Are you also made in Penang?

Are you also made in Penang?

Penangites are known to be very fond of their own state; they love their curry mee, prawn paste, nasi kandar and what have you. When I wrote this article about my observations of Penang, it attracted some 685 shares!

For instance, Penang has its version of Hokkien mee which is again different from the thick, round noodles cooked in soya sauce that I am used to. And a former colleague of mine, who usually stays quiet in our foodie chat group, surfaced like a submarine when Penang was mentioned.

As such, it is no wonder why someone has come up with a Made In Penang Interactive Museum (Mipim), which I think is really a smart way of helping people to rediscover the state, its past and present.

With 3-D artworks, they have turned the otherwise stately Behn Meyer Building in Weld Quay into a fascinating place for both tourists and photography enthusiasts.

Personally, I think they should shed the idea of a museum, because the term belies what a fun place it is for both children and adults.

We have been to other places which feature 3-D art, but Mipim is touted to be the first and the largest 3-D museum in Penang. Besides the fun of posing for the camera and later admiring how on earth you managed to hang on to the roof while Spider-Man rescues you, you get to learn both the history of the island and the lifestyles of its locals.

It makes it so much easier for us to explain to our computer-savvy children the history of Penang when they can pose as clog-makers or play glass marbles in this first-of-its-kind museum in the state.

Even locals like myself find it useful to bring my children to show them how the early part of our state’s history. It will only be a matter of time until all these legends and traditions are lost if we do not share them with our children.

For example, I remember vividly how a bullock cart looked like when I was very young boy, but my children would likely not even know how the cart can balance on two wheels!

With just one visit to Mipim, we can see the entirety of Penang – its history, cultural diversity and some iconic places – in just a couple of hours. It has five different sections, namely the Great Wall of Penang, the Miniature Local Trades, Miniature Weld Quay (where you still see Uncle Francis in his British costume), Interactive Theatre and my favourite, the Trick Art Gallery.

In traditional museums, exhibits lay flat and don’t come alive. But the idea of “see, don’t touch” simply does not exist here at Mipim. What you can see, you can touch – and better still, they encourage you to take lots of photographs to bring home memories about Penang.

I am willing to bet that word of mouth will soon spread about Mipim, like a scout ant telling its colony where to find the sweet stuff.

But I would strongly suggest that Tourism Penang or the state government approach virtual reality experts to create new experiences for visitors, like polysensory intermedia displays.

And maybe even a change of name too – something like “Penang in a Nutshell” or just “P-I-Nang”!

You can read more about Mipim by checking out their website or Facebook page.

The Made-in-Penang Interactive Museum is located at No.3 Pengkalan Weld, George Town.

Tel: 04-262 6119
Opening Hours: Daily, 9am-6pm
Google Map: 

For those planning a trip to Penang next time, check out this website:

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!


Email: [email protected]

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

You’ll regret it if you skip Komtar when visiting Penang

You’ll regret it if you skip Komtar when visiting Penang

Josephine Sheigra Rowland has been teaching arts at an international school in Kuala Lumpur. Entering into her third year now, she and her husband have been to Penang thrice in just two years.

“It is very nice,”

she quipped,

“and the food is great too!”

Her first trip to Penang was back in 2009, before she started teaching in the school. But she never really formed a lasting impression of the island back then.

Now, she’s fallen in love with the newly-refurbished Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (Komtar).

“Although we do not have children ourselves, you can literally spend the whole day there.”

Like Rowland, I agree that spending just two days in Penang is simply insufficient. Komtar alone needs one full day in order for the kids to explore.

In particular, I enjoy the Jurassic Research Centre for what it has to offer.

Although the Penang Rainbow Skywalk at Komtar is just a mini version of the world’s longest glass bottomed bridge hanging over the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in China, or even the Sky Bridge of Langkawi, touted to be the tallest sky bridge in Asia, it nonetheless offered a breath-taking view of Georgetown some 249 metres below.

