If you’re looking for a perfect one-day getaway from the bustling city life, the traffic jams around Kuala Lumpur, and you are looking to switch KLCC’s concrete jungle to real jungle, visiting the Mah Meri natives in Kampong Village is your perfect one-day program to escape the city and still make it back home for dinner.
Kampong village entry – Credit to: Nicky Almasy
The real pleasure of Kuala Lumpur is that there are treasures to be found only an hour and half drive from downtown, whichever direction you go and this is just it.
Even more so, if you want to find something meaningful that gives you a glimpse into the lives of the Malaysian Peninsula’s natives, visiting Kampong village is the perfect option for you. This ethnic group of Mah Meri people counting a tiny, roughly about 2200 population are one of the eighteen Orang Asli groups and they reside on the outer fringes of Pulau Carey among five separate villages.
The day starts out by glancing into their everydays, daily habits and rituals. We’re greeted by a young man who is kind enough to show us around their family household. The Mah Meri people are well known for their wood carving skills, so needless to say, this is one of the ways how they make their living, offering their handicraft for sale to visitors. With wood-chippings all over the floor and carving tools lying around there’s a workshop that serves as the family business and we are offered the opportunity to take photos and even wear their traditional clothes.
man carving wood – Credit to: Nicky Almasy
One of the highlights of the morning is when they take us to Kampong village’s museum, which holds a wide range of hand-carved masks, clothes made of wood and other testimonials of how the Mah Meri people respect and keep alive their traditions.
We make a visit to the back of their farm, hidden deep in the jungle, where we find their place of worship, the Moyan Garden, filled with symbols, bamboo ornaments offered daily to their deities. A pleasant odour of incense fills the air while he talks about their rituals, which gives you a sense of travel back in time in Kampong village’s history. If you come at the right time of the year, near Chinese New Year, you’re in luck.
This is when their tradition truly comes alive with music, celebrations and according to this young man, the now deserted place fills up with hundreds of people, dancing and feasting around their place of worship. This is how Mah Meri people celebrate the Day of Ancestral Worship with a festival organized each March.
Credit to: Nicky Almasy
After leaving the Kampong village behind we’re moving towards the Anggerik Impian Villa where you can experience all comforts of an authentic Malay home. Also, this is where we are treated for lunch. The house is buzzing with tourists, booked up all year from all countries from around while maintaining its cozy, homey atmosphere. After the warm welcome, the lunch is served and it consists of local delicacies, such as seafood, assorted vegetables and locally spiced meat – it truly offers everything that the traditional Malay cuisine can.
Credit to: Nicky Almasy
First, there is a tour around the house, which is as inviting as its owners. Built by the man of the house himself over a course of a decade, with stylish pastel grey wooden walled corridors and traditional, also wooden furniture offers a relaxing comfort and quiet, calming atmosphere with inviting rooms, which are extremely hard to resist after consuming the rich home-cooked meal. But we have to keep our good pace of the day, so we move out to visit the orchard beside thehouse.
Credit to: Nicky Almasy
Without an exaggeration, it is simply the garden closest to an earthly paradise. It’s not only a treat for the eye holding the most amazing range of exotic fruits and plants but it’s also a natural pharmacy in a form of a back garden. You can remedy any problem here, plants that good for preventing cancer, high blood pressure and heart problems also can be found around a tiny lake, filled with colourful fish. The welcome, the hospitality by we are treated here is makes it hard to leave, but unfortunately, it’s time.
We say goodbye to the owners of the house and then our guide drives us around a bit in the green scenery of the neighbourhood, offering insightful comments about the area and its people. We’re making our way to the last stop of the day, to sample the famous local drink, the Toddy.
Toddy – Credit to: Nicky Almasy
Toddy is a special coconut wine, a slightly alcoholic drink. It has a strong but delicious aftertaste, so you’re advised to balance its ingestion with a potato-based spicy snack. If you want to go to all the way to town with it, the restaurant serves the meat of wild boar, mutton and chicken and you can also tank up with a drink as a take away. Its effect is both cooling and relaxing that comes from its low level of alcohol and the timing couldn’t be more perfect: sitting by the jungle as the sun goes down, it’s just the loveliest way to finish the day and slowly make your way back to town for the evening.
Whether you’re looking for a perfect day, or a perfect getaway from Kuala Lumpur, the visit to the Mah Meri people in the preserved Kampong village serves as a great window to peak into the native life of Malaysia and guarantees to leave you with warm feeling and a rejuvenation by nature, tradition and an authentic taste of Southeast Asia.
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