The Lost Kingdoms Exhibition @ Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur

Southeast Asia was once home to many Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, such as Angkor in Cambodia, Kedah Tua in modern-day Malaysia, as well as the mighty Srivijaya, Sailendra and Majapahit empires in what is today Indonesia. Their legacies can be seen in the form of ancient temples, relics and artefacts that have survived through the ages. Good news for history buffs – you can see them for yourself at The Lost Kingdoms exhibition, currently running at Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur until the end of April 2020. The entrance fee to the main section of the museum is just RM2, and covers entry to this exhibition as well!

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Working with the National Museum of Indonesia and the National Museum of Cambodia, Lost Kingdoms maps out 12 ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Southeast Asia, featuring 103 items that are a mix of real artefacts as well as replicas. Through these items, one can see that there are many similarities between the cultures of the region, from the techniques used to create beautifully carved statues of the gods, to the elaborate decorations found on the hilts of traditional weaponry.

Here are just some of the exhibits that visitors will get to see at the exhibition:

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A 9th century statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, from pre-Angkorian times (on loan from the National Museum of Cambodia).

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Angkorian/Banteay Srei style seated garuda from the late 10th century, carved from red sandstone. Half man and half bird, the garuda is an important mythical figure in Hindu folklore, being the bearer of the Hindu god Vishnu. The garuda features heavily in Javanese and Balinese culture, and is also featured on the Indonesian crest.

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Another statue of Vishnu, this one from the pre-Angkorian period in the Prei Khmeng Style. The statue is made from sandstone and dates back to the mid 7th century. The full, round forms of the face demonstrate the strong Indian influence in the region. Vishnu holds a conch in his raised left hand, a war discus (chakra) in his right, while his lowered left hand rests on the remains of a mace.

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If I’m not mistaken, this is the head of a Kala, a common sight at many Hindu/Buddhist temples in Central Java. The Kala is a mythical lion-like creature – its name in Sanskrit also symbolises ‘time’, which is why the kala is said to devour everything, just as time does.

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One of my favourite pieces from the exhibition is an elaborate relief of Vishnu riding the Garuda, dedicated to the king of Airlangga from the Kahuripan kingdom (9th to 10th century). The image of Vishnu was made in the king’s likeness, to honour his contribution to rescuing and rebuilding Java after the kingdom almost collapsed from war with a neighbouring empire. This is on loan from the National Museum of Indonesia.

 

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Statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha made from granite stone, from the Kedah Tua (Kataha) kingdom, 6th to 7th century. Unlike the Hindu Buddhist kingdoms in Java, Indonesia, or even Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, not much remains of the Kataha kingdom in Kedah, other than a couple of candis (shrines).

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Prajnaparamita Statue from the Singhasari Kingdom, 13th century. Prajnaparamita is the goddess of transcendental wisdom in Buddhist tradition, and this particular statue is said to have been modeled after the beauty of Ken Dedes, an ancient Javanese princess who was the consort of Ken Arok, the first king of the Singhasari Kingdom. It is said that the kings that ruled from the Srivijayan to Majapahit eras were direct descendants of Ken Dedes, making her the literal mother of kings.

The Lost Kingdoms Exhibition is running until April 30 at Muzium Negara’s Gallery 2.  Entrance is RM2 for Malaysians (included with the ticket to the main museum).

Museum opening hours are from 9AM – 6PM.

Tea Plantations @ Ciater, Indonesia

 

 

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While driving down from Tangkuban Perahu, you’ll pass by the Ciater district, which is famed for its vast tea plantations. Seas of green roll through the landscape, amidst a backdrop of deep blue mountains. 

According to our guide, there are no ‘private’ tea plantations in the area, only government ones. They are usually open to visitors, so you can stop by the road and just hop on down to walk among the plants!

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The cool weather, coupled with the mild scenery? Really didn’t seem like I was in Asia at all lol.

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A mosque was sounding prayers through a loudspeaker nearby.

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For those who want to buy the produce, there are numerous tea houses in the area that you can stop by at. Else, it’s a nice place to get some beautiful postcard-esque photos !

 

Rainbow Falls – Curug Cimahi, Bandung

Note to self: Don’t drink Starbucks frapp after 10pm… unless you want the sugar rush to keep you up all night. 

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Leaving the hustle and bustle of downtown Bandung, the scenery becomes increasingly quaint and gorgeous. Tall modern buildings disappear: to be replaced by swathes of flower gardens and vegetable farms on either side. These are packed so closely together that they sometimes block the view of the valley below, only for the car to pass by an open area to reveal how far up the hills we’ve driven. Bikes, vans, and modified trucks putter up and down the narrow roads, some laden with fresh produce.

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Our first stop for the day was Curug Cimahi, also known as ‘Air Terjun Pelangi’. Dubbed ‘Rainbow Falls’, the waterfall comes alive with bright lights at night, creating a magical, fountain-like effect.

