Image

Attractions in Jenjarom, Selangor – Ban Siew Keng Temple

It has been months since I last traveled anywhere other than a mall for groceries (due to the COVID situation in Malaysia) – but since travel restrictions have recently been eased, the fam and I decided to go on a quick day trip to Jenjarom over the weekend.

Tucked between Banting and Klang, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, Jenjarom is a mid-sized town with a population of about 30,000. The town grew from a Chinese new village – settlements that the British set up during the height of the communist insurgency in Malaya so they could keep an eye on the local Chinese population – which is why a majority of the current Jenjarom residents is Malaysian Chinese, of Hokkien descent. In the 1990s, when youth unemployment soared, the area became infamous for gangsterism and other social ills such as prostitution and gambling.

Thankfully, these days, the town is better known for its tourism, especially from the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen temple, a massive temple-cum-attraction by the Taiwan-based Fo Guang Shan monastic order. Chinese New Year is a good time to visit, as the temple holds a grand celebration every year, complete with stunning decorations. (I visited in 2017; read about it here.)

Although FGS gets more tourists, there’s actually another temple within town that is worth a visit. Enter Ban Siew Keng, which is located just a stone’s throw away from FGS.

20211002_140757

The story goes that there used to be four small Chinese temples in Jenjarom, each dedicated to a deity. It was costly and difficult to have four celebrations for each deity, so in the 1950s, the villagers pooled their money and resources to build a temple to house all the deities under one roof. Thus, Ban Siew Keng was born. The original building was a simple wooden structure, but it has since been renovated into the grand structure that we see today. The temple grounds have also expanded to include parking spaces, a food court, and a small but well kept park.

Video here if you’re lazy to scroll:

20211002_141601
20211002_141739

Even the furnace for burning offerings is beautifully decorated!

20211002_141823
Stone steps leading up to the main shrine, complete with dragon carvings and the customary foo dogs guarding the entrance.
20211002_142255
20211002_142339

Ban Siew Keng’s architecture is typical of many Chinese temples, in that it mixes elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confuciusnism, as well as those of Chinese culture. Think red lanterns, dragons coiled around stone pillars and scenes of Taoist gods like the 8 Immortals hand painted on the walls, fierce-looking ‘door gods’ (they’re deities that guard the temple against evil spirits).

20211002_142607

The design here actually reminds me of Thean Hou Gong temple in Kuala Lumpur, especially the combination of red pillars and green roof tiles with blue and gold dragon motifs. Like Thean Hou temple, Ban Siew Keng also has a ‘dome’ on the ceiling above the altar, with a dragon at its centre surrounded with beautiful carvings.

20211002_144114

I also like the open space they have in the middle of the temple, which resembles the courtyards you find in old Chinese mansions. This allows for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in, so the space feels bright and airy. Despite the sweltering heat outside, the temple is quite cool, thanks to the lofty ceiling and marble floors.

20211002_144122
20211002_143837
20211002_143821
Scenes of gods and deities in heaven are painted all around the interior of the temple.
20211002_143550

The main altar is a spectacular piece of work, intricately carved and painted over in gold and red.

20211002_143203

The caretaker said it was okay to take a closer look, so I went right up to the front of the altar. Although it was mentioned that the temple was built to house four deities, there are actually five at the altar, including a Buddha. I recognised one as Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy in Taoism and Buddhism. The caretaker mentioned the name of the principal deity, but I forgot coz he told it to me in Mandarin and y’all know my Mandarin sucks, lol. 😛 There are two sets of statues on display. I’m guessing the smaller ones are from the original temples, as they look a bit weathered.

20211002_143303
Aside from the four main deities + Buddha, there are other deities as well, housed next to the main altar.
20211002_143454

In the old days, fortune tellers would setup their shop either within or outside the temple. You would get a ‘cheem’, or fortune stick, by shaking it from a wooden container until one fell out, then take the stick to the fortune teller to have your fortune interpreted. These days, temples use these contraptions where all you have to do is bunch up your sticks and drop them into the hole at the centre – the one that sticks up is your fortune. You then look for the slot corresponding to the number on your stick, and voila! Fortune.

