Wednesday, 31 August 2016

THE ULTIMATE MALAYSIAN BUCKET LISTS by Sil


I once made a joke to my Malaysian friends about the general Malaysians travel attitude towards domestic travel, I blurted, Malaysians have been to Bangkok more than their own county states! and I received a lot of answers packaged in one phrase, Actually, that is true!
In the Philippines where I am from, people love to travel domestically as it is expensive to travel outside of the country, we have to pay taxes to get out and travel internationally. Imagine that! So when I decided to move to Kuala Lumpur and earn my career here, I made a promise to explore the country during weekends and holidays whenever I can. Here are my top picks:



1. Climb Mount Kinabalu (Kota Kinabalu)


Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in the Malay peninsula and has received the world known UNESCO World Heritage status. Reaching the top may seem impossible, but you will definitely feel proud and accomplished once you get there. It's one of the things you must be able to conquer: Whether it's your fear of heights, or actually reaching the peak itself. Stamina is all you need.

 

2. Bargain at Malacca's Jonker Street Night Market

The night market is home to tons of clothes and trinkets you will be able to bring home as souvenir to your family and friends. Coming at affordable prices, you can still badger and negotiate with the friendly salespeople. Try scoring a deal or two! Although my local friends told me that this place is always packed, I dont mind, Im a visitor. Haha!

 

3. Swim with the fish in Sipadan Island


For those who absolutely love the waters, this must be on your bucket list. To swim with marine life and watch how fish live and the beauty of the corals under the clear blue waters... Now that's the life! You'll be able to find the best of waters and marine life of Malaysia in Sipadan Island.

4. Join the Penang Bridge International Marathon

For the runners seeking a challenge, the Penang Bridge International Marathon is right up your alley. The Penang Bridge is the 5th longest bridge in Southeast Asia. It's not only for serious runners but for those who want to check out the beauty of the sunrise when on the bridge! It is definitely one of the best things you can do in TRIP TO MALAYSIA

 

5. Stay in a real Malaysian Kampung in Sekinchan


Staying in KL, the city can be quite toxicating. Concrete walls and endless traffic paired with humid air can sure make anyone tired. Luckily, two hours away from the city is Sekinchan, an unassuming town famous for its paddy field. In there you can enjoy activities like seeing fireflies at night and have an authentic Malaysian kampung experience, just care free.

 

6. Become a Kid Again at Legoland in Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru has its own Legoland, filled with beautiful statues made of your favorite childhood toys! It's even got a water park, a resort, and a ton of rides and attractions. Just make sure to ready your wallet, as it doesn't come as affordable as you would think! But with that being said, the visit will definitely be worth it.

 

7. Gobble up Penang street food

Forget everything on the list but never this. Its simply the one thing you must really try. No one would want to go home or leave without trying the best of Malaysia, and you can do that through checking out their street food in Penang! If you're just there to eat, then Penang should definitely be the place to stay.

 

8. Stay a night in the Sarawak Longhouse

If you have ever wondered how families in Malaysia live, then you can do so through staying at the Sarawak Longhouse, where you can meet families and see how life is. It truly broadens your perspective of cultures and diverse ethnicity tucked in South East Asia.

 

9. Go skydiving in Taiping or Segamat


For the ultimate thrill-seekers out there! BUT, you will need to work on it with the Kuala Lumpur Skydiving Association before you go, though. It's one of the best experiences one should do at least once in their lifetime, and Malaysia is the place to do it.

 

10. Adventure Caving at Gunung Mulu Park

I have not been able to do this yet, but I am planning to do this soon. Gunung Mulu Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Sarawak known as the largest natural room or chamber, so huge it can house 40 Boeing 747s, wing to wing with no overlaps. Inside you are able to find rare species of plants and animals only seen in the caves, a real delight for science geeks.

Malaysia is home to tons of activities and places to experience. With the many things you are able to do, not only will you have a new perspective, but you'll also be able to proudly say you accomplished feats and explored the area to the fullest extent as you can.
To be fair, Thailand is cheaper and nearby thats why Malaysians prefer going there, but honestly speaking Malaysia too is a beauty. You'll find that there are so many things to do, and it isn't just to relax by your hotel room or booze away. It's time to explore and get lost along the way. It's through exploring parts unknown to you because Malaysia is huge man! All this experience and creating new memories with your loved ones. Where in Malaysia should you head on to next? For more information please see our website www.tripovo.com


Author's Bio: Sil is bitten by the travel bug the moment he
finished university, A radical sabbatical, Sil moved to Malaysia in
2013 to to expand his horizon, experience the local culture and
learning Bahasa. At his free time, he enjoys arts and crafts, and
exploring neighborhood gems of Kuala Lumpur.
 


Friday, 26 August 2016

THE EURASIANS OF NORTH BORNEO

A typical Eurasian family in the early 1960's

When Joseph Schooling won his first Olympic gold medal for Singapore, it sparked an interest in that small but prosperous country about Eurasians. A Singapore article, TODAY went on to name several roads and places in Singapore that originated from Eurasians. It described how Eurasian families were built up in Singapore. The article did get positive respond but some raised the question; why only highlight Eurasians descendants through paternal lineage? What about those Eurasians whose mothers are Europeans?

To me, whether your parents of European descent are father or mother; all deserved to be call Eurasians because it is indeed a coloration of two identities; European and Asians. I would go further to include even those having Caucasians parents example from Australian or America marrying an Asian, to be considered Eurasians. In Latin America and Philippines, the mixed race are called Mestizo for men and Mestiza for women.


