Kedah and Perlis are two of the four states located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. While Kedah is famously known as Negeri Jelapang Padi (The Rice-Bowl State) since it produces up to one third of rice in Malaysia, Perlis, on the other hand, is the proud producer of the signature and ultimate type of mango: Harumanis.
During the familiarisation trip with the theme ‘Road to Agrotourism – The North Series’ organised by Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) with support from Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA), Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP), I realised that these two states are more than just paddy fields and sweet, aromatic mangoes.
The trip successfully highlighted the hidden jewels of Kedah and Perlis relating to agriculture and holding immense potential to boost tourism, especially among agricultural and food enthusiasts.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN KEDAH?
Ladang Nipah Ismail Che Kaq
Our first stop upon arriving in Kedah was this place located in Yan. Under the shades of palm trees, travellers can expect to taste the delicious palm nectar (locally known as nira), freshly collected from the farm itself.
According to its owner, Pak Ismail, the farm consists of 300 palm trees located next to his house, producing 30 to 40 litres of palm nectar a day.
Besides the refreshing drink, travellers get to taste nira jelly, sweetmeats and vinegar made from palm nectar.
Opens daily except Wednesday
GPS: 5.870002, 100.379592
Contact No.: +6 012 435 5104
Kompleks Latihan MADA Alor Serdang
This might be an excellent place for those who intend to experience farming, catching fishes and planting paddy in traditional ways, which involve using nothing else but your own two hands. This venue is actually a training centre for locals to learn more about farming and become an agropreneur (agricultural entrepreneur).
To learn the traditional ways of agriculture, travellers must come in large groups and make prior booking with MADA by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. This place also has accommodation facility that can take up to 50 people.
Contact No.: +6 04 731 2162 / +6 04 731 2167
Tobiar Gold at Kampung Tobiar
Tobiar Gold is a brand for mango planted on a 40-hectare land in Kampung Tobiar. There are around 18,000 mango trees planted here from the Chokanan variety. Besides the chance to taste delicious mango (which is obviously a must), travellers can also roam around the farm by foot, bicycle or tram. There is also an observation tower where travellers can climb up and admire the aerial view of the farm. Should travellers wish to try their hand at mango cultivation, they can learn the basics of growing mangos directly from the local farmers themselves.
GPS: 6.063512, 100.485105
Contact No.: +6 04 772 8255
IAT BIZ serves to promote and distribute local products by local entrepreneurs not only for the Malaysian market, but also for overseas. Through this mission, IAT BIZ acts a hub in gathering and marketing local products to provide opportunity to local entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.
From local foods and cosmetics to handicraft products, travellers can obtain them all at IAT BIZ.
GPS: 6.123621, 100.372381
Contact No.: +6 04 731 2701
Located next to the panoramic view of paddy fields that is downright pleasing, Tamteh Homestay offers not only accommodation, but also the experience of living like the locals. This property is equipped with multipurpose hall, camping ground and prayer room, besides Wi-Fi service at public areas.
GPS: 6.254051, 100.234517
Contact No.: +6 019 414 4343
This three-storey building pays homage to paddy as one of the most important crops in the world. The history and rice samples collected from all over the world, including modern and traditional instruments used in cultivating the crop are all showcased in this museum.
But the main highlight of the museum is the eight-metre tall and 103-metre wide giant three-dimensional mural, said to be one of the largest in Malaysia. The mural offers travellers the chance to take in the magnificent view of Kedah from the top of Keriang Hill as if they stand there in real life.
GPS: 6.191546, 100.326489
Contact No.: +6 04 735 1315
Keriang Hill Resort
Not far from the Paddy Museum, at the foot of Keriang Hill, lies an exclusive resort set up in an atmospheric tropical Malay village-style owned by the Tunku Temenggong of Kedah, Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Sultan Abdul Halim, who is also a princess of Kedah and the daughter of the late Sultan Abdul Halim, famed for being the only Sultan in Malaysia who was extremely fortunate to assume the role as Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong (His Majesty The King of Malaysia) twice in his lifetime, while other Sultans from various states in Malaysia so far had only assumed the role once.
The resort boasts 15 luxurious villas built in traditional Malay vernacular, blessed with the stunning limestone hill as the backdrop. The resort’s Puteri Restaurant, located next to a small beautiful lake with a few royal swans in sight, serves local and Western fare.
GPS: 6.189327, 100.327367
Contact No.: +6 04 730 5232
Wau is a type of kite popular among Peninsular Malaysians; they are generally large and embellished with exquisitely intricate designs, usually sporting floral motifs. In the spirit of preserving the practice of kite-flying that has been done for generations, Kedah Wau Association made the effort in attracting the younger generation to not only play wau, but also make it.
According to the association’s president, Mr Mahyuddin, he is pleasantly surprised to receive an overwhelming response from the youngsters towards wau-making since the association was re-activated in 2009. In fact, the association has garnered multiple awards, chiefly among them obtained during the World Kite Festival from 2015 until 2017 at Pasir Gudang Johor, when they were announced as the overall champion. They also actively represent Malaysia at prestigious international kite festivals in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
Paddy harvesting demonstration by MNH Harvester at Kampung Pida 3
Paddy farmers of today utilise new technology that replace the crucial role of buffalos. They would normally use giant harvester machines to harvest paddy, making the process far easier and faster.
