Culture

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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CultureEvents

The Annual Thaipusam Celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

post 28 Thaipusam img2

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.0

CultureLocale

The Mystical Batu Caves Temple in Kuala Lumpur

Post 26 batu caves img1

Ancient limestone caves housing Hindu temples that hold murals of stories from Hindu mythology, the Batu Caves are an unmissable day trip from Kuala Lumpur. Watched over by a golden statue of the spear-bearing Hindu deity Lord Murugan, the caves are said to be a national treasure of Malaysian Tourism and are the central point of  Thaipusam, a Hindu festival in Malaysia.

Formed in the limestone hills, located just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the temples get their name from the Stone River that flows past the hills.

The vel-shaped entrance of the main cave is what inspired an Indian trader to dedicate a temple to Lord Murugan inside the limestone caves, making it one of the most popular Hindu Shrines outside of India. Another reason why it’s thronged by tourist is because of a 140 feet tall statue of Lord Murugan, the tallest in the world.

The Architecture and History

The temple site consists of three main caves and a couple of smaller ones. The Cathedral Cave, as the largest cave is known, has a very high ceiling and houses opulent Hindu shrines. The shrines reflect the tales of Lord Murugan’s victories over the demon Soorapadman. To get the blessings of the lord, you have to climb 272 steps up a steep flight, while troops of monkeys keep you entertained with their antics on your way up!

Walking past a 50 feet tall statue of Lord Hanuman and a temple dedicated to the devotee and aid of Lord Ram, you will reach the Ramayana Cave.  This cave tells the tales of Lord Rama in narrative carvings etched along the uneven walls of the cave. An audio guide is available to help you decipher the carvings, but a local guide would be better able to explain the myths and stories surrounding the Batu Cave Temple. During your Kuala Lumpur city tour with your guide from Locaguide, do include a visit to this holy shrine in your itinerary. Explore the fascinating caves for a unique experience in Kuala Lumpur and also get blessed by the lord while you’re at it.3

CultureLocale

Bali, The Island of Gods

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A trip to Bali would be incomplete visiting a few of the famous temples and witnessing the rituals, ceremonies and festivals that take place. Also known as the island of Gods, Bali with it majoritarian Hindu population has hundreds of temples also known as Pura, many of which being centuries old. Lets get familiar with some of the must visit temples.

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CultureLocale

Balinese Culture at Tenganan Pegringsingan Village

Post 4 Tenganan Pegringsingan Village Img02

With Bali becoming more and more mainstream as a tourist destination, did you ever wonder what an original Balinese village experience was like in the past? If you wish to see it yourself, then pack your bags and pay a visit to one of the most conservative, original & authentic Balinese village — Tenganan Pegringsingan. It is a walled village in the regency of Karangasem and was once considered to be one of the most secluded societies of Indonesia.

If you are looking to dig deeper into the cultural and historical traditions of Bali, Tenganan Pegringsingan village has everything to satisfy you.

The experience of an authentic Balinese tradition is not something that you get every day. Following a local folklore about a 14th-century king, the villagers still observe the concepts of cleanliness and purity as the most important virtues in their lives. The Tenganan village has kept its culture, tradition, and rituals intact even through the modern era. If you’re a traveller who has little understanding of the Balinese traditions, travelling with a local guide could give you more insights into the cultural significance of this small heritage village.

Tenganan Pegringsingan Village
Tenganan Pegringsingan Village

The village looks really old and secluded from the rest of the Bali island. Even though agriculture and weaving are the primary occupations of the villagers, you can see some souvenir shops around that sell traditional clothes and handicraft items, such as paintings and writings on palm leaves. One of the best souvenirs you can collect from Tenganan is the Geringsing cloth, or the double ikat as they’re known here.

To sum everything up, the Tenganan village is a great getaway destination in Bali where you can delve deeper into the life, culture, and tradition of the islanders. Planning your trip with Locaguide can greatly enhance your travel experience in the most hassle-free way possible. Your personal tour guide will ensure that you get enough information about this place and its history, and come back richer in knowledge.0

Culture

Nyepi – Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence

Post 24 Nyepi Silent Day Img4

The thought of a New Year’s celebration brings to mind fireworks, resolutions, and merrymaking in general. However, in Bali, New Year’s celebration is a day of solemnity and silence. Nyepi, also known as ‘day of silence’ is a festival of silence celebrated by Indonesian Hindus. It happens every Isakawarsa of the Indonesian Saka calendar when the island shuts down for 24-hours. The celebration takes place over six days when shops, banks, and streets close early.

Nyepi - Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence
Nyepi – Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence

Balinese Hindus believe that on Nyepi, evil spirits surround the island. To avoid disturbing these spirits and trick them into thinking that there is no life on the island, the silence remains maintained. Every single day of the festival holds a different significance with unique rituals performed all across Bali. 

Day 1 of Nyepi

3-4 days before Nyepi, the Melasti ritual is performed in Balinese Temples located near the sea to purify sacred objects from temples in the holy waters of the sea. Villagers in Bali form processions carrying idols from shrines, bathing them in the sea and then returning them back to their respective shrines.

Nyepi - Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence
Nyepi – Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence

Day 2

Performed the day before Nyepi, the sea Ritual denotes to dispel negative energies and create a good balance in the environment. Balinese devotees create ‘ogoh-ogoh’, demonic effigies made of bamboo and paper and parade them around the island. 

Nyepi - Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence
Nyepi – Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence

Day 3

On Nyepi, the Balinese observe a day of silence, fasting, and prayer. They follow four main restrictions on this day:

  • There is no lighting of fires or using electricity
  • No one is to work
  • There is no entertainment
  • No travelling

All Bali Hindus and non-Hindus as well follow these restrictions. If you visit Bali during this time, make sure you abide as well, although you can do what you want within your hotel. Everything remains shut for the day, including the airport, ATMs, and stores. You can only be allowed to travel in the case of an emergency. Your local travel guide from Locaguide will tell you more about this and help you understand how to make most of this day in Bali.

Day 4

A fascinating practice takes place on this day called ‘Omed-Omedan’ (literally translated into pull-pull) or ‘the Kissing Ritual’. Unmarried youths aged 17 to 30 years take part in this festival, where male participants pull in female participants and kiss them, while villagers pour buckets of water on them. 

Day 5

On this day, the locals of Bali visit friends and family in order to ask for forgiveness. With this ritual, they hope they can start the new year afresh and welcome new days for more prosperity.

Day 6

Upon completion of all the Nyepi rituals, they perform a Dharma Shanti ceremony. It implies a closing ceremony after which the festivities end and life goes back to normal in Bali.

Nyepi - Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence
Nyepi – Celebrating The Balinese Day of Silence

Though Bali is a gorgeous place to visit all year round, it occurs spectacularly unique to visit during Nyepi and definitely calls for a visit to experience it first hand.

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