While we couldn’t catch the night view, the scenery in daytime was no less beautiful.

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Pathway leading down to the falls. They can be slippery though so it’s best to wear some rubber shoes.

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Stunning. Flowing from the Cimahi river, the falls cascade some 87m  into a crystal clear pool, the force of the spray creating a soft mist at the bottom. All around, trees bursting with greenery reached up to the skies above. It was like being in a secret garden, yet to be sullied or touched by man. I felt really humbled and in awe at Mother Nature’s beauty.

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The air was as clean and refreshing as only mountain air can be. Felt like we were the first ones to breathe it in, right from the source! Birds chirped and sang in the trees, the temperature was cool and just full of positive energy. Now I know why people come to meditate in the mountains 😀

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It was 587 steps to the bottom, where the pool was. I didn’t fancy the climb back up, so we stopped by at a platform to take in the sights. There are several platforms built into the hillside, so visitors can take a rest while hiking up/down.

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Spotted some wildlife 🙂

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If you’re headed up to Bandung’s star attractions, Tangkuban Perahu volcano, then stop by the Curug Cimahi falls on the way. The entrance fee is minimal and you’ll be blown away by how pretty it is. Great place to relax the mind and just get away from the stresses of life for a while. You’ll leave rejuvenated! 🙂

Entrance fee: 12,000rp before 5pm; 15,000rp (RM4.50 – USD1.10) after 5pm.

Jalan Kolonel Masturi, Desa Kertawangi,

Kecamatan Cisarua, Kabupaten Bandung Barat,

Jawa Barat, Indonesia.

Getting There 

Public transport is not the best in Bandung, but visitors can take the local ‘Angkut’ vans following the Ledeng-Sukasari line from Ledeng terminal. Alight at Sukasari Terminal, and the falls are a 15-20min walk from there.

Other options: take the Cisarua-Lembang line, or from Cimahi, from Terminal Pasar through the Cimahi-Cisarua line. From Bandung City: Hop on the St-Hall-Lembang line from Bandung station, before switching to Lembang-Cisarua line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast in Bandung: Sari-Sari Aneka Kue Jajan Pasar

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The city of Bandung comes alive as early as 5am, when the sun starts to peek over its gorgeous deep blue-green mountains and cast its rays onto the stirring metropolis. Bikes, cars and the local transport, angkut, putter on its roads, while some roadside stalls begin their day’s business. You’ll never go hungry in Bandung – there is cheap and tasty street food everywhere.

Eager to start the day, we met our guide and driver, Mr Yoga from Diaz Travelindo (great service, I highly recommend getting them if you’re in town!) and he brought us to a popular breakfast place called Sari-Sari. 

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Housed in a modest looking single-storey building, Sari-Sari sells hundreds of traditional Indonesian kueh, which are basically sweet or savoury snacks and desserts. Also popular in Malaysia ( but we call it kuih), they can be cookies, dumplings, cakes, biscuits, pastries, as well as other items which have no English word equivalent.

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There were so many that we were spoilt for choice. The good thing is everything’s so cheap. FYI, 3,200 rupiah is about RM1, or USD$0.25. 

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Aside from bite-sized snacks, they also have more substantial meals like fried bihun (vermicilli),  Nasi Lemak, mie goreng (fried noodles), and rice dishes, all conveniently packed in plastic containers and served on a leaf ‘plate’.

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After picking the kueh, you bring them on a tray to the counter and pay. Seats are available for dine in, and there’s even complimentary tea (refillable). If you’re dining in, the staff will take your food, put them on plates and serve them to your table.

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I had: chicken Katsu nuggets with rice. They came with a small plastic baggie of mayo and extra hot sambal. Nuggets were a bit dry, but the flavour was good.

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Mom had chicken teriyaki rice with roast veggies. The sauce was, like our meal at RM Santosa the night before, very sweet. Maybe it’s the local taste.

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Bro had the local specialty, Batagor, which looks like a wantan and is stuffed with fish meat before deep frying. There was peanut sauce to go over it. And yes, it was sweet.

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Dad had some egg fried rice wrapped in leaf, served with crispy crackers.

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Other kueh that we tried. They were all pretty yummy, but I liked the circular one which tasted like coconut dodol.

For a cheap, but delicious and filling breakfast, don’t miss out on going to Sari-Sari! Since they have so many types, you can even go a few times and not get bored of the variety.

SARI-SARI ANEKA KUE JAJAN PASAR

Jl. Sultan Tirtayasa No.17, Citarum, Bandung Wetan, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat, Indonesia

+62 22 4206517 

Sneak Peek: Bandung

Hey guys! Are you enjoying the Raya holidays?

I had a day off yesterday, but it’s back to the grind .__.” Just got three articles to work on for my freelancing project, so I guess it’ll be full speed ahead again until the end of this week.

Managed to clobber together a video of my Bandung trip real quick last night. I’ll be posting some stuff up once I get the time. Enjoy! 🙂