On 25 September 2016, Malaysia Ministry of Tourism and Culture with Tourism Malaysia have successfully executed a well-planned and beautiful annual Citrawarna at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. This year’s theme was Myth and Folklore.
Here are snippets of the performance of the Citrawarna night.
It is actually hard to find clear information on the internet on how exactly to get to the traditional village of Wae Rebo. I will try to explain the direction with a simple but clear explanation in the following paragraph.
How to get here from Labuan Bajo:
This traditional village is amazing! Loving the feeling of being here.
Get a van with a driver in Labuan Bajo (or arrange it before your arrival). It is better if you can go around 1PM because it takes about 7 hours through winding road from Labuan Bajo to Ende. 4 hours on a proper 1-lane highway and 3 hours on paved-but-damaged roads; there is one damaged bridge too. So prepare plastic bag in case you would get motion sickness. The budget for a car of 6 usually about Rp2.0 million to Rp2.7 million. If you’re getting more, probably you are being ripped off. Check another. The price includes the driver’s accommodation.
Check in at Pak Blasius Homestay (recommended) and stay a night. Ask Pak Blasius to arrange for a guide to Wae Rebo. It is compulsory to hire a local guide.
Begin trekking at 6AM (best time and it’s already hot anyway). 5am if you prefer earlier. We took about 2 hours 30 minutes ascending and 3 hours to descend. It depends on your ability to hike. The trail is clear but steep. Bring at least a 1.5litre of water. Don’t rush and enjoy the view.
You will arrive at the gateway to enter the village. Your guide will shake a bamboo-made instrument to signal the villagers of your arrival.
From there henceforth, no photos or other activities are allowed until a welcoming ritual completed by the Head of the Main House. There’s nothing fancy on the ritual, though, so you won’t miss anything on camera.
Stay at Blasius Homestay: Rp 200k per pax inc. breakfast
Welcoming ritual fee: Rp 50k
Guide fee: Rp 200k per group
Village Entrance fee: Rp 200k per pax (inc lunch); or if you plan to stay a night, Rp 325k per pax inc breakfast/lunch or breakfast/dinner.
About the hiking trail:
This is a photo of one of the stop along the 9km hiking trail from Denge to Wae Rebo.
This is a photo of one of the stop along the 9km hiking trail from Denge to Wae Rebo. The hiking is relatively easy although some part can be quite steep. The hike usually takes about 3 to 4 hours. But, we managed about 2 and half hours only.
The village of Wae Rebo is located at 1.2km above sea level but we only need to hike about 600m above sea level.
The hike will take you along the 9km trail that will go through three rest stops. The first one is at Wae Lomba River about less than an hour walk from the village and you are actually walking on a paved road. The second stop is Pocoroko about an hour from the first rest stop. I heard that this stop is important for the villagers because there is a spot where they can make phone calls and send text messages from their mobile phones, but I’m pretty sure my phone could not get any signal at all when I was there.
Another UNESCO World Heritage checked. Apparently, Wae Rebo received a recognition award from UNESCO, but never been certified as World Heritage Site yet.
Mind you that some people said that you can get the phone signal in Wae Rebo, but it’s not true. There is no possibility to get a signal there as the closest signal tower is near Dintor. There is no way a signal could go through the thick jungle at a high elevation like Wae Rebo.
About 40 minutes later, you will arrive at the third post, Nampe Bakok. From here, you can take a sneak peek of the Wae Rebo village from this point. In less than 30 minutes later you will arrive at a small shed where the guide will shake a bamboo-made instrument to signal the villagers of our arrival.
No TV, PS4, internet, mobile phones and definitely no iPad. These children are still enjoying their life with a lot of activities far from any technologies. These children are still very young, but when they are 6 years old or older; they would be living with their relatives in a some area in a village in Denge to get formal education in school and will return home on weekends and school holidays.
