| Zee Yusri in Kuala Lumpur |
THE recent Asean Explore Quest Malaysia 2014 (AEQM14), an event similar to the popular Amazing Race TV show, organised by Tourism Malaysia, has been one of my best trips in recent memory.
To say it was fun would be an understatement. It was a total thrill!
The week-long event, which kicked off on November 14, was participated by more than 100 people including celebrities, media representatives and travel agents from 10 Asean member countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thialand and Vietnam.
On my first day in Kuala Lumpur, I was accommodated at Sheraton Imperial, which is in close vicinity of Kuala Lumpur’s main attractions and minutes away from the city’s best shopping and dining venues. All participants of the Asean Explore Quest Malaysia 2014 were feted with a lavish welcoming dinner at the hotel’s grand ballroom that night.
The following day, ‘Team Brunei’ (which included myself) was assigned to Bus Two where we joined other representatives from Cambodia, Philip-pines and Singapore for a trip to Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, where our first telematch was flagged off by Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin, Deputy Director General (Promotion) of Tourism Malaysia.
Each team was given five balloons – a gold coloured balloon (worth 50 points) and four other balloons (worth 10 points each). We were told to safeguard them until the end of the telematch.
The challenge here was to pop the balloons of other teams. The team with most points would be determined the winner. I am proud to say that none of Team Brunei’s balloons popped. Our strategy was to hide the balloons in bags. Other teams, meanwhile, felt it would be a better idea to tie their balloons onto the ends of poles.
Other challenges we had to complete included treasure hunts and raising flags using ropes, as well as fun games like ‘bomb remover’ and ‘tube filling’.
These activities focused on team building, as each team played an important role by helping each other complete tasks in the shortest time possible. The name of the game was speed.
In my opinion, the most challenging game was tube filling, where a team member wearing blindfold goggles had to be guided by another member of the same team who shouted out instructions on how to fill a large tube (with plenty of holes) with water.
Other teammates, meanwhile, had to cover as many holes around the large tube using any part of their body. They were not allowed to use other items such as tape, clothing, etc.
One of the funny moments of the tube filling challenge was when a blindfolded participant inadvertently helped his rival team by pouring water into their tube.
When all the points were tallied up, Team Brunei was tied with Team Vietnam at second place. However, a tie-breaking question was posed by Jo, the emcee of the telematch, to both teams. Team Vietnam gave the right answer, resulting in Team Brunei being ranked third.
Though challenging, activities such as the ones mentioned earlier helped strengthen rapport among the participants.
After leaving Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, we were taken on a tour around the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, including Merdeka Square, situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, and the National Monument overlooking the KL Lake Gardens, which was built to pay tribute to the valiant soldiers who gave their lives defending the country during the Communist insurgency in the 1950s.
For me, the best part of the day was when I saw the Petronas Twin Towers. According to my itenary, after touring the skyscraper, I would be given some free time for dinner and shopping at the Suria KLCC, situated just next to the twin towers.
The 451.9-metre world-renowned Petronas Twin Towers is KLLC’s centrepiece and one of the country’s most famous icons, where the Sky bridge on the 41st floor doubles up as an excellent viewing platform of the city’s skyline.
Featuring a futuristic glass and steel exterior and a traditionally inspired interior,the 88-storey building reflects Malaysia’s aspirations in moving forward while maintaining its national identify and traditional values.
The next day, we took a two-hour bus ride to the Kg Lonek Homestay in Negeri Sembilan. After enjoying a sumptuous lunch, we hopped on a tram for a tour around Kg Lonek surrounded by lush paddy fields. You can’t help but feel at ease looking at the scenery here.
During our visit to the ‘Madu Lebah Kelulut’ production area, we tasted fresh honey produced by stingless bees. Besides learning more about how to make dodol, a sweet toffee-like confection, we also saw firsthand how villagers here prepare ‘village cereals’ using paddy flakes mixed with finely grated coconut flesh, chopped palm sugar and young coconut water. This popular snack is usually consumed during the Harvest Festival.
Soon after, teams from Asean member countries proceeded to a muddy area for a tree planting ceremony.
We later gathered at a field for some ‘Sukan Rakyat’, which included traditional games played by the villagers such as coconut bowling, ‘tarik upih’ and ‘kelereng’. We also witnessed a mock cultural wedding ceremony, Kg Lonek style, between JVevermind, a vlogger from Vietnam, and Ying Kanyapatch, a Thail actress, model, emcee, presenter and singer.
After bidding farewell to the friendly people of Kg Lonek Homestay, we made our way to the Grand Lexis at Port Dickson, a luxury hotel that feels like home. A chalet was prepared for participants (in pairs of two). We even had our own private swimming pool.
It was the perfect way to unwind. We all needed a good night’s rest before pressing on with our jouney to Johor Bahru the next day.
*To be continued
BACKGROUND OF EVENT
OVER 100 participants of the Asean Explore Quest Malaysia from 10 Asean member countries recently took part in a race across Malaysia.
The week-long event, organised by Tourism Malaysia, kicked off on November 14, and is in its second edition.
Tourism Malaysia Director-General Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said the event was similar to the popular Amazing Race TV show.
This year, the participants raced through Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Penang.
The participants, some of whom are celebrities in their own country, were given tasks to perform along the way.
“Last year, the event combined exploration, corporate social respon-sibility, homestay and photography in the race across some of our best tourist destinations,” said Mirza.
This year, however, the challenges focused on culture, people, nature and food.
The aim of the race was to expose participants to some of the country’s best tourism products.