decided to drink from the pond. Immediately he started to feel heavier and could not move his legs, eventually he was turned into stone. Apparently, he had sipped from a cursed pond. A seagull brought the sad news to the female turtle. Heartbroken, the female turtle went back into the ocean, alone. It is said that no matter where she went she would always return to the beach of that very bay to lay eggs and visit her altered beloved. Every time she lays her eggs, she would weep and deeply grieve over her tragic fate. Soon, many turtles started coming to the beach of Rantau Abang to lay eggs. They too would cry as they lay their eggs remembering their unfortunate ancestor. The area is now known as Batu Penyu or Turtle Stone. Located 56 kilometres south of Kuala Terengganu, Batu Penyu is in a village called Bukit Che Hawa in Rantau Abang area. Besides these unique and wonderful turtles, Rantau Abang is known for its sun-drenched, soft sandy beaches such as Teluk Bidara and Tanjong Jara that are perfect for picnicking, sunbathing, swimming and unwinding.


Bukit Puteri

Entrance to Bukit Puteri

Genta of Bukit Puteri

The name Bukit Puteri or Princess Hill, located at the mouth of Terengganu River, has many fascinating origins. Many claim the hill was named after a Bunian (forest elf) Princess that used to reside there. Local legend recounts in the past, villagers would visit the elfin princess to borrow her gold and silver plates and pots in order to hold engagement and marriage feasts or kenduri. Unfortunately, many never returned her precious pots and plates and some even broke them. Disgusted with their carelessness and greed, the elfin Princess left for Bukit Bintang in Besut district, north of Kuala Terengganu. Others say that Princess Hill is named after the seven benevolent elfin princesses that lived on the hill. They are the same elfin princesses summoned in the haunting ancient melody, Ulek Mayang. Believed to possess immense supernatural powers, their assistance was constantly sought after by the locals. Till today, locals maintain upon reaching the top, visitors can inhale the lingering sweet-scent of the princesses. Some say the hill’s name was bestowed by a Johor Chieftain, Tuk Raja Menteri who came to install Sultan Zainal Abidin I, the younger brother of former

The Kind Princesses at

Princess Hill Sultan of Johor, as the first Sultan of Terengganu in early 18th century. It is also believed that the Bukit Puteri fort, atop the hill, built by Baginda or King Umar in 1830 to defend the state, was cemented with honey, egg whites and chalk. The fort can still be seen till today. Besides holding a magnificent view of the capital city and the South China Sea, the fort also bears several significant relics. Among them are a huge copper bell called Genta, only to be pealed by boys of royal household; a royal flagpole of 18 metres in height and various ancient cannons named according to their characters and guardian spirits. Among them are the Seri Jamlor cannon and the Meriam Beranak or Family Cannons consisting of the Seri Johor and the Seri Bueh cannons. There is also a crevice nearby known as Gua Puteri or Princess Cave, which was used to store gunpowder and iron bullets. Still, according to local legend, it is also the place the Bunian Princess kept her gold and silver pots and plates.

The driveway towards Kota Gelanggi

The Princess Hill is among the local’s favourite spots for a gentle walk with a breathtaking view. Opens to the public daily from 9am to 5pm.

The famed Meriam Beranak

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Perhentian Island at dusk

Legend of

Perhentian Island In ancient times, there was an enormous and powerful dragon called Naga Pulau Berjuang residing in Tanjung Basi of Perhentian Besar Island. One day, as he was basking at the highest point of the isle, another male dragon suddenly attacked his beloved island. The other dragon’s severe assaults were threatening to sink the island. All ablazed, Naga Pulau Berjuang swiftly descended upon his annoying rival and shortly a tremendous battle of epic proportion arose. As Naga Pulau Berjuang descended, he left a marked trail on the island presently known as The Dragon’s Trail (Jalan Naga).

Fishing boats at Perhentian Island

dragon as well as keladi lekir (Araceae Amorphophallus) and akar cina putih (white Chinese roots) completely neutralises the poison of any straying venomous species. Located 21 kilometres from the coast of Terengganu, the islands of Perhentian Besar and Kecil offer amazing snorkelling spots in their boulder-encrusted bays. The aquamarine waters with excellent visibility and spectacular underwater reefs make Perhentian the preferred choice of veteran divers. Plunge in and experience the thrill of seeing manta rays, reef sharks and barracudas. Arrangements can also be made for jungle trekking, island cruising and boats can be hired to look for small bays and secluded coves in which to swim, snorkel or scuba dive.

