Thursday, August 31, 2017

Heritage Inspired | Confidence Has No Competition


Confidence Has No Competition.
This is what I felt  when I first met Hanisah Izzat from Sungai Buloh, the owner of HERITAGE INSPIRED. There isn’t much to shout out about her, except that she is a Primary School Science Teacher that has a passion on craft. The beauty about her is that her curiosity on dinner clutch bag drove her in learning to make one, from… you guessed it. Youtube.

If curiosity killed the cat, and Hanisah slayed it. On point. *wink*
Not only she is a self-taught in making a clutch bag maker, she decided that since she is good at it, why not go one step further by adding Malaysia element in this new hobby/craft of hers. Ie. our own culture. Our heritage. Our songket!

Started by ‘hijacking’ her father’s songket samping, followed by her mom’s beautiful batik and all, she perfected the art of songket/batik clutch bag. And there is no turning back ever since, nothing can stop this beautiful young lady, and guess what, she also does embroidery bags and looking at running classes for clutch-making.

When asked where did she source all her clutch frames (after all, we already knew how she got her materials *cheeky smile*), she said mostly via online and Singapore, as well as China. The next question was whether she plans to do it in a larger volume and expand her territory (in terms of market), well, she is pretty contented with her craft and the small scale output. This was she it is more personalized and rare as you won’t get 2 of the same. I kinda agree with this statement.

I guess this goes beyond aspiration, beyond empowering youth and woman, its sheer determination, turning passion into business while upholding our heritage values. She is a great role model to her students and us alike.

The world is her oyster and she embracing it gracefully, clutching a songket purse.

Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Living in the Shoe | Craft from the Heart

10 years ago.
I was introduced to hand painted shoes.
Love at the first sight.

Tucked away safely in this little corner in Kuala Lumpur, it is a great surprise that this unknown and unattractive small start-up company; Amaze Creative is doing more than what anyone can ever imagine.

Mr. Chang Wan Sang and Ms. Yee SK, the dynamic duo, the mastermind behind Amaze Creative said that it started with their parents being old and deaf, having experience the hardship of managing and caring a special need adult, gave them the idea to initiate and start this business; enabling this beautiful people with skill set such as drawing and painting on canvas shoes and bags. They hope that this small gesture will assist them when venturing into the real world.

Amaze Creative is located at the ground floor of TAR Villa Apartments in Desa Setapak, housing approximately 6-8 person per session whereby the finished product are being sold online at or .

This amazing company, did not just stop here, Amaze Creative & Art is also present in Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 or KLIA2. Being ambitious and having positive attitude are the key factor that drove this husband and wife team to establish their outlet in KLIA2, ensuring their fashionably hand painted products are frequently updated, by developing new design and new styles. And part of the proceed goes back to their main initiative that start it all, enhancing the special needs community with skill set, expand and improving the facilities thus providing comfort to these special friends of ours.

The shoes are sold at an affordable price ranging from RM49 – RM79 depending on size, catering for both kids and adult. They also can custom made, one will need to go into their website to place an order.

Amaze Creative & Art
L2-77, Gateway@KLIA2 Mall
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Operation time : 6am - 12am

Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kimekomi Craft| Bringing Japan Home

I always say ‘In every country you visited, you’ll take a piece of it home’, and for Kak Latifah, Kimekomi craft has found a new home. Malaysia.

A foodie will hunt for good food, a photographer will scout for beautiful subject, a fashionista clothes, and an artisan or craftsman, art and craft (obviously). And this is the story of Kak Latifah Hamzah of Pulau Indah, the artisan behind easy-tuck craft or kimekomi, as what the Japanese calls them; the birth place of this few centuries old craft.

Traveling to Japan in 2015 was certainly a life changing mexperience for Kak Latifah, marveling at kimekomi craft during one of her many subway train ride, has sparked Kak Latifah’s interest and now has become her greatest passion. And what makes it even greater is the fact that she combines our very own Malaysia heritage; batik and songket into this old craft from Japan. The result – astounding.

I remembered telling Sham that when you have a good story behind a great product, it makes us; digital storyteller easy to write. Well, ‘easy’ is an understatement really, the right word should be eager, excited, enthusiastic or perhaps passionate as we felt the artisan love and sincerity in producing the craft, and the depth is rather contagious and overwhelming. Thus me writing this, enjoying and appreciating the artisan and their craft even more.

