Sunday, March 16, 2014

Travel {5 Must-Visit Attractions in Malaysia for the Decor Enthusiast's family}

image via

I am exploring tourist destinations keeping the whole family's interests in mind. When I looked up Malaysia, I just loved the endless possibilities for a family like us - decor enthusiast (me), music lover (spouse), adventure freak (daughter) and Lego-crazy (son).

Apart from that, I must say we all love a vacation that offers great food, and enough time for relaxation. So here I am sharing with you the 5 things I am sure our family will do on a trip to Malaysia.
  1. The State of Melaka. Melaka or Malacca is a 2-hour drive from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.It has several must-see attractions like experiencing the unique Baba-Nyonya Peranakan cultures ( it includes visits to museums, restaurants and homes), the UNESCO world heritage site at Melaka,Jonker Street, Heeran street, and several more. Of these, I am so dying to visit Jonker Steet because of its diversity. A blend of Euro-Asian cultures, so that means plenty of Portugese-Dutch influenced architecture, food, etc. It is also an antique-lover's paradise, with several antique shops located in this area. I am particularly looking forward to seeing
    A charming old house...look at those port windows
    and that bird cage!Pic via
    the classic European architecture in this area.
    Okay, I seem to be rambling because the pictures on Google quickened my pulse and I almost dashed off to pack my bags! I also want to skip the newly-sprung cheap travel souvenir shops, and go shopping at the original shops, the ones that have managed to still stay in business over the decades. I have heard a lot about the food in this area too, so this is where our family of foodies will likely spend a lot of time! The kids (& their mum :p) will also spend some happy minutes at Jonker's Dessert Cafe, I am sure!

    My husband and I would also probably go back to the area in the night to enjoy the Geographer Cafe, which usually has some great food
    An antique shop on Jonker street
    Pic via
    and a live band performing! Nothing like experiencing the night life in a new city! I read a lot about the Popiah (spring-roll) vendor, an old Chinese man with a dilapidated-looking cart. The queues for his food are pretty long I have heard, and we hope to bump into him here on a weekend as well! Christ Church, Coral Wonderland, D Paradise Malacca - a concept aboriginal and fruit village are other things to see in this state of Malaysia. Heck, we could easily spend a week here!
  2.  Kota Kinabalu and other places in Sabah Kota Kinabalu, Borneo is the busy entrance way to the famous Kinabalu National Park. Not far away from the national park are exciting jungle treks and camping experiences at the
    Scenic sea-side sundown at Kota Kinabulu via
    Crocker Range National Park. Now this national park trek is only wishful thinking, because with 2 kids in tow, I am not really sure how we would manage a trek that takes 2 days to reach the lowest peak! I know though, that the sea-side spot is where we will plant ourselves for a relaxing couple of days.

    So I thought it was a good idea to check out some sea-side resorts in the area.

    The YTL property and the Gaya Hotel both look rather interesting
    YTL Hotel
    Gaya Island Resort via
 There's lots to do in Kinabulu, if you are not keen on trekking up the National Park. Check out Lonely Planet's Guide for the deets!

Craft Center via
 3.    Kuala Lumpur Markets - Craft Center  
and Central Market Okay, I am probably taking you on a rather circuitous trip, but you must have figured that out by now! :) cos we are going back to Kuala Lumpur. As a family we are not really into shopping for clothes, etc. But give us old shops, antiques, decor pieces and food markets, and we never say no. That's why I have listed these 2 markets of Kuala Lumpur in my itinerary.

The Craft Center is located at Jalan Conlay, in an old building that has fantastic architectural features such as intricate carvings in wood, and motif work! I hear that the centre offers displays of local crafts, an artist village, and things for sale. You can also try your hand at local art forms such as batik painting and songket weaving.

The Central Market is located in an art-deco setting, and it's the place to get local handicrafts made by accomplished artists.
 Central Market pic via TripAdvisor

I also hope to head to some local food markets, because I am dying to eat Malaysian durians.

