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ONLINE NEWS: LAMAN TOK MAH BRINGS BACK THE NOSTALGIA

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Laman Tok Mah Brings Back The Nostalgia

By Balkish Awang | 2 March 2023

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KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - Sipping hot aromatic coffee at a heritage house amid a traditional Malay kampung ambience in Penang, helps visitors live in the moment and find happiness in life's simple pleasures.

For city dwellers, who are used to drinking coffee as a crutch to keep them going in a fast-paced world, having a cuppa at Laman Tok Mah is the time to pull back and relax in a fresh and traditional environment.

It's not just the aroma from the specially brewed coffee. Savouring the classic ubi rebus (boiled tapioca) and peknga nyok or lempeng kelapa (coconut pancake) at Laman Tok Mah is an indulgent experience for visitors, bringing back nostalgic memories for many.

The heritage home, with its unique charm, is located at Lorong 19, Jalan Permatang Batu, Kampung Pokok Tampang, Tasek Gelugor, Penang, about 23 minutes away from Butterworth.

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Laman Tok Mah, which has been operating since mid-October last year is fast gaining popularity among vacationers who seek peace, calm and tranquillity of rural life.

What's unique here, visitors get a taste of Malay culture, customs and etiquette as practised in the village such as washing their feet with water before entering the house. Water is scooped up from a tempayan, a huge jar that is usually placed at the foot of the stairs, using batok (ladle) made of coconut shell.

Besides unwinding at the veranda, holiday-makers can go on a casual bicycle ride around the village. The traditional wooden houses and green padi fields allow visitors to experience the simple kampung life, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. After meal, tourists get to play some traditional games such as boling kelapa (coconut bowling) and congkak.

According to Laman Tok Mah owner, Mohamad Yazdi Yaacop, 43, the house that was inherited from his grandmother, Tinah Kanis (Tok Mah), is now a new attraction for visitors to enjoy various traditional dishes in a tranquil environment.

"Since Laman Tok Mah went viral, we have been receiving a steady stream of visitors from Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan, both young and old especially during the school holidays.

"Most of my customers are the older generation who shared that their stay at the village evoked memories of their childhood days," he told Bernama recently.

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Sharing insights into his home-based business, Mohamad Yazdi, who is also a Museum Assistant at the Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang said, the idea to revive the heritage home was mooted upon completion of a collaborative programme with MGTF for Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) practical students.

"Before the programme, the heritage home had been vacant since 2019 as none of Tok Mah's children stayed there. The house was revived after the collaboration with MGTF, but was once again left abandoned after the end of the programme in November 2021.

"I would visit the house daily by opening every window to allow a steady stream of air to circulate, and made sure that the house was well-maintained and not left idle. Finally, it dawned on me that I should refurbish the house after visiting several coffee shops which were given a
makeover by their operators by preserving the original identity, design and concept," he added.

Mohamad Yazdi who now resides in Padang Serai, Kedah said, cengal wood was used to build his ancestral home, which was only a serambi (veranda) in the 1960s before it was enlarged in 1973.

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The heritage home is typical of a traditional rumah kampung, with the most distinctive feature is the wood carving designs that adorn the home, based on Malay motifs.

The typical kampung house is a structure elevated on stilts high above the ground with thatched roofs and wooden walls in its traditional form. There is no room, toilet or bathroom. Visitors can use the toilet just outside the house.

Until today, the original design of the house has been preserved, with renovations undertaken on the lower portion on contributions from Tok Mah's children when the late Tok Mah was too fragile to walk up the house due to stroke.

"At the veranda, Tok Mah used to teach children from the village here Muqaddam and the Quran.

The house was designed in such a way that the wooden floors were loosely spaced (known as 'gelega') to allow water to flow through. This is meant for use in the event of death in the family or during childbirth.

CLASSIC AND MODERN MENU

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To maintain the ambience of yesteryears, Mohamad Yazd said the heritage home is furnished with rattan furniture and vintage dinnerware sets to rekindle fond memories of the past while visitors savour authentic kampung food and inhale the tantalising aroma of freshly brewed
coffee.

Among the delicacies served are serabai, roti jala, lepat liat, kaswi pandan as well as ready-to-cook western food that is sourced from sellers around the area, hence boosting the economy of local traders.

"By serving traditional menu, visitors especially Malaysians get to indulge in original, home-cooked Malay food and delicacies at Laman Tok Mah, taking them back in time when they were having their favourite meals prepared by their mother or grandmother during their childhood years," said Mohamad Yazdi, who runs the business with the help of his wife, Siti Zaitun Suid, 42, his only daughter and two nieces.

Laman Tok Mah opens from 3pm to 8pm on weekends only, said Mohamad Yazdi who also hires his neighbour to maintain the cleanliness of the surrounding area.

On why it is not open on weekdays, he said Laman Tok Mah has its own uniqueness, with its concept almost similar to pasar malam which operates once a week.

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With such operation hours, tourists will be craving for its signature menu amid the warm kampung atmosphere, added Mohamad Yazdi, who works at the museum on weekdays.

He however does not rule out the possibility of changing the operation hours for his heritagehome business.

Besides the food, visitors also get to enjoy the rich and freshly brewed coffee, and what's special about Laman Tok Mah is, it is the first to produce such coffee in Tasek Gelugor.

"Given that I personally enjoy drinking freshly brewed coffee, I decided to learn the art of brewing the coffee at home together with my wife and bought a coffee machine for home use.

Besides that, I also attended a basic Barista short course at the Community College in Sungai Petani, Kedah in 2022.

"From thereon, we developed our (coffee-making) skills and decided to sell coffee to our customers," he said, adding that its Salted Caramel Macchiato is the most popular among his customers.

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Laman Tok Mah is also the preferred choice of wedding couples to cherish the moments against the backdrop of the kampung house steeped in tradition. It is also a popular location for Hari Raya video production.

Looking ahead, Mohamad Yazdi said, his key target is to preserve Tok Mah's original design and will continue to ensure proper maintenance of the heritage home to attract visitors from all levels of the community especially the younger generation.

We expect this business to grow further and provide the best service to our customers. They come as visitors and return as family.

"In the future, I plan to host batik colouring activities on paper and have my own products such as bags and batik items under the Laman Tok Mah brand," he added.

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