Unfortunately, the fortunes at this temple are written in Chinese, unlike the ones at Thean Hou temple where you also get an English translation. So once again, my banana-ness proved to be a disadvantage.

20211002_144140

You can get a wishing ribbon to toss over the branches of the tree outside. This is more a cultural rather than a religious thing; in the old days, people would write down their wishes on ribbons and if you manage to snag it over a tree, your wish would come true, that sort of thing.

20211002_141115

The park outside is small but good for a short stroll. You can take photos with the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Guess what my sign is?

20211002_141258

So if you’re coming to Jenjarom for a daytrip, do stop by Ban Siew Keng! FGS is a great place to visit and it’s much larger, but I think Ban Siew Keng has its own charm, and a very interesting history. It stands as a monument to the resilience of Jenjarom’s people, and how they’ve made a life for themselves from a small Chinese new village to the town it is today.

BAN SIEW KENG TEMPLE

Lot 5623, Jalan Sungai Buaya,Sungai Jarom, 42600 Jenjarom, Kuala Langat,  Selangor.

*No opening hours listed.

Getting there

Your best bet is by car, as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of public transport to Jenjarom. According to Moovit, the Wawasan Putera bus 730 stops at Jenjarom between Banting and Klang, and its 734 bus travels the route between Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur and Banting, with a stop in Jenjarom.

If you like this content, consider supporting me on Patreon. You can also buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal. Happy travels!

Image

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort Reopens On October 14, 2021

After ten months, Malaysia finally lifted its interstate travel ban yesterday (11 October). The decision was made in light of the country achieving a 90 pc vaccination rate for its adult population. 

Many are understandably excited at being able to see their families; while others are keen to travel again, even domestically. The recent Langkawi travel bubble — a pilot project for fully vaccinated travellers to visit the island for tourism — was seen as a success, generating some RM24.9 million for the local economy. 

Personally, I’m still a bit cautious about travelling for leisure, because as much as I want to be out and about, I live with my parents and they’re in the vulnerable category. But I understand that achieving COVID-zero is now almost impossible — so the next best thing is to learn to live with the virus. For those who want to travel, I think the best that you can do is to use common sense (which seems to be severely lacking these days!). Wear a mask, sanitise and avoid crowded areas (if you see that a place is crowded, don’t lah go and berpusu-pusu there with no social distancing wtf). 

LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort has SOP signages throughout the theme park to remind guests to stay safe.

Anyway, now that the PSA is over and done with: for those who are headed south, LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort is slated to reopen on October 14. Legoland Malaysia is the only one of its kind in Asia — so families and fans will be able to enjoy a complete experience encompassing the LEGOLAND Theme Park, Water Park, hotel and SEA LIFE Malaysia once the resort resumes its operations. And even though they haven’t been able to operate for months at a time due to the pandemic, the resort has not been idle: there’s going to be a brand new attraction, called Planet LEGOLAND®. This immersive build experience encourages children and parents alike to unleash their imagination by building, unbuilding and rebuilding the world of their dreams with LEGO® bricks. 

LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Team member preparing their stations in anticipation of reopening.

As guests arrive at PLANET LEGOLAND®, they will be greeted by a six-foot-wide LEGO globe built out of more than 200,000 bricks. The idea behind it is to envision a future filled with positivity and joy, something that the world needs to ‘rebuild’ following the aftermath of the pandemic. From there, guests are welcome to select one of four different themed stations to create their masterpieces: whether they prefer dragons, princesses, knights, vehicles, animals and creatures, or ninjas. Younger guests with smaller hands are not left out, as there is also a DUPLO® station. Once you’ve got your masterpiece built, snap a selfie with the model and share it using the #RebuildtheWorld, then place your individual models onto the globe! 

LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort team members are trained to sanitize rides between guests.

Returning to Play With Safety in Mind

Like any responsible entity, the resort has health and safety measures in place. At PLANET LEGOLAND, there is a 2-metre distance rule, and the usual safety guidelines apply, such as face masks, the use of hand sanitiser and reduced capacity are enforced. All bricks in the space are also ‘quarantined’ for 72 hours after sanitisation, while build stations are cleaned several times daily. *Of course, PERSONAL responsibility is very important too, so do your part to be a responsible guest!

LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort team members are trained to sanitize rides between guests

Reopening Deals 

Welcoming guests back to the resort are a series of sweet deals. Purchase 4 Triple Park passes and you can get a 2D1N stay at LEGOLAND Hotel for free. The passes will also be eligible for upgrade to an annual pass. Meanwhile, those who already have annual passes can renew them at a 25% discount, so if you’re a family of five, you stand to save up to RM350. 

For more details, visit legoland.com.my. 

Happy travels, and stay safe! 

PS: Like my content? Buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon, or support my Youtube channel. 

Travelogue: Attractions at Underwater World, Langkawi – Malaysia’s Largest Aquarium

*This post was originally published in April 2012 on an old blog. I am gradually migrating some of the content over to this site, and will backdate them once I’ve got things sorted out. (I’ve also added in some updated info). In the meantime, enjoy!

This is a long overdue post. I’ve been lazy busy with stuff at the magazine. Amidst the crazy hustle and bustle of work and saving up for my big Euro trip, I took the weekend off for some well-deserved R&R, far away from the concrete jungles and smoke fumes. Sounds cliche, but never underestimate what an island getaway can do for you. Langkawi it is!

DSC05986

Departing from the LCCT.

I was feeling really tired for some reason and dozed off right after takeoff. Regretted this immensely after getting off the plane and vowed to stay awake throughout the rest of the flight during the return journey.

DSC05990

 

DSCF1996

Located far to the north of the Malaysian peninsula, Langkawi island is a lush green landscape of hills and bright green paddy fields underneath an almost unearthly bright blue sky, with an equally bright blue ocean reflecting it. The name of the island derives from Malay, Lang(eagle) and Kawi (a type of stone).

It has been over 17 years since I last stepped foot here, but from the looks of it, this scenic cluster of islands has not changed much. It still exudes the sleepy feeling of an island town where tourism is the main activity, where the shops are still quaint-looking and rarely over two storeys tall, where streets are unlit at night and where the biggest shopping mall is approximately the size of a Hypermart here in KL.

One thing I remember clearly from my visit all those years ago was seeing an eagle fly by Eagle Square. It was the first time I had seen one, and the way it beat its wings majestically as it soared through the air struck me, even as a child, with the same feeling as I feel now whenever I’m in beautiful places. That feeling where your heart seems to burst with emotion and how blessed you are to be witnessing all this breathtaking beauty.

DSC05999

We rented a modest Proton Wira for three days to get around. Much easier and cheaper than taking a taxi. 

The first order of the day was to go raid the chocolate shops. Chocolates, liquor and cigarettes are duty-free in every shop on Langkawi island, and you will see tourists buying a whole luggage-full of stuff to bring home. I mean, six sticks of assorted flavoured Toblerone bars going for only RM20? A 6-pack of beer for only RM9? Now THAT’s a good deal. 

DSC06004

Then it was off to the Langkawi Underwater World.  Spanning six acres, it is the largest aquarium in the country. Entrance is quite pricey at RM28 (*updated price 2020 – RM46), and although the place is quite old (it opened in 1995), it’s pretty well maintained. There are over 200 marine and freshwater fish species at the aquarium, as well as a variety of small animals and even birds. 

DSC06005

You can explore several sections within the complex, namely Freshwater, Tropical Rainforest, Temperate and Sub-Antarctic. The Tropical Rainforest area houses wildlife such as lizards and skinks, birds and fish.

DSC06015

The aviary allows you to walk freely amongst birds, like flamingoes. They seem very used to human presence.

DSC06027

The Sub-Antarctic is home to cute penguins. At the Adelie penguins enclosure, I saw this penguin standing perfectly still, gazing up into the white lights. It kind of reminded me of the scene from Happy Feet where the hero penguin gets caught and after a while got stoned as the rest of them because they were stuck inside their cages for, well, literally, forever. Just waiting for feeding time, standing around, swimming in that confined little space with no hope of ever leaving. Some might even be born here and never know that beyond these walls, there is a place where columns of ice are as large as titans, where their kind fished and swam freely in the oceans. It’s a sad existence. I felt rather sorry for them. I feel that animals should be free, but at the same time, there is educational value in zoos and conservation centres – although many of these are mismanaged which causes some of the animals to suffer.

