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Pahang hotels all geared up for Ramadan buffets : April 12, 2021

KUANTAN: Hotels with restaurants which were eerily quiet during Ramadan last year are expected to be bustling with activity this year when they host buka puasa buffets during the fasting month.  Last year's setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced most hotels to rely on online food delivery services and takeaways, but this year they are hoping to cash-in on buka puasa buffets to slowly get their businesses back on track.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Pahang chapter chairman Patrick Tee described the Ramadan buffets as a life line to the hotel industry which has been experiencing some turbulent times due to a drop in occupancy resulting from the interstate travel ban. "Hotels in Pahang have been eagerly waiting for the fasting month as it is an opportunity for them to promote in-house recipes and go the extra mile to lure customers. I guess everyone out there is eager to step into the hotel to break their fast or maybe hold events.  "The tourism and hospitality industry is not only about selling rooms at the respective premises but hotels must seize the opportunity to promote their delicacies through the Ramadan buffets... I was told that hotels in Pahang have started early preparations to welcome customers during the fasting month," he said when contacted.

Meanwhile, Tee said the Ramadan buffets could serve as the turning point to boost people's confidence to return and dine-in at hotels. "This could be the first step to return to normalcy as most restaurants in hotels have seen a drop in customers since last year. Now when they step into the premises, customers can see for themselves the safety measures implemented by the hotel management. "Last year, hotels could not offer any Ramadan buffet and were instead forced to only provide takeaway services. This time, hotels have been promoting special menus, doing extensive food reviews and are offering attractive packages," he said.

Meanwhile, Shahzan Hotel general manager Charles B. Peter said the hotel's "Sajian Ayahanda" themed Ramadan buffet offers some 80 delicacies including the popular nasi arab and serawa durian dessert. "To promote the buffet, the hotel is selling vouchers. Those who purchase 10 units they will get one complimentary voucher. We have been promoting the menus on our Facebook page. "To avoid the restaurant from becoming overcrowded, we have arranged the chairs and tables according to the standard operating procedures and will comply to the guidelines," he said. The MAH Pahang chapter has 66 registered hotels in 11 districts in Pahang. Source -NST

New normal Ramadan bazaars in Pahang this year - April 11, 2021

KUANTAN: The stage is all set for Ramadan bazaars in Pahang to operate under strict compliance of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).  Traders who fail to comply with the SOP will not be given a second chance instead they will have their business licences immediately revoked by the local authorities.

State Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Muda said several new SOP have been introduced including setting plastic barriers between the stalls and limited movements (individuals) among the stalls. "The state government has given the approval and the local authorities have introduced special measures to ensure the SOP is followed at all times. Both traders and customers have to provide full cooperation," he said  Meanwhile, a source said the Pahang government has no plans to cancel the highly anticipated Ramadan bazaars as all the traders involved have already made the required preparations.

"Everyone is prepared for the new normal Ramadan bazaars and the concept will be similar to night markets and pasar tani. A token system will be implemented to ensure stalls will not be too crowded," he said. Meanwhile, Kuantan City Council public relations officer Norkamawati Kamal said the Ramadan bazaars at 30 location in the state capital will proceed as usual. "The canopies for the bazaars and plastic barriers have been setup. It will go on as scheduled unless the council receives any instructions (to cancel) from the state government," she said. Source: NST

'This Is Pahang' set to revive state's tourism industry - March 18, 2021

KUANTAN: The Pahang government has embarked on a new initiative to attract local holidaymakers in a bid to revive the state's tourism industry which experienced a gloomy year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail expressed confidence that its tourism rebranding exercise themed "This Is Pahang" would position the state as a top destination in the post-pandemic era.

He said the move to pick "This Is Pahang" to replace the previous theme "Pahang Simply Awesome" which was used since 2019, would be a breath of fresh air for the industry players to step up their campaigns and promotional activities under the new normal. "Since the pandemic hit the country last year, the tourism sector has been badly hit and as a responsible state government, we need to look into suitable measures to assist tourism operators who lost their source of income and help boost the state's economy. 

