KOWAMAS EXPANDS MALAYSIAN INBOUND BUSINESS

Kowamas Holidays have announced they are working on expanding inbound international business, promoting Malaysia as “the best destination to travel”.

Dato' Farid

Dato’ Mohamed Farid Bin Mohamed Zawawi

Chairman of Kowamas Holidays, Dato’ Mohamed Farid Bin Mohamed Zawawi, says that among key products on offer are a selection of day tours from Kuala Lumpur, targeting stop-over visitors staying in the Malaysian metropolis who are keen to get some local flavour in and around Selangor state.

Kowamas are promoting a number of tourist destinations in Selangor, such as Batu Caves, Kuala Selangor Fireflies, the Royal Selangor manufacturing plant, Bukit Melawati, Sekinchan, Selangor Fruit Valley, Mah Meri Cultural Village, Sunway Theme Park, and homestays.

Site of a Hindu temple and shrine, Batu Caves attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists, especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam.

Batu 5.jpgSituated just a stone’s throw to the north of Kuala Lumpur, one can find idols and statues erected inside the main caves and around it. Incorporated with interior limestone formations said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.

Batu Caves have three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines.  Its main attraction is the large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance, besides a steep 272 climb up its steps to finally view the stunning skyline of the city centre.

Cathedral Cave – the largest and most popular cavern in Batu Caves – houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100-metre-high arched ceiling.

At the foot of Batu Hill are two other cave temples – the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave – which houses numerous Hindu statues and paintings. Paintings and scenes of Hindu Gods can also be seen in the Ramayana Cave.

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Batu Caves

Monkeys frolic around the caves (see photo top of page), and it is a popular spot for rock climbing enthusiasts.

Royal Selangor

Not far from here, visitors are also able to get a look behind the scenes at Royal Selangor, the world’s foremost name in quality pewter.

It all began in 1885, when a young pewtersmith named Yong Koon arrived in Malaya from the Chinese port of Shantou, armed with little more than a set of tools and a determination to succeed.

Today, Royal Selangor’s designers and artisans continuously expand the limits of pewter design while staying true to their heritage of craftsmanship.

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The factory now features a “first”, as visitors are able to make their very own pewter objects, using traditional tools, in the “School of Hard Knocks”.

Carrying on to the village of Kuala Selangor, visitors can taste Cendol – a popular local sweet dish – with or without Durian! Kuala Selangor is also renowned for its hillside park with countless friendly Silver Leaf monkeys, its typical local over-water seafood restaurants and the magical fireflies at nearby Kampung Kuantan.

This unusual firefly phenomenon can be found only in two places in the world, at the Selangor River in Malaysia and on another river in Brazil. The Malaysia Fireflies are locally known as “Kelip Kelip”, meaning “blinking”. Of course, it is virtually impossible to take useable photos of these blinking lights from a moving boat in the dark of night. Suffice to say that the spectacle of the fireflies is akin to seeing a wall of Christmas trees as far as the eye can see with magic lights blinking all in unison… all provided by mother nature.

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Fishing village – Kuala Selangor

Other extraordinary attractions in Selangor of course include the Mah Meri cultural village, also an easy day trip from KL. If you are looking culture, intrigue, art and ethnicity, the Mah Meri cultural village on Carey Island is an exceptional source of inspiration, and an amazing personal experience.

Mah Meri (meaning “jungle man”) is a group of indigenous people or “orang asli” living on Carey Island, about 28km south of the city of Klang in Selangor state, and just a couple of hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are five Mah Meri villages on Carey Island with total population about 4,000. Mah Meri is indeed a subgroup of the Senoi ethnic group of indigenous people in Malaysia. Senoi are generally found in the central part of the Malaysian peninsular, and are believed to have come originally from Yunnan via Southern Thailand around 10,000 years ago.

The Mah Meri Cultural Village

A gallery/museum and traditional house in the village compound is open to visitors, where one can admire a large number of masks and carvings and learn about the tribe’s rituals.

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Mah Meri – on Carey Island

The village is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit Pulau Carey’s Mah Meri Cultural Village is during Hari Moyang (Ancestor Day), which takes place around March or April each year, Puja Pantai (Oceanic Healing) or during a wedding ceremony.

During the festival, the tribesmen and women wear intricately carved masks and perform the mystifying Tarian Jo-oh (Jungle Dance) and Tarian Topeng (Mask Dance), which are main features of the festival repertoire.

An Experience in Ancient Indigenous Culture

Tourists can experience a day of sea nomad ceremonial rituals, amazing re-enactments, powerful cultural performances and storytelling as the Mah Meri relive significant events and sacred rituals. One is able to share in a traditional welcome ceremony of before being invited into the cultural village. Amidst the sacred shrine with ritual offering to their ancestors, here the visitor will witness the making of time honoured crafts of sculpturing Moyang from mangrove timber and watch the making of the ancient form of intricate palm leaf origami to appease the spirits. At the heart of the village, the performance arena offers a powerful and entertaining cultural repertoire, where one can witness the seven marital rituals and the ancient craft of oceanic healing.

Sky Mirror – a matter of timing

It is also possible to organise a day trip from KL to observe the Sky Mirror – one of the most exceptional natural phenomena of the region… but which can only be seen at certain times of the month.

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Sky Mirror

While Bolivia has its Salar de Uyuni – where people come from all around the world to photograph the reflections on the thin, but seemingly endless expanse of water on the salt plain, Malaysia’s Sky Mirror is a similar natural phenomenon – in the middle of the sea.

It is about three kilometres off the coast from the fishing village of Jeram, Selangor. Due to tidal activity, it only “appears” only a few days every month, during the first and 15thdays of a lunar month, and 4 days before and after. When the tide is ideal, the sand bar emerges with a thin sheet of water on top to give a breath-taking mirror-like reflection.

Speed boats leave early in the morning for around half an hour’s ride to get to the sand bar at just the right time, as there’s only an hour or so to take photos before the tide comes back in.

While hundreds of people head to the Sky Mirror to take “crazy” photos, the sheer size of the place means it’s not at all overcrowded. Tourists are advised to wear striking coloured clothes or bring “fun” props to make their photos stand-out, with the thin sheet of water giving sometimes amazing symmetrical images.

Walking on the offshore sand flats is an eerie experience in itself, as the nearest land is quite distant, and the occasional ocean-going freighter or cruise-liner may glide past less than a kilometre away.

The tour to the Sky Mirror generally includes a number of props and photo ideas, supplied by the tour company, and a series of photos taken by their experienced photographer, adept at taking great shots in these conditions. Photo buffs also of course bring their gear and are able to “go wild” with the reflections and all the possibilities offered by this unique location.

These are just some of the plethora of ideas put forward by Kowamas for day trips from KL. With a main focus on Asian & European source markets, Kowamas Holidays are working with a variety of foreign TOs and TAs. Of course, the agency is highly skilled in the organisation of circuits across the peninsula and even further afield!