/**/ April 2017 - Travel + Decor + DIY

Experiencing 5 Cultural Performances You Can Find In Selangor Malaysia

Last March, we were on a hunt to find the beat of Selangor. It is officially tagged as #RentakSelangor.

You can check out what went down on the whole adventure here: Malaysia Travelogue: Beats of Selangor

As our trip was all about dancing to the tunes that influenced the rich culture in Selangor (and perhaps Malaysia), it is fitting to write a separate blog highlighting these colorful cultural performances!




GAMELAN

[caption id="attachment_5048" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan Seni Budya Warisan Gamelan and Wayang Kulit[/caption]

A traditional music ensemble from Java which normally performed with nine male musicians and six female dancers. During our Rentak Selangor trip, we were given us a taste of the festive gamelan sound by Seni Budya Warisan Gamelan and Wayang Kulit (one of the oldest and sought after gamelan ensemble in Selangor).

It came from the low Javanese word “gamel”, which refers to the type of mallet used to strike the percussion instruments. It is related to the Filipino Kulintang ensemble. Which is the reason why this is a bit familiar to me.

[caption id="attachment_5017" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The Kenong, one of the percussion instruments being played in a Gamelan[/caption]

The instruments used are: Gong Agong, Gong Sawakan, Gendang Ibu, Gendang Anak, Saron Pekin, Saron Baron I dan Saron Baron II, Gambang and Kenon. These instuments are commonly made from bronze and wood.
WAYANG KULIT

A traditional shadow-puppet play originated from Java. Performed with a stick puppet made from cow-hide against a blank white screen called a “kelir”. It is normally performed with a gamelan troupe providing the musical accompaniments for every scene.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRcR97mAJ9g/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan

The wayang kulit story is based from the tales of Ramayan and Mahabrata.

I love how the puppets are being handled by one one puppeteer, known as a Tuk Dalang. It is said that the reputation of a Tuk Dalang is based on his expertise in mimicking different voices of each character.
KOMPANG JAWA 

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan

Also known as Kompang Tiga or Three Kompangs is a traditional music performance being played in the Javanese community in Selangor. It was played during the time when traditional music was used to attract people to the teaching of Islam. The reason perhaps why this traditional performance is based from the Kitab Berzani, the book of proses in praise of the Prophet Mohammad.

[caption id="attachment_5051" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan A little show before the actual performance in the evening[/caption]

You can see the Kompang Jawa being performed at mosques, madrasahs and religious festivals such as the feat to celebrate the completion of Qur’an recitation, circumcision and weddings.
KUDA KEPANG 

[caption id="attachment_5052" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The actual Kuda Kepang performance we watched at the Dorani Homestay. Photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

A prominent Malay folk dance dated from the pre-Islamic times. Like most of the performances already mentioned, it also originated from Java.

This art form had a strong link with spirit possession where most of the dancers go into trance during the performance. However, nowadays, kuda kepang performances are being performed without the inclusion of possession rituals.

The word kuda kepang can be directly translated in Malay as “braided horse”, because the props the are being used to represent the horses are made from braided rattan or leather.

[caption id="attachment_4989" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati Our turn to try the Kuda Kepang dance. Photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

We had a chance to watch it at the Dorani Homestay where we also tried to dance it ourselves (attempted should be the proper word).

It is normally performed with nine dancers representing nine evangelists to re-enact the early Islamic battles.
LION DANCE

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance

The only dance we’ve seen that is without a trace of Javanese influence.

The lion dance is a traditional dance in the Chinese culture where performers mimic a lion movement while wearing a lion costume (manned by two performers).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRioJ1ZgPA8/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Nowadays, this performance can be seen in Chinese communities all over the world. And of course with the large Chinese population, Malaysia is not an exemption. Performed during Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals.

Read more about these performances and my other adventures in Selangor by clicking this link




This trip was in collaboration with Tourism Selangor and Gaya Travel Magazine, in cooperation with Selangor Youth Generation Development, Sports, Cultural and Entrepreneurship Development (UPEN).

