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What’s On Penang

April 2012

Your guide to Getting the most out of Penang Hotels, Restaurants, Nightlife and so much more...

Spring is here! 32 @ The Mansion

Comfort Food in Comfortable Surroundings David & Joseph Goh

The Garden of Life Campbell House

Il Bacaro Restaurant Figo’s

Tex-Mex at its Very Best Chew Jetty Part Two

Life on Penang’s Floating Jetties Regular Features

Fine Wine Learn Mandarin Hawker Food Beers on Penang Penang Property Island Trekking

830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang T: 04-8851253 F: 04-8851741 E: W:

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What’s On Penang

April, come she will.. What’s On Penang

Publisher: Craig J Selby

April brings huge celebrations for the What’s On Penang team; after over a year of hard work by our founders creating this amazing resource for everyone to discover Penang, we finally received our publication license, which means very shortly, you can read your favourite What’s On Penang in printed copy. With all that excitement abound, the WOP team got out and about for some great reviews and great local experiences to share. Our regular features are here of course, and we’ve added a couple more to get you talking. This month has part 2 of our 3 part feature on life on Chew Jetty, along with a low down on some of Penang’s best hawker food. We have an exclusive interview with David and Joseph Goh of The Butterfly Farm and our eagle-eyed (and hungry-bellied) team sampled two restaurants set within heritage properties, 32 the Mansion, and the recently refurbished Campbell House. We also explored Figo’s, a small Tex-Mex restaurant, and were spellbound by our experience of Joget Tea, a local dance presentation along with a traditional English and Malay tea at the Shangri La Hotel. On a quieter note, we also take a look at some nature options on the island, including the Botanical Gardens, and the first of our new regular feature on Penang Hill treks. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed researching and writing. Craig J Selby

Published By: Marketing Solutions Media & Publishing Sdn Bhd (972654-X) 28B, Jalan Wan Kadir 1 Taman Tun Dr Ismail 60000 Kuala Lumpur Tel : 03-77273703 Fax : 03-77275815 Editor: Craig J Selby Advertising Sales: Steven Miller Graphic Design: Keith Mitchell design@whatsonpenang. com Printer: Eastern Printers (BM) Sdn Bhd (13338-U) Lot 10884 Mukim 15, Jalan Rozhan, Alma, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. Contact Us On: Facebook: whatsonpenangmag Twitter:!/ whatsonpenang Website: Email:



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Around Town...

Song Kran Venue: Thai Buddhist Temple Lorong Burma Pulau Tikus Date: 13-14 April Come and celebrate the Thai New Year at the traditional Thai water festival, Song Kran. You will get wet, you will have fun and you will probably want to come back and do it again next year!

Solo Exhibition Franky Pandana


Venue: A2 Art Gallery, 27 Bangkok Lane, Penang. Date: 22 March - 5 April The Artist has never planned to make a provocative kind of art statement although most people tend to be disturbed by the simplicity of his works. ‘Simplicity’ meaning in terms not only of the appearance of his works but also of the concept that lies beyond.

Local Culture...

Penang International Hiking Challenge Venue: Penang Youth Park Date: 22 April (0700 hrs) The D’nonce Penang International Hiking Challenge 2012 (Hiking Challenge) is the inaugural hiking challenge to be staged in Penang, Malaysia on 22 April 2012. details.




Cheng Being (All Soul’s Day) Venue: George Town, Penang Date: 4 April During Cheng Beng, graves of ancestors and the dearly departed are visited by relatives and friends who come together from far to pay their respects annually. In Penang, the Chinese community can be seen weeding and cleaning the graves of those departed.

Martial Arts and Watermelon Smashing Action Venue: Penang Youth Park Date: 29 April (0900-110 hrs) This will be an action packed event! Fast and furious Martial Arts display with the spectacular Water Melon Smashing finale!

World Taoist Float Procession Venue: Han Chiang High School Date: 4 April (1700 hrs) Procession measures 4.5km in a straight line with floats joining from other parts of Asia. Starts from Han Chiang High School, to Jln Scotland, Jln Macalister, Jln Pangkor, Lebuh Farquhar, and back to school.

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This Month Bread Baking Class Venue: Irrawaddy Fine Foods Want to know how to make real bread? Chef Tommes of Irrawaddy Fine Foods and “Chalk’n’Cheese” fame shows you how. 6 hour course over 2 mornings, email Tommes for more details:

Penang Markets Weekend Market Venue: New World Park Little Street Market Venue: Upper Penang Road Date: 29 April Weekend Flea Market Venue: Straits Quay Date: 7-8, 14-15 April

Joget Tea

Venue: Suffolk House George Town Date: 8 April (1430-1700 hrs) Join the great egg hunt at Suffolk House with face painting and high tea for kids while Mum and Dad can enjoy the renowned Sunday high tea for themselves. Phone: 04-228-1109 for more details.

Henry Butcher Art Auction Venue: Galeri Seni Mutiara, Whiteways Arcade, George Town Date: 5-8 April Last year this auction raised RM3.17m, an amazing sum. This year photography and sculpture will be making its debut. for more details.

How To Get Listed? Easy! Just send in your event information to:

Date: 1-30 April (1600-1800 hrs)

Choice of traditional English or Malaysian Tea available.

Or register online


Listings are free but information must be submitted by the 14th day of the month prior to publication.

Sports & Art...

Venue: Shangri La, Batu Ferringhi

Enjoy a rare glimpse of a traditional Malaysian dance while enjoying High Tea at the beautiful Shangri La Hotel, Batu Ferringhi.


Date: 7-8, 21-22 April

Eggstreme Easter Sunday Around Town...

Date: April


Inclusion is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the editor.


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LEARN MANDARIN 学 汉 语 Do you know that initially Mandarin was only learnt among the royal families in the palace? It was known as “ 六 书”literally means “ Six books”. They are pictograph 象形, ideograph 指事, pictograph/ideograph compound 会意, sound/ meaning compound 形声, relate转注,phonetic loan假 借. Let’s have a look at pictograph. This category of Chinese characters evolved from pictures that resemble the objects referred to. Sun 日

Guess what these characters resemble ?

Comes from the shape of the sun

1] 目 2] 眉 3] 马 4] 刀

Wood 木 Comes from the shape of a tree

It takes a few thousand years to transform from the ancient form to the modern form of the characters.

5] 鱼 Answer : 1-eye 2-eyebrow 3-horse 4-knife 5-fish

Therefore, it only requires a little bit of imagination and you will be able to understand the Chinese characters, which is always the “nightmare” for most beginners. April 2012

Mountain 山 Comes from the shape of a mountain. 6

Cindy is offering a special promotion on most of her classes for What’s On Penang readers. Call for details: 012-438-8943

This article was kindly contributed by Cindy Teh, teacher of Mandarin. For more details please see her full bio on page 94.

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Natural Chinese Remedies


ll the money in the world is useless, if you don’t have good health to enjoy it! Today it was my great privilege to interview an amazing man, Chong Kim Leong, a sprightly 76 year old, natural healer. With 50 years’ experience under his belt, Chong Kim Leong was first taught about Natural Chinese remedies by a retired policeman and Master of Martial Arts and healing, Laut Tean in 1962.

his legs amputated in 1979. It was then that he devised his natural remedy, a pill, a concoction of natural herbs and plants, which saved him and countless other people since. Cynics may scoff at such claims, but wise men who wish to regain their health, run to it. In the West such treatments cost thousands of dollars, because unscrupulous agents, take advantage of desperate people, and most people in the West have the mistaken view, that if it is expensive, then it must be good and if it is cheap, it cannot be any good!

Laut Tean loved Chong Kim Leong so much, that he personally took him into the jungle to learn to recognise all the healing plants and herbs. Sadly, Laut Tean died in 1985. Thankfully he chose a very devoted man to continue his work. Chong Kim Leong just has one mission in life, to help people and animals to lead healthy active lives, free of disease and pain. We in the West are turning to traditional medicines in our droves, searching for a better remedy that works in harmony with our body and without adding more unnatural chemicals to our systems. Chong Kim Leong, has a pill, which is claimed to cure many ailments and has documented evidence of his cures. Stroke patients, who have recovered in 3 weeks, Type 2 diabetics cured in a similar time. Chong Kim Leong himself was diagnosed diabetic at age 33 and was at risk of having 8

His pill is licensed by Malaysian customs for export, he has a certificate from USM who conducted tests, and he has a license from the Singapore Racing Association as he treats their horses. He has many testimonials from all over the world, for his wonderful healing abilities. I hope Mr. Chong Kim Leong has an apprentice in mind, as it would be a shame if such secrets were lost forever, when his turn comes to meet his maker. So stop being sceptical, you have everything to gain, after all a return to good health is worth more than all the tea in China!

This article was kindly contributed by Irene Newcombe. For more details on Irene please see her bio on page 94

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My Two Cents... To Save The Environment Car-less Sundays


teve and I were in heated discussion and brainstorming mode the other day. We were debating the Chief Minister’s desired “No Car Sunday” policy. What a great way to help preserve the beautiful environment of Penang, especially in Georgetown. Imagine a day without cars, where you can freely walk and soak up the colour, aroma’s and vibrancy of this very special city.

alike, so that they could enjoy the city free from pollution and noise and congestion and get fit and healthy at the same time? Turning back the clock a little has some amazing outcomes, and this would certainly give Penang a unique edge on helping the environmental cause. I grew up with Car-less Days and know the real difference they can make, and Steve, on one of his many trips to Bangkok, discovered that this city of Angels and smog had a brilliant tourist attraction that was FREE. Multiple collection and drop off points for a city-centrewide bicycle campaign for tourists to use to get about from one attraction to the other. What a gem – convenience, cost-effective (very), fun and healthy at the same time. Free to use and abundant one never needed to worry about how they would get from one location to the other. It was the Greenest thing Steve had ever seen in Thailand, Brilliant!!! Now with the CM’s policy of “No Car Sundays”, wouldn’t it be nice if George Town introduced a similar FREE service to tourists and locals 10

Just imagine the beauty of seeing Georgetown at a slower pace, taking time to see the buildings, people, daily Georgetown life, without fear of other cars on the road and fast moving motorists. An opportune and fun way to enjoy Georgetown. Well, we love the idea. What about you? We want your 2 cents... If you have any ideas on how to make Georgetown more environmentally friendly, and getting residents and tourists being more active in the process, do drop us a line and share your thoughts – who knows, you might be in next month’s “My Two Cents”.

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Nature Within our City Penang’s Botanical Gardens


e always think about the hustle and bustle of the city, but Penang is not only surrounded by some awesome nature, it also has some very accessible nature right at the heart of the island.

A well landscaped environment, the gardens contain a huge variety of indigenous and exotic plant species, along with just a hint of quiet splendor as one strolls through the gentle paths. For those who want something a little more challenging, try the Monkey Path. A special path in the Penang Botanical Gardens’ Moon Gate that leads up to Penang Hill, it is about an hours’ walk. Steep but delightful, and highly rewarding as a trek, you will get to experience some amazing wildlife, flora and fauna, not to mention views. Be careful though, as the gardens are not known as the Monkey Gardens for nothing.

Well, for those not quite adventurous enough to trek Penang Hill, Penang’s beautiful botanical gardens offer a serenity and tranquility merely minutes from the heart of Georgetown. Penang Botanical Gardens are usually simply called the Botanic Gardens by Penangites. Also known as the Waterfalls Gardens, the gardens are located in a quiet valley along Jalan Kebun Bunga.

