I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

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.

The artworks shown here can be found in the vicinity of Jalan Stesyen 1, Klang. This self-initiated public art project would not have been possible without local community support, particularly from the Klang City Rejuvenation team.

Website: Klang City Rejuvenation Project

Facebook: We Love Klang

Sebarau fishing in the Murum

Sebarau fishing in the Murum

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!

Memories of Cape Town will stay with you forever

Memories of Cape Town will stay with you forever

It is easy to mistake Cape Town for an European city, but this South African city is definitely worth a visit if you have a chance to travel there.

Both the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph named Cape Town as the best tourist destination in the world in 2014.

Although the last time my wife and I were there was back in 2007, memories of the place still linger on.

We were based in Maputo in Mozambique. Because we had booked accommodation either at Kruger Park or Swaziland, I had developed friendship with a tour consultant, Carien Du Plessis.

Carien and her family live in Cape Town. They were probably of Dutch descent, and they spoke Afrikaans, a Dutch dialect in South Africa up to the early 20th century before it became the official language of South Africa.

When we told her that we wanted to visit Cape Town on our trip home to Malaysia, she helped us to book the hotels, and on arrival from Maputo, she and her husband were kind enough to drive us up from the hotel to their home, some 40km away.

After an evening of BBQ, they sent us back to the hotel.

This kind of hospitality was hardly an exception, we encountered it everywhere in Cape Town, which made our visit very memorable. Over dinner, she advised us on how to get around on the Hop On Hop Off buses.

There are two routes – the Red and the Blue routes, which bring us to different tourist locations in Cape Town. We did not have to worry about security or the hassle of driving around in Cape Town on our own.

After the first day on the Red Route, we decided we would also go on the Blue Route.

Interesting places

The highlight of the visit was the Table Mountain. All around town as you drive, you can see the mountain with a flat top, resembling a table.

However, the mountain got its name from Table Bay in Cape Town.

Cape Town is what it is today as the result of the hard work put in by the Dutch East India Company. You can see a lot of old buildings built by the Dutch that date back to the 17th century.

In 2014, the city bagged the World Design Capital awarded by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. For that reason, it is worth a visit especially for those who are architecturally inclined.

Table Bay, on which Cape Town is located is, in fact, the oldest developed area in South Africa, owing to one Jan van Riebeeck who had founded this European settlement in 1652. He is the equivalent of Sir Francis Light in Penang.

Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg as the capital of South Africa.

To get the scenic view of Cape Town, it is worth a ride on the Table Mountain Cableway up to the top. Although it is only a flat area, the experience of being just on top of the world overlooking this beautiful city was just mesmerising.

There are some who may prefer to on a 4-hour hike up the Table Mountain.

It was here that we met a gentleman who claimed that he was a Cape Malay. When we told him that we were from Malaysia, he shared with us that his ancestors had been brought here by the Dutch as slaves centuries ago. However, he no longer speaks a word of Malay.

 

The other place worth visiting especially for those who love all kinds of flowers is the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which is a legacy left behind by Dutch since 1913 to conserve the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa.

Over here, be prepared to spend an entire day just to enjoy the different kinds of flowers and the walk as the garden alone covers an area approximately 36 hectares.

Our next recommendation is to spend an afternoon at the Mariner’s Wharf. Because Cape Town is a port city, the Mariner’s Wharf represents the life of the people here. Unlike our Pulau Ketam or Kuala Sepetang, the Mariner’s Wharf is a like one of the European wharfs with luxurious yachts and fishing boats.

Before planning a trip to Cape Town, it is best to check out the latest tourist attractions here.

It may be worth the trip if you want to check out the same species of penguins that swim across thousands of kilometres to the Philip Island in Australia, but since we had already been to Melbourne, we skipped this portion.

Alternatively, you can spend at least two nights in Kruger Park on the eastern side of South Africa.

