Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Melaka Delicacy - Asam Pedas | #ICYDKMelaka

This is indeed very rare, hence I shall make it short, sweet and simple (probably 1 para with pics and I call it done. Hahhahhahahaa…. Giler pemalas)

A trip to Melaka ain’t complete until you try their famous dish – asam pedas. And I was waiting patiently for a trip to an asam pedas warung, I learnt that we get to eat the famous asam pedas and kari kambing. The kari kambing was new, I never knew that Melaka is famous for kari kambing, well…. Now I know. And it was rather delicious, if I may say so myself.

Sungai Tambak Merlang is popular and famous for its asam pedas and kari kambing power warungs. Along the wrong, you’ll find a few of the asam pedas and kari kambing warungs (stalls), all you need to do is pick one to try. The Asam Pedas set is usually paired with ulam (salad), sambal belacan (chilli shrimp paste) and boiled salted egg. Located probably 30mins to Asahan in Jasin, one can make a short and quick detour at lunch to feast their growling tummy.

Having been operating for 20 years, Yusri Nadin; the proud onwer of Warung Kari Kambing Power & Asam Pedas Claypot shows no sign of stopping, a signature dish that one must try is the asam pedas ikan pari (spicy and sour stingray and mutton spicy curry). According to Yusri, 2 goats per day for his special kari kambing and it is sold out as early as 9am in the morning despite the fact that the warung actual calls it a day at 3pm. For those interested to try this famous dish, you know what time you need to head here.

Aside from the asam pedas and kari kambing, lontong Kering is one of the popular delicacy in Warung Kari Kambing Power & Asam Pedas Claypot. Being located in the meeting point of Melaka, Johor and Negeri Sembilan, it comes as no surprise that Lontong Kering is also famous is the district of Jasin. The serunding (coconut floss) and kuah kacang (peanut sauce) is simply superb. Do try it as well.

The origin of Asam Pedas
Asam Pedas can be traced as far as Pekanbaru in Sumatera, just across Melaka; devided by Straits of Melaka and also the Riau Islands Province. Some said that as the Minangkabau suku (where asam pedas originally came from – the Minangkabau clan of Sumatera) who roamed across Asia has made their ways to Peninsular Malaysia few hundred years ago along with their customs, culture and culinary; settling in Negeri Sembilan (an adat Pepatih state just next to Melaka). Assimilation of lifestyle formed, as well as the famed localized delicacy that is now popular in Melaka – Asam Pedas. Strangely, being a descendant of Minangkabau from Padang, my family has never claimed nor cook this dish in any occasion. Perhaps the localized Melaka version is more famous I guess.

For those who is traveling to Melaka and looking forward to sample Melaka Asam Pedas and Kari Kambing, well, you know where to go to *wink*.

Warung Kari Kambing Power & Asam Pedas Claypot
Add: Km 42, Jalan Tambak Merlang 1
Kg. Simpang Bekoh, 77100
Asahan, Melaka

Tel: +6012-7775006 / +6013-6822800
Business hours: 6am – 3pm (Mondays to Fridays)

#ICYDKMelaka is made possible and is in collaboration with Tourism Melaka, Asia Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA) and all the sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Story behind Tangga Melaka (Melaka Staircase) | #ICYDKMelaka

A symbol of status, wealth and power has made Melaka house one of its kind. Reflected in their fancy and colourful staircase, aside from the fact that Melaka was the Malay trading center in the East; it is only natural that the beautiful 3D tiles is imported from China, Portuguese, Netherland and England, inspired by respective country motives. However. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that most of the colours being used are red and green despite that most houses are colourful in nature. According to the locals, usually the these fancy staircase houses are owned by the village chief or Datuk Penghulu, or Datuk Sidang as what the locals call them.

Melaka staircase is often built with odd number steps; 3, 5 and 7 steps, with the highest steps found in Melaka houses are 9. Having said that, usually a normal house steps is no higher that 9 steps. The favourite number of steps is 7, as found in many Melaka houses. Reason being, number 7 is significance in Islam; 7 means 7 layer of sky, 7 layer of earth, 7 days, 7 ambulations- to move around Ka’aba for ‘tawaaf’ among others.

