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Negeri Sembilan
Negeri Sembilan

Negeri Sembilan starts just 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur. Negeri Sembilan, which literally means nine states, has many villages with patches of urban development. But that is slowly changing.

Negeri Sembilan is well-known for its strong Minangkabau influences, which are still evident in its unique architecture and matrilineal society.

The Minangkabau people migrated across the Straits of Melaka from Sumatra centuries ago and their traditional houses are distinguished by sweeping roof peaks shaped like buffalo horns. Some examples of these influences can be seen in the State Mosque and the State Secretariat Building.

The Minangkabau people of Negeri Sembilan still practise the matrilineal social system known as the "adat perpatih", where the women are the head of the household, making the state the only one to adhere to such social norms.

The state has one of the most accessible beaches closest to the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur, known as Port Dickson, which is popular with weekenders. But beyond this famous beach, there is a little bit of everything for everyone to explore in this state, from the history buff to the nature lover.

The name is believed to derive from the nine districts or negeri (now known as luak) settled by the Minangkabau, a people originally from West Sumatra (present-day Indonesia). Minangkabau features are still visible today in traditional architecture and the dialect of Malay spoken. Unlike the hereditary monarchs of the other royal Malay states, the ruler of Negeri Sembilan - known as Yang di-Pertuan Besar - is selected by the council of Undangs who lead the four biggest districts of Sungai Ujong, Jelebu, Johol, and Rembau.

The capital of Negeri Sembilan is Seremban. The royal capital is Seri Menanti in Kuala Pilah district. Other important towns are Port Dickson and Nilai.

Negeri Sembilan is mainly an agricultural state. However, the establishment of several industrial estates enhanced the manufacturing sector as a major contributor towards the state economy.

Agricultural activity includes rubber and oil palm plantations, livestock, fruit orchards and vegetable farming. About 3,099 square kilometres are used for rubber and oil palm plantations.