A fishing adventure in the remote jungles of Kalimantan

A fishing adventure in the remote jungles of Kalimantan

The Plan

Whenever anyone mentions Borneo or Kalimantan, the first thing which comes into our minds is the mystical 140 million year old rainforest which covers the largest island in Asia, the animals which call it home and the tribes which dwell in it. But unknown to many the island is also a freshwater fishing haven with its many rivers and streams which hold an abundance of target fish such as Masheer and Hapala Barb or also known locally as Kelah and Sebarau. This very reason led six of us putting together a fishing trip to Kalimantan Indonesia in the search of these target fish. Plans were put into place several months in advance with six anglers who were Fahiz, Yan, TK, Goubin, Kasey and me Sandeep to travel to Indonesia which led us to contact local fishing outfit East Borneo Sports Fishing (EBSF) to book our trip through them.

Just three weeks before our trip, we were informed by EBSF that they had recently discovered a new spot in the jungles of Kalimantan which was very remote and off the beaten path. The location which was an estimated 17 hour drive from Balik Papan, Indonesia had only been visited once by the exploration team of EBSF, hence it was a gamble as the place was very deep in the jungle, had very fast flowing water akin to rapids, malaria carrying mosquitos, and unpredictable weather. However the six of us decided to take up the gamble and it was set, we were going for an adventure of a lifetime!

The Adventure

Our journey began in KLIA were we took a flight to Jakarta and spent the night in the airport to catch our flight the following morning to Balik Papan in east Kalimantan. Upon our arrival in Balik Papan, we were greeted by Suke who is a fishing guide with EBSF who took us for a quick Indonesian lunch of Nasi Padang before hitting the road. From Balik Papan we took a 9 hour drive to a small kampong where we rested for the night at the home of one of our guides.

The following morning after breakfast, we were on the road again for the most challenging part of the trip, which was an 8 hour journey by 4-weel drive along a logging and jungle track. After a bone jarring drive we finally reached the river which would be our fishing location for the next three days, and after loading up into the boat we took a 20 minute boat ride through the rapids to our base camp which was a hunting lodge built by the locals. After a nice bath at the side of the river and a simple dinner we setup our fishing tackle in preparation for the next day.

It Begins!

The tackle which we had prepared for the trip was more to the heavy side with us using reels with at least 13lb of drag which had been spooled with 30lb-50lb braided fishing line as well as rods which were on the heavier side with poundage ranging from 10-20lb, right up to 20-40lb. The lures which we had prepared for the trip were mostly shallow diving cranks and minnows which had been upgraded with stronger treble hooks and split-rings to prevent loosing fish due to them failing.

The next morning after a quick breakfast consisting of dried shrimp fried rice which was whipped up by our helpful guide Suke, we loaded up into our three boats which held a pair of us each to begin our journey upstream. The river that we were fishing in was a very fast flowing, hence we traveled three hours upstream before we switched off the outboard engine and started drifting down. We immediately started casting at the banks, under hangs and potential spots which might hold the fish that we were targeting. As it had rained the night before, the water was somewhat murky hence we know that the fishing was going to be challenging.

Fish ON!

Yan and I casted repeatedly at potential spots towards the bank with me using IMA’S Ligid minnow and DUO’s Realis M65 crank while Yan used RAPALA’S Fat Rap and DUO’s Realis M65 crank to try to lure the fish to hit our lures. After almost two hours of casting, Yan got a hit from a fish and after a quick battle he landed himself a decent sized Hampala. After a few quick pictures he released the fish back into the river and we were back at it again casting our lures at any potential spot that we could see, however the next hour held no fish for us, so we decided to take a break for lunch with the rest of the guys.

After lunch we were back at it again. While we were casting along some low over hang, Yan got a strike again and this time he landed himself a nice 4lb Masheer which had whacked his M65 crank. Once again after a few quick pictures, Yan lowered the fish into the water and ensured that the fish was revived before releasing it back into its habitat. By now it was already reaching the end of the day and I had yet to land a fish, I had switched my lures several times to much avail.

While casting at a particularly low over hang, suddenly I felt a sharp jerk on my rod, and I was ON! I was determined to not allow the fish to get away and after a quick fight I emerged the winner. The fish that had taken my DUO M65 was a Hampala which is one of my favorite target fish when I go fishing. Yan took some quick pictures as it was already getting dark and then I released the fish back into the river after which we both called it a day and returned to camp.

