We love to take pictures. Pictures that capture moments of everyday life. It is these moments of colour and light, of the extraordinary as well as the common which remind us of the immense beauty we live in. Some pictures were taken at our guesthouse. Others in our neighbourhood or somewhere around Kuala Lumpur. We hope you like them and feel inspired to discover Malaysia on your own. If you feel like having more picturesque moments in life, just follow us on Instagram (orangepekoeguesthouse). See you there! Cheers!
One of the things we love about Kuala Lumpur is its multi-ethnic character. Each group has its own traditions, events and celebrations. This of course also includes the Indian community which celebrates the annual Holi Festival this coming Saturday, 21 March.
For those who are not familiar: Holi is an ancient Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colours and the festival of love. Today it is not only celebrated in India and Nepal but also in other parts of the world wherever you find Indian communities. Celebrations start with a traditional fire called “Holika Dahan” which symbolises the burning of devil. On the following day the actual carnival of colours takes place. Participants chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water. Singing and dancing underlines the cheerful character of this event.
Here in KL the Holi Festival is organised by SDS Youth, a local youth organisation. Its members have been working hard to make the 2015 Holi celebrations the best ever and we have no doubt that they will achieve their goal. If you want to participate in the festival, make sure you go there early as the number of participants is limited to 3,000 people. For more info and FAQ go to SDS Youth’s event page on facebook:
We wish everybody a cheerful Holi Festival 2015!
KL visitors who plan to visit Chinatown and Petaling Street should not miss out on KL’s Central Market. Founded in 1888, Central Market started as an open air wet market for locals. Later it was decided to give the venue a more permanent structure which eventually led to the art deco facade which has been preserved until today. Only in the late 1970s Central Market was transformed from a wet market into a center for Malaysian art and handicraft.
Today, Central Market houses an abundance of little shops that offer everything from batik to handicraft and locally made spa products. Browsing through the things that are on offer is really fun. If you are looking for little souvenirs and gifts, you won’t get disappointed. And negotiating a better price, especially if you buy several items, is part of the fun. Many shops even offer a shipping service in case you decide to buy bigger items. Central Market also has a few cafes and restaurants where you can take a break in case your feet get tired from walking around. All this takes place in an indoor, air-conditioned environment. That’s why Central Market is a great destination in case you experience a rainy day or if the heat gets on you. Also check out the so-called Annex Building which houses art galleries and the Kasturi Walk which runs along the main building.
This time it’s been a while since our last blog entry. We hope that our friends and guests will forgive us – we haven’t lost our passion for blogging. But traditionally the weeks between Xmas and Chinese New Year are high season. And so we, too, have been very busy.
In Kuala Lumpur the Chinese community is getting ready to usher in the Year of the Snake. And as is customary here in Malaysia, you need not necessarily be of a certain ethnic group or religion to celebrate with your friends the highest holidays of the year. Kudos to DBKL (the city administration) for putting up so many Chinese style lanterns and other street decoration and for pushing ahead with the renovation and beautification of the city center. We particularly love the new greenery along the renovated sidewalks in the downtown area. It looks great and makes a huge difference in the way visitors experience the city.
No doubt, the coming Year of the Snake will bring us new opportunities and also a few innovations. As far as we are concerned, they are intended to further improve the feel-good experience of our guests. As we introduce these changes, we will introduce them here in this forum as well. For now, we would like to wish all our Chinese friends and guests a Happy Chinese New Year and “Gong Xi Fa Cai”!
Finally we made good on a promise that we had given ourselves a long time ago and went to visit the Islamic Arts Museum or IAMM. Yours truly are not shying away from places of culture – on the contrary – it’s just that sometimes everyday life takes over. And we all know what that means. So it took a few attempts before we finally made it to IAMM on a sunny November morning.
We knew that we would love this place and were not disappointed. Moderate RM 12 (around US-$ 4) buy you access to some 30,000 square metres of exhibition space. The museum has a number of permanent galleries as well as temporary exhibitions.