Macaques along this path can be a bit cheeky and frisky; do not get too close and do not try to feed or touch them as they can and do bite (not to mention there is a RM500 fine if you do decide to share your lunch with them). Besides the macaques, other wildlife inhabiting the gardens include dusky leaf monkeys, giant black squirrels, and a myriad of insects and butterflies. We also spent a few months following the adventures of a family of Monitor Lizards. Well worth it for those seeking a nature adventure, but who are equally keen to keep within the safe confines of our urban environment. First conceived by the British in 1884, Charles Curtis of the Gardens & Forests Departments Straits Settlements established the gardens to


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and for visitors’ safety, the waterfalls at the gardens are accessible only by guided tour. Park officials run these tours for the public and for groups on a regular basis. This article was kindly contributed by Farrell Tan of Orchan Consulting. For more details on Farrell please see his full bio on page 94.

replace an old quarry site. Divided into 12 sections: the Formal Garden, Lily Pond, Perdana Plant House, Tropical Rainforest Jungle Track, Fern House, Fern Rockery, Aroid Walkaway, Cactus House, Orchidarium, Horticulture Centre, Nursery and Quarry Recreational Park, the gardens have evolved over time not only as a key focal point of the Penang landscape, but to highlight for us just how beautiful our surrounding nature is. Penang Botanical Garden’s are approximately eight kilometers from Georgetown, and some of the spectacular flora there include the cannonball tree, sengkuang tree, pinang palm, black lily, slipper orchids and more. For those who want to take in the spectacular views of nature but are unable to make the climb up the many hills, there is an electric train that you can opt for for a nominal fee. Some of the more interesting plants at the gardens are kept under lock and key, and are only open to visitors from 7:00pm – 7:00pm,

Penang Botanical Gardens Opening Hours: Daily 5:00am – 8:00pm Address: Jalan Kebun Bunga 10350 Penang Tel:

+604 227 0428

How to Get There: From George Town, take the transit link bus No. 10 from KOMTAR. Stops outside the front gate.


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32 @ The Mansion Debunking the Myth with Comfort Food


any of us who go to restaurants do so because of the ambience, yet we still desire high quality food that is reminiscent of great home cooking. On so many levels we have been left disappointed and vow never to return to certain places again.

Having done this on numerous occasions, I was so happy to have been invited to sample the cuisine at 32 @ The Mansion, a restaurant just a stones throw away from Penang’s famous E & O, housed in an exquisite Italianate style mansion with beach front access. I have for some time been eager to visit there, if not for the food, just to check out the architecture of this magnificent property restored in the 1990’s. Armed with an open mind, an empty stomach, and more than a hint of curiosity, I made my way to what I can only describe as a very pleasant surprise. Symmetry is so important to me in building design and aesthetics, and approaching the relocated front door., I couldn’t help but admire the design symmetry that encapsulated the restaurant entrance. A small portico, with delicate designs above and surrounding, led into an impressive foyer with a hanging chandelier through from the floor above. This stood out as unique indeed. Whilst not in pristine condition, 32 the Mansion 16

is a well-used, but cared for, property that retains the original design features from its construction era. I too had done my research before coming here to eat. Mixed reviews, some claiming fine dining, others saying not – so I wasn’t really certain what to expect from the culinary side of things. Regardless, best to try for yourself and don’t weigh too heavily on others opinions. I can say however, I was pleasantly surprised, and to be more honest, overwhelmed with nostalgia, as our selected dishes arrived. We were seated in the conservatory area, just next to the live Jazz band – Tonal Alchemy featuring Wilson Quah, who has regularly played at 32 at The Mansion for some time. They were brilliant by the way. Not too loud that they interrupted our talking; just soft enough that every table could be engaged in jovial banter at speaking volume, but still hear the beautiful tones as the musicians serenaded us with their great repertoire. Quickly the restaurant filled up; we were there a little early so bided our time with several glasses of their house white – a Chilean Sauv Blanc, which really did set the mood for the night – home comfort with great food and entertaining company. It definitely wasn’t fine dining, and frankly, I was really happy at that. It was well presented,

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He reiterated that fine dining is not their goal, they want to prepare quality, home-styled cuisine, with an elegance in presentation, and just a touch of difference. Bravo to Lance and his team, because that certainly did come through with the food, and it’s exactly why I will be coming back over and over.

stylish, tasty comfort food - that brought with it more than a touch of nostalgia. Flavours from growing up, that my mind had almost forgotten, brought little gastronomic tingles and memories flooding back.

Our dessert, a sticky toffee pudding, was to die for. This is admittedly one of my childhood favourites, which I thought had been thrust to the archives of my memory never to be enjoyed again. But to my delight, out came a delicious morsel of ginger cake (about the size of a very generous muffin), smothered in sticky liquid toffee, and French vanilla ice cream. This came at the end of the meal, but I tell you, if it was the only thing I ate that night, I’d still be in heaven.

Talking with Chef Lance, he was eager to dispel the myth of ‘Fine Dining’ surrounding 32 @ The Mansion. His concern was that the tag of ‘Fine Dining’ was probably stopping more people from dropping in to sample his superbly prepared offerings. For those of you not familiar with Chef Lance, his last port of call was the group’s Bagan Restaurant. When Bagan was shut for relocation, Lance was asked to come over to 32 @ The Mansion and stamp his inimitable mark on their Flagship location.

Our main courses were equally spectacular. Steamed sea bass, accompanied by slightly crunchy steamed vegetables in a gentle oyster sauce was delicious. Steamed to perfection, then lightly grilled, the sea bass flaked away in tender chunks, just right for any palette. I tell you I am not a fish lover, but even I appreciated this dish for its texture, taste, and balanced flavour. Embedded in two different types of mushrooms, their subtle flavours heightened the combination to create a very alluring dish. The other main course (ok, I’m a little greedy here as I really wanted some beef) was the beef ribs. I’m used to big bones and little meat, stewed or baked for far too long.



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Not from Lances’ kitchen though; this genius of the kitchen uses succulent Australian beef with ample meat both under and over a very clean cut rib bone. The size of a decent steak, these ribs were truly melt-in-your-mouth.

accompanied by two bowls of condiments – a chicken salsa type dish, full of flavour, yet using just sautéed minced chicken and very simple aromatic herbs; and guacamole, creamy in texture and in taste.

Served on a bed of freshly mashed potato, with a light gravy being optional for those who prefer (ok, I’m one who loves my gravy when it comes to mash), the meat just broke away from the bone with ease, offering a succulence seldom experienced.

Top these off with Ciabatta bread, extra virgin olive oil, and home-made dukkah, we were seriously in for a taste exploration that brought in the nostalgia of great home cooking, but also added a twist of refined elegance. Now that’s what I came to enjoy, and folks, that’s why I will be back.

This is definitely a personal favourite on my list from now on, and coupled with the sticky pudding, I plan to be a regular. Our starters were a little unexpected. Salad Caprese, basically mozzarella with beefsteak tomato, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar was delicious, and a nice light way to get the evening started. Also served were nachos – honestly, not what I imagined I would be getting at all. But, done with a twist, the nachos were served with melted cheese and subtle hints of chili on them, 20

After dinner was a cigar on the outdoor

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balcony, overlooking the water, and just wiling the night away with a couple more glasses of wine and some great conversation.

overtake your senses with memories of the ‘past’ for an evening, and simply enjoy – it truly is worth it.

So seriously, simply go there without preconceived ideas of what to expect and let the restaurants atmosphere and cuisine

Oh, I forgot to mention, its great value for money too. Affordable, great quality comfort food, served superbly in a slightly nostalgic atmosphere. I’ll be back next week to try the business lunch set and then again the week after for… I’ll think of something!

32 @ The Mansion Address: 32 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah George Town 10050 Pulau Pinang Malaysia Phone:

+60 4-262-2232

Website: How to get there: Come out of E&O Hotel, turn right and walk about 400m. On the road bend sits 32 @ The Mansion, oppposite the Old Cemetary.


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Life on Chew Jetty

A Personal Journey (Part 2)


hew Jetty has a huge number of children, who will, no doubt as they grow up, really appreciate how lucky they were to be brought up on the Jetty. Everyone walks in and out of each other’s houses, children are kept an eye on by all, babies are passed around, gooed and fussed over by everyone. Grandfathers, fathers, Uncles, even Great Grandfathers, take an active part in looking after their young charges, often while the parents work. Children run around freely, playing old fashioned games of ‘chasings’, badminton and a football type game played with a very hard ball. The players stand around in a circle and the idea seems to be to keep the ball going through the air, using feet only. The jetty is fortunate enough to have a beautiful community centre, built by the government. Here they hold computer classes for the jetty children, allow various charitable organisations to use the hall, and use it for various small functions, such as presenting money to Chew


children who have excelled in their studies. There is a tree temple at the entrance and it is said that the spirits of their ancestors live in this tree, and that is how they picked this spot on which to build their new home in a foreign land. Then there is a formal Temple, and at the port end, yet another Temple. This one was used primarily by the fishermen, to pray for a safe journey and give thanks upon their safe return. When Penang was a duty free Island, and before Singapore became the container ship hub, business for the boat people boomed. Up until a few years ago, Chew Jetty was reported to be a fairly dangerous place, smuggling and murders took place. I am told, in the house next door to mine, a man was murdered (probably over territory or money - who knows). Chinese mafia has always existed, just as such organisations all over the world have.

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These wooden ships, are straight out of a Pirate movie, their design is most interesting. Life at this end of the jetty is just as lively as the road end. A great place to sit and enjoy the cooling sea breezes, chat with the boat people, and the hundreds of tourists who come daily. Near to this end of the jetty is a fish farm, big tanks which grow prawns, from almost microscopic beginnings to maturity. Dedicated young men look after the Temple, making sure the incense is placed at the altar and lit, and that the offers of fruits and various other foods are taken care of. It is lovely to see young men diligently carrying out their duties, for without them these beliefs and temples would gradually cease to exist. Every Chinese New Year, whenever possible, adult children return home to catch up with family and friends, stay for a week or so, and have a wonderful time with all the activities.

Nearly every house has a secret area of the floor where the boards can be lifted up, like a trap door, and smuggled goods were loaded from the boats who could quietly paddle in under the houses. I believe, there was yet another trap door on a swivel device, to which a gun was often taped to the underside of the door, so if they were attacked in their own home, they just had to stamp on the right area, the door would swing round and the gun grabbed (or knife or whatever weapon they chose). There is not so much work now, but they still ferry passengers out to the moored boats, and they trade goods coming in and going out. Large wooden vessels from Medan bring in fresh vegetables, and take back all manner of second hand goods, everything from wheel chairs by their dozens, mattresses, lounges, TV’s and computers to bicycles and confectionary. Wooden boats from Burma also take back used furniture etc. to sell in their own country. 24

The children always remain loyal to their parents, and eventually, when the parents need caring for they will give up their careers in foreign lands to come home and take care of them. It doesn’t matter, apparently, if the mother was good, bad or indifferent, you must always respect her for she bore you and no matter what, must look after her in any way required. When they study and work away from home, they have long weekly, if not daily, phone conversations. Each generation always remembers their duty to their parents. Indeed, they also have a duty to their departed

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Once they had arrived, everyone sits and relaxes, giving them time to eat, drink, and in some cases, smoke, if the ancestor was a smoker. Again the seed throwing ceremony, and once satisfied they had left, packed up everything. The other brother had his parents cremated more common now - the ashes being in urns under the Sleeping Buddha. We went in there to repeat the ritual. A huge low ceilinged room, with the photos and urns ancestors, and there are rituals to be observed there too. There is a certain time of the year, when you are allowed to go and visit relatives graves, clean them up, leave food offering. I was able to accompany some of the Yap Clan to such a ceremony. One brother had his grandparents in a cemetery, so we spent the whole morning, weeding and cleaning it, then placing pieces of paper under small stones, all over it. This is to let the caretaker know the grave is still being attended to, as if it is neglected for some 10 years, then it is re-used. Whilst we cleaned, they also set up a small altar, placed food offerings, lit joss sticks, and continually threw the two half seed pods, to see if the spirit had arrived.

of the deceased in little recesses. With everyone lighting joss sticks, and the low ceiling, it was positively suffocating. I had to keep running out for air. My eyes would stream with tears, it was most uncomfortable. You weren’t supposed to take photos, but as other people were, I did too, somewhere I have some great photos of this. I figured I had earned the right to! I must have knocked off at least a few days of my life in that poisonous suffocating air.

