Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Songkor. Bubuk. Belacan - Bako, Sarawak

What makes a Fam Trip fun for me is the easy access of information.
I am a curious lot.


Learning that Sarawak having the most national parks in Malaysia, boosting at 22 in quantity and awarded with accolades such as UNESCO sites, the biggest cave etc gave them the right to brag, and I would not deny the fact that theirs are the best if not amazing. And I am honoured to get the opportunity to visit Bako National Park, located half an hour drive from Kuching. If Gunung Mulu National Park owns the right of having the biggest chamber that could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings, not to mention the Deer Cave being the largest single cave passages in the world, and Niah National Park boast the important of prehistorical site where human remains dating to 40,000 years, Pleistocene chopping tools and flakes, Neolithic axes, pottery dating to the Iron Age (nothing to do with Iron Man, just so you know). Well then, Bako National Park owns this brag right in Sarawak; the smallest national parks in Sarawak, so beat that you guys! *smile*

Bako National Park is one of those park that allows you to do a day trip, with its 16 walking trails; Tanjung Sapi 30 minutes (0.8 km) trail being its shortest and Telok Kruin 7 1/4 hours (10.5 km) trail being its longest, certain draws quick getaway tourist that is looking for a little bit of nature during their stay in Sarawak. It is also one of the most popular parks amongst the local here.

With great wonders comes great heritage, so they say in Spiderman (well, kinda). I was being enlighten with a new form of fishery, shrimp or krill catching to be exact. Shrimp or krill paste, known to the local as belacan is one of Bako’s famous produce, the villagers livelihood centres around this; it is their life style, culture and now Sarawak’s uncelebrated heritage.

A kelong-like structure called songkor made of pokok nibong or mangrove palm tree is where the fisherman use it to catch bubuk (krill) of which easier to handle; effortless. Songkor is also known as ‘bank’ by the Bako locale. This vertical structure is set at the riverbed where a gunny sacks net is fixed to trap krill during high and low tides. Usually krill is harvested at noon. There are approximate 50 songkor along Bako river, being pass from one generation to the other and goes as far back as 30 years ago, or even longer.

The krill are later being cleaned, dried and made into paste (belancan) to be sold at the local market. The koperasi help and educate the locals on funding, training, marketing and management skill – running a small scale homemade industry in order to boast the villagers economy and enhance their skillsets.

This interesting songkor and bubuk catching can easily be seen as one takes the boat out to the Bako National Park, do like what we did, stop and ask the fisherman on the techniques and processes. If you are lucky enough, you probably get to try it out, or even visit their shrimp (krill) paste homemade industry. *wink*

* For more photos, please click HERE.

Jom Jelajah Koperasi Sarawak Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with Surahanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (#SKM) with #GayaTravel as media coordinator

Friday, September 25, 2015

#TravellingBeruang takes Taipei

I have so much to share.
But I lost all my photos.

Just my luck.

These are are photos from my phone, thank goodness it is decent enough for me to share (lap peluh).

I was tasked to embarked in a journey of helping Adek Mimi, an adorable seven-year-old battling cancer. She was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, she is now at Stage 4 of her illness.

#TravelingBeruang / #TravellingBeruang
The Travelling Beruang campaign was created to increase awareness towards cancer and raise funds for Malaysian children diagnosed with cancer. Like other children, these young cancer patients too have dreams to see the world, but are unable to, due to their circumstances. This campaign aims to bring the world to them, via a travelling teddy bear, which will be travelling the world on their behalf. Travelling Beruang Campaign was launched to encourage our community to help children with cancer in Malaysia. Sales of these bears will be channelled to Tabung Travelling MAKNA. Your contribution will make a difference in their lives.

I am the bearer of a little child’s dream to travel the world. As he/she has cancer, so I travel in his/her place. Would you be my travelling companion as we realise this child’s dream?
  • Bring me to anywhere you like
  • Take pictures with me
  • Upload our pictures on your social media page with #travellingberuang

May our adventures bring meaning to others. Let’s be best of friends.