In most of the tall buildings I’ve visited, like the Sydney Tower, KL Tower, Menara Maybank and Petronas Skybridge, you only get the city view through the glass windows, but this Skywalk allows you to look below through the glass floor.

I was initially hesitant to walk on the glass floor, but the fear was soon overcome when I saw people taking photographs on it. I was assured that the glass could take the weight of a few people; and even if there were signs of cracking, I could at least make the dash to safe ground!

The Coco Cabana Bar & Bistro is attractive place to chill and unwind, but with a shoestring budget, we decided to give it a skip. Due to shortage of time, we also missed out the Tongkat Ali King museum.

The Science Centre, despite offering only a fraction of what the National Science Centre does, is still worth a visit, while the Magic Mirror Maze is worth trying if you can spare five minutes walking through the maze.

The 7D Discovery Motion Theatre reminds me of the National Planetarium’s dome theatre and another such theatre in Langkawi – or even the movie Jaws – but what differentiates the one in Komtar is that it is 7D, the latest virtual reality innovation.

The Ocean Explorer is another experience that is worth checking out. It is 5D, and the best part was to when we were transported in a virtual submarine. On being attacked by sharks, everyone got their adrenaline pumping.

In total, you will need at least one whole day at Komtar to check out all the exciting happenings they have here, and to see how this three-decade old building has been facelifted to look modern.

When we first stepped into this “other part” of the Penang State government building, we thought we were mesmerised by the skyscreen, which stretches above the pedestrian walkway. I have seen this elsewhere, but to have it in Komtar is a real plus point.

Would I visit it again a second time? Yes, if I am able to cover the other interesting tourist spots in Penang on future trips. There are just so many things that tourists can experience and enjoy when holidaying in Penang.

Dinosaurs walk the earth again at the Jurassic Research Centre

Dinosaurs walk the earth again at the Jurassic Research Centre


It is more than an ordinary exhibition. This is serious stuff – it is the Jurassic Research Centre (JRC) at Komtar, Penang, where dinosaurs are free to roam again.

Within its own natural habitat in the Jurassic Park, every single dinosaur that you see here comes alive.

Be warned! You may find yourself face-to-face with a fearsome T-rex or ravenous little raptors.

I was of course sceptical when ‘Professor’ Harith Iskandar gave a brief introduction about the do’s and don’ts of JRC on video. After all, this whole place was meant for children.

This is why we nearly gave it the skip when we were planning the holiday trip to Penang. I thought this was just another one of those dinosaur exhibitions we have visited either at the National Science Centre or at Avenue K in the past, now making its appearance at Komtar.

These exhibitions never made a lasting impact on me. We are too familiar with the usually life-size dinosaurs that are displayed in museum settings that we would not want to visit it again.

But after walking through the JRC, I came out feeling that this was as real as it could appear, as if it is a real research centre where scientists are experimenting with the biggest creatures that once roamed this Earth.

Here is where the adrenaline starts pumping into your blood stream, when you see the scientists at JRC ‘incubating’ dinosaur eggs with little dinosaurs starting to emerge through the cracks.

One of the laboratory staff was in fact holding the baby dinosaur but did my eyes play tricks on me? A baby dinosaur that would eventually outgrow us in size? Yes, a baby dinosaur! Behind the lady was a full-grown dinosaur being measured its weight and size.

All this transported my imagination into a totally new dimension where dinosaurs came alive. This is what a museum or exhibition would not be able to impart to its visitors, compared to this JRC at Komtar.

What appeared more realistic to me were the dinosaurs that were located outside Komtar building amid their natural habitat.

The sauropod with the long neck, otherwise known as the Brachiosaurus altithorax, was just too real to be true. The brachiosaurus is known to be the largest known dinosaur on earth and because of its long neck, it reminds me of giraffes.

I never knew that the triceratops (looking like the rhinoceros) are also herbivores; with their horn, they look fierce enough to attack any other dinosaurs, but interestingly, these triceratops could be easily hunted down by the fearsome carnotaurus whose bites are more powerful than its two small arms.

