Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Kelantan
Longest Sleeping Buddha in Southeast Asia
As perception goes, Kelantan is viewed as a pre-dominant Islamic community. Yet, it showcases a melting pot of different religions and cultures that belie its conservative strain of religious tolerance.
An hour away from Kota Bahru is Tumpat, whose appeal rests on the 25 Buddhist temples or “wats” found in this district. Tourists and devotees flock to admire these attractions which are mainly Thai influenced both in culture and architectural splendor, as Tumpat is near the Thai border.
Not to be missed are Wat Photivihan, the largest reclining Buddha in South-East Asia. Measuring 40 m long, 11m high and 9m wise, this statute was completed in 1979 by Thai craftsmen. Other attractions at this wat are the Chinese pavilion, a hall featuring Tibetan architecture, and the statue of the 18-arm Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
Wat Machimmaram or The Sitting Buddha in Kampung Jubakar, is among the largest in the region. It is a work of art that took 10 years to build.
You might be mistaken to think that this is a Chinese temple with its pagoda like structure. It is not. Popularly known as the “Beijing Mosque”, this mosque also combines Indian and Uzbekistan features in its interiors. Sited on a 3.7 hectare site in Rantau Panjang, this mosque can take in 1,000 visitors.
Bijan Bar and Restaurant
Experience Malay cuisine at this chic restaurant to get a taste of local cuisine at its finest.
|Price range||$$ - $$$|
|Distance from KLCC||2.5 km|
|Address||3-5 Seri Bukit Ceylon, 8 Lorong Ceylon Off,
Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur
Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Perak
Trip out of Ipoh
Did you know that you can hop on an electric train ride from KL Sentral and head straight to Ipoh town, north of Kuala Lumpur, the focal point of the SI Convention Kl2019? In 2 hours time, you and your aficionados can begin your food trail and heritage discovery.
Alternatively, rent a car to coordinate your trip. Or contact Soroptimists from Ipoh, Malaysia to help you coordinate your plans for a day affair or a stay over, which will allow you to explore more of Perak’s attractions including eco-resorts like the Banjaran Hot Springs, the Haven and many others.
Ipoh is the birthplace of the famed White Coffee (do check out what this is), and is touted to have the most authentic principally Cantonese, street-hawker and city food.
Whilst savouring the food delights, don’t miss out on Ipoh’s heritage landmarks and other points of attraction. Plan for a heritage walk to view the iconic Ipoh Railway station, the Ipoh Town Hall and not forgetting the Birch Memorial Clock.
5 kms south from Ipoh city is the must-see Perak cave temples or Sam Poh Tong as it is famously called. A top international tourist site nestled on a scenic limestone hill, you will be greeted by a cave entrance and some of the oldest Buddhist statues (40 of them) and murals within the temple complex. Carved among natural stalactites and stalagmites, overall it is an impressive work of art & deep faith.
After the gastronomic treats, and your stamina holds, climb the 246 steps to the top of the hill. The reward – a panaromic view of Ipoh city & its beautiful surroundings. If not take a break by the pond and feed the tortoise (sign of longevity) or cast a wish at the wishing well.
There is another point of attraction to explore.
In the Batu Gajah district near Ipoh stands Kellie Castle. Built in 1915 by a rag-to-riches Scottish planter, William Kellie Smith for his wife Agnes, find out why this beautiful mansion was subsequently abandoned. A Malaysian Taj Mahal story some might conclude. Hence the tag ‘Kellie’s Folly’.
Built by 70 craftmen from Madras, Keliie’s Castle was the site for the film ‘The King & I’(of Jodie Foster’s fame)
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Of course, a trip to Ipoh would not be complete without a visit to Ipoh’s famous pomelo farm. ‘Limau bali’ as Malaysians call them, is a citrus fruit akin to a large grapefruit. Pomeloes are native to South and South East Asia. Given the agro-tourism drive by the Perak government, you will plenty of pomelo farms to visit.
If you plan on staying longer, the Tambun Hot Springs can be a welcomed balm and much needed treat. Rejuvenate and enjoy magical moments in mineral rich bio-thermal hot spring pools. Now that’s a real treat!
