Thursday, April 30, 2009

Local Cows

These are a couple of pics taken of the cows around my 'kampung' (rural area/home). Note how thin and unkempt they are. This is the usual cows you can find here in Malaysia not like the nice fat cows of Europe or the pretty Freisians in Netherlands or New Zealand.



These are a couple of pics taken of the cows around my 'kampung' (rural area/home).

Local hawker stalls

These are a few local hawker stalls my husband and I frequent around our "kampung" area. They may look ramshackle but the food is cheap, clean and good. We can get a meal for 2 people for RM10 or even less!!! Especially great for the days leading up towards the end of the month, or during economic downturns like this.

This is a Javanese owned stall selling nasi lemak and rice with dishes, pecal and o on...


Satay... Yummy skewered chicken served with peanut sauce, ketupat and cucumber...

Graffiti in Malaysia


These are a couple of graffiti pictures that can be found around KL. Actually it is illegal to draw graffiti but in these areas, they can get away with it. It kinda brighten up the monsoon drain area where they drew this anyway, in my opinion. :o)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Main celebrations in Malaysia - Deepavali


Commonly known as the Festival of Lights, the celebration of Deepavali (or Diwali) marks the triumph of good over evil, the victory of light over dark.
Gazetted by the Government as a one-day public holiday, it is celebrated here in Malaysia by the Hindu community - mainly consisting those of Indian ethnic origin - during the seventh month of the Hindu lunar calendar, which usually falls in either October or November.
And it is not called the Festival of Lights for nothing, for it is celebrated with a joyful vivacity, with bright lights and even brighter smiles, as though to underline the traditional meaning and message behind it. Even the word "Deepavali" is etymologically derived from the Sanskrit word that literally means "row of lights".
Let there be light
Deepavali owes its origins to the epic stories narrated in the Hindu religious scriptures.
Perhaps the most popular origin story is recounted in the Ramayana in which Lord Rama reunites with his wife Sita following a 14-year exile, and after having killed the demon king Ravana.
In the epic tale, the denizens of the kingdom of Ayodhya celebrated the prince's triumphant return to his homeland and later, his ascension to the throne, by lighting up their homes and the streets with earthen oil lamps.
This happened on the night of the new moon and is commemorated hence, as the celebration of Deepavali. However, the story of Lord Rama's victory over Ravana is only one out of many that is said to have given rise to this annual celebration.
One other popular tale remembered during the occasion is that of the battle between Lord Krishna and the evil asura (demon) Narakasura. Krishna emerged victorious after a long and drawn-out struggle, and his victory was celebrated with the lighting of lamps.
Yet others believe that Deepavali marks the day when the prideful and evil Mahishasura was vanquished at the hands of the goddess Kali.
Variations notwithstanding, these stories share a common thread; that of the removal of evil, to be replaced by that which is good.
This sense of renewal is reflected in the way Hindus prepare themselves for Deepavali.
Spring cleaning
In anticipation of the celebration, homes as well as their surrounding areas are cleaned from top to bottom; decorative designs such as the kolam are drawn or placed on floors and walls; and the glow of lights, whether emitted from the traditional vilakku (oil lamps fashioned out of clay) or colourful electric bulbs, brighten up the abode of both rich and poor, signalling the coming festivities.
Temples are similarly spruced up with flowers and offerings of fruits and coconut milk from devotees, becoming more abundant and pronounced as the big day draws closer.
The spring cleaning and decorating are significant for they not only symbolise renewal but also prepare for the welcoming of Devi Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, who is believed to visit homes and temples on the day. It is said she emerged from the churning ocean only days after the new moon of Deepavali.
Besides the cleaning of homes and temples, Hindus also prepare themselves by cleansing their bodies and minds. Many among the devout fast, or observe a strict vegetarian diet, and spend hours during the preceding weeks in prayer and meditation.
Celebrating goodness
The eve is usually spent making last-minute preparations for the next day. This is also the time when past quarrels are forgotten, and forgiveness is extended and granted.
On Deepavali morning, many Hindu devotees awaken before sunrise for the ritual oil bath. For some it is a symbolic affair (to signify purity) while others take full oil baths to remove impurities externally, as well as tone the muscles and nerves to receive positive energies. Then it's straight to the temples where prayers are held in accordance with the ceremonial rites.
The rest of the day is taken up by receiving guests, as is customary here in Malaysia. Most devout Hindus tend to be vegetarian, but that doesn't change the fact that Deepavali is the day to savour the many delicious Indian delicacies such as sweetmeats, rice puddings and the ever-popular murukku.

(taken from : http://allmalaysia.info )

Main Celebrations in Malaysia -Christmas

The observance of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec 25 is celebrated in Malaysia like everywhere else in the world; it is a time for family and friends; hope and rejoicing; love and understanding; and giving and forgiving.
However, the image of a white Christmas - that of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Jack Frost nipping at the nose - doesn't quite fit in too well with a country that is merely seven degrees shy of the Equator. The average temperatures here range from a low of 22 °C to a high of 33 °C, so a sunny (or perhaps, rainy) Christmas is a given.
By far, Christmas is viewed as a universal celebration that carries a secular rather than religious meaning. One need only look at Santa Claus and his appeal to children of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, to realise how much it cuts across the board.
Perhaps due to this wide appeal (or some would say, commercialisation), retailers and hoteliers take an active approach by putting up non-religious motifs such as snow, stockings, Santa and his reindeers, candy canes and, of course, the Christmas tree. White, green, red and gold are the traditional colours of the season.
Urban areas like the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and the greater Klang Valley come alive during the Yuletide, with bright colourful lights and decorations perking up homes and business premises, providing a festive atmosphere.
Shopping malls and hotels especially have become increasingly sophisticated in their decorations, trying to outdo the competition in their bid to attract shoppers and guests.
In many ways however, Christmas in Malaysia is a public holiday and is still very much a religious affair. To prepare themselves spiritually, the Christian community here, who make up about 7% of the population, observe Advent, the four-week period prior to Christmas, with prayers, Bible-reading and for some, fasting.
Candle, candle burning bright
The word "Advent", is defined in Latin as "to come to" or "coming", and signifies the birth, as well as the final coming of Jesus Christ. The period of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (which marks the beginning of the Church Year), and lasts anywhere from 21 to 28 days.

As the big day looms closer, preparations are made: homes are decorated; Christmas trees, usually artificial, are put up; greeting cards are delivered; gifts are bought and placed under the tree; and festive songs - Jim Reeves being ubiquitous - are played over and over again.
It is also a common sight to see choir groups and church communities, sometimes with a tanned Santa in tow, making their rounds, visiting orphanages, old folks homes, and hospital wards, among others.
Many Christian groups also stage shows and pageants, commonly depicting the Nativity. This usually takes place on the eve of Christmas.
'Twas the night before Christmas
Christmas Eve is a day that is as much anticipated as the big day itself. Traditionally, it is a time for families and loved ones to gather; marked by the Christmas dinner which is usually a noisy affair.
Then it's time for prayer and thankgiving as families congregate in churches for midnight mass or Christmas service. A Nativity play (or Christmas pageant) is usually held before service begins.
In Malaysia, it is common to see people from different beliefs (among the non-Muslims) attending these church gatherings, to observe if not to soak in the festive spirit. These midnight services are characteristically very lively; people of different backgrounds and ethnicity (both locals and foreigners), all decked in their best, could be seen singing hymns and carols with much enthusiasm, led by a spirited choir.
The celebration then continues till the wee hours of the morning. Typically, families would have late meals (known here as supper) at home, during which the colourful Christmas lights would be blinking, Jim Reeves would be singing in the background, the kids would be running around excited, and gifts would change hands.
Ho, ho, ho...
Christmas day starts off with Christmas mass (or church service), a decidedly more solemn affair compared to the Eve service.
Then, as is customary in Malaysia during festivals, Christian families would entertain guests in their homes throughout the day, in adherence to the concept of 'rumah terbuka' or 'open house'. In a way, this unique practice makes the celebration of Christmas more meaningful, more in line with the spirit of the season.
Of course, the festivities wouldn't be complete without food. Though you may still find the traditional Western offerings of the season - from nuts and fruitcakes to apple pie and roast turkey - much of the menu is made up of local delicacies including such favourites as devil's curry and beef rendang.
Though Christmas is marked as a one-day holiday, for many the celebrations do not end until after New Year's day, which is seen by many as simply an extension of Yuletide