In fact, I could not tell the difference between the tyrannosaurus rex and the carnotaurus, but my son, who has been a fan of the dinosaurs from young told me that T-rex is slightly smaller in size. See video clip.

It shows one thing – the JRC has very high educational values for young children, teaching them to know how to identify the dinosaurs based on their characteristics.

I am truly impressed that I have to say this is the place that anyone visiting Penang, young and old alike, should not miss out.

The Jurassic Research Centre is located within Komtar building Georgetown

Step through the looking glass into the Upside Down Museum

Step through the looking glass into the Upside Down Museum

If they play it right, the Upside Down Museum at Lebuh Kimberley in Georgetown will be the first museum in the world which presents the interiors and exteriors of a typical Malaysian home from a very different perspective.

With it, Penang will be known as a trendsetter for similar museums, and maybe someday, who knows, there will be also movies made for people like us who prefer the world upside down.

This is a place that will be a must visit tourist spot, even if you have only one day to spend in Penang.

Photography enthusiasts will love this museum, and you cannot help but remember your visit to Penang from a different perspective.

How they’ve pulled it off is simply amazing when you think of it, and you will emerge from the Upside Down Museum saluting the people behind its creation.

So, it is not only Spiderman who can do it, but ordinary people like you and I can also walk on the ceilings, leaving bats and lizards confused!

In-house Photographers

What I like about the Upside Museum is that they provided in-house photographers to take every picture for us. They also have guides who helped us along, and I suppose these must be some college students who are earning a small allowance while enjoying themselves looking at the way we pose.

Instead of using their own cameras and charging us a bomb for all the photographs, they use our camera to take these pictures; therefore, you must bring at least a smartphone with a good camera and lots of memory, or else, you will regret that the entire visit is wasted.

While posing, you may wonder why they ask you to raise your hands in a certain way. Until you realise that they’re asking you to dive right into the toilet bowl, for example, and when you view the photographs at home, it will be too late!

The naughty chipmunk photographers are now a few hundred kilometres away for you to chase them around the museum for being mischievous!

But I guess the lasting impressions one has of the museum is the fun of posing for photographs and being able to keep them for years to come.

For once, if you believe in the maxim ‘seeing is believing’, at least grandpa and grandma have photographs to prove to our grandchildren next time that we belong to the world of vampires.

The only way the Upside Down Museum could have been more fun is if they provided us the vampire costumes!

Upside Down Museum 

Upside Down Museum is located at 45, Lebuh Kimberley, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang.

Tel:  04 264 2660

Hours: 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (7 days a week)

Waze: Search for Upside Down Museum Penang

Google Map: Key in Upside Down Museum Penang

Taking a ride on the wild side at Kruger National Park

Taking a ride on the wild side at Kruger National Park

What do you do when a 10-tonne African elephant, touted to be the world’s largest and heaviest land animal, suddenly decides to cross the road just in front of your vehicle?


Of course, you let it go first – after all, it is the safari and they have the right of way – but what happens when you drive past him and he decides to give chase? Should you speed off and get as far away as possible?

The answer is obvious: Elephants are very social animals. Seldom do they attack humans unless they are provoked. This was what we learnt from the guidebook on Kruger National Park in South Africa.

But then, as we were driving on the African safari, we noticed a herd of elephants. Just as we stopped our car to watch them from a distance, a bull also decided to turn around and looked at us as if it was ready to charge.

We were sure our vehicle would be easily overturned with just one push from the bull. If the bull had decided to attack, the headlines would have read: “Malaysian couple in elephant stampede on African safari.” Whether we would have survived the stampede is anyone’s guess.

Elephants are territorial animals and the bull is the one who would protect its herd from any form of danger. In the animal kingdom, it is important that you do not provoke the dominant male.

Such was the real-life experience of animals and their behaviours that you can never learn in the classroom. It was an invaluable lesson.

That’s why we always enjoyed visiting the Kruger National Park during long weekends when we were living and working in Mozambique back in 2007. Crossing over to South Africa was a great getaway for both of us.