This article was kindly contributed by Irene Newcombe. For more details on Irene please see her bio on page 94


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Chalk and Cheese Contrasting Food & Wine Selections


he idiom of ‘chalk and cheese’ implies the clash of two opposite things and their inability to embody one another. Why we don’t say ‘giraffe and gorilla’ or ‘pirate and maiden’ instead, but this seemingly obvious saying certainly gets to the point. But is there more to it? First published in John Gower’s Confessio Amantis of 1393, the original use of the phrase was to describe a thrifty shopkeeper’s new talent of ‘chalk for cheese he changeth with ful littel cost,’ relating to the similarity of some English cheeses to chalk and his cunning substitute of one for the other to save money. So in fact, the saying chalk and cheese actually refers to the synergy of opposites and their unusual knack of complimenting each other quite well. In reference to my earlier point, ‘giraffe and gorilla’ really wouldn’t do because there is no cooperation or collaboration between the two (and really no need for any). If any synonymic expression were needed, I think ‘Bush and Bin Laden’ would be more accurate. And how true this all is in the world of wine. When pairing wine with food, there is no end to the sub strata of guidelines, hints and tips for completing that magical formula of one plus one equals three.

These all build and consider yet contradict and disregard each other as a unified body that is allied in pursuing gastronomical excellence. In relation, the idea of contrasting food and wine pairings comes to the fore. Different from regional and complimentary pairings, a contrast pairing is based on the age old phrase of ‘opposites attract’, which highlights the disparate features of a food and a wine. The regional pairing of foie gras and sauternes is a classic example of a complimentary pairing in that the fattiness and rich texture of the duck pate is balanced nicely by the thick, sweet body of the dessert wine; together they make what some would deem a starter into a full blown meal. Flipping it on its head, however, the ‘chalk and cheese’ version would be foie gras paired with champagne. Instead of the addition of heavy creaminess, the bubbles and dry nature of the champagne would cut


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tartness. The same is true with cod, a renowned fish that is most commonly paired with white wine, usually something with the potential for a bit more body and a creamier character like an oaked chardonnay or a Semillon. But do not be afraid of going that one step further and raising the stakes by setting a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais on the table. The pinot’s are out there but choosing the right style will be the difference between success and failure. through the fatty texture of foie gras and help break it down on the palate.

While it is true that taste is subjective, there

This also holds true with some desserts, especially when they feature sweet, velvety ingredients such as chocolate, fruit consume and butterscotch. Another unlikely paring would be a red with crabmeat and walnuts. Crabmeat would normally be associated with crisp whites like a dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, with reds to be avoided at all costs. But there is a key, a ‘bridge,’ which can bring these two together in the shape of a confused bit of shrapnel- the walnut. Dry to the mouth and with a slight bitterness in aftertaste, walnuts in a crab salad pair excellently with chilled red wines such as Heuhloz Taurus as, when drunk cold, this wine’s refreshing quality cleanses the palate while its enormously fruity mouth pushes back on that encroaching


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guidelines, there is nothing like sampling the work from the master himself, if only as a benchmark for your own efforts. Paired by their in-house Sommelier, the wines chosen are some of the best rated by customers (and owners!) alike. True to form, the pairings will be exploring the daring side of gastronomic equilibrium in that quest for something exciting and new. The biggest gastronomical centers in the world are tackling the “chalk and cheese” of food and wine pairing as a universal challenge. are quantifiable traits in wine to consider when choosing a style to go with a certain dish. In being able to choose the right pinot noir to go with a cod dish with a sweet soy glaze, for example, you need to bear in mind the wine’s acidity, bitterness (tannins), sweetness (fruit value), and alcohol. With cod, a flakey fish with notable salty flavor, a wine with strong tannins and alcohol would cripple the experience by overwhelming the cod because the lack of protein would not stand up to them. Similarly, a pinot with racy acidity would cut through the flavors of the dish too harshly leaving a tart sensation in your mouth. There again, with sweet soy, the best contrasting wine would be one with less fruit on the palate and a bit of spice to balance it out. A hard crowd to please indeed, but with a New World pinot noir from Oregon or Marlborough, things will take a pleasant turn. The favorite choice, however, could possibly be an Austrian Zweigelt as its low alcohol content, light body and slight spice to tick all those pairing boxes. This April on the 26th, That Little Wine Bar hosts their ‘Chalk and Cheese and Wine’ night. Filled with the pairings mentioned here, Chef Tommes of ‘Chalk and Cheese’ will be highlighting some of the dishes cooked on the new and highly popular AFC series. While each of the dishes are available on the program with full recipes and step-by-step 30

New York, Sydney, Shanghai are all trying to outdo each other searching for that next combination, the next emergence flavor reaching a complexity far greater than its component parts of food and wine. Due to its own prestige, Georgetown, Penang, should join the bundle as well, don’t you think?! Get to That Little Wine Bar on 26th April, 2012 for a celebrity experience starting from 7pm onwards.

This article was kindly contributed by James Springer of That Little Wine Bar. For more details on James please see his bio on page 94

Social Media Marketing Everyone is on FaceBook or Twitter these days and isn’t it fun? But did you know that if you have a business, social media marketing can bring you customers, brand recognition, and create a buzz? The secret, as always, is knowing how to do it without it costing you a lot of money, time, or both? To find out what could be achieved for your business, contact now.

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80 Year Old Hainanese Kopitiam Nam Kie 南佳 Amidst the row of pre-war houses along Kimberley Street in George Town, Penang, there lay many hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered by the young and restless. Housed in these old buildings are people and businesses who have seen Penang’s development through their century old windows. In this busy street, many famous delicacies that are significant to Penang’s food, heritage and culture that are key to it’s food tourism, were born. There is Koay Teow Th’ng stall that once used abalone as a condiment and a dessert stall that has grinded through three generations. Hainanese kopitiams who have brewed and fed generations of patrons, Char Koay Teow’s that have filled


the tummies of movie goers who frequented the once bustling independent cinemas around town, etc. One of the many businesses who have set a foot hold on Kimberley Street is Nam Kie 南佳, an 83 year old Hainanese Kopitiam that was once a bustling meeting point for many Hainanese migrants that came to Penang in search

of a better life. Then, Nam Kie 南佳 would normally operate in the day time with a non-pretentious menu of good old Hainanese Kopi, homemade Kaya, charcoal flame toasted bread and soft boil eggs. Now they have added Hianan Char to their staple. Apart from Nam Kie 南佳,

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Khee Cheang Leong 喜昌隆, which is still operating, was available to provide for the night dwellers with similar offerings and maybe more. Though coffee was brought into the then Malaya, it has gained much popularity and demand by the migrants be it Chinese, Indian and even the Malays who have made the once colonial trading hub their centre of business, life and home. What sets the Hainanese kopi or coffee apart from the Western world coffees is the method of processing and the technique of brewing the bitter kopi beans. The beans are roasted in a wok with sugar, butter and wheat, thus the malty rich and buttery creamy taste that is produced after brewing with the optimum water temperature, right size of cloth filter and most importantly the experience and skill of the master brewer. We were told that if all the combinations are right, the brewed kopi ‘O” or black coffee would induce a drunk or “high” sensation that many patrons seek and look forward for. It depend what is the preference of the drinker, the generic Hainan kopi can be served Kopi

“O” (black coffee with sugar or without), Kopi (coffee with sweeten condensed milk), Kopi-C (coffee with sugar and evaporated milk) or anything that you fancy. Nam Kie 南佳 has given me the opportunity to taste a Kopi “O” that delivers sweetness with a slightly bitter after taste without the acidic end, and Kopi that is creamy, sweet that ends with a bitter sensation to the tongue. Kaya is the Peranakan version of a Western jam, made from eggs, freshly pressed coconut cream, pandan (screw pine leafs), sugar and lots of patience. Nam Kie 南佳 double boils their Kaya concoction for at least half a day until it naturally turns brownish in colour and develops a distinctive rich creamy coconut flavour. If the kaya is cooked thoroughly, then the longer it will last in room temperature. Quality ingredients also determine the life span of the kaya, we were told that they used to make Kaya that can stay fresh for at least two weeks without refrigerating. As time changes, the quality of sugar and coconut has decline and thus reducing the live span to around one week


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With the rising competition from organized food courts and fast food franchises, Nam Kie 南佳 has begun to dish out the family style Hainan Char or Hainanese Stir-Fried Noodles.

sauce for a nutty and savoury caramel flavour.

Give thoughts and thanks to the hard-work and discipline to those who still strive to give you the best on every one of their tables.

Their aim is to recapture their dwindling customer base who have either moved out from the bustling city or have moved on. Their Hainan Char is similar with the Penang style Hokkien Char minus the prawn base stock and the dark soya sauce used to give colour and taste to the carefully choreographed stir-fried yellow noodles and vermicelli. In its original form, their Hainan Char consist of lean pork slices and fresh prawns stir-fried with fragrant garlic and lard, which then serves as a base to a handful of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli and mustard leaves that are braised in a sweet soup stock for extra flavour.

Feel the passion of true professionals, who aim to please by reproducing perfection in every dish they prepare.

Nam Kie 南佳 Kimberley Street, Georgetown, Penang Coffee of every hue and colour.

If you are lucky enough, then you might get to try their Oyster Noodles or Oh Mee that is filled with the flavours of the sea, with a little bit of earthiness and a little bit of creaminess.

Hainan Char (Hainese Stir Fry Noodles) Oh Mee (Oyster Noodles)

This review was kindly provided by Gourmet Garden. Please find their full details on page 94.

Advertise with What’s On Penang Contact Steve on: 014-345-1192 He’ll give you a full explanation of our Charter Advertsing rates.

If you are not having to rush from place to place and fighting with the clock, try stepping back in time and savour the atmosphere of a time gone by. For added colour and taste, you may request for the dark version of the Hainan Char that infuses dark soya 34

It reflects the taste and flavours that have aged and been polished with time.

Our Charter Rates offer our advertisers many benefits but are limited to the first 30 advertisers, so find out more information before they are all gone. Alternatively, visit our website for more information: advertise-with-us.html

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PenangPAC Programme April 2012


An exciting Space will be UNVEILED SOON! A place to accommodate everyone from the amateur to the full time artists. Hold on to your pencils and paint brushes, as we work hard to bring you an amazing venue. 3C-1-3, Straits Quay Seri Tanjung Pinang Penang 10470

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Penang Property Market Looks Bright


he general feeling in the property market at the moment is bullish for at least the next few months. If the new projects on offer at’s joint property fair with the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Penang held over the weekend of 23-25 March at Straits Quay Convention Centre was any indication then this statement certainly rang true with me.

Group who are launching their Southbay Plaza to add to the already successful housing project. With all this development going on it is hard not to mention the possible negative results that so much development brings to an already under developed infrastructure. How much development can be sustained by the existing transportation, power and water infrastructure without major investment in these areas? This is not to say that development should be stopped or slowed, rather that the infrastructure planning needs to be as ambitious and robust as the developments. Any way that you look at it Penang is growing and prospering with new industry locating here and old industries expanding. This type of growth indicates to me that the property growth rate is sustainable and not likely to abate on any purely local conditions but the larger global picture always has the potential to restrict growth or even send it into recession.

