The deep seas off Terengganu may be rich in oil and gas reserves, making the east coast state among the region's leaders in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, but some argue that its real treasures are all found on the mainland.
With a documented history reaching as far back as the 2nd century, Terengganu certainly has accumulated a wealth of heritage influenced by the Langkasuka and Srivijaya kingdoms it was part of, and the Majapahit, Khmer and Chinese empires it traded with. Despite modern developments, the old Terengganu still remains - and the best way to explore it? Via Federal Route 3 - approaching a hundred years old, but still one of Malaysia's most scenic highways.
As a young capital, Putrajaya may not have the character and soul of the great cities of the world, but it is well on its way there with innovative architecture, community-centric town planning and long term ambitions. In relation to many of Malaysia's other cities like Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, the garden city of Putrajaya is like a new kid on the old block. Granted, it lacks the dramatic history of the former and the age-old culture of the latter but what it has in excess is youthfulness, a modern vision and a spirit to embrace the new.
A lone oil well sits atop Bukit Telaga Minyak in Miri, Sarawak, an icon of the city’s present-day tourist attraction and an important landmark that sparked Malaysia’s entire history in oil and gas. Ironically, it almost never got built if not for the perseverance of a young college dropout from England.
Choosing cadetship over completing his studies at Jesus College, Cambridge, had brought Charles Hose to Borneo in 1886, where he subsequently played an instrumental role in shaping the geographical landscape and history of Miri.
Apparently, it took some 20 years – with many obstacles in between – for Hose to convince various parties of the treasures that lay beneath their feet. Hose, who became Resident of Baram (a district near Miri) in 1890, when he was only 27, had even put up a proposal for oil explorations in Miri; it was, however, rejected by a British consultant geologist on the grounds of rural Miri’s poor logistics at the time.
Drop by Kampung Siasai in Kota Belud, on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu to learn more of the ancient traditions of parang making in Sabah. The village is famed for its handmade parangs by the Bajau community.
A parang is a medium-sized tool or weapon, or better known as a long blade or machete has been handmade by the Bajaus in Sabah for generations. It is used for clearing land, cutting meat and also as wall decorations.
Perak has been fantasised, romanticised and idealised by all sorts of people from all walks of life throughout Malaysian history. In the days when tin prices were sky high, the Kinta Valley in Perak, possessing the world’s richest alluvial tin deposits, held promise of great fortunes for already-wealthy businessmen, small-time speculators and the average dreamer.
In Batu Gajah, about a half hour’s drive from Ipoh, the capital city of modern Perak, a visionary Scottish planter dreamed up a palace (with facilities such as an underground cellar, a rooftop tennis court, a large kitchen, a moat, an elevator and secret tunnels) for his beloved wife at the perfect location – on a little hill by the banks of Sungai Raya – before his untimely demise rendered the project incomplete. Today, a century later, Kellie’s Castle stands as a lonesome yet still beautiful relic of a once tragic romance.
At a loss on what to do, when you have a few hours to kill and are in Kuala Lumpur for a day or two?
Well, take a ride on the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Hop-On and Hop-Off city tour. I like to call it Ho Ho Ho…! (Sounds like Santa Claus's laughter).
This double-decker bus service takes the scenic route around the Kuala Lumpur city centre and passes by 42 main attractions.
“Do you know how to choose a good jambu air?”
“Here, look at its fleshy back. It must be firm and make sure it is clean.”
A bubbly, Henry Goh, our guide at the Desaru Fruit Farm, with his cowboy hat grinned widely.
Several ikat of jambu air were hanging from a pole in the clean orchard. Pink and blue plastic wrappers hung colourfully on the treetops above us.
The silence was deafening, and surprisingly no mosquitoes!
“At the farm, we have good agricultural practices to ensure that our fruits are of the highest quality,” said Henry.
“Look at the farm’s clean surroundings; you see no fruits on the ground, right? We also have good drainage system and this is one reason why there are no mosquitoes here.”
“We clear away fruits fallen on the ground as it attracts fruit flies, and other insects,” he added.
“When holding a scorpion, never touch the middle of its body. This is the most sensitive part,” bellowed Mohamad Jahangir, a worker at the Butterfly Farm at the Kea Farm area, Cameron Highlands.
“Make sure you touch the scorpion at its tail (not the part with the sting, though). This is because scorpions can only sting in one direction, which is only in the middle towards the middle of their body,” described Mohamad at length.
“It cannot sting from left to right, but at all times do before careful when confronting a scorpion. It is best to avoid it, as it is one of the deadlier species,” Mohamad enthused, having worked at the Butterfly Farm for 12 years now.
Mohamad then bid a tourist to come near him. Without warning, Mohamad swiftly placed the scorpions in his hands and put it on Noor Azlan’s, T-shirt.
Visitors surrounded him, watched in awe. Some felt afraid, and others backed away from the scorpions Mohamad was pulling from an enclosure.