Sunday 26 January 2014

Malaysia: Homestay Kampung Beng, Lenggong, Perak

More and more people travel the world not just to see places, but to also experience first-hand the life and culture of the places they visit. Some, who are lucky enough to be able to do long-term travel, tend to choose to just stay in one place for a month or two to (somewhat) live like a local. Some others, like the Japanese couple I met in Esfahan, Iran, visit one place year after year. And for some of us who can’t afford to either travel long term or visit a place again and again, there’s CouchSurfing and Airbnb, both of which let you stay either with a local for free, or in a local’s room or house for a fee. Then there are food tours to restaurants and food stalls; as well as programmes which let you go to a stranger’s place for a taste of what a meal in a local’s house is like.

For those coming to Malaysia, there’s another option you can try. And the option is a homestay programme.

First introduced in Malaysia back in 1995, a homestay programme gives visitors the “opportunity to stay with a host family, interact and experience the daily life of the family and learn the culture and lifestyle of the rural community in Malaysia”. There are quite a few homestay programmes throughout Malaysia and each one has unique offerings and activities as these depend on the location, local culture, food and their main economic activities.

Recently I had the opportunity to experience a homestay in Kampung Beng, a rural village located not far from the small town of Lenggong, in the state of Perak, just north of Kuala Lumpur. While the village is accessible by road, getting there by boat travelling along Perak River was quite an experience. It's just beautiful, and calming. No wonder the locality has been used as location for TV commercials and films, most notably for "The King and I", starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat.

Surrounded by the river on one side and nothing else but greenery on other sides, Kampung Beng is made up of a tight knit community. Everybody knows everybody else. In fact, most people in the village are related to each other, as noted by my “foster father”, Pakcik Zahari bin Mat Jasin, who welcomed me and four other friends into his house for 2 nights.

Taking cold morning shower in the outdoor bathroom with the water sourced from the nearby stream, having simple yet delicious meals which were prepared by Makcik Murney, Pakcik Zahari’s wife, walking around the neighbourhood enjoying the fresh air, watching boats coming and going from the village jetty that has a small fish farm next to it, and trekking into the nearby hilly jungle for about 30 minutes to get to a glorious waterfall, I did not only manage to experience a glimpse of village life during the 2 days and 2 nights I was there. It was also a reminiscent of the time when I spent my early childhood at my paternal grandparents’ place every school holiday back in Terengganu.

It was a simple life back then and it’s also still a simple life here in Kampung Beng.

How I wish I could have stopped the time... or at least stay in Kampung Beng a little bit longer.

Thank you Railway Tourism Association Malaysia (RTAM), Tourism Malaysia, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and M-Mode Berhad for the opportunity to join the familiarisation trip that brought me to Kampung Beng.

RTAM recently introduced a few interesting homestay packages throughout Peninsular Malaysia that include transportation by rail from the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. For more information about these packages, please refer to their website and Facebook page.

For more information on Homestay Programmes throughout Malaysia, kindly refer to the website of Homestay Malaysia.

For more photos taken during the trip, please check Ramble and Wander's Facebook album.

For other www.RambleAndWander.com blog entries on Malaysia, click here.


Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. Nice photos Raw. I think the concept of Homestay is nice, but it is just that it is not commercialized enough. If it is commercialized enough, I think more foreigners would be more aware of it. It used to be famous back then, when almost everyday there are foreign travellers stay at this homestays. But the number is dwindling now.

    This is based on my relatives' experience who has a homestay business in Sungai Besar.

    Anyway, what is he difference between Kg Beng and Kg Batu Ring, as in the video above?

    1. I do hope it won't ever be commercialised or else it could lose its authenticity, as in "real" rural life. But if you're talking about lack of promotion, yes, I agree that there is a need to create more awareness about homestay programmes as an alternative holiday or an option to experience village life

      Kampung Beng is a group of 6 smaller villages of which Kampung Batu Ring is one. All 6 villages have their own homestay programme but they are marketed together as Homestay Kampung Beng.

    2. Yes, commercial as in promotion. Oh my English? Hahaha.

      Ah I see, just like Banghuris Homestay lah eh? Hehe

    3. I don't know. Haven't been to Banghuris Homestay, heh! :)

  2. Seronok membaca dan tengok cara homestay kat kmpung beng ni.. :D

    1. Kalau pergi dgn keluarga atau kawan-kawan, memang best! Tapi tak sure la macamana rasa kalau satu keluarga pergi duduk tidur di rumah satu keluarga yang lain. Rasa awkward ke tak?

  3. Yang menariknya adalah ulama-ulaman dan tempoyak!! Sedapnya. ~gulp :D

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