Another remarkable local legend pertaining to this exotic island is it is free from any species of poisonous snakes. The existence of a powerful guardian

The battle of Naga Pulau Berjuang

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Bukit Marak

THAILAND

Kota Bharu Tumpat South China Sea

Pasir Mas

PERAK TERENGGANU

KELANTAN

Located in the east coast of the peninsula, the magic of Kelantan is in its quaint fishing villages, idyllic sandy beaches lined with captivating swaying palms and picturesque panorama of verdant tropical forests. Still, the true charm of the land is in the vitality of its colourful culture. Kelantan state, which is also the “Cradle of Malay Culture�, is home to vibrant cottage industries involved in the making of traditional handicrafts such as songket, batik, brassware and basket weaving. In its capital, Kota Bharu, traditional pastimes such as kite-flying and top-spinning are still very much alive today.

PAHANG


The Legend of

Princess

Sa’adong

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Intricate wood carvings around Istana Jahar

Puteri or Princess Sa’adong is famed for her unrivalled beauty due to her magical origin. She was found by Kelantan’s legendary warrior Queen, Che’ Siti Wan Kembang at the edge of a pond, wrapped in pure white bubbles. Childless, the Queen adopted the baby and before long, was teaching her the virtues of a respectable warrior and a beloved ruler. When she came of age, she was betrothed to her cousin, Raja Abdullah and once married, they ruled over the Kota Jelasin (Fort Jelasin) region. But peace was soon shattered as the Siamese King waged war against the region for rejecting his marriage proposal to Princess Sa’adong. Dreadfully defeated by the compelling force of Siamese troops, and refusing to expose her subjects to further atrocities, Princess Sa’adong surrendered. Before making the crossing to Siam, she assured her husband and her subjects that she will return unharmed.

Sultan Ismail Petra Arch

After months of arduous journey, the princess finally arrived at the Siamese King’s Palace and he was overjoyed. Unfortunately, when he touched her, he was instantly inflicted with a terrible skin disease. Many local shamans tried to cure the disease but failed. One night, the King dreamt only Princess Sa’adong had the power to cure him. The Princess agreed to cure the King if he allowed her to return to Kelantan. He consented, and using the juice from a betel nut that she chewed, the Princess healed the King. As promised, Princess Sa’adong returned to her husband only to find him married to another. Hurt by his betrayal, she fled to Bukit Marak (Marak Hill) and sought refuge in a cave at the mount. Nevertheless, she never abandoned her subjects. Frequently they came to seek her advice and assistance. She was so kind that her subjects constantly took advantage of her.

Raja Abdullah’s headstone

Istana Jahar

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The mouth of the Princess’ cave

Raja Abdullah’s tomb

Many came to borrow her crockery for various feasts yet failed to return them. Disappointed with dishonesty in the world she withdrew, according to local legend, into the mystical world. When she departed, all her belongings like her crockery and ship mysteriously turned into stones. Realising their mistakes, the villagers returned her transformed belongings to the only place they knew, at the cave in Bukit Marak. Today, locals claim remnants of Puteri Sa’adong’s possessions can still be found in the cave. Visitors to Kelantan can visit several sites that are related to Puteri Sa’adong’s legend. The tomb of her husband, Raja Abdullah, is located at Kampung Padang Halban, 20km south of Kota Bharu. He died in 1671, some believed killed during a fight with Princess Sa’adong. She stabbed him with her golden hairpin.

The main entrance of Istana Balai Besar

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Located 20 kilometres east of Kota Bharu, the cave at Bukit Marak is accessible only to expert cavers and hardcore explorers. It contains remnants of her belongings, chambers deemed to be her bedrooms and even her footsteps. To experience the grandeur of past Kelantanese royalty, pay a visit to Istana Jahar (Jahar Palace) also known as the Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs. Opens Saturdays through Thursdays from 8.30am to 4.45pm. Istana Balai Besar, located at the heart of Kota Bharu, stands proudly surrounded by a fort, made from beautifully crafted local timber, within an area that covers over 1627sq metres.


Situated northwest of Borneo Island, Sarawak is also known as the Land of the Hornbills. Sarawak’s forests are its most valuable asset and resource, yielding timber and a large amount of jungle produce. The state’s rainforest is a sanctuary to a phenomenal myriad of more than 8,000 species of flora and over 20,000 fauna, the majority of which are insects. Kuching, the state’s capital, is a beautifully landscaped exotic city with the Sarawak River as the centre of the city’s life.