After a refreshing bath by the riverside, we tucked into a delicious dinner which consisted of grilled Masheer, fried rice and sup, while sharing about our day’s fishing. The rest of the guys had found the fishing pretty tough as well due to the murky water but everyone had managed to land at least a fish each. We were all exhausted from the long day and slowly we all crawled into our sleeping bags for some much needed sleep and with dreams of better catches the next day.

The following day we were greeted with by a welcoming sight, the river had somewhat cleared throughout the night and was much less murky. This lifted our spirits and after breakfast we began our day. I had paired up with Kasey for our second day and like the previous day, we travelled upstream for several hours and soon we began casting. Soon after we began casting I my rod jerked in my hand and I had landed myself a 3lb Hampala which had taken my IMA Ligid moments after I had casted it out. After the normal ritual of picture taking, the fish was safely released back into the water. Soon after I got another strike and this time it was an approximate 6lb Masheer which had taken my lure, I was overjoyed as this was the first time I had landed a Masheer and it was a decent size too.

Moments later Kasey landed a nice 4lb Hampala and Masheer in quick succession which put a big smile on his face. This fishing was definitely better on the second day and both of us landed approximately 9-10 fish each which all released after taking some pictures. Later that evening when we met up at our camp, we found out that Yan had landed a 13lb Hampala, which was a personal record for him and that both TK and Fahiz had landed big Masheer in the range of 8-10lb’s. The good water conditions had certainly boosted our catch rate and all of us were in high spirits after the day of fishing.

That night however it began raining very heavily and we all knew that this was going to lead to the river getting really muddy and murky which was the exactly what happened the next morning. The river had turned brown from all the mud and silt which and been washed into it and once again we knew that it was going to be a challenging day ahead. I had paired up with Goubin for the last day of fishing and although the water conditions were bad, I managed to land a 4lb Masheer  which whacked my IMA Ligid near a small stream. After a few hours, we decided to call it quits as the water conditions were too murky and we all decided to return to camp.

All good things come to an end

Since we were back early to camp, we decided to pack away our tackle and prepare for the long journey back the next day. Although the fishing had been slow on the last day, we all knew that at the end of the day, Mother Nature always wins and that at least we had a good day’s fishing the previous day. That night we all slept pretty late talking about our trip and fun that we had. The following morning, we loaded up into the boats one final time to head back to our 4 wheel drives and began the 17 hour journey back to Balik Papan before boarding our flight to Jakarta and finally KLIA.

The trip without doubt was well organized by EBSF and they ensured that our trip went along as smoothly as possible. Most of us were covered with mosquito bites by the end of the trip but luckily none of us contracted malaria or any other dangerous disease during the trip. Its sudden trips like this into remote areas which are the most fun as one will never really know what to expect, but given the chance I would definitely head back again there soon!

Website: www.eastborneosportfishing.com

Email: [email protected]

Called at: +6017-5111887 / +6019-5588887

Mesmerising Redang

Mesmerising Redang

Malaysia has very beautiful island resorts that deserve to be promoted.
Not many people, for example, knew that the Hong Kong-Chinese movie, “Love You You” was shot on the Summer Bay Lang Tengah Island Resort.

Malaysia has very beautiful island resorts that deserve to be promoted.
Not many people, for example, knew that the Hong Kong-Chinese movie, “Love You You” was shot on the Summer Bay Lang Tengah Island Resort.

For several years, we have returned to this beautiful part of the East Coast off Terengganu, which is well-known for its islands such as Redang, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Perhentian and Lang Tengah, especially after experiencing the magnificent marine park.

We stayed at Lang Tengah some eight years ago. The clear sea water was simply inviting for anyone to jump into the sea but I especially loved it when we could see the colourful marine fish coming to us the moment we threw some bread into the water.

That had given me a longing desire to return to this part of the world, so we decided to return. In fact, Redang and Perhentian here are among the three islands besides Tioman which are highly recommended by ExpatsGo.

We were there last year at Redang Bay Resort; but this last trip which was just a week ago for four days / three nights was the best so far, as my wife managed to get a room at a very attractive subsidized rate at The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Redang. It is worth checking out their package.