For me, as a photography enthusiast, it was fun to capture the animal antics using a zoom lens and a digital camera which allowed me to take tonnes of pictures. Let me share a few anecdotes.

We saw a car with some young men stopping by the road just to look at a gecko. On zoom lens, it just looked unperturbed as I was telling my wife, “Look, those guys are offering the female gecko a ride!”

My wife asked, “How do you know it’s a female gecko?” I replied: “Because it looked pretty sexy after it changed its clothes!” I was referring to the gecko camouflaging itself to a new environment.

Another interesting sight: a flock of African guinea fowl congregating together. We learnt that these birds love to stay together and they can get very upset if they are separated. I used to have a picture of them singing away, which reminded me of the American musical-sitcom from the 70s, The Patridge Family, which is sadly lost now.

Some images captured of the vervet monkeys were equally interesting. One particular picture showed the baby monkey being taught to do gymnastics at an early age and another one showing the mother patting the little baby monkey for being a good boy (or girl).

This is truly a great lesson for most Asian families who prefer to hide their affections towards their young ones. Isn’t this a great lesson?

The other animals such as the giraffe, the zebras, wild boar and the antelopes would have to risk being preyed upon as they migrate from one place to another but this baboon was spotted hitching a ride. I wonder if it managed to hitch a ride but we were not that daring to allow the baboon into the car.

Within Kruger National Park itself, there are 21 different types of antelopes, and we only managed to capture images of the more common ones such as the waterbuck, bushbuck, the nyala and the impala.

Even harder to spot were the other four of the African Big Five game animals. We never spotted any leopards during our numerous visits, but they probably saw us from the tree tops.

But thankfully, we managed to spot a pair of lions on the rocks and another pair having their afternoon naps in between the tall grass. We also spotted some Cape buffaloes but there was one near accident encounter with a big herd of them.

As the day gets dark by about 6pm, I remember driving on one of the roads to get to the exit of Kruger Park. There were no streetlights. It was dark. Just then, I noticed some movements.

To my horror, as I managed to bring the car to a screeching stop, it was an entire herd of buffaloes crossing the road! My wife was pregnant then, and I wonder what would have happened if I had hit the buffaloes.

We had another encounter with the rhinoceros but I have to mention that this experience was in another safari in Swaziland that we had visited. There were four of us Malaysians in the car. As we stopped by to take photographs of the few rhinoceros, suddenly a bull came charging at us.

Should we just press the pedal and try to speed away or did we just have to stay calm? As I was the driver, I had to make quick decision. Thankfully, we remained calm, and the rhinoceros decided that we were harmless; so it turned around to join the herd while we backed off slowly.

Plan Your Trip

In a safari like this, there was always adrenaline pumped into the bloodstream. One cannot make the wrong move but to date, thankfully, there have been no major attacks by the animals. Of course, when we were in certain zones where we were warned of the presence of lions, we were not allowed to even wind the windows down.

The whole safari experience of being able to just see the animals in the wild is something that I have always treasured all my life.

If you are now thinking of making a trip to Kruger National Park, you should plan your trip to include a brief stay in Cape Town in South Africa as well. You can skip Johannesburg but Cape Town is a beautiful place that you would not want to miss.

Johannesburg is said to be unsafe to visit, but Cape Town is a lot safer. That is something that you need to know about South Africa. When we hired a car to drive around in Johannesburg, we were told not to ask any strangers for directions unless it was a police personnel or if it was someone working at the petrol station.

In Johannesburg, when we had to ask for a certain location from a police officer, she even told us: “Sir, never ever ask any stranger or wind down your windows.” Cape Town is a lot safer for tourists but then, always avoid the dark alleys and watch out for any bad hats when you are walking alone. It is always best to have a bigger group of people together.

While Cape Town is on the West coast, Kruger National Park is located on the East side of South Africa at the border of Mozambique. As South Africa is big, you may have to take a flight or it may take several days to travel on the road.

But if you are really thinking of going to South Africa, the 19,485 square kilometres of Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa, is definitely worth visiting.