Monday, 16 December 2013

ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2014 Right on Track

KUCHING, 11 DEC 2013: The preparations for the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2014 to be held in Kuching, Sarawak are right on track.

Adopting the theme, ASEAN - ADVANCING TOURISM TOGETHER, the ATF 2014 will deliberate and explore the sustainable development of tourism and look at how various tourism initiatives and plans can further support the mantra of Tourism Conserves, Preserves and Protects.

“The ATF 2014 which will be held in Kuching from 16 to 23 January 2014, is a timely platform to think and act on the implementation of innovative and sustainable energy initiatives that will ensure the preservation of our natural environment for future generations,” said Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Kuching, Sarawak, is all set to welcome delegates from  the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTO), ASEAN Tourism Ministers, senior government officials, exhibitors, buyers and sellers, international and local media as well as Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) delegates from all over the world.

The ATF is a cooperative regional effort to promote the ASEAN region as one tourist destination where Asian hospitality and cultural diversity are at its best. The Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) component is a trade-only mart that showcases the world's largest contingent of ASEAN destinations, products and services, and facilitates the selling, buying and promotion of the region internationally.

The ATF also provides as a platform for the selling and buying of regional individual tourism products from ASEAN member countries, through the 3-day TRAVEX event. The unique and specialised ATF TRAVEX makes it very easy and convenient for suppliers of ASEAN tourism products and services and international buyers to conduct business and meet quality participants through the Seller-Meet-Buyer (SMB) and the Buyer-Meet-Seller (BMS) appointment scheduling sessions.

This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10-member nations of ASEAN namely; Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries. ATF 2014 marks the 33rd anniversary of this event since its inauguration in Malaysia in 1981.

Among the core objectives of ATF include:

• Projecting ASEAN as an attractive, multi-faceted single destination;
• Creating and increasing awareness of ASEAN as a highly competitive regional tourist destination in the Asia Pacific;
• Attracting more tourists to ASEAN member countries;
• Promoting intra-ASEAN travel; and
• Strengthening cooperation among the various sectors of the ASEAN tourism industry.

First established in 1981, the ATF has been a key driving force in developing tourism in the ASEAN region. For over three decades, government and private sector associations have come together annually at ATF to discuss, review and strategise ways to continuously promote ASEAN as the world’s top travel destination.

The very first ATF was hosted in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. It was seen as an early indication of the willingness of ASEAN countries to work together for the common good of every member country. Since then, ASEAN has grown economically by leaps and bounds, and garnered international recognition for its diverse culture, and the quality of ASEAN as an unforgettable holiday destination. Among the major initiatives of ATF was the promotion of Visit ASEAN Year 1992 and Visit ASEAN Campaign 2002.

With all 10 ASEAN member nations working hand in hand with the public and private sectors, significant progress has been made in growing a sustainable tourism industry in the region. Through increased cooperation and exploring mutually beneficial collaboration in facing common regional challenges, every ASEAN nation stands to benefit from sharing its unique, diverse cultures with the rest of the world through tourism.

For more information, please contact:

Media Relations Unit:
Mr. Razaidi Abdul Rahim, Senior Asst. Director, Communications & Publicity Division
Tel : +603 8891 8768 Email :

Editorial Unit:
Ms. Anis Rozalina Ramli, Senior Editor, Communications & Publicity Division
Tel : +603 8891 8759 Email :

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Fireflyman of Cherating

We had just clambered into a little boat that fits eight of us from Hafiz's jetty along the Cherating river. The boatman was taking us out on the mangrove river to observe the fireflies.

Earlier, we were briefed by Hafiz, the owner-operator of Hafiz Firefly Tour about the fireflies - the various species, its characters, habitat etc. In Malaysia, there are more than 29 known species from the 2,000 odd species worldwide. 

Hafiz hailed from Myanmar, married a local and decided to settle down at his wife's village in Cherating. An IT graduate, he chose to become an entrepreneur specialising in Fireflies tour as he thought that it was the ideal business to go into as his father-in-law owns a few boats and they live by the river.

