Nov 2, 2006

Friendly hosts welcome tourists

Friendly hosts welcome tourists
Thursday November 2, 2006

SCENIC VIEW: Sungai Angkat near the village is a popular picnic spot.

SCENIC VIEW: Sungai Angkat near the village is a popular picnic spot.

THE home stay experience at Kampung Keda Ulu Legong in Baling, Kedah, promises to be unforgettable for many visitors.

The friendly kampung folk there are very accommodating and able to cater to the needs of their houseguests, including lining up fun-filled activities.

One of the home stay operators, Mohd Akhir Ismail, 48, said the home stay programme, which started in 1999, offers an opportunity for vacationers to be involved in the lives of the kampung folk.

“At only RM56, tourists can spend three days and two nights at a real home with their adopted families and experience true kampung life.

“They will eat the same food as we do, bathe using the kolah (well) and learn to speak our local dialect.

“If the vacationers wish to leave the kampung settlement for a change, their adopted brother or sister will drive them to Baling town on motorcycle,” he said.

Over 20 families in Kampung Keda Ulu Legong have become qualified home stay operators.

“We underwent a series of home stay management courses in Bangi, Langkawi and Malacca conducted by Kedah Development Authority (KEDA),” he said, adding that each family was taught the English language.

He added that apart from the locals, tourists from Belgium and Japan had come for the unforgettable home stay experience.

The home of Yaakub Ahmad, 70, who is also affectionately known by the villagers as ‘Pak Ngah,’ has been renovated to welcome tourists.

“My wife and I feel honoured whenever a tourist comes to our humble home.

“My wife Siti Khalibah Buyok is the best cook in the world and she would prepare an array of kampung dishes like fish curry, ulam (greens), sambal belacan, rebung masak lemak and sambal petai to entice the guests’ taste buds,” he said, adding that over 30 vacationers had spend the night at his house since 1999.

Yaakub said the home stay programme had made him better understand other cultures.

“Once during the fasting month, a Japanese man spent a night at our home. He was so curious about the Malay culture that he insisted on donning a sarong.

“I gave him one as he joined my family for sahur (predawn meal), buka puasa (break fast) and even took time to watch us perform the terawih (special fasting month) prayers at the surau.

“I was so fascinated by his interest that I decided to make an effort to learn more about his culture in return,” he said while making the bed for the next houseguest.

During the fruit season in June, July and August, vacationers who join the home stay programme will have the chance to spend a night in the fruit orchard and feast on the many exotic fruits like durian, rambutan, mangosteens, bananas, dukong langsat and mangoes.

Vacationers can go jungle trekking at Lata Parit Waterfall, watch the Sewang show by the Kensiu Orang Asli tribe or Dikir Barat by the kampung folk.

They can also watch villagers climb the 30m Tualang trees to collect honeycomb or have a picnic of rice and prawns cooked in bamboo by their adopted family.

Student Norlis Diyana Ahmad, 21, recalled her home stay experience as “best sangat!”

“That is why I came back today.

“Although I had a hard time understanding my adopted parents’ unusual Kedahan dialect, their warm hospitality made me feel like I’m in my own home,” she said.

For further information about the home stay programme, call Mohd Khir Ismail at 019-5088258.
- The Star.