Find us in your social media by checking out these HASHTAGS:

#rentakselangor #smartselangor #discoverselangor #gayatravel #iKENexplore

dubai travel blogger

 

Malaysia Travelogue: Beats of Selangor #RentakSelangor

After my amazing Redang Island trip, I got off to another adventure, a cultural and musical journey around the State of Selangor with Gaya Travel, Tourism Selangor and Selangor Youth Generation Development, Sports, Cultural and Entrepreneurship Development (UPEN).

Selangor is just a few hours and even minutes (at some parts) away from Kuala Lumpur, yet there are significant differences in comparison to its neighboring state. It is known as a melting pot of several cultural influences that were born from the years of trade and commerce, interracial marriages and political disputes.

I love immersing deep into cultures of the places I visit, to watch something raw and genuine in front of my eyes is something I always look forward to whenever I travel. For this trip one of our goals is to discover the best beats (and moves) in Selangor, particulry of Javanese and Chinese Origins.

So here’s a little round up of what we did and discovered on our 3-day trip around this culturally rich Malaysian state.

The night before our trip, we stayed at Avenue J Hotel located near the Kuala Lumpur's Sentral Market. This area was new to me at that time, I thought KL's main attractions can only be found at the Bukit Bintang area, but I saw a different kind of hustle and bustle at what I am assuming to be ‘old center' of KL (some time after our trip, I was able to roam around. Will tell you more about it in another blog).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRbxKFwgDod/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan




TIME TO GO TO SELANGOR


BUKIT MELAWATI

We all met up at the Malaysia Tourism Center (MATIC) where we will be hopping on a bus to Selangor. I was so happy seeing a number of familiar faces, people from my previous trip in Indonesia (@Pojiegraphy, @Lilyriani_travelholic and @Eazytraveler ).

After some chitchats and a little nap, we found ourselves transferring to a cute little red and yellow tram heading to the Bukit Melawati. Traveling from KL to our first stop in Selangor isn’t that far, a good 1 to 2 hours trip.

[caption id="attachment_4993" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati On our way to the museum [/caption]

A fortress that was built on a hill as a shield against the Dutch during the late 1700s till the early 1800s. Now a public park (though you can still see some cannons around the property) and the location of the Kuala Selangor Historical Museum.




[caption id="attachment_4994" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati The Althingsburg Lighthouse[/caption]

The Kuala Selangor Historical Museum provides the needed historical introduction of how Selengor was built, their way to life, influences, state laws and also everything about the fort itself. Most are shown through artifacts and dioramas. During our visit, our tour guide spoke in Malay, fortunately the labels and captions on the displays have English translations (and I also dragged my friend Pojie to translate some of the commentaries to me).

[caption id="attachment_4995" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati One of the dioramas being displayed in the Museum[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4987" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati The the viewing deck from the lighthouse[/caption]

We also went up to the Altingsburg Lighthouse to have a quick glance overlooking that whole area. They said that as of the moment, visitors are not allowed to access the lighthouse, so we were lucky for them to allow us during our visit. This is a functioning lighthouse and still being used to guide boats across the Malacca Strait.

[caption id="attachment_4998" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati Living in harmony ^^[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4997" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati Silver Leaf Monkey[/caption]

One of the interesting things you can see at the Bukit Melawati are the silver haired monkeys called Silver Leaf Monkeys. They look scary to be honest but in reality (or just that time), they were friendly. We goofed around them and I think they returned the favor. Haha.
THE KABIN

[caption id="attachment_5010" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance the cabin The Kabin[/caption]

The rooms are made from shipping containers (yheap like a food park but instead of food stalls, you have bedrooms). Following with the shipping container feel, each room is named after a famous port around the world (there is even a port named Sharjah! How cool is that?).

[caption id="attachment_4999" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin Rooms are constructed from shipping containers[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5000" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin The Kabin's main function hall[/caption]

https://www.instagram.com/p/BResO5vg0wH/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Don’t be fooled by its simple aesthetic and hipster vibe, this hotel is complete with a swimming pool, a function hall, barbecue area, cafĂ© and even a karaoke room.

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan
GAMELAN

The moment we arrived at The Kabin’s function hall, the whole set up looks like a cultural concert hall. There were numerous gongs in different sizes, there is also a white screen where the shadow play (Wayang Kulit) will be performed.

