By Nur Fatin Mohmad Kadenen
JOHOR BAHRU (Bernama) -- Two Johore-born filmmakers are attempting to revive a little known traditional dance form known as Reog through a short film that they have produced.
Titled 'Barong', the seven-minute film directed by Raden Mohammad Azwan Naharudin and Mohd Arif Ani sheds light on the Reog dance, a form of masked dance that has its origins in the district of Ponorogo in East Java, Indonesia, and the people from there had brought the art form along with them when they migrated to Peninsular Malaysia a long time back.
Currently, however, only the Javanese Malay community in three districts in Johor, namely Batu Pahat, Muar and Pontian, continue to stage this dance form, which is also known as Barong.
The reason why Reog's popularity has declined over the years and is even viewed negatively is probably due to its ritualistic and supernatural elements that can be construed as un-Islamic.
By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin
YANGON (Bernama) -- Walking on the sidewalks of Myanmar's largest city, there were times when this writer could not help feeling that he was being sucked into a time tunnel.
The buildings, the people and even the vehicles on the road and the city's general atmosphere seem to exude an old-world charm which the writer found fascinating.
Granted, there are high rises here and there in Yangon, which had served as Myanmar's capital until 2006, but the blend of modern and traditional elements seem to evoke a unique ambience – something culture and history buffs are bound to savour.
Along the main roads, skyscrapers can be seen towering above quaint colonial-era structures that serve as remnants of British rule.
The clash of old and new is also evident in the local people's attire. The men can be seen dressed in a shirt or collared or collarless T-shirt but it is paired with a sarong or longyi as it is known as locally. The longyi is essentially a sheet of cloth that's sewn into a cylindrical shape and is wrapped around the lower part of the body and tucked in at the waist.
By Noor Bakhtiar Ahmad
KUCHING (Bernama) -- Sarawak may be known for its kek lapis (layer cake), but another cake that is fast gaining popularity in the state is the mooncake.
It is traditionally made to be eaten during the Mooncake Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, which takes place around the end of August and until the end of September this year.
The festival is celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people all over the world. In Malaysia, however, mooncakes have also made their way into the hearts and bellies of Muslims.
Today, more Muslims are looking forward to the festival as it is a time they can satisfy their cravings for the seasonal delight – the halal version, of course.
The quest for halal mooncakes have made such businesses highly successful, as can be attested by Rimba Melati Othman.
By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin
KUALA TERENGGANU (Bernama) -- The time was 8.40 p.m. and it was pitch dark at Redang Island's Pantai Chagar Hutang.
The beach was damp as there had been a steady drizzle since dusk.
Amidst the hushed atmosphere, two Green turtles emerged from the South China Sea and slowly ambled up the beach. These endangered reptiles only had one thing in mind – to find a safe spot to lay their eggs.
Some sections of the beach were rock-strewn but, fortunately, it did not hamper the turtles from landing there.
It was probably the quietness and stillness that attracted them to Pantai Chagar Hutang as they must have felt safe from predators.
The day these two Green turtles – nicknamed Sabariah and Kartini – turned up at Pulau Redang, this writer was also there together with a group of journalists and television cameramen from the Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA) and Bernama News Channel (BNC).
By Shakir Husain
ISTANBUL (Bernama) -- Even if you are not an avid admirer of the arts, architecture or history, the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul is still worth a visit.
Go straight to the areas facing the sea and enjoy some stunning views of Istanbul's skyline.
For those interested in the museum's collections and walking through its courtyards and rooms radiating with treasures, it would be an exhilarating cultural trip.
Overlooking the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea, the Topkapi Palace was built in the 15th century on the orders of Mehmet II, also known as Fatih the Conqueror.
It occupies a special place among Istanbul's must-see attractions, which include the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and the Hagia Sophia Museum within a short walking distance.
By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin
KUALA TERENGGANU (Bernama) -- No other place in Peninsular Malaysia has the highest rates of sea turtles nesting than Pantai Chagar Hutang in Redang Island, Terengganu.
Before the beach was gazetted by the state Department of Fisheries as a turtle sanctuary in 1993, the northern part of the island was a popular place for turtle egg hunters to get their supply.
After the gazettement, the activity was immediately banned and the place subsequently became a sanctuary for nesting turtles.
The 350-metre long beach is closed to any tourism or commercial activities in order to retain its natural landscape so that turtles can nest without being disturbed by humans.
Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) runs several programmes on the nesting beach through its Sea Turtle Research Station where it monitors, studies and organises academic activities related to turtle conservation.
By Ahmad Erwan Othman
GERIK (Bernama) -- Birdwatching has become an environmentally-friendly recreational activity that brings economic benefits to the country, especially the tourism sector.
According to a research by the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia), the arrival of 3,150 birdwatchers from all over the world in 2015 generated some RM20.3 million in spending. In fact, Malaysia is the fifth destination of choice in Asia for birdwatchers after India, China, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Belum Temengor Forest Complex is a favourite destination of birdwatchers from all over the world because it is where 304 species of birds can be found, including migratory ones.
Realising its ecotourism potential, the Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) teamed up with the Belum Rainforest Resort, Belum Forest Friends (BFF) and the Perak State Parks Corporation to jointly organise the Royal Belum International Hornbill Expedition 2018 from Sept 3-5 at the forest complex, recently.