There are some major new developments on offer from mega-projects such as E & O’s Seri Tanjung Pinang project, Hunsa Property’s Gurney Paragon and THE LIGHT Waterfront Penang by Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd - a subsidiary of IJM Properties Sdn Bhd. Each of these projects are huge by any definition and come under the category of integrated resort developments with a mix of high end residential and commercial property. In addition there are some condominium projects such as SP Setia BHD Group’s “Setia V” located on the old Tenby International School site on Gurney drive or The Setia Triangle commercial precinct located at Sungai Ara. You of course cannot talk about new projects without mentioning Southbay by Mah Sing 38

Property has never been a short term investment and should never be regarded in such light. The only people that get burned by property investments generally are those that think that they can make huge gains by speculating on property prices rising quickly and who rely on highly leveraged financing.

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Cash investors who can afford to sit on property for upwards of five years, should see the markets turn and will always return a healthy profit. Direct foreign investment is on the up and this has positive knock on effects for the residential sector as does the growth in tourism as a result of Penang’s UNESCO heritage status which has been awarded to Penang for the past four years. As much as the Asian market loves new developments it is the older pre-war properties that has seen some of the most spectacular gains with heritage properties being snapped up and converted into boutique, up-market hotels, restaurants and art galleries. This type of development should be applauded as it not only rekindles life in the city centres but encourages tourism in new sectors to flourish. Singapore is often held up as the development model that Penang should most emulate but lessons learned from Singapore’s rapid expansion should also be listened to.


Namely, the gung-ho way in which the city state bulldozed entire blocks of tourist inducing heritage homes in the name of development and who would with hindsight now have chosen a different route. Development of any city is undoubtedly the only way forward but development at any cost is not the right path to tread. Responsible, planned development is what the people, the tourists and the powers-that-be should be striving for so that Penang rightfully retains its title of the “Pearl of The Orient”

Who Needs More Clients/ Customers? Running a business is not rocket science. You get more people to come and see what you do, you get more clients/customers, you make more money. What’s On Penang helps you plan all of your marketing actviities to work together, in harmony, to achieve those goals. Your advertising, online presence, social media marketing, PR and so much more. Find out how we can help you: 014-345-1192

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Beer-ly Their! An Exploration of Some of the Great Beers Available in Penang Mein Beer - Schneider Weiss


hey say twins are great, but triplets certainly beat that! Ok, not dates for the evening (and beyond), but beer.

Schneider Weisse, one of the latest additions to the imported German beer scene in Malaysia is making its way into some of our trendier bars and restaurants, and with several options to choose from, the option for triplets certainly appealed to all of my senses. We all know I love beer, and the chance to try something relatively new is something I could not pass up either. Kind of like a kid in a candy shop, except this candy is a little more liquid than the jawbreakers I was used to in my younger days. Knowing that three were on option, I enlisted the help of two colleagues, Steve and Keith, to assist in my “beersploration” of Schneider Weisse at Straits Quay, Weissbrau Bistro.

The original plan, a (singular) different bottle each, and share notes. Ok, so what happens when three gweilo’s drink beer? It doesn’t stop at one bottle each. So, in good faith, and the search for detailed accuracy, we had one bottle of each of the three, each, and then, some more just to round off the afternoon and bring it into the evening. Not alcoholics, just connoisseurs with passion, is perhaps the best way to describe us. Georg I Schneider, the wheat beer pioneer and creator of the original Schneider Weisse recipe (still used today) is revered by beer connoisseurs worldwide. Back in the 1800’s wheat beer could only be brewed by the Bavarian Royal Family. In 1872, King Ludwig II sold Schneider the exclusive


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right to brew wheat beer - thus, the Schneider Family saved wheat beer from extinction. We are truly grateful! Still running the brewery in Kelheim, descendants of Georg I craft the oldest wheat beer in Bavaria; the same wheat beer that has been brewed there without interruption since 1607. So, we expect, pretty awesome beer! In order to help you readers, I sampled, guzzled, and generally inhaled three different beers from the range, all served by the bottle in a perfectly chilled glass, just ready to keep my beer at the temperature I like – COLD!

Mein Blondes “Refreshing like a dance in a summer breeze”

A shiny golden beer that poured with about as gorgeous a head as one could ask for. Two inches of magical froth faded to a thick white lace. A Hazy straw hue - just perfect; reminds me of blooming nature in summer, and smells of fresh spices and aromatic flower meadows. The most amazing thing about this hefe is the nose. Unlike many others, this one has a LOT going on. The aromas are nicely delineated with banana and clove dominating up front. A unique citrus note elevates its zesty and cheerful characters. Far beyond good ramble, this is one excellent beer. an extremely easy drinking and refreshing beer that is a must-try. Would be


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perfect in the summer months (which is great for Malaysia, because every month seems to be summer).

Mein Kristall “Refreshing for body and soul with a delightful tingle, the champagne of beers”

To me, this is the champagne of beer. Champagne looking with fine strings of bubbles, it pours a big fizzy head, and looks almost ‘icy’ (eat your heart out Ipoh frozen beer). Whatever you say about a Kristalweizen, being able to watch such mesmerising bubbles is something it has over its counterparts. Definite champagney Duvel quality. I always wondered what people meant by ‘ripe banana’ and now I know, but the sweetness is all in the nose oddly enough. Rest assured it’s not a sugary beer. Big light fruit hit coming through to match the taste as it warms - plenty of peach and pear. At first this was scarcely detectable, but as I consumed more and more (and I promise I did) it became much more obvious in both taste and aroma. Schneider Weisse Kristall sports a clean, sweet taste with a familiar wheaty after taste. The mouthfeel is similar to champagne carbonation, but slightly creamier.

Unser Original

Pouring to create an unusual hazy copperorange, with a big, fluffy, slightly off-white head, this gives a great retention that reduces to a thick cap that lingers for quite some time. Banana, clove, citrus, pepper, bubblegum (yes, seriously, bubblegum), bready wheat, and yeast spice aromas are ever present.

“Full complexity of the genuine Bavarian wheat beer, very smooth and drinkable”

It’s fairly creamy, and a slightly slick mouthfeel - but very smooth and drinkable, with no alcohol presence noticed at all, as expected.

This is the one that is still brewed according to the original recipe of the founder of the brewery in 1872.

Well, as for my other past time, eating. We just loved the Mein Blondes with our ceaser salad, and of course, a generous helping of garlic mashed potato on the side.

An amber-mahogany colour, giving nuances of ripe banana, clove, nutmeg and nuts, create an appetising aroma. Tingly, tangy and sharp are the best words that come to mind, but hey, try it for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.


Better yet, try two – best to be certain with reinforcements.

The Mein Kristall faired well with the salmon flammkuchen, and we downed the Original with a crispy pork knuckle and a hearty beef goulash! Yummmmmm yummmmmm … burp! Mein Pick from the range– Mein Kristall, hands down.

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China House Food for Thought - Art for All! China House opened its doors third quarter 2011 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. One half of the Australian couple who own China House, Narelle, is one of those amazing people who recognized the potential of Penang, and fell in love with its people, it’s life style and it’s vibrant mix of cultures. I just wish I had discovered this gem of an Island years ago too. Still, better late than never, as the saying goes.

The weekend entertainment is second to none, with many of our local, extra-ordinarily talented young performers. Jazz is always a favourite, focusing on the good old songs of the 50’s and 60’s. The atmosphere is electric, you have to go early to get a seat, a vibrant buzz just exudes from the place. Seating, if you get there early enough to sample it, is relaxed and homey, with big armchairs to loll in, cosy couches to snuggle in, interesting art adorns the walls, whilst very efficient and attentive staff look after your every whim. It is the Number one spot to be at weekends, for live entertainment. Running between Victoria Street and Beach Road it is an easy walk from the Jetty where I live, or from George Town centre the other way. Check it out for yourself, with relatively easy parking, you will come back every weekend - I guarantee it, and possibly during the week for its ever changing exhibitions, not to mention food. A great place for Sunday brunch.

Narelle, is very community-minded, like most Australians an excellent business woman, and all round humble, nice person. Love you Narelle. She has an animal refuge on Langkawi Island, and quietly helps the stray dogs, with her loyal band of volunteers, who can be seen walking them in the early hours. She wishes to open a similar refuge for dogs, here in George Town. China House, has opened up George Town to even more exciting cultural events, adding still further to Penang’s Bohemian sophistication. Her art exhibitions, are wonderful, the food absolutely ‘to die for”, the facilities cater for everyone and everything.


And the cakes are to die for! It took me 20 minutes to choose mine, must have changed my mind 20 times, the variety is huge, they are all hand made, and out of this world! Explore it’s many facilities, starting at the entrance 155 Beach Street, George Town, wander through Kopi C Expresso Cafe & Bar. Off to your left you see into BTB & Restaurant & Bon Ton the Shop II. Further along you walk through the reading room, a space divided into magazines, books and cd’s for browsing and purchase. A kids section for books and crayons and paint for them to use, as well as a computer. From here you can see into Vine and Single, a wine and single malt room, followed by 14

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With its mood lighting and huge mango trees, it’s almost ethereal, very relaxing to sit and just contemplate, or discuss the exhibitions, what painting you may purchase, the latest gossip, whatever. A great place to start a new romance! The rear entrance from Victoria Street is where the live weekend entertainment is. The glass bowl private dining/meeting space with its double height is fun. Upstairs, is yet another

Chairs private dining room, which is available to rent for guest chefs, cooking schools or private dinner parties. Through a courtyard at the back, you see into the Studio, a small space to rent for retail, one week at a time - a revolving ‘pop-up store’. There is a set of stairs, leading up to 200 foot long open spaces, where you will find 2 art galleries, the loft apartment, artists accommodation & BonTon the Shop III. Back downstairs, continue into the outdoor courtyard, shaded by mango trees, featuring a cooling water pond, more like a swimming pool.

area for exhibitions, artists to rest and give talks. A truly, wonderful home away from home, a great relaxed atmosphere for entertaining your business clients, visitors and friends. This article was kindly contributed by Irene Newcombe. For more details on Irene please see her bio on page 94

China House Address: 153-155 Beach Road George Town Phone:


+60 4 226 8182

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Penang Authentic Nyonya Cuisine (Mother’s Recipes) Method Soak vermicelli in water and boil until soft but firm in the centre. Rinse in cold water, drain and set aside. Then grind ingredients A into a fine paste and set aside as well. Boil fish in water and cool before removing bones. Add curry paste into the fish stock and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add polygonum. Tamarind pieces and tamarind juice. Serve by placing vermicelli in a bowl and garnisihing with vegetables.

Penang (Air Hitam) Laksa Ingredients A: 400g coarse rice vermicelli 500g fish herring, mackerel or yellow tail 6 dried chillies Ingredients B: 1 large brown onion, sliced ½ tsp. galangal ½ tsp. turmeric powder 2.5cm piece belachan 3-4 cups water 1 tbsp. tamarind juice 4 tamarind pieces 3 or 4 sprigs polygonum Garnish: 1 lemon or 2 limes 3-4 sprigs of mint leaves, stalk removed 2 tbsp. black prawn paste ½ pineapples 1 cucumber 1 onion 1 pink ginger bud (optional) 1 red chili


Fill the bowl with the curry soup, black bean paste, sliced chillies and lemon can be added if desired.