[caption id="attachment_5019" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The full set-up for the Gamelan and Wayang Kulit performances[/caption]

The word Gamelan is a Javanese word which means 'being pounded upon' and being true to that definition, Gamelan is performed with percussions instruments made from bronze (some in bamboo and iron). It is normally being played during ceremonies like weddings and circumcision rites. When you start hearing these musicians pound their gongs you can easily feel that there is a festivity happening in town.

We have the same musical influence in the south of the Philippines and I think it came from the same Indonesian origin.

[caption id="attachment_5017" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The Kenong (The instrument I attempted to play)[/caption]

It was fun watching them play. We also had time to try it ourselves. I was in charged with the kenong, a smaller version of a gong placed side by side together. To sum up my performance, they will definitely not going to hire me for the next gig hahaha.
WAYANG KULIT

Wayang Kulit, also known as Shadow Play is a traditional theater famous in the Malay culture. I remember seeing this in documentaries. I thought it was Thai but from what they told us, like the Gamelan, it is also an influence from Java.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRcR97mAJ9g/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Unfortunately during our visit, the Tuk Dalang (who is the one leading the show) had an emergency and can’t join us for the performance, however we still watched a short show (without the narration) just to see how it looks like.

Each puppet is made from thick cow hide and painted with flashy colors. I am really curious why they need to paint it, when all you can see are the shadows of the puppets. Interesting enough, every character in a Wayang Kulit play is specific. I posted one puppet in my instagram and a follower from Indonesia commented on the name of the character of the puppet---and she’s correct! How cool is that?

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan wayang kulit

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRcfFZWg_iu/?taken-by=kennethsurat
KOMPANG JAWA

The Kompang Jawa is a musical performance that is mainly played on religious occasions. It is played at mosques, madrasahs (Arabic school), and other religious festivities. It was brought to Selangor by Javanese traders in the early 1900s.

Most of the performances include songs based from the Kitab Berzanji (Book of proses in praise of Prophet Muhammad pbuh).

[caption id="attachment_5016" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The Kompang Jawa performance night at the Kabin[/caption]

It was very entertaining to watch. You’ll see a group of village men in sync together pounding their percussions.
SASARAN (SKY MIRROR)

[caption id="attachment_5004" align="alignnone" width="772"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan sasaran The men in our group posting for some reflection party. Photo c/o @Mawardiyunus[/caption]

On our second day, we didn’t do something musical in the morning, instead, we visited one of the famous sites in Selangor. It is also regarded as one of Selangor’s most instagrammable places. The Sasaran, famously known as the Sky Mirror.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSf2VrCg7bQ/?taken-by=kennethsurat

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRfYJkeADRB/?taken-by=kennethsurat

The tricky part about Sasaran is that, it is a seasonal attraction, and even if you are in the exact date/s, tides can also be a factor.

We had help from Sky Mirror Tour & Travel (https://www.facebook.com/skymirrortour/) which is the official tour operator to visit Sasaran. Also, our guide knows well the tricks in taking the perfect shot to give the illusion of standing on the sky. So don’t be shy to ask him to take your snaps.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRfzitzAPHH/?taken-by=kennethsurat

My friend Lily of www.lilyrianitravelholic.blogspot.com gave a very fun yet specific direction on how you can visit Sasaran: click here
HOMESTAY KAMPUNG HJ DORANI

[caption id="attachment_5018" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan The chalets at the Dorani Homestay[/caption]

The Dorani Homestay boasts as the most famous village homestays in Selangor. The moment you enter the property, you just want a hammock and sleep haha. Like a true provincial village house.

We had our lunch, a few snacks and also dinner here! AND THEY WERE ALL DELISH! Some of the dishes we too spicy for my palette but I didn’t mind.

[caption id="attachment_4990" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati Our full #RentakSelangor Group. Photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

The chalets are equip with a shower (so you can freshen up), you also have bedrooms and a terrace to chill at (some of my Muslim friends used it as a prayer room).
KUDA KEPANG & BARONGAN

In the same homestay, during our afternoon tea/snack, I saw some kids practicing what looked like a mask performance. The masks were a little creepy actually, but I was told that it will be part of the Kuda Kepang & Barongan Performance in the evening.

