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Monday, December 29, 2008

Girl and virginity

I was at Malaysia's most popular tech forum and saw a guy who asked this...

Is virginity really important nowadays (to girls)?

Someone answered him...

If her name is Mary, yeah, it's important.

Another one added this...

If the name is Olive, u need extra.

ROFL, LMAO!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Good things must share-share... :)

*this is NOT a sponsored post*

You know, USM (my varsity) filters the World Wide Web and thus some sites are off-limits to us. :(

But... But! (Gosh... I can't hide my excitement, LOL) Today, I was led to a wonderful discovery that brings me hope, light, whatever blabla and I'm so exhilarated right now! :D

Presenting http://www.atunnel.com, a marvellous web site that defends your anonymity on-line and lets you surf those banned or blocked websites through their server! C'mon, tell me this is an amazing discovery!

I just tested surfing a banned website from my home through their server, and voila, it works! Can't wait to unleash its fullest potential when I return to Penang on Monday. And in case you're wondering, I'm home for the weekend + Muharram public holiday. :)

P/S: If you've already known about this moons ago, I'm so gonna kill you for not telling me this earlier! Hmpphhh!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Track those telephone numbers!

Getting bugged by someone you don't even know on your phone? Frustrated over prank calls from an unidentified number? Oh my, but don't you ever let these ruin your otherwise beautiful day!

With the help of Who's Number Is That.com, you can now embark on a phone number trace to hunt those mysterious callers down from all over America (including Alaska and Hawaii) at your home's comfort! With just a little information, the identities of the callers will be revealed to you in no time.

Besides the reverse phone lookup service, they are also ready to free you from those annoying telemarketers with another brilliant service! Wanna know more? You can read the details at No Call List Information.

When all is done, I'm sure you'll get your smile back in time for this Christmas season! :D

Joyeux Noël

To all my friends,

Merry Christmas

Hope you guys have a wonderful one this year! And don't forget to hit the gym after all those parties, turkey dinners, and merry makings!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A friendly reminder to my readers

Dear readers,

I notice quite a number of you are still unaware of my new blog at soleilian.com where I blog about my school life, travel tales, gastronomic adventures, and some occasional rants. I did inform you guys about it on this blog after I launched it in late October. As for tiMes JoUrNaL, I mainly reserve it for my personal rants, socio-cultural views, etc.

Please kindly take note of this. Thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cities, Cities, Cities

Some interesting facts about the mega cities around you...

  • Which city has the most buildings with a minimum height of 90m? Many would answer NYC. But no, it's HK! Apparently, the bustling Pearl of the Orient has more than 3000 buildings which exceed 90m in height while the Big Apple comes in a distant 2nd with about 900.
  • Only 4 cities are given full points (12) in the performance rating of world cities: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo.
  • Moscow boasts the most U.S.-dollar billionaires of any city in the world, followed by NYC and London.
  • Awarded a total of 227 stars, Tokyo has the most Michelin-rated restaurants in the world, which is more than thrice of NYC's total and twice of Paris's total. However, it should be noted that Tokyo houses more than 160,000 restaurants, versus New York's 25,000 and Paris's 13,000.
  • Istanbul, Turkey's largest city is the only city in the world that straddles 2 continents ~ Europe and Asia. The great imperial capital of the now-extinct Christian Byzantine Empire and the Muslim Ottoman Empire also acts as a pivotal bridge between the Christian West and the Muslim East.
  • London is home to the largest number of Muslim converts in the Western world, with over 100,000 White British and 35,000 Black Caribbean converts.
  • Zürich, Switzerland's financial heart is the world's wealthiest city by personal net earnings in the 2008 rankings. It is also the city which offers the best quality of life this year.
  • London is cited as the world's most expensive city in the same year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reverse Phone Number Trace

Ever wonder who's that sneaky person behind the number that shows on your phone screen? Someone's been playing a prank on you with an unidentified number? Having too many missed calls from someone you don't even know?

Fret not, as you can now trace phone numbers from all over America (including Alaska and Hawaii) with the fabulous Reverse Phone Number Trace! With just a little information, the identities of the callers will be revealed to you instantly. One thing for sure, your worries will no longer come back to haunt you!

Galerie d'image II

Since I'm so lazy to blog these days, I'm gonna post some pics that I took with my trusty Sony Ericsson K800i...

Living room
Living room

Fungi
Fungi found in front of my university's museum

Orchids
Orchids

Plant
Plant

I'm so lookin' forward to lay my hands on the super cool Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX3 in order for me to churn out awesome macros with bokeh effect. *start saving bucks*

Nationwide Phone Lookup

There are countless gatherings and separations in our lifetime. Acquaintances may come and go. Upon college graduation, friends are forced to separate and move on for a brighter future. Some decide to stay, some prefer to move elsewhere to seek for better opportunities. And with the arrival of Christmas in less than 10 days, it's time to send warm greetings to your loved ones, especially those best pals of yours whom you have not seen for years. But the thing is, how on earth are you going to send them Christmas cards if their locales are unknown to you?