Contact your Soroptimist sisters from SI Ipoh or the Hospitality Committee when planning your Ipoh trip.
Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Pahang
Day trip out of Kuala Lumpur
Are you a travelholic like many Soroptimists? Here’s a suggestion for a day trip out of Kuala Lumpur, the focus of SI ConventionKL2019.
A 2-hour car drive eastwards towards the Lanchang district of Temerloh in the state of Pahang, will head you towards the Kuala Ganjah Elephant Conservation centre. Located in the Krau Wildlife Reserve, this visit will give animal lovers the opportunity to see elephants in their natural state.
As opening hours are from 10.30 am to 4 pm, would recommend that you get there by 10.30 am for a slew of activities that you can do.
Watch a National Geographic documentary on how these elephants were translocated to this conservation centre. You will appreciate the importance of the species and efforts made towards protecting their habitat.
You can also enjoy bathing elephants in the river. Don’t forget to bring a fresh change of clothes, if you plan to do so. Feed them with fruits you may. Interaction with these gentle giants is so surreal. Otherwise observe these wonderful creatures in all their glory. Watch out for herbs in a tropical herb garden near their surroundings. Savour their heady smells. Ahead of your visit, do check visitor times which are available online.
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Whilst in Lanchang, we recommend that you visit Deerland Park some 2 km away from the Kuala Ganjah Sanctuary. It’s a privately- owned animal shelter where you can pet some tame deers, parakeets, friendly rabbits and pose with strutting peacocks and Golden Pheasants. There is a Sunbear and Bengal Cat, and pythons too.
Across the Deer Sanctuary is a nature garden set on an elevated walkaway where varieties of herbs and plants thrive. This includes Malaysia’s famous Tongkat Ali (tropical Viagra), its feminine equivalent Kacip Fatimah, and 40 other herbs all found in the lush rainforest. See for yourself.
On your return journey to Kuala Lumpur, you could chill out at Colmar Tropicale, Bukit Tinggi.
This French-themed resort located in Berjaya Hills is 2,700 feet above sea level, nested in 80 acres of natural rainforest. You will be transported to a medieval French village, while you savour your drink and cool surroundings. Once energised, do visit the quaint Japanese garden. That ends your day trip out of Kuala Lumpur.
Contact your travel agent, your friendly Malaysian Soroptimist Club or the Convention Hospitality committee for more information.
SI Kuantan - email@example.com
Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Nature & Adventure
Whether a lover of nature and the outdoors, or a supporter of the eco-tourism efforts to lift the local community, here’s the good news.
Malaysia is host to some 30 national Parks in Peninsular Malaysia, and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Whatever your interest, be it trekking through the jungle trails, birdwatching, caving, fishing, or mere relaxation, the range and diversity its national parks is indeed wide. Here are 10 national parks to select from, so plan ahead for the best results.
Taman Negara National Park – Pahang, Terengganu & Kelantan
It is Peninsular Malaysia’s largest national park at 4,343 sq km, and home to the oldest rainforest in the world. This 130 million years-old diversity hotspot boasts countless species of rich flora and fauna that covers the 3 Malaysian states of Pahang, Terengganu & Kelantan.
As a must, navigate the canopy walk above the dense forests to see the endangered but ferocious Malaysian tiger, Asian elephants, the Malaysian ‘gaur’, and many others wildlife in their natural habitat. Your guide can lead you to the salt licks where these animals gather to get their dose of much-needed minerals. Your experience is a surreal ‘up close & personal’. Do visit an aboriginal settlement, and cruise leisurely down the Tembeling river to enjoy nature’s wonders.
Royal Belum National Park – Perak
Whether traversing northern Peninsular Malaysia like I did via the East-West Highway from Kelantan, or travelling north from Ipoh on the western coast, the Royal Belum National park offers breath taking scenery. 290,000 hectares of land of which 146,000 hectares are virgin rainforests. In scale that’s about 4 times the size of Singapore.