As Bee Lee Tan says in her introduction to Penang Authentic Nyonya Cuisine (Mother’s Recipes), “No recipe can be perfect or accurate, chiefly because there are so many variables in cooking.” One person’s Penang Laksa might be prepared slightly differently or add or subtract a particular ingredient. However, the basic dish does shine through and a Penang Laksa will have a commonality that is recognizable as “Penang Laksa” to all. Bee Lee goes on to say that there are many Nyonya cookbooks out there but many end up fusing the modern with the traditional and each chef, rightly, puts their own twist on an old favourite to improve it to their own taste. Bee Lee’s recipes go back to the roots of the dish and tell you what is essentially and Authentically Nyonya cooking. Her wish is that the reader also takes away a little insight into the Baba and Nyonya’s diminishing culture which covers a substantial portion of her text to describing their traditional

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A Boutique Heritage Hotel

A n O a s i s i n t h e H e a r t o f H e r i t a g e Pe n a n g 2 3 L ov e L a n e , Pe n a n g i s a u n i q u e b o u t i q u e h e r i t a g e h o t e l s e t w i t h i n i t s o w n w a l l e d g a r d e n i n t h e h e a r t o f h i s t o r i c G e o r g e To w n , P e n a n g . The hotel is made up of four heritage buildings restored extensively – a n A n g l o - I n d i a n B u n g a l o w, a S t r a i t s E c l e c t i c b u i l d i n g , a 1 9 2 0 ’ s J a c k Roof Annex and an Indian Shophouse. The ten-room proper ty is furn i s h e d w i t h t h e ow n e r ’s p r i v a t e c o l l e c t i o n o f a n t i q u e a n d v i n t a g e f u r niture , the result being a spectacular boutique stay with charm and character unlike anywhere else .

2 3 , L ove L a n e , G e o r ge t ow n , 1 0 2 0 0 Pe n an g, M a lay s ia Te l : + 6 0 4 2 6 2 1 3 23 E mail : e n q u ir y@2 3 l ove la ne . c om

We bs it e : w w w. 23love la ne . c om


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life and times through her personal journey using her Nyonya family background and childhood memories as context. First, I feel that we should cover what exactly is Nyonya and Baba. Chinese migrants have long gravitated towards the world’s busiest trading centres, seeking out opportunities, which in the 15th and 16th Century was regionally located in Indonesia and later Malaya. Many of these Chinese were single when they left and ended up taking local wives. The children of these mixed race marriages became known as Nyonya-Baba or Peranakan Chinese (meaning of Chinese decent); men were called Babas and the women, Nyonyas. Many came to settle in the emerging colony of the Straits settlements (Singapore, Malacca and Penang) under the British and quickly became a major trading force building language skills and wealth. Along the way they brought influences in the Chinese cuisine from Indonesian, Thai and Malay cooking. The art of cooking was compulsory learning for the young Nyonya girls who learnt from their mothers at a very young age, the best way to prepare the ingredients, artfully carve vegetables into minor works of art and had to be proficient before they came of age to marry. They would have been considered not well brought up if they could not prepare traditional Nyonya cuisine to the satisfaction of their inlaws and brought disgrace to her family. The Penang style of Nyonya cooking was heavily influenced by Thai cuisine due to its proximity to Thailand and the availability of ingredients. Penang Nyonya cuisine has always had a local following and many people travel here just for the food. In recent years this fame has spread around the world with the New York Times readers voting Penang as the second best destination in the world for food in 2009. This, coupled with the UNESCO Heritage status awarded to Penang in 2008, is bringing in a new breed of tourists who are more interested in the heritage architecture and the Nyonya Cuisine than they are in the tropical climate 52

and the beaches, although these features sure do not harm the tourists desire to be here. The Pinang Peranakan Mansion (Museum) is a fine example of the affluent Babas and Nyonyas household and the finery that they could afford and is most certainly worth a visit when you are next in George Town, Penang. In particular it is of interest to foodies wanting to really get authentic recipes to see an original kitchen set-up and the kitchen layout at Pinang Peranakan Mansion is well worth the visit. We will be featuring heritage and boutique Hotels in our May edition so do make sure you register at to secure your copy of ‘What’s On Penang’. Bee Lee Tan’s - Penang Authentic Nyonya Cuisine (Mother’s Recipes) is available to buy - just send us an email for details.

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Bee Lee Tan on Penang Laksa

When was your first recollection of Penang Laksa? When I was about 6 yrs old, I used to walk home from school in the midday sun. One day, as I was approaching home I could smell fish curry permeating in the air and saw many people queuing at our back door. I hurried my footsteps and followed the smell of curry home. Who taught you how to make Laksa? My mother and servant- Ah Mooi used to make fresh rice noodles by grinding rice and cooking rice flour. When it is cooked, the mixture would go in to a mould and long strand of noodles will be pressed out in a bucket of cold water. I was fascinated to soak my hands in the water and I volunteered to twirl into figure 8 shape and drained on a bamboo basket. Kitchen was regarded as an unsafe place for a child, but I stood up on a stool from the dining room and watched what was added in the curry. I watched her grinding the ingredients and asked a lot of questions until she ignored me but she promised to let me stir the curry when my mother was out of the room! Ah Mooi was a great teacher and taught me many dishes ever since. Where is your favourite Laksa store? My favourite Laksa would be in Ayer Itam market, they use fresh rice noodles which is nostalgic to childhood memories and they operate daily in the late afternoon. is Laksa available in Australia and how close to the original? Unfortunately, in Australia, fish is not so readily available as in Penang, herring fish could be caught on the coast line but they do not have it often in the fish market and fish is very expensive here. But for those who have travelled to Penang, they will always salivate about delicious Penang Laksa!


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Asia Does it Best?


t might be politically incorrect, even prejudiced to say this, but I must admit that I am guilty of believing in cultural stereotypes. Need a reliable appliance? Buy German. Good coffee? Go Italian. Fancy a pint? Trust the British to know how to run a good pub.

flawless, invisible, and the best bar service I have ever experienced. We were made to feel that “you are the only one in there”. If you are thinking that this is normal in a five star hotel, think again. Quite fortunate to be usually enjoying the soigné spoils by the time the first appetizers are cleared, I have been rarely exposed to bad service in a good hotel, but I have certainly experienced mediocre service on several occasions, especially poorly trained service crew. Not looking beyond but closer to home in Penang, the unparalleled service of the Shangri-La group of hotels embodies the essence of Asian hospitality.

My travels have also convinced me that Asia definitely wins hands down when it comes to the world of hospitality. I believe all over the world there is a common tradition of hospitality. People love to show off the best of their countries and everyone has a story or history of their own. Though I know it is unfair to group all of Asia into one basket, but I am sure many well traveled souls would have had some recollection or experience of the indelible Asian hospitality throughout the world. A few years ago, when I was on a visit to England, a friend and I were looking to sit down somewhere and have a nice cocktail and a long chin wag. We were in the Knightsbridge area of London, and after attempting a few swanky bars, we ended up in the Mandarin Oriental. The Mandarin Bar was packed, but the service was 54

It’s everything you’d expect from a first class Asian hotel chain. The service is what I remember of again, that invisibility thing. You know that feeling you get when you walk into a five star hotel? That feeling of safe respite, a blend of optimal seclusion, with supreme comfort where everything you could possibly need and want is only a request away? Well, that feeling is most definitely magnified in Asian hotels. And when it comes to airlines, WELL! I’ve had a few mediocre experiences on Continental and European carriers and we’re not referring to budget airlines here. Alas, when it comes to British carriers, service is not even part of the package. If you have had the experience of Heathrow’s organized

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takes you to a whole new level of distinction. It’s with just the right amount of personal attention, interaction, and privacy. I love the invisibility of good hospitality. I believe in the whole ‘invisible service’ concept. An excellent waiter should be ‘one you don’t remember’ because they magically made everything you needed appear at exactly the right time, without disrupting your meal.

chaos and especially the service or rather lack of it from the ground crew, you know what I mean. In fact, the crew behaves like they are doing you a favour just turning up for work. On the other hand, fly with an Asian carrier, be it Malaysia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Thai Airways for examples. The experience

Basically, the complete opposite of the waitress who says, “Hi, my name’s Lisa and I’ll be your waitress tonight!” and then proceeds to use the term “folks” throughout the meal.

This article was kindly contributed by Maryam Wong. Please see her full Bio on page 94.


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Figo’s - Some Like It Hot! Tex-Mex like it ought to be!


igo’s, Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bunga Hillside, is rapidly becoming one of my favourite eateries.

I have always been a lover of Tex-Mex food, it dates back to my early days in London and the opening of the very first TGI Friday. Fajitas, Burritos, Chimichanga, not to mention frozen Margheritas, they just sound so darn good! At Figo’s they offer an enticing menu that combines all of my Tex-Mex favourites, with Southern Creole cuisine at its best and rounded off with a Nyonya-Portuguese influenced Malaccan section. If you like spicy, flavourful food, these are great combinations!

with chopped corianader, capsicum and chili in a shot of Tequilla, mixed with fresh lime juice. Add liberal amounts of Tabasco if you so desire, light blue touch paper and stand back! We also had the Calamari (Deep Fried Battered Squid), just because we felt compelled to. Two starters at Figo’s usually means we won’t eat all our main course, but there’s always a doggie bag! We have an unwritten rule to always choose different dishes so that we get to sample as many different tastes as possible on each visit. So with a thinly disguised smile of triumph, my darling wife beat me to the punch and placed her order for the Ribs.

In fact the menu is so good at Figo’s that the biggest problem I have is deciding what I’m going to eat. I’ve already resigned myself to just keep coming back, trying something different every visit, but it’s still so hard to make that decision. This time around I was accompanied by my wife and fellow food-lover. She hails from Thailand and likes her food spicy and full of flavours, so no surprise Figo’s is one of her favourites too. We started with Tequilla Oysters, fresh oysters 56

There are ribs and there are ribs. But at Figo’s the Ribs are to die for! Pork, not beef, meaty, juicy and oozing with a subtle, smoky flavour and coated in a barbecue sauce that’s neither too sweet nor too tangy. Just perfect!

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eat. Nicely decorated, friendly but definitely simple. The crockery and cutlery have been well chosen and for a restaurant at the budget end of pricing, adds a nice substantial feel to the dining experience. Good enough to make you notice. The service is excellent, attentive but not intrusive, as with most things at Figo’s, a nice balance.

I like the presentation at Figo’s, partitioned white china plates that keep your salad separate from the hot main meal and out of the sauce. I like the portions, man-size, as in big! I know my better half will only manage to eat half of that mountain of meat and bones settling in front of her, and I’ll get to pick the other half clean at home tomorrow, watching the football and sipping a cold beer. I really like Figo’s! My choice was for my old favourite the Chimichanga. Back in London at TGI Friday’s the Chimichanga was huge, deep-fried to a crisp and bursting with filling. Nothing subtle about that big fella! At Figo’s the Chimichanga is a work of art. The minced beef filling, lightly flavoured with chili and cumin, is wrapped in a Tortilla (corn flour pancake), and pan fried to a slight crispiness. Served with a mixed salad and Guacamole, this is Tex-Mex food at its best. Figo’s is a simple unpretentious place to

The menu is a winner, and will keep me coming back again and again. At first glance I got the Tex-Mex mix with southern Creole cooking, but the Nyonya-Portuguese influenced Malaccan items seemed out of place. They are not. They are in fact an inspired combination. The fiery Chicken Piri Piri and the beautifully flavoured but prickly Devil Curry for example, again offer a rather unique sense of balance to the choice of food on offer. In summary, if you get a chance to visit Figo’s take it. Their reputation is growing and the high standard of cooking and presentation are being maintained. I bet you’ll love the challenging flavours and I bet you’ll be another committing to returning to work your way through one of the more adventurous and enticing menus on the food scene in Penang at the moment. So I’m sitting here quietly, reading through the menu one more time, planning my next visit. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave my other half at home this time to make sure I get the ribs! Viva la Figo!

Figo’s Restaurant Address:

3 Jalan Sg Kelian Tanjung Bunga Hillside 11200 P Pinang

Phone: 04-899-5091 012-626-5091 How to Get There: Just around the corner from Ingolf and Vintage Bulgaria. You turn at the lights opposite the Cove Condo, head past the Petrol Station and Figo’s is 20 metres up on your left.