Provided you still keep their phone numbers, you can easily track your buddies down with Nationwide Phone Lookup. The service runs through a large database based on the information provided to look up for an identical match. The results will be shown to you in a matter of seconds. Isn't that great?

And oh, the service covers the whole of America, including the far-flung states of Alaska and Hawaii. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Conversion of houses of worship: Change of religious affiliation (Part I)

Throughout history, once a territory fell into the hands of an invading enemy, the places of worship of the conquered territory were usually converted to the religion of the new masters. Those territories that strongly resisted invasions instead of peacefully submitting themselves to the enemies were the ones that suffered the most.

Global distribution of Christianity and Islam
Global distribution of Christianity (red) and Islam (green)

Christianity and Islam are the world's two largest and most widespread religions, each claiming 2.1 billion and 1.5 billion followers respectively. The combined population of Christians and Muslims account for more than half of the world's 6.7 billion people, and their communities can be found in nearly every country in the world. Historically, religious zeal and the devotion to spread the one true religion to the infidels or non-believers were the strongest propellers behind the countless inter-religious wars and conflicts that plagued both religions. Even till this day, regions that lie on the fault line where Christianity and Islam collides are usually the victims of these sporadic events, like what happened in Indonesia and Nigeria.

Here are some of the most prominent houses of worship which have been converted to the religion of the new masters upon conquest:


La Mezquita de Córdoba, Spain
La Mezquita de Córdoba, Spain

The Great Mosque of Córdoba (
La Mezquita de Córdoba) in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. Before Spain fell into the hands of the Muslim Arab-Berbers (the Moors) of North Africa, this building was a Christian Visigothic church. After the Umayyad Caliphate (بنو أمية Banu Umayyah) was overthrown by the Abbasid Caliphate (العبّاسيّونal-‘Abbāsīyūn), the Umayyad capital in Damascus, Syria was relocated to Córdoba and thus marked a significant transition point in the history of Europe.

At a time when much of Europe plunged into the Dark Ages where economic and intellectual activities came to a halt, Córdoba flourished to become Western Europe's largest city and emerged as an important centre of culture, education, and politics. The Mezquita was subsequently enlarged and was once the 2nd largest of its kind in the Islamic world.


La Mezquita de Córdoba, Spain
Church within a mosque: European additions with Islamic columns and arches

After the Christian Spaniards recaptured Córdoba from the Muslims in the year 1236, the mosque was consecrated as a Christian church along with the 1000-plus mosques in the city. While most of the mosque exterior is retained to this day, European features and chapels were added to the interiors to celebrate its new role as a church and a prized Christian possession.

The successful Christian Reconquista gave rise to the nationwide Spanish Inquisition, a notorious ecclesiastical tribunal which actively sought to Christianize the non-Christians of Spain. During this period, Muslims and Jews were either expelled from Spain or forcibly converted to Christianity. As a result, Islam remained virtually non-existent in Spain until the arrival of Muslim immigrants from North Africa in the latter half of the 20th century.

Today, the Mezquita continues to serve as the principal Roman Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba, and is the city's most popular tourist attraction.


La Giralda, Sevilla, Spain; Hassan Tower, Rabat, Morocco
La Giralda, Sevilla, Spain (left) & Hassan Tower, its sister tower in Rabat, Morocco (right)

The Giralda (La Giralda) in Seville/Sevilla, the capital of Andalucía in southern Spain. Originally built as the minaret of a large mosque, the Giralda was converted into the bell tower of the adjacent Cathedral of Seville (the world's largest Gothic cathedral) which was built on the grounds of the previous mosque upon the Reconquista. The top of the tower is the result of European additions, featuring a cross and a bell. Once the world's tallest tower, the Giralda shares near-similar designs with its sister towers in neighbouring Morocco.


San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo, Sicilia, Italy
San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo, Sicilia, Italy

St. John of the Hermits (San Giovanni degli Eremiti) in Palermo on the southern Italian island of Sicily/Sicilia. Built in the 6th century, this church was converted into a mosque when the island fell into the hands of the Arabs 2 centuries later. The Norman conquest of Sicily in the 11th century helped to re-establish Christianity on the island, with the mosque being reconstructed as a church, a role it remains so till this day. Unlike the Spaniards, the Christian Normans were tolerant of the Arab Muslim culture until the outbreak of a series of Muslim rebellions which led to the eventual demise of Islam on the island in the mid-13th century.

to be continued...


Image credits:
Dbachmann | UK Flower Girl | GrahamColm | Fabos | lucioforterepubblica

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Air mattress

Have you guys heard of an air mattress before? I'm sure most of you did. Although it's not a new invention, it's probably one of the coolest things out there and a must-have for regular campers, picnickers, or even normal households!

These waterproof airbeds are made from durable nylon and are perfect for any setting that requires a bed or a comfy seat. They are so easy to set up and store so you won't have trouble moving it around. Isn't that great?