"Last year, we (Pahang) only recorded 7.43 million in tourist arrival compared to 13.99 million in 2019. The major drop in visitors is not only in Pahang but in Malaysia. "There is a need for a strategic direction in reviving the tourism industry and the rebranding move is a 'wake up call' for everyone to get the industry in Pahang back on track," he told reporters after launching the state tourism industry's new theme at University College of Yayasan Pahang (UCYP) here today.  Wan Rosdy also described the new theme as the first step towards more ambitious tourism plans that would be carried out in stages once the pandemic is brought under control. "Pahang offers a lot of new tourism products including the recently launched Menara Kuantan 188 which is the country's second tallest tower and Kuantan Art Street which has interesting mural paintings.

"We have highlands, eco-tourism destinations, national parks and beaches which are popular among domestic and foreign visitors. "Our rebranding move to promote Pahang as a tourism destination is certainly timely as the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) is already being carried out nationwide and this will soon allow more people to travel." Also present was State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin and Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar.

Source: NST

Pahang's royal town - April 1, 2021

David Bowden goes on a journey of discovery to Pekan to admire some historical landmarks and sample some delicious local cuisine
PAHANG has had three capitals over the past decades, namely Pekan, Kuala Lipis and Kuantan. I have traveled to Pahang many times but rarely have I headed south from Kuantan — and that's about to change. Along the drive south to Pekan on the coastal road, I make several discoveries.
 
These include the secluded Pantai Sepat (okay, it's mid-week but still...) and a silk-weaving museum just south of the capital. Pekan is 275km from Kuala Lumpur. Road conditions are good so it's a comfortable 3.5 hours by car from the nation's capital, making it within the bounds of a weekend escape. My understanding of Pekan is minimal but that is somewhat intentional as I want the town to reveal itself rather than me delving too deeply before setting off. 
 
A ROYAL TOWN
While driving into the town from the north, I pass Auto City including the campus of DRB-Hicom University of Automotive Malaysia to appreciate that Pekan is where many vehicles on Malaysia's roads are assembled. The compact township of Pekan is just beyond the impressive and expansive bridge over Sungai Pahang.
As I cross the bridge and enter the town for an afternoon's exploration, I pass the AnCasa Royale Pekan where I have made a booking earlier for a night's stay.
Situated close to the river mouth, the royal town is home to the Pahang Sultanate with its majestic palaces, mosques and Royal Mausoleum.
It was also the principal town in the state prior to Kuala Lipis attaining capital status in 1898. Parking beneath tall shady trees along the southern riverbank, I see a locomotive and an old Air Force jet within the grounds of a stately building.
 
They look out of place and must be part of a museum collection. Before me is a crowd beneath the tree-lined riverbank with all the hallmarks of food. Faced with important decisions, a bowl of delicious iced cendol with durian (two, actually, as it is so delicious) won out before I visit the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum. 
The colonial-style building that houses the museum was built in the 1920s as the abode of the British Resident during the era of colonial Malaya. Japanese officers occupied it during World War II and it was then the Sultan's Palace for a while. It was converted into a museum in 1976. Major renovations were completed just a few years back. The museum's exterior has been made more impressive by a shallow infinity pool (where there was once a carpark) and through the installation of driftwood sculptures among the landscaping.
 
While you should inspect the award-winning museum, do admire the creative sculptures first. There is a small entry fee for the museum. Exhibitions include galleries dedicated to the royal family and the district's history, fashion, textiles, the Orang Asli, natural history, mining and ceramics. Here, I learn that Sungai Pahang and its numerous tributaries meander from the interior for almost 500km before flowing into the South China Sea at Pekan. By the time the river reaches Pahang's original capital, it is wide and full of sand islands where considerable extractive activity is being undertaken. Traders from the region and North Asia first visited the district over 1,000 years ago and exchanged goods brought down from Ulu Pahang. Tin was also sent by boat from nearby Raub all the way to Pekan before being transferred to larger vessels for shipment around the region. The main street along the riverbank fronting the museum is lined with old two-storey shoplots and shaded five-foot walkways.
While these shoplots only date back to the 1950s, they are an important element of the town's historical fabric. Pekan's colourful past has been documented with street murals along side streets such as Jalan Teng Quee and its back lanes. Its heritage precinct along the Pekan riverfront and esplanade once bustled with riverine and maritime trade as the river was the main means of transportation to many parts of the hinterland. I also admire the Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque and the Royal Mausoleum from the museum grounds.
 