Even though Islamic art comprises a huge field that reaches from architecture to jewellery and that stretches geographically from China to the Middle East and northern Africa, the IAMM curators refrained from over-loading the space with artifacts which is a good thing. So the 4 levels of the museum never feel over-whelming or even unmanageable. And even two short hours at the IAMM will be a rewarding experience for any visitor.
We particularly loved the collection of old Qur’ans with their beautifully gilded and painted pages. Interesting also the various models of mosques that represent the different types of mosque architecture all over the world. Another highlight is the Ottoman Room – the reconstructed interior of a traditional Ottoman house from today’s Syria.
At the end of our tour we stopped by at the museum shop which offers a nice collection of books, replicas and handicraft. For those who go hungry, the IAMM also has a restaurant (which we did not try) with local cuisine.
To sum up things: the IAMM is one of KL’s best (if not THE best) museums that is definitely worth a visit. If you have to limit yourself to one museum in KL, that’s the place to go. Don’t miss it while you stay with us at The Nest. We will be happy to advise you on special events and to assist you with organizing transportation from the guesthouse to the museum.
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Jalan Lembah Perdana
(behind the National Mosque)
Opening Hours: daily from 10am-6pm
Tip: combine your IAMM visit with a visit to the Botanical Gardens (Lake Gardens) or KL’s Bird Park. We recommend that you take a taxi to the Botanical Gardens/Bird Park from where you can walk down to the museum. At the museum you will easily find a cab that takes you back to the guesthouse.
Where to hang out. Once again, take a deep breath and shift into a lower gear. It’s all about relaxing and letting go. One place that we found particularly suitable for this exercise is The Baboon House (No. 89 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). Run by artists, The Baboon House is all in one – a cafe/restaurant, a gallery, a studio and a home. Here is where young artists from near and afar hang out and exhibit their works. Everybody is super friendly. So it’s easy to mingle and to make new friends. But of course nobody will mind if you go there with your favorite book for an hour of me-time. Other places that we recommend are Limau-Limau Cafe on Jalan Hang Lekiu, Calanthe Artcafe (Jalan Hang Kasturi) and of course Geographer for drinks at night. If you are mobile and want to do it like the locals, you should also go for a Klebang Coconut Shake (on Jalan Klebang). This place has become an institution and is hugely popular. There are many more choices and its fun to discover these places.
Thanks to our host we also got an introduction to the Baba-Nyonya who used to play an important role in the old days. The term Baba-Nyonya (also Peranakan Chinese) refers to descendants of early Chinese immigrants (15./16. century) who mixed with locals and eventually formed an influential “cast” that had its own language, culture and cuisine. We already mentioned the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Excellent, authentic Nyonya food is prepared by aunty Amy at “Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine” (75 Jalan Melaka Raya 24). Check it out 🙂
How to get to Melaka. Coming from Kuala Lumpur it takes about 2 hours to reach Melaka. If you don’t have you own car, taking a coach might be the best option. Buses leaving from the southern bus terminal charge around RM 13 for a one-way ticket. If you like to depart from KL city center, you may want to opt for Nice ++ whose buses leave from the old railway station (tickets are RM 22 per adult). When you stay with us at The Nest, we will be happy to help you plan your onward trip to Melaka.
Tip: Melaka gets very busy on weekends. If you want to experience a more quiet, intimate place, visit during the week.
What to do. Many tourists go to Melaka just for a day trip. We believe that is a mistake because this town is all about affording the luxury of switching into a lower gear. Hang out, chill, read a good book, have a good conversation, meet interesting people from all over the world – these are all things we would associate with Melaka in addition to sightseeing in the traditional way. Of course Melaka with its long history offers plenty of things worth a visit. You will certainly end up on Jonker Street (night market on weekends) at some point, you will go for a stroll along the river and you will climb St. Paul’s Hill. You may also visit the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum (more on the Baba-Nyonya later), the replica of the Sultan’s Palace and the Flora del Mar (taking pictures of this old vessel from the outside is enough as the inside has little to offer). Further options are the Stadthuys (now a museum, in colonial times seat of the Dutch administration), the Red (or Dutch) Square or e.g. the old Kampung Kling Mosque in Chinese architecture. We recommend all these places but we believe that it’s equally important to spend time chilling out in some of Melaka’s popular hangouts.