Main Celebrations in Malaysia - Chinese New Year

A time for family reunions, the lion dance, firecrackers, mahjong, mandarin oranges and giving/collecting ang pow, the Lunar New Year - or Chinese New Year (CNY), as it is more commonly known in Malaysia - highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of Chinese tradition and rituals.
Its origin can be traced back thousands of years, to the legend which tells of a fearsome mythological creature known as Nian that is said to have once terrorised China, devouring people on the eve of CNY. To ward off the beast, red-paper couplets were pasted on doors, firecrackers were set off throughout the night, and huge fires were lit.
Today, the prevalence of the colour red, and firecrackers, form part of the CNY celebrations throughout the world, as a part of custom and tradition.
The festival, which once also marked the beginning of spring in China, begins on the first day of the lunar calendar year, the first day of the new moon, and ends on the 15th day, known as Chap Goh Meh, the last day of the full moon.
However, celebrations are normally confined to the first few days and the last day. In Malaysia, the first two days are gazetted as public holidays.
Preparing for celebrations
Preparations tend to begin a month prior to the New Year, when people start buying new clothes, decorations and foodstuff; houses are cleaned from top to bottom, then decorated with red lanterns; banners; plastic or paper firecrackers (the real item is prohibited); panels inscribed with calligraphic characters bearing themes of happiness, wealth and longevity; and greeting cards received from well-wishers.
The eve of CNY is probably the high point of the celebration as it is on this day that family members from far and near will return home for the reunion dinner, to rekindle family ties and enjoy the sumptuously prepared meals. Dinner is usually made up of seafood and dumplings; delicacies include waxed duck, prawns, braised dried oysters, scallops and “prosperity vegetables”.
After the reunion feast, entire families will try to stay up all night in adherence to shou sui, a practice which is believed to bring one's parents longevity. To while away the hours, it is common for many to gamble; the sound of mahjong chips clattering against each other throughout the night is not uncommon.
At the stroke of midnight, the New Year is ushered in. Firecrackers and fireworks are prohibited, so the requisite din to herald the New Year falls upon human voices and song, and modern “improvisations” such as the recorded sounds of exploding firecrackers.
Kong Hee Fatt Choy!
With daylight, homes again become a buzz of activity. Ceremonial candles are lit, incense burned, new clothes (red is the custom) are put on, and greetings of “Kong Hee Fatt Choy” or “nian nian you yu” (which means “may every year be filled with extras”) are made.
As is commonplace among Malaysians during religious/cultural festivities, Chinese families invite their relatives and friends over to their homes during CNY. Guests arrive bearing gifts of mandarin oranges or kam, which symbolises gold or wealth.
It is also customary for married couples to give children and unmarried adults money inserted in red packets known as ang pow, as a gesture to mean that the recipient will enjoy a fruitful and wealthy life.
Beliefs and tradition
The celebration of CNY is not all freewheeling fun though, as there are taboos and beliefs, some of which are spiritual in nature, that need to be observed.
For example, though the feasting generally goes on for the whole 15-day period, a break, of sorts, is taken on the third day. Businesses remain closed, and visiting is discouraged on that day, as it is believed that, otherwise, misfortune may befall the family.
Also, no one is allowed to sweep the floor on the first day of the New Year as it is considered unlucky; that one would accidently sweep away one's good luck and fortune if they do so.
As a contrast, what is believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil is the lion which, according to legend, was the only animal that managed to wound the Nian. This gave rise to the lion dance, as the villagers of the story tried to mimic the lion in their attempt to frighten the beast away.
Here in Malaysia, troupes of lion dancers travel in trucks during the 15-day period to perform at individual homes and businesses, even hotels and shopping complexes. It is one of the most spectacular sights during this period, where performers regularly shimmy up poles to pick up ang pows, while moving to the beat of the drums.
Different celebrations
On the seventh day of CNY, which is considered as the birthday of all human beings, the Cantonese community partakes in a dish called yee sang, a simple mixture of thin slices of raw fish, shredded vegetables, herbs and sauces.
All the ingredients for the dish are served separately on the same plate, and would then be tossed and mixed, carried with chopsticks high in the air by all at the table, while saying out loud the word loh hei, which means liveliness, prosperity and longevity. This practice is said to herald prosperity for the coming year.
The eighth day is a time of prayer. The Hokkien community performs a ritual where offerings are made to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven. This often extends into the ninth day.
The 15th and last day, Chap Goh Meh, is observed in several ways. In Penang, the Hokkien community commemorates this day with a parade (Chingay parade) where stilt walkers, lion and dragon dancers, and acrobats move along the busy streets of Georgetown, to the beat of gongs, drums and cymbals.
However, the highlight of Chap Goh Meh, which is often regarded as the Chinese Valentine's day, has got to be the throwing of oranges into the river. It is believed that maidens would attract good husbands if they adhere to this practice.


(taken from http://allmalaysia.info/ )

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Main celebrations in Malaysia- Hari Raya Puasa

Muslims celebrate the festival of Aidilfitri – popularly known as Hari Raya Puasa, or simply Hari Raya (Day of Celebration) in Malaysia – to mark the culmination of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.
It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal

Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is compulsory or wajib, whereby Muslims are required to abstain from satisfying their most basic needs and urges, daily, between sunrise and sunset. It is one of the five tenets of Islam; as is the paying of zakat (alms tax for the poor), which must be tithed by the end of Ramadhan.
In Malaysia, the period of fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan. The actual sighting is conducted by state appointed religious officials at various vantage points (usually at hilltops) throughout the country.
If the crescent is sighted, the following day is then declared the first day of Aidilfitri, which is also the beginning of the 10th month of the Muslim calendar Syawal.
A time to forgive and forget
Aidilfitri is celebrated for the whole month of Syawal, but in Malaysia, only the first two days are observed as public holidays. It is widely common however, to see Muslims taking the first week off from work.
Urbanites make their annual pilgrimage to their hometowns (this is popularly referred to as balik kampung), to be with parents, relatives and old friends. Thus, cities like Kuala Lumpur get relatively quiet during the festive season of Aidilfitri.

The Muslim community ushers in the first day of Aidilfitri by congregating at mosques for morning prayers. Everyone is usually decked out in their traditional best to mark the special occasion. Men are usually dressed in Baju Melayu, while the Baju Kurung, the quintessential Malay attire for females, is the prefered choice for the fairer sex.
Then it's usually breakfast at home with the family, followed by a visit to the cemetery where deceased loved ones are remembered; graves are cleaned and cleared of overgrowth, and prayers are offered to Allah.
This is also a time to forgive and forget past quarrels. Asking for pardon is done in order of seniority. The younger members of a family approach their elders (parents, grandparents etc) to seek forgiveness, to salam (Muslim equivalent of a handshake), then kiss the hands of the older person as a sign of respect.
The usual greeting (that is uttered with the salam) during Aidilfitri is “Selamat Hari Raya”, which means “Wishing you a joyous Hari Raya”.
Children and old folks are given duit raya or gifts of money, in small envelopes. In recent years, many givers have opted for the Chinese practice of putting the money in ang pow packets; however instead of the usual red, the packets are green in colour.
Although the first three days are celebrated on a grander scale, many Muslims hold “open house” throughout the month, where friends and neighbours of other races are invited to join in the celebrations.