By 8.45pm, all 5 boats carrying some 40 of us were already cruising along the river. Taking photographs with flash were not allowed, but even if it were, you still wouldn't be able to capture the images. It was simply almost impossible. 

Barely 10 minutes into our journey, we could see hundreds of glowing dots of lights appearing out of the darkness. It seemed as though the entire firefly colony along the river had come out to play. It felt like Christmas came early this year. It was simply mesmerizing!

Hafiz was seen 'calling' his pets from their perches in the mangroves. He did this by flickering lights, and the fireflies responded by actually coming to our boats! They are very friendly fireflies. I managed to catch and release them a couple of times, and I believed most of us managed to experience that. I just wished my kids were with me to share this rare experience. But then again, maybe its best if they don't come along, as they would have scared the hell out of the fireflies with their cries :)

I was with a group of media practitioners - mainstream and social media, invited to join this 3D/2N Cherating experience organised by the leading local travel mag, Santai and sponsored by the Legend Resort Cherating, one of the more popular beach resorts along the Cherating beach in Kuantan, Pahang.

I have to apologise for not being able to post much photos of the event, as it was almost impossible to photograph the fireflies in action, which is big enough reason for you to come and visit this place to personally experience (and hold) the incredible twinkling creature.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Of Turtles and Cherating

"Hi Abang Fuad" was the first thing I heard when I entered the Grand Seasons Hotel lobby in Kuala Lumpur. There, already standing and smiling to greet me was Roszana aka Ana of Santai magazine, the person responsible for roping me in the 3D/2N Cuti-cuti 1 Malaysia The Legend Resort Cherating experience. Cuti-cuti 1 Malaysia, aptly known as CC1M or 1 Malaysia Holidays in English, is a domestic travel/tourism activities that are sanctioned/supported by the Domestic Marketing Division of Tourism Malaysia. "How many of us again?" I asked when Ana told me that there would be 76 participants from the various media for this event. Wow! this was the first time I got to join such a big group for such an event, comprising of representatives from the local mainstream media and the social media practitioners.

Our hospitable host for 2 nights - The beautiful Legend Resort Cherating.
Ok, the bus journey was quite uneventful, so were the semi-official itineraries that followed (briefing, speeches etc) that were held in one of the resort's meeting rooms, until later in the afternoon, when we were brought to the Cherating Turtle Sanctuary situated about 8km from our resort. Initiated by the Pahang State Government, the sanctuary was built in 1997 with the objective of conserving and preserving the dwindling turtle population. It also acts as a centre to provide turtle protection and to ensure systematic management of turtles in that area.

The Cherating Turtle Sanctuary office looks like a typical malay house. 
The main activities carried out by this Pahang turtle sanctuary centre include collection of turtle eggs and relocation to the hatchery as part of the turtle hatching program. The turtle hatcheries can be seen near the beach. The hatcheries are monitored round the clock with the eggs incubation period of 50-60 days. Turtle hatchlings usually emerge at night, and of course they all look incredibly cute.
To prevent them from being killed or eaten by its natural predators like monitor lizards, birds and fishes, the hatchlings are immediately released to the sea. This turtle centre also carries out research programs on turtles, and provide video shows and information to educate the public and promote public awareness on the critical importance of conserving and protecting turtles.

A matured green turtle at one of the pools at the sanctuary.
The centre also 'packed' for us some 100 hatchlings to be brought back to our resort for our next activity of the day - releasing turtle hatchlings back to the sea. Leading the way was the State Culture & Tourism Exco, Dato' Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin accompanied by Director of Pahang Tourism and Culture Office, Tuan Haji Idros Yahya and Pahang's Tourism Malaysia Director, Mr. Ahmad Faisal Mohamed. Also present were Mr. Meor Amran, Director of Sales - The Legend Resort Cherating and also Mr. Siva, the resort manager.

Dato' Shakar (right) with Tuan Hj Idros (left) and Mr. Siva officiating
the release of the hatchlings to the sea.
Don't you think I'm cute?