My trip has come to the end. Right now I am in Mexico City completing the article for submission to SRE (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores / Secretariat of Foreign Affairs). I have already returned to my beloved country – Malaysia. I am really looking forward to another adventure. Let me know if you want to invite me to cover and write about your country for Gaya Travel Magazine! Below is briefly the itinerary that I went through the whole 3 weeks in Mexico.
DAY 1 – 26 OCTOBER 2015 Kuala Lumpur
Departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 11:10 PM with Lufthansa.
DAY 2 – 27 OCTOBER 2015 Frankfurt – Layover for 5 hours
Departure from Frankfurt to Munich at 11:00AM with Lufthansa.
Munich – Layover for 10 hours.
Departure from Munich to Mexico City at 9:00 PM with Lufthansa.
DAY 3 – 28 OCTOBER 2015 Mexico City
Arrived at 6:00 AM.
Cleaning up at Hafiz house and ready to report myself at SRE.
Reporting at SRE with Lourdes.
Singapore is a concrete jungle where neon lights shine brightly at night, traffic runs incessantly during the day and residents mainly dwelling in high rises – the entire city is an epitome of modern economic progress, making this city-state one of the most developed nations within South East Asia.
Giant Panda is also one of the famous exhibitions here in Singapore Zoo.
But there is also another side to Singapore besides advanced urbanisation that I found amazing – apparently, this island is also a paradise full of wildlife, preserved and conserved within four parks managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)! These parks offer the chance for visitors to get close to wildlife; to see, observe and learn about animals living in many areas around the world and to appreciate and conserve animals that are extinct. These four parks – Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park – receive many awards and recognition that they are certified as world-class.
The night safari is indeed my favourite park.
Due to such high exemplary standards, I reckon that all other zoos and wildlife parks throughout the world should emulate WRS not only in terms of visitor experience but also wildlife sustainability, rehabilitation and conservation. It is very important that humans realise the importance of preserving nature and wildlife because they ensure the ecological balance that is essential for human survival.
I wrote this article for Gaya Travel Magazine. You can find the full article on Wildlife Reserves Singapore at Gaya Travel website.
I reckon that other zoos and wildlife parks throughout the world should emulate WRS not only in terms of visitor experience but also wildlife sustainability, rehabilitation and conservation
Well, I have planned to do this since 3 years ago. Although you can consider me as a travel writer now, because I have been writing for a travel magazine for quite some time, but I am still hesitated to write. Sigh!
It’s either because I find it troublesome, tedious, or I am simply lazy asssssss…
I am still interested to blog though. It would be really amazing to share my travelling stories. Including those dirty ones! Hehehe!
I know nobody is reading my blog now. But if you happened to stop by, thank you very much. Although there is nothing much I can offer on my blog right now, I really hope you can come back! Well, may be I am somehow blessed with the magic of a writer fingers and somehow they are really happily dancing on the keyboard to write down all of the stories I have always wanted to share! Now, let us hold our hands together and hope for such miracle to happen!
Meanwhile, I can say my Spanish is getting better! Well, at least the grammar part. Hehehe! And yeah, I built up my vocabulary pretty well too! However, it’s still not enough for a steady communications yet. Still the person who speaks the language must really speak at a sloooooow pace. Habla despacio, por favor! No puedo comprender que estas hablando!
Riau Island Province is located on the south of Singapore and stretched afar to Lingga Island, parallel to the Sumatran coast, consisting of the Riau Archipelago, the Tudjuh Archipelago, and the Lingga Islands. Riau Islands are known for its heritage and historical background since the fall of Malay Sultanate of Malacca to the reign of Johor-Riau Sultanate. It had also been known as the centre of knowledge and culture dissemination.
Batam – Hang Nadim Airport
When we arrived at Hang Nadim Batam Airport, we were welcomed with the warmest greetings by the representatives of Tourism Indonesia. I should say that I was quite surprised that they spoke the language with an accent the way I speak back home in Kuala Lumpur. Then, I remembered how we got our modern Malay language back then.