I decide to take #TravelingBeruang with me to Taiwan for a short trip, having been to Taipei before, I decided that this time around I shall cover few places that is new to me. One of it being the National Theater and Concert Hall, and as usual, traveling unprepared has been quite consistent of late I gambled to visit this place after my training. I have to give Taipei two thumbs up lar when it comes to transportation efficiency, precision is the keyword here. And to top it off, National Theater and Concert Hall is right at the Metro Stop, no walking, searching, wondering (and wandering) required (kalau sesat jugak agak kagum lah).

Open spaces and big buildings easily awe me, and this place gave me the same feel. I immediately felt affectionate to this majestic place, with a small parks at its compound, you see the locals strolling with kids, some dating, joggers sweating their work stress, and some even having a ‘quiet me time’ and just drown in the presents. Strangely I felt connected, a sense of belonging here as I greet the locals in Mandarin. One thing impresses me and I set down staring was the school kids using the huge place to study and practice, practice their dance steps (KPop sangat). I guess this is where I felt connected, the ‘practicing-dance-step’ bit. I smiled as I watch them, at the same time reminiscing my school days. The CHS folks would know what I meant *wink*.

I snapped a few shots here and there with #TravellingBeruang, did a few videos and start hunting for the signages that indicate history in brief of each building. (besar jugak tempat ni, berpeluh-peluh). Despite the sun was setting and glooming cloud welcoming the evening darkness, I tried my best to snap all the places and it turned out perfect (at least to me lar).

Not wanting to miss out anything on Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, I decided to walk and climb up, look easy and simple but it was superbly tiring, either that or I am superbly unfit (the latter sounds right).

Due to the limited time and the place is closing for the date, I have to leave this majestic historical place (sadly). I knew I will definitely do a repeat here, as it is, this was my second trip here *smile*.

I hope the #TravelingBeruang enjoyed the sightseeing as much as I did (and Mr. Beruang got educated too).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Back to nature : Sumiran Eco Camp, Kuching

Towel – Check
Sunblock – Check
Sport attire – check
Sport shoes – Check

Am all set. Back to nature.

When I saw the word ‘eco camp’, I go “hemmm…. Let’s google this place and get myself mentally (and physically) prepared” so say one who hates pacat. Being a good sport (and not wanting to be a dolly), I packed all sort of ointment to ‘prevent’ pacat-invasion and to my relieve, no pacat to be found (tak lembab and bersih giler kot! Pacat pun ‘don’t feel at home’ kat sini. Hahhahahhahahaaa). Upon investigating on Sumiran Eco Camp (bukan Dikin seorang jer terrer investigate tau [rasa dia baca tak blog entry nih?]), I found out they have this 3 activities that I dearly love – flying fox, trekking and kayaking. So here’s my plan, I’ll start with trekking, followed by flying fox and lastly kayak. I even plan to be as kiasu possible, ie: being the first fox flying, keh keh keh… 

Yeah! None of my plan materialized, I do have ample time to experience at least 2 of the activities but my body was against it. Screaming no. For a simple reason :

1. Excitedly the Sumiran Eco-Camp team yells “ZUMBA!!!!”
OK, I never tried Zumba before but from the sound of it, anything that starts with ‘Z’ and rhymes with ‘Pumba’ (Pumba = fat) is never good. True enough… it’s similar to aerobic with latino music at a faster beat, we felt our body were vandalized after the first song; drenched with salty jantan sweat #eh. Woe betide, that first song…. was NOT our last song. Every time we finished one dance, they say one more (tak kan nak stop sebab tadi kata nak sporting kan, excuse pacat tak boleh digunakan sebab semut pun we all tak nampak).

We were served with the most delicious Laksa Sarawak, apparently Sumiran Eco-Camp is also involve in catering business. Talk about family unity in Koperasi. Respect.
Little did we know… the yummeh Laksa Sarawak was a bait.