Before the big day
The joy of Hari Raya Puasa actually begins before the first day. A week or so before the big day, excitement mounts as the house is readied for the celebration with new furnishing and decorations.
Of particular interest are the last 10 days of Ramadan, where many keep vigil for Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree), the night when the Quran was sent down. It is believed that angels descend and shower blessings on that particular night, so homes are brightly decorated with oil lamps or pelita.
Mosques, as well as government and some commercial buildings, are also decorated and brightly lit to mark the auspicious day. The most predominant colour seen in decorations during this season is green which is commonly associated with Islamic items. It is often combined with yellow or gold.
As for motifs, by far the most frequently used symbol is that of the ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves); it is invariably used on Hari Raya greeting cards, hanging decorative items, and as a promotional image for the season.
The ketupat is traditional Hari Raya fare and is often served with beef rendang (beef cooked with spices and coconut milk) and/or satay (grilled meat on a skewer).
Other festive delicacies include lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), serunding (dessicated coconut fried with chilli) and curry chicken.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hang Tuah

In the early days of Sultan Mansor’s reign in Malacca, a son is born to Hang Mahmud and his wife Dang Merdu Wati. The child is named Hang Tuah. When Hang Tuah is seven, his parents decide to move to Malacca. There they stay in the house of a relative not far from the residence of the Datuk Bendahara. Hang Mahmud starts a small provision shop, which his wife helps to run, while he himself goes into the forest to collect wood.
Hang Tuah meets Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi. Hang Lekir and Hang Lekieu. Together the boys, who were to become lifelong friends, learn the art of silat. Hang Tuah is elected leader of the group of youngsters and they declare loyalty to him. At around the age of ten Hang Tuah and his friends, while on a boat into the open sea notice three boats approaching in their direction. The boats are those of pirates. The boys take refuge on an island, and when the pirates land on the island, the youngsters, kill several of them and wound ten others. The survivors escape. The wounded pirates are handed over to the Batin of Singapore, who tells the boys that their brave deed would be brought to the attention of the Datuk Bendahara. In Malacca, the boys’ deed becomes the talk of the town.
Fearing repercussions, Hang Tuah and his companions decide to delve deeper into the arts of silat and also to learn other skills from the guru named Sang Andi Putra lives. Their training lasts forty-four days. Sang Andi Putra advises them to go to his brother Sang Persanta Nata in Majapahit, Java, to further their mastery of the silat and mystical arts. Meanwhile the Datuk Bendahara meets Hang Mahmud and compliments the boys on their bravery.
On day while chopping firewood in front of his house, Hang Tuah sees a man running amok and killing several persons. Hang Tuah kills the amok. A few days later a similar incident causes disturbances in Malacca. The Datuk Bendahara is at that time on his way to the palace to meet the Sultan. Hang Tuah protects him from the violent crowd, and even succeeds in killing the leader of the group and a few others. Impressed, the Datuk Bendahara and his wife decide to “adopt” Hang Tuah and his companions.
Datuk Bendahara takes Hang Mahmud, his wife and the boys to pay respects to the Sultan. Already aware of their bravery as well as their exploits, the Sultan orders the five youths to serve him. Each of them receives a keris and is also given the title of “Tun”.
A few days later Sultan Mansor and his entourage leave Malacca for Java where the Sultan is to marry Raden Galoh Chandra Kirana, a Majapahit princess. In Majapahit a plot is hatched by Pateh Gajah Mada to kill Hang Tuah. First a hulubalang, and next Taming Sari, the famous warrior of Majapahit are given the task. Hang Tuah succeeds in killing the soldier and later also destroying Taming Sari with the sword belonging to the Majaphit warrior. This famous sword, also named Taming Sari, possessing the power of giving immortality to its user is presented to Hang Tuah by the Datuk Bendahara.
Hang Tuah and his friends visit Sang Persanta Nata at Gunung Winara as instructed by Sang Andi Putra. Here they receive seven days of intensive training at the hand of this famous teacher, who predicts that Hang Tuah would one day become the Admiral of the Malacca fleet as well as attain invulnerability. At the palace another attempt is made to kill Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah manages to kill his attackers. Sultan Mansor returns to Malacca with his new bride. Hang Tuah is welcomed as a great hero. Soon he is raised to the rank of Admiral or Laksamana.
A few years later, the Sultan becomes interested in marrying Tun Teja of Inderaputera, now known as Pahang. At the Sultan’s command, Hang Tuah and his companions sail to Inderaputra. Tun Teja is already engaged to be married to Megat Panji Alam of Trengganu. Her father, Bendahara Seri Buana, troubled by the impending visit by Hang Tuah, send word to Megat Panji Alam. Megat Panji Alam comes face to face with Hang Tuah who has just landed in Pahang and challenges Hang Tuah to a fight. The battle lasting several days, ends with Hang Tuah killing Megat Panji Alam. Tun Teja is married to Sultan Mansor in Malacca.
The Bentara of Majapahit, hearing of Sultan Mansor’s second marriage is upset. Pateh Gajah Mada says that he will create trouble in Malacca. Another plot is hatched to kill Hang Tuah, and seven warriors go to Malacca from Majapahit to try to achieve this end. Disguised as thieves they cause unrest in the town, hoping thereby to draw Hang Tuah out. Hang Tuah also disguises as a thief and joins them. Together they steal valuable items, including eight boxes of gold, from the palace. Killing the seven thieves, Hang Tuah resents their heads together with the stolen gold to the Sultan. Hang Tuah is now allowed free access to the Sultan’s palace.
The special treatment given to Hang Tuah by the Sultan arouses jealousy among court officials. A scandal is created involving Hang Tuah. The Sultan now upset with Hang Tuah, orders the Datuk Bendahara to immediately get rid of Hang Tuah. Datuk Bendahara sends Hang Tuah into hiding in his own orchard, but spreads the rumour that Hang Tuah has been killed.
Hang Jebat is appointed Admiral in Hang Tuah’s place, and he is now given free access to the palace. While in the palace, Hang Jebat misbehaves himself. The helpless Sultan and his consorts, thrown out of the palace by Hang Jebat, move in with the Datuk Bendahara. Hang Jebat now abandons himself to a life of debauchery. Those sent by the Sultan to apprehend him are killed. This he does in order to avenge the Sultan’s unjust treatment of Hang Tuah.
The Sultan now regrets at having so hastily sentenced Hang Tuah to death. Hang Hang Tuah alone could, if he were still alive, overcome Hang Jebat. Seeing the Sultan’s plight Datuk Bendahara asks the Sultan if he would be prepared to pardon Hang Tuah in the event that the hero was still alive. When the Sultan says that he would do anything to have Hang Tuah back, Datuk Bendahara confesses that in fact Hang Tuah is still alive.
Hang Tuah returns a few days later. He is fully pardoned by the Sultan, and is informed of the crisis in Malacca caused by Hang Jebat. Following a few days of rest, Hang Tuah is ready to face Hang Jebat. He discovers, however, that Jebat has been given possession of Taming Sari, following his own “death.” Despite his loss of confidence, Hang Tuah proceeds to face Hang Jebat. When at the palace, Hang Tuah calls out for his friend, Hang Jebat is taken aback at the fact that Hang Tuah is still alive. A reconciliation, however is no longer possible, in view of Hang Jebat’s disloyalty to the Sultan.
The battle between the two greatest warriors of Malacca begins. Hang Tuah, recovering Taming Sari for a moment, succeeds in killing his best friend, Hang Jebat, with it. Once again Hang Tuah becomes the Sultan’s favourite. He is, however, wary, knowing that he has enemies constantly on the lookout for opportunities to destroy him. Sultan Mansor dies and is succeeded by Sultan Mahmud as ruler of Malacca.
Soon after ascending the throne Sultan Mahmud loses his consort. Hearing of the beauty of the princess of Gunung Ledang, he decides to approach her for her hand in marriage. Hang Tuah, Hang Setia and Tun Mamat, the Datok Bendahara’s son, travel to Gunung Ledang, or Mount Ophir, to negotiate the terms of the proposed marriage. The princess is prepared to marry the Sultan if certain requirements are fulfilled. Due to the difficulties in fulfilling the conditions, the Sultan abandons his intention of marrying the princess.
Hang Tuah decides to forsake court life. Just before dawn one day, accompanied by Tun Mamat, Hang Tuah goes to the mouth of Sungei Duyong, taking his kris, Taming Sari, with him. He kisses the weapon and throws it into the river. A few days later he leaves the court to live a life of solitude at Gunung Ledang.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More description on ghosts....

Hantu Raya

Hantu Raya in early Malay animism, refers to a supreme ghost or demon that acts as a double for a black magic practitioner. Like the Toyol it has a master. In Malay folklore, it is a spirit which is suppose to confer the owner with great power. Hantu means ghost and raya, great, in Malay.

Origins
Hantu Raya originates in Malaysia and is said to be the master of all ghosts (hantu). It is the leader of the underworld legion and those who make alliance with it, are considered powerful. Hantu Raya is the acronym for Hantu or Ghost and Raya, large, huge, supreme, enormous, great, as in "Malaysia Raya" and "Asia Raya" and Hari Raya (Great Celebration or Festival).