DSC06035

The rockhopper penguins were much more aggressive. They swam faster, were more active and dove into the water quite often to swim, before leaping up again.

DSC06037

Moving on to the aquarium proper, which houses plenty of sea life. The highlight of the section is a 15-metre ‘underwater’ tunnel that you can walk through, which has sharks, turtles and giant stingrays.

DSC06040

DSC06059

DSC06060

DSC06063

A Fu Manchu fish, so called because of the tiny ‘moustache’ it has on its face. It showed me its butt when I tried to take a photo.

DSC06069

 

DSC06074

Aside from the marine and wildlife, there is an educational centre and 3D theatre, as well as a cafeteria within the premises.

All in all, the Langkawi Underwater World is a family-friendly attraction where you can enjoy a couple of hours of educational fun. A worthwhile stop if you’re in the Pantai Cenang area.

LANGKAWI UNDERWATER WORLD 

Zon Pantai Cenang, Mukim Kedawang, Langkawi, Malaysia.

Opening Hours: 9.30 AM – 6.30PM (Mon – Thurs), 9.30 – 10.30PM (Fri – Sun)

Tel: +604 955 6100

 

Exploring Wat Pho, Bangkok : The Birthplace of The Traditional Thai Massage

One of Bangkok’s oldest temples, Wat Pho is a must visit if you love architecture. Built in the 16th century, this vast royal temple complex boasts a splendid design, with towering spires, colourful glazed-tile roofs and grand halls. The temple is home to the largest collection of Buddha’s images in Thailand (over 1,000), the most famous being a 46-metre-long giant reclining Buddha. It is also the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage, which is offered to visitors as a communal experience at an open-air pavilion.

20191025_145944

The temple complex covers over 80,000 square metres, so it’s best to allocate several hours if you wish to fully explore the place. There are numerous pavilions, hallways, shrines and prayer halls to within, so tourist maps (located at various points throughout the temple) come in handy !

20191025_151352

The ordination hall, or Phra Ubosot, is where monks perform rituals. The hall looked absolutely stunning, with maroon and gold floor to ceiling motifs and a glittering gold and crystal dais, upon which was seated a gilded Buddha dating back to the Ayutthaya period. The statue was ‘shaded’ by a golden, tasseled nine-tiered umbrella, a symbol of Thailand. The ashes of the ruler Rama I can also be found under the pedestal.

20191025_150159

Making our way around the temple complex, we could see influences from various cultures, such as these Chinese-style stone pagodas. There were figures and statues of Chinese deities as well. The colour of the tiles on the roof differed from building to building, but most had orange/gold as the primary shade, accentuated by blue, red, white and green.

20191025_145921

Chedis are an alternative to stupas in Thailand, and there are hundreds of these within the temple grounds. The smaller ones rise up about five metres, and are decorated with floral or geometric motifs from the base to the top.

Beyond being just a religious place, Wat Pho was also intended as an education centre, so visitors will find murals and engravings on granite slabs throughout the complex with texts and illustrations depicting subjects such as history, medicine, health, custom, literature and religion.

20191025_150910

Marble towers called Phra Prang, which are found at the corners of one of the main courtyards.

20191025_152510

Aside from the Reclining Buddha statue, I found the Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn – a grouping of four large chedis – to be most impressive. Located within a courtyard, their sharp spires towering over their surroundings, these 42-metre-high chedis are dedicated to the first four Chakri kings: Rama I, Rama II, Rama III and Rama IV. The chedis each have a distinctive look and are covered in beautiful tiles, in green, yellow, white and blue.

20191025_152738

20191025_153022

20191025_153554

Inside one of the buildings called Viharn Phranorn, we finally came to the temple’s famed golden reclining Buddha. It was humongous, filling up one entire side of the hall, the statue’s long legs stretching from one end to the other. There were nooks all along the passageway for visitors to stop and take photos, while on the right were bowls where devotees can drop coins as part of a prayer ritual. The walls were decorated from top to bottom with elaborate murals, and there were artists doing touch up on places where they had faded.