After 4 long years we finally managed to revisit Melaka where we ended up having a great time. Melaka which together with Georgetown (Penang) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, is conveniently located halfway between Singapore and KL. Its location makes it an ideal destination for travelers who visit the Malaysian Peninsula and who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a big city. This leads us already to one of the aspects of Melaka that gives this historic town its unmistakable charm: the pace of everything seems much slower (which does not necessarily mean sleepy), people know each other and above all there is a spirit of genuine friendliness wherever you go. While things have gotten much busier since Melaka reached World Heritage status, the new popularity has not changed the way the city and its inhabitants tick.
Where to stay. Here is the good news. Relative to its small size Melaka has a huge number of B&Bs, guesthouses, boutique hotels etc. So chances are high to find something that suits your pocket and personal preference. We opted for Tripadvisor’s no.1 amongst all B&Bs – Knocknock Home (www.knocknockhome.com). Knocknock Home is different from other places – we are talking about a 1-room establishment here. For RM 400/night (no weekend surcharge) you rent the entire 1st floor of an old Chinese shop house in excellent location (unfortunately we had a little problem with our camera – hence no pictures of the room. But pics on the Knocknock homepage are accurate). The place can fit 4-6 people and has an open space concept which is simple yet very comfortable – ideal for small families or a group of friends. Augustine (friends call him Gus) is a wonderful host who does things with love and passion. And so we felt like we were spending a weekend with an old friend rather than with the owner of a small business. Because of the special care and attention that Augustine offers his guests our weekend in Melaka got an entirely different quality.
Next: things to do in Melaka
Ramadan in Malaysia is unthinkable without the Ramadan Bazaar. These food bazaars (that’s what they are) are held annually during the holy month of Ramadan and can be found in many neighborhoods. Rows of stalls sell local delicacies and popular drinks, sometimes food that is hard to find in other places. Business is limited to a few hours daily and basically comes to an end with the breaking of fast. On busy days it can also happen that vendors are sold out earlier. The Ramadan Bazaar continues to be hugely popular not only with Muslims who do not cook their own food at home but also with non-Muslims and of course visitors of Malaysia. At the Nest we are blessed to have a really good Ramadan Bazaar just a few minutes away from our place. So if you happen to stay with us during Ramadan, do not miss out on this great food carnival. You will certainly love it! PS: Timing is important when visiting a food bazaar. Too early and stalls are not open yet, too late and all good things may be sold. Anytime around 5pm should be perfect. Enjoy 🙂
One of the ways of experiencing traditional Kuala Lumpur is by paying a visit to its wet markets. Imbi Market is one of them and located only a few minutes away from Bukit Bintang. The market’s original name, “Pasar Bukit Bintang”, stems from a time when it was still located in the area of today’s Lot 10 shopping mall. While the location of the market has changed, its nature is still the same. Locals go there to buy everything from vegetables to flowers, seafood and meat. Even clothes, magazines and toys are for sale. Some patrons don’t come here for their groceries though, they just stop by to have breakfast or their mid-morning break. Imbi Market is also a popular destination for KL visitors who like to explore KL beyond its malls and 5-star hotels.
By 11am the market is slowly closing down. So it is best to make Imbi Market your breakfast destination one day during your stay in KL. If you like hawker food, you won’t be disappointed. Everything is fresh and “home-made” – from delicious “Kueh” (bite-sized desserts, mainly made of rice) to noodles and “Crispy Popiah” (a sort of spring roll with a filling of roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, dried shrimps and other goodies). Oh yes – and don’t forget to order a cup of Hainanese coffee. If you are not sure what to choose, just do it like the locals – you can’t go wrong with this.