A showcase of uniquely Malaysian delights

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A showcase of uniquely Malaysian delights

Beguiling Guilin? Not quite, this is the Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village near Ipoh. Photo: Lily Loh

Malaysia

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One of the best places to travel to in 2017 is... Perak

One of the best places to travel to in 2017 is… Perak

Capturing Malaysia at its most wonderful

Capturing Malaysia at its most wonderful

Would you believe it, there are still more hidden treasures coming out of The Star’s 45@45 Anniversary Round 4 giveaway to readers. We asked our readers to showcase the gems of Malaysia through images and short accompanying stories – be they about a place, an attraction, a dish or an event.

We have had a visual spectacle of 18 of the winning entries so far. Here are the final nine entries (in no particular order).


China on my mind

A trip to Ipoh in March took me and my sisters to Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village located not far from Gunung Rapat. This quaint village has a looming limestone hill for a backdrop. In the centre is a striking green lake with traditional wooden chalets in vivid colours on one side, and on the opposite side there are mini pavilions where one can just sit and stare. The place reminded me of a scene out of Guilin, a popular tourist destination in south-west China.

At the back of the hill, a flight of stairs led us to a narrow path winding upwards, with trees on one side and small wooden stalls with thatched roofs on the other. This stretch reminded me of scenes from Chinese period costume movies. However, instead of serving cha to weary swordsmen, the stalls showcase paraphernalia from the 1950s, 60s and 70s that reminded me of my childhood.

– Lily Loh wins a 2D/1N stay for two at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral

Sunset and seafood

A gorgeous sight — the sunrise at Sungai Merbok, Kedah. Photo: Ng Saik Le

A gorgeous sight — the sunrise at Sungai Merbok, Kedah. Photo: Ng Saik Le

How about throwing in a spectacular sunset by a river, and some yummy dishes like fried rice, tomyam noodles and grilled fish that won’t burn a hole in your pocket? That’s what you get at DSA Cafe situated along Sungai Merbok in Kedah. It’s 9.8km from the Sungai Petani Selatan Toll Plaza and along the Kompleks Jeti Sungai Merbok.

One can take a river cruise, visit the biodiversity gallery – which is essentially a mangrove forest museum (open 9am to 7pm) – go fishing in the shaded jetty and take selfies in a brick kiln. For the toddlers, there is even a playground to keep them busy.

– Ng Saik Le wins a 3D/2N stay for two in a deluxe seaview room at the Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu

Island of yesteryear

Cast yourself away at this secluded island, Pulau Maliangin, off Kudat, Sabah. Photo: Rajes Pooranalingam

Cast yourself away at this secluded island, Pulau Maliangin, off Kudat, Sabah. Photo: Rajes Pooranalingam

Pulau Maliangin is a beautiful island off the coast of Kudat, Sabah. It’s a pristine island untouched by modernisation. You get to mingle with the locals there, learn their culture, buy their handicraft and also stay a day or two in their homes.

Once there, you will tend to immerse yourself in the beauty of the untouched nature (jungle hikes, waterfall and beach) and your worries will just evaporate. No electronic communication devices here, which means total relaxation. The locals are so friendly, and will invite you over for meals with them. An ideal beach getaway for families, with very basic amenities.

– Rajes Pooranalingam wins a 2D/1N stay for two in a deluxe room at The Westin Kuala Lumpur

Unbreakable faith

Colourful and encompassing Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple in Johor Baru. Photo: Harbans Kaur

Colourful and encompassing Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple in Johor Baru. Photo: Harbans Kaur

The Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple is apparently the only glass temple in the country. It is also unique as, besides the Hindu deities, it has marble statues of Buddha, Guru Nanak, Sai Baba and Mother Teresa. It is located along the railway tracks between Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Mohd Taib in Johor Baru.

Be forewarned: there are no signboards and you can only go in during prayer times from morning till noon and then again at 6pm. You can’t take photographs inside and foreigners are charged a fee to go in.

– Harbans Kaur wins a 2D/1N stay for two in a deluxe room at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur

Journey to the West Coast

Giant statues everywhere at the Tua Pek Kong temple in Kampung Pasir Panjang, Sitiawan, Perak. Photo: Rajathilagam Krishnan

Giant statues everywhere at the Tua Pek Kong temple in Kampung Pasir Panjang, Sitiawan, Perak. Photo: Rajathilagam Krishnan

This Tua Pek Kong temple in Kampung Pasir Panjang, Sitiawan, Perak, sits in the middle of a Malay kampung. It is more than 100 years old and besides the familiar giant statues of Tua Pek Kong and Kuan Yin, there are many characters from the famous Journey To The West classic Chinese novel. There are also statutes of other deities and animals from the Chinese Zodiac. And they seem to keep adding to it.