We were taken around the city of Batam. Briefly we could see that Batam is a small city rising up to claim its position as one of the most developed city in Indonesia. Its location has attracted many Singaporean tourists for its spa, golf and shopping heaven. Thus, contributing to the major factor of its development in infrastructure and economic.
We had our lunch at Golden Prawn 555, a restaurant built on a lake filled with salt water from the sea. The highlights of the menu have to be the dog conch and chilli crab. Dog conch, a species of edible sea snail, has become a trademark of Batam and Bintan. Not only in its cuisine, but mostly everything.
After a super delicious lunch, we took an express boat to Bintan Island. We arrived about 40 minutes later at Tanjung Pinang jetty. Tanjung Pinang is the capital city of Riau Island Province, therefore most of the government and administration building are on this small town.
We stopped by the old market to change some cash into Indonesian Rupiah and of course we did not miss the opportunity to shop. This old market is very busy almost every day but subsides after 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Many of the shops here sell numerous types of dried seafood and varieties of snacks and crackers. Many tourists did not leave this place unless they bought something like the dried anchovies that came in many kinds. However, what amazed us were the many turtle eggs sold here at a very cheap price!
We were also had the chance to drop by Dapoer Melayoe, the famous shop that sells handmade traditional Malay’s food like snacks and cookies. This shop is very famous and you have got to come to this place if you were in Bintan.
Before checking in our hotel, we were taken to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Temple, to witness a vast temple on the hill where it stands 500 statues featuring Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva in different expression and pose. This temple is very new and has become the latest addition to the attractions in Bintan Island.
On the very next day, we went to the historical island of Penyengat Island. This very small island has a list of major heritage ruins and building. Coming to this island is like walking down back into history. The first thing you will see once you stepped down on the jetty is Masjid Raya Sultan Riau (the Grand Mosque of Sultan Riau). According to legend, Engku Puteri Raja Hamidah, the queen of Johor-Riau Sultanate, a wife of Sultan Mahmudsyah, the king who reigns on the throne of Johor-Riau Sultanate had even used her own hand to build the mosque. According to legend too, the mosque had been built using egg yolks mixed with lime water and cement, making it a very strong build and the reason why the building is yellow in colour. Here in this mosque, you can find a very old Al Quran, written by Yang Dipertuan Muda Raja Abdurrahman in 1867. He is a prince who studied in Istanbul, Turkey and he had written the Al Quran when he was teaching Islam on Penyengat Island.
Some of the heritage ruins on the islands are the tombs of royalties, leaders and noblemen, whom played major roles in the history of Malays. Among others and very important to note is Raja Ali Haji, the Malay intellectuals who had written a book of Malay Dictionaries, later has been accepted by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei as the base of the their own dictionaries. Other literature works and cultural materials worth mentioning with major impact into the development of Malay language and Malay history was Gurindam Dua Belas, Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis and Tuhfat Al Nafis ( The Precious Gift).
Other than the tomb and mosque, we explored more of the ruins of old building, fortress, traditional houses and also some building that still stand tall and strong. Before we were leaving back to Batam, we had a chance to visit Balai Adat Melayu Indera Perkasa. It is no longer used for administration like it had been used for but now it is used as a mini museum to display historical items and traditional materials that shaped the culture of Malays including the wedding costume, the wedding couch, old arts and old decorations.
Before we end our trip, we spent a few hours on the last day to experience what Batam has been popular all these time, shopping! We agree! Everything seems to be much cheaper. You can find various types of items from clothing to accessories, fabrics to arts and souvenir to foods! You will love to buy Batam made layer cakes and dragon fruit cakes. They are very popular here. Branded imported items can be very cheap too due to the status of the island as a duty free zone. We are going to come here again!
It was such an amazing experience to visit and to explore Labuan, the Pearl of Borneo. This island, known for its status as an offshore financial centre offering international financial services, is also gazetted as one of the three Federal Territories of Malaysia (the other two being Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya).
