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  Channel NewsAsia, 4 Jan 06
Malaysia's "Kampung Homestay" initiative gives tourists a taste of local life
By Channel NewsAsia's Malaysia Correspondent Johnson Choo

PENANG, Malaysia : Taking a break is not just about jetting off to some cosmopolitan city or lazing at an exotic beach.

Some travellers prefer homestays where they can immerse themselves in the local culture. And to attract them, Malaysia has a "Kampung Homestay" initiative that gives visitors a unique opportunity to sample village life.

Jalan Surau, Jalan Bauhulu and Jalan Satay are just some of the quirky road names in Mengkuang Titi, a Malay village in Penang. There is a surau or prayer hall along Jalan Surau and a bakery, which specialised in making Bauhulu (a quintessential Malay pastry), at the end of Jalan Bauhulu. There is also a satay factory along Jalan Satay.

This is one of Malaysia's first Kampung Homestay initiatives for tourists to sample local life. Around 40 families in the village open their doors to visitors and tourists throughout the year.

"When people or tourists come here, they can experience the real kampung lifestyle, which is very traditional. It's unlike watching it on television, but they can experience it together with the villagers," said homestay coordinator Rohaizat Othman.

Not only can visitors eat freshly baked bauhulu and piping hot satay, they can also spend an afternoon tapping rubber.

"Most people here speak better English than I do Malay, so we are able to understand each other and get along just fine," said one American tourist.

But there are cultural differences which sometimes lead to amusing incidents. "There was this tourist who was staying with a family and wanted to take a shower. She went into the toilet and we heard a lot of noise coming from there. We later found out that instead of showering the way we do (by scooping out the water), she swam inside the water container! That's an incident that I will not forget," said homestay coordinator Ali "Kedai". - CNA /ls

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