 

20191025_153648

20191025_153913

20191025_153951

The feet are decorated with laksana, Sanskrit symbols and texts, some of which have been inlaid with mother of pearl.

Wat Pho is located right next to the Grand Palace, so you might want to pair your trip with a visit there. The entrance fee for the Grand Palace is quite pricey, which is why we opted not to.

Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

GETTING THERE 

Take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin, then a Chao Phraya express boat at Taksin pier to Tha Tien Pier.

There is an entrance fee of 200 baht to get into Wat Pho.

Opening hours: 8AM – 6.30PM (daily)

 

We Spent Six Hours At The National Museum in Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand has a rich and colourful history, and it’s chronicled incredibly well at the National Museum in Bangkok.  From the early days of its ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lan Na and Ayutthaya to the more modern eras under the Rama kings, the museum offers visitors a look into the history and various facets of what makes up Thailand today – and it’s absolutely fascinating. N and I spent six hours exploring the vast museum grounds, and would have spent more if it wasn’t for the fact that we had other items on our itinerary to go to :’D

20191025_093501

The museum was about 1.5 kilometres from our hostel in Rambuttri, and it was packed with tourists, locals and students, despite being a weekday. From the outside, the museum didn’t look very large, but there were actually many buildings within. There was an entrance fee of 200 baht (RM27) for foreigners.

20191025_100012

Our timing was excellent as the museum was running a temporary exhibition, “Qin Shi Huang: The First Emperor of China and Terracotta Warriors” during our visit. The showcase included historical artefacts and items from the rule of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, some of which were flown in from Xi’an.

QSH was a bit of an obsessive personality and during his lifetime, drank mercury in an attempt to prolong his life (mercury was believed to be the secret to immortality back then). When he died (presumably from mercury poisoning), he was entombed in a necropolis, complete with 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors. The mausoleum, which was designed as a reflection of a palace / city so that QSH could continue ruling in the afterlife,  has never been fully excavated due to fears of possible damage.

20191025_101615

Although it said ‘life-sized’, I felt like the sculptures were actually taller than normal, averaging about eight feet.

The original statues that were discovered were actually coated in paint, so they weren’t all grey and dull looking. The paint evaporated into the air after the mausoleum was excavated.

 

 

20191025_101146

Terracotta horse-drawn chariot.

Beyond just his odd practices of drinking mercury and burning books, SHD was an extraordinary figure who united China’s many warring factions under one banner. The exhibition also detailed this, explaining the economic and political reforms that took place during his rule, as well as cultural and historical impact that can still be felt two millennia later.  On display to tell the narrative was advanced weaponry, decorative statues, household items, ritual objects, and more.

20191025_101228

A distinctive stone armour worn by soldiers, made up of hundreds of interlinked stone pieces connected by bronze wire to offer more flexibility.

20191025_102335

Decorative / ritual objects in the shapes of farm animals like horses, cows, goats, pigs and sheep; or scenes from everyday life like a rice mill, shrines and small houses.

20191025_103740

N was fascinated, and I had to literally drag him out to the main courtyard (lest we stay there the entire day). We next ventured into the Buddhaisawan Chapel. Built in the early 18th century, the main hall houses one of the most sacred Buddhist images in all of Thailand, the Phra Buddha Sihing.

The vast hall had sleek wooden floors, with a red ceiling and walls decorated with images of the Devas, as well as old paintings telling Buddha’s story. Some of these were faded with age and were difficult to discern, but you could still see the meticulous attention to detail poured into creating each one.

20191025_104308

20191025_104814

20191025_105718

The entrance to Buddhaisawan Chapel is guarded by garudas – mythical creatures in Buddhist and Hindu mythology that sport avian and human features.

20191025_105847

Another building you can check out within the museum is the vibrant-looking The Red House. Constructed from teak, it was originally the private living quarters of a princess. Today, it houses items used by royals in the past, including those of Queen Sri Suriyenda.

20191025_111113

A beautiful gold pavilion with intricate decorative features and exquisite detailing on the ceiling.