[caption id="attachment_5007" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan We were taught the history of the Kuda Kepang[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4989" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati It's our time to dance photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

Before the main performances, we had a little taste of how a Kuda Kepang should be performed.

The Kuda Kepang (braided horse) is a dance ritual from the pre-Islamic times and now influenced by Islam. Carrying a wooded prop horse we were taught step by step on how this dance are being performed. It is a dance full of rocking your body back and forth like mimicking someone riding a horse.

We were told that during the olden times, Kuda Kepang performances involved people getting into trance which you rarely see today.

During the actual performance in the evening at the Kampung Dorani Homestay compound, Kuda Kepang was followed by a performance ritual called Barongan.

This made our night very interesting. Barongan, a dance brought in Malaysia from Java (circa 1722 AD), depicts stories from the era of Prophet Sulaiman, who can communicate with animals. The communicate with animals part became very surreal with us, as during the night’s main performances, participants of the Barongan dance, one by one got into trance. There were people who got possessed by a monkey, tiger, snake and even the shaman got possessed by a spirit of an elephant.

[caption id="attachment_4991" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati The actual performance of the Kuda Kepang photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4992" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati The shaman preparing for the start of the Barongan. Photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

We didn’t know what to do. We want to film, take photos and watch but at the same time we were all jumpy and don’t know what to expect. At one point I even told one of my blogger friends that I don’t know if we will be able to get out of the village when the shaman, who supposed to control the whole thing, also got possessed.

The whole performances lasted for 2 hours and ended when the shaman exorcised each possessed performer one by one.

Until now I still don’t know what to think about it. My brain can’t completely process what I saw. There are still the questions of what’s real and what's part of the act? With this said, I still feel privileged that I got to to watch it live, as my Malaysian friends said, this is something you can’t see all the time.
LION DANCE

As the musical performances we’ve seen so far are all rooted from Java, watching the lion dance provided a bit of  fresh air on our trip.

With a large Chinese population, it isn’t surprising that this cultural dance exists. We got toured around the factory where the dragon heads were being hand crafted. As an artisan myself, I was so amazed on their craftsmanship.

[caption id="attachment_5011" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance A brief introduction on how the lion dance was brought to Selangor[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5012" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance Getting paints on[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5013" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance LION DANCE!!!! ROARRRRR!!!![/caption]

When we got watch the whole performance, we were all in awe of how dangerously amazing it was. These performers were jumping on posts like they were dancing on flat ground. JAW-DROPPED and a big applause.
FOOD

[caption id="attachment_5006" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan nasi ampang Nasi Ambeng[/caption]

A trip around Malaysia will not be complete without a taste of their amazing food.

I had my first authentic Nasi Lemak while on a boat ride from Sasaran. PERFECT BREAKFAST!!!

The most interesting food experience I had though was the Nasi Ambeng. It is a Javanese dish consists of Ayam Goreng (friend chicken), white rice stir fried noodles and fried coconut flesh. This is a big dish, and usually good for sharing (for two), and eaten together in one serving plate—that is why it is popularly known as a wedding dish. The best part is, you’ll each it with your hands.

[caption id="attachment_4988" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan the kabin buki melawati Nasi Ambeng: White rice, coconut flesh and fried chicken. photo c/o @hasifhamsyari[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5005" align="alignnone" width="712"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance kuda kepang and barongan nasi lemak Authentic Nasi Lemak[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5009" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel lion dance tehtarik Teh tarik! Pulled milk tea (my favorite!!)[/caption]

Some food that we also tried are the stingray soup and the otak-otak (sort of a shrimp cake).
CLOSING DINNER AT SHAH ALAM

Our last stop was the capital of Selangor, Shah Alam. I have been to Shah Alam prior to this trip, so I got a chance to explore the city (link on the vlog soon). For this trip, we stayed at the Concorde Hotel Shah Alam where we held the closing dinner with a Batik Theme Night.

I didn’t bring any batik with me, good thing my friend Edgar (www.eazytaveler.com) brought 2 and lent me one. It was a perfect fit (yey..after all the food we ate, I had some doubts).

