Culture

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Thean Hou Temple: Experience Chinese culture like a local

Thean Hou TempleA young women paying visit to Thean Hou Temple during the Chinese New Year

Thean Hou Temple seated along Jalan Klang Lama forms one of the largest and oldest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia. Termed as a notable religious landmark in Kuala Lumpur because of the large number of visitors it attracts every year.

About Thean Hou Temple

The Thean Hou Temple, locally known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven themes an elaborate six tired Pagoda. Dedicated to Tian Hou, the protector of the fishermen community the temple sits atop a hill. The Hainanese community of Kuala Lumpur established the temple in 1894. The mix of red and gold designs give a visual treat to the eyes.

Thean Hou Temple
Outside the Thean Hou Temple

The multi-arch gateway and red pillars at the main entrance symbolize prosperity and good luck. A modern Buddhist temple, it features images and art depicting Buddha all around the main hall.

Statues of Guan Di, the god of war and Wei Tuo, a divine protector are present in the temple. With elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, the grand structure showcases influences from all these schools of thought. 

Things to do

A walk around the temple complex leads you to a tortoise pond and a herb garden filled with Chinese medicinal plants. A sanctified Boddhi tree also graces the compound and creates an aura of mysticism!

The Thean Hou temple marks as one of the best places to visit in Kuala Lumpur. Create a customised itinerary with Locaguide so that you do not miss out on this beautiful temple. With the local travel expert, you can not only visit the temple but experience the prayer ceremonies like a local. He/ She can also help you get your fortune read at the temple if it makes you keen.

The Thean Hou temple makes up for more than just a place of worship. An architectural marvel in itself which brings the local Chinese community together. So, do pay a visit and experience it for yourself.

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CultureLocale

Immerse in the history of Pinang Peranakan Mansion

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If you are a history buff then on your tour to Penang, a visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a must. While here, you can uncover the mysterious past of the Peranakans — descendants of Chinese immigrants. Over the years, the mansion gained popularity because of a drama series called “The Little Nyonya”.

About the Pinang Peranakan Mansion

A UNESCO heritage site, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion forms a living cultural museum. It came about from the marriage of the local Malay and the Chinese immigrants. But mainly restored and maintained to remind the world of the rich Peranakan heritage of Penang. The exterior and interiors of the mansion highlight the various cultures that influenced its architecture. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion still remains a masterpiece. It features the British tilework, Scottish iron weldings, European furniture and Chinese carved wood panels.

The Pinang Peranakan mansion
The Peranakan Mansion

Restored to showcase the living of the Chinese merchants of the 1890s, the mansion holds numerous stories to tell. A walk through the mansion is enough to lose yourself into a century-old lifestyle. The awe-worthy interiors will make you realise how elaborate and opulent the past lifestyle and traditions were. Inside the mansion, you can view everything; from jewellery to wedding attires to items of daily use.

Interiors of the Pinang Peranakan Mansion
How to visitA peek inside the mansion

How to visit?

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion conducts guided tours twice every day. So, we highly recommend you to take your own local tour guide along. Connect with a local travel expert on Locaguide and ask him to show you around the mansion. Without a helping hand, it is almost impossible to cover it entirely. He will show you the pieces that were used by the Peranakan families and explain the history behind them. Given the vastness of the mansion, visit the place early before the crowd starts pouring in. Thus, making yourself some time to indulge and soak in the glamour and grandeur of the mansion.

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CultureLocale

Discover Penang’s history at the Clan Jetties

Clan JettiesSeries of Clan Jetties

Forming an important part of Penang’s rich heritage, the clan jetties are more than a picture-perfect tourist speciality. 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.

History of the Clan Jetties

Out of the original seven, six 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. The slits those used by the Chinese when they first immigrated to Penang. Named after the Chinese clan who first lived on the jetties, each jetty is a village in itself. It 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. The guide will help you with the difference in the temples and tell you the tales of the clans.

When to visit the Clan Jetties?

Probably the best time of the day to visit the clan jetties is late afternoon. This will allow you to 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. Hence, everyone makes sure to pause by and witness the gorgeous sight. 

A view of clan jetty at dusk
A view of clan jetty at dusk

The iconic long wooden planks make for gorgeous walks be it solo or with your loved ones. If there is one place to see in Penang that you shouldn’t miss then this is it. With ample souvenirs to purchase and local restaurants, the jetties are the perfect place to spend an evening.

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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 Straits-born gentleman, while Nyonya is used to address a Straits-born lady. The Baba-Nyonya Museum in Malacca showcases the lives of the affluent families of the past. Built on restoring three townhouses, the museum shows the rich culture of the Peranakan homes before the World War.