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM SABAH South China Sea

Miri Santubong

Niah Bintulu Sibu

SARAWAK

Kuching INDONESIA


The Legend of

Princess Santubong

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View of Mount Santubong from the river mouth

In the past, local legend recounts of two beautiful mythical sisters, Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang, from a magnificent and idyllic mystical kingdom called Kayangan. The princesses were sent to earth to restore peace between the neighbouring villages of Pasir Kuning and Pasir Putih, with a strict condition – they must never quarrel with each other. As decreed by the mighty Kayangan King, Puteri or Princess Santubong, an expert weaver, was to rule over Pasir Kuning and Princess Sejinjang, a skilled rice thresher, was to rule over Pasir Putih.

Princess Santubong’s intricately woven fabrics were an instant success and Princess Sejinjang’s paddy fields were greatly thriving. Both villages soon became famously prosperous. The beauty and talent of both Princesses made them much sought after by handsome suitors from all over. None won their hearts until they met Putera Mahkota Serapi (Crown Prince Serapi) of Matang. The Crown Prince fell in love with both of them, but they refused to be joint wives. Because of him, they had an awful quarrel and exchanged blows. Sejinjang swung her thresher, which hit Santubong’s cheek. As she fell on her back, Princess Santubong threw her weaver at Princess Sejinjang, hitting her directly in the head. Putting an end to the ghastly fight, the great Kayangan King cursed both sisters into mountains. It is said that Mount Santubong resembles a woman lying on her back. The deep crevice at the peak is where the Princess received the blow to the cheek from her sister’s thresher.

Local Iban in traditional attire weaving

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Scenic view of Mount Sejinjang

Located about 35 kilometres north of the state capital Kuching, both mountains, Santubong and Sejinjang, are blessed with stunning and lush rainforest teeming with strikingly diverse flora and fauna that enchant and enlighten. A charming cascading waterfall nestled in Mount Santubong offers an excellent way to rejuvenate at the end of a trek. The mountains and their surrounding area are popular tourist destinations.

Harvested rice

Local Iban lady pounding rice

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Located at the base of Mount Santubong is the Sarawak Cultural Village, a living museum that showcases Sarawak’s diverse ethnic heritage. It opens daily from 9am – 5.15pm, with two exciting cultural show performances a day. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance. For more information, go to www.scv.com.my


Sabah occupies the northern part of Borneo and is the second largest state in Malaysia. It is a melting pot of cultures and traditions set amidst a landscape that ranges from the oldest tropical rainforest in the world to one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia. Sabah is blessed with more than 30 indigenous groups, which includes the Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Bajau and Idahan. This state is famed for its eco-tourism and has a magical combination of unique wildlife, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.

South China Sea Sulu Sea

Mount Kinabalu Ranau

Kota Kinabalu

SABAH BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Sapulut

INDONESIA


Monsopiad The Legendary Warrior


Skull trophies of the headhunters

Long ago, Kizabon, the daughter of the Kuai Village’s headman, was blessed with a baby boy named Monsopiad. During her pregnancy, her husband, Dunggou, realised a sacred Bugang bird had nested and laid eggs on the roof of their house. Such a good omen was a sign that their child would possess extraordinary abilities. When their child was born, the Bugang eggs hatched. Every day, the couple bathed their baby together with the young Bugang chicks, a routine they observed until the sacred birds were able to fly. A natural fighter that handled every weapon with ease, Monsopiad soon grew into a handsome and promising warrior. Unfortunately, Monsopiad grew in trying times. The vicious Balinini pirates often came down from Marudu to plunder his village. Like many small villages, Kuai offered little defence. During each raid, the villagers cowered and hid in the jungle until it was safe to return. One day, as Monsopiad was tilling his father’s paddy field, a group of women started taunting him for working so hard for the benefit of the marauding pirates. The women continued to provoke, calling the village men weaklings that were unable to protect their village effectively. Enraged, Monsopiad swore that he would hunt and kill all the pirates. As proof he promised to cut off the head of the pirate leader. Before he left, he threatened to kill the mocking ladies if they failed to honour his return as a grand warrior. Monsopiad went after the pillaging pirates with three boys as witnesses. Once he found them, a violent fight ensued. After fighting ceaselessly for days,