What’s On Penang

What’s On for Women Frances Wilks looks at the many events in Penang specifically for women


enang is a great place to be a woman, because there are so many activities and events that are specifically for women. Many of these are centred around the IWA (International Women’s Association), which was originally set up for the wives of American expats who came to the island with their husbands as ‘trailing spouses’.

hasn’t changed is the purpose of the IWA – to offer friendship, care, support and education to our members’. As well as larger events, for example, a yearly bazaar, which was held last year at the Straits Quay in November attracting over 12,000 visitors, and lunches, coffee mornings suppers, the IWA also hosts many activity groups. These include: hill-walking (on the slopes of Penang Hill), mah jong, yoga, country dancing, craft, canasta, scrabble, play groups and ‘buggies, babies and bumps’. You can join a very active choir or participate in one of several book clubs. You have to be a member to join one of these groups but at RM 150 a year (plus a RM 50 one-off joining fee), it’s scarcely expensive. In any case many people get their membership fees back many times over as the IWA runs a programme for local businesses who become Friends of the IWA and offer discounts and special offer to IWA members. It gets them known in Penang and they also get publicity in the IWA magazine, Expressions. The IWA isn’t just for expats, there are quite a few local members as well.

Members of the IWA committee discuss future events over coffee at China House in George Town

‘Things are different now, we’re much more international and have members from nearly 30 countries,’ the current President of the IWA, Sandie Lenton, explained at a recent coffee morning attended by over 50 members of the association. ‘Most of us are professional women, even if we can’t or don’t work here, and few of us sit at home with a maid and a driver. We want to learn new things, experience the culture and make interesting friends. The organisation reflects the changing profile of the membership. But the only thing that 60

The IWA isn’t the only organisation to have noticed the changing profile of expatriate women in Penang. The old-established Penang Club with premises in the centre of town is now offering a great scheme – a special membership category for single women. As many expatriates are now here on their own, this makes tremendous sense and it’s something that other premier clubs would do well to emulate. Women who have their own business, either in Malaysia, or on the internet, might like to join WomenBizSENSE, a networking group for women in business.

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It was started in 2006 and brings together women of different ages and backgrounds to encourage and mentor each other. The name reflects this: SENSE is the acronym for Support, Education, Networking, Social Responsibility and Entrepreneurship.

‘We plan film nights and more ‘bring your husband or partner’ events such as our popular quiz nights and cocktail parties. Men in Penang also need community, friendship and belonging.’

They currently have 52 members involved in such diverse industries such as car maintenance, educational toys, books, hair and beauty accessories, financial planning and will writing, image consultancy, print and graphic design, furniture, food and beverage, jewellery, web design and web marketing, ISO training and consultancy and lots more.


WomenBizSENSE holds a monthly meeting on the last Friday of the month, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm at the YMCA Penang, Jalan Macalister. As many expats here are retired, and on the MM2H programme, there is often little for husbands to do while their wives are out enjoying themselves at the events put on by IWA. Sandie Lenton is acutely aware of this gap in the market and hopes that the new clubhouse that IWA is moving to in April will fill a gap in this market.

(International Women’s Association) Address: Lembuh Lembah 28 Permai 4 11200 Tanjong Bunga P Pinang Telephone: (+6) 04 8982540 Email:



The Penang Club Address:

2B, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah 10050 P Pinang

Telephone: (+6) 04 2277366 (+6) 04 2293484 Website:

One of the ‘bring your husband, partner or significant other’ events that the IWA is promoting. This was a cocktail party at the Beach Blanket Babylon by the sea in George Town in February.


art • music • opera • theatre • dance • film • food • photography • talks YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME

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James The Sommelier Explains Wine Etiquette “Wine honours the soul, so honour it with yours”


ine has few friends amongst its alcoholic peers. If I could equate it to a playground child, wine would be the slightly cooler, more mature classroom recluse standing calmly in the corner with Armagnac, Cognac and Sherry.

Storing Wine Wine demands grooming and care like a royal, a racehorse or a prizefighter. Concentrated storing and keeping of wine brings out its full potential enabling it to fulfill your expectations.

Meanwhile, Vodka, Whiskey, Scotch, Brandy, Lager, Draught, Stout would be zooming around playing, teasing and wreaking havoc with their abundantly fiery natures. In Hollywood terms, it’s Bond vs. Balboa. Wine’s brooding, quietly confident, silky class definitely puts it in a league of its own. Like an educated, charming and refined person, wine exudes etiquette; that it has been brought up in high society and acts accordingly. A dinner amongst friends becomes more intimate, more fulfilling whilst sharing a bottle of wine. Simply, you feel that you are in the presence of wine rather than the other way around. It’s about time that someone explored some of the things that define the etiquette of wine. Hopefully, I can shed light on the bizarre but distinguishable nature behind the world’s drink.

Think of a traditional cellar and what do you see? A windowless room underground filled with bottles sleeping on their side, this is ideal. The fluctuation of temperature decreases the chances of wine keeping for very long, sunlight and UV rays cause wine to be ‘light struck’ and any vibration can also affect its quality. So, a constantly cool, dark and still place is the optimum condition for storing wine. The bottle being stored on its side is also an important point. If kept standing up, the wine cork will dry out, shrink and let air into the wine resulting in it becoming ‘corked’. Consequently, when storing wine the intake of air is all-important. A wine’s longevity can


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I’ll tell you… never. Nobody does it. Can you imagine Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgment’ being painted anywhere other than the Sistine Chapel? Exactly. Selecting a wine to pair with food, then, is important. The old fashioned conception is to pair red meat with red wine and fish with white. Unfortunately, thankfully, unquestionably it is not that simple. A more exact generalization would be to pair the ‘weight’ of your wine with the ‘weight’ of your food. One of the reasons wine goes so well with food is that fats and proteins negate the tannins in wine creating a smooth, creamy and tasty compliment to a dish. decrease dramatically if air is allowed to enter the bottle. In white wines the difference can be between 2-3 years unopened and 3-5 days opened. In red wines 2-10 years unopened and 2-3 days opened. Have you ever heard of wine breathing? This personification refers partly to the intake of air during storage. So, in a way it does. I suppose, the last point would be to make sure it doesn’t have ‘bad breath’ by storing it with strong smelling products. Bear that in mind next time you snuggle it up in the fridge with your favorite cheese, fruit or fish from the other night. Nobody wants to drink a cheesy, fishy, durian smelling wine. Would you?

Select & Serve The etiquette of wine transfers into the selecting and serving of wine. Part of wine’s inherent character intermingles with food so often that it would be a shame if we, the humble receptacles, were to ignore such a match made in heaven. We should respect the fact that wine allows us to appreciate food more, after all when was the last time you went on a bender fueled only by wine. 66

The question is, what are the different weights? The list below shows ranges from the heaviest at the top to the lightest at the bottom. Zinfandel Cabernet Sauvignon Northern Italian wine Bordeaux blends Chianti Merlot Pinot Noir Burgundian wines Chardonnay French whites Sauvignon blanc Other tips could be that fruity wines go very well with spicy dishes and champagne is a great compliment to very delicate dishes. Whatever it may be, don’t be afraid to try things. Like many things cultured in life, wine is incredibly subjective and as long as you like the combination that is all that matters. Just keep track of what you try so that you don’t have go through the whole process again. Actually, on second thoughts…

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That Little Wine Bar Wine Classes If you are interested in finding out more information about wine and would like to enhance your appreciation join our wine classes at: That Little Wine Bar 54 Jalan Chow Thye 10050 George Town +604 226 8182 That Little Wine Class is a cycle of 4 x 1 hour classes every week on Wednesday at 6.30 pm.

Now you have selected your wine all that is left is to serve it. I say, the sooner the better! Hardly any other drinking implement is as fiddly to open as a wine bottle so make the most of it. Open it in front of people, let them gaze at the mysteriously decorative label and wonder in amazement at the foreign words; it adds interest. Conform to wine etiquette and whether you’re a waiter or diner host, serve the ladies firstpour a glass until just over half full and don’t forget to twist, baby! Lastly, there seems to be some trepidation among customers when asked to taste wine in a restaurant before it is served. It’s not complicated and it ensures that the bottle is not corked before pouring it all away into your glasses. Any good waiter will open the bottle in front of you and present the cork to the person who ordered. The cork is the key. If the cork is overly moist, dry, cracked, stained in any way there is a good chance that the wine will be bad. 68

The course covers Wine Etiquette, Geography of Wine, All About Grapes, and the Language of Wine Tasting. Each class includes at least 2 different wines to taste. The aim is to give you all the basics of enjoying wine and the confidence to be able to order wines you like and know what you are ordering. Participants of all 4 lessons will receive a certificate of graduation. The cost is RM 25 per class, including service and tax (RM 100 for the whole course, payable on the first lesson). We are now taking bookings for the next course, please call for dates and further details.

Smell the cork, this will give the first real proof that the wine is corked. Smell, swirl, smell, taste and then decide for definite if you need to change the bottle. Don’t be afraid to say so, the only other thing worse than wine smelling of cheese, fish or durian is it tasting of vinegar. We will sympathize.

This article was kindly contributed by James Springer of That Little Wine Bar. For more details on James please see his bio on page 94

What’s On Penang

Campbell House Il Bacaro Restaurant


e had the opportunity to visit the recently refurbished Campbell House which in its short few months has attracted attention and rave reviews from the likes of Conde Naste and The New York Times. Not without just cause I might add. The fabulous renovation of this boutique heritage Hotel is much more than the excellent design features which take you back to the opulence of a bygone era. The real reason this little gem set in the heart of George Town, Penang is attracting such rave reviews has a lot to do with the hands-on owners, Roberto and Nardya. When you call to make a booking, when you arrive to check in, when your luggage is carried aloft by ropes and pulleys it is Roberto and


Nardya that will be there to greet you and see to your every need. Nardya comes from an accomplished career in VIP customer service for a large chain of Casino’s that has seen her looking after the jet-set, high-rollers and seeing to their every desire. This level of service that only the ultra-

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in their family home. The level of luxury from the deep comfortable beds through to the espresso machines in every room as well as the iPod docking stations puts Campbell House into the new breed of luxury boutique heritage Hotels that has emerged from the UNESCO heritage status bestowed upon George Town, Penang in 2008. Food plays a large part in the story of Penang and these heritage hotels are no exception to this rule. Campbell House has a very fine Italian restaurant, Il Navaro, which is as authentic as they come. Roberto, who hails from Venice in the North of Italy, has been involved in Italian restaurants for the past 3 decades and the menu on offer has exceptional depth and variety. The menu is equally notable for the items that are not on offer as for those that are. No spaghetti Bolagnese, no Lasagne, but great traditional Italian cooking of the highest standards, including traditional Italian Pizza to die for! wealthy usually get to experience is heaped on every guest at Campbell House. When you take breakfast, lunch or dinner it is the owners themselves that will be looking after you with their one-of-a-kind personal attention. This does not mean they haven’t any staff, just that they believe in the personal touch which leaves you feeling as if you are personal guests


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The room rates are extremely reasonable when compared to anywhere else on the planet of equal quality, with rates starting as low as US$ 120 per night including breakfast. A decent meal can be yours from as little as RM 18 (US$6) but if you love Italian food as much as me you will be a little more adventurous and take advantage of this Northern Italian paradise and push the boat out a little with a 3 course meal and a nice bottle of wine. Look out for our feature on Heritage Hotels in next month’s edition of ‘What’s On Penang’ which will have more details about Campbell House’s accommodation.