In modern Islamic Malay culture, the belief in Hantu Raya is no longer valid, but rather it is identified with a demon, Satan and the Djinn (Genie). Muslims believe that djinns and demons are more powerful than man but less intelligent

Spirit worship
In ancient times, the Malay spirituality was a mix of animism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Spirit worship was not uncommon and these beliefs persisted in rural areas until the latter half of the 20th century. In the case of Hantu Raya, the owner is said to have formed a pact with demon or inherited it from older generations in the form known as Saka or legacy which is handed on down the generations. In return for the advantages and power, the owner agrees to provide for the ghost and appoints a new owner for it before dying.[1]

According to legend, people who fail to untie their bond with the hantu will suffer especially during death. Hantu Raya will resemble the look of its owner ever after death and go roaming. People seeing him will assume that the deceased has been brought back to life. It will search for food and new owner at night and goes around haunting people.

Another legend goes that the dying soul will face difficulty in dying and becomes a living corpse or zombie

Hantu Raya is capable of materializing itself into another human being or animals and sometimes makes itself a double for the owner. Among its other trick is to form its owner's shape and sleep with the owner's partners. It can be used to perform heavy duties as commanded by its master, even to harm his enemies. It can also possess or cause death to other people if so ordered.

Normally Hantu Raya feasts on acak – an offering made for the spirits, containing: yellow glutinous rice, eggs, roasted chicken, rice flakes and a doll. In some cases Hantu Raya is offered the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sacrifice. Food offerings must strictly be observed in a timely manner, to avoid any harm caused by the hantu.

Pelesit
Pelesit is a Malay term for an inherited spirit or demon which serves a master.

Origin
The Pelesit is reared by a woman as a shield for protection, guidance, and most probably as a weapon to harm other people. In that way it is associated with a black magic practitioner. It is the female version of Hantu Raya which confers great power on the owner. [2]

In old Malay culture some people chose to live alone thus isolating themselves from society. They practiced black magic in order to gain strength, power, protection, beauty, but not popularity. Some gained a certain level of popularity or renown but there were others who remained in secrecy and refused to mingle with people.

This practice is popular among Malays who are animists and involved in the so-called Saka (the inheritance of a spirit from one generation to another). Pelesit is commonly associated with the grasshopper since it has the ability to turn itself into one. Some say it is the green sharp pointed-head grasshopper.

Pelesit is one of the ghost mentioned in "Hikayat Abdullah", written by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, much to the amusement of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, his employer.

Uses
Typically the owner, the Bomoh (shaman), uses the spirit in an exploitative way for monetary gain. The pelesit is first used to attack someone randomly, then the same Bomoh will be called to exorcise the so-called demon inside the victim (while the spectators have no idea that the bomoh is playing tricks on them). Later, a certain amount of money is given to the bomoh as a token of appreciation.

A bomoh keeps his pelesit in a small bottle and offers it his own blood every full moon

Problem
Pelesit is a dark spirit revered by shamans in Malay culture. It feeds on blood and work as a servant for its master. It demonizes people and causes chaos in society. Pelesit must always have a continuous host and therefore must be pass down from one generation to the next. It should always be taken care of and fed constantly because if not, the demon will soon create havoc among the local inhabitants of its master's village, especially after the master's death.

Pontianak
The Pontianak, Kuntilanak, Matianak or "Boentianak" (as known in Indonesia, sometimes shortened to just kunti) is a type of vampire in Malay folklore, similar to the Langsuir. Pontianak are women who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages

Appearance
In folklore, Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or turn themselves into beautiful lady and frighten or kill the unlucky who enter or pass through their vicinity. It usually disguises itself as a beautiful young lady to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence sometimes can be detected by a nice floral fragrance of the ‘kemboja’ (a type of flower) followed by an awful stench afterwords. The distance of a pontianaks cries are very tricky. The Malays believe that if the cry is soft means that the pontianak is near and if it is loud then it must be far.

A Pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. Pontianaks must feed in this manner in order to survive. In some cases where the Pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, it rips out the sex organs with its hands. It is believed that Pontianaks locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any object of clothing outside.

People believe that having a sharp object like a nail helps them fend off potential attacks by Pontianak, the nail being used to plunge a hole at the back of the Pontianak's neck. It is believed that when a nail is plunged into the back of a Pontianak's neck, she will turn into a beautiful woman, until the nail is pulled off again. The Indonesian twist on this is plunging the nail into the apex of the head of the kuntilanak.

Pontianak is associated with banana trees, and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day.

Some people believe that if you hear a dog howling that means that the pontianak is far away. But if a dog is whining that means the pontianak is nearby.

Langsuir
Langsuir is a version of Pontianak, popular in Malaysia as one of the deadliest banshees in Malay folklore. Different from the Pontianak, which always appeared as a beautiful woman to devour the victim, Langsuir would possess the victim and suck blood from the inside, slowly causing a fatal death. It is believed that langsuir are from women who had laboring sickness (meroyan) as a result of suffering the death of their children and who themselves died afterwords. Portrayed as hideous, scary, vengeful and furious, the Langsuir is further characterized as having red eyes, sharp claws, long hair, a green or white robe (most of the time), a rotten face and long fangs. It is also believed Langsuir has a hole behind the neck(which is used to suck blood) and if people put Langsuir's hair in this hole(or cut their claws), Langsuir will be a human again. These are the common images described by people who claimed to have seen one. Pontianaks are sometimes claimed to be the still-born children of langsuir.

Penanggalan
The Penanggalan or `Hantu Penanggal` is a peculiar variation of the vampire myth that apparently began in the Malay Peninsula. "Penanggal" or "Penanggalan"' literally means "detach", "to detach", "remove" or "to remove". .

According to the folklore of that region, the Penanggalan is a detached female head that is capable of flying about on its own. As it flies, the stomach and entrails dangle below it, and these organs twinkle like fireflies as the Penanggalan moves through the night.

Due to the common theme of Penanggal being the result of active use of black magic or supernatural means, a Penanggal cannot be readily classified as a classical undead being or a vampire as per Western folklore or literature. The creature is, for all intent and purposes, a living human being during daytime (much like the Japanese Rokurokubi) or at any time when it does not detach itself from its body.

Nature
In Malaysian folklore, a Penanggal may be either a beautiful old or young woman who obtained her beauty through the active use of black magic, supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means which are most commonly described in local folklores to be dark or demonic in nature. Another cause where one becomes a Penanggal in Malaysian folklore is due to the result of a powerful curse or the actions of a demonic force, although this method is less common than the active use of black magic abovementioned.

The Penanggalan is usually a female midwife who has made a pact with the devil to gain supernatural powers. It is said that the midwife has broken a stipulation in the pact not to eat meat for 40 days; having broken the pact she has been forever cursed to become a bloodsucking vampire/demon. The midwife keeps a vat of vinegar in her house. After detaching her head and flying around in the night looking for blood the Penanggalan will come home and immerse her entrails in the vat of vinegar in order to shrink them for easy entry back into her body.

One version of the tale states that the Penanggal was once a beautiful woman or priestess, who was taking a ritual bath in a tub that once held vinegar. While bathing herself and in a state of concentration or meditation, a man entered the room without warning and startled her. The woman was so shocked that she jerked her head up to look, moving so quickly as to sever her head from her body, her organs and entrails pulling out of the neck opening. Enraged by what the man had done, she flew after him, a vicious head trailing organs and dripping venom. Her empty body was left behind in the vat. The Penanggal, thus, is said to carry an odor of vinegar with her wherever she flies, and returns to her body during the daytime, often posing as an ordinary mortal woman. However, a Penanggal can always be told from an ordinary woman by that odor of vinegar.

Victims
The Penanggalan's victims are traditionally pregnant women and young children. Like a banshee who appears at a birth rather than a death, the Penanggalan perches on the roofs of houses where women are in labour, screeching when the child is born. The Penanggalan will insert a long invisible tongue into the house to lap up the blood of the new mother. Those whose blood the Penanggalan feeds upon contract a wasting disease that is almost inescapably fatal. Furthermore, even if the penanggalan is not successful in her attempt to feed, anyone who is brushed by the dripping entrails will suffer painful open sores that won't heal without a bomoh's help.