Aside from the staircase, the architecture of a Melaka house is also significant versus other states in Malaysia, one will noticed that there are Bugis, Jambi, Riau and Kalimantan elements in terms of roof architecture, a verandah located at the front of the house are used for guest to sit on while waiting for their turns to meet the village chief. This is called as balai (open air living room/hall area) with benches. This balai is also used for kenduri (gathering) and family get-together. It is paired with the famous Melaka colourful tiled staircase. It is wide in nature to give a sense of host’s warmness in welcoming guest to their home.

The birth of local-foreign assimilation
The Strait of Malacca strategically located between Europe and China serves as the gateway and natural channel for trade to and from Asia, to the western world.

During the period 0f 17th -19th centuries many of the port-towns along the Indian Ocean–Southeast Asia–South China Sea route came under European control, Melaka included. Thus, since Dutch occupation of Melaka in 1641, the Dutch has established and marked Melaka as their base in order to tap into the India-Straits-China route.

The Portuguese, who were the earliest of the Europeans to set foot in many of these port-towns such as Melaka, Penang, Singapore and such, they were confronted by the Spanish, Dutch, English and French. The main commodities traded were spices, rice, cotton textiles  silks, ornaments such as porcelain and glass aside from medicinal herbs and forest products. As a Malay trading center and the main shipping route for west-east continent hence the ornamentation found in old Melaka house were either imported from eastern or western countries, this can be seen in the tiles decoration.

This has created fusion or cross culture of east meets west; local wooden home with three dimensional tiles from China in the east and fancy colourful tiles from Portuguese, Belgium, Netherland and England from the west. Due the cost of these tiles, one has to be of an influential family background or a successful merchant to be able to afford them, due to this reason a Melaka staircase is often associated with wealth and status.

It is always intriguing to find how one culture interfuse with another especially between 2 large continents with different heritage, custom and culture.

#ICYDKMelaka is made possible and is in collaboration with Tourism Melaka, Asia Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA) and all the sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Kuala Lumpur Helicopter Ride - Ecstatic!!!

I always thought that my first heli ride will be somewhere very far and away. Very unique. Very different from the rides I’ve taken. But guess what? My ride happens to be at my own backyard, right here in Malaysia, the heartbeat of Malaysia to be more specific - Kuala Lumpur. A mere 10 minutes’ drive from my home. Great things happen to those who are patient and oh boy, I was very patient.

My one and only advise to those (1) haven’t seen KL from aerial view, (2) doubted KL skyline view (simply mesmerizing from up there hokkay) and (3) feel KL has nothing much to offer (oh boy! Aren’t you gonna be surprise) is that DO NOT underestimate Kuala Lumpur cause you’ll be shocked, surprised and impressed, all at the same time. That much I can tell you.

I have basically checked all the type of rides I ever wanted to take and am glad the heli ride is done here in KL. Achievement unlocks.

Here is basically how I felt before, during and after the trip. And obviously I highly recommend everyone to try. Once, at least.

The Before
I was super thrill (obviously lah kan) and since I saw Olive took the ride a day earlier plus the fact that I saw a couple of my friends experiencing this, I kinda formulate and strategize what I want to do and all. I even have an imaginary storyboard (that was how ecstatic I was a day earlier and that morning itself).

I have to make sure is my attire is office smart casual (as I have to come to office first prior to taking the ride), heli friendly (nothing dramatic and overly dress whatnot kan) and last but not least, it has to be comfortable and not over the top and yet look like some spoilt rich kid taking a heli ride instead of car during KL rush hour (sampai begitu skali my storyboard). The outcome… so-so only lah my style. Hehhehee…

You think that’s it? Nehhhh…. I even imagine the pose and angle (1) running in or out of the heli (just like those you see in a movie), (2) pic of me looking nonchalant of the ride as I have taken it so many times, the transport to go in the future – GrabHeli gitew (drama sangat) and  finally (3) me fiddling with the dashboard as if I was piloting it (this didn’t happen as I forgot to request for a front seat. Duh…).

As you guessed it, nothing of the above materialized BUT I did look good though (terubat jugak jiwa).

I have no running to heli pic - storyboardfail. Duh!
And this is NOT in a car hokkay (dalam kereta orang tak pakai earset besar gajah camni).

The During
Since all of the above failed, my expectation kinda diminished as well. I was supposed to do a couple videos from certain angle for me to show-off on my IG and I forgotten all about it (I did get a few footage lah, bukannya takde langsung). Dang!

Video aside, the view is breathtaking. What surprises me was that, you can see a lot of greenery from aerial view. Places that you didn’t know existed ie golf course right smack in the city (here I thought it was KDE but boy was I wrong), KLCC seems so near yet far, so small yet standing tall – huge, and the best was all our link road, highways looks beautiful from above. Seriously.