About Baba-Nyonya Museum

Located on Millionaire’s street, the later generations of the original family maintained and restored the Baba-Nyonya Museum. As you walk in, you can spot the red lanterns on either side of the elaborate columns. One of the lanterns bears the household name while the other invites good luck into the house. Large intricately carved teakwood doors lead you inside the museum. Extensively covered in hand-painted tiles the house tells about the beliefs and traditions of the past.

Baba Chan Cheng Siew, a second generation Strait’s born Chinese established the house in the year 1985. Before turning the house into a museum, four generations of the Chan family lived here.

 Inside the Baba-Nyonga Museum
Baba-Nyonga Museum

The Victorian lamps and chandeliers show the extent to which the families flaunted their wealth. You can’t help but notice the detailed dark wooden furniture in the interior. The floral designed wrought iron castings outside the windows add to the extravaganza of the place. The museum holds numerous stories and the antiques show how well the immigrants adopted the traditions.

This heritage museum takes you back in time and makes up for one of the best attractions in Malacca. If the place eagers you then consider creating a customised itinerary with Locaguide. The local tour expert will walk you around and give the details of the museum. 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

Mari Mari Cultural Village 4

A short trip from Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari constitutes 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. Every tribe’s lifestyle, culture and history tell a different yet fascinating story.

The tribes of Borneo in their traditional costumes
The tribes of Borneo

You get a first-hand view of their way of life, work, customs, traditions and their clothing. Also, know what sets them apart from each other. Everyone who visits the village learns about the tribe’s rich past and ancient customs of the tribes. You can partake in each of the custom and activity to experience them personally. Every tribe showcases their hunting and survival skills to the tourists. Thus, altogether making it a fun excursion.

Things to do at Mari Mari Cultural Village

You can taste their traditional food, see how the dish is prepared and perhaps even try your hand at it. Moreover, while dining, each tribe will share with you how their tribe name came about and what it stands for. The experience of eating in an antiquated village will stay with you forever.

A traditional Rungus house
Traditional Rungus house

Spending half a day at the cultural village lets you explore activities each belonging to one of the five tribes. You can also sit back and enjoy the cultural performances or take part in them alongside the locals. The village surrounding remains a natural habitat of rainforest trees thus keeping you away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

A group of tourists observing traditional cooking
Group of tourists observing traditional cooking

Gain hands-on experience in traditional bamboo cooking, fire starting or play a game of Congkak(Malay game).

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

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CultureLocale

Marvel at the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque 1

Built to give the impression of floating structure, the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is a must-see sight in Kota Kinabalu. Four minarets, a blue dome and a golden dome remain the striking features of the mosque. The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque closely resembles the Medina’s Nawabi Mosque and thus forms an architectural marvel in itself!

 

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque at dusk
Kota Kinabalu City Mosque at dusk

Things to do at the Kta Kinabalu City Mosque

A walk through the mosque lets you explore the intricately designed Arabic influenced architecture. Locally known as the floating Mosque, the true beauty of the mosque strikes when paddle boating on the man-made lagoon. 

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

Being a place of worship of the Islamic community you need to dress modestly with your head covered. It’s considered respectable if you remove your footwear at the entrance. Once you remove your footwear, wash your hands and feet before you enter the inner parts of the mosque. A non-muslim cannot enter during prayer hours, but the call to prayer is something you should stop and listen.

An aerial view of the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
Aerial view of the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

The locals may help you with the mosque’s history and also help you understand certain rituals carried out in the mosque. Especially a local travel guide can help you in this regard. You can find yourself a suitable travel guide from a portal like Locaguide. The guide will help you understand the cultural, historical and social significance of these beautiful structures.

Upon having 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. 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

CandlesCandles glowing at a temple

If you plan on spending a whole day at a rustic Indonesian village, then Senggarang village remains the best choice. Do not miss the old-world charm of the Senggarang village. Located in Bintan island of Indonesia, this amazing village serves as a melting pot of various ethnic groups — Chinese, Indonesian, and Malay origins.

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

Of the smallest villages in Bintan, the Senggarang village holds a very distinct population and culture, unlike elsewhere in Indonesia. The village remains home to an ethnic Chinese community that arrived about 1800 years ago. They 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 holds a lot of other tourist destinations. Destinations in the form of 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. Meanwhile, a local guide could come in handy for taking you to the best places around.