Concorde hotel is strategically located. It is at the center of the city and walking distance to the Majid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz, which is known as the biggest mosque in Malaysia.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRaHG4JARka/?taken-by=kennethsurat

I must say, after 3 days of exploring around, it is hard to say goodbye to the new friends I met during this trip. The closing party was amazing! We had a lot of fun, perfect fit to end the amazing trip. We were entertained by the Balle Balle band by performing the regions colorful and festive tunes. They also played some contemporary songs which we were able to sing along and I even got to sing a Filipino song called ANAK (by Freddie Aguillar) as a request from the band, it was fun as I never saw myself singing this song ever haha. Also, I got awarded as Most Congenial delegate hahaha --- I had the same recognition in Indonesia (and my universtiy graduation LOL).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRjxH6RAXY9/?taken-by=kennethsurat

[caption id="attachment_5014" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan gaya travel Happy faces for a successful event!!! Photo c/o @mawardiyunus[/caption]

I really had a lot of fun exploring Selangor. I was told at beginning of the trip that Selangor is still looking for its identity, because of all the influences brought by different factors. After going around the state, I can say that this cultural diversity is what makes Selangor unique and it is its identity. I believe that the world should see how rich Selangor is in terms of culture and heritage, something worth experiencing just beyond the borders of Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia Rentak Selangor Travel blog Gamelan




This trip was in collaboration with Tourism Selangor and Gaya Travel Magazine, in cooperation with Selangor Youth Generation Development, Sports, Cultural and Entrepreneurship Development (UPEN).

Find us in your social media by checking out these HASHTAGS:

#rentakselangor #smartselangor #discoverselangor #gayatravel #iKENexplore

 

travel blogger, dubai, uae, vlogger

 

 

 

Malaysia Travelogue: Taaras Beach and Spa Resort (and everything in between)

It was my first time visiting Malaysia, and to be honest it was very long due already. That is why when I got an email invitation from The Bergaya Hotels and Resorts team to explore Redang Island and discover Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, who am I to say no.

I have a handful of friends who are based in Malaysia and I have been hearing / reading so many things about the Philippines neighboring country. To say that I was excited to explore Malaysia (and not only KL) is an understatement.

I guess like me, your first plan is to look for a destination then look for a place to stay, right? The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort gives you the best of both worlds as this resort is already a destination by itself. More about this at the later part of this blog. Let me bring you first on my journey, traveling 4 hours from Manila to Kuala Lumpur and waiting more than 12 hours before we travel to Redang Island.

[caption id="attachment_4956" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island A little postcard greeting inside my room at the Taaras Beach and Spa Resort[/caption]
PRE PARADISE TRIP (FIRST IMPRESSION)

I had a very smooth travel from Manila to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. I took a budget airline flight via Air Aisia where I got a 20% fare discount just by using their mobile app. I arrived around 10am at the KLIA (airport name), at first, I got confused to the location of the immigration area as the farther I walked the lesser people I saw, at one point even, I found myself walking alone in the airport.

Immigration done and I am out! Yey! So, first order of business, exchange money and get a sim card, which by the way, don’t do it in the airport. As an avid traveler, I should have known already that the exchange rate at the airport area are ridiculously low (I did anyway cause---yeah, I need money). Also the sim card deals are better when you reach KL Sentral. If you have a credit card, use it to book for your Uber or buy your Express Train ticket to KL Sentral and change your money (USD) there.--- just a tip but not a rule ok?

[caption id="attachment_4944" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Ticket to ride the KLIA Express[/caption]

To get out of the airport you can either get:

KLIA Express Train: 55 rm (I took this option)


BUS: 12 rm (if you are not in a hurry, I suggest you take this)


UBER/ Grab : around 85 rm (well, if you have cash to spare who am I to stop you?)


My first agenda for the day is to have a lunch date with the Berjaya Hotels and Resorts team. They knew that I will arrive early and they were so sweet to invite me over (aaaw).

As a typical first timer in a big city, I got lost inside the KL Sentral. I didn’t realize it to be so huge and at one point I found my self inside a mall where the monorail station can be found.

The monorail is so easy to navigate and I found myself at the Berjaya Times Square (just a few minutes late) for our scheduled lunch.