‘Wah’ and ‘Ooooh’ was the first (and only) thing you hear as we entered her studio, just like her subway experience, we too went googoo gaga over the art pieces. This is especially amplified when we laid our eyes on her ‘kebaya songket girls’ as well as her ‘owl family’ piece. Awestruck (I wasn’t even this awestruck when I saw Sheila Majid during her concert recently). First thing that came into my mind (and I verbalized it [after all, I can only contain so much]) was ‘Kak Latifah, berapa harga ni?’ / how much does this piece cost?, wanting to own it.

One must wonder, why the fuss over her art piece?
Here’s the thing, not only she combines our batik and songket into this centuries old craft, she formulates it in a way that it portrays our beautiful aMalaysia heritage and hculture; girls wearing traditional malay attire such as baju kurung pahang, kebaya, cekak musang and etc, easy-tucked it with songket fabric. If Kak Latifah marveled at what saw in Japan subway, we now are experiencing and doing the same. In a magnifying scale. And more.

She strongly believes that there are more than one way to promote our heritage and culture – batik and songket, by using kimekomi craft, she is able to combine both our fabric (heritage) and traditional attire (culture) into a beautiful art piece that can be easily sold, transport and showcased to public.

Knowing very well that she takes custom made orders, participate in exhibition and sells some of her work of art online, I ask her on her next step and as I suspected - ‘beginner classes’. So, you guys out there, go to the link below and follow Kak Latifah on her Facebook and wait for her announcement on craft classes.

What is Kimekomi craft?
"Kimekomi" means to "tuck in" in Japanese. Farbric is of Japanese design silk brocade tucked (and/or glued) into grooves that was carefully carved into.

This craft dated as far back as early 18th century. A priest at the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto named Tadashige Takahashi created a doll body from scraps of willow wood trees and covered it with left over fabrics used for the Shrine festivals, thus the name Kamo dolls. However, kimekomi doll is not temari ball craft as often confused.

For more info on Kak Latifah’s artwork :

Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The True Meaning of Girl Power | Artsis Studio

This time around, Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 brought a refreshing flavor, one that I initially thought was a great idea, later spellbounded by the sincerity, intention (niat) and generosity that I definitely knew there’s hope in our community, humanity and country. (Yeah I know! Sounded a little dramatic but in all honesty, this is how I really felt). And this is how my self-reflection journey started…

A family that creates Art together, stays together.

That was how Uncle started his conversation, believing that art keeps his family united. He even jokingly told us that his love for art was not materialize during his younger days hence him imposing it onto his children, of which, it really paid off. Alhamdulillah. I doubt there’s any regret among them, in fact, I think they rather enjoy it (and appreciate it of cause). Fast forward years later, they are now a known artist in their own right; a career woman that combines passion and academic – successful marketers, graphic designer, PR specialist and town planner. And as if what they’ve achieved is not (good) enough, they decided to give back to the community by starting an art class for kids in the neighbor, hopefully expending to adult art class (of which I plan to enroll *wink*).

Having honored by The Malaysia Guinness Books of Records for having the most artist in a family created the curiosity in me, reason being their abah, fondly called by the children; Dato’ Haji Mohd Yusoff Jaafar was the former Commissioner of Police, Sarawak. Police force; a person whom many would presumably felt strict, fierce and boring. And Oh Boy! Was I wrong, he was everything but. He not only instilled the love for art into his kids at young age, he cultivated their talent, nurtured their genre and supported their interest. Unsurprisingly, some of his kids not only have painting as talent, they are also actively involved in music – also a form of art. This can be seen is some of their artwork.

Like a little Cheshire cat, I asked further, the genre of each of the sibling’s artwork, and the same time learning the name of the genre. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone I call it *grin*. I soon learn those painting with human element where in photography is called portraiture is called figurative in painting (correct me if I am wrong here), noticed that some of the sign-off is by Yati; the eldest sister. Then there’s Van Gogh style, one that looks like Starry Starry Night; not quite sure which sister mastered this genre, then there’s also naïve art of which I kinda like it. But one that captivated me the most is the sister (forgotten her name, silly me) that dotted on her paintings, claiming that she doesn’t fancy ‘a flat/solid surface’ and I told her that the first thing came to my mine is Australia aborigine art. I bet she’ll be famous if she exhibits her work of art there. You go girl!