Belonged to Mohd Nor Hamzah, MNH Harvester demonstrated how paddy is efficiently harvested, while the remaining paddy straws are collected using baler machine.
Mak Teh Gulai Temenung
Gulai Temenung actually refers to a type of a spicy dish consisting of mackerel cooked in curry-like gravy. Called as ikan kembung in other parts of Malaysia, locals in Kedah and Perlis refer to it as ikan temenung. Interestingly, temenung colloquially means ‘zoned out’.
Thanks to its unique name, this eatery became viral on social media and turned popular among foodies near and far. However, it is the dish’s authentic and delicious taste that makes travellers come back for more.
GPS: 6.257960, 100.197322
Contact No.: +6 017 740 7048
MARDI Agrotechnology Park Langkawi
More than just a centre for technology transfer and information dissemination related to agro-industry, this 35-hectare land serves as one of the island’s main eco-tourism spots equipped with technology information centre, tropical fruit orchards, sheltered hi-tech vegetable farms and naturally conserved areas that are accessible for recreational purposes.
When being here, be sure to taste the fresh-from-farm fruits such as starfruit, jackfruit, mango, and papaya!
GPS: 6.361216, 99.792658
Contact No.: +6 04 953 2550 / 2551
Destini Akef Villa
The name of this property is aptly family-oriented – the word ‘Destini’ refers to the name of the owner, Tini, while ‘Akef’ is derived from the first alphabets of the names of the owner’s children: Amar, Kimi, Elisha and Faiz. Destini Akef Villa is located close to Pantai Cenang and offers 40 air-conditioned rooms that are categorised into four types: superior, deluxe, triple-sharing and quad-sharing. Complete with complementary Wi-Fi, the hotel also has its own pool for guests to unwind and enjoy their time with their loved ones.
GPS: 6.304916, 99.724262
Contact No.: +6 04 952 3809
Langkawi Craft Complex
Considered as one of the main attractions in Langkawi, the complex is divided into 23 spaces such as Ceramic Crafts Retail, Batik Showroom, Teluk Yu Hall, Stingless Honey Bee Farm, Interactive Crafts, Themed Exhibition Area, Heritage Museum, Weddings Museum, Crystal (Glass Blowing) Studio and more. Langkawi Craft Complex is the place where travellers not only learn about local artisanal products and purchase handmade souvenirs, but also participate in educational activities like batik-colouring.
GPS: 6.420547, 99.780366
Contact No.: +6 04 959 2340 /+6 04 959 1917 / +6 04 959 1844
Cruising around Langkawi with Sea Splash Cruise
Before we ended our agro-journey in Langkawi, we experienced sunset cruising with Sea Splash Cruise. The boat is originally designed as a fishing boat, but now modified to include comfortable and luxurious facilities to become a commercial boat to accommodate travellers. Guests can opt for services such as deep-sea fishing, snorkelling, diving, island-cruising or even custom-made trips.
We departed from Telaga Harbour and passed by some of Langkawi’s gems such as the iconic Pulau Dayang Bunting. The journey was smooth; accompanied by a magazine and good music, the journey was remarkably relaxing and memorable. Oh, the sunset that evening was absolutely dazzling too!
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN PERLIS?
Harumanis Farm at Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Paya
Harumanis is a type of mango variety that is synomymous to Perlis, Malaysia’s smallest state. The name is derived from two Malay words: harum, which means fragrant, and manis, which means sweet. Living up to its name, Harumanis is not only famous in Perlis, but throughout Malaysia.
This 1.1-hectare land that we visited is just one of the farms that produce Harumanis when in season, normally between April and June. However, due to continuous research and development, a group of Perlis farmers is optimistically planning to produce Harumanis off-season so that people may enjoy the fruit year-round.
With support from its members, the Farmers’ Organisation Authority also produces products from Harumanis such as Harumanis juice and chips for commercial market.
Ladang Nipah Kipli
Located in Sanglang, Perlis, Ladang Nipah Kipli has as many as 2,000 palm trees that produce the sweet and nutritious nira. To truly enjoy nira, travellers are recommended to imbibe it while savouring the famous Laksa Kuala Perlis (Kuala Perlis rice noodle dish laden in fish gravy) under small huts within the farm’s grounds. The cool atmosphere under the shades makes tea-time experience at the farm perfect.
GPS: 6.268863, 100.184969
Contact No.: +6 017 430 7708
Squid-jigging at Kuala Sungai Baru
Besides learning about the Northern Malaysian farmers’ life, I also experienced the life of the fishermen, which is definitely not easy. Together with the other participants of the trip, we stayed for hours above choppy waters in the middle of the night and I must say, since most of us were new to such activity, we had problems concentrating when we tried catching squid because we succumbed to motion sickness and grogginess. But when our catch for the night took the bait, we were ecstatic! Besides squid, our skilled guide even managed to catch a huge stingray!
Travellers can experience fishing and squid-jigging by renting a boat (fit for four to five persons) from dusk until dawn at the price of MYR700. If travellers happen to visit outside squid-jigging season that runs from April until August, they can try catching other types of fish because the surrounding waters is rich with marine life.
Contact No.: +6 013 495 2199 (Amran)
This article is included in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 13.3. Read the magazine for free HERE.