Culture

CultureLocale

Immerse in the history of Pinang Peranakan Mansion

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If you are a history buff and love learning about the glamorous mystery of the past or if you are just a fan of “The Little Nyonya”, a drama series based on the Peranakan heritage, then Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang is the place to visit.

A UNESCO heritage site restored and maintained to remind the world of the rich Peranakan heritage of Penang, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a living museum of the culture that came about from the marriage of the local Malays and the immigrant Chinese. A beautifully restored property, the exterior and interiors of the mansion highlights the various cultures that influenced its architecture. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a masterpiece that is influenced by British tilework, Scottish iron weldings, European furniture and Chinese carved wood panels and detailing.

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Peranakan Mansion

Restored to show how the rich Chinese merchants of the 1890’s lived, the mansion is filled with stories and photographic nooks and corners. Walking through the mansion, it is easy to lose yourself in the lifestyle of a century ago. The interiors are awe-worthy as you realise how elaborate and opulent the lifestyle and traditions of the past were. As you walk through the mansion, you’ll get to see everything that belonged to the original residents, starting from their precious jewellery to wedding attires and even items of daily use.

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The Pinang Peranakan Mansion conducts guided tours only twice daily so we highly recommend taking your own local tour guide along. Connect with a local travel expert on Locaguide and ask him to show you around the mansion because it is almost impossible to cover it entirely without help from a guide. He will be able to show you pieces that were in use by the Peranakan families and explain the history behind the items showcased in the museum. Given how vast the mansion is, it would be wise to go there early before crowds start pouring in so you have time to indulge in extensive photography sessions and also soak in the glamour and grandeur of the mansion.

 

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CultureLocale

Discover Penang’s history at the Clan Jetties

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Forming an important part of Penang’s rich heritage, the clan jetties are more than a picture-perfect tourist specialty. Originally giving the local Chinese immigrants a place to call home, each jetty came to be distinctively known for the clan it housed. Starting with seven such clans, this Chinese settlement did not have a smooth start, until the local government body officially gave them an identity.

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History

Out of the original seven, each of the six remaining jetties have houses that were built over a century ago, and if you know exactly where to look you’ll still be able to see some of the original stilts used by the Chinese when they first immigrated to Penang. Named after the Chinese clan who started living on the jetties, each jetty is a village in itself and reflects the traditions and beliefs of the clan. Each village has its own temple, and its own stories to tell. Take a guided tour of this place with your local travel expert from Locaguide who will be able to help you spot the differences in the temples and tell you the tales of the clans and their clashes.

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When to visit

Probably the best time of the day to visit the clan jetties is late afternoon so you can round up your visit by watching a glorious sunset at the jetty. The setting sun brings with it a change in the neighbourhood and a tinge of excitement in the air as everyone pauses to witness the gorgeous sight. 

The long wooden planks that have now become iconic, make for gorgeous walks by yourself or in the company of your loved ones. If there is one place to see in Penang that you shouldn’t miss, this is it. With ample souvenirs to purchase and cute local restaurants looking towards the horizon, the jetties are the perfect place to spend an evening during your trip to Penang.

 

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CultureLocale

A peek into local culture at Baba-Nyonya Museum

Baba-Nyonya Museum

Baba is the term used to refer to a Strait-born gentleman, while Nyonya is used to address a Strait-born lady. The Baba-Nyonya Museum in Malacca showcases the lives of the gentlemen and ladies of the affluent families of the past. Built by restoring 3 townhouses and combining them together, the museum shows the rich culture and extravagant lifestyle of the Peranakan homes before the start of the world war.

Located on Millionaires street in Malacca, the Baba-Nyonya Museum is maintained and restored by the later generations of the original family that lived in it. As you walk in, you can spot the red lanterns on either sides of the elaborate columns, one bears the household name while the other is to invite good luck into the house. The house is extensively covered in hand painted tiles that tell tales of the beliefs and traditions of the past. Large intricately carved teakwood doors lead you inside where you can see the lifestyle of the rich immigrants of the past.

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The Victorian lamps and chandeliers show the extent to which the families went to flaunt their wealth. You can’t help but notice the detailed dark wood furniture inlaid with mother of pearl detailing and the floral designed wrought iron castings outside the windows. The whole house is filled with stories and tales of the past and the antiques show how well the traditions of multiple cultures were adopted by the immigrants.