How to get at Senggarang Village

Do not miss the two most renowned temples — Tay Ti Kong Temple and Tian Shang Miao Temple(Banyan Tree Temple). To avoid all the hassle it is recommended to opt for a guided tour with a local guide from Locaguide. If you plan on travelling to Bintan Island from Bali or Jakarta, you can easily get a flight to Bintan Island. If you travel from Singapore, you may take a ferry or a flight to Jakarta and an onward flight to Bintan. The rustic ambience and the beautiful coast 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

A woman working on Batik painting

Practised for over 2,000 years in Indonesia, Batik Art forms a traditional art style. No one returns without buying Batik paintings, be it either in the form of art or clothes from Indonesia.

Batik painting originated in the Java island of Indonesia. It essentially makes use of a manual dyeing technique used to create patterns and designs on fabric. This also involves a lot of skill, patience and practice.

Indonesian Batik art
Indonesian Batik art

The process involved in Batik Art

The first step in the complicated dyeing process involves stretching a piece of fabric onto a frame. Then stamping the desired design using a mixture of beeswax and resin over it. Contemporary Batik art pieces often hold more intricate designs hand-drawn on the fabric. Using a pen-like instrument called “canting”, artists draw the hot wax onto the fabric. A copper tip and a wooden holder forms a canting. This to make sure the smooth flow of wax and so that the hot wax does not burn the hand.

Then comes the actual dyeing part where the slathering of colours on the fabric takes place. Once dried, the dye is locked through soaking the fabric in a tub of fixative. This process is repeated to add more colours to the fabric. 

A woman working on Batik
A woman working on Batik

If this kind of artform intrigues you, ask your travel guide from Locaguide to help. He/Shefind and register you for a hands-on Batik painting workshop. The workshop provides you with the chance to create your own Batik masterpiece. Learn this skilled artform and then sit back and listen to local stories as your Batik fabric gets ready.

Take help from your guide if you want to purchase a Batik painting souvenir. Your guide will show you how to identify weather or not it is a batik piece or just a one-sided screen painting. This unique local art makes sure to add another dimension to your Indonesia trip.

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Culture

Visit a Malaysian “Open House”

Open HouseHari Raya Open House in Kota Kinabalu

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, the Malaysians hold a lot of festivals to celebrate all year round. Irrespective of which festival, the interaction among the local Malaysians makes way for a special brew of culture. Also, along with the hospitable warmth that the country remains known for, giving birth to the concept of “open house”.

Aidilfitri Open House
Aidilfitri Open House

What is an “Open House”?

If you happen to stay in Malaysia during any festival, make sure to attend an “open house” or Rumah Terbuka(as locals call it). Common during Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Christmas, it forms a perfect example of unity in diversity. This also goes to show how the diverse communities in Malaysia intermingle. Open house means that the host’s house is open to receive all well-wishers and guests. Everyone is invited to attend, regardless of their cultural or religious background. A practice unique to Malaysia, it 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.

Hari Raya Open House
Hari Raya Open House

True to their hospitable self during “open house”, Malaysians welcome even tourist inside their homes. They give them a sneak peek along with giving them a chance to be a part of the festivities. Seen as the perfect practice to foster goodwill and renew social ties, the government too follows it. During major festivals, the government houses are open to the public for food and drinks. A local guide from Locaguide can help you experience the festivities. The guide will suggest the best open house options and share the dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind. You can also mingle and interact with the locals and other guests with the guide’s help.

Get a chance to sample the most authentic local homemade delicacies. Meanwhile, watch performances and cultural dances by the local artists and orchestras in a unique setting. At the Rumah Terbuka get yourself to experience a completely new culture.

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CultureLocale

The Mystical Borobudur Temple of Yogyakarta

Buddha statueStatue of Buddha at Borobudur Temple

Built amidst a medley of green paddies and swaying palms, Borobudur Temple is a mammoth Buddhist monument. It survived through the volcanic eruptions, bombs and earthquakes to remain as alluring as during the 9th century. An impressive temple as it stands, one must not miss a visit to the Borobudur Temple during the Indonesia tour.

A view of the Borobudur Temple
A view of the Borobudur Temple

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.

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). It also consists of six terraces, three circular platforms and 504 Buddha statues. Moreover, each terrace possesses a different posture of Buddha’s statue. The postures depict contact with earth, giving and helping, meditation, fearlessness, teaching and learning, and turning the wheel of dharma. 

Apart from being the single most popular attraction, Borobudur Temple continues as an important place of worship for Indonesian Buddhists. Make certain to ask your local guide from Locaguide to show you around the temple complex. Also, ask him to help you join the locals during their daily prayers if you wish.

Architecture of Borobudur Temple

When to visit The Borobudur temple

If you are planning a visit to the Borobudur temple, the best time to be there is at sunrise. The views of the sun lighting up the structure and the mist creeping down the monument formed a magical combination. Therefore, transporting you to an era in the past when the temple was truly at its mystical best!

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