Monsopiad finally fought the pirate chief. The special strength bestowed on him by the sacred Bugang bird helped him defeat and behead the cruel chief. The three boys sped back to Kuai to announce Monsopiad’s victory and herald his impending arrival. When the village women heard the news, they were terrified, for they had never welcomed a warrior home. Fortunately, the Bobohizan priestesses knew what to do and dressed the women in their best costumes and fineries, and led them in a procession bearing bamboo trays to ensure that the spirits surrounding Monsopiad would know they were honoured, too. Their songs of victory welcomed Monsopiad and inspired him to continue vanquishing all the enemies of his village. To honour the memory of the great Kadazan Warrior Monsopiad, the Kadazans erected a small village to ensure future generations could experience the Kadazan’s fascinating heritage and thrilling legends. His direct descendants built the Monsopiad Cultural Village with authentic traditional materials as a tribute to the KadazanDusun heritage. Visitors can use public transportation from Kota Kinabalu city direct to Monsopiad Cultural Village or utilise the village’s shuttle service that collects and drops-off visitors from selected locations. Open daily from 9am to 6pm, the village also offers guided tours, cultural shows and unique wedding packages. For more information, go to www.monsopiad.com

KadazanDusun couple in traditional attire

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Mount Kinabalu’s peak

The majestic Mount Kinabalu, rising from the mist with its rugged terrain and rich biodiversity has always been a significant feature in the lives and legends of the early KadazanDusun. The most famous legend to emerge from this community is of the Kinabalu dragon that possessed a Butiza or luminous jewel that he used as a toy. It is said that on moonlit nights people could see this bright gem being tossed again and again on the dragon’s forked tongue. The story of the dragon spread beyond the seas as far as China. The Chinese Emperor hearing of the precious gem wanted it for himself. He decided to send his sons, Wong Wang Kong and Wong Song Ping to get it.

Trekking Mount Kinabalu

When the brothers reached Borneo and came to Mount Kinabalu, they came to realise the difficulty of the task. Frustrated by their futile attempts Wong Wang Kong gave up but Wong Song Ping persevered on. He made a colourful Chinese lantern that glowed like a fabulous gem when lit. He then made a giant kite and waited for the moment the dragon would look for food and leave the jewel unguarded. When the time came he mounted the kite with help of his men. The kite rose up till it reached the mouth of the dragon cave and he quickly switched the gem with the lantern. When the dragon returned, he realised he had been tricked. Quickly he swam toward the departing ships. The men thought they would perish but Wong Song Ping had another bright idea. He ordered his men to heat up canon balls until it was red hot and launched them at the dragon.

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The Kinabalu

Dragon’s Gem Longing for its gleaming toy, the dragon caught and swallowed one of the glowing balls. Seared by the heat and heavy with the iron within him, the dragon sank below the waters. The brothers continued on to China. When they reached their homeland Wong Wang Kong, who was consumed with jealousy seized the jewel from his younger brother and presented the gem to their father. He told of their successful mission omitting Wong Song Ping’s heroic efforts to get the stone. Angry and disappointed by his brother’s actions, Wong Song Ping left China. He set sail and allowed the monsoon to take him away. He finally reached the coast of Brunei where he anchored. The Sultan of Brunei heard of his arrival and sent his brother to receive him. Today, Mount Kinabalu is one of the most popular mountains to climb in the world. Located less than 10 kilometres from Ranau and 90 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu it receives over 100,000 visitors annually. Visitors to Mount Kinabalu should also visit the Poring Hot Springs located nearby. First developed by the Japanese during World War II, the hot spring water contains sulphur, which is believed to have curative properties.

Mount Kinabalu


The Tale of

The Stone Stump There was once a family with six sons and a daughter who lived in a village near the Sapulut River. The youngest girl was the most beautiful girl in the village and her six brothers doted on her greatly. The siblings loved to spend their day near the Sapulut River close to a huge stone outcrop. On this outcrop lived a skunk or Tudoh, which produced a stomach-turning foul stench. The siblings hated the Tudoh very much and planned to kill it. One morning, when they were in the area, they decided to cut the stone down. Despite their efforts they failed miserably. That night the girl dreamt that they could destroy the stone by using a shoulder blade or tulang dayong, belonging to a Landak Tunggal or porcupine which lived in the surrounding forest. The next morning the girl told her brothers about the dream. After they heard her story the boys headed for the forest to set a trap to catch the porcupine. Although it took them awhile they eventually managed to catch the porcupine. They slaughtered the animal, ate the meat and then fixed the bones together to form the axe that they would use to cut the stone.

