Friday, March 13, 2009


SERI MENANTI beckons us. She awaits our visit. Like a lady she is cool and unnerved if no visitor calls upon her. I must admit I have known her for many years but trifling put me off and she remained a perfect stranger all these while. Today we had the honor to call upon her.

I am thankful that she has remained as beautiful as ever, quiet, seductive, carefree and mesmerizing.

Sited far away from the madding crowd, accessible only through the winding pathways off Seremban, it is no wonder that the lady remained as she is, less too many visitors, too much encroachments and urge to beautify or upgrade knocks her off the high pedestal.

When I first toured Britain and Europe in my teenage years, the tourist brochures and postcards recognized the magnificent castles in the country sides and we were hapless at not following the guidelines. So we troad away into dales and hillocks less we became shortchanged in our tour of the country climbing staircases and crossed moats to see buildings much glamoured by King Arthur or William Shakespeare.

SERI MENANTI in all its magnificence has a palace to offer the visitors. I must admit I am awed at what I saw. The skills, craftsmanship, labor of love, joy at building such a structure as a home must certainly brought fulfillment to all. It is no wonder the lady has been cared for in complete luxury and solitude. She is exceptional. One in a million. No! perhaps the sole survivor if any.

May I urge friends, who have remained shy and distance from the lady to call upon her. Please take a day off and guide yourself along the North South Highway till you enter Seremban and then follow the direction to Kuala Pilah till you come to a junction indicating her home. From Subang Jaya it took us no more than two hours. If you have longer duration you will find an extension nearby which can take you to the east coast and perhaps call upon another lady friend invariably left alone because she is off the beaten track too. I meant here the capital of Pahang i.e Pekan.

You may also be surprised to see how Seremban has expanded. My visit almost four decades ago to the town looks like being a prehistoric calling. Much has happened.

For all its splendors, there are yet simplicity and good natured characteristics in between. Our visit to the 'Nine States' brought us to a restaurant offering dishes peculiar to the people of Minangkabau origin for lunch and at the end of the day to cool ourselves with 'cendul' at a stall made famous by a television program recently. The distinction here was the mode and the colorful seller himself.

This is Istana Seri Menanti, once the home of Yang Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan built in 1908 exceptional and unique four storey wooden structure without the use of metal nails by two Malay craftsmen Kahar and Taib. It was used as a royal palace till 1930's' centre of royal functions, ceremonies imaginable during the early 20Th century.

This is the open ground floor of the building. Four pillars known as 'tiang seri' stands in the middle part. One is in the foreground of the picture. Each was once a solid tree trunk and measured 65 feet upwards reaching to the high roof. Solid and hard, each is no less 15" each side. Throughout there are ninety-nine pillars supporting the building.

This is the panoramic view from one of the windows of the 'Istana'. The verdant landscape still remained intact and the quiet solitude of the town gives an awe not easily discovered anywhere presently. Designated as a royal museum, it allows visitors to come home to a cultural splendor.

The palace as seen from another angle, showing the extension to the kitchen and the servant quarters at the back.

As seen from the left section and at the back of the palace

Relics of the past on the palace ground. They are supposed to be mean of testing the true identity of the princes or persons before they were declared rightfully suitable for the positions held.Methodology? Need to research on it

Variety of hot sauce to choose from and the other dishes include meat ( rusa, kijang, burung puyuh, burung ayam-ayam), duck's egg plus greens or ulam of all kind. All found at a restaurant somewhere near the Negeri Sembilan Football Association building.One advice come early.

Pak Leman sells 'cendul'. He offers a deal not to be found anywhere. You choose a bowl of 'candul' ( pulut, kacang, jagung). Any extra bowls are free/ gratis. Even warm, barley water is served free of charge. Pak Laman declares that once he was refused a second helping because he had no extra coin . He vowed he would not allow anyone to face the same predicament again. You won't at his stall. Besides he is a character himself, meeting his guests with candid charm and is a walking encyclopedia churning off information , statistics and history at lightening speed.

Come torrent rain, his guests will not be caught wet. I was on the point of rushing for the car in the background when Pak Leman shouted if my umbrella is as good as his. Do I want to use his umbrella? Sure since I won't be wet rushing to get one from the car. Then he came out with his, even on wheels and it certainly put you right into the car without a drop of rain touching you. Call that supreme service at Pak Leman

Less we forget, since not many of us climb stairs to get into our home; you may know that in Malay homes all the 'anak tangga' (steps) are designed in even numbers. Here as at the other section of the palace home you can go up after stepping on fourteen 'anak tangga' quite high for any Malay building.