We had lunch at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel’s Big Apple Restaurant. It was a perfect first meal in KL as the view from the restaurant showed a little overview of the whole KL town center. I ordered the Grilled Chicken with Mash which was AMAZING!!

[caption id="attachment_4967" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review Grilled chicken anyone?  This is super yummy![/caption]

Ok done with lunch and a little chitchat with the team but I still have 7 hours to roam around and kill time before our official trip launch. From Times Square, the best place and closest to visit for a first time tourist, is Bukit Bintang.

[caption id="attachment_4937" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island The shops around Bukit Bintang[/caption]

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRIFpQcAVJV/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Bukit Bintang is known at KL’s shopping district. I got overwhelmed with the number of shops in the area. For someone who didn’t have any plan to shop, I got tricked to buy a few items from Uniqlo (haha).

A few minutes walk (depending on your pace) you can reach KLCC. I didn’t know it then, but when I reached KLCC, I just realized that I was standing at the foot of The Petronas Tower. YEY! It is also a shopping mall, so pretty much I went from one mall to another. I saw one of my Bruneian friend there who was covering a story of the KL Shopping Festival.

It was an interesting kick starter of my trip around Malaysia (why around? You’ll find out at the end of this blog haha).

Time to go back Berjaya Times Square and meet the other participants.


THE TRIP TO REDANG

11pm, we gathered at the Berjaya Times Square Starbucks, a total of 35ish influencers, blogger/vloggers and editors. I met a handful during a brief chitchat over a cup of coffee and quiche (so hipster haha).

[caption id="attachment_4965" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review We were given this for our ID badge. Check out all these hashtags in your social media to see all of the things we did.[/caption]

1am, off we go! It was almost a 7hour bus drive to Kuala Terengganu where we had our breakfast at China Town (note that most of the food here are not halal). After breakfast, we roam around the cute colorful town. Very different from what I saw back in KL. Little houses painted with bright pastel colors and shops offering a quick snack to visitors.

[caption id="attachment_4964" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review Where we had our breakfast[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4963" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review There are numerous food stalls offering breakfast along China Town[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4962" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review My big breakfast!!![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4961" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review The colorful houses around Terengganu[/caption]

We drove a little more to reach the Merang Waterfront Jetty. This part was very interesting. I have been in countless boat rides. My home country, the Philippines is not a stranger to motorboats. In fact, whenever you get out of Manila to explore south of the Philippines, most likely your itinerary will involve riding a small motorboat. But even if you think you are immune to sea-sickness, we were strongly advised to take 2 tablets of sea-sick pills……

[caption id="attachment_4959" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review Our 10 seater boat that will bring us to Redang Island[/caption]

….right so, I almost got nauseated. I think, if we will last another 10 minutes, I might loose it. The reason was, the time of our visit was the end of the monsoon and the waters were still very choppy. To put it into words, we were flying up and down for 1 hour and a half. I guess it wasn’t only me who will say that I am glad it was over. (watch my vlog below to have an idea).

Surely the way to paradise ain't easy, and rightly so, we arrived in PARA-PARA-PARADISE.
TAARAS BEACH AND SPA RESORT

The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort is Berjaya Group’s most prized possession. The name Taaras came from a Sanskrit language meaning “Goddess of the sea”, “the Star”, and “The Apple of My Eye”. It is definitely the star of Redang Island.

[caption id="attachment_4934" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island The Taaras Beach with the view of their luxury private villa[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4955" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island The peaceful beach[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4936" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island yheap...para para paradise @evansiau[/caption]

Situated on a concealed area of Redang Island, away from the busy port, you can easily feel that you are in your own private beach.

We were greeted with a glass of pinacolada and right away ushered to our designated rooms to change our wet clothes.

Malaaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review
MY ROOM

My room looked amazing. Everything spells TROPICAL PARADISE. My room was located at the 2nd floor of a 2-storey chalet. The room has its own living area, I got 2 beds (so I can invite people for a party haha) and a shower complete with a tub. Also, because I was at the 2nd floor I got a good view of our part of the resort.