A VILLAGE LIFE
Not far from the river, the town morphs into village life with traditional houses, gardens and a serene ambience.
There are some fine examples of traditional Malay housing. Istana Mangga Tunggal, a modest wooden structure, is situated immediately opposite the Chief's Rest House. Accommodation is available in the rest house which was built in 1929. While the rooms have modern conveniences, it will especially appeal to those who fully appreciate its heritage. One assumes that it was, when built, the finest in the town and where visitors to the former palace once stayed.
The current royal residence of Istana Abu Bakar is further away from the town centre and situated adjacent to the expansive fields of the Royal Pahang Polo Club.
The 18-hole Royal Pekan Golf Club provides a vast green space beyond the current palace.
 
SMOOTH AS SILK
I drive just beyond the town centre to have a look at some old village houses. One of these is the Pulau Keladi Cultural Complex where young silk weavers learn the intricate skills involved in making Tenun Pahang Diraja at the Royal Weaving Skills Institute. The name of the cultural complex is a little misleading as it is not obviously located on an island. If it ever was, it has become integrated into the riverbank of Sungai Pahang. An employee of the seven-storey AnCasa Hotel, which I realise is the highest building in town, pointed the complex out to me earlier from one of the hotel's elevated floors so I have an idea where I will be heading.
 
Weavers tell me that the style of silk weaving was introduced from either Riau or Sulawesi by the Makassar people in the 16th century.
Some villagers relocated from what is now part of Indonesia to Pekan and settled here in Kampung Mengkasar Pekan.
This confirms to me just how important Pekan was over the centuries as a trading port.
 
The finely crafted silk has soft colours and a distinctive small floral dotted ornamentation usually crafted from metallic thread in the weave.
It is tedious to make but this does not put off the enthusiastic weavers engaged at the complex. The old wooden home in which Malaysia's second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, was born is also located within the grounds. Just beyond the complex and down a new stretch of road is Meow Island, located just off the banks of Sungai Pahang. This cat sanctuary is funded by the generosity of donors and provides a refuge for abandoned animals such as cats, goats, geese and ducks.
 
REGAL DISHES
Seafood and river fish are especially fresh and delicious in Pekan. I take the recommendation of hotel staff and dine out on a whole ocean of seafood in the atmospheric Restoran Sumpit-sumpit. Murtabak Mengkasar Haji Din near the town is highly regarded as is the Nasi Dagang Ubai from a shoplot at Ubai Perdana to the north of the town. Do seek out too the puding raja (royal pudding), comprising bananas, jala mas, dried fruits, nuts and custard.
 
FAST FACTS
ANCASA ROYALE PEKAN
2670, Jalan Pekan-Kuantan, Kampung Peramu,
26600 Pekan, Pahang.
TEL 09-424-6600
EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
STAY The rooms in this four-star hotel admirably satisfy the needs of discerning guests with views overlooking the river and the pool or the town, bridge and river.
EAT Dine in comfort at Saffron Restaurant in the AnCasa and enjoy favourites such as royal pudding and opor daging.
DO Request a room on an upper floor to admire the view of Sungai Pahang.
GO Cat lovers may want to visit Meow Island Cat Sanctuary.
HIGHS The hotel exceeds expectations with spacious and well-equipped modern rooms, helpful staff and an excellent restaurant.
LOWS Very few, except the rooms on the lower floors which do not have as commanding views as those on the upper floors.
 
Source : NST

EMCO enforced in Pulau Tioman until March 29 - March 15, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: An Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) will be enforced in Pulau Tioman, Pahang, following 16 reported Covid-19 cases in the area. Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the EMCO would be implemented from tomorrow until March 29. "The Health Ministry has conducted 48 Covid-19 screenings as of March 14. The EMCO will enable the Health Ministry to conduct targeted screening on all residents, curb movement and prevent further infection in the community," he said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, MCO imposed on the Nabawan district in Sabah has been extended for another 14 days, to be enforced from March 17 to 30.  "The Health Ministry has so far conducted 3,079 Covid-19 tests and 279 cases were recorded. "There are 872 samples still awaiting results. After carrying out risk assessments with various agencies and advice from the ministry, the government has agreed to extend the EMCO originally scheduled to end on March 16." Source: NST

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