What to See and Do in Negeri Sembilan?
  • Kampung Pelegong Homestay. Get away from it all and return to the serenity of life in a traditional Malay village under the Pelegong Homestay programme in Negeri Sembilan. Here, you will be able to enjoy the warm hospitality of your host family and be a part of the household by joining them in their daily activities. Wake up to the authenticity of 'kampung' life. Listen to the sounds of cockerels greeting a new day, breathe in the crisp fresh air and look forward to the simple pleasures of life -- collect your own eggs from the coop, learn to tap a rubber tree, enjoy an icy cold dip in the nearby river before trying your hand at fishing or baking delicious Malay cakes. The adventure in store also allows you to discover the origins of the village and the rich history it holds. Appreciate the many cottage industries and the fine products manufactured here. Marvel at the nimble fingers of Pak Adol the rattan weaver, and be awed by the creative men and women whose skilled hands make the finest handicrafts. If you are the outdoor type, you'll enjoy a good trek into the lush rainforest and discover cascading waterfalls and crystal clear streams. Then, come back to the gentle hands of a traditional masseur or masseuse to soothe all aches away.
    • The Cultural Handicraft Complex was set up to preserve Negeri Sembilan's rich culture and heritage. The complex is housed in a building fashioned after a traditional Negeri home. The culture of the Negeri people bears a strong resemblance to the Minangkabau culture of Sumatra, just across the Straits of Melaka. The most visible identity of this matrilineal culture is the traditional roofs of village houses and even state buildings. The roofs are swooped and rise to a sharp point on either end of the house, symbolising a water buffalo's horns. Buffalos are historically not only beasts of burden but also signs of wealth. The elaborate handicrafts on display and on sale within this Minangkabau-themed cultural complex greatly reflect Negeri Sembilan's history and heritage.
    • Tampin District Museum. Situated in the 'green zone' on a hilly area close to the Tampin Recreational Park, surrounded by overhanging trees and shrubs, in a very pleasant and refreshing environment. This single-storey museum building, built in the 1920's was originally the residence of a high ranking government officer. It was the first district museum to be developed in Negeri Sembilan. The exhibition areas display various socio-cultural artefacts of the luak Tampin such as musical instruments, traditional Malay weapons and some regalia signifying the traditional and cultural practices of the Malay community including the traditional attire of dignitaries. There is a special area housing the history of Tunku Besar Tampin as well as an Islamic Civilisation exhibition. Other than a collection of local handicrafts, several traditional agricultural tools are also on display. Find out how the paddy fields were ploughed and harvested before the industrial age. To the right of the main gate of the museum, you will notice a white 'Border Stone' built in 1886 which signifies the division of Tampin and Melaka. However, the original location of this stone was Pulau Sebang, a place 500 metres from its present location. And just outside the gates, in front of the museum, is a cultural platform
    • Jeram Gading (Gading Rapids). A beautiful landscape of tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls against the backdrop of the hills and mountains in the east plus the stretch of sandy beaches on the west coast describes the land of Negeri Sembilan. The topography of this state, situated at the end of the Main Range running from the North of Peninsula Malaysia, is very much characterised by this vast stretch of highlands. Many recreational areas have been identified along this range, the National Park, being the biggest. It is believed that the name originated from the existence of the many elephants in the area - gading meaning tusk. The main attraction of Jeram Gading is the waterfall, cascading sheets of water flowing through trees and boulders sending sprays of water in the air as it hits obstacles in its path, curling into balls of white foam before disappearing into calmer waters. Although the area is not suitable for kayaking, it is an ideal spot for family picnics. Enjoy frolicking around with children in the clear waters and take pleasure in listening to the stream. Situated 23km from Kuala Klawang, Jeram Gading is in the Kenaboi district. Driving to this tourist attraction, you will pass roads lined with shrubs, most of them fruit trees and orchards belonging to the villagers.
    • Tanjung Biru Beach. Blue Lagoon is a very secluded and tranquil cove at the foothill of Cape Rachado (Tanjung Tuan). It offers a breathtaking view of the thickly wooded cape and the blue open sea. The area is home to many birds, including hawks and eagles, which can occasionally be seen hovering in the air. Most of all, the tranquility of the place has a soothing effect on visitors, inviting them to just relax and unwind. Here they can do nothing and just dream away. This lagoon is an ideal spot for swimming, boating, and wind surfing or just lazing on the beach.
    • Cape Rachado Lighthouse. The Portuguese built the Cape Rachado lighthouse in the 16th century. The lighthouse guided ships to the Port of Malacca. It is still operatoinal today. Go up the narrow spiral staircase and see the panoramic view of the coastline of Sumatra, 38 km across the Straits. The cape is also the stopover point for migratory birds. From September to March, flocks of sparrows, honey buzzards and swifts can be seen here together with hawks and eagles. Walk down the 63 steps next to the lighthouse and follow the jungle trek to a secluded beach. The footprint embedded in a rock, about 50 metre to the right of the track, is said to be that of Hang Tuah, the legendary Malay Malaccan warrior of the 15th century. Legend has it that upon acquiring innate strength and knowledge, Hang Tuah chose to meditate here. The footprint marks the spot where he first landed at Tanjung Tuan. A well close by whose cool chilled water is a haven for the tired and thirsty, is also said to have been dug by him. Local devotees have known to pay their homage at this spot.
    • Lukut Fort. Fort Raja Jumaat is about 7 km from Port Dickson. He was a 19th century Bugis warrior. The fort was built in 1847 to control the lucrative tin trade in the area. Today the muzzle loading guns used to defend the fort can be seen within the grounds of the District Officer's residence and outside the Police Station in town. In the area of the fort are also the remains of the foundation of an old palace and a royal burial ground.
    Food for Thought
    The traditional Minangkabau cuisine of Negeri Sembilan incorporates many of the aromatic herbs, roots and other ingredients used in Malay cooking, such as lemon grass, ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir limes, fresh or dried chillies and rich, creamy coconut milk known as 'santan'. With almost 900 restaurants and stall situated in the town of Seremban and Port Dickson alone, Negeri Sembilan offers an extensive array of Malay, Chinese, Indian and other cuisine. There are many mouth-watering must try specialties of the sate and here are a few of the most popular ones.
    • Masak Lemak Cili Api. As the locals have a taste for the hot and spicy, it's no surprise that one of Negeri Sembilan's most popular dishes is Masak Lemak Cili Api, which either ikan sembilang (catfish), beef, chicken, or ikan pekasam (pickled fish) is cooked with an aromatic concoction of onion, lemon grass, tumeric and the most important ingredients, tiny, extra hot chillies called cili api (bird chillies), all simmered in coconut milk. This is one hot dish that will make you sweat as you savour it, usually with steamed white rice.
    • Lemang. Lomang is what the locals calls it or better known lemang, sold in the long bamboo stems, is a familiar sight on the roadside during festive seasons, when people travel via the highway back to their hometowns or away for holiday. This very popular dish, for which Kampung Seri Kendung in Rembau is famous, consists of a mixture of glutinous rice and coconut milk placed in young bamboo stems lined with banana leaves, cooked over a low fire. Much care and patience is needed in the cooking process to ensure that the lemang isn't burned. It can be eaten by itself or with rendang.
    • Rendang. Another local favourite popular throughout the country is rending, or ghondang in the Negeri Sembilan dialect. It is basically made from usually beef or chicken slowly simmered in herbs, spices and coconut milk until the gravy is thick, almost dry. Although it is known as the perfect companion for lemang, it can be eaten with almost anything from white rice, lontong or nasi lemak. There are many varieties of rending, including rendang Minang and rendang belalang ghondang (grasshopper rendang).
    • Gulai Kuning. Gulai kuning, a local gravy-based dish with a distinctive yellow hue, is made with coconut milk and a variety of herbs, and spices, including lemon grass, union, tumeric, coconut milk and galangal. There are many varieties of this versatile dish; among the most common are made with pineapple, fish, chicken and beef. It is also popular that it can be found in Malay restaurants all over Malaysia.
    • Sambal Tempoyak Daun Kayu. Combining many different types' leaves and herbaceous plants, thinly-sliced and cooked in thick, rich spicy gravy, the Sambal Tempoyak Daun Kayu's piquant flavour is guaranteed to make your mouth water. The original recipe would contain more than 40 types of leaves and plants, including some rare species such as the Pucuk Lidah Kerbau, Sulur Keladi Birah, Pucuk Tetek, Pucuk Pelanduk and Pucuk Sekentut. This delicious dish is usually served topped with ikan bilis (anchovies) and petai (stink bean), and eaten with hot steamed rice.
    • Other Traditional Dishes. Negeri Sembilan has countless more delicious dishes such as its famous Kerabu (a kind of spicy salad), sambal belimbing (star fruit sambal), sambal tempoyak (fermented durian sambal), telur itik masak lemak cili padi (duck egg cooked with coconut milk and hot chillies) and keladi asam pedas (hot and sour yams). Don't miss your chance to try this delicious one dish (or several dishes) at a time in the eateries all over the state.
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