We are not beating the retreat by sounding this drum. Here a hollow tree trunk remained a symbol of calling the Muslim to prayer or indicating warnings and messages when electricity and loud speaker system was unheard of. You will discover this as one of the properties of the lady that awaits your visit.


Queen Of The House said...

I just had to laugh at Pak Leman's payung!! Very ingenious. The best thing is it ensures you don't get wet fumbling to shut the umbrella once you are in the car.

And seeing the splendour of the old architecture ... I guess what you feel is awe.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Kotastar, Wow! This place will be on my 'must visit' list bila saya balek kampong.
Its beautiful.
Not to mention the delicious food there.

I have always been facinated by Malay homes on stilts as I stayed in a few young days...and growing up fell in love with the Minangkabau architecture..
and very often would stay at Tanjong Jara Trengganu as there the buildings all Minangkabau....and one time voted by travel magazines as THE MOST beautiful resort in the world.

I used to joke with my wife if I have the money, I will built a Minangkabau style home here. After all there are lots off wooden homes here built with our Canadian hardwood.

You know Kotastar, its a pity Malaysian Tourist Ministry if there's one, doing a very poor job of enticing Canadians to Malaysia.

Seriously, I have NOT SEEN ONE advertisment anywhere here 22 years!!....Singapore ada.
And stressing the current exchange rates, it will be boom time for Canadians to visit Malaysia, visit Sri Menanti, as well the East Coast and its pristine seas and beaches.

Pantai Cinta Berahi, Marang, Tanjong Jara, not to mention Langkawi, Alor Star...

Kalu saya in the Tourism Ministry or dept, belambak Canadians will be seen in Malaysia instead of China always.
Tourism brings money.

When some people ask me where I was from I mention "Kuala Lumpur", they look at me with a blank face. I then say, "next to Singapore". and their eyes lit up, "yes, Singapore"!
And why? Because Singapore hantam their ads on "Singapore SIA and Singapore girls" in papers and some places in town.

Quite recently, satu Mat Salleh thought when I mentioned "kuala Lumpur, Malaysia", he thought it was near Tibet!!!! Habis cherita, I think he must have failed his Geography in school, ha ha.

Tampal the beautiful beaches, exotic foods, Minangkabau, beautiful Malay houses, the easy lifestyle (not the traffic at Federal Highway please, ha ha) and you'll see Canadians there.

By the way, MAS doesn't fly to Canada.
Have a nice weekend, Lee.

KotaStar said...

Hi Lee,
Terima kasih for yr response. Now we know why few Canadians reach our shores.Perhaps kita masih ingat orang Canada semuanya bekerja dengan Canadian Mounted Police so unable to leave their mounts for a long time. So the tourism people do not make their way there. Will initiate correspondence with the tourism dept. Tg Jara yes beautiful and won the Agha Khan prize but they let the building down by poor maintenance and was closed for sometimes. I believe it has been revived but don't know its present standing. You must return to drive around the country reliving the Alfa days. E&O is however splendid.Wish you happy spring time. KotaStar

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Kotastar, terima kaseh for your kind thoughts.
Not sure you have a ministry of Tourism, but they should get a wake-up call...someone there having a Zzzzzzzzzzz. Ha ha.
Not all Canadians on horseback, ha ha or living in Igloos with dog sled for transport.

Here we have long, cold, frigid winters...and if there are adverts of Langkawi or Trengganu beaches, beautiful Malaysian girls in sarongs and cheong sums.
Tampal these pics inside our subway trains, buses...
as well in major shopping areas...on TV, newspapers....and get the Canadians to Malaysia.

I have been a Marketing man 38 tahun...and I even market my Blog postings, ha latest posting, about a missing sarong, ha ha.

It entices people to pop in see any siapa punya sarong da jatuh, ha ha, hints of sex always sells, ha ha.

Its like makan laksa assam or assam ikan pedas, its the toppings, or color that attracts, then the scent, then taste.

Canadians are outdoor people....tunjuk those beautiful kampong homes for rent by the beach, jungle hotels, white water rafting etc...and less Canadians will be going to Phuket, ha ha.

To hear Caucasians say, "where"? When I mention 'Kuala Lumpur', even 'Malaysia'....either they failed their Geography or Tourism Malaysia failed, ha ha.

Saya ta'pernah dengar orang putehs here or whoever say, "we're going to Malaysia for our holidays". Phuket, Thailand, China...always, Singapore too.

Today our Cdn $1.00 dapat Mal, Rgt 2.55....imagine if Canadians know about that!
And I believe Malaysia has duty free for electronics? Like Singapore?

I may be a Canadian, but dalam hati saya, left hand corner, ha ha, Malaysia will always be ME.
You have a nice day, Kotastar, Lee.

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