20191025_112418

The halls within the museum seemed to go on forever – there were just so many things to see. There were sections dedicated to Buddhist art from Thailand and neighbouring regions, the evolution of the country’s monetary system and currency, paintings, weaponry, clothing worn by royals, palanquins which were used to mount onto the backs of elephants, war drums, dioramas and much more.

 

20191025_112806

Royal throne. The colour gold is prevalent in Thai colour, as it is an important colour in both Buddhist and Thai culture.

20191025_115307

Life-sized replica of an elephant with a palanquin strapped to its back. Elephants are the national animal of Thailand.

20191025_115953

20191025_120011

Students writing notes down as they observe a diorama, complete with war elephants, cavalry, foot soldiers and archers

20191025_123346

Thai royals were a fashionable lot, with ceremonial and everyday costumes featuring rich fabrics, elegant colours, beautiful detailing and patterns, and slim silhouettes.

20191025_121812

Everyone likes beautiful things – and there were sections detailing Thai art, such as how artisans apply mother of pearl to everything from furniture to sword scabbards; as well as a section for enamel pottery.

20191025_124511

20191025_132114

Another impressive section was a hall containing numerous royal funeral chariots. Built from teak, the chariots were ornately carved, painted and gilded in gold, with mythical / religious figures and decorative fixtures such as nagas and devas.

Thais have deep respect for their royalty (they have some of the world’s strictest lese-majeste laws), and they revere them as much in death as they do in life. When a member of the royal family passes, the chariots are pulled by hundreds of men in a parade down the streets with the urn carrying the ashes of the deceased royal sitting atop a tall roofed shrine.

20191025_132404

20191025_132439

Grand send off.

The Bangkok National Museum is, by far, one of the most impressive museums I have been to in Southeast Asia, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you love history and culture. Allocate at least half a day for the place if you’re planning to have a more in-depth experience.

BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM 

Na Phra That Alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Opening hours: 9AM – 4PM (closed on Mon – Tues)

 

Visiting The Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary @ Ayer Keroh, Melaka

The Melaka city centre can get pretty crowded with tourists, especially over the weekend and holidays. If you’re looking for a more relaxing (and educational!) excursion, consider the Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary. Tucked in Ayer Keroh, about 15 to 20 minutes away from the city, this mini zoo of sorts was opened in 1991 and is home to hundreds of insects, small animals and reptiles, as well as some larger specimens.

20191202_125735

For a 30-year-old park, the place is well maintained, spread over 5 hectares and set amidst lush, tropical surroundings. There are dedicated areas within the vast park for butterflies, reptiles, birds, etc. It’s also a nice place to escape Melaka’s blistering heat. Entry is RM22 per pax.

There weren’t many visitors when we came to visit on a Monday afternoon, so we took our time exploring the various exhibits and habitats. Some allow for you to get upclose to the animals, and when I mean upclose, I mean upclose. You can pet rabbits, the resident giant iguana, or take a selfie with the parrots and the cockatoos.

20191202_131230

20191202_131912

N and I had great fun trying to locate the different insects and creepy crawlies within their glass cases; most times they were camouflaged, so it was like a game to spot them.

20191202_132301

Fat, colourful iguanas congregating on Pride Rock

20191202_132724

Resident white cockatoo. Did you know that cockatoos are very smart animals? They are said to have the cognitive abilities rivalling a four-year-old human child, and in studies, can undo locks to get to food.

20191202_133536

There were two sections dedicated to butterflies, and there were hundreds of them swooping overhead, some even flying into our faces, or landing on our shoulders. These pretty insects have a fleeting beauty, as they have a short life span lasting just 10 days.

20191202_133844

Most of the butterflies were of the same species so we didn’t spot much variety, but they were still pretty all the same.

20191202_134115

20191202_140017

20191202_135335

A beautifully landscaped section with a pond and artificial waterfall, stacked with fat, gold, red and white koi fish.

20191202_140136

Venturing to the aviary, we came across this bird (I named it Sid Vicious) with beautiful blue plumage and a rockstar mohawk. It looked completely unafraid of humans and came quite close to us, before hopping back over the ‘fence’ into its habitat.