Labuan territory consists of seven islands: Pulau Labuan, Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Rusukan Besar, Pulau Rusukan Kecil, Pulau Papan, Pulau Daat and Pulau Burong. These islands lay eight kilometres off the coast of Borneo, adjacent to the state of Sabah and Brunei Darussalam, facing the wide South China Sea. Labuan is equidistant from major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila. If you’re coming by air, you can take Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur or MAS Wings from Kota Kinabalu. You can also come to Labuan via ferry from Kota Kinabalu or Brunei Darussalam.
The name Labuan originally derived from the local word pelabuhan or labuhan, which means anchorage. The island has strong Bruneian influence since centuries ago. The major dialect spoken is Brunei-Kadayan Malay, which is significantly different than standard Malay. The majority of its population is Malay (mainly Brunei Malay) andKedayan. The other ethnic groups who live here are also Chinese, Kadazan Dusun, Murut and Bajau, all of them create a diversified culture and lifestyle in Labuan.
THE ISLANDS AND MARINE PARK
This tropical island, which is also one of the three Marine Park islands, obtained its name from the Kuraman trees discovered on the island not long ago. The island attracts tourists who love snorkelling, diving or simply frolicking about. The island is uninhabited and remain untouched from any form of development. The only facility and construction available on the island is the jetty.
This gorgeous island is blessed with sandy white beaches and crystal clear water with naturally formed sandbank long extended towards the adjacent Pulau Rusukan Kecil and Pulau Rusukan Besar. The island’s old name, Mompraçem, was often quoted as the setting for love and adventure in the stories of Sandokan (a fictional pirate of the late 19th century, who first appeared in publication in 1883, created by Italian author Emilio Salgari).
Papan island is a favourite weekend getaway for individual visitors and groups. The island offers facilities such as chalets, campsites, sports grounds, praying facility and barbeque area. It is surrounded by white beaches and clear water. Visitors can walk along the beach and make a full circle on the island because of its small size.
You can also plan for jungle-trekking and get to see the lighthouse on the higher ground on the island. The trekking has been developed nicely and it promises a safe experience for families to enjoy.
Batu Manikar Beach
For gorgeous sunset views, head to Batu Manikar Beach, which stretches along Jalan Batu Manikar right up to where University Malaysia Sabah is located. It is fringed with casuarinas and coconut trees, shaded naturally by the other trees. Its pristine condition garnered recognition during the COBSEA Clean Beach Award in 2008, making it one of the cleanest beaches in Malaysia.
Layang Layangan Beach
Popular during weekends, Layang Layangan Beach possesses white sandy beaches and various leisure and recreational activities, making it suitable for visiting families. There are many food stalls here that also serve live music. Layang Layangan Beach is located on the west coast of Labuan, south of Pancur Hitam beach.
LANDMARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
The Chimney is a 106-foot high red brick stack built in typical old British style of architecture, believed to be related to the coal mining days of Labuan. There are many stories surrounding this structure. Some people said it was an unfinished building while others said it was a lighthouse beaconing passing ships. It was also thought to be nothing more than a ventilation shaft. However, recent findings revealed there was no trace of smoke or burn to suggest that it was used as a chimney. The fascinating theories by locals and visitors make the Chimney popular and earn it as one of the 10 Labuan Tourism Icons. interesting historical place to visit.
World War II Memorial
This war memorial is located along Jalan Tanjung Batu. Arguably one of the most visited places in Labuan, the memorial – constructed and maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission – boasts a beautiful garden with a wide green lawn and inscribed headstones of 3,908 war heroes, who either died during battle or in captivity during World War II. Most of them were Australians and British, while the rest comprised soldiers from Punjab Signal Corp, New Zealand and even Northern Borneo.