This heritage museum takes you back in time and is one of the best attractions to visit in Malacca. If you want to visit this on your trip to Malacca, consider creating a customised itinerary with Locaguide and get a guided tour of the museum. As you walk around, awed by the grandeur of the whole place, feel free to ask your local travel guide from Locaguide for tales of the past generations of the family that lived there and the extravagant traditions of the pre-world war days. He may also help you interact with the family that lives there, and give you the chance to hear stories from them about their ancestors.

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CultureLocale

Get acquainted with local culture at Mari Mari Cultural Village

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A short trip from Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari is a village where the ethnic culture of the Borneo tribes is kept alive. The village houses five of the indigenous Borneo tribes, who continue to live in their old ways. The lifestyle, culture and history of each tribe is shared with the tourist who visit Mari Mari Cultural Village.

You can see first hand how they lived, how they worked, what they wore and their customs and traditions that set them apart from each other. Tales of the tribe’s rich past are told and ancient customs of the tribes are shared with everyone who visits them. You can partake in the customs and activities to experience them personally. Each tribe showcases their hunting skills and survival skills to the tourists who come to experience the cultural village.

Things to see and do

You can taste and eat the local food of the tribes and see how they prepared the food and maybe even try your hand at preparing a dish. Moreover as you sit to eat with them, each tribe will share tales of their ancestors and how their tribe name came about and what it stands for. The experience of eating in a village that is ancient beyond time is something you are bound to remember forever.

Spending half a day at the cultural village of Mari Mari is something you will truly enjoy, as the experience is something unlike any other you will find elsewhere. However, being a short trip from Kota Kinabalu, the surrounding is a natural habit of rainforest trees and the silence you hear is an escape from the hustle bustle of the city.

Furthermore, the experience of visiting the Mari Mari Cultural Village gets even better if you have a local travel guide accompanying you, who can help you translate and understand the stories of the tribes and help you grasp the true essence of the cultural village. Find yourself a suitable local guide from Locaguide and plan a personalized itinerary with their help. Visit this cultural village with him and get a glimpse of tribal life in the Borneo islands.

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CultureLocale

Marvel at the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

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Built to give the impression that it is floating on water, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is a must-see sight in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in Malaysia. Four minarets, a blue dome and a golden dome are the striking features of the mosque. Closely resembling Medina’s Nawabi Mosque, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is an architectural marvel in itself!

As you walk through the mosque you’ll notice that the design is highly influenced by the Arabic form of architecture. Known locally as the floating Mosque, the true beauty of the mosque can be seen when paddle boating on the man-made lagoon towards the mosque.

 Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

The mosque hopes to incorporate the local community’s religious, social and economic aspects and has a joint project of a fish farm within its grounds. It also houses four madrassas and a healthcare clinic for the community’s welfare.

Being a place of worship by the Islamic community you are required to dress modestly with your head covered. It’s considered respectable if you remove your footwear at the entrance. Once you remove your footwear you can go to the taps and wash your hands and feet before you enter the inner parts of the mosque. If you are a non-muslim, you won’t be allowed in during prayer hours, but the call to prayer is something you should stop and listen to at least once when you are in Malaysia.

Ask the locals in the mosque for the history of the mosque and they will happily tell you why certain things are done in a particular manner. A local travel guide can also help in this regard. You can find yourself a suitable travel guide from a portal like Locaguide, who can not only accompany you on your Kota Kinabalu city tour but also help you understand the cultural, historic and social significance of these beautiful structures.

 Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

Once you have had your fill of the inside of the mosque, head out to watch the sunset over the city of Kota Kinabalu and the man-made lake outside. Just sitting around in the shade can calm you, allow you to deeply introspect and find some peace within yourself.

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CultureLocale

Senggarang Village – Bintan Island’s smallest village

If you’re planning to spend a whole day at a rustic Indonesian village, the old-world charm of the Senggarang village is not to be missed. Located in Bintan island of Indonesia, this amazing village is a melting pot of various ethnic groups belonging to the Chinese, Indonesian, and Malay origins.