20191202_141543

The sanctuary is also home to a pair of American alligators. They were absolutely huge and looked as if they could swallow my entire body whole, and then some. There were also some saltwater crocodiles, gharials and emus.

20191202_142140

The sanctuary’s resident alligator snapping turtle. Dubbed ‘living fossils’, the species dates back to over 200 million years ago. An alligator snapping turtle can live up to 150 years old. They can weigh up to 220 lbs and are quite capable of literally snapping off your fingers.

20191202_142514

At the reptile section, we caught glimpse of some beautiful snakes, including an albino python and a giant king cobra. I’ve always wanted to keep a small ball python, but I can’t bear the thought of feeding it live prey like mice  (Apparently it’s best to feed them live prey to simulate how it is in the wild).

20191202_143938

Bright and colourful (and poisonous) frogs. in the wild, the more vibrant the colour, the more likely they are to be poisonous. Kind of like nature’s warning signs.

If you’re travelling in a family with young children, I think the Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary is an awesome place to take the kids on an educational (but fun!) excursion. Even without the kids, it’s great for the adults too. Kudos also to maintenance; you can see that the animals are all well kept and fed, rather than in horrid zoos where space is cramped and they all look half dead.

BUTTERFLY & REPTILE SANCTUARY 

Lebuh Ayer Keroh, 75450 Ayer Keroh, Melaka

Opening hours: 8.30AM – 5.30PM (daily)

Website

 

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

Attractions Near Jonker Street, Melaka : A Day/Night Itinerary

Tucked in the heart of Melaka’s Chinatown, there’s plenty to see and do in Jonker Street – from unique craft shops and museums to temples, mosques, decades-old eateries, chic cafes and more. It also has a rich history. Dutch colonists lived in nearby Heeren Street, just next to the Melaka River, while the main thoroughfare, ie Jalan Hang Jebat, was home to rich Peranakans (Straits Chinese) settlers, who built lavish homes with beautiful architecture and filled them with exquisite furniture.

BY DAY 

Lung Ann Refreshments 

20191202_083644

Start the day with a traditional Malaysian breakfast at Lung Ann Refreshments. The shop’s setting is typical of Malaysian kopitiams, where elderly aunties and uncles bustle about preparing your orders, and drinks are served in white and green ceramic cups. No fancy noodles, only the basics – half boiled eggs, and toast with kaya and butter, washed down with either coffee or Milo.

20191202_084456

I didn’t realise how Malaysians take this for granted (usually if someone asks about local dishes to recommend, I’d think of nasi lemak) until N told me how unique he thought it was (half boiled eggs for breakfast isn’t a thing in the Phils, apparently). Sometimes it’s really the simplest things that are the best. Bread is nicely toasted and fluffy, with generous amounts of kaya and butter. Despite how simple it looks, half boiled eggs are notoriously difficult to get right (the timing has to be extremely accurate). The one’s at Lung Ann were perfect.

Baba And Nyonya Heritage Museum 

20191201_165020

A private housemuseum that once belonged to a wealthy Peranakan businessmen, the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum is a must visit for lovers of culture and history. The Peranakan, or Straits Chinese (also called Baba Nyonya), are a community descended from Chinese settlers who immigrated to parts of the Nusantara, ie Dutch-controlled Java in Indonesia, southern Thailand, the British Straits Settlements of Malaya (Penang and Melaka), as well as Singapore. Many adopted local customs, whilst still maintaining a strong Chinese heritage – resulting in a unique blend of cultures that you will not find elsewhere. The Malaysian Baba and Nyonya, for example, speak a creole version of Hokkien and Malay, dress in baju panjang which is influenced by the Malay kebaya dress, but still practice ancestor worship.

You can wander the museum, which consists of three terrace homes joined together as one, on your own – but I highly recommend the guided tour. The tour brings the entire house and its past occupants to life, as knowledgeable guides point out details and events that have happened in those very spaces. You get a sense of being separated by time, but not space. Everything is lavish, beautiful and meticulously made – from elaborately carved furniture inlaid with mother of pearl and silk embroidered paintings done by masters in China, to hand painted tiles, crystal ware, porcelain dining sets.