My curiosity need to be fed, I enquired on the format of the art classes for kids. Guiding and nurturing kids’ talent is what we ‘all expected, but as usual, the family when over and beyond to teach these kids, they taught them to see beyond the bubble’, as it is not colourless, it came in many sizes and that it glitters. Grasp that and translate it onto the drawing board. Aside from that, the classes also share the background of the artist itself, the genre and history behind it. This way, the understanding and appreciation of art is more robust, more depth and full of soul, not a mere 2Ds; on a piece of paper.

After asking my usual ‘Why, When, Who and What’, I came to realized that I actually ran out of questions (which is kinda rare for me, those whom know me well will vouch for this).

‘Teruja’ and ‘terkesima’ is an understatement when you meet them Art Sis; a true to life Girl Power.

So, step aside Power Puff Girls, bow to them queens! *flip tudung*

Artsis Studio
Email :
FB Page : Artsis Studio
Instagram : @artsisstudi
Mobile : +6018-327 0902
Town : USJ 9, UEP Subang Jaya

Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sarawak Cultural Village : An Open Air Living Musuem

Land of The Hornbills.
Where Adventure Lives.
More Than Paradise.

These are names given to Sarawak. All of which I wholeheartedly agree.
I always believe that the cultural village of any country is good; it is impossible for us to venture throughout every single country and learn their history, culture and customs.

After visiting plenty cultural villages - both local and abroad - I realized that our very own cultural villages is at par with those I’ve seen. And I am truly impressed and in love with Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), located at the foot of Gunung Santubung. Rich in history, culture and heritage, rewarded with beautiful natural wonders, blessed with charming heartfelt warmness, Sarawak boasts a complete package that every traveller can only call paradise.

Sarawak Cultural Village is an open air living museum portraying the cultural and heritage of Sarawak’s main ethnicities, showcasing handicrafts, food, weapon, fashion as well as dances. The houses that one can experience here are the Orang Ulu Longhouse, the Melanau Tall House, the Bidayuh Longhouse, the Iban Longhouse, the Malay Kampung House and the Chinese Farm House. Every house has its unique characteristic and ethnic showcase, hence no two houses are the same hence I advise that you allocate few hours if you plan to visit this enchanting place. Another thing you should check out is the local food being served at the cafeteria, from ayam pansuh to umai to uban goreng belacan; the food here will surely excite your palate. 

My first experience of the Sarawak Cultural Village was awe-inspiring. The first thing that came to mind was the museum I visited in Romania. I tend to travel with minimal planning, letting my feet carve my path. That's what happened in Romania, taking me to a living museum. And since then, my benchmark for cultural villages is Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum in Bucharest, Romania. The one in Stockholm couldn't really compete. These are my thoughts on a living museum of which Sarawak Cultural Village met the mark.
  • The SCV team were friendly & knowledgeable, which is key as visitors will have a lot of questions to ask and they have to be fed with accurate information.
  • The longhouses and tall houses in SVC were modeled as close to an original authentic home, as how it should be; the closest best.
  • Having the locals to represent their ethnic homes, heritage and culture nailed it.
  • SCV keeping it to 5 main ethnicity was a good move : Iban, Bidayuh, Ulu, Melanau, Penan, as well as Malay and Chinese home.

Bidayuh Longhouse
SCV educates visitors on Bidayuh's custom & culture. 

Iban Longhouse
The art of weaving beads that enthrall us.

Penan Hut
SCV taught us on Sarawak's jungle nomad: Orang Penan.

Orang Ulu Longhouse
We learnt from SCV on Orang Ulu's sword craftsmanship.

Melanau Tall House
It's Melanau Tall House not longhouse, we found out at SCV.

Malay Kampung House
It portrays the simplicity of Malay kampung house with local delicacies.

Chinese Farm House
It is a farmer’s house with the usual oriental décor and the only home here that is floored by the earth.

And at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), your visit will end with performance which will blow your mind away. The SCV mini concert should not be missed!