However, North Borneo (Sabah) also have Eurasian families shaping their history. The most important one was North Borneo had the first Eurasian Chief Minister, Donald Stephens (picture above). Donald Stephens was also one of the person who signed a very important document, THE MALAYSIAN AGREEMENT 1963. The Malaysian Agreement 1963 or MA63 is a very hotly debated topic nowadays due to the book, The Queens Obligation by Zainnal Ajamain. Donald Stephens and many other Eurasians had contributed a lot to the development of North Borneo.

My grandma Mary Peter (seated second right) and my aunts and uncles
Like Singapore, as well as other countries of Asia, European families started due to colonization. During the early 1500's, the Spanish had reached Philippines, while the Portuguese had captured Malacca in 1511. Malacca could boast to have the earliest Eurasian families in Southeast Asia. By late 1600's the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in Malacca and went on to establish a colony in the Indonesian chain of islands. France established her colony in Indo-China and by the 1800's, the British established their presence in Malaya, Singapore and the West coast of Borneo. But without doubt, all these races; European, Asian and Eurasians did played an important role in nation building. The infusion of cultures created a unique heritage.

I would like to inform my readers that my novel, THE EURASIANS is available in hardback, paperback and also digital format. To purchase, please click here
and to enter GOODREADS GIVEAWAY CONTEST please click giveaway contest



Monday, 15 August 2016

JESSELTON: The City

The city center
What is unique about Jesselton? For one thing; it is strategically connected to one of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu towards the west and yet with a 20 minutes boat ride we can enjoy the sunny beaches of the islands of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug east of the city. Imagine, in the morning, you go to one of the islands enjoying yourself snorkeling and sunbathing. Then suddenly, you feel like resting in a temperate environment at night. Well! You can travel back from the island to the city, and straight away shoot up to the Mount Kinabalu national park and spent your night there. It only takes less than two hours to reach the park.

Restaurant with a nice ambient in the city

Jesselton is a melting pot for so many cultures and people. That was why the foods are unique. I was told by a friend that the Hainanese were farmers with no knowledge of business before they left China in the late 1800's. But many of them worked as maids or butlers for the British administrators and planters in the old days. They learned to make continental breakfast. But nowadays, the Hainanese are famous for their Hainanese coffeehouse which serve toasted bread and half boiled eggs. They learned from the British to make jam. But they cannot find strawberry or blackcurrent to make it. Using their ingenuity, they made jam from coconut. Now the jam is called "Kaya" jam! This is one of the many cultural infusions that happened here in Jesselton. They are so many wonderful tasty foods in Jesselton because of the immigrants and expatriates settling here; Java, Indian, Chinese, Bruneien and recently Japanese and Koreans.

Jesselton in 1911
In the 15th century, Jesselton was part of the Brunei Empire. The British started to develop Jesselton when they moved the capital from Pulau Gaya to the mainland nearby. At that time, the British North Borneo Company was in charge of developing Jesselton. They moved to the new location because the town in Pulau Gaya was razed by fire in 1897. Jesselton used to be called Api-Api probably because of the fire in Pulau Gaya. Api means fire in Malay. Later on the town was renamed Jesselton after Sir Charles Jessel, the Vice Chairman of British North Borneo Company. Between 1942 to 1945, Jesselton was under the Japanese occupation. After that, the town was back under British rule until 1963. In 1967, the name Jesselton was replaced with Kota Kinabalu. In 2000 Jesselton became a city. 

 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

JESSELTON: The Friendly Egret


This is the Great Egret (Ardea Alba) or Common Egret. Sometime it is known as the Great White Heron. It is found in Asia, Africa and Australia. But this one; the only one found in the Likas Sports Complex jogging track is unusual. It is tame and isn't afraid of people. When joggers and visitors starts to congregate near the lake to feed the fish, this bird will fly down and display itself catching small fish. It doesn't look hungry. It just want to show off! When the crowd thin out, it will fly back to the tree. It will also display itself gliding at the surface of the lake and finished off its flight to stand near people, especially children as if to tell the onlookers, "hey! I am great, am I?"


Look how close I got to this bird to take a shot of this magnificent creater. It didn't fly away! But what is saddening is to see visitors who had never seen a bird so tame, started throwing stones at it. They just cannot appreciate a wild animal could be so friendly. I am worried, eventually we will not be able to see this again in future. The bird might die of injury, or the bird might decided to trust its instinct and fly away; never to trust men again! How sad indeed.


The Likas Sport Complex jogging track is a ten minute drive from the Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) city center. Since most of the trees had grown so tall, it can be considered a park. At least three times a week, I will walk around this park to exercise my ageing body. I couldn't jog anymore, so walking will do. The main attraction of this jogging track is the abundance of fish and other freshwater creatures on this huge lake. It is a good thing that the management of this complex forbade fishing. There are also a lot of dragons (monitor lizard) in the lake. On few occasions, joggers claimed they had seen crocodile swimming in the lake. They insisted it was indeed a crocodile; not monitor lizard.


The towering trees by the side of the jogging track are Khaya Grandisfiola. Khaya is believed to be a Mahogany tree, which is good for making furniture. But here, at the park, it just give good shade. As you walk along, you will appreciate the tree for protection against the sun.