2. “You guys have been divided into 3 groups”
Eh!!! Apa pulak ni? What group? What activity? 
“You guys will be playing FUTSAL!!!!”. The guys were ecstatic (masa nil ah tunjuk and buktikan kejantan mereka!) and the girls; nonchalant. 
The biggest joke was went the organiser announcing “You guys will be playing futsal in a SARONG!”. We burst into laughter, this is so going to be fun. I have to give Sumiran Eco-Camp credit for planning and keeping us pump up, one after another, all great fun.
You know what? Fun is an understatement, we have Nuar holding the ball instead of kick the ball (aside from him taking selfie while guarding the goal post, and being the funniest referee), kain terlondeh tak yah cerita lah kan, Kak Puteri the undefeated futsaler (Maradona pun kalah hokkay) and obviously, the failed Mexican Wave.

3. “Tutup lubang! Tutup lubang”
Telematch can be fun, but this one is not just fun, challenging and weird too. I felt like I have been teleported to one of those Korean/Japanese game show or something. We each got a multiple hole pipe where we need to fill it up with water and get the ping pong ball out. The task is to ensure the pipe’s bottom are sealed, and all the holes on the side are closed (obviously using our fingers lah kan), and to our joy, Mawardi volunteered his tummy as the pipe “sealer”. As we fet on with the task, we can hear “sakit perut, tutup lubang, sikit lagi, jangan tekan and jangan dok ambek gambar, tolong tutup lubang ni”. All these while screaming and laughing like a lunatic. Giler-giler jugak yek media nih.

Upon completing the activities (no, my team lost), we were allowed to try out the flying fox, kayaking and trekking. Well, this fox ain’t flying dude, penat kot! Hahahhaaa…
Sumptuous dinner was served and karaoke kicks in, bonfire were lighted, stargazing conducted. Nothing was short of fun here at Sumiran Eco-Camp, they were professional and yet fun, not to mention great working attitude. Kudos.

Price stated is for local Sarawakian.

Accommodation Type 
6 Person Hostel
4 Person Tent

Flying Fox
Adventure Trail
Futsal Field
Volleyball Field
Mountain Bike Trail
Natural Water Confidence

Price stated is for local Sarawakian. 

Teambuilding (corporate)
Leadership & Prefect Training
Family Day Retreat & Birthday
Zumba Outdoor

Basic Facilities
Convenient Store
Shower Room and Toilets
Clean Water

Sumiran Eco-Camp
Jalan Rantau Panjang
off Jalan Batu Kawa
93400 Kuching
Email : sumiran.ecofarm@gmail.com
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sumiran.ecofarm

Encik Sudaryo Osman
Camp Chief
Tel : +6012 8811952

Jom Jelajah Koperasi Sarawak Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with Surahanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (#SKM) with #GayaTravel as media coordinator

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tanto Norra, Stockholm : My Winter Wonderland.

Planning a winter trip is tough.

The idea was to travel during cold hash winter to the northern most region – Scandinavia; covering Norway, Sweden and Finland. However, upon reaching our first city; snow was everywhere as expected, in fact, the whole park was covered with white powdery snow and yet I still don’t feel ‘it’, I can't feel 'it'. Where’s my ‘it’?

Have you ever felt hungry and craving for food, but when you finally have it, it did not hit the satisfaction level you imagined (macam ada benda yang tak kena, tak puas). Then you kept buying and eating, and stuffing with all types of food but still, it did not meet the mark, a mark that even you don’t know. You kept feeling frustrated, you disappoint your tummy, your taste pallet, your craving. Lepas tuh bebal, naik angin, semua tak kena. Well, that was the same feeling I had when we landed in Oslo, looking and searching for my ‘IT’. Justifying to myself, this IS it, accept and enjoy the trip. Not that easy, let me tell you that. 

Braving and ‘pujuk-ing’ myself to enjoy Oslo, forcing myself to take a few beautiful shots (which I personally think it wasn’t, yet hoping it is), I succumbed and settled with what's given. This is Oslo, this is my Scandi trip (finally), this is my Winter Wonderland. Hell NOT!

Little did I know, Allah SWT have something in store for me, a better plan, a better IT. And I will forever thank him for that, am blessed.