A Penanggal is said to feed on human blood or human flesh although local folklore (including its variations) commonly agrees that a Penanggal prefers the blood of a newborn infant, the blood of woman who recently gave birth or the placenta (which is devoured by the Penanggal after it is buried). All folktales also agree that a Penanggal flies as it searches and lands to feed. One variation of the folklore however claims that a Penanggal is able to pass through walls. Other, perhaps more chilling, descriptions say that the Penanggal can ooze up through the cracks in the floorboards of a house, rising up into the room where an infant or woman is sleeping. Sometimes they are depicted as able to move their intestines like tentacles.

Protection and Remedies
The most common remedy prescribed in Malaysian folklore to protect against a Penanggal attack is to scatter the thorny leaves of a local plant known as Mengkuang which would either trap or injure the exposed lungs, stomach and intestines of the Penanggal as it flies in search of its prey. These thorns, on the vine, can also be looped around the windows of a house in order to snare the trailing organs. This is commonly done when a woman has just given birth. However this practice will not protect the infant if the Penanggal decides to pass through the floorboards. In some instances, it is said that months before birth, family members of the pregnant women would plant pineapples under the house(traditional malay houses are built on stilts and thus have a lot of room underneath). The prickly fruit and leaves of the pineapple would deter the penanggalan from entering through the floorboards. Once trapped, a Penanggalan who attacks the house can then be killed with parangs or machetes. As an extra precaution the pregnant woman can keep scissors or betel nut cutters under her pillow as the Penanggalan is afraid of these items.

Another way of killing the vampire is for some brave men to spy on the Penanggalan as it flies around in the night. Midwives who become Penanggalans at night appear as normal women in the daytime. They however can be identified as Penanggalans by the way they behave. When meeting people they will usually avoid eye contact and when performing their midwife duties they may be seen licking their lips, as if relishing the thought of feeding on the pregnant woman's blood when night comes. The men should find out where the Penanggalan lives. Once the Penanggal leaves its body and is safely away, it may be permanently destroyed by either pouring pieces of broken glass into the empty neck cavity which will sever the internal organs of the Penanggal when it reattaches to the body, or by sanctifying the body and then destroying it by cremation or by somehow denying the Penanggal from reattaching to its body upon sunrise.

Hantu Air
Hantu Air, Puaka Air or Mambang Air is the Malay translation for Spirit of the Water , Hantu Air is the unseen dweller of watery places such as rivers, lakes, seas, swamps and even ditches. It is mainly associated with bad things happening to people which includes drowning, missing, flooding and many more.

Origin
The term Hantu Air may sound spooky to Malays but when the term is translated into English it creates a new understanding of the meaning that besets the culture of the Malay people. For a long time the Malay Archipelago was ruled by animism {the believe in spirits} and people tended to associate almost anything with the spiritual world including nature.

Some people believe that the spirit will haunt places associated with water during or after it has been discarded by its previous owner. The unguided and lost spirit will soon roam the place. When it is hungry, it will feast on anything including humans.

Superstitions arising among the locals tell of this evil spirit dwelling in watery places where it sometimes disguises itself as an old tree trunk, a beautiful lady, fishes or other animals in order to attract unassuming people into its trap. When caught the human will be eaten or perhaps drowned to death.

Superstition
There is a ceremony that is still popular among the local older Malays called Semah Pantai especially in the East Coast of Malaysia. It is a ceremony whereby fishermen and seafarers honor the sea spirits and at the same time ask for blessings and protection when they venture out to sea to catch fish.

Polong
Polong is Malay for a spirit enslaved by a man (most of the time) for personal use. Like the Hantu Raya and Toyol, it has a master. It is an unseen ghost that can be used by a black magic practitioner to harm someone. It is particularly meant to harm other people, especially when the owner has wicked intentions towards these people.

Creation
Polong is said to have been created from the blood of a murdered person and this blood is put into a bottle for one to two weeks before the spirit is invoked with incantations and magic spells.
After two weeks, the owner will start to hear sounds coming out of the bottle. It is the sound of crying. By then he should cut his finger and drain the blood into the bottle to feed the demon. This is the sign of allegiance and of loyalty to serve the master. The blood which feeds the demon is said to have tied both parties together: one as Master and the other as the servant.

No one has ever illustrated the figure of the demon but all agree that it is evil and hideous.

Task
Polong has almost a similar role as Pelesit, furious when not fed and will start to harm society. Normally the owner will keep the Polong inside the bottle but unleashes it when needed. People who have been attacked by Polong are left with bruises, a few markings and almost always have blood coming out of their mouths.

Weaknesses
During possession, a Polong will not listen to anyone except its owner. The owner will come and pretentiously exorcise the demon in order to get money from people. But in some cases a polong which is "sent out" by its owner refuses to free the body that it has attacked. In fact it goes a step further by causing more suffering to the victim. At this stage a Bomoh (witch-doctor) or spiritual leader such as an Imam is called to cast out the polong.

Many of them know that the polong is easily weakened by black pepper seeds (mix with oil and few cloves of garlic). Normally, the shaman will place the seeds on certain parts of the body to cast off the polong. If he is a Muslim, this may be followed by Quranic recitations. The tormented polong will cry and plead, asking for the recitations to cease. It will then confess to the shaman the name of its master. However, it is not uncommon for the polong to name some other person to misguide the pawang (shaman). Hence, the admission must be taken cautiously.
Toyol

A Toyol is a mythical spirit in the Malay mythology of South-East Asia. It is a small child spirit invoked by a bomoh (Malay witch doctor) from a dead human foetus using black magic. It is possible to buy a toyol from such a bomoh.

A person who owns a toyol uses it mainly to steal things from other people, or to do mischief. According to a well-known superstition, if money or jewellery keeps disappearing mysteriously from your house, a toyol might be responsible. One way to ward off a toyol is to place some needles under your money, for toyols are afraid of being hurt by needles

Origins
Some say that toyol has its origins from Mecca near the Kaaba (the belief refers to the Pre-Islamic Era where the Arabs used to kill their children and bury them all around Mecca. The Chinese (Cantonese) name for the toyol is guai zai (literally "ghost child"). The corresponding term in the Hokkien dialect is kwee kia with "kwee" meaning "ghost" and "kia" meaning "child".
Appearance
People normally associate the appearance of a toyol with that of a small baby, frequently that of a newly born baby walking in nakedness with a big head, small hands, clouded eyes and usually greyed skin. More accurately, it resembles a goblin. It can be seen by the naked eye without the use of magic, though they are unlikely to be spotted casually

Invoking a Toyol
Keeping a toyol has its price. In essence, the spirit is that of a still-born (or aborted) child, and its temperament reflects this.

According to most Asian practices and beliefs, the afterlife of a person is taken care of by the family, in the form of a tablet. It is usually made of wood, with the name of the deceased engraved. A collection of tablets at an elaborate family altar is a typical item in a large (and often wealthy) family. Following the same principle, the master of the toyol keeps its tablet and cares for it. He must feed it with a few drops of his blood everyday, usually through his thumb or big toe. In addition, it requires certain coaxing and attention, along with offerings. Such offerings might include candy and toys, for the toyol is essentially a child and must be kept happily entertained. According to other stories, a toyol must be fed with blood from a rooster.

Tasks
In old village tales, people keep toyols for selfish but petty gains. They use such spirits for theft, sabotage and other minor crimes. Serious crimes, like murder, are usually beyond the capability of these toyols. A person who suddenly becomes wealthy without explanation might be suspected of keeping a toyol. The toyol is kept in a jar or an urn, and hidden away in a dark place until needed.

What happens at the end of the "contract" is not very clear. It could be that the tablet, along with the urn, is buried in a graveyard (with the relevant rituals), and the spirit is then laid to rest. An alternative method is to dispose them in the sea. Or else, a toyol gets passed down in a family through the generations. This seems to suggest that once you obtain a toyol, not only are you stuck with it for the rest of your life, but all your descendants will also be condemned to own it

Weaknesses
Although seemingly cunning, toyols are supposedly not very intelligent. It is said that they are easily deceived by marbles and sand and strands of garlic hanging on the door post or placed on certain parts of the house. The toyol will start playing with these items until it forgets its task at the intended victim's house. Money placed under mirrors has the potentcy to ward off toyols due to a phobia of their reflections

Orang Bunian
Orang Bunian are supernatural beings in Malay legends, similar to elves.