   4 Legoland Malaysia - We are a Lego-loving family. And my son is crazy about his Legos. So this one is a no-miss for the whole family. Remember that Johor Bahru where Legoland is located, is not far away from Singapore, and you could plan your itinerary accordingly.
Legoland pic via TripAdvisor
There are other things to do in Joho Bahru. There are more theme parks like Little Big Club and Puteri Satellite Clubhouse. There are mosques, temples and art galleries, and fun shopping malls. So this is mostly a destination for the kiddies!

5.Pangkor Island I don't know about you, but I would definitely be exhausted after escorting two kids to fun theme parks. Some R & R for the whole family is in order, and I think the Pangkor Island looks like a good place for our family before returning to our busy lives back home! It is a quiet escape in the West
Pangkor Laut Resort pic via

Coast of Malaysia, half-way between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Yea, yea, we should have mentioned this before the Legoland trip, but heck, as long as you know where it is...! I'll leave the logistics to you:). The pic above is self-explanatory. I don't think we can afford it, but I would certainly love to stay there!

 I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with
Wish me luck!
Malaysia, truly Asia.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pattachitra and the half-story of the artists of Raghurajpur

Pattachitra is an art form whose origins can be traced as far back as 5BC. It took root in Odisha's Puri district, and till date is the economic mainstay of villagers in this district. One such village is Raghurajpur, a scenic little dot on the globe, just 14 kms away from Puri. It is nourished by the river Bhargavi and coconut and mango groves shield around 100 houses belonging to artists. Yes, almost every home practices some form of art or the other, and Pattachitra artists outnumber others.
pic via

A whole village of artists? They must be rich, you think. Sadly, the artists lead a hard life because of their dependence on middle-men who buy their art work so cheap, it barely covers their living expenses. Needless to say, these same pieces are sold to the end customer at 4X the price paid to the artist! This, despite the fact that, in 2000, Raghurajpur was developed  as a heritage village by INTACH.

If you look up Wikipedia, you will read a lot more fanciful things about Raghurajpur.The village is a model heritage/ It is the venue of the annual Spring Festival, the Basant Utsav - Parampara Raghurajpur  initiated by the State tourism board, a non-profit organization works with the artisans....yet, the sad  truth remains - artists continue to be underpaid.

In a recent journalistic venture by Indiblogger and Do It Right, when artists were interviewed, they all cited the same problem - the presence of middlemen prevented them from getting what their art deserves!

The art form of Pattachitra is not easy. Artists spend long hours hunched over their canvasses, and the intricate drawings, as well as the attention to detail make it quite a bone-weary occupation. It is the only one they know. This video will tell you more!

Luckily, #doitright says there is a way out. It is possible with your support. According to them, "These artists need a platform to showcase their art, promote and sell it without the interference of middlemen. To make the traditional Odisha art of Raghurajpur village accessible across the world, we think a website for Raghurajpur village would be very helpful. Families would be profiled and their art work would be listed in their individual galleries. The artists can provide their contact details and connect with buyers directly, through this website."

pic via 

Let us fill their loves with as much color as their canvasses hold. Let us contribute to Indian art and encourage artists with fair pay which will in turn sustain their livelihood.  You can contribute by donating any amount or telling your friends about this incredible story on your social networks. There's not much time left - donate, and make a difference. Click here to donate, or Share this story wherever you can.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Inspiration Files: Suzani upholstery on your dining chairs

I love Suzani but I don't own any Suzani pieces yet. The key word is yet :) cos I am so taken up with the idea of an accent chair in my living room upholstered with Suzani. And just when I had decided that's what I wanted, I chanced upon this dining room of Linda Lipsett and Jules Bernstein at their Martha's Vineyard getaway.

home country dining chairs suzani
Pic credit: Christopher Baker
Yes, Suzani on my dining chairs sounds like a good idea too!