The stilt cottages-fringed coastlines, the spicy seafood, and the quaint ancient Chinese village set up express the fundamental aspects of the Riau Archipelago, Indonesia.

The Senggarang village is the smallest village in Bintan and has a very distinct population and culture, unlike what you find elsewhere in Indonesia. The village is home to an ethnic Chinese community that arrived about 1800 years ago and settled here while on their route to India.

The villagers live in beautiful fishing hamlets facing the waters, and most of them follow the Buddhist religion. Apart from the beautiful cottages, the Senggarang village also has a lot of other tourist destinations like the Buddhist shrines and temples filled with Buddhist iconography and depictions of various Chinese legends. You can also see various forms of Buddha statues and sculptures dotting the entire village. That’s why a local guide could come in handy for taking you to the best places around.

The Senggarang village, Riau, Indonesia, Bintan
The Senggarang village

What to do there.

Two of the most renowned temples that you shouldn’t miss are Tay Ti Kong Temple and the ancient Tian Shang Miao Temple, which is also called the Banyan Tree Temple. In order to enjoy your time without worrying about all the hassle it takes to find the popular tourists spots in Senggarang village, it is highly recommended to opt for a guided tour by a local guide from Locaguide. If you’re planning to travel to Bintan Island from Bali or Jakarta, you can easily get a flight to Bintan Island. If you’re travelling from Singapore, you may prefer travelling by ferry or a flight to Jakarta and an onward flight to Bintan. The rustic ambience and the beautiful coast, lined with quaint houses and traditional Chinese temples makes Senggarang Village one of the top places to visit in Indonesia with family.

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Culture

Discover Traditional Batik Art of Indonesia

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Batik Art is a traditional art form that has been in practice for over 2,000 years in Indonesia. No one returns from a trip to Indonesia without buying some form of Batik paintings, be it as an art or be it in the form of clothes.

With its origin in the Java island of Indonesia, Batik painting is essentially a manual dyeing technique used to create patterns and designs on fabric, and involves a lot of skill, patience and practice.

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The first step in the complicated dyeing process of a batik painting is to stretch a piece of fabric onto a frame and stamp the desired design using a mixture of beeswax and resin. Contemporary Batik art pieces often have more intricate designs hand-drawn on the fabric. Using a pen-like instrument called “canting”, artists draw the hot wax onto the fabric. The canting is made up of a copper tip, for the wax to flow smoothly and a wooden holder, so that the hot wax does not burn the hand.

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Then comes the actual dyeing part where the colours are slathered on the fabric. Once dried, the dye is set by soaking the fabric in a tub of fixative. This process is repeated to add more colours to the fabric. 

If this kind of artform intrigues you, ask your travel guide from Locaguide to help you find and register you for a hands-on Batik painting workshop, that gives you the chance to create your own Batik masterpiece. Learn this skillful artform and then sit back and listen to local stories as your Batik fabric gets ready to go home with you.

In case you’re not keen on learning but just want to purchase a painting as a souvenir, your guide will be able to show you how to identify if your painting is truly a batik piece or just a one-sided screen printing. Whether you attend a workshop or simply buy a painting, this unique local art is sure to add another dimension to your Indonesia trip.

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Culture

Visit a Malaysian “Open House”

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The two things you should keep in mind while planning a holiday in Malaysia are the food and the festivals. These two things truly define Malaysian culture in the best way possible. A melting pot of different religions and cultures, it is safe to say that Malaysians have a lot of festivals to celebrate all year round. Irrespective of which festival it is, the interaction among the local Malaysians makes way for a special brew of culture and hospitable warmth that the country is known for, giving birth to the concept of an “open house”.

What is an “Open House”?

If you happen to be in Malaysia during any festival, be sure to attend an “open house” or Rumah Terbuka as the locals call it. Common during Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Christmas in Malaysia, Open House is the perfect example of how well the diverse communities in Malaysia intermingle. Open house literally means the host’s house is open to receive all well-wishers and guests and everyone is invited to attend, regardless of their cultural or religious background. A practice unique to Malaysia, “Open House” is more than just a welcome to someone’s house. It is a way of life here where every race is mutually accepted and respected by all.

