Homestay in Malaysia at Parit Penghulu, Melaka was my first home stay program in Malaysia as I have heard so much about it over the many years but never did have a chance to try it. I had no idea on what actually went on here apart from living with a local foster family and experiencing the local village lifestyle. Overall, experiencing this in a traditional village is perhaps one of the fastest and easiest ways to get to know the real Malaysia.
There are actually a number of homestays in Malaysia which offer different lifestyles to choose from. Depending on the type, there are island homestays, agro homestays and even fishing village homestays. Most common is the basic kampung homestay which are found through every state in Malaysia. Anyway, this article talks about my visit to the Parit Penghulu Homestay in Melaka which is bordering the state of Johor. The journey there from Kuala Lumpur took about three hours and on arrival, we were all given a local kampung welcome complete with the traditional kompang troop and bunga mangga (decorative flower pole) entrance.
What happens at a Homestay in Malaysia?
After your arrival and orientation at the operations center, you will be selected by the village head and assigned to a local family in the kampung. From here, your foster parents will take you back to your new home to stay there. During your stay, you will be eating the food your foster mum cooks while helping around with some house work. Apart from the home, you will also take part in various activities organised by the village coordinator. As this village was a Agro Tourism Homestay, we were taken to many farms, fields and orchards related to the industry.
Briefing about the program held at a center in the village
Homestay Coordinator conducting the dos and donts
My foster parents were retired and in their seventies while they lived the simple life in Parit Penghulu Village. They have six children of which everyone was working and had a family in different states around Malaysia. They would only visit the parents a few times a year and mostly during the Muslim New Year (Hari Raya) or during long weekends and school holidays. Therefore since the parents had so much free time, they enrolled with the local homestay program. Speaking very little English, they conversed mostly in Malay with me but made an attempt to try and put in a few sentences in English which I admired very much.
Kampung House in Parit Penghulu, Melaka
The wooden kampung house that I stayed in was very simple and practical. There was no air-conditioning while the nights here cooling here. Usually modifications are done without disturbing the original structure and what most owners do is extend the home from the back. There were about 5 rooms in this home with a huge surrounding area. The owner has an extra plot of land where he plants Oil Palm Trees (Kelap Sawit) for extra income. Below is a video showing you the surroundings of the kampung house I stayed in.
Homestay House Video in Melaka
Foster family portrait
The kitchen area is located in the back portion of the house while dining is also done there. Traditionally, Malays would eat on the ground with a mat and using their hands but as the years have passed on, there is a little modernity here. There was a basic dining table and western cutlery available. On the cooking part, the husband would travel to the market daily to buy fresh goods to be served. Nothing elaborate but I personally had some of the best local kampung home-cooked food during my stay here.
Kampung home cooked meal
A basic meal would consist of plain white rice, one meat, one chicken, eggs and the spicy chili dip (sambal belachan). Soup vegetables with fish balls, Malay styled chicken curry, fried fish or sardine curry and fried omelet would be our dinner for one of the nights. In the day, we would have our food at the center. Breakfast was simple with bread and butter or some local savory cakes (kuih) and fruit. For foreigners, you need not worry as the program has been informed well about spicy cooking. So unless requested, you will receive non-spicy local food during your stay.
Kampung house bathroom
Lidi Broom, home grown products
Elderly lady weaves a small basket using some leaves
The finished product, a weaved container
Among the many things we did was visit some of the other homes in the village to see the homegrown products that the locals do. One of them which was an old Malay lady who weaved containers out of leaves. She was so experienced, it only took her about five minutes to make a simply container that looked like could hold a bottle. This was a skill learned with many years of experience and she now teaches her grand children how to do this.
Handling an eel or belut as they are locally called
Malaysian Eel or Belut Video
Video shows one of the coordinators explaining in Malay on how to handle a live eel or belut in the villages. Personally, it looked slimy and gross from a far but once you know the technique, it was pretty simple. The trick is to cover the head of the eel and then move it to where you wish to. Some of the girls who participated just could not handle doing this as they screamed and ran away every time an eel was brought close to them. Even the local village little boys and girls showed no fear of this.
Lily pond in Parit Penghulu village
A monkey poses on his masters motorbike
Chanced upon a goat giving birth to two kids (baby goats)
Dondang Sayang Melaka Video
Dondang Sayang Melaka Video
One one of the nights here, we visited a performance which was specially done for guests. It was a Dondang Sayang Performance (A local Malay musical show) with the village elders taking stage singing and playing some of the traditional Malay musical instruments.
My overall experience here was way above my expectations as I witnessed many things I never imagined seeing in the city. From a trained monkey that plucked the coconut its master wanted it, a walk to the goat farm and then witnessing a goat giving birth to two kids, handling a live eel, watching a live performance of traditional shows and even hanging out with some of the local village people. I also made various trips to fruit farms and learned about Argo-culture in the smaller villages. There was never a dull moment as the itinerary was always filled with the uncommon activity. I would also like to thank my foster parents for putting up with a couple of city people and for the excellent kampung food they cooked during my stay at their home.
The writer with his foster family
Homestays in Malaysia
For a full list of the types of villages participating in the Homestay Program Malaysia, you can check out Go2Homestay.com which specializes in this area of tourism. They have many types of programs which include beach, hill, fishing village, local kampungs and many other choices. They are also the official portal administrated by the Tourism Body of Malaysia. To book a trip for this, there is no restriction to the number of people going. It can be a single person, couple or a group of friends.
My trip was made possible with Go2Homestay, an affiliate of Tourism Malaysia that promotes the various home stays in Malaysia. You can also get more information from the Tourism Malaysia Website regarding this subject. The kampungs that are involved in the homestay program are committed to ensuring that you experience village-style living first-hand and are used to welcoming a variety of locals and foreign guests from around the world. These kampungs have been carefully selected and conform with strict guidelines set by the Ministry of Tourism so as to bring out the best of Homestays in Malaysia.