They are said to exist in large communities, mimicking human social structures, with families and clans. Orang Bunian are said to inhabit the deep forests, far from human contact, but they are also known to live near human communities, and are even said to share the same houses as human families. Some hauntings are attributed to orang bunian.

Orang bunian possess great supernatural powers, and have been known to befriend and assist humans, in particular pawangs or bomohs (malay shamans). Orang bunian are known to abduct human children, and are often blamed for leading people astray in the deep forest.

As orang bunian are very similar to human beings (except for the fact that they are usually 'ghaib' or 'halimunan', i.e. invisible and have supernatural powers) it is not unknown for them to intermarry with humans. Orang bunian live far longer than human beings. Stories are recounted of men who married orang bunian, but pining for their families they left behind, decided to leave the orang bunian. Upon their return to human society, they found that everyone they once knew has died, and that many years have passed- similar to the tale of Rip Van Winkle

(the description about ghosts was taken from http://en.wikipedia.org)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

KLCC and Bukit Bintang


Kuala Lumpur City Centre refers to the commercial centre located in the heart of the city that includes the Petronas Twin Towers, the Suria KLCC Shopping Mall, a park, a 5-star hotel and prime office blocks. Strategically located in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, which gives rise to its name, KLCC and the areas around it are some of the main destinations for shopping, clubbing and business for both locals and internationals.

The Suria KLCC Shopping Mall lies between the Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia's highest man-made structures. Its strategic location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and easy accessibility by subway trains from locations around Kuala Lumpur make this a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Suria KLCC is also located in the prime commercial area of Ampang, which is in turn, a hotbed for nightspots and tourist attractions.

Visitors can access the mall through a few entrances, including a direct tunnel link from the subway LRT station across the road and through the landscaped park. Consisting of several floors, the mall has a wide range of upmarket outlets dealing out the latest fashion merchandise, electrical products, leather goods, watches, cosmetics, jewellery, household items and much more.








Bukit Bintang is Kuala Lumpur's ultimate shopping district as well as a fantastic place for entertainment and family recreation.
Located in the Golden Triangle, Bukit Bintang can easily be reached by bus, taxi or elevated high-speed trains dubbed the Monorail system. The area is also a commercial centre with many offices and businesses operating in Bukit Bintang.
At weekends, Bukit Bintang is packed to the brim with people from morning to night, making this one lively place not to be missed out!

(taken from http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws)

Malaysian ghosts

A list of common Malaysian ghosts and spirits:

Pic 1 - Pontianak
* Pontianak - vampire in white dress seeking revenge.
* Polong - unseen ghost that can be used by a black magic practitioner to harm someone.
* Toyol - ghostly children used by the owner to steal other people's money. (looks a bit like Gollum in Lord of The Rings)
* Pelesit - ghost in grasshopper shape. Used by Black magic practitioner to possess someone.
* Hantu Demon - an evil spirit or demon. There are many different types.
* Hantu Air - water ghost in rivers, lakes and swimming pools.
* Hantu Raya - ghost that acts as a double for a black magic practitioner.
Pic 2 - Pocong
* Hantu Bungkus or Pocong - ghost jumping around wrapped in a white shroud.
* Langsuir - variation of the Pontianak.
* Bunian - good ghosts or jinns living in the jungle. They like helping humans.
* Hantu Jepun - World War II Japanese ghosts. They wear WWII army attire and carry samurai swords. Most are headless.
* Hantu Bukit - ghosts that haunt the hilly areas.
* Hantu Kubur - ghosts that haunt the cemeteries.
* Hantu Pari-Pari - fairy ghosts.
* Jelangkung - closet ghost.
* Hantu Laut - sea ghosts.
* Hantu Galah - very tall ghosts. As high as coconut trees.
* Jin Tanah - jinns living underground.
* Hantu Kum Kum - a female ghost carrying a tombstone as a baby asking for milk.
* Orang Minyak - the "Oily Man". Loves to rape virgins.
* Orang Halus - literally meaning small or invisible person, are elves or fairies that live in the forests
Pic 3 - Penanggal
* Hantu Penanggal - heads and intestines flying without a body. Loves to suck the blood of a newborn child.
* Hantu Tetek - big-breasted ghosts that loves to hide small children inside her breasts.
* Harimau Jadian - huge tiger ghosts. (We don't have wolves here in Malaysia.. we have tigers.. err... so we don't have werewolves but we have weretigers???)
* Jembalang Tanah - underground ghosts.
* Hungry Ghosts - Taoists believe that hungry ghosts are ghosts of people that did not find everything they need to survive in their after life. If a ghost passes on, but does not have enough food, water, shelter, etc., it will come back into the world of the living to feed off of the living. They will scare you, and then they will feed off of your energy and fear.

Some haunted places in Malaysia:

Georgetown - The Deadly Junction - it is a T-Junction, located beside the Union High School, it is said that if you ever drive across it late at night, your car will go out of control and crash. Some people say that there is a tiny unknown tree which looks like a lady carrying a child beside the road, they saw her figure and the child screaming, some old folks say that she was once a "bomoh"(witch doctor) who kidnapped her sister's son, somehow they never reappeared after being seen beside this "Deadly Junction".

Ipoh - St. Michael's Institution - A group of Catholic missionaries arrived in 1912 and began to build a school next to the famous Kinta River. It did not take long for the missionary brothers who ran the school to have enough funds to erect a huge school building with unique French structural designs. When World War II broke out, the school was used by the Japanese secret police as their headquarters. Lots of torturing were carried out there. In this unique building, there were many tunnels which had since been sealed off. These tunnels were believed to be used by the Japanese to torture prisoners and to store food. Most ghostly sightings occur at the Chapel on the fourth floor of the building. People have spotted a headless Catholic brother dressed in black robe, holding prayer beads sitting facing the door which opens towards the brothers' quarter in the early morning. Those who had witnessed this incident were asked to keep it a secret so as not to scare people fearing that no parent would register their children in the school. A real skull displayed in the school biology lab was found in the school back yard.

Kuala Kangsar - Malay College Kuala Kangsar is said to be a former site of a Japanese occupation camp during World War II. Students were sometimes awakened by an entity that stares down directly at them. An invisible marching platoon can be heard in the field. So can the sound of chains. A tree on campus which stands right beside a lamp post produces a shadow of a man hanging from the tree. These ghostly sightings are typical sightings reported at old colonial administration buildings that were used by the Japanese during the World War II as 'executions' took place. These buildings include the Victoria Institution (school) and the Bukit Bintang Girls School in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Kubu Bharu - Mara Junior Science College Kuala Kubu Bharu - In various parts of the building a white flying apparition has been seen.

Kuala Lumpur - Bukit Tunku (Kenny Hill) . This an elite residential area in Kuala Lumpur. This is not your typical residential area as it is situated on top a hill with large old colonial bungalows surrounded by large ancient trees and green vegetation. The residences here are link only by a narrow winding road. This place evokes an eerie feeling at night and even during the day. It is said that a few years ago one of two youths who embarked on a high speed motorcycle chase on this road crashed at a dark stretch and died. Since then, there were sightings there of a young man riding a motorcycle at high speed, who will mysteriously vanished in the dark.

Kuala Lumpur - Cheras Polyclinic. This used to be a government clinic but has since been abandoned without reason. It is believed that this place is haunted by dead patients seen loitering around the area.

Kuala Lumpur - Genting Highlands Resort. This is a famous hill resort and casino. Many people who have incurred gambling debts have committed suicide here. Some visitors leaving the hotel lobby of the casino have reported seeing a man in red jump from the rooftop, just to disappear in midair. Certain rooms in the casino hotel are not available to guests no matter how occupied the hotel is. Those who have been the inside these rooms have reported that they are occupied by old Chinese ghosts. Those who witnessed this would subsequently fall ill for days.

Kuala Lumpur - Highland Towers. This is where a condominium block of Highland Towers in Ampang collapsed and killed many people in the building. This tragic event will forever live in the minds of Malaysians. It is claimed that voices of the dead can be heard at night and ghostly figures are said to have appeared at the scene. There is also a story of a taxi driver who picked up a woman passenger in the middle of the night and after dropping her off at this place, the taxi driver found her bag left in the taxi to be full of blood!