So, my verdict on #Sarawak Cultural Village?

... A must-mandatory-compulsory place to go if you are in Kuching.

Entrance Fee
RM 60.00 (US$20.00) - Adult
RM 30.00 (US$10.00) - Child : 6-12 years old
Free for Children aged under 6 years old

Sarawak Cultural Village
Pantai Damai, Santubong
Kuching, Sarawak


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jerunai; a hanging coffins and burial poles at Lamin Dana, Sarawak

Creepily fascinating or fascinatingly creepy? You be the judge.

Bridging the past and the present, the old and young, the world and Mukah, Diana Rose passion drove her to embark in a fulfilling journey to share Melanau wonderful heritage with the world by introducing Lamin Dana on 14 February, 1999. A sense of ownership to her beloved Melanau tribe, Diana Rose is a living prove that where there's a will, there's a way. Now it is internationally known, news coverage came from local, national and foreign medias the likes of History Asia - Hidden Cities, Wild Asia talking about Lamin Dana, Mukah iconic traveler destination.

Lamin Dana Cultural Boutique is located at Tellian Village in Mukah hinterland, a 3 hours drive from Sibu town. Mukah can also be reached by flight via MASwings from Kuching or speedboat via Dalat from Sibu, either route would be enlightening as Sarawak scenery is known to be very diversified and soulful.

"Lamin Dana means traditional house in archaic Melanau" is what Diana Rose wants to do, conserving and reviving her Melanau heritage. Built as a boutique guesthouse with proper local activity packages, its main objective is to ensure Melanau culture and history are well preserved for future generation and made known to the world. Traditionally a fishermen, padi and sago farmers, Melanau are among the earliest settlers in Sarawak, previously known as "A-Likou" meaning 'people of the river' until the tribe name Melanau was given. Sago being the staple food here, are normally systematically planted and cultivated for its produce.

A 2-minute walking distance away from Lamin Dana stands a tall totem pole that is a few hundred years old. This totem pole is known as Jerunai; a burial pole. I was told that Jerunai is reserved mainly for Melanau aristocrats (bangsawan) here in Mukah, Sarawak. It is made from the Borneo ironwood tree or pokok Belian, full of intricate animal and plant motif carvings to symbolize their status and level. The aristocrats' bodies would be left in a hanging coffin for a year before its remains are transferred into a Jerunai. Every aristocrat will bring 2 human sacrifices with them into the afterlife, one male slave and one female slave around 12-13 years of age. The male slave will be placed at the bottom below the aristocrat and the female above, both tied to the Jerunai and left to starve to death. This is an ancient practice some 175 years ago before the light of Islam arrived on Sarawakin soil.

There is a famous story of a royalty whose death asked for multiple human sacrifices and it's jerunai bears the scars of the rescue effort by the sacrifices' loved ones? This, and many other jerunai stories, can be found from the Sarawak Tourism Board.

Each Jerunai stands at around 10 to 15 meters. It requires 15 to 30 locals that must be of Melanau bloodline; a descendant. A blessing ceremony is held for commemoration when erecting a Jerunai.
Diana Rose has taken the initiative to beautify Kampung Sri Tellian's jerunai for the convenience of her guests and tourists visiting Mukah. Her vision and dream of making Melanau known to the rest of the country and the world has started to show results.

Able to accommodate family and single travelers, Lamin Dana ensures that guest experienced the best of Melanau heritage and Mukah scenes. Providing guest with "Sago Experience" where guests are exposed to how and why Sago is made, boat ride along the river and mangroves at sunsets, basket weaving hands-on experience or learning simple traditional Melanau culinary are some of the activities offered here. Wanting to share Lamin Dana with the world, Diana has also prepared a "3D2N Student Culture Package" where she can cultivate the younger generation to love our culture, heritage and history. Her gift to Melanau tribe, Sarawak and Malaysia.

I hope that this Melanau history and heritage will never be forgotten, for those who forget their roots are those bound to repeat their regrets.

DiGi's Amazing Malaysian 2005 has selected Diana Rose as one of their award recipients. Her mission to conserve and promote Malaysia's natural and cultural heritage has honoured her as "The Knowledge Keeper of Sarawak". Amazing Malaysians is part of DiGi's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

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