The resort is definitely worth another visit, if we get the chance, to explore further its facilities and, of course, to laze around on its private beach overlooking a most spectacular bay. It is simply mesmerising.

In fact, The Taaras is one place that I would highly recommend to mother-and-son, 42-year-old Cheng Chau Yang and her eight-year-old son who are currently stranded in Shanghai over a questionable court’s travel ban preventing them from leaving China.

I have been advising the family, and hopefully with the help of foreign minister, Anifah Aman, they will soon return to their homeland by end of September.

At The Taaras, I also met a middle-aged couple who had stayed at the resort on a number of occasions. Pointing to a beautiful boat docked near the beach, they told me that’s they have just sailed in all the way from France. Never mind the sun, it was smiles all over on their faces.

Swimming with the turtles.
This time around, the biggest satisfaction was to go out on island hopping, where we were brought to a special spot, where the kids got a chance to swim with the turtles.

Swimming with the turtles.
This time around, the biggest satisfaction was to go out on island hopping, where we were brought to a special spot, where the kids got a chance to swim with the turtles.

On previous excursions, we did enjoy the marine park, but on this particular island hopping, for the first time we were introduced to the friendly turtles; for this, I would recommend this operator Asmadi Redang (+60 13-928 5002/016-9215002).

The only downside is that they did not bring us to the Marine Park, but on further discussion with Asmadi while writing this article, he agrees that locals would like to at least be able to say they have spent some time at the Marine Park and he would include Marine Park for all his trips. Foreign tourists, he added, are more interested in the quiet locations.

According to the boat skipper, Jojo was the first of the turtles to become very tame; soon, the others also followed along. Over here in Terengganu, apart from the giant leatherback sea turtle which is also known to locals as Penyu Belimbing found mainly in Rantau Abang, there are also the other three marine turtles namely the Green, Hawksbill, and Olive ridley turtles. 

With that, we have four out of a total of seven marine turtle species in the world! Snorkelling and swimming with the turtles is both educational and fun for the kids as they learn that sea creatures and humans can co-exist and enjoy each other’s presence when they could touch the turtles when going on snorkelling.

The ones that we saw on this trip were the green turtles which are also known to islanders as penyu Agar, penyu Pulau or penyu Hitam. Its scientific name is Chelonia mydas.

The skipper even caught a nemo to show them, but thankfully, the nemo was allowed to return to its habitat after some nice photography session with the kids. Guests also get to touch the sea cucumber if they ask for it.

Something to look out for are the baby sharks near to the Long Beach. According to a reviewer on TripAdvisor, if you stay at Redang Reef Resort, you can even snorkel basically anywhere near the beach. “You can just walk a bit towards the sea and you will see fishes and marine life immediately. We got the chance to see baby sharks.” See the other reviews here.

Because they provide safety jackets, even children as young as five or six years old can learn to float in water with some supervision by their parents.

The marine fish here are colourful and really beautiful and children would be fascinated when they see the sea creatures in real life. Yes, nothing beats the real thing, not even the Walt Disney’s Nemo.

On hindsight, I should have let my kids watch the movie again before the trip to Redang in order to fire up their imagination. It is a great opportunity to teach them to love the environment.

There are several jetties here in Kuala Terengganu
depending on which resort you are living in but the two more common ones are Shahbandar and Merang.

There are several jetties here in Kuala Terengganu
depending on which resort you are living in but the two more common ones are Shahbandar and Merang.

Shahbandar Jetty is just about a kilometre away from the express bus station and to get there, you can use either Uber, Grab or the normal taxis (which you do have to negotiate the prices with the taxi drivers).

Merang jetty is closer to Redang but it is 40 minutes away from the Kuala Terengganu on the road, but I would not recommend using private speed boat during the end of the year when the current is strong. It is also doubtful that they have public insurance since these are mainly private speed boats.

It is important to book the ferry tickets first to avoid any disappointments especially during peak seasons. The one that we booked the tickets for this recent trip is Sejahtera Ferry Services Sdn Bhd where we find the seats more comfortable and it is licensed and come with public insurance. You can contact them at 016-416-8800 (Mr.Yap) or email them at [email protected] with cost RM55 for adults and RM30 for children.