Joining us were some of the resort guests, with most them foreigners. It was quite an experience watching and handling the cute sea creatures, releasing them to the sea, and also sad at the same time, knowing the fact that only about 2% of them will survive. 

Good luck my cute friends.

For more information on turtles in Malaysia, please go to:

For more information on The Legend Resort Cherating and tourism in Pahang, kindly visit:

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Hornbill Capital of the World-Malaysia's New Eco-Tourism Destination.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia is promoting the Belum Temengor Forest Complex and the Aman Jaya Forest Reserve as Malaysia’s new eco-tourism destinations. Mohamed Shah Redza Hussein, the Executive Director for Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), has even named the site as the Hornbill Capital of the World since it is home to ten totally protected species of hornbills.

Hornbills-A unique and spectacular species of bird.

MNS and Tourism Malaysia is organising the International Hornbill Expedition (IHE) 2013 in Belum Rainforest Reserve, Gerik, Perak, happening from 20 to 22 September 2013, to coincide with the migration period of the globally threatened Plain-pouched Hornbills found at the site. International participants, local birdwatchers and nature guides are expected to take part in the IHE 2013 which will have a birdathon for national and international delegates and a Hornbill Education Camp for young adults.

Please read more about it here:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Malaysia and Thailand Sign Tourism MOU

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 September, 2013 – The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) pledging enhanced joint cooperation and development of tourism in both countries here last Saturday.

MATTA President, En. Hamzah Rahmat and TTAA President, Mr. Suthiphong Pheunphiphop were signatories to the MoU which was witnessed by Tourism Malaysia Director of ASEAN, Syed Yahya Syed Othman, during a mega familiarization dinner hosted by Tourism Malaysia for Thailand travel agents in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014.

Under the terms of the MoU, both MATTA and TTAA pledged to further strengthen joint cooperation in the development of tourism including participation in travel marts, exhibitions and other relevant tourism events especially in view of VMY 2014 and implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. 

AEC is a regional economic integration envisaging ASEAN into a single market with free movement of goods, service, investments, skilled labour and freer flow of capital for the mutual benefit of its member countries.

The Petronas Twin Towers, one of the most photograped iconic buildings in the world, beautifully defines the Kuala Lumpur city skyline.

“This close rapport certainly augurs well not only for VMY 2014 and AEC 2015 but also the long-term growth and prosperity of the tourism industry in ASEAN. It is imperative for our mutual success to maintain a cordial and close working relationship between all parties in the travel and hospitality sector,” said Director of Southeast Asia Division, Syed Yahya Syed Othman.

“TTAA has played an important role in promoting tourism and joint co-operation between Thailand and Malaysia for over 20 years. The signing of the MoU is significant as it is a win-win situation for both countries,” said its President, Mr. Suthiphong Phuenphiphop.

“MATTA will always continue to extend its cooperation to TTAA in all aspects of the travel trade for our mutual benefit and success. We recognise the importance of a well-knit and close working relationship in ensuring our mutual prosperity,” added its President, En. Hamzah Rahmat.

In 2012, ASEAN tourist arrivals to Malaysia amounted to 18,809,736 tourists, of which 1,263,024 were Thai tourists. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Three Malaysian Beaches Make it to the Top 50 Beaches in the World

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 JULY 2013: According to a survey conducted by renowned 
international news network CNN on the World’s 100 best beaches, three beaches in Malaysia made it to the top 50.

The three beaches are Tanjung Rhu in Langkawi, Kedah (ranked at No.49), Juara Beach in Tioman Island, Pahang (ranked at No.21), and Perhentian Kecil island, Terengganu (ranked at No.13). The list was compiled from various sources taking into consideration feedback from travelers, colleagues and readers as well as on-site visits and research.

Tanjung Rhu in Langkawi, Kedah According to the CNN report, “Most tourists on Langkawi flock to Pantai Cenang beach, but the quieter Tanjung Rhu has an earthy beauty and serene atmosphere. The long beach area is surrounded by ancient limestone caves, rippling waterways and dense mangroves.”
We love Langkawi for the breathtaking view from atop Gunung Mat Cincang, one of the islands highest mountains.

