Dancing with Pulau Carey Guardians on Mah Meri Ancestors’ Day

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17 Responses

  1. Kirstie Hall says:

    You have such a beautiful way with words. Your writing really paints a picture of the scene – (and the iconic photos help too) ;)
    Did you happen to visit Penang while you were in Malaysia? I’m headed there this month and would love any tips or suggestions you may have

    • Teja says:

      I’m Malaysian myself! :) And I just got back from Penang a couple days ago actually. Penang is awesome – you could spend any time you like there, there’s gonna be things to do. 3D Trick Art museum, Upside Down museum, Dark Museum, Cat Cafe, chocolate emporium – I’ve not been to all, they’re the places I thought I might want to see.

      I recommend staying at least part of the trip within UNESCO Heritage City Georgetown, in one of the converted shophouse boutique guesthouses. Check out my post on the street art’s origins, and have fun spotting new ones! http://tejaonthehorizon.com/travel-stories/weekend-penang-street-art/

      The Baba Nyonya culture is the reason for the Heritage City status so visit a Kongsi or Peranakan mansion too. There’s a strong Indian Muslim community as well, so the Little India part is lively. All of this makes for AMAZING street food – go to Kimberley Street or Campbell Street. Anyway you won’t be short of people recommending food I’m sure.

      Don’t go up to Penang Hill on a weekend, go on a weekday. The funicular is super crowded on weekends.

  2. Katherine says:

    This is so interesting. What an awesome experience!

  3. Meaghan says:

    You absolutely transported me with this tale of dancing on Mah Meri. Thank you for sharing this beautiful cultural experience, and for taking the time to explain the history behind the celebration. I really liked how you included etiquette reminders at the bottom of your post. It is a bit of a sad necessity in our world today, but I think as travel writers we have a certain responsibility to ensure the regions we share and promote are respected the visitors we may encourage to visit.

    • Teja says:

      Thank you Meaghan. I’m glad you could feel the experience and touch the history of the people here through my story.

  4. Candy says:

    I have never heard of this and what a unique cultural experience this is. So glad you put the etiquette reminders because some people really need to be made aware of them :)

  5. Stella Jane says:

    This is a really incredible experience. I was interested to know that this group did not do those gorgeous wooden carvings because as you say, there is so much microdiversity in groups that to an outsider might look similar. Also I liked that there was a practical explanation for why they were waiting for the tide to change. Your photos were gorgeous too!

  6. Heidi says:

    How amazing that you got to ask the shaman questions. I always love experiences like this that destroy my Western beliefs and show me more of the world in the way it actually is. The simple answer usually is the right one! And to experience such an awesome event. You’re blessed!

    • Teja says:

      LOL I think we all have quite simplified beliefs about the world, but yeah, I also enjoy working out where they all join up through the nuances :)

  7. Sushmita Malakar says:

    Wow! Nothing near to what I thought can exist! This is such a rich cultural practise! Thanks for the wonderful post! :)

  8. Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for the etiquette tips at the end of the post! I agree with all of those and when people disrespect others in that way it gives all travelers a bad name. I would hate to think of celebrating one of my culture’s ceremonies or rituals and have someone photograph me like a spectacle. Anyway, I am amazed at the intricacy of the origami-like palm fronds! How incredible that they can create such designs.

  9. tanya says:

    We have the same motivation for slow travel as you, that you get to share these kind of experiences with others and learn from it. Travelling to places becomes something that changes you as a person rather than just somewhere to tick off. It’s pretty amazing you had some time with the head Shaman!

  10. Susanna says:

    Wow! I was engrossed in this story of your adventure! You had such a wonderful experience. As someone who always likes to go and experience things from a local and cultural perspective, I really want to go myself. I really love how simple some things are in certain cultures, like when they say, “that is just the way it is, no further discussion. The traditional costumes were beautiful. Thanks for taking me on this journey so I could learn about a new tradition.

    • Teja says:

      I agree. Even though I’m not one of those people that just jumps in the thick of things, I still like to go in person. I like observing how I automatically respond to a natural environment, a certain culture context, when I simply accept it. I think it gives me a better ability to distinguish between the parts that are really me, and the parts that are from my cultural upbringing.

  11. Kay says:

    Woah I had never heard of this before! Also, thanks for the little etiquette reminders! I hate when people take pics of children to post on their site without the child’s/parents’ permission!

    • Teja says:

      :) Yeah it’s among the micro-diversities in Malaysia and why we’re ‘Truly Asia’! It just doesn’t get very much promoted, and I think it’s for the best because this is not the sort of thing that’s suited for mass tourism. But I mean to show a glimpse of what it could be like if you travelled Malaysia s l o w, beneath the tour highlights.