Category Archives: Malaysia

After being away to study then work in Peninsular Malaysia for a decade, I have found myself starting to appreciate those little things we have in Sarawak.

The Last of the Ring Ladies from my Home State, Sarawak

After being away from home to study then work in Peninsular Malaysia for close to a decade, I have found myself starting to appreciate better those tiny little things we have back in my Bumi Kenyalang, Sarawak, that I tended to take for granted. And by “tiny little things” I meant the cultures and practices that make Sarawak, well, Sarawak.

I remember Cat once said something along the line that it is often only after we have seen the outside world that we would begin appreciating our very own.

She kinda took the words right out of my mouth. You know, the same idea that had been lingering at the back of my mind, but which I felt may be too premature to conclude – she reaffirmed it.

While my home state is made up about 40% of its non-Muslim indigenous natives who thereby form the majority, their cultures have become so prominent and distinct such that every time we hear “Sarawak”, cultural icons like the long house and blow pipe would cross our mind.

But these icons do not and cannot be used to represent any other states in Peninsular Malaysia. They just don’t fit together. That kind of dashing uniqueness associated with Sarawak, its culture, people, and everything else, is exactly what I only got to realise in the last couple of years after being away from home for so long. Every time I travel back home, I would ironically find myself thrown into a state of “culture shock” for the flexibility and beauty in the kind of cultural, religious, social, and political terrains I grew up in.

I’m sure by now some of you would have heard of Dewi Liana Seriestha, the Sarawak lass who recently made Malaysia proud by working herself into the Top 25 of the Miss World 2014 pageant and winning the Miss World Talent title. Anyway I have been following her for a while now and got to know that she is currently involved in a project called the Ring Ladies project.

When I heard “ring ladies”, the first thing that sprang to mind was this:

Long Neck Padaung Myanmar

Those were the long-neck Padaung ladies living at Inle Lake of Myanmar. Such a long-neck tribe can also be found in the Long Neck Village of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Yet little did I know that in my very own home state in Malaysia, there are also a small group of indigenous natives who don themselves in a similar fashion, sans the stack of neck rings slowly stretching their neck. The coiled rings they wear around their arms and calves are called ruyang and rasung.

So ladies and gents – behold:

Ring Ladies of Sarawak
Image credit to

Do they not look similar?

I’m not saying they belong, or don’t belong to the same origin (extensive study needed on this if there hasn’t been any), but I just find it really interesting how the ring ladies from Myanmar and Thailand areas are strikingly similar to those in Sarawak. It is such a shame that despite having stayed in Sarawak for over twenty years, I have never even heard about the ring ladies of Sarawak until recently!

So let’s take a look at the following documentary starring the beautiful Dewi Liana who is of Bidayuh ethnicity to introduce this sub-tribe called Semban. The ring ladies are thus also called the Semban ladies.

As of January 2014, the documentary says there were only as few as five of these ring ladies left, and they can be found in Kampung Semban of Sarawak.

A Weekend Escape to Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village

So three weeks ago I had the chance to have a short retreat from the daily routine of home and work, to this beautiful place my friends had been talking about. Speaking of which, yours truly is a bit ashamed to say I had not been there even once during all these years in the Peninsular and yet it’s just some three hours away from KL.

Of course, like the title suggests, it was none other than the famous Cherating beach in Pahang, Malaysia.

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (14)

Let’s just fast-forward to when we reached Kampung Cherating, a small, relaxing fishing village in the east coast that has in recent years come alive thanks to the growing backpacker-tourism there. Some 21km away from Kampung Cherating lies the humble town of Kemaman (also called “Chukai”), which is situated in the southern part of Pahang’s neighbouring state – Terengganu.

The reason why I mentioned the Kemaman town is because I love the food there, and by food I meant Nasi Dagang wrapped in banana leaves and the delicious Mee Sup Daging (beef noodles with soup) that came with a spicy tinge of pepper, which my friend and I had at a Chinese restaurant called “Hai Peng”.

A must-visit restaurant during your stay in Cherating!

What I found surprising and worth mentioning about this shop is that its Malay customers who were almost as many as their Chinese counterparts, a scene ironically rarely seen in the hustle and bustle of the better-developed KL! Anyway let’s not delve into that.

So at Kampung Cherating, we effortlessly fond this beautiful Bali-esque homestay called Tanjung Inn:

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (9)
Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village, Pahang.

Tanjung Inn provided a whole range of accommodation, with the cheapest being the double-sharing fan chalet priced at RM70 per night and that – can you believe it – was inclusive of breakfast! Crazy or not?

By the way this is NOT an advertorial for Tanjung Inn. I just feel obliged to blog about it since the service rendered to us was fantastic and really satisfying.

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (10)

The photo below shows how our double-sharing chalets looked like at Tanjung Inn. They were all wooden and surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens and trees!

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (1)

The site definitely gave us a back-to-the-nature kind of feeling. Though it was just my friend Hoe and I, we happily took two of such chalets, and that also meant plenty of bed space to sleep on!

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (3)
Tanjung Inn’s double-sharing fan chalet.

We didn’t take any air-conditioned chalet and it was a best decision made because given the chilly weather during the time when we visited, there was absolutely no need for an air con. Not even a fan actually, at least for me. It was really very cold at night.

The humble boss of Tanjung Inn owns 11 acres of the land there, and connected to the Tanjung Inn site was a 5-acre beach land.

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (8)

To be honest the beach did not intrigue me very much because the seascape and its surrounding looked uninterestingly flat to me.

But how did it matter anyway – I had enjoyed staying at the inn more than the beach itself. The inn was such a paradise and so relaxing!

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (5)

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (6)

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (7)

Various types of chalets were spread around a few lotus ponds – I can’t remember how many of them exactly but there were probably three. While we were there, construction work was going on at part of the inn to build more chalets.

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (12)

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (13)

This was the scenery from the chalet I stayed, which overlooked a beautiful pound with fishes and otters:

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (4)

Hoe and I spot a huge monitor lizard near her chalet. She was kind of fearful it would creep into her room and eat her up. I said it was supposed to be more fearful of us humans because the Chinese eats just about everything!

Hoe also told me she spot a hornbill, which I haven’t seen for the past nine years since I left Sarawak (if you haven’t known, hornbill is the state bird of Sarawak). Tanjung Inn was totally like a zoo!

Tanjung Inn, Cherating Village (2)

There, I got to make friends with its friendly staffs. There was this one staff whom I was rather puzzled at first as to whether he was a local because I heard him speak Bahasa Malaysia in a weird accent. It turned out he was a Burmese who had been in Malaysia for the past ten years!

So we chatted for quite a bit and our conversation mostly revolved around Myanmar – a country I really love, food, and culture. Suddenly we had so much to talk about simply because I was familiar with his country.

Half way through our conversation I noticed that he uttered something in Malay to another Burmese colleague of his to my very surprise and I asked why it was so. He said it was because they spoke different dialects though coming from the same country. Ironically what bound them together was non other than our country’s national language!

Hoe and I ended up ordering through this guy what he personally felt was the town’s best curry crab as dinner. The restaurant was situated just beside the inn. And indeed, the dish did not disappoint one bit.