Campbell House Address: 106 Lebuh Campbell 10100 Georgetown Penang Malaysia Phone:

+60 426 18290

How To Get There: First crossroads inside Campbell Street, on your left. Right in the heart of George Town.


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Joget Dancing and High Tea at the Shrangri La Hotel


ad the pleasure of a Sunday afternoon tea at Rasa Sayang Shangri La hotel in Batu Ferringhi, but one with a

difference. This one was based around a traditional Malay dance known as a Joget (which originated in Malacca and was influenced by the Portuguese Branyo). This, just like most places in times gone by, had an element of a place where boys could meet girls under supervision. The selection on offer at the Joget High Tea was either a traditional English Tea or if you are feeling more adventurous a traditional Malay one. As there were two of us the choice was easy, one of each! The English option came with a wonderful selection of teas but we went for the traditional Breakfast Tea. We started with two wonderfully fresh baked scones served with whipped fluffy cream and fresh strawberries. There was a selection of jams on the table and I plumped 74

for the Raspberry. Now my way of preparing a scone is simple. Slice the scone in two, apply an ample portion of Jam, cover in lashings of whipped cream and top with the sliced strawberry - divine! The Tea Set also included three delicate bread rolls filled with Roast beef, Smoked salmon and egg salad. In addition there were three dainty cream cakes , a Mille Fleur , a chocolate gateau and a coconut sponge cake. The Malay Tea came with a wonderful selection of dishes, one of our favourites was a local Chicken sausage served with a mildly spicy tomato dipping sauce which was delicious, followed by a chicken curry puff and then local desserts. I loved the sausage and the chicken curry puff

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but I am not a lover of the local desserts but that is a personal thing and in no way should that put you off trying it. They are a creamy coconut based pudding dressed in various guises. The Joget Tea would not be complete without the Joget dancing. The traditional Malay dances date back in many cases more than 300 years and the troupe of dancers at Rasa Sayang come from amongst their very own staff, and very good dancers they were too. The resort hopes to showcase the various Joget styles from Johor, Pahang, Kelantan and occasionally, a Boria presentation from Penang. “The response from our resort guests have been positive as the guests will be there to support the resort staff who are very close to them,” said the resort’s Director of Communications, Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman. “We are showcasing Joget through the ages and from different Malaysian states including some Joget songs from the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee and other vintage movies and some numbers

by Anita Sarawak, M Daud Kilau and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza.” All in all a very pleasant way to spend your Sunday afternoon and at RM35++ it is a wonderful afternoon tea.

Joget Tea The Joget High Tea is served in the Lobby Lounge, Garden Wing from 4 to 6 p.m. Patrons can choose a traditional Malaysian high tea or an English tea set. The Joget High Tea is priced at RM 35++ per person. For more information or reservations, please contact +604 888 8888.


What’s On Penang Charter Advertising AS a result of constant requests from our advertisers and contributors, in June 2012, What’s On Penang will add a print edition to our current online presence. For information on our Charter Advertising packages contact Steve on: 014-3451192. The first 30 advertisers will qualify for an outstanding list of benefits and attractive pricing.

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The Garden of Life Penang Butterfly Farm


ne Saturday last month we set out for a family day at the Penang Butterfly Farm.

We were advised by Joseph Goh to be there before lunch as the heat effects the butterflies and they are more active early on and therefore present a more spectacular display of colours to see. We heeded that advise and arrived at a little after 9.30am. We were a motley crew of parents and children ranging in age from 2 years old up to 14 years old. Now anywhere that can keep this wide a range of children occupied as well as their tested parents deserves an award, and the Penang

Butterfly Farm certainly did that for more than 4 hours. We were expertly guided around the enclosure by Gan Gim Chuah, one of their Nature Specialists. With a well-balanced combination of entertainment and education, not only were we entertained but we actually learned a surprising amount about the life cycles and breeding habitats of these wonderful ‘Fairies of the Tropics’. Whatever you have to do, make sure you get on one of their regular guided tours. You will not only enjoy the visit so much more as we did, but by being in the company of such knowledgable and devoted professionals, you will better appreciate their work to spread the 78

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message of what we can learn from observing nature at work. There are over 50 species of butterflies to spot and we saw the whole process of pupae transforming and emerging into a butterfly. There are other forms of life here other than butterflies and our guide made sure we saw the lot, and we were glad that he was there to show us the way. He took us to a pit full of millipedes, no ordinary ones, these were giants. They made my skin crawl but we were all mesmerized as he explained about how they lived and how to tell a male from a female and could we smell the pheromones that the male gave off? We saw stick insects that were more like branch insects and a leaf insect that not one of us could spot until the guide picked it up. Black scorpions that had us all reeling backwards away from this sizable beast and Tarantulas that were as beautiful to look at as they were frightening.

Fish that looked like submerged Alligators, turtles that could crush your bones with a single bite and catfish the size of sharks! In the invertebrates section we saw and learned about beetles, frogs, snakes and more spiders. The interactive displays and film shows could have entertained us for another couple of hours at least but sadly we only had a limited amount of time on the day. But rest assured, we will be back again, many times over.


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We were fortunate to be able to talk to the founder and inspiration behind the Penang Butterfly Farm, Mr David Goh. David started out life as a school teacher and is still educating us today through his wonderful Penang Butterfly Farm. It has taken a long time to get where they are today and it was David who set them on the road and it was David’s determination and commitment to see through his dream that

enables us to enjoy the wonderful experience of the Penang Butterfly Farm today. David has now handed over the reins to his son Joseph, who has swiftly stamped his own mark on the business. Moving the presentation style forward is a continual challenge and one that Joseph is tackling with his father’s enthusiasm. He promises exciting innovations in this field soon for the Penang Butterfly Farm. The secret to any successful enterprise can usually be boiled down to a few simple ingredients and passion would be at the top of that list. Both David and his son Joseph have passion in spades, they genuinely love what they do. Their enthusiasm is contagious and spend just a short time listening to them sharing their thoughts and I promise you too will be caught up in the mood of the moment. David has another passion besides butterflies, he is an avid collector of cultural artifacts from all over Asia. Many of which can be seen in


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has storage rooms full of even more. We were lucky enough to share a glimpse of these and all I can say is that I hope we will all be able to share in these treasures soon. All in all, the Penang Butterfly Farm is a most interesting place to visit and then revisit and keep on visiting throughout the year as you never see it all in one go. If you have never been, get yourself there. If you have been, but not for a while, then you really owe it to yourself to go back again. It really is a great family day out.

Penang Butterfly Farm Address: 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang Malaysia Phone: +60-48-851-253 Website:

a display area at the Penang Butterfly Farm but this is only the tip of the iceberg for he




0900-1800 hrs (Last entry 1700 hrs) Entrance: RM27 adults RM15 children 4-12 years old RM18 MYKAD holder RM10 MYKID holder (Guided tour included - don’t miss it!) How to get there: By Rapid Penang Bus: 101: Weld Quay - Teluk Bahang 102: Penang Airport - Teluk Bahang 501: Balik Pulau - Teluk Bahang By Taxi (red, yellow or blue in colour): Taxi Drivers Association: +604 262 5721 Georgetown Taxi: +604 2299467 Sunshine Radio Taxi: +604 642 5961 By Car: Take the main George Town - Batu Ferringhi raod and continue through Batu Ferringhi and on out the other side. At the World’s End roundabout turn left (1st exit) and the Penang Butterfly Farm entrance will be on your left after about 1km.


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Hard Rock Cafe Penang The Great American Buffet


he Hard Rock Cafe has been around since 1971 and as they expanded and changed ownership over the years they have always stood for excellence in offering authentic American fare.

Think American food and of course the usual suspects come to mind; Burgers, fries, Southern Fried Chicken. Well you will not be disappointed with this buffet as all of the above are featured. The other side of American food is the Tex-Mex combination and Cajun cooking from the Louisiana deep south, and this is again well catered for. 38 years after they opened in London, Hard Rock opened here in Penang and ever since then have grown a crowd of loyal fans from both near and far. Known for their American food offerings, the Great American Buffet is a celebration of all things food and American, in a style the likes of which have not been seen here on Penang before.


For this Great American Buffet the dishes have been selected by the hotel’s Executive Sous Chef, Chef Beh Aik Aun from popular items sourced from different States across America. Just like the famous poem written on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp

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beside the golden door!” The eclectic food styles match the breadth and growth of the American population as they took in the worlds tired, weary and downtrodden. With over 70 items, such as: Colorado Lamb Chop in Butter Mint Sauce, Buffalo Chicken Wings with BBQ Sauce, Southern Fried Chicken, Grilled Cajun Prawns with Mint and Mango Salsa, Seafood Chowder, Seafood Jambalaya, Smoked Beef Ribs, Steaks, Cheese Macaroni, Blackened Fish with Citrus Butter Sauce, the list goes on exhaustedly. Desserts like Chocolate Mousse cake, New

York Cheese Cake, Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie are just a sampling on offer and a foodies paradise. “This will be an exciting addition to Penang’s food scene for both locals and tourists. Being an American brand, we want to introduce delicacies that we do best to all our guests. In addition to that, enjoy some fun and entertainment by our entertaining servers whilst dining.” said John Primmer, General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Penang. The one guarantee we can make about your visit to The Great American Buffet, other than a great choice of food, is that your beltline will grow in proportion to your enjoyment of the food. Go and enjoy!

Great American Buffet The buffet dinner is available at the Starz Diner and will run every Friday and Saturday. Price: RM108++ per adult RM54++ per child (below 12 years). Address: Hard Rock Hotel Penang Batu Ferringhi Beach 11100 Penang Phone:

04 8811711 x8703


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Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang’s 5-star Evergreen Laurel Hotel is strategically located along the famed Gurney Drive overlooking the serene seaside, within walking distance from the latest shopping complex and hawkers centres. A deluxe Business cum Leisure hotel, providing 368 elegantly designed spacious guest rooms with uninterrupted view of the Sea or Georgetown and Penang Hill. All rooms are equipped with LCD TV with Astro Channels and complimentary broadband connection for unlimited usage. Savour the International and Chinese Cuisine in Café Laurel and Evergarden Restaurant with a spectacular ocean view. The Lobby is the perfect place to meet for leisure or business to unwind with our live band performance. The elegant Ballroom and function rooms are well prepared to accommodate for corporate conventions, banquet reception and cocktail parties. The Health Club has complete facilities, including Poolside Bar, Indoor & Outdoor Gym, Tennis courts, Sauna Jacuzzi and Kids Club and the Business Centre is fully equipped with the latest communication tools and secretarial services. 53 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia TEL: (604) 226-9988 / FAX: (604) 226-9989 E-MAIL: WEBSITE:


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Penang Treks & Hikes Batu Ferringhi To Teluk Bahang Louise and Tommes explore the hills and forests of Penang with an out-of-date trail book and a sense of adventure.


e had no idea when we set off whether the trail from Batu Ferringhi to Teluk Bahang still existed – after all, there has been so much development in this part of the island since the Penang trail book was published in 1999. We parked the Vespa in the car park of the Bayview hotel and crossed the road to the dusty lane opposite, marked by a handwritten sign to the waterfall, armed with plenty of water, some snacks, and no idea of how long we would be walking for. As we walked up the lane in full sun, I wished again that we had left before midday (Tommes is not an early riser) and that I had remembered to bring an umbrella to protect my poor English skin from the scorching rays. After a few minutes (before the lane reaches the waterfall) we found the path branching off uphill on the right (but no stream to cross as indicated by the guidebook).

