I thought of ways that would to make this trip an experience of a lifetime then I realized living in the community so included homestay programme in my itinerary.
Homestay is a programme where guests experiences local’s lifestyle. I decided to make it the highlight of my visit in Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia.
Two days before our flight to Kuala Lumpur, I started booking for homestay via email which I got from go2homestay.com. I emailed two, Homestay Pachitan and Pelegong, unfortunately I only got immediate response from Homestay Pelegong thus I chose it.
Homestay Pachitan is located near Port Dickson, the longest beaches in Malaysia. It's a popular place on Peninsular Malaysia’s Southwestern Coast. It’s about an hour drive from Seremban, the capital of Negeri Sembilan.
On the other hand, Homestay Pelegong is the nearest in the town of Seremban. It’s about 20 minutes drive to Seremban.
Our Backpacker Accommodation in Chinatown, KL:
Almost midnight when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport, unfortunately, we were not able to catch the last train at 11pm going Negeri Sembilan so we decided to check-in in a small yet clean and air-conditioned backpacker room in Chinatown.
The Backpackers Traveler’s Inn has a room for three worth 45 Malaysian Ringgit (15RM per person or about P200), that’s the cheapest I guess!
Displayed is Philippine Map at Backpackers Traveler’s Inn
Look what I just found at the hallway, a Philippine map!
Off to Negeri Sembilan!
A ten minute walk brings us to Paser Seri from Backpackers Traveler’s Inn. There’s a bridge going to KL station, the best way to reach Pelegong Homestay is to drop off at Torio Station, fee is 5.50RM.
Tiroi, a station after Labu and before Seremban.
Me and LetsGoSago with a friendly staff at Torio train station
We met this guy at the ticketing station of Tiroi. With a few minutes of conversation, we got ideas including what mobile network has good signal in Sembilan and how to easily get to some tourists spots in the area. We were grateful when he offered his phone to call our contact for homestay.
Tip #1: Make sure to book earlier if you want to include homestay programme in your itinerary. Notify the agent or your contact of your time and date of arrival. In our case, our foster parent fetched us at Tiroi station.
Experiencing Homestay Programme
A warm welcome awaits us at our foster parent’s house. We were greeted by his wife and grandchildren. Their house is quite big and can accommodate four or more homestays (guests). Not too long, they served us lunch – our first meal in Negeri Sembilan!
Hj. Abu Hassan Arjak of Pelegong homestay is a 73 year old, our foster parent during the entire stay in Negeri Sembilan. Although he don’t speak English he remained kind and friendly. We survived with sign language and gestures.
Not too many people will consider homestay especially now that there are several backpacking rooms and econotels, adding the luxury hotels offering special discounts and packages.
Why you should do homestay?
For some, they already found their homes here. As for me, for a short period of time, it was a different kind of travel experience. I would go out of my comfort zones without sacrificing the objective of my travel. There were challenges along the way though and it was where learning comes. Homestay gave me the experience of a lifetime. I want to share them to you so I decided to list down these challenges.
Challenge No. 1
- I guess for a person who’s not into spicy food staying in a place where almost every food served are spicy would be a great challenge. Here in Malaysia, Negeri Sembilan is known for its spicy food. The place where you'll find the spiciest of all spicy food in Malaysia.
The family prepared chicken curry, chicken with thick red sauce, spicy fried chicken and spicy sautéed vegetables. I though I was safe with veggie so I had it first but was surprised to find out it has a lot of spices compared to other dishes! I can’t remember how many glasses of grape juice I consumed to wash away the spiciness in my mouth. My lips burning and tongue painful and I'm still starving.
Food is one of the most exciting part of traveling. Surprisingly, I was able to adjust easily. The next day everything seemed ordinary. Interestingly, even their dessert has spices! We had guava-like fruit drizzled with fine peppers.
Trivia: Did you know that Negeri Sembilan serves the hottest and spiciest food here in Malaysia.
- Bahasa Melayu is their national language, others would understand English though. It was a challenge for me to express myself and communicate well with my foster parents since they don't speak English but it wasn't a big deal. We can still understand each other, most of time.
- It’s interesting to learn a few words. I just have to catch up when he speaks very fast. Simple gestures or signs like eating, praying, tea drinking, short or distant. Members of the household may look shy and reserved, I guess we need to respect that and remain to be sensitive. Even though they don’t speaks English well, they remain kind and accommodating.
Challenge No. 3
- I would like to say this is not actually a challenge but a great experience. Homestay is where you live with the local, join and learn their culture and respect their beliefs and religion. When I visited the State Mosque in Sembilan, we were invited first to their office and had a short conversation. Then our Muslim brother, Zambri lend me Muslim dress to wear. He showed us the interior and gave us a brief information about their activities.
Tip #2: When planning to visit a mosque, make sure you’re in proper attire perhaps bring a Muslim dress.
Challenge No. 4
- In today’s modern technology, everyone wants to stay connected with their families and engaged in social media. I wanted to be online most of the time.
The phone and internet signal is not as strong but you can still browse using your smartphones from time to time. I guess, you just need to position your phone to get the best result. Perhaps, homestay gives us the chance to free ourselves from these gadgets and take the opportunity of living with the basic, no internet, weak mobile network! Indeed, it was a homey place quite different from the usual hotel and backpacking rooms in the city.
Tip #3: Having an "open line" phone would be better since local sim cards are available for you. Unfortunately, my phone is locked so I just relied on WiFi connections to update my social networking sites.
Challenge No. 5
- “No one is an island” in Pelegong homestay! If you’re new in this village and don’t have a car going in and out, then you need someone who will bring you wherever you want. I am grateful Hj. Abu Hassan assisted me when I needed to see the nearby towns of Sembilan.
|Wife makes breads and pastries at home.|
|With fellow homestayer, Carrie|
My journey in Negeri Sembilan doesn’t end here. There are still a lot to share. Unfortunately, we were not able to see traditional attire and dance performances but I got some photos of these activities from Carrie.
**photos below from Ms. Carrie’s mobile phone, a fellow homestay at Pelegong Homestay
According to the villagers, they usually gather and present these traditional music (Caklempong or Taklempong) and dress up in a large group of people.
Perhaps on my next visit.
Special thanks to Tourism Malaysia and Zest Air for this great experience.
For more information about Homestay, you may visit http://www.tourism.gov.or Tara na sa Malaysia on Facebook.
Backpackers Traveller’s Inn# 60 Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
Homestay PelegongHj. Abu Hssan B. Arjak, PMC, PJKKoperasi Homestay Kg. PelegongN. Sembilan Berhad+6017-746-9624