Remembrance Day, a memorial service held on the first Sunday of November every year, brought many veterans and families of war victims from Australia and other Commonwealth countries to Labuan. Labuan Museum
The museum is housed in a two-storey pre-war colonial building, with its ground floor dedicated to exhibiting the history of Labuan. The museum is a one-stop centre with information on anything and everything related to Labuan and Malaysia. Outside the Labuan Museum is the History Square, where the four Flame of the Forest trees stand on all four corners of the square, planted by the Chinese, Malay, Indian and European communities in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
A walk into this museum opens a world of colours to a fascinating panoramic view of fishes and corals not seen elsewhere. It is built on the concept of a ship with two floors of exhibits. Clear violet-blue aquariums display the various habitats of marine life such as sharks, rays, butterfly fish, angel fish, damsels, wrasses, moray eels, poisonous fishes, shrimps and lobsters. Visitors also have the rare experiences to touch and feel the displays placed in shallow waters such as starfish, sea cucumbers and king crabs. The second floor’s exhibits include habitats of coral reefs, habitats of sharks and rays, marine reptiles, commercial fish, marine mammals, marlins, fishing and diving activities, oceanography, marine biology, mollusks and crustaceans.
The Botanical Garden is full of beautiful flowers and trees, which we were told to have been planted by Colonial Secretary Hugh Low. There is also a dilapidated structure on the grounds of the Botanical Garden known as the Government House or Bumbung Dua Belas, which was built in 1852 and located behind the old airport. The house was a long and low structure with interesting roof design.
If you like to spend your days living the life of the local people of Labuan, there are three homestays that offers such experience: Kampung Patau-Patau II, Bukit Kuda Village and Sungai Labu Village. Visitors will be able to savour Labuan laidback culture, local customs and cuisines. The residents of these homestays will offer you warm hospitality and make you feel at home.
Kampung Patau-Patau II – The water village
One of the uniqueness of Labuan lifestyle is the water village. The people who live in this village originate from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. The villages consist of houses built on water. Each of these houses is connected to each other via bridge-like walkways. Today, many of the water village residents still incorporate their Kedayan Bruneian culture and customs into their daily lives.
Kampung Air Patau Patau II is actually quite developed, properly organised and equipped with water and power supply, telephone and sewage lines, streetlights, water taxi jetty, grocery shops, handicraft shops, clinics, schools and place of worship. Being surrounded by water means that the main mode of transport is the boat and most of the houses own one.
We were invited to the house belonging to Hajah Samsiah Haji Matusin, a truly welcoming village resident who has stayed in the village all her life. We were very impressed with her house because it was spacious and well decorated, comfortable for visitors to relax and take in the laidback atmosphere of the village with the sea flowing under the feet.
Kampung Bukit Kuda
Located seven kilometres from the centre of Labuan, this typical Malay village is populated by friendly and hardworking residents who love to decorate their compounds and maintain high standard of cleanliness. We had the opportunity to inspect the cosy house belonging to Madzan Haji Yunus and a local dried noodle enterprise owned by Salleh Ali.
Labuan is perfect for shopping duty-free imported products at competitive prices, ranging from chocolates, perfumes, cosmetics, leather goods, cigarettes, liquors, pens and watches. We enjoyed spending our dime at popular shopping areas such as Jalan OKK Awang Besar, the Ferry Terminal Area and Financial Park Complex. During weekends, visitors should go to the Labuan Weekend Tamu to shop for authentically intriguing items held along Jalan OKK Awang Besar. DINING
Labuan is famous for affordable seafood that includes raw and fresh fish, prawns, crabs, lobsters, squids, and shellfish. During our stay, we had the opportunity to savour many dishes served in various cooking styles, indicating that Labuan also has its culinary specialties.
One particular delicacy that Labuan is famous for is its coconut pudding. The pudding is unique, made from steamed coconut water and jelly. Another delicacy that visitors should not miss is the sweetened steamed rice wrapped in coconut leaves called lambam, closely resembling the Chinese rice dumpling or the Malay ketupat and eaten with peanut sauce.
This article was first published in Gaya Travel Magazine.
Photo taken by Shamsul Bahrin Zainuzzaman.
Well, I am not an experienced blogger. But I have been in the travel writing industries for almost 3 years now. I started writing for Gaya Travel Magazine about three years ago when my enterprise company, Purple Cube Enterprise got into a partnership deal with the magazine.