Rumah Terbuka, Open house, Malaysia
Rumah Terbuka festivities

 

True to their hospitable self during “open house”, Malaysians welcome even tourist into their homes and give them an inside peek and a chance to be part of the festivities. Seen as the perfect practice to foster goodwill and renew social ties, it has been followed by the government too. During major festivals, the government houses are open to the public for food and drinks. Your local guide from Locaguide may be able to suggest the best open houses you can attend for an ongoing festival and the dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind. He will be the best person to help you mingle and interact with the locals and other guests.

Open house, Rumah Terbuka, Malaysia
Rumah Terbuka feast

Get a chance to taste authentic local homemade delicacies and watch performances and cultural dances by the local artists and orchestras in a unique setting. You’ll be surprised how different the experience will be and how closely you can experience a completely new culture. 

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CultureLocale

The Mystical Borobudur Temple of Yogyakarta

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Built amidst a medley of green paddies and swaying palms, Borobudur Temple, a mammoth Buddhist monument has survived volcanic eruptions, bombs and earthquakes to remain as alluring as it must have been in the 9th century. Said to be one of the most impressive temples in the world, the Borobudur Temple is a must visit sight during your tour of Indonesia.

With an aerial view that resembles the lotus, a sacred flower in Indonesian culture, the temple is not an experience to be missed. Made up of two million slabs of lava rock, reaching a height of 115ft and housing close to 1,500 carved story panels and 504 statues of the Buddha, the Borobudur temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Statue of Buddha

Designed in the shape of a mandala, the layout of the temple symbolizes the cosmetology of the universe according to Buddhist teachings. The temple is built is three levels: the world of lust and desire (Kamadhatu), the world of form (Rupadhatu) and the formless world (Arupadhatu), and consists of 6 terraces, 3 circular platforms and 504 Buddha statues. Moreover each terrace has a different posture of Buddha’s statue depicting contact with earth, giving and helping, meditation, fearlessness, teaching and learning, and turning the wheel of dharma. 

Apart from being the single most popular tourist attraction in Yogyakarta, Borobudur Temple continues in its role as an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Indonesian Buddhists. Be sure to ask your local guide from Locaguide to show you around the temple complex and help you join the locals during their daily prayers if you wish.

Borobudur temple
Borobudur temple

When to visit The Borobudur temple

If you are planning a visit to the Borobodur temple, the best time to be there is at sunrise. Furthermore The view of the sun lighting up the structure and the early morning mist from the volcanic mountains creeping down the monument are a magical combination and transport you to an era in the past when the temple was truly at its mystical best!

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Architecture of the Borobudur temple
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CultureEvents

The Annual Thaipusam Celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

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Thaipusam is believed to be the day goddess Parvathi gave her son Lord Murugan a powerful weapon to fight demons. Marked in the Hindu calendar as the full moon of the Tamil month of ‘Thai”, Thaipusam is an annual celebration, with colourful festivities taking place primarily in the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur.

This festival is famous mainly because of the rituals the devotees follow to please and praise the Lord. Celebrated not only by the Indian community but also the locals and tourists who throng to Malaysia during the time, watching the Thaipusam celebration is an experience in itself. Many tourists plan their trip to Kuala Lumpur keeping the festival dates in mind.

Thaipusam rituals

As part of the celebration, devotees pierce their bodies with metal spears and climb up the 272 stairs to the top of the limestone hills to reach the Batu Caves. Inside the caves, numerous carvings depict tales of Hindu mythology, including a calming statue of Prithvi and a gigantic statue of Lord Hanuman.

The Festivities

The festivities take place over three days in Kuala Lumpur and start out in the early morning with a succession starting from the city’s oldest Hindu temple. A golden chariot carrying the statue of Lord Subramanian is escorted by thousands of worshippers till Batu Caves.

At the base of the hill, the devotees prepare themselves to offer thanks or pay penance to the Lord. Other than piercing themselves with spears, the devotees carry huge “kavadis” with offerings of milk and flowers. At the top of the hill, they offer their prayers and complete the rituals that follow. After the three days of festivities, the procession returns to the temple with the devotees walking along, singing and beating drums to keep the morale up.

If you are planning a visit to Kuala Lumpur and if it happens to be at the time of Thaipusam, your local guide from Locaguide will be able to help you witness this grand celebration and even participate if you wish to offer your prayers to the Lord.

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