Saturday, September 20, 2014

Houseboating at Alleppey Backwater, Kerala.

I have this great idea of doing an Alleppey Backwater post, with all the houseboat, sunset, sunrise and all (lured and convinced by Pooven that I should go and would love it, and he was right!), but after choosing, editing and drafting, I realised this won't do. I don't even know where to start, what to write, which pictures to choose. And at the same time, I have this longing feeling, I want to repeat the backwater again, and again, and again. So I guess this is what I am going to do, I will post all my memories here and in my Facebook page (more photos obviously, just click HERE) and I shall let you imagine, let you see what I see, feel how I feel and be the judge of God's wondrous beauty.

Don't you just feel you need to make a trip here too?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Muzium Adat (Customs Museum) in Jelebu.

Being of a Minangkabau descendant makes me want to visit this place even more - Muzium Adat or Customs Museum.

Located in Jelebu, approximate 30+km for Seremban town and  60+km from Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's Muzium Adat or Customs Museum. My earlier assumption was wrong in thinking that it will be full of Adat Pepatih's heritage, culture and most importantly their customs (a matrilineal system whereby ancestral land is passed through from mother to daughter), it is in fact a museum that consolidate and compile all sort of Malaysian customs; old and new, of all races and tribe. Of which to my liking of course.

Upon arrival, we were presented by 2 cultural performances unique to Negeri Sembilan heritage, a folk music by the name of tumbuk kalang was performed by Kumpulan Tumbuk Kalang Seri Jelebu. Tumbuk kalang is a musical instrument made of mortar and pestle (tumbuk lesung), rebana and gong. In the olden days, tumbuk kalang is usually perform on the night after the end of the harvesting season. 

The beautiful Tarian Selamat Datang and Tarian Piring were performed by the popular Selendang Sembilan. Originated from West Sumatera Barat, Tarian Piring existed since 800 years ago from the land of Minangkabau. Its musical instruments are mainly saluang or a bamboo flute and talempong; small kettle gong or an ensemble of four to five gongs.

Truthfully, I am very impress at the effort made and the detail that was put into; collecting, preserving and documenting our customs. Welcoming the visitors into the museum by enlightening them with Adat Naik Rumah or Entering the House Traditions whereby a person needs to clean his feet before entering someone's home. Normally in the kampung (village), a big crock basin/pot is stationed outside the home with a hand bailer made of coconut shell for everyone to use.

Traditional attire.

Ceremonial Feast or Makan Beradat during Malay wedding.

Showcasing how each customs are different during wedding reception or festivities and yet share great similarity, where a ceremonial feast takes place either before or during a wedding or festivities. Even the food have been greatly fused in all our culture nowadays.

Makan Besar or Chinese Reunion Dinner during Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year).


Ponggal is regarded as a thanksgiving occasion. A highlight of the festival is the Ponggal cooking ceremony of boiling rice till it overflows, symbolising wealth and harvest. The festival is celebrated over a four-day period. (Source : Visit Malaysia Year site)

The Museum is divided into four galleries.

Gallery Ground Floor – Introduction of Adat
This gallery provides a general overview on the introduction, definition and the concept of customs; the categories of customs, as well as the various races in Malaysia and their respective customs and practices.

Gallery Level One – Life Cycle
Showcases the customs and practices related to the human life cycle which includes birth, marriages, death and economic activities as well as ritual practices of Malaysian society, and also music as the manifestation of customs.

Gallery Level Two – Intellectual Tradition / Government and Power
This level showcases the intellectual activities of the Palace and the people as well as the institution of the Malay monarchy.

Gallery Level Three – Adat Perpatih

A special segment that showcases the customs of temporary emigration of the Minang community from Minangkabau until their eventual settlement in Negeri Sembilan and the sanctity of the Adat Perpatih within the social structure.

Source : Department of Museums Malaysia

Visitors are also being educated on death rites or customs of respective race/tribe.

Adat Turun Perahu or Boat Launching Ceremony here in Malaysia is very different from those in western countries whereby they officiate it by breaking a champagne bottle at the boat. For us in Malaysia, this custom was practiced by fisherman years ago before they set sail at the open sea. With the help of shaman, the boat will be blessed to protect the fisherman from the rough sea.

Harvesting season and its custom.

Adat Berhkatan or Circumcision.

I won't elaborate in detail, my suggestion is that you visit the museum to understand it better. There is also a video showing the process. Very educational I must say.