STEPHEN NG

is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in writing about interesting tourist spots and places to eat.

Tropicana Fills the Market Gap with Reasonably Priced Homes for the Modern Urbanite

Tropicana Fills the Market Gap with Reasonably Priced Homes for the Modern Urbanite

Tropicana Fills the Market Gap with Reasonably Priced Homes for the Modern Urbanite

The unveiling of Tropicana Corporation Berhad’s new brand extension, Tropicana Urban Homes shows the developer’s dedication to fill the growing consumer need for high quality, accessibly priced homes.

2017 has seen a booming Malaysian population and among the highest numbers of young working class adults in recent history.

This has led more attentive developers such as Tropicana to cater to the market segment, building property to suit the needs and buying power of these home seeking adults.

“Tropicana Urban Homes was conceptualised with young buyers, middle-income professionals, aspiring homeowners and new families in mind, who are priced out of the traditional property market. ”

said Dato’ Yau Kok Seng, Group CEO of Tropicana

According to the Malaysian department of statistics, the Median age for the Malaysian population is now 28 years old, signaling a higher number of working class adults who are around the age when the purchase of a home is among their top priorities.

Tropicana, announcing the launch of its newest portfolio expansion under its Tropicana Urban Homes collection, has said that the development will see a total of 1791 modern apartment units at two of its award winning townships, Tropicana Aman in Kota Kemuning and Tropicana Heights in Kajang.

The developer recognized the need for young working class adults to be based near the city, as transportation and length of travel time continue to be one of the segment’s top concerns. This has led to the strategic selection of the development’s location.

Tropicana Aman is linked to six major highways including KESAS, the Federal Highway, LKSA, ELITE, and SKVE. The Tropicana Heights township is also conveniently 4km away from a transportation hub that harbours both, KTM and MRT stations.

PRICED OUT
OF A HOME

The target demographic of young adults and families have been faced with skyrocketing property prices, properties now see prices ranging from RM 500, 000 and above without a corresponding increase in wages.

Tropicana’s development of Aman 1 and Heights 1 counters the average overpriced home and sees a starting price of a mere RM236, 000, making it the sensible choice for the home buyer.

Through extensive market research, the developer has also found and catered to the demand for self-contained townships and has designed Tropicana Aman and Tropicana Heights to be self sustainable so that every possible amenity is within reach.

Tropicana’s idea behind the concept of a self contained township has led to the incorporation of amenities and facilities such as world class educational hubs, Central parks, Neighbourhood commercial spaces, and recreational hubs within the townships. This caters to the unique needs of young home buyers and families alike.

With the increasing gentrification of the congested city areas, property prices within KL have skyrocketed so that green lungs within developments are now a rarity.

But Tropicana Aman brings with the development a huge 85-acre central park which acts as not only a green lung, but also a recreational space with a with a linear lake and a centrally-located Clubhouse, ringed by a 100-feet wide tree-lined boulevard.

The Tropicana Aman township has also been designed to be a walking and biking community. This has been achieved through the incorporation of a 7km long walking / biking trail to encourage a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. 10 link-bridges and 17 beautiful pavilions are also spread across the Central Park for the enjoyment of Tropicana Aman’s residents.

Tropicana Heights also follows suit with 16 acres being dedicated to the creation of a Central Park that features a 750 meter linear lake, seamless pedestrian walkways, jogging and bicycle tracks, all complemented by beautiful landscaping and parkland views.

Both developments have taken into consideration the various lifestyles of its residents and have catered in layouts suited to both families, and single working adults. Heights 1 consists of 1025 units that vary in size ranging from 449 sq ft to 1783 sq ft while Aman 1 consists of 766 units and is split into two sizes, 870 sq ft, and 1000 sq ft.

These two maiden launches under the Tropicana Urban Homes collection is slated for a 2017 year-end release date.

For Tropicana Aman enquiries:

Call 1700 81 8868

or visit the Tropicana Aman Property Gallery

For Tropicana Heights enquiries:

Call 1700 81 9566

or visit the Tropicana Heights Show Village