Largely unexplored, it is home to a variety of some 3000 species of flowering plants, 10 species of hornbills, and 3 species of Rafflesia – the world’s largest flower. The Sambar deer, tapirs, wild boars and many other mammalians roam the Belum Forest Reserve. Stay at the eco-tourist Belum Resort or a houseboat to indulge in kayaking, fishing, bird watching and naturally, jungle trekking. Visit an Orang Asli settlement to experience their way of life and naturally, enjoy the sunset over the Temenggor Lake. You will not want to miss this.
Penang National Park – Telok Bahang
As Penang is a must-visit UNESCO World heritage attraction, take the time out to savour its National park in Telok Bahang within relatively easy access from the city, Georgetown. Within its 2,300 hectares are hiking trails, a meromictic lake (that’s fresh & salt water lake), mangrove swamps and nesting sea turtles. Stop first at the Interpretation Centre for detailed info, register your presence and plot your trail.
Walk the Monkey beach if your choice is an easier route along the coastline. This is generally the most popular trail. But if a steep climb is what you want, then head to the Muka Head Light House. There are other trails to Kerachut Beach to test your stamina too.
Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) National Park - Sabah
The five islands that make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park are simply divine. Close to the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, island hopping within the park has become a favourite pastime. Lovely beaches to laze by or to picnic, the surrounding coral reefs and clear waters make snorkelling and scuba much desired sports activities. With its lush verdant forests merging seamlessly with the dazzling beaches and surrounding seas, this gives the TAR park added appeal and a convenient must-visit attraction in Sabah.
Kinabalu National Park – Sabah
Located in Kundasang, the Kinabalu Park gained Malaysia’s 1st UNESCO World heritage status in 2000. Its highest point, Mount Kinabalu (4,092m) is also South East’s tallest mountain, attracting adventure seekers and marathon runners seeking to conquer this granite peak.
The trek up is blessed with a wealth of vegetation that includes endemic pitcher plants, the showy tropical rafflesia flower and more than 1500 orchid species. With an abundance of more than 205 species of birds, of which 17 are endemic to the Kinabalu National park, there are fertile opportunities for bird and butterfly-watching. Explore the Botanical gardens and the cool surrounds at leisure. Check in at the Visitor Centre and seek advice from the Park guides for your memorable outing.
Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary – Sukau-Sandakan, Sabah
This 27,000 hectares wildlife sanctuary offers views of dense tropical rainforests and large mammals. These include the Borneo pygmy elephants, 10 primate species including the Orangutans, 8 species of hornbills as well as resident and migratory birds.
River cruises are best accessed through Sukau, the gateway to the Kinabatangan heartland. With many eco-homestays and lodges in the area, the choice is yours. Crème la crème of the crop is the award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, highlighted by National Geographic.
Gunung Mulu National Park – Sarawak
This is Sarawak’s 1st UNESCO Heritage Site. Covering some 544 sq km of primary rainforest dotted with stunning karst rock formations, Gunung Mulu National Park has the most spectacular cave system found on earth. The ‘Sarawak Chamber’ boasts the world’s colossal natural chamber; ‘Deer Cave’ the largest cave passage whilst ‘Clearwater Cave’ is South East Asia’s longest cave. Be here to experience seeing the famed ‘Bat Observatory’, the longest tree-based walkway in the world, and if you wish, challenging treks to the Mulu Pinnacles and Gunung Mulu Summit. You have come so far to this part of ASEAN, we are sure you would not want to miss this attraction.
Niah National Park – Sarawak
Nah is an important archaeological site, the birthplace of the earliest human habitation in South East Asia, 40,000 years ago. Traces of pottery artifacts, axes, and even jewellery testify to these caves being used as havens for shelter and protection, as showcased in the informative Archaeological Museum.
Be sure to explore the spectacular ‘Great Cave and Painted Cave’ for their impressive geological formations, and the thriving flora and fauna that surrounds this complex of caves. Trekking the trails, watching the bat and swiftlet swarms are a must-do when at the Niah National Park.
Bako National Park – Sarawak
While only 37 km from Kuching, access to this unique place is only via the sea. Bako features seven distinct plant ecosystems and is known for its extraordinary variety of natural scenery, plant life and wild life too. Catch the long-nosed proboscis monkeys feeding in the mangroves. Bako has 16-colour coded hiking trails to choose from, ranging from the easy ones to the more challenging. So take your pick.