Kuala Lumpur - Pudu Prison. This old prison was abandoned after the area around it became commercialised. There are reports of a strange thin Indian man walking the prison hallways and disappearing around the corner. Screams can also be heard from the room where hangings executions took place. There were also many cases of in-prison acts of violence that led to deaths of inmates. Certain cells and holding chambers were far colder than others. The authorities are proposing to turn it back into a prison (for low security prisoners) as no one will take it up for commercial purposes. There were once plans to turn it into a hotel where guests can stay a night in the cell of the most notorious criminals.

Kuala Lumpur - Victoria Institution. This is very famous school in Kuala Lumpur. This school was a Japanese base in KL during their occupation of Malaysia. Many British soldiers and locals were brutally tortured to death at its basement and at some of its older buildings. It is said that not only are ghostly apparitions common at the night but during the day as well. There were also cases of students being possessed by spirits. The possessed boys would behave strangely, even violently, harming other students and teachers only to snap out of it a few hours later and remember nothing. Even when they were forcibly restrained, their bruises would disappear when they returned to normal.

Perak - Ipoh - Tambun. There were sighting of an old lady on the roadside.

Perak - Ipoh. Tambun Inn - Lights were reported to turn on and off and there are sounds of whispering.

Perak - Kellies Castle. It is said that sometimes doors opened by themselves and lots of scary screaming voices can be heard.

Puchong - A haunted house. It was reported that evil drawings appear on the walls. Some say it is occupied by the ghost of a woman who used to reside there.


(taken off http://themalaysianlife.blogspot.com/2007/08/ghosts-still-live-in-malaysia.html)

Unesco Sites (New)

Penang

Penang Teochew Association
The restored Penang Teochew Association located on Chulia Street is worth visiting. It won a Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award 2006 after USD250,000 was spent on the restoration of this temple. Not to be missed also is the 200 year old Temple of Kuan Yin,on Lebuh Pitt(Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling). Built by the first Hokkien and Cantonese settlers in Penang, it is often filled with worshippers here. The Hainan Temple in Lebuh Muntri, completed in 1895 and remodeled in 1995 is worth visiting. There are dragon pillars and ornate carvings to be admired. There are also much activity going on in this functional heritage building.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion In Lebuh Leith is the highly recommended magnificent 38-room, 220-window Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. It was commission by Cheong Fatt Tze, a local merchant-trader who was a rag-to-riches success story. Built in the 1880s, it is a rare surviving example of the grandiose architectural style preferred by wealthy overseas Chinese trying to imitate the opulence of the Ching dynasty. The building was restored recently with a cost of USD2 million and won top honours for the “Most Excellent” Unesco Conservation award 2000. Hourly tours run at 11am and 3pm Mon-Fri and 11am Sat-Sun. They have an excellent website too at www.cheongfatttzemansion.com.
Melaka
St Paul’s Church
It was built on top of Melaka Hill by a Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho in 1521 and was called the ‘Our Lady of the Hill’ before the Dutch renamed it St.Paul’s Church. The church was regularly visited by Basque priest St Francis Xavier. Following his death in China, the saint’s body was brought here to be buried. Nine months later it was transferred to Goa in India, where it remains today. In 1556 the church was enlarged to two storeys and a tower added to the front in 1590. The church was renamed following the Dutch takeover, but when the Dutch completed their own Christ Church at the base of the hill, it fell into disuse. The roofless church has been in ruins now for more that 150 years, but the setting is beautiful and in contains some interesting stone slabs inside. A marble statue of St Francis Xavier commemorates his interment here over 400 years ago. His statue was erected with his right arm missing, apparently to show that his body in Goa is still without the right arm. Back in 1614, the Pope had requested the right arm of St Francis to be severed from his corpse and sent to Rome. Although he had been dead for 62 years, blood was said to have gushed out of the arm. Immediately after St Francis was canonised a saint in 1622, what remained of the right arm in Rome was merely a skeleton, but the body in Goa remains intact except for the missing right arm. In 1952, the Bishop of Macau decided to put up a statue in front of St Paul's Church. A marble statue was ordered from Italy and was sculpted by the famous Italian sculptor, G Toni, and was ready for the fourth centenary celebrations on March 22, 1953.

Stadthuys & Christ Church Painted red, the Stadthuys was built between 1641 and 1660 and is believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East. It features substantial solid doors and louvred windows; the port-red theme extends to the other building around the Town Square and the old clock tower. It is now the History & Ethnography Museum. Also within the Stadthuys is the Literature Museum. Stadthuys Admission RM2; 9am-6pm Sat-Thu. 9am-12.15pm & 2.45-6pm Friday. Christ Church in the Dutch square was built in 1753 by the Dutch. Its notable feature is the ceiling, whose beams, over 15m (16yd) long, were each made from a single tree. The handmade pews are original, dating back 200 years. Over the altar, there is a painting of the Last Supper on glazed tiles and on the floors are tombstones in Armenian script. The entrance is free but you may be politely asked to make a donation towards the upkeep of the church. Located at the dutch square is the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee fountain, completed in the year 1904.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (built 1645 onwards)
Cheng Hoon Teng temple was founded in 1645 by Lee Wei King and is the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia. The main hall was built by Chan Ki Lock in 1704 and was rebuilt in 1801 by Kapitan China Chua Su Cheong.

Nestled in a tight urban setting, the temple occupies 50,000 square feet. Inside the main hall on the central altar is a statue of Kuanyin, the goddess of Mercy. To her left is the Queen of the Oceans (Ma Choe Poh), the guardian of fishermen, sailors, and sea travelers. The final deity is Hiap Tian Tye Tai or Kuan Ti Yeh, the favorite deity of merchants and traders.

To the left of the main hall is an altar to Confucius. In the back are ancestral tablets of local Chinese and the "Kapitans China" of Melaka. "Kapitan China", which means "Captain of the Chinese" was a position created by the Portuguese to act as an administrator of the local Chinese community. Although the Portuguese are gone, the position remains. The founder of the temple, Li Wei King, was a Kapitan China and his portrait is enshrined in one of the back halls.

The temple was constructed by craftsmen using materials brought in from southern China.

Taken from http://www.malaysia-trulyasia.com/mta/unesco_malaysia.htm and http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/malaysia/

Unesco Sites in Malaysia



Gunung Mulu National Park
Important both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. Karst topography is a three-dimensional landscape shaped by the dissolution of a soluble layer or layers of bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite. These landscapes display distinctive surface features and underground drainages, and in some examples there may be little or no surface drainage. The 52,864-ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera noted. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377 m-high sandstone pinnacle. At least 295 km of explored caves provide a spectacular sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600 m by 415 m and 80 m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.

The concentration of caves in Mulu's Melinau Formation with its geomorphic and structural characteristics is an outstanding feature which allows a greater understanding of Earth's history. The caves of Mulu are important for their classic features of underground geomorphology, demonstrating an evolutionary history of more than 1.5 million years. One of the world's finest examples of the collapse process in Karstic terrain can be also found. GMNP provides outstanding scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave faunas. With its deeply-incised canyons, wild rivers, rainforest-covered mountains, spectacular limestone pinnacles, cave passages and decorations, Mulu has outstanding scenic values. GMNP also provides significant natural habitat for a wide range of plant and animal diversity both above and below ground. It is botanically-rich in species and high in endemism, including one of the richest sites in the world for palm species.




Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.

The site has a diverse biota and high endemism. The altitudinal and climatic gradient from tropical forest to alpine conditions combine with precipitous topography, diverse geology and frequent climate oscillations to provide conditions ideal for the development of new species. The Park contains high biodiversity with representatives from more than half the families of all flowering plants. The majority of Borneo’s mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates (many threatened and vulnerable) occur in the Park


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Legend of Lake Chini


Local legend tells a tale of a wandering group of Jakun tribesmen who cleared the land to grow food crops. During their labour, an old woman appeared who proclaimed that she was the rightful owner of the land and that her permission should have been sought before any trees were felled. The Jakun humbly apologised, whereupon the woman allowed the men to continue their work. Before departing, however, she planted her walking stick in the ground as a mark of her ownership, telling the men never to remove it.
The men continued with their work, but some time later they heard one of their dogs barking and snarling at a decaying log. One of the Jakun threw his stick at the log, but immediately a torrent of blood issued from the log causing the man to run back to his friends in fear. His friends thought he was possessed by demons and tried to keep away from him. However, the barking continued so the entire tribe returned to investigate the log. A spreading pool of blood had formed around the log.