Imagine lazing yourself at this tranquil beach at Tanjung Rhu. 
Tanjung Rhu Resort is one of the popular resorts on this long stretch of idyllic beach.
Juara Beach, Tioman Island, Pahang "Less developed and less polished than Thailand, Tioman Island's Juara Beach brings an all-natural, quiet vibe to the beach experience. This isn't the place for parties or nightlife, unless you like your parties hushed and your nightlife nonhuman," quoted CNN. Tioman Island is also a great place for adrenalin junkies who want a rock climbing challenge at Nenek Semukut Mountain.

Its almost paradise in Tioman.
Tioman is home to four of the world's seven species of sea turtles, including critically endangered species. Visitors have the opportunity to help them out at the Juara Turtle Project. 
Perhentian Kecil Island, Terengganu CNN wrote, “Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands are to beach bums what Kobe beef is to carnivores; once you’ve experienced it, nothing else quite matches up. The two main islands are the backpacker-happy Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island), and Pulau Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian Island), which has slightly more expensive 
accommodations.” The highlight of Pulau Perhentian Kecil, according to CNN, is the blue waters which invariably contain turtles and small sharks.

Crystal clear waters make a perfect backdrop in Perhentian Island.
Perhentian Island is a favourite for scuba and snorkeling activities.

More Fun in the Sun Besides these three beaches, Malaysia has hundreds of tropical islands dotting its waters and countless picturesque beaches lining its shores, making it one of the region’s top destinations for sun, sea and sand holidays. Blessed with a tropical climate all year round and unparalleled natural beauty both on land and underwater, some of the world’s best islands and beaches can be found here. Here are the best beaches and islands according to the locals themselves.

Sipadan Island, Sabah Sipadan is an internationally famous dive site surrounded by the Sulawesi Sea. The geographic position of Sipadan at the Indo-Pacific Basin (the centre of the richest marine habitat in the world) makes it a paradise for divers. The seascape is decorated with huge gorgonian sea fans, barrel sponges and gigantic soft tree corals. Steep walls form a stunning backdrop while pelagic species such as sharks and turtles swim gracefully. To preserve the delicate ecosystem, accommodation is only provided at the neighbouring islands of Mabul and Kapalai, tours must be prearranged. The nearest airport to Sipadan is Tawau. From Tawau, take an hour’s drive to Semporna before proceeding with a 40-minute speedboat ride to the island.

For more information on the beautiful beaches of Malaysia and other interesting places, please visit:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

In Search of 'The Perak Man' - Part 2

Day 2 began with all of us convening at the Archaeological Gallery for the ‘adventure part’ of the program. There were fourteen 4x4 vehicles already waiting for us. I chose a silver and red Ford Ranger Hurricane pick-up and together with Shasha and Shareen. The convoy of 4x4s was supposed to take us to the various archaeological sites in Lenggong Valley.

Fourteen 4x4s lined up while waiting for their late passengers.
Scenic beauty of the bridge across the Perak River.
Our adventure 4x4 rides were mostly through palm oil plantations.
Lenggong Valley is a vast area in the district of Lenggong, Perak. The area, which was awarded the UNESCO Heritage Status on the 30th June 2012 includes four archaeological sites in two clusters which span close to 2 million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. It features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops, evidence of early technology. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area suggests the presence of a fairly large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.

At one of the excavation sites at Bukit Bunuh, believed to be
along the ancient river path of the Perak River.
The lush Lenggong Valley on the Malay Peninsula contains evidence in open-air and cave sites along the Perak River spanning all the periods of hominid history outside Africa from 1.83 million to 1,700 years ago.
Undisturbed in situ Palaeolithic stone tool workshops are located on the shores of a paleolake (ancient lake) and ancient river gravel beds and dated in a long chronological sequence.

The legend of The Lenggong Valley area.
A meteorite strike 1.83 million b.p. blocked and diverted the river preserving Palaeolithic tools at Bukit Bunuh, where hand axes are among the oldest so far discovered outside Africa. Analysis suggests these were made by hominids which thus provide an extremely early date for hominid presence in South-East Asia. Mr. Shahrin did an excellent job explaining to us all these facts like the back of his hand.