Back in those days, there are two customary law that is widely practiced in the Malay Peninsula that is Adat Pepatih and Adat Temenggong. Adat Pepatih is practiced in Negeri Sembilan (from Minangkabau in Sumatera) while Adat Temenggong is from other Federated Malay States. There are also popular customary law such as Undang-undang 99 Perak for the Perak state or Hukum Kanun Pahang for Pahang state.

We were also explained in great detail on Adat Pepatih, the background, Luak Nan Empat and etc.

We have the opportunity to experience 'makan berselo'; a traditional dining custom practiced in Negeri Sembilan when the villagers meet-up with 'pengamal adat' or custom practitioner such as Tok Undang or Tok Adat.

We were served with sumptuous local delicacy like rendang itik daun puding hitam with kulit rambai, ikan sembilang salai masak lomak kuning cili padi, rendang pegaga, sambal gesek, sambal tempoyak masak daun kayu. Simple yet delicious.

Muzium Adat / Customs Museum
Opening time : 9.00 am - 5.00 pm. Closed only on Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Aidil Adha.
Entrance Fees : Free
Guided Tours : Free one hour guided tours led by museum officers. 
(Reservation needed for groups and school groups, please contact 06-613 6621)

A #KCC1M #Negeri Sembilan Media Fam Trip in collaboration with #GayaTravel

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hiking in Yangmingshan, Taiwan (grassland)

Grassland. Enough said.

Yangmingshan's original name was Caoshan (Grass Mountain in Mandarin), referring to the tall silvergrass that covers the highest slopes. Chiang Kai-shek renamed it Mount Yangming after his favorite Ming philosopher Wang Yang-ming.

The tallest peak, Mount Qixing (Seven Star Mountain), has an elevation of 1120 meters (3,674 ft), and its peak is the highest point in Taipei City. Trails leading throughout the entire park consist of basalt pavers, are steep in places, and can be fairly treacherous during periods of rain. Expect to be passed by septuagenarian locals who make the trip every week! (Wikipedia)

I first fell in love with this place after I accidentally bump into Yangmingshan National Park main website while looking for outdoor activities in Taipei. Since then, it has been in my list if when I visit Taiwan. Though not so much of a hiking nor a trekking freak (too scared of leeches), I do enjoy the serenity, the calmness, the wide open space where I feel fresh that it made me have this urge to start running and rolling. Am kid like that.

Despite the almost daily rain, it did not stop me from venturing into this place. I came prepared, umbrella, cap, raincoat and everything. Yes, kiasu was my name here.

Thinking that Taiwan was like China was the first step to a guilt trip. It was for one, cleaner, friendlier, more polite (that's for sure), helpful and of course, traveler friendly. Directions are both in Chinese and English, tourist guide are stationed at certain main Metro terminal and they can point you to the right direction (as long as you are friendly enough to ask) and of course public transport timing is generally good too. What took me by surprise was the fact that Yangmingshan or Yangming Mountain at above 1000 meters is accessible by public bus (the one like rapid KL, bayar RM3-4 jer) and it takes you about an hour or so to reach the Yangmingshan main bus terminal.

Once on top (YMS bus station I mean), get a NT$60 day pass card that allows you to hop-on and hop-off at a flat rate, cash purchase can be made at YMS station or via Easy card (similar to Touch & Go). Alternatively, you can also pay per trip which will be more costly of course. It is basically like our small school bus and the operating hours is from 7am to 5:30pm (bus #108). The day pass card comes with a map of Yangmingshan bus route, it is pretty convenient.

Everything else is pretty much straight forward, once you reached the stop you have identified earlier, get down and follow the path (normally there are few path options with distance indication). Do take note that they maintained it well, all the path is very clean with no rubbish scattered so please do not litter! 

Macam ni punya senang kalau hike kat sini, if tak tau gak, tak tau apa nak cakap. 

At every point, signages explaning the surrounding are made available, it will educate you about the terrain, the vegetation as well as the mountains in front of you. 

Maybe Malaysia hiking track should follow the same? What do you think.

This is the car park at the first stop I made, my advise (if you dare and came with few friends lah), do a self drive, its more leisure but the downside is that the path leads to another area/car park/bus stop. On second thought, better to take the bus *cheeky smile* if you plan to hike.

I followed the path to get a better view of Hsiaoyukeng; a volcanically-created fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs, and landslides. You will also hear constant sulfur vents noisily spew forth gases, and hot springs discharge endless streams of boiling water. By the way, as you get closer, the smell is yucky!

Since it is a volcanic prone area, obviously there are bound to be hot springs somewhere right *smile*, Lengshuikeng (Cold Water Pit) contains Taiwan's sole bed of precipitated sulfur, there are two hot springs pools and one foot-soaking pool. I tried going in into the enclose female only spring pool but... nude pool lah. Okthanksbye! Hahhahahahhahha.....