Ominously it was signposted “Private Property, No Trespassers”; nevertheless we headed up the hill. After passing a road barrier (obviously meant for cars though, not hikers, we told ourselves) we soon came to a shaded forest trail heading off on the left. Though unmarked, we guessed this would be the right way to go, and were rewarded by our first shade of the hike, and the sound of the stream and probably waterfall below us. A few minutes later we came to what looked like a water storage tower, and amazing enough, a signpost to Teluk Bahang. I later learned these signs were put up by the Penang State Forestry Department in 2008 to mark the Penang Hill Forest Challenge, an 8 hour hike from the North of the island to Penang Hill. So good news, we were heading in the right direction! The signposts came thick and fast for a while, every 50 metres, through a valley where the forest must have recently been cleared (5 to 10 years ago we thought) and only Resam, a fern which colonises disturbed rain forest, and the flowering herb senduduk, run wild. We reached the Batu Ferringhi Dam, and saw the trail sign to Teluk Bahang pointing down into the river bed below, and another one on the other side pointing into the forest. We crossed the dryish river bed to the forest on the other side, and followed a path beside the river until it became too narrow. Then we realized we had lost the trail signs. Backtracking a little we found a steep slope going straight up the hill, muddy with multiple


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footprints and slither marks, and decided to climb up this slope. This was one of the toughest parts of the hike. We had to grab saplings and roots with our hands to pull ourselves up, and we weren’t even sure if we were going in the right direction! Eventually we met a proper (unmarked) path and turned right towards (we guessed) Teluk Bahang. Now we saw the trail-marking pieces of paper that mean the Hash Harriers have been running on the trail recently. Good news again! We were back on a trail, even though we had no idea if this was the one from the trail guide, or the Penang Hill Forest Challenge. But never mind, it was certainly a trail! Some people complain about the environmental impact of the Hash Harriers, an international running club, leaving these bits of paper along the paths, but honestly, I am always delighted to see them. I am sure from time to time we would have got hopelessly lost without them. The paper usually dissolves in 2 to 4 weeks, but sometimes they leave the signs in plastic bags to protect them from the rain (especially the one towards the end of the trail that says “This way to the beer”). These ones I remove for them.

A long, upward walk through beautiful forest followed. It was like walking through an English forest but hotter, steamier, and steeper. I still haven’t found any good maps of the Penang hills, but I think we were climbing Bukit Cempedak (Jackfruit Hill). We reached the top and realized we were back on the trail book’s trail, as here was “Rain Gauge 15”. These rain gauges are all over the Island, some used, I imagine, by meteorologists to measure rainfall in Penang, others clearly abandoned. Also we re-encountered trail signs put up by the Forestry Department, saying Denai Permatang (Ridge Top Trail, I deciphered when I got home) and followed either these or yellow paint splashes on the trees most of the rest of the way. This took us to an amazing viewpoint over Teluk Bahang village and the bay. There was one very steep descent down the hill again, but bless the Forest Department – they had put up a rope handrail suspended between metal posts for most of it, so what would have been quite a scary descent was painless, apart from a bit of rope burn on my hands the next day. The trail is beautiful but neglected. It has signboards to explain forest phenomena from time to time (like how the forest canopy


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which will be helpful next time, and learned that the Ministry of Health may declare the park bacteria-free in the next couple of months. I am always in two minds when I tell people about our hikes in Penang. On the one hand, it is incredible to walk for hours without encountering other people, and it brings such a sense of achievement to more-or-less follow a badly marked and overgrown trail.

preserves water so that the streams and rivers flow all year round and not just during the rainy season), but many of them are illegible, and many trail sign posts have fallen down or are missing. A huge tree had fallen across the path at one point. Tommes navigated a path around it and I followed him back onto the trail. This is not the first time I have thought that a machete would be helpful when hiking the Penang hills.

So if you do this hike yourself, and note down additional details or better directions, please do email them to me at louise@ for inclusion next time.

The Hike at a Glance Length: 3.5 hours

Trail markings came and went, but we just tried to keep going downhill whenever the path divided, and eventually reached the Teluk Bahang Forest Park.

Difficulty: Moderate - A long upward climb after the first 30 minutes, a bit of scrambling up using hands, and one large fallen tree to climb around

I had no idea such a place existed in Penang. A park, playground, streams and pools, picnic tables and camping grounds. But strangely, no people at all.

Interest Level: High - Beautiful forest trail for the most part, a Victorian/Moorish dam to cross, a stunning view over Teluk Bahang from the highest point, the eerily deserted Forest Park at the end

We stopped to plunge our arms into one of the pools to cool down, and then found our way out onto the main road. Here I saw a sign on the entrance noting that the park was closed in May 2011 due to leptospirosis, a waterborne bacterial infection. Oops, I thought, remembering what we had just done! The entrance to the Forest Park is next door to the Butterfly Park, and there is a bus stop opposite, with a hawker stall helpfully selling cold drinks. We took the bus back to Batu Ferringhi for food, and collected the Vespa to head for home. Full of curiosity about the Forest Park and trails, I visited the Forestry Department at Komtar the next day. Here I was able to pick up a map of the trails around Teluk Bahang Forest Park, 90

On the other hand, hiking is one of the best activities that Penang has to offer, and it is a shame that so few people, residents and tourists alike, know how to go about it.

Signposting: Good (by Penang standards) Likelihood of getting lost: Unlikely - The description from the 1999 trail book ( trail10chinfarmtorecreationalforest.shtml ) gives some guidance, but is out of date in some parts Number of hikers met on trail: Not a single soul

This article was kindly contributed by Louise of That Little Wine Bar. For more details on Louise please see her bio on page 94.

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BeerBQ Bistro THE PLACE BeerBQ Bistro, Precinct 10, Island Plaza is a place for food and beer pairing! It is a great joint for folks to chill and be comfortable, while enjoying great BBQ food that matched with soothing beers and relax with music.

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What’s On Penang in Print June 2012 will see the first print edition of What’s On Penang. The magazine will be available from selected restaurants, hotels, bars, shopping malls and public places of note across Penang, including the International Airport. There will be no charge for the magazine initially, so get in quick and register for your subscription. If you would like the magazine delivered to your doorstep then there will be just a small postage charge.

Subscriptions Advertising Call Steve: 014-345-1192


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Our Contributors Maryam Wong

James Springer

Flora Wong

Louise CG

“Logistics by profession, Social Activist by passion.

James writes the newsletter for That Little Wine Bar with the aim of introducing the culture of wine into Penang.

Founder of Flora Wong & Associates Sdn. Bhd. and Flora Trustee Berhad.

After many years in the corporate world in the UK, France, Singapore, New York and Shanghai, Louise moved to Penang to support her husband Chef Tommes with his restaurants That Little Wine Bar and Irrawaddy Fine Foods. When not waiting on tables or cleaning toilets, Louise hikes, does yoga and explores everything Penang has to offer.

When I am not getting stressed, I write writing defines me. I am constantly trying to understand my place in the world and I have found that literature is the best way to see myself. The characters are mirrors of my own soul.”


While drawing on contemporary points of interest, his unpretentious look at the sometimes stifling world of wine has helped many get to grips with the subject. James also holds monthly wine courses at TLWB.

Flora excels in Financial & estate planning, wealth management for individuals as well as corporations. For enquiries, either call her at 03-9172 1118 or 017-2299 883 or e-mail to flora@

Irene Newcombe

Gourmet Food

Cindy Teh

Farrell Tan

“64 in body, 18 in mind. I consider myself a citizen of the world. Live wherever there is a need to be fulfilled to assist people where ever I can.” Irene is a volunteer at the Eden Home & at the Penang Disabled School.

Gourmet Garden is an initiative by Jason Wong & Gill Giam, the founders, writers, photographers, tasters, bottle washers and all. “Our intentions are simple; to share our food experiences with fellow foodies.”

Cindy loves to teach Mandarin to Adult and kid students from a wide range of nationalities including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Japanese, English American, German, Danish, Swedish and Eurasian.

Farrell Tan is the cofounder of Orchan Consulting Asia Sdn Bhd, a full service public relations agency located in Kuala Lumpur. Winner of a slew of professional awards, recently nominated for PRESTIGE’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’.

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Map and Con

Police, Ambulance, and Rescue: 999 Fire: 994 Red Crescent: (603) 4257 8726 St. John’s Ambulance: (603) 9285 1576 Telekom Malaysia Directory Service: 103 Telekom Malaysia Operator Assisted Calls (Domestic and International): 101 Tourism Infoline: 1300 885 776 Tourist Police Hotline (HQ): (603) 2149 6590 Enquiries: (603) 2149 6593 Customs: (603) 8787 2312 Tourism Malaysia Offices Address: Pejabat Tourism Malaysia Negeri Pulau Pinang, 56th Floor, KOMTAR, Penang 10000 Tel: (604) 264 3494 / 263 4941 Fax: (604) 262 3688

AirAsia: 03 8775 4000 Air Malaysia: 04-262 0011, 262 1403. address is Ground Floor, KOMTAR, Penang Super Nice Bus Company: 04-3316359 /3232116


ntact Numbers

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Bayan Lepas International Airport: 04-643 4411 Immigration Department: 04-261 5122 Penang Hill Railway: 04-829 9412 Penang Island Municipal Council: 04-262 4400 Penang Port: 04-263 1553 Consulates in Penang Australia [61] 1-C Hutton Lane, Phone:+60 4 2631114 Fax:+60 4 263-3320 publicaffairs-klpr@dfat. Germany Plot 205-206 Jalan Kampung Jawa Free Industrial Zone 3, Phone:+60 4 6415707 Indonesia [62] 467 Burma Road, Phone:+60 4 2274686 United Kingdom 3rd Floor, Standard Chartered Bank Chambers, 2 Beach Street, Phone:+60 4 2625333

Japan [63] Level 28, Menara BHL, 51 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Phone:+60 4 226-3030 Thailand 1 Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Phone:+60 4 226-8029 / 226-9484, Visas: 9AM-noon, closed on Malay and Thai holidays.


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Will & Estate Planning The Reality Most of the time when a testator demises, the family members will have to arrange for his funeral; pay for his medical expenses, hospital bills, funeral expenses, outstanding mortgages and other debts; and legal and distribution expenses. The family members need to know if he has a Will and Estate Plan in hand and what were his instructions as regards to his final rites. Did he purchase a cemetery plot for burial or a niche to keep his remains? Do you need to retrieve the Will before or after the funeral? Who is going to pay his medical expenses or hospital bills first? Are the family members capable to pay first and claim from his estate later? This will be the first hurdle for the family members and executors to decide, if everyone is independent and in harmony. The next step is to confirm all his assets and liabilities such as titles to immovable properties, bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks certificate, partners or corporate agreement, debtors, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, mortgages, business loans, credit cards debt, car loans and creditors in Malaysia and overseas assets, if any. The compilation of all assets and liabilities will be filed at the High Court for the extraction of the Grant of Probate to validate the authority of the executors to deal in all matters relating to the estate. Documents file at the High Court have no confidentiality. With the Grant of Probate, the executors will retrieved all assets into his name and pay off all liabilities, before distributing according to the wishes of the testator. Questions to ponder before appointing an executor:98

1. Honesty - Distribute according to the Will. 2. Experience - Getting an experienced and hands-on lawyer to apply for the Grant of Probate and an executor who knows the processes and procedures involved. 3. Accountability - Provide the incomes and expenses and the balance sheet of estate to the beneficiaries. 4. Time - Time involved from retrieving the Will to the final distribution. 5. Finance - The executor may need to pay for the services and out-of-pocket expenses up-front and claim much later from the estate when the Grant of Probate is obtained. 6. Relationship - Testator relationship with executor was strained prior to his demise or the executor relationship with beneficiaries are not good. Making sure that your dependants continue living with what you have built during your lifetime by having not only a Will but together with an Estate Plan in place.

This article was kindly contributed by Flora Wong of Flora Wong Associates Sdn. Bhd. For more details on Flora please see her full bio on page 94

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