Volcanic ash of the Toba volcano eruption some 72,000 years ago at Bukit Sapi.
Our 4x4 rides than proceeded to Bukit Sapi about 10 km from Bukit Bunuh. Here, we were shown the tanah putih (white earth) of about 3 metres in height. Apparently, tanah putih, as the locals call it, is a volcanic ash from Sumatera.  A catastrophic Toba volcanic eruption in 70,000 BP. caused abandonment of a workshop site containing multiple tool types at Kota Tampan. Again it shows evidence of hominid presence in the Lenggong Valley, as is the case of similar findings of workshop abandonments at Bukit Jawa (from 200,000-100,000 BP), at Bukit Bunuh (40,000 BP) and at Gua Harimau (1000 BP).

This area is protected by the Heritage Department!
Next was the highlight of the program. A very much anticipated visit to Gua Gunung Runtuh, home to the ‘Perak Man’. After a 20 minute climb through the lush tropical jungle (the last quarter was quite grueling), we reached the peak of Gunung Runtuh and went into the cave. It was here that the skeleton of The Perak Man was found and excavated by Prof Dato’ Zuraina 13 years ago. 

The last 100 metres was quite grueling for most of us.
Perak Man is South-East Asia’s oldest most complete human skeleton. It is radiocarbon dated to 10,120 BP and identified as Australomelanesoid, a hominid type occupying the western part of the Indonesia archipelago and continental South-East Asia at the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene. Within the large karst outcrop of Bukit Kepala Gajah  are 20 caves. Three of these, Gua Gunung Runtuh, Gua Teluk Kelawar and Gua Kajang, have revealed prehistoric burials. Together these four sites in two clusters sites represent the sequence of significant stages in human history unrivalled in the region.

The smaller hole at the foreground was where Perak man was found.
We ended our 4x4 adventure trip of The Lenggong Valley with a short visit to Hutan Lipur Lata Kekabu (Lata Kekabu Recreational Park), had a hearty evening tea of roti jala, mee hoon and durians before we had a quick dip in the cool, clear stream.

By 6.30pm, most of us had ourselves recharged before we boarded our respective 4x4s and proceeded to our crash for the night, Homestay Kampung Beng.    

Monday, 8 July 2013

In search of 'The Perak Man' - Part 1

“Salam Perak Aman Jaya!”

That is how you will be greeted when you go to Perak. Why Perak you say? Well, let me tell you a story of one particular weekend in Perak. I was lucky to get an invitation from Tourism Malaysia to a FAMTRIP – UNESCO Lembah Lenggong. Led by 13 Tourism Malaysia officers and our awesome tour guide, Mr. Zukni, a group of travel agents and media mostly from Kuala Lumpur, my excited-self included, traveled to Lenggong, Perak to explore and ‘get familiarized’ with Lenggong Valley. The valley was officially inscribed as UNESCO’s World Heritage site on July 1, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"The World Heritage List (of Lenggong Valley) includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage, which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value." - UNESCO

The Geological Museum in Ipoh is also the biggest in the country.
The Museum Officer explaining to us the various layers of the earth's crust.

The trip to Lenggong Valley started off on a cool Saturday morning in Kuala Lumpur, and our first stop took us to Muzium Geologi in Ipoh. Established in 1957 by the Geoscience Department, the museum exhibits the biggest collections of fossils, rocks, minerals, gemstones and cassiterite (also known as tin ore) in Malaysia. I, for one felt like a kid in a toy store, super excited and eager to play, I mean learn. The museum consists of seven (7) zones and we started off with the history of the museum and earth. We were then moved to the following zones and learned about fossils and rocks formation, as well as, the different kinds and purposes of minerals, crystals and gems in Malaysia and around the world.  I have never seen so many odd looking but beautiful stones in my life before. Imagine what Jules Verne had to learn while writing Journey to the Center of the Earth.