Note that photos are only allowed in the foyer.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

20191202_091311

Literally the ‘Temple of the Green Cloud’, Cheng Hoon Teng is the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia,  built in 1673. It is dedicated to the three precepts, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, so visitors will see deities dedicated to all of these religious beliefs. The altars in the main hall are dedicated to Guan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, as well as the Taoist goddess Mazu and deities such as Kwan Ti, the God of Justice, and Thai Sway, the god of worldly human welfare.

20191202_092544

Even if you’re not a devotee, the temple is worth visiting for the architecture alone. Lacquered surfaces, gold gilding, intricately carved archways and windows abound. The main hall, made from timber, was built without the use of nails.

20191202_093605

20191202_092551

Keilun, ie what Westerners like to call foo dogs (they’re actually mythical lions).

Orangutan House 

20191201_165929

The quirkily named Orangutan House is an art gallery-cum-souvenir shop, where you can get colourful printed tees and art pieces. It’s hard to miss if you’re walking around the area, as there is a huge mural of an orang utan on the side of the building. The inside is equally colourful and trippy.

Explore the Streets

20191201_110406

Jonker Street is chock full of interesting sights, and sometimes the best way to see them is just to explore the area on foot. You never know what hidden gems you might uncover. In any case, they make for great photos. (Above) the doors of the Hokkien Association.

20191201_165944

This neat little nook next to the river.

20191202_090606

BY NIGHT 

We’re not done: sundown is when the fun really begins. Jonker Street is the place to be on weekends, as there is a huge night market, just there for you to snack from one end to the other.

20191201_213805

Crowds, yes.

20191201_213911

Worth it because you get to gorge on delicious street food…

20191201_214202

Did I mention delicious street food?

20191201_215052

Delicious street food!

20191201_213241

One does not come to Melaka and not have a refreshing taste of a coconut shake. 

20191201_214004

You can also commission a street artist to have your portrait drawn…

20191201_205524

Or buy a hand-drawn sketch from this extremely talented young man. His drawings were phenomenal!

20191201_213050

Jonker Street’s entrance is hard to miss, as you have this inn/restaurant lined with red lanterns, which somehow reminds me of the classical Chinese novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’.

20191201_210103

You can do the touristy thing and hop on to one of the loud and colourful trishaws for a spin around the city.

20191201_212449

If crowds are not your thing, opt for a cruise down the Melaka River, which is decorated on both sides with neon lights.

20191201_212819

20191201_210346

Dutch Square, just a few steps away from Jonker Street, is also much more quiet at night.

20191201_210834

Literally had the whole place to ourselves for photos.

I hope this itinerary has been useful in helping you to plan what attractions to see while in the Jonker Street neighbourhood. Happy travels!

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

 

 

 

 

Pasar Karat: Jonker Street Melaka’s Antique Collector’s Market

The term ‘Flea Market’ comes from the French marché aux puces” or “market of the fleas”, as it was believed that old furniture or items such as clothing, often sold at these bazaars, supposedly contained fleas. In Malaysia, we call our flea markets ‘pasar karat’, or ‘rusty market’ – because people often sold off their scrap metal for a cheap price, and metal rusts, hence ‘karat’. Despite the name, you can get all sorts of things at a pasar karat, ranging from antiques to vintage items, souvenirs, second-hand clothing to furniture. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure!

20191201_100039

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Lekir (just off Jonker Street) in Melaka is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re in town over the weekend, this is a great place to check out ! The items on sale are mostly antiques and vintage stuff like coins, vinyl discs, old photographs, cassettes and VHS tapes, bowls and plates, home decorations, ornamental weapons and more.

20191201_100332

Even if you aren’t buying, it’s nice to see the old items on display, like these mini grandfather clocks, tea sets and classic rotary dial phones(remember those?). Feels kind of like an open-air street museum!

20191201_100434

20191201_100732

Hand-drawn and coloured postcard-sized paintings!

20191201_100813

You can buy ornamental weaponry such as keris blades. Or perhaps you fancy an abacus or an old charcoal iron?

20191201_101039

I was surprised to see some vintage posters of Chinese-communist propaganda on display as well.

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Hang Lekir is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto