Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra launched a campaign on Thursday to reforest the Machu Picchu archeological site in order to protect it from mud slides and forest fires.Vizcarra has pledged to plant… (more…)
Revel in relaxation at Sheraton Petaling Jaya Hotel, a 5-star haven near Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Find your respite in luxury accommodations with contemporary essentials, signature amenities and refined design elements. Thrill your palate with delectable local and international fare at Feast, savor authentic Japanese dishes at our contemporary Miyabi restaurant or try inventive Chinese specialties at Yue. Stay within steps of Putra LRT Station near Jalan Universiti, Jaya One and Bukit Gasing Forest Reserve. Celebrate and succeed in sophisticated event space for meetings, weddings and flawless social affairs. After a full day of business or sightseeing, refresh in the sparkling waters of our rooftop infinity pool or celebrate and socialize over wines, craft beers, innovative cocktails and cigars at our stylish Chime Lounge. Designed to be everything you would expect from a 5-star hotel, Sheraton Petaling Jaya Hotel in Malaysia is an upscale sanctuary in a vibrant travel destination.
For more information, go to https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/szbsi-sheraton-petaling-jaya-hotel/.
Travel within the heart of Georgetown at your convenience
Why crack your head when you have all the doorstep comforts and conveniences? Choose the right hotel in the right location, half the trip is well planned out! This rings true when you have a Penang trip in mind. Be it a day trip, weekend trip of a few days, or something longer, you can always save yourself time and hassle being a productive traveller with a more enjoyable experience to look forward to.
Don’t compromise on hotel location
When you have lots of delicious Penang food to savour and so much more to explore, don’t waste time staying at a place far away from popular tourist attractions. Get cozied up to a nearby place where everything is accessible within a 5-km radius especially when most of the attractions are located within Georgetown. And this is where Sunway Hotel Georgetown sits comfortably.
Knowing that traffic is a big concern for visiting popular tourist attractions around Penang, staying at a nearby hotel is a right move to start with. Georgetown alone is home to a long list of attractions from culture to adventure, history to art, food to shopping, lifestyle and sightseeing. The UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts both Malaysians and foreigners from all over the world, mind you.
Hawker food galore
Just about 100m across the street from the hotel is where the famous New Lane (Lorong Baru) foodstalls congregate. That’s an outright “convenient winner” for you to sample Penang’s iconic hawker food. Char Koay Teow, Chee Cheong Fun, Sotong Kangkong, Asam Laksa, Oh Chien (Fried Oyster Omelette), Curry Mee, Popiah or Leng Chee Kang, make your call.
Foodies would also find Restoran Nasi Padang Minang, Ah Leng Char Koay Teow, Nasi Kandar Beratur Original, Penang Road Asam Laksa, Penang Road Teochew Chendol and Beach Road Ali Nasi Lemak on their radar within a short, convenient distance. For durian lovers, satisfy your craving at Anson Road’s durian stalls. Stop by Ghee Hiang Local Specialties Shop too.
Penang has a wonderful assortment of museums to quench your thirst for knowledge and curiosity. For a start, Penang State Museum is just about 200m away from the hotel. Top up your list with Penang 5D Interactive World, Upside Down Museum, Chocolate & Coffee Museum, Made In Penang Interactive Museum, Penang Wonderfood Museum, Penang 3D Trick Art Museum, Penang Time Tunnel and Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
New attraction – KOMTAR Skywalk – is the talk of the town for what it literally means, which is merely 500m away from the hotel. Get your adrenaline all pumped up at nearly 250m high up in the sky on a glass walkway! Perched on the 68th floor of KOMTAR, formerly the tallest building in Malaysia, KOMTAR Skywalk feasts your eyes with a sweeping view of Georgetown’s cityscape and its surroundings from seaside to Penang Hill. Feel free to soak up more “lofty air” at Sky Lounge on the 65th floor to make your KOMTAR trip extra special.
Penang House of Music
Another new attraction that pulls in crowd from all walks of life is the Penang House of Music. Traverse a time tunnel from the 1940s to 1970s to enrich your knowledge of the art scene and musical heritage of Penang. Seniman Agung Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Nawab are among the household names that make Penang proud. For the newer generations, this is possibly the best place to enlighten yourselves on Bangsawan, Boria, Ronggeng, Puppet theatre, Chinese Opera, Dondang Sayang, Pop Yeh Yeh, Talentimes and dance crazes of that era. The Radio Room exhibits are eye-poppers that give you an irresistible impulse to bring them all home! Well researched, archived and presented in an honest way to showcase a rich local history, Penang House of Music is strategically located at level 4 of KOMTAR, which is barely 700m away the hotel.