How to selfie on air - pout your lips!

This is the height. 

Ni tang mana pulak!?!?! I don't remember there's greenery in KL city. Hemmm...

The After
Upon getting down, we took a few more pics with the heli as backdrop. And you think it ends here? Nehhhhhh….

I have Heli-Ride-Hang-Over syndrome. HAHAHHAHAAA…. Every other day if not hour, I be rerunning the videos, or looking at the pics. Kept feeling that I should be posting all pics taken on IG, FB, Twitter etc. (Show-off itu penting). No, that is not enough. I forced my family and colleagues to check my pics out, insisting they should experience the same.

Worried that people might doubt I took a heli ride. That's me with KL Tower in teh background y'oulls.

Me all smiling (dah macam orang sewel dah).

Here is what I did in specific (1) encourage every Tom, Dick and Harry I met to try it, at least once in their life, (2) Shared the pics, vids and cost with marketing team, influencing them that high level event (eg. CxO level) should incorporate this into their GTM plan. I even passed some Ascend Sky Tour biz card to marketing team. A unique selling proposition. And (3) Push it to all my Social Media platform - semua orang wajib tau and cuba.

What are you waiting for?
Go try NOW!

Group pic with heli pilot (Hwas an after thought hence he was still in the heli. Storyboard fail. Yet again).

#JomTerbang Helicopter Ride is made possible and is in collaboration with Ascend Sky Tour and About KL with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.
#AscendSkyTour #AboutKL #GayaTravel

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kuda Kepang – The Origin and Trance Element | #RentakSelangor

I have always wondered and curious of the traditional dance – Kuda Kepang; a famous Johor dance that involve 9 players/dancers riding a horse (kuda kepang), Tok Batin and musician (playing traditional musical instruments such as gong, gamelan and gendang (it varies by state and countries). The part that most of us are curious about will be the trance part as told by the elders and I am fortunate enough to be invited to watch it live in Kuala Selangor during #RentakSelangor.

The History of Kuda Kepang
It is said that the Kuda Kepang or Flat Horse originated from West Java, Indonesia, and it is known there as Kuda Lumping. Study has shown that Kuda Kepang or Kuda Lumping dance was made popular Diponegoro's war against the Dutch during colonialization, it is a source of entertainment where the dancers reenact the battles. Another version stated that it is based on Mataram period of the same nature; the local Indonesia fighting during Dutch encounter. Due to the landscape of Indonesia, Kuda Lumping also existed in few other main island and it is known by different name ie. Jaran Kepang in Central Java, Jathilan in East Java and in Bali, it is famous by the name Sang Hyang Jaran.

It then migrated to Johor in 1800 and has been localized to local flares since there, having said that, the main elements are well preserve and still practice here. Aside from Johor, Selangor is the other stated with strong influence of Kuda Kepang dance and ritual, this is ascertain in areas such as Tanjung Karang, Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor, Kelang, Banting and Sepang where large population dominating the areas are of strong Javanese descendants. This migration happens as the Javanese faced economic difficulties back in home countries. With this, they brought in their custom and culture of which as assimilate into the local culture and this includes Kompang Jawa, Wayang Kulit Jawa (as written HERE and HERE) as well as Kuda Kepang Jawa.

The art of Kuda Kepang
A traditional folk dance assimilate with Javanese culture as well as  Islamic influence has settled and grounded well in a few states in Malaysia, and Selangor is one of them. This was mentioned when in 15th Century, a spiritual Islamic leader Wali Songo from Java in his effort to expand Islam is having difficulties to engage with the locals; thus morphing it via culture; folk dance and music.

The Kuda Kepanng Music
Kuda Kepang (Flat Horse)
Flat horse made of cowhide (all this while I thought it was made from straw).
Kuda Kepang comes in 3 colours - red, white and grey, signifying different character (Red symbolizes the courage and spirit, while white represents purity and black; follower guided by white).
Musical instruments range from Angklung, Gendang, Gong, Gamelan (Bonang/Chaklempong) and others (depending on states and countries)

The Dancers and their characters
9 players/dancers riding a horse (kuda kepang)
5 musicians
2 Tok Batin

The Ritual
From my experience during #RentakSelangor, in order to buka gelanggang (stage officiating ceremony), the Tok Batin will burn the kemenyan (incense) and chant a mantra to call upon the spirit from kayangan (fairyland) for the horses. Raw eggs raw, flowers , grass , and water are being used during this ritual.