[caption id="attachment_4958" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review The view from my room. Also, my chalet looks similar.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4957" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review Bedroom[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4942" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Living area[/caption]

Our visit or should I say, ‘rediscovering trip’ was pretty chill. Most of our itineraries involved eating and free time (just the way I like it).
FOOD

Let’s start with the generous buffet spread. After freshening up, we immediately went to the buffet area and had our big lunch. This is also the same place where we had our daily breakfast where they offer continental and Asian cuisines.

For dinner, we stayed away from the normal buffet option. For the first night, we had it at the Beach Brasserie, where a set menu were prepared for us, complete with a designated table with our names on it (so fancy).

[caption id="attachment_4954" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Feeling super special...can you see my name?[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4953" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Tuna Carpaccio with Wasabi and Miso Dressing..whew[/caption]

The 2nd night, we had dinner served in the luxury private villa. We were also given a tour around the villa worth 23,000rm/night. Talk about luxury. Situated at the edge of the property (not really sure if this is the correct description), but it is on a cliff over looking the Taaras Beach. The view is A+mazing!

[caption id="attachment_4948" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island The grand salon inside the luxury private villa[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4947" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Literally on the edge[/caption]

https://www.instagram.com/p/BROb6qwANsF/?taken-by=kennethsurat

[caption id="attachment_4945" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Our Malaysian carousel . Yheap, RENDANG!!![/caption]

For our last night, and also sort of our send off dinner, we joined the hotel’s barbecue night. Think of satay, steak, seafood! YES!

[caption id="attachment_4931" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island All grill-goodness[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4932" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Serving the dish hot hot hot[/caption]
THE BEACH, POOL, SNORKEL and DIVE

During our free time (which was most of the time), we chose to chill by the beach. Either play with the waves and body surf or just lounge around the nearby beach bar. We also had a chance to snorkel while those with license went scuba diving.

Redang boasts as one of the best diving spots in Malaysia and Taaras as a 5-star Padi Dive Resort.

[caption id="attachment_4933" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Free diving and snorkeling activities....@ahsrajavideo[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4949" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Playing with the waves....@desmond_tey[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4941" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Lounging at the pool....@reinalum[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4951" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island ....or simply having a great time with friends (@wayne_wayne23 and @travelinspiration360)[/caption]
PRIMA AIR

Part of our activities and also the main reason why we got invited was to be a witness to the signing of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between Berjaya Hotels and Resorts and Prima Air.

Remember our scary boat ride? If you are planning to visit Taaras, you now have an option to skip this and hop on a chartered flight via Prima Air. YEY!! You can book this option directly when booking a room at the Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, as easy as that.

[caption id="attachment_4952" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Berjaya and Prima Air[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4946" align="alignnone" width="800"]Malaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review , redang island With the pilot of the first Prima Air flight to Redang[/caption]

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRKxnKhAZOX/?taken-by=kennethsurat

The few days I spent at the Taaras, gave me a view of a different side of Malaysia. Something I am familiar with back home but somehow still very different. I guess the luxurious experience that is not very intimidating gives it a relaxed tropical feeling that everyone will surely enjoy.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRN54DCAp8N/?taken-by=kennethsurat

Will I recommend this place? Definitely! In fact I already did and some of my friends will be visiting this summer.

Watch the full Vlog on my experience at the Taaras Beach and Spa Resort below (also subscribe to my youtube channel ^^).



This is my first blog of my trip around Malaysia. My 4 days trip turned into almost 1 month and I have explored other attractions and states around the country. Watch out for more blogs and vlogs about Malaysia soon.

Malaaysia, Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Terenganu, travel blog, hotel review




This trip was in collaboration with Berjaya Hotels and Resort.

Berjaya Hotels & Resorts is a member of the Berjaya Corporation Group of Companies, a public listed Malaysian conglomerate. Presently, the group manages Berjaya properties in Malaysia, Asia Pacific and UK. From the exotic island resorts of Langkawi, Tioman and Redang, to the city hotels of Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Penang in Malaysia, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts’ prominence extends across borders with the establishment of international hotels and resorts in Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Seychelles and United Kingdom. The group also owns and operates a commercial airline, service suites and exclusive golf & country clubs in Malaysia. Visit online at www.berjayahotel.com for more information.

 

dubai travel blogger