Curious to find out what life in a Malay village is like? Try a homestay.
Homestays are becoming an increasingly popular activity in Malaysia, both
with foreigners and locals. Life in a Malay village is sometimes as alien to the
country’s urbanites as it is to the international visitors.
With this in mind, Tourism Malaysia, together with Kembara Travel & Tours
and ANCM Creative (an events management company), invited 70
participants from the media, entertainment and travel industries in Malaysia,
Indonesia and Thailand to experience the village life.
Among other things, we were promised interaction with the villagers, visits
to tourist attractions and “eco-challenge” games.
Homestay Kampung Raga
Our first homestay destination, Kampung Raga in the district of Yan, Kedah,
took six hours by bus to reach.
The villagers welcomed us with kompang (a traditional percussion instrument)
and serunai (flute), complete with a contingent carrying bunga manggar and
bunga telur, and three young boys performing a silat (martial art)
We were divided into groups and introduced to our foster families. Some 20
families in the village had signed up for the homestay programme, and each
family could take in up to five guests, depending on the number of rooms in
Don’t expect the modern amenities and luxuries of city life — village life ambles
along at a much slower pace.
Our foster mum, Umi, said that most of her guests were university and
exchange students, corporate and team-building groups from Malaysia,
Indonesia, Thailand and Korea.
Lunch that first day was served on mats by the river. After that, we returned
to our foster family’s home to get ready for the eco-challenge games
organised by the village folks. Eleven teams of four took part, and each had
to complete tasks like weaving jackfruit baskets out of leaves, making local
delicacies, competing in a tug-of-war and catching ducks in a muddy paddy
The night ended with a cultural show featuring traditional Kedahan music
and a nasyid (religious singing) performance by the women village folk.
We were invited to try the instruments and play along with the musicians.
Sungai Sedim, Kulim
We left in the morning and traveled north to the Tree Top Canopy Walk in
Sg Sedim, Kulim. The canopy walk is said to be the longest canopy walk in
the world, spanning 925m with the highest point being 30m.
Each team was given a quiz sheet, and we had to search for information
like the local names of the trees and where certain trees were located.