There are fountains and even a Dragon Tunnel where pictorials warn sinners of the punishment awaiting them in the afterlife. A lot of the information provided is in Chinese.

– Rajathilagam Krishnan wins a 2D/1N stay for two in a deluxe room at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur

Diving right in

A human decides to join a barracuda swarm in the waters of Pulau Sipadan, Sabah. Photo: Kellie Tan Pick Yeow

A human decides to join a barracuda swarm in the waters of Pulau Sipadan, Sabah. Photo: Kellie Tan Pick Yeow

Clear blue sky, calm sea and 24m visibility. We were headed to Barracuda Point, our favourite dive spot. My dive buddy and I were the first to dive in. The sea was dark and encircled us in a massive shape-shifting “doughnut”. My heart leaped with joy. We were right in the centre of the tornado of barracudas. Then they swam away but they formed a shape that seemed to beckon me. I swam to them – and when they moved so did I; it was as if we were one. My first time in Sipadan was in 2000 but no matter how often I return, I’m still filled with wonder. It will always remain my favourite dive spot in the world.

– Chong Voon Wee (photo: Kellie Tan Pick Yeow) wins an AirAsia return ticket to Pontianak, Indonesia

Old ways rock

This Nyonya fish dish, Acar Hoo, looks tempting. It is based on a recipe by Nyonya Su Pei of Penang. Photo: Prudence Loh Ghit Fong

This Nyonya fish dish, Acar Hoo, looks tempting. It is based on a recipe by Nyonya Su Pei of Penang. Photo: Prudence Loh Ghit Fong

There is a quaint private diner in the centre of Penang town, set up by a Baba Nyonya couple who are very passionate about sharing the history, culture and cuisine of the Baba-Nyonya of Penang. Nyonya Su Pei prepares her dishes in the most traditional ways, sans electrical appliances, using just her trusty pestle and mortar. Her repertoire of traditional recipes contains about 200 – and counting. Each dish has a story and Baba Jerry would tell it in the most interesting way.

My highlight of the evening was finding there was more than one way to enjoy the ubiquitous curry chicken.

Baba Jerry also conducts tours off the beaten track, for visitors who want to try Jawi Peranakan cuisine or visit the local morning markets.

– Prudence Loh Ghit Fong wins a 2D/1N stay for two in a deluxe room at Four Points by Sheraton Puchong

Small-town opera

A dying art, but places like Batu Gajah keep Chinese Opera alive. Photo: Lim Lay Koon

A dying art, but places like Batu Gajah keep Chinese Opera alive. Photo: Lim Lay Koon

Every year, on the 24th day of the sixth lunar month, the sleepy town of Batu Gajah comes alive for the Guan Gong Festival. With his unmistakable red face, Guan Gong is revered for his integrity and honesty, and is often worshipped as a protector from evil. One of the main draws is the Cantonese opera performances staged to honour and entertain the deity.

Every day for nearly a fortnight, residents and visitors are treated to a dazzling spectacle of clashing cymbals, lavish costumes and melodic singing. Performers from Hong Kong are usually invited as the lead male and female characters, supported by Malaysian cast members and musicians. It is, however, a dying art that has seen its heyday. Troupes have shrunk in size and performers need day jobs to make ends meet.

– Lim Lay Koon wins a 3D/2N stay for two in a deluxe seaview room at the Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan

Colour me good

Its time to paint the town whatever colour you want, at the Holi Festival in Sentul, KL. Photo: Yong Choy Peng

Its time to paint the town whatever colour you want, at the Holi Festival in Sentul, KL. Photo: Yong Choy Peng

Holi is the most colourful and vibrant festival in India, also a spring festival, and is simply known as the festival of colours. It is also celebrated in Malaysia in March or February. Friendly strangers greeted me and smeared different colours on my cheeks as I walked through the gates of the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Mandir temple at Jalan Kasipillay, off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur. Bright coloured powder known as gulal is thrown on people’s faces, followed by splashing of water. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over bad.

– Yong Choy Peng wins a US$100 (RM423) Agoda voucher

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