It started with us arriving at Stockholm from Oslo, my second trip here, not thoroughly overjoyed but I am cool with it. I have a few to do list, places and things I would like to cover and buy. I guess a 3 days 2 nights fit me pretty well. I do have one worry though, the hostel we booked is slightly out of the way, unlike other cities we booked, we were able to walk everywhere, anytime but not here; in Stockholm. With both iPhone and a hardcopy map, we should be able to find our hostel quickly and hopefully easily. Luck is not on our side.

It was far (kinda), it took a while for us to get our bearing right when we resurface, the overnight ride and the cold weather wasn’t exactly easing our frustration. We finally found the junction that led to the hostel but after a long tiring walk, the hostel was still no where to be seen. Anger kicks-in, for me at least. Until…

... this beautiful sight. My winter wonderland. At last.

This became my favourite street, my park, my everything.
Park covered with snow, leafless tress, and morning rays. Bliss.

We bumped into Tanto Norra, some sort of a garden. It must be really beautiful in spring I bet.

Tanto allotment gardens
Tanto Norra allotments were established in the early 19th century to help the poor grow their own food during the crisis -  famine, world war, and food-rationing crisis. Now, Tanto Norra consist of 93 allotments. These allotment gardens at Tanto are dotted with perfectly cute red, yellow and green cottages and dapper sheds above Årstaviken bay on Södermalm. The best time to visit is end August when the allotment holders put on a harvest festival. The gardens are part of Tantolunden park.

So, was the walk long and far (from the Tunnelbanna)? NO, frustration makes a 10 mins walk feels like an hour. Ahaks.

I will definitely come back, Zinkensdamm.
This time in summer, where I will roam, laze and bath under your beautiful sun.

This is where we stayed. 

Blog : #TravelTips | Zinkensdamm Hostel - Where I stayed in Stockholm

Zinkensdamm Hostel
Zinkens väg 20
SE-117 41

Tel : +46 8-616 81 10 / +46 8-616 81 00
Email: mail@zinkensdamm.com
URL : http://www.zinkensdamm.com/en/

Take the red line southward towards Fruängen or Norsborg. Get off at station Zinkensdamm. Cross Hornsgatan and follow Ringvägen straight ahead. Turn right on to Zinkens väg after the sports field (about 200 meters) and follow the road to the end. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Road to Istana Selindung Bulan, Pagaruyung

Journey home.

I have listen numerous times of Istana Basa Pagaruyung, on it being burnt down to the ground, being the root of Minangkabau and the birth of my heritage. Obviously the need to discover my root and heritage grows by day if not hours while I was there… but one would not expect that the road trip was as interesting as the ‘istana’ or palace itself. A road trip that I am glad to have embarked it with my darling neighbours *wink*. We were feasted with a spread of paddy field as far as our eyes behold, enveloped by Mount Sago and Bungsu and waved by rumah gadang along the way, not to mentioned curious locals giving us warm welcoming smile to their charming little village. How to know fall in love with us Minang. 

Every few kilometres we would ohh and ahh which resulted to Imam asking whether would we like a pit stop to take some shots, we kept saying ‘Ngak apa-apa Imam, halalkan aja’ (It’s ok Imam, let it go, we are go) while giving this picturesque view a puppy face look, hoping and longing for a revisit, in sha Allah. But once we reached the paddy field, it is hard to just ‘let it go’; we just can’t. We suggested a quick few minutes stop which ended up with a 20 minutes photo shoots; with me instructing Ed Junaidi to walk here, look there, act this way on the paddy trail, Farah searching for scenic shots and Ed, well Ed is just happy being my model *ahaks*. And as we thought we were done with photo shoots, we were invited by beautiful homes along the way, not knowing who the owner is. And to our surprise, the locals (perhaps the owners) gave us a nod, a blessing for us to take a few photos of their beautiful home. 

I can’t help feeling I should take home a rumah gadang, well in this case, a rumah ketek (small) heheehehee… It’s like my very own live size doll house. Comei ya amats. I have the urge to ask permission to walk inside but time is of an essence, else I would have make myself at home here and probably request them to couch surf *wink*.


