Growing up in Selangor, I thought the state has always been about buildings and industrial parks, and anywhere in between. You can’t blame me because Selangor is the most industrialised and developed state in Malaysia that contributes significantly to the country’s annual national GDP. However, I am now more impressed with Selangor because it turns out that the state has so much more to offer besides the tangible and the physical. Selangor is rich in history, heritage and ethnic culture, which I learned when I participated in the recent cultural familiarisation programme called ‘Rentak Selangor: The Breathing Pulse of Our Land’ that was held from 9 until 12 March 2017.
After the successful inaugural Rentak Selangor programme held last December 2016, the Selangor Executive Councillor (Exco) Office for Youth Generation Development, Sports, Culture and Entrepreneurship Development decided to collaborate with the Selangor State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN), PUSAKA (non-profit organisation that works towards the continuity of traditional performance arts in Malaysia) and Gaya Travel Magazine again to introduce the second Rentak Selangor, this time with different traditional music and dance performances from the previous. A total of 30 people comprising local and South East Asian members of media, social media influencers and bloggers participated in this four-day and three-night journey to experience the best traditional beats and moves available in Selangor. These participants promote Selangor’s vibrant cultural and musical heritage through various media channels and platforms to ensure that the contents of this programme reach to wider arrays of audiences.
What to learn:
Kompang is a traditional shallow frame drum that is beaten with the palm of the hand and played in a group, usually performed during formal and informal opening ceremonies such as weddings, circumcision ceremonies and completion of Quran recitals. Kompang performance include songs and composition based on the contents of Kitab Berzanji (Book of proses in praise of Prophet Muhammad pbuh). The kompang comes in two types: Kompang Kadaro and Kompang Tiga (also known as Kompang Jawa). Even though both originated from Java, Kompang Kadaro and Kompang Jawa differ in terms of sound, size and the material used for the drum head, which is normally made from hide.
The name Kompang Kadaro is derived from the Arabic word ‘Qadrah’ or ‘Qudrah’, which means ability to do things. In the olden days, Kompang Kadaro was played by farmers at night to rest their mind from work, therefore the sound is more calming and soothing. Kompang Kadaro has four kinds of rhythm: telon, banggen, babon and salahan. This kompang is usually made from cow hide.
Kompang Tiga (Three Kompangs) has three sets of rhythm: telon, babon and salahan. The combination of the three rhythms makes a harmonious sound. Usually, Kompang Tiga being played during wedding ceremony to celebrate the bride and groom since the sound produced by Kompang Tiga is louder than the usual kompang. Kompang Tiga is made from lamb skin.
Persatuan Seni Budaya Warisan
T: +6 013 6150252 (Haji Daiman)
Kuda Kepang & Barongan
Kuda kepang (flat horse) is a traditional dance originated from Java. Kuda kepang performance depicts a group of horsemen, whereby the dancers straddles a flat horse. The kuda kepang was made from braided strips of woven bamboo, generally colourful and decorated with bead and sequins. Predominantly, kuda kepang performance portrays troops riding horses, but it also incorporates trances. When dancers are in trance, they display extraordinary abilities as he was possessed by animal spirits such as monkey, snake, elephant and bird. Amazingly, these dancers could also chew on glass, climb trees or walk on hot coals.
Tip: Those who are viewing this performance are advised not to wear any red cloth as it could attract the dancers’ attention when they are in a trance.
Persatuan Seni Budaya Warisan Kuda Kepang
T: +6 013 6077025 (Wak Rahman)
Lion dance is usually performed during Chinese New Year, whereby the performers mimick a lion’s movement. The dance consists of two dancers dancing in lion costume while each of the other three persons plays the cymbal, the gong and drum. According to Master Shiow, who has been in the industry for over 40 years, lion dance originated from China, but now performed internationally. In the past, the lion dance moves did not synchronise with the tune and looked rather scattered. This style is now followed by lion dance practitioners in China. This performance art has evolved and now becomes part of the Malaysian culture. Interestingly, lion dance in Malaysia has been locally improvised to synchronise the dance moves with the song.