Get up close and personal
History and heritage tour of Penang is a must. With just about 750m away from the hotel, you will surely leave your footprints in the epicentre of Georgetown’s historic site, which is made up of The Waterfront, Cultural Enclave, Business District, Leisure Zone and Enterprise Zone. Padang Kota Lama, Fort Cornwallis and Penang Street Art are part of the attraction. Plenty of photo opportunities around here.
Experience a different art scene of Penang at the historical Hin Bus Depot, which is about 600m away. Make your Penang trip wholesome with a visit to Chinatown, Little India, Chowrasta Market and Nagor Square, all within a 2-km reach.
For shopping within Georgetown, check out Prangin Mall, Gurney Paragon or Gurney Plaza. For atmospheric seaside F&B and sightseeing, chill yourself at Northam Beach Café and Gurney Drive.
Penang is packed with exciting events all year round. For February alone, there will be the Kek Lok Si Display of Lights (4 – 19 FEB 2019), Chinese New Year Celebration (5 – 6 FEB 2019), Penang Hot Air Ballon Fiesta 2019 (9 – 10 FEB 2019) and Hokkien New Year Celebration (12 FEB 2019). The Penang Tourism Calendar of Events is published here.
Choice of transport and street names to remember
Travelling around Penang is made easier with your preferred mode of transport, be it a rented car, SUV, van or bicycle. Remembering key street names such as Penang Road, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Dato Keramat, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Jalan Anson, Jalan Burma, Pengkalan Weld, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and Gurney Drive will definitely make your trip more manageable. If you have the luxury of a local friend to show you around during your visit, that’s priceless!
Learn more about Sunway Hotel Georgetown.
BookXcess launches the first BookXcess out of Kuala Lumpur at Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang
Featuring the longest bookshelf in Malaysia at 70 metres in length and a two-storey bookshelf measuring 10 metres high, the BookXcess team brings you a uniquely diverse selection of sought-after titles. Book lovers can expect a variety of books from art and design to literature, fiction, non-fiction, young adult, children’s books and many more hidden gems. Exclusively for BookXcess, parents of young ones will also find Little Hippo augmented reality (AR) books available at the store. AR books create an immersive, interactive reading experience. Children will be able to read, play and learn with these AR books as it uses cutting-edge AR technology to revolutionize reading for the next generation.
“One of the reasons there are so few avid readers in Malaysia is that books are very expensive. Books cost a lot in relation to the average person’s income and this is a barrier for many book lovers. As such, BookXcess’ goal is to make reading popular again; for books to become a household item that everyone can afford,” shared Andrew Yap, Founder of BookXcess Sdn. Bhd.
Taking up the entire 7th floor and part of the 8th floor, covering 26,000 sq. ft, BookXcess Gurney Paragon Mall features a children’s section which offers a breath-taking view of the ocean, providing inspiration for young readers to spark their curious minds. The bookstore also features comfortable reading spaces for customers to browse the sample books available. In addition, customers can also visit Café Wolf, BookXcess’ very own in-store café for refreshments or a quick bite.
According to Hunza Group Executive Director, Ms. Khor Tze Ming, “Shoppers nowadays enjoy getting lost in a cosy feeling of peace and quiet where books have their back amidst the crazy buzz of a busy mall. The establishment of BookXcess is a great complement to the mushrooming of international schools in Penang, which is in line with the state government’s vision in transforming our state into an international city with high-income economy that is knowledge-intensive.”
BookXcess Gurney Paragon Mall is also Red Readerhood’s first long-term initiative in Penang. Started in 2011, Red Readerhood gives back to communities by working together with local organisations to give books to those in need. Customers can purchase and donate a book at the Red Readerhood corner, and for every book a customer donates, BookXcess will match it with another book. The first four homes that will benefit from this initiative are House of Hope, The Salvation Army, St. Joseph’s Home and Hope Worldwide Penang.
BookXcess has built a reputation for offering a wide selection of books – from bestselling novels, children’s books, cooking and architecture to literature, history, evergreen classics and décor – at hugely discounted prices. As a remainder bookstore, it offers a wide range of overprinted and unsold copies from publishers around the world. The company’s primary aim is to encourage the joy of reading by making books available at affordable prices.
BookXcess opened its first outlet in Amcorp Mall in 2007, and has retail outlets at the Starling, fahrenheit88, as well as gift stores called BookXcess XS in 1 Utama, SS15 Courtyard and Centro Mall, Klang. In May 2018, BookXcess also launched the nation’s biggest and only 24-hour bookstore at Tamarind Square. The company also offers online shopping at bookxcessonline.com to meet the needs of customers outside the Klang Valley.
About Gurney Paragon Mall
Located in Gurney Drive, Gurney Paragon Mall is the premier shopping mall in Penang Island, built around and inspired by the former St. Joseph’s Novitiate – converted into St. Jo’s, an area for stylish restaurants and cafes steeped in the architecture of Penang’s heritage. Spanning 700,000 sq. ft. NLA over nine floors, Gurney Paragon Mall offers a superb mix of fashion and lifestyle brands, sea breeze-fronting al-fresco dining areas as well as the first IMAX screen in Penang. It provides a memorable experience to all shoppers and pleasure seekers.
Gurney Paragon Mall was also certified as a national record holder of The Malaysia Book of Records with the achievement of “First Shopping Mall Integrated With A Heritage Building”. Other achievements include “Best Retail Development Malaysia (5 Star) – Asia Pacific Property Awards Development 2018-2019”, “Best Experiential Marketing” Silver Award 2017 & 2018 by Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK)”, “FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2015 (Retail Category)” and etc.
I grew up eating Hokkien mee a lot. It is still one of my favorite dishes to this day. For those who have no inkling of what Hokkien mee is, it is a dish of thick yellow noodles stir-fried in black soy sauce with pork lard, prawns and cabbage, and served with a must-have chilli shrimp paste condiment also known as sambal belacan in Malay.
Contrary to what people believe, this popular dish did not originate from the Fujian province of China but was allegedly created by Wong Kian Lee, an immigrant of Hokkien descent who ran a hawker stall in the area now known as Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur, in the 1920s.
Many Malaysian Chinese are of Hokkien descent with a vast majority of them residing in the states of Penang, Selangor and Johor. Besides Hokkien, there are many other dialect groups such as Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, et cetera whose forefathers – many of whom originated from south China – made this country their home many centuries ago.
There is no specific rule in the Chinese custom that prohibits intermarriage among the various dialect groups. Hence, interdialect group marriages among the Chinese were commonly practiced in those days and even more so in this modern day and time.
What it means to be ‘Hakkien’
Whenever someone asked me which dialect group do I belong to, I simply say, “I am “Hakkien” – one who is born Hakka but could only speak Hokkien.
No, I am not “speaking bird language” here. My father is Hakka and my late mother was Hokkien. I was born and raised in Klang, and lived there until the late 1990s before moving to a new township which is just an hour’s drive away.
Klang was – and still is, I believe – a Hokkien-majority town. One would only need to look at the huge mansion-like building that houses the Klang Hokkien Association and be convinced. There are no other Chinese guild buildings around town that could come close to surpassing its sheer size and grandeur.
Many non-Hokkien Klangites like me grew up speaking Hokkien as our mother tongue. I guess this custom was quite prevalent in many towns and villages back then, as Chinese of different dialect groups tended to use the dominant Chinese dialect of the locality for social interactions and communication between dialect groups.
Hokkien was once widely spoken in the community and played a significant role in defining Klang’s place-identity, but today its usage is not as prevalent as it was in the past.
While Hokkien is still largely spoken among the elderly folks or street-market traders, those of the younger generation appear to be lacking in enthusiasm to use Hokkien as a lingua franca in their daily inter-communal communication; partly because some see Hokkien usage as an indicative of a lack of education, vulgarity and backwardness. The further decline of usage is also attributed to the rise of Mandarin as the preferred language among the Chinese-educated families.
Many studies conducted by linguistic scholars in Penang and Singapore have revealed that the use of non-Mandarin dialects in their respective regions is in dire decline and this phenomenon is in tandem with the decline of many other minority languages in the world. According to a study by a United Nations independent expert, Rita Izsák, “half of the world’s estimated 6,000-plus languages will likely die out by the end of the century” if no effort is made to preserve them.
The waning of place-identity
I am no linguist expert nor am I a dialect proponent, but my concern is less with the decline of dialects per se than with the waning of place-identity. What I am particularly interested in is the relation between language and place, and am curious as to how one would articulate that relationship.
That is, what role does language play in making places? Can language be a tool that helps us to uncover and discover the authenticity of places and its people?
Take Hokkien, for example. There are two versions of Hokkien spoken in this region today. From Penang in the north to Johor in the south, each state has developed a sort of their own unique localized variant of Hokkien, the difference in which can be easily distinguished by the sound of the speaker’s voice and words he or she uses.