Murut boys hunting the porcupine

Early the next day the siblings went to cut down the stone. Before they started the brothers put their sister on a nearby stone to keep her out of harms way. The brothers worked hard to cut down the huge stone outcrop. However, in their preoccupied state, they did not realise that every strike of their axe made the stone their sister was on grow taller and taller. Eventually the stone, which the Tudoh lived on, gave out and fell into the Sapulut River. When the boys turned back to see their sister they were shocked to see her on the top of a gigantic stone outcrop crying for help. With angry blows they tried to cut the stone, the sister was on, down. The peak of the stone broke and flew all the way to Tenom Lama, a village more than 50 kilometres northwest of Sapulut, and it is now called Batu Pinuto. Nevertheless, the boys could not find their sister and came to accept the fact that they had lost her forever. The stone that broke is now known as Batu Punggol or Punggol Stone. It is a vertical limestone outcrop that is shaped like a tree trunk. It stands in the middle of the Sabah rainforest 24 miles from the Sapulut airstrip. Four hundred metres high, it provides an exhilarating view of the surrounding area. The climb up Punggol Stone is not easy. Its vertical face has razor sharp holds, which can be dangerously slippery during wet weather.

The limestone outcrop of Batu Punggol

Batu Punggol is protected by a small forest reserve. In recent years, a tourism infrastructure was set up to help make it more accessible to the public and to highlight the uniqueness of the Murut culture. The Murut are the third largest indigenous group in Sabah, after the KadazanDusun and the Bajau. They are made up of a number of sub-groups and many of them, especially those in the far interior, still live in their traditional longhouses, and practise agriculture. They are also known for their hospitality and grand wedding ceremonies.

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Located 8 kilometres off Sabah’s southwest coast, Labuan Island comprises of one main island and six smaller islets: Kuraman Island, Daat Island, Rusukan Besar Island, Rusukan Kecil Island, Papan Island and Burung Island. The name Labuan draws from the Malay word labuhan meaning anchorage. Dubbed as the Garden Island of Borneo, Labuan is blessed with numerous varieties of marine life and water activities all year round. Bandar Labuan, the major town and port, faces the Brunei Bay. In 1990, Labuan was declared an International Offshore Financial Centre and a free trade zone. The main attractions in Labuan include wreck diving and sport fishing.

Sulu Sea

South China Sea

LABUAN Labuan Town

Pulau Rusukan Kecil Pulau Rusukan Besar


Journey towards Corpse Island

The Story of

Corpse Island Centuries ago, two young people fell passionately in love. Unfortunately, both of their parents strongly opposed of their relationship and their wedding plans. Unable to bear the thought of being separated from each other, the couple were determined to elope. Unfortunately, before they could do so, they were caught and exiled from their village. Embittered and angered at the injustice, the couple swore that something dreadful would happen to them if they should ever return. After persevering hardships in the world outside their village, the couple finally prospered and their love for each other still did not fade. As they became more matured, they began longing for their family in the village they left so long ago. Finally, failing to remember the curse, they set off for their village. As they were nearing their old village’s coast the sky instantly grew dark and a forceful windstorm brought about huge waves that rocked and finally tossed their sampan or small boat. The couple’s bodies were flung into the sea and were transformed into two small islands by a sea sprite who took pity on them because their love for each other was so strong. Even now, centuries later, these islands known as Pulau Mayat or Corpse Islands, still retains the form of a man and a woman lying peacefully, side by side.

Located south of the main island, Pulau Mayat or Corpse Islands are now known as Pulau Rusukan Besar, literally translated to Big Rib Island, supposedly the remains of the husband, and Pulau Rusukan Kecil (Small Rib Island), allegedly the remains of the wife. Besides the legendary Corpse Islands, Labuan also offers numerous holiday destinations that will surely amuse and enchant any visitor. Some of Labuan’s must-see places are the Labuan Bird Park in Tanjung Kubong, the home to exotic collections of Borneo birds; Bebuluh and Patau-Patau Water Villages where wooden houses, shops and mosques are built on high stilts over water and are interconnected via various walkways; and the Peace Park at Layang-Layangan, situated close to Surrender Point, the place where the 32nd Japanese Southern Army surrendered to the 9th Australian A view of Corpse Imperial Forces on 9 September 1945. Island Adventure seekers must experience all four of Labuan’s wreck diving sites or go deep-sea angling.

Lovers caught and banished from their village

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