My kids are going to love this!
Among the vast exhibits in the museum are these animal fossils.
Precious stones and marbles are among the products of natural stones.
The various types of tin ore, most of them found in Malaysia.
Our tour ended in Mineral Exploration & Marine Geology activities and Technology zones. We were explained about geological hazards and disasters in Malaysia, current technologies, researches and proposed geology developments that include two geoparks in Sabah and Sarawak. All in all, it was a very informative tour and I was pretty sure it left an impression on some of us. 

After spending about an hour in Muzium Geologi, our hungry stomach started to make a funny noise. From Ipoh, we traveled 80 km north to Lenggong – our main destination - about an hour away. The countryside of Perak is filled with lush greenery, unique old houses and buildings. The journey definitely took me to another era

Its 'makan time'!
These are real delicious kampung dishes!
Restoran Tasik Raban was waiting for us when we arrived. Plates of delicious local dishes were served on the table. I am not a fresh water fish, or ‘ikan darat’ fan. They smell too fishy for my liking. However, this trip changed that. First time ever I tried their famous grilled Tilapia fish and I was blown away. Cooked to perfection with all the spices, definitely a must-try when you go to Tasik Raban’s famous stop. It’s a small restaurant away from the town but visited by VIPs and people from all walks of life.

The fish are well grilled before the gravy are poured on top.
Fancy a plate of Kerai fish?

I could tell that some of us could not wait to get to our next destination, Galeri Arkeologi Lenggong, in Kota Tampan, where Perak Man was found by Prof. Dato’ Zuraina. Now Perak Man is another fascinating story that will be told in the next blog. So we left the restaurant and headed to the gallery to meet Mr. Mohd Shahrin Abdullah from Jabatan Warisan Negara for the briefing on Perak Man and site visit itinerary. During the briefing, I felt so proud when I heard the story of the 7 Malaysians (Mr. Shahrin included) in St. Petersburg, Russia who fought so hard for Lenggong Valley to be nominated as a world heritage site. We are indeed a tiny nation with a loud voice. Malaysia Boleh!

The gallery and archeological sites are located in the middle of palm oil plantations and I could clearly see Banjaran Titiwangsa in the background wherever I turned. I would trade the whole Kuala Lumpur for this view. Teamed up with clear blue sky and clouds, the air was clean and fresh. I love this countryside.

Replica of the skeleton of The Perak Man.
Several specimens of deposits, minerals and prehistoric rocks collected around Lenggong Valley are displayed in the gallery park. Some of these rocks dated as far back as 1.83 million years ago. Fascinating! Quartz, alluvium and volcanic ash of Lake Toba are among cool artifacts on display There are more exhibits in the gallery building that include the discovery of Perak Man in chronology order, cave paintings, replica of Perak Man skeleton and stone tools found dated thousands of years ago in Hulu Perak. The group definitely was eager to visit the real archeological site the next day and witness the historical valley.

Lenggong Rest House welcomes us!
At the end of the first day, we checked in at Rumah Rehat Lenggong for a good sleep and rest. Tomorrow would be a day full of adventures in Lenggong Valley. Better put on my Indiana Jones costumes. Until next time!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Kelantan Food & Heritage Trail 2013 – Part 2

Entrance to Akademi Nik Rashiddin.
The bus journey from Kota Bharu to Bachok took us about 40 minutes, which was just enough for most of us to take a short nap. Our first stop was Akademi Nik Rashiddin at Kandis village, a one-stop resource centre on Malay woodcrafts. Cold Air Nira (Palm Wine) was served to quench our thirst on arrival. The proud owner-operator is Mrs Rosnawati, wife of the late Nik Rashiddin, a master woodcraft. The serene 6-acre property accommodates a wooden museum, a gallery and the family house. The museum was actually reconstructed from a 188 year old house which they bought from Kampung Ladang, Terengganu. Among the exhibits in the museum were various Malay wooden crafts and equipment that were used daily by farmers, fishermen and the common folks.