In fear they hurled their own sticks at the sight, whereupon a dark cloud gathered in the sky. The thunder roared, the lightning flashed and a torrent of rain fell from the sky. The men grabbed their belongings and ran for cover, but in the chaos one of them pulled the old woman's stick from the ground - the very stick which they had been warned not to touch. Immediately a fountain of water poured from the hole made by the stick. The water flowed for many years, thereby creating the lake of Tasik Chini. The tribe realised then that the log was actually the dragon called Naga Seri Gumum.



Of course, no magical lake would be complete without stories of a resident monster or a long-lost, sunken city. So, Tasik Chini has both ! Much like the famous Loch Ness, a serpent-like monster is reputed to make the lake its home. More seriously, there are theories that an ancient Khmer city once existed in the vicinity which has prompted archaeological studies of the lake and its surrounds.

The Story of Mahsuri


The best known legend of Langkawi is of Mahsuri, a pretty maiden who lived during the reign of Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah the Second who ruled Kedah between 1762 and 1800. She died under tragic circumstances for a crime she did not commit. She died a victim of a conspiracy plotted against her out of jealousy by Mahura, her very own mother-in-law for her magnetic personality. Mahura bitterly objected to her husband's intentions of taking Mahsuri as his second wife and eventually agreed that their son, Mat Deris should seek the hand of Mahsuri in marriage. Since than, Mahura had grown bitterly jealous of Mahsuri for whom she bore much hatred.
In time, Mahsuri gave birth to a baby boy and he was named Mat Arus. This inflamed Mahura even more. Mahsuri was accused of committing adultery with Deramang, a young troubadour who she befriended. The chieftain of Langkawi, Dato Karma Jaya, her own father-in-law was so taken in by Mahura's accusation that, without a proper investigation, he sentenced Mahsuri to death.
As proof of her innocence, some people say, white blood was seen gushing out of her wound during execution at Padang Hangus. Others maintain there was the sudden appearance of white mist that enveloped the spot where she was executed, which it was believed was a sign of mourning of her innocence.
Mahsuri is best remembered for her curse on Langkawi which was uttered before she died. She had said, "For this act of injustice Langkawi shall not prosper for seven generations to come." The execution of Mahsuri was indeed a tragedy of dramatic proportions. And her curse? Myth, legend or fantasy? History tells us that within a few years of Mahsuri's death, Langkawi was devasted by the Siamese and Datuk Seri Kerma Jaya and his entire family were killed. Rice fields and granaries were completely set on fire.
To this day, grains that appear to be burnt rice grains are still to be found at Padang Matsirat. However, many believe the curse is now over with the numerous development projects undertaken on the island.

The Story of Puteri Gunung Ledang

The Legend of Gunung Ledang revolves around a princess that allegedly lived on Mount Ophir in Johor, Malaysia.

The Sultan had heard of her beauty and wanted to marry her but she set seven impossible conditions for him. The conditions were:
-A golden bridge for her to walk to Malacca from the mountain,
-A silver bridge for her to return from Malacca to the mountain,
-Seven jars of virgin's tears,
-Seven bowls of betel nut juice,
-Seven trays filled with hearts of germs,
-Seven trays filled with hearts of mosquitoes, and
-A bowl of the blood of the Sultan's young son.

Some versions of the legend say that the Sultan was not able to fulfill any of these requests, while others say that he was able to fulfill the first six requests (thus causing the ruin of the Malacca Sultanate) but could not fulfill the final request which would have required him to kill his son. The point of the story is that the Sultan was either too proud or too blind to realise that the conditions were the Puteri's way of turning his proposal down.

Some say that remnants of the gold and silver bridge still exist, but have been reclaimed by the forest.

Myths and Legends

To the orang asli, the "original people" who have for millenia inhabited the forests of Malaysia, the earth was an abode for more than the diversity of plant and animal life. The world's oldest jungles, dense with mystery, were the playground of spirits, both benevolent and, well, less so.
Prominent natural features--and there are many in Malaysia--were wreathed in legend. Tioman Island is said to have been a dragon princess who decided to make her home where Tioman now rises out of the sea. Tranquil Lake Chini in the wilds of Pahang is thought to be the site of a magnificent Khmer city now sunk beneath the lotus blossoms. Mount Ophir, in Johor, is said to be the home of 'Puteri Gunung Ledang', a legendary princess once wooed by the Sultan of Malacca. The princess' beauty is still associated with the natural charms of the mountain itself. Langkawi Island has no such creation story, but the curse laid on the island by a princess falsely accused of adultery is one of the best-known of Malaysia's magical myths.
The supernatural imbues not only the land and water, but living things as well. The orang asli believe that one's semangat--soul or life force--traveled abroad during sleep; dreams were the record of the soul's adventures. In the city, it is a little harder to find someone who believes so wholeheartedly in what was once a compelling way of thought. But fragments of the old mythological system remain; the kris--the wavy-bladed Malay dagger--is a shining example. Many Malays have their own kris as well as their own kris tales. The kris is reputed to be able to fly by night and seek out victims (their owners' enemies, presumably) without a guiding hand. One who possessed a loyal kris was indeed powerful.

Malaysian recipes

CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients
1.5–1.7 kg chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 grated coconut
3½ cups water
4 potatoes, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
6 tbsp oil

Ground spices (A):
15 shallots
4 cloves garlic
14–15 dried chillies, seeded
2 fresh red chillies
2½cm piece fresh turmeric
4 candlenuts
2cm piece galangal
2 stalks lemon grass
1 tbsp belacan stock granules
3½ tbsp meat curry powder

(B):
1 star anise
3cm piece cinnamon stick
4 cloves
3 cardamoms, split and use seeds only
3 stalks curry leaves Seasoning:
1–2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce

Method Add 1/2 cup water to the grated coconut; mix and squeeze out to obtain thick coconut milk. Add 3 cups remaining water to the residue and squeeze to obtain thin coconut milk. Set aside. Heat oil in a deep saucepan and fry ground spices (A) and (B) until fragrant. Add in chicken and pour in 1½ cups thin coconut milk. Simmer and cook over low heat for 15–20 minutes adding thin coconut milk slowly until finished. Add potatoes and tomatoes and continue to cook until meat is cooked and potatoes turn tender. Pour in thick coconut milk and bring to a boil till the oil floats to the top. Season to taste.

ROTI JALA

Ingredients :
250g flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
(A) Mix:
2 cups santan
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of turmeric powder (kunyit powder)

Method
Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Stir in eggs. Add (A) gradually and beat until batter is smooth. Strain batter.
Pour batter into a roti jala cup with four to five funnels. Heat a nonstick frying pan over low heat. Grease lightly. Move the roti jala cup in a circular motion over the nonstick pan to form a lacy pattern.
When the pancake is set, turn it over onto a plate. Fold the pancake into quarters or roll up and stack neatly on a plate.
Serve with curry chicken, rendang or any curry dish.

CURRY PUFF -CHICKEN

Ingredients:

Filling-
200g chicken, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2–3 tbsp oil
2 onions, diced
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
3 tbsp meat curry powder
1 sprig curry leaves
2cm piece cinnamon stick
Salt and sugar to taste
1 tbsp oyster sauce
A dash of pepper


Pastry
350g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
150g pastry margarine
150ml cold water
1 tbsp lemon juice



Method: For the filling: Heat oil in a wok and fry garlic until fragrant. Add onion, cinnamon stick, curry leaves, meat curry powder and potatoes. Add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Cook over a medium low heat until potatoes are done. Add chicken, salt, sugar, pepper and oyster sauce. Stir-fry until meat is cooked and dry. Dish out and leave in a plastic colander to drain off excess oil.


For the pastry: Put sifted flour into a mixing bowl and stir in salt. Rub margarine into the flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre, add water and lemon juice. Mix with both hands to form a soft dough. If dough is a bit dry, add a little more water. Do not knead. Set dough aside to rest for 10–15 minutes. Divide pastry dough into two portions. Roll out each portion to about 1/4 cm thickness. Cut out into 9–10 cm rounds with a cutter. Place a tablespoonful of filling in the centre of each round. Fold pastry into half to enclose the filling. Seal by pinching and fluting the edges. Heat enough oil in a wok and, when hot, deep-fry the curry puffs until golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
(Recipes taken off kuali.com)