At last, we found our Istana Selindung Bulan, it is very well maintained. There are approximately 200 Minangkabau carving motifs on this palace, and each carving represent their adat, consisting floral designs such as kaluak paku ('fern tendrils'), saluak laka ('interwoven rattan'), pucuak rabuang ('bamboo shoots') etc, fauna; tupai tatagun ('startled squirrel'), itiak pulang patang ('ducks going home in the afternoon) which symbolizes co-operation and homecoming wanderers, and kumbang janti (golden bumblebee) amongst others, as well as humans for example rajo tigo (three kings of the realm), kambang manih (sweet flower, used to describe an amiable girl) and jalo takambang (casting a net). 

Generally, the carvings were dominated with the color red, yellow, brown, black, silver and gold. 

Two rice barns (rangkiang) are accompanying a rumah gadang; it is located in front of the house, rangkiang sitinjau lauik contains rice for the family for adat (customary) ceremonies. The rangkiang sitangka lapa contains rice for donation to the poor or during time of need, where else rangkiang sibayau-bayau contains rice for the daily needs of the family. There are a few type of rankiang, I find this interesting and it portrays that the Minangkabaus are a very independent and well prepared clan, food reserves are not only for family current use, but also for future, for ceremonies and for those less fortunate.

We were unable to go inside as they were close for public, determine to see the inside of a Rumah Gadang, we adjourn and proceed to our destination, Istana Basa Pagaruyung or Grand Palace of Pagaruyung.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chinese fishing net at Fort Cochin

No cities.
No shopping.
Just my net,
My sunset,
And me.

I’m a very simple person.
As long as there’s sunrise and sunset in my travel itinerary, am a happy girl (singing to Pharrell Williams’s  Happy).

I lied.
I got the architecture, the art, the culture, the people, AND the sunset, all in Fort Cochin. And it was as good as paradise (not that I have been to one). I did browse thru on Fort Cochin and I decided to only focus on one thing, the Chinese fishing net. More intrigued by the name than the net itself (why is it called Chinese but located in India?!! #confuse), here I learnt that there is 2 versions of the story of its origin; it was introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He, while the other version said that it was introduced by Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau. Whichever the version is, am glad it made its way to Fort Cochin which later on begin a great tourist attraction.

Alfonso de Albuquerque was granted the permission by the Rajah of Kochi back in 1503 after helping Cochin fought against Saamoothiri of Kozhikode and it remained in Portuguese possession for 160 years. Later came in the Dutch and captured Fort Cochin and remained under them for 112 years, before the British took control. With this great colourful history, coupled with a rich blend of culture that intertwine for more than 2 centuries, it is no surprise that when one takes a stroll here, the presence of past are strongly felt, the air of opulent antiquity swept.

First, I strolled by the beach looking for the ideal spot before the sun sets in, little did I know, the daytime view is not as ‘beautiful’. The beach was filled with seaweed, according to the local it is depending on the season. It is not always presence. So, tak pe lah kot kan…

Bump into street stalls where I was captivated with handcrafts and felt in love with some of the door knobs, was thinking of getting one each but my practicality and rationalization kicks in, reasoning out that my luggage can’t handle more than what it has. As you have guessed, I regretted till now. Sigh… Sometimes impulse purchase should just take charge, and gamble with the consequences.

Vasco da Gama; a name often heard, being the first European to reach India by sea thus linking Europe and Asia via the ocean route. He is a Portuguese explorer during the peak of colonial periods that was once buried in St Francis Church also the oldest European church in India.

I hunted for a good spot to capture the sunset view like those I saw on google site and postcards, none of the place I got fits the desired visual I had in mind, until I started to chat with one of the fisherman, this your gentleman offered for me to sit at his fishing stilt. Doubt at first, I gave in and nodded as I wanted so much to take the sunset pics and I got it. As I was leaving the place feeling rather happy and satisfied, the gentleman asked for ‘tip’ (lahhhh…. Kena bayar ke?), well…. I paid lor, nasib baik puas hati hehheheheee….


I got my ferry ride here *smile*.

Can you see the Chinese fishing net? Well, apparently there is a sunset cruise for you take a better photo here. Google lah...

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