Mrs Rosnawati is an expert in the subject of traditional malay woodcraft.
The intricately designed bow of a Malay traditional boat.
One of the Keris on display. The ivory hilt was handcrafted by Nik Rashiddin.
The Gallery housed various types of keris’ hilts and sheaths handcrafted by the late master woodcraft himself. There were also a rostrum, a bed and the head and tail of a Gagak Sura, a royal ceremonial parade icon, all with their own intricately crafted designs. Mrs Rosnawati, herself a lecturer with the Creative Technology and Heritage Faculty at a local university, was ever willing to explain to us about the Malay woodcraft industry in general and of Nik Rashiddin’s tireless efforts to preserve and revive the heritage initiatives.

The directional signage was clearly visible from the main road.
A short distance away from Akademi Nik Rashiddin, lies a secluded boutique resort called Villa Danialla. We were so surprised to find a resort so charmingly built in this part of the tranquil village. The 74 room resort boasted of a private white sandy beach and a host of other amenities including a premium spa, infinity pool, horse ride and various beach activities. The owner, Dato Halimah Hamat, was hands-on when it comes to the day-to-day operations. She spoke to us about the resort’s humble beginnings and of its future plans. A short while later, buffet style ‘late afternoon meal’ was served and we wasted no time to savour the sumptuous looking dishes. The combo of the crispy murtabak and sweet and creamy ‘butir nangka’ was my favourite.

A very warm ambience welcomes every visitors to the resort.
Dato Halimah Hamat - The proud owner-operator of the resort.
The yummy sweet and creamy 'butir nangka'.
Dato Halimah then took us for a quick tour of the resort and its ample facilities. “All the facilities and services are provided without any extra charges” she said. “Guests will not feel privileged if we keep on billing them with all the small charges” she added. I couldn’t agree more with you Dato!. All the best to you!

The facade of the newly opened Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort.
We boarded our bus to our final destination of the day, Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort. Situated along the idyllic beach of Pantai Bisikan Bayu (Beach of Whispering Breeze) in the district of Pasir Puteh, the 100 room resort is the latest 5 star resort in Kelantan. Nestled amongst tall casuarina trees, the low rise resort offers each rooms with a lagoon facing balconies on one side and on the other side, a large swimming pool and its landscaped garden strategically located right in the middle as the centerpiece.

Every room has direct access to the pool, which is a short walking distance away.
We checked-in into our respective rooms as soon as we reach the resort. The room was nice and neat and it has a big balcony with a set of outdoor settee. There’s a big glass window wall separating the bathroom and the room and it came with a curtain, of course. The finishing and the fittings truly befitted that of a 5-star rating that was awarded to the resort. Well, I couldn’t wait to explore what else was offered. So, I decided to go out and check it out myself.

Paddleboats are popular among family guests.
En Kamal Azam of Tourism Malaysia trying out the KMX Kart tricycle,
one of the recreational facilities provided by the resort.
To start with, there were all types of cycling vehicles. We have bicycles for kids and adults, tandem bicycles (bicycle for two people) and the latest KMX Kart Tricycles! I had a spin in it and was thrilled by the performance and superb handling. Then, there were the boat rides, paddleboats and kayaks for those who wouldn’t mind some water splashing. 

...and some preferred to go kayaking.
The activity lined up for the media was collecting lokan (mangrove clams). We had to paddle to a small island in the middle of the lagoon and look for the exotic cockles. Armed with plastic bags braving the knee deep swamp and combing between the protruding mangrove roots, we eventually managed to collect about 3 kgs of lokans. Not bad for most first timers like us. The lokans ended up in the resort’s kitchen to be served as part of the dish for our grand garden dinner for the night. Hosted by the resort and graced by the General Manager himself, the steamboat dinner was accompanied by a very entertaining Wayang Kulit (Shadow Play) performance of a local troupe. Interestingly, the Tok Dalang (Master Puppeteer) was a Chinese. How interesting!

Not a bad catch for our friend here.
Anyway, it has been a very long day for all of us, and what else do you expect a bunch of worn out, full- bellied humans would do given some cozy, comfy and cushy beds in a 5-star resort? 

For more information on Kelantan and the places mentioned above, please visit: 


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