Generally, all versions of Hokkien are mainly derived from the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou variants – the two oldest dialects of Southern Min spoken in Fujian province. The Hokkien of the southern states of Malaysia speak the Quanzhou variant, while the version used in the northern states is derived from the Zhangzhou variant, and is commonly known as “Penang Hokkien”.
Interestingly, the northern version of Hokkien contains more Malay loanwords than the Hokkien spoken in the southern states. As such, it is said that a Hokkien speaker from the south would find it much easier to speak Hokkien to Taiwanese or Hokkien speakers from Fujian province, rather than one from the north.
Such is the potency of place to shape language as it evolves. Conversely, language has the power to shape how places are perceived and interpreted, as each language may paint a different picture of a place to the people who speak the language.
Great places are not only topographic entities, they are also socially constructed by “voices” of people in interaction with one another to form ideas that would then translate into action, and the action would in turn culminate in making. As Yi Fu-Tuan, a well-known geographer, once wrote: “It is not possible to understand or to explain the physical motions that produce place without overhearing […] the speech – the exchange of words – that lies behind them.”
A personal creative endeavour
Speech and spoken words have always held a certain appeal to me, particularly when they are used to ascribe and associate meaning to a place, or to bring back memories of a distant past that are closely linked to one’s birthplace.
My work-related visits to my hometown Klang, of late, has brought back many memories of my younger days, growing up in a town where Hokkien is the only dialect I could understand or speak with competence.
Hence what started as a recollection of my early years quickly grew into an impetus for personal creative endeavour. And thus my first foray into public art began. My hope is that my artwork could assume the role of an interlocutor to stimulate thinking, to prompt dialogue, and to heighten our awareness of our communal roots and values.
For many foodies, Klang may be a town synonymous for its authentic bak kut teh, but for me, Klang is more than just a town where I was born. It is also a town infused with meaning and relevance that holds the key to my past. I am not simply a Chinese Malaysian; I am a “Hakkien” whose substantial identity is very much rooted in the habitus of Hokkien-ness.
Ti.Tu – Hokkien for spider. Catching spiders to fight is probably unheard of by many urban kids nowadays but it was one of the many childhood pastimes that I had, especially after- school hours.
Kong,Jiao.Wei – A Hokkien phrase which literally translates as talk bird language. It is often used to denote someone is talking nonsense.
Kay.poh – A Hokkien phrase for busybody or someone who is nosy.
Beh Tahan – A combination of the Hokkien word for cannot, andthe Malay word for tolerate, tahan.
Murum Dam is located on the Murum River, the uppermost part of the Rajang River basin. It is fed by numerous rivers and streams, which makes it an ideal fishing ground for nice sized double-striped hampala barb (Hampala bimaculata), also known as sebarau.
My first fishing trip to Murum was in 2016, which saw us landing dozens of sebarau, and I have been itching ever since to visit the dam once again.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. My friend Gerard seemingly plucked the idea straight from my brain, and soon enough we were on the way to Sarawak, joined by another two friends, Boon Yew and Kelland.
We flew into Bintulu from KLIA, before checking into our hotel for the night. After a delightful dinner and cold beers, we decided to get to bed early so that we would be fresh and ready for the next day.
Richard, who was our guide and boatman for the trip, picked us up from our hotel in his four-wheel-drive before sunrise to begin our five-hour-long journey to Murum dam.
Several hours later, we stopped at a local Iban farmers market, where we bought some last minute supplies which we would take with us.
Upon reaching the jetty, we all eagerly loaded up into our two boats. Gerard and I were the first in with our boatman Ikhlas, while Kelland and Boon Yew got in Richard’s boat.
The jelatong or floating house, which we would be calling home for the next three days, was about two hours from the jetty. But we had come all this way and couldn’t wait, so we decided instead to fish first before heading out to the jelatong.
The boatmen reminded us that when fishing in Murum, it’s best not to focus too much on the main lake, but instead the areas where rivers or stream flow in, as this is where the sebarau usually converge.
The lures which I had prepared for the trip were mostly sized 70mm and below, such as the DUO M65, Spearhead Ryuki, IMA Ligid, Berkley Dredger, Rapala CD7 and Fat Rap. I also brought along a variety of spoons, such as the Daiwa Chinook, Abu Island and Tok Wan, as well as several spinnerbaits.
When we reached the first spot, Gerard and I immediately noticed that there were nets which had been set in the area. This wasn’t a good sign, as we knew that this would have adverse effects on our fishing, so we immediately decided to switch to a different spot.
Upon reaching our second spot, Gerard, who was using a rather large spinnerbait immediately cast it out. He allowed the spinnerbait to sink for several seconds before retrieving.