Once the ritual in complete, the dancers will ride and imitate the horse movement to the music, during this time the spirit will enter the dancers body (so they say) and they will be in trance. The speed of the dancers galloping are determined by the pace and rhythm of the song. At this point, some has said that the dancers can even do acts that are impossible to normal human being such as bersilat, jumping as high as six feet, eating the flower or glass offering. There has been told that sometimes the dancer can dance for hours non-stop. For them to stop, Tok Batin are required to chant as spell to restore them from the trance state.

It is interesting to know that our younger generation still motivated and practicing this traditional folk dance hence keeping and preserving it to for our next generations. Despite that Kuda Kepang is not a popular dance, it is still being showcased during official and opening ceremonies.

Unity of Kuala Selangor is form by our culture and heritage.
The Breathing Pulse of our land.

Rentak Selangor Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lion Dance – The Origin and The Making of… | #RentakSelangor

Do you know the different between Lion Dance versus Dragon Dance?

Both Lion Dance and Dragon Dance originated from Chinese culture in China and have spread to other Asia countries as well as other parts of the world. A Lion Dance is a 2 dancers performance mimicking a lion’s movement. Whereas a dragon dance, are performed using rods that the dancers hold up high to raise the dragon flexible body.

It is very common in Malaysia to see a Lion Dance performance during the Chinese New Year festival also during important occasions such as business opening, product launches or even to welcome important guests. Unlike Dragon Dance, it is often being showcased during Chinese New Year festival in other countries however in Malaysia, it is rare to see Dragon Dance performances.

Lion Dance
The story goes as far back as Tang Dynasty when an Emperor was having a nightmare he was saved by a lion. Ever since that, Lion Dance has been a central part of a Lunar New Year celebration for the Chinese. Another important part of Malaysia Lion Dance is that it is known to be associated with Southern China heritage and culture, right down to the martial art form - kung-fu. Aside for it martial art benefits, it also offers cardiovascular type exercise. By learning Lion Dance, one get to master the dance and its heritage as well as culture, martial art and last but not least, provide a form of exercise for the body, mind and soul.

Master Siow Ho Phiew; a veteran, a subject matter expert a.k.a Lion Dance Sifu established Wan Seng Hang (WSH) Dragon & Lion Arts in 1986, in Subang Bestari, Selangor. Master Siow has 30 years of experience in making, choreographing, teaching and participating in Lion Dance world wide championship, a person to be reckoned with. His name is internationally known all over the world that now, Master Siow has path the way and made Malaysia as one of the best award winning Lion Dance troupe, Lion Dance makers, music producer (our Lion Dance music is known and used everywhere in most of the countries [yes, even China]) and trend setter.

At Master Siow’s Lion Dance Class, dancers will learn 18 types of music and each signifies a certain movement or action such as scratching, stretching, teasing, playing, eating, leaping and resting. And the current shows, the Lion does a few acrobatic acts such somersault and flip. Being the master of Lion Dance; Master Siow not only train the dances on the dance performance and musical instruments, he also educates his pupils on the history of Lion Dance.

For those curious few, every Lion are differentiated by colours and each colours represent character dated long time ago in China.

Red - Guan Gong or Lord Guan; the second of the brothers from Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Lion : Xing Shi - Translates to ‘awakened lion’ and has a red face with a black beard.

Yellow - Liu Bei ; a warlord in the late Eastern Han dynasty and also the eldest brother in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Lion : Rui Shi - Auspicious lion, is a symbol of wisdom with yellow or gold face and white beard and fur.

Black - Zhang Fei ; the youngest of the three brothers.
Lion : Dou Shi - Fighting lion (representing youth), often performed by beginners.

Green - Zhao Yun; regarded as the fourth brother.
Lion : Qing Shi -  Popular with the Hokkien people and Taiwanese as it represents friendship and goodwill.

For those interested to learn, Master Siow also provides free classes. Do give them a call to understand and learn more.

Wan Seng Hang (WSH) Dragon & Lion Arts
No 22, Jalan Bulan U5/168                               
Bandar Pinggiran Subang
40150 Shah Alam
Tel : +60 3-7845 1239

Rentak Selangor Fam Trip is in collaboration with Selangor Youth Generation Development, Sports, Cultural and Entrepreneurship Development, UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

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