T: +6 012 2293926
Gamelan and Wayang Kulit
Wayang kulit (shadow play) is an ancient form of traditional Malay theatre using of light and shadow, entertaining the audience through story-telling. It is believed that it originated from Java since pre-Islamic times. A wayang kulit performance is led by Tok Dalang (main puppeteer), who expertly manoeuvre the puppets to nod, speak, laugh, walk, dance and fight. The story behind the play are often based on specific characters, commonly revolve around tales of Ramayana. Every story behind the play has its own lesson, making it a popular form of entertainment for both children and adults.
The performance of wayang kulit is accompanied by gamelan, which also originated from Java. The word ‘gamelan’ itself means pounded upon, referring to the way this collection of musical instruments is played.
Persatuan Seni Budaya Warisan
T: +6 013 6092625 (Wak Kusnan)
What to eat:
Nasi Ambeng and Soto
Nasi Ambeng is a traditional Javanese cuisine that consists of white rice alongside chicken, vegetable, fried sambal, coconut floss and fried noodle, all served in a tray that is meant to be shared between four or five persons. The variety of the dishes that come with the rice usually vary according to districts or places – some would also include fish. Traditionally, nasi ambeng is directly eaten from the tray by diners all at the same time using the right hand, a practice that is known to foster closeness and camaraderie. On the other hand, travellers can also savour soto, which is a soup dish comprising broth, meat, vegetables and cubes of compacted rice.
Lot 216, Batu 6, 45500 Tanjung Karang, Selangor, Malaysia
T: +6 012 361 1987
What to visit:
If you’re a history buff, then this place is just for you! Bukit Melawati is full of history regarding the Selangor Sultanate. There are a few vestiges to be visited on Bukit Melawati such as Batu Hampar (execution rock), cannons, The Royal Mausoleum, Poisoned Well and museum. Apart from being a historical site, Bukit Melawati also offers travellers an amazing view of Selangor coastline – just be careful with the mischievous local macaques.
Sasaran, Kuala Selangor: Sky Mirror Escapade
When the sky is beautifully reflected on the ground like a mirror, it seems that both earth and sky become one, making it an Instagram-worthy scenery. This is what travellers can expect from a newly discovered travel spot, especially travellers who love photography. The spot, for obvious reason, is called Sky Mirror, located on a mystery island. During the half hour boat ride from the Sungai Buloh Jetty in Jeram to get to the island, travellers can feast on natural scenes like birds flying in a flock along the mangrove. Uniquely, the sky mirror reflection only emerges several days per month, so travellers are advised to check with the tour operator before visiting this place.
- Don’t forget to bring motion sickness pills if travellers are prone to such ailment during boat ride.
- Travellers need to make reservation with the tour operator.
Sky Mirror Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd
T: +6 019 266 6665 (Mr Lim)
Price: RM 80 (adult), RM 60 (kids)
Where to sleep:
The Kabin Jeram
Situated in a strategic location, The Kabin is situated in Pantai Remis, which is an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur to get here. This place is a great weekend getaway because it offers unique container type lodgings in the form of dormitory that accommodates up to 6 persons and guestrooms. With facilities such as swimming pool, barbeque area and karaoke sets, The Kabin is the perfect place for travellers to relax and unwind with family and friends!
T: +6 017 258 5227 (Firdaus Sany)
Homestay Kampung Haji Dorani
Imagine waking up in a kampong house serenely surrounded by greening paddy fields and birds happily chirping way – that’s what Homestay Kampung Haji Dorani offers to travellers. There are different packages for travellers to choose from when staying here that offers the opportunity to take part in activities like batik-drawing, paddy-planting and harvesting, watching fireflies and witnessing the enchantingly mystical kuda kepang performance.
T: +6 013 607 7025 (Abd Rahman Daud)
Concorde Hotel, Shah Alam
Concorde Hotel Shah Alam is undeniably one of the most established hotels in the capital of Selangor due to its location, efficient services, reliable facilities and excellent food and beverage outlets, making it a good choice among business and leisure travellers. Located in Section 9, Shah Alam, Concorde Hotel Shah Alam is a stone’s throw from the iconic Sultan Salahudin Mosque, which is also known as the Blue Mosque of Shah Alam.
T: +6 03 5512 2200