Several casts later he got a solid strike which stripped the line from his reel and after a nice fight, Gerard landed himself a 1kg sebarau which we released quickly.
Meanwhile, I was using the Daiwa Chinook spoon, and despite getting several “knocks” from the fish, none of them took my lure. After several attempts I changed to an IMA Ligid, which I casted out before letting it sink for several seconds before retrieving it.
The technique which I used was that I would jerk and stop while retrieving it, and on my second cast I got a solid hookup which turned out to be another nice sized sebarau.
While I was getting the fish out of the water, Gerard got yet another strike on a small shallow crank which he had changed to. After taking some quick pictures, we safely released both fish back into the water.
Murum being a relatively new dam has numerous dead trees which stick out of the water. While we were casting, our boat knocked into one of these trees which led to a big rotten branch to come crashing down on our boat.
After checking if everyone was fine, I found that the branch had smashed directly onto my TecnaAVX rod and broke it in half.
I was downcast for sure, but I knew that had the branch hit one of us things could have been much worse. A new rod can be bought, but an injured head in the middle of the jungle would be nothing short of disaster.
Thankfully I had my two other rods, so once we had cleared our boat of the broken branch, I was back to fishing.
We both managed to land several sebarau throughout the day on various different lures while slowly making our way to the floating house. When we reached the floating house, we saw that both Kelland, Boon Yew and Richard were back as well.
The three of them had a rather good day as well with numerous sebarau landed which ranged between 300g-1kg. Many of the sebarau which they caught were on the Abu Island 18g as well as the Berkley Dredger.
That night, after a simple dinner of canned food and rice, we all sat around talking about our day and what our plans were for the next. It was decided that we would swap boatmen, with Kelland and Boon Yew going with Ikhlas while Gerard and I would go with Richard.
The next day, after a quick breakfast, we were on the go again. This time we headed up to Ulu Danum, which is one of the many rivers which feed into the lake. However due to heavy rain and apparent logging further upstream, the water was too murky for us to fish.
We split up and explored several different spots instead where we landed nice good number of sebarau. We also lost several fish to bent hooks which opened up, a constant reminder that there were big sebarau around.
Most of the fish that we caught on the second day were between 1kg-1.5kg, sizes which are hard to come by easily back here in Peninsular Malaysia.
We also realised that the strength of the two striped sebarau was stronger than the normal single striped variety (Hampala macrolepidota).
When we returned to the floating house at the end of the day, we were told by Kelland and Boon Yew that they had been lucky enough to have stumbled upon a large school of sebarau, where they landed more than a dozen fish on a variety of lures including soft plastics.
That night, we all stayed up late knowing that the trip was coming to an end the next day. The whole night we shared stories and jokes till we all slept off one by one.
The following morning, we loaded up all our stuff into the boats before heading out as we planned to slowly make our way to the jetty while fishing on the way.
For some reason on the third day, the fish were not responsive and at noon we decided to head to a nearby waterfall to relax and have a quick dip.
At the last spot that we stopped before heading back, Gerard and I were casting at some floating logs in the lake when there was a strong take on my Rapala Fat Rap. The water in that area was crystal clear, and I saw that a generously-sized sebarau hooked up to my lure.
When the fish was about two feet underwater, suddenly another larger sebarau emerged from the depths and snatched the lure out of the mouth of the first fish with immense strength before dashing into the deep water.
Although I was using my Major Craft Corzza 12-25lb bait casting rod which was paired with a Daiwa Tatula that was spooled with 40lb braid, the sebarau managed to put up a solid fight, but I eventually managed to land it.
The sebarau’s aggression and epic take of the lure definitely surprised all of us on the boat. After removing the lure from its mouth, I found that the fish and managed to distort one of the Jespa 70lb split rings which I had used for the lure.
After weighing the fish, we found that it weighed a nice 2.2kg – the biggest we hand landed for that trip!
After some quick pictures, I revived the fish in the water until it was fully recovered and then released it back into its habitat, in hope that it would further grow and give someone else the same thrill that I had with it.
Soon after that, we decided to call it a day and sped back to the jetty where our four-wheel-drive was parked and drove back to Bintulu to spend the night, before catching our flight the following day back to Kuala Lumpur.
While the trip was a success for all of us, Gerard and I, who had been to Murum in 2016, found that the quantity of fish had definitely reduced. This could be due to some factors such as overfishing, numerous nets set at almost all the rivers, and the logging being carried out in the area.
Just recently, several friends showed interest to head to Murum later this year, and while nothing has been confirmed, I’m certainly looking forward to another trip this sebarau haven!