I also did not manage to go to the observation platform as it started to drizzle again, apparently there is a milky white lake. It is said that for a better view, you need to take the trail from the Seven-Star Park to Lengshuikeng. Next time maybe (macam akan penat giler ajer).

I chose the easy way out (less embarrassing too), I soaked my foot while waiting for the rain to stop. The great thing is that the water will flow out depending on how or when we (public) wants it. The rule is, once its a bit murky or less warm, you can let it flow out and refill it. Bukan let it go... let it go.... tau (cam lagu Frozen tuh).

There are a few hiking trail here at Lengshuikeng, aside from that, there are so great rest area (similar to other stops) and a big space for team building, but one have to bring own food yah. And better bring water as well.... fenat!

Some stops have wifi access (gempak dak!) and they have apps for you to learn about Yangmingshan flora and fauna. Oh! They don't call it apps, they call it A.P.P. lawak kan? Hahahhahahhahha......

This is why I am here, to check out my grassland (take note the word 'my' di situ). I was alone on this trail but since everyone said it is safe, I tawakal jer lah. And believe you me, it is safe! Excited tak terkira, waima silver feather grass is not in season tapi nak gi jugak-jugak. Tak peduli!!!

Here, I shall start my journey. Worry? I'll cross that bridge when it comes they say... here goes nothing. Bismillah.

Jeng jeng jeng... Seriously, panic gak nak masuk sengsorang dalam tuh, dah lah takde makhluk lain except me. Waima hutan renek, bukannya helicopter boleh nampak kite kot. Dup dap dup dap masa masuk. Kerja giler! Chup, lum cerita that I ni takut pacat, ish ish ish. What was I thinking!?!

I am always looking for this sign as I walk, 1.6km more to go. Not so bad, 45 mins to an hour of hike, I can do this. Piece of cake. NOT. Sesungguhnya Tipah tertipu tetipu terTipah.

Panic moment, errr..... Should I enter that dark place? Ada momok tak was my first thought. Next was, is it safe, will there be anyone walking with me, will it rain heavily; well, basically looking for an excuse to turn back. But with iman yang jitu lagi saksama (#eh), I continued hiking. 

Most of their hiking trail are well paved, no worry for you will not get steered off course, unless you planned it that way lah.

Looks good right, and bright but...

Bad luck Lily, you have to climb this stairs. 

It is harder when the steps are not one step at a time, its those 1.5 steps meaning you kept climbing on only one side of you leg (cam mana na cakap yek?!? Asyik kaki kanan jer memanjat) which is tiring. There's about 145 steps I head one couple talking as they were coming down. Yes! There's human up there. 

The climbing paid off, the first view *all smiling by then*.

The path I took led me to here. Deeper and darker...err... 

Kaler lawa. 

Finally... I've reached my grassland. And it was more than 1.5 hours of hiking (I did stop a couple of times) but it was worth it. 

The strange thing is that when I googled, I saw many people taking pics here, either having a picnic, strolling with babies and strollers, couples doing wedding shoots etc but today, I barely see any human as I climbed here. Low season maybe? Or perhaps because of the rain?

By the way, there are cows too, so do be careful when you roam around. Ala-ala New Zealand.

Mission accomplished. But by now it was around 3ish and I need to take a rest and snap a few photos quickly else I miss the last bus to the main YMS station. 

Can you see people at the far back? Here's the thing, there are another route where you can drive your car / bus stop that takes you right to this place but silly me, decided to hike. Hahhahahhahahah... Oh well, I did enjoy my walk and I kinda proud of it (aside from feeling stupid lah).

The fact is, I think I know there would be a bus taking me here, but since I saw the signage saying 1.6km, I was dead sure that I can hike within 45 mins top. Tettttt! I was wrong. Hahahahahhaha....

An old ranch (Nampak tak tahi lembu? Terbukti disini ada lembu, sekian).


I decided to climb here to get better pictures. 

And I got it! 

I hiked another trail to get to the bus stop. After all, its a piece of cake! No.

#TravelTips 1 : For those planing a trip to Taiwan, do note on season, weather and most importantly, typhoon!

#TravelTips 2 : There are many other parks and trails in the city or withub 1 hour drive from the city, just take your pick. most of them are accessible by public bus.

#TravelTips 3 : Makcik-pakcik kat sana fit-fit belaka, jangan tunjuk lagak. Sekejap je depa potong you and siap buat 2-3 round lagi. Be humble ok. Hehhehehheee....

#TravelTips 4 : Info paling penting. Tak ada pacat. Titik.

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