So guys, go check it now if you're interested! :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

My baby nephew

Baby nephew

Say hello to my baby nephew! He's about 5 months old now, and weighed 8 pounds plus at birth. Yup... Definitely a huge boy, and a chubby one too! :D

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Knowledge

Is it a trend or what, I notice that a lot of young generations have little or no interest in intellectual topics like history, geography, politics, etc. Many of them prefer to indulge in their endless shopping sprees and splurges than to spend a minute or two reading the latest current affairs or the important world events. Take some examples. A cousin of mine was completely oblivious to the notorious decapitations of hostages in Iraq which became headlines across the globe until I told her about it years later. *shock* One friend of mine didn't even know that Italy is a European country and that Rome is its capital. *double shock* Another friend once told me that the national election was none of his business because no matter what the outcome was, he'd not get affected. *triple shock*

Oh... Really?

Look... I'm not trying to laugh at their ignorance, but I'm actually saddened at the fact that they don't even bother to know or learn about the world that we're living in. Knowledge is not limited to those learned in school and textbooks. We should look beyond that. Even if we live to be 100, how much knowledge do you think we would be able to accumulate? Negligible!

Do you love history? I bet most of us don't. I particular hate the versions taught in school. But history is an important and inseparable element in the development of human race. Without history, we have no present. Without present, we have no future. Humans won't progress if they don't learn from their past and mistakes. And if we look closely at today's persisting main issues, many of them have some connections with events that happened in the past. Some can even trace back to centuries earlier!

Here's an animated video clip on the rise of the world's first empires to the fall of colonial imperialism in the 20th century within the span of 5000 years. Though the empires were mainly those centred around Europe and the Middle East and not all empires are included, it's still an interesting thing to watch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Getting a new pair of eyeglasses?

I've been thinking of changing to a new pair of spectacles lately since the one I have with me is at least 2 years old, not to mention the paint on its frame has already faded. With the arrival of Christmas in just a month, don't you think now is the best time to hunt for a brand new pair? Oh do say yes! :D

Then I happened to chance upon ZenniOptical.com which sells high quality yet affordable eyeglasses. I think I'm in luck! Now I can buy another pair for my mum too as a Christmas gift. She'll be glad to receive her gift earlier this year! :D

And you know what, ZenniOptical.com's stylish prescription glasses are available from as low as US$8! *gasp* Seriously, have you ever heard of glasses this cheap? No, right? Then this is certainly a great bargain for all of us! These glasses come with high quality stylish frame, thin and light 1.57 index lens, anti-scratch coating, full UV protection, and more. Besides, you'll get full guarantee for each pair of glasses you buy!

On ZenniOptical.com, there are also a wide range of frames and lens available, namely single vision lens, sunsensor/photochromic lens, tinted sunglasses lens, bifocal lens, and progressive lens. With all these selections, I'm sure you'll find one pair that suit you perfectly.

In case you need more assurance, here's an article from the prestigious Chicago Tribune which writes about these prescription eyeglasses:

Price ranges for glasses prove real eye-opener

Prescription eyeglasses are part medical product and part fashion accessory for the two-thirds of American adults who wear them at least occasionally. But no matter why you're buying a pair of specs, you're probably overpaying.

Americans spend $28.7 billion annually on vision products and services, according to the Vision Council of America. Eyeglass frames and lenses make up the largest portion, about $16 billion.

Many of the 147 million adult eyeglass wearers probably don't know they could be getting a better price because few shop around. Prices vary widely. People can pay more than $1,000 for a pair of glasses, while at least one Internet provider promises a pair for $8. An identical pair of eyeglasses costs from $178 to $390, depending on the optician or optometrist, according to research in seven U.S. cities by Consumers' Checkbook, a consumer information guide.

"There is big price variation from outlet to outlet for exactly the same lenses and frames," said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers' Checkbook, found online at Checkbook.org. Moreover, service at some low-cost suppliers was rated quite good, he said.

The single most important consumer tip for buying eyeglasses is to relax. Inexpensive glasses pose no health risk to your eyes. Even a bad pair of glasses -- lenses, specifically -- won't give you an eye infection or permanently damage your eyes, although they could cause headaches until they are fixed.

So you should consider comparison shopping, as opposed to simply buying whatever your eye doctor has to sell. In fact, a 1978 Federal Trade Commission ruling called the Ophthalmic Practices Rules says you have a right to take your prescription anywhere to buy glasses. So you're not locked in to buying from your doctor, where prices are likely to be highest.

Still, it's true that people receive the best service from their neighborhood optician or medical-center eye doctor, according to a survey of 92,000 readers of Consumer Reports magazine.

The decision about buying glasses generally comes down to where you buy them. You should decide based on four criteria: price, service, selection and speed of delivery. The simpler your prescription, with normal measurements and no bifocals and trifocals, the better luck you're likely to have buying from a cheaper source, said Gregory Good, professor of clinical optometry at Ohio State University. As with most products, you'll want to know about warranties and return policies.

Here are categories of eyewear outlets, with tips for buying glasses. Next week, we'll talk about saving money on contact lenses.

DOCTORS AND INDEPENDENTS. If you're willing to pay more for glasses in return for good service, buy from your eye doctor or an independent optical shop. They are also likely to carry brand-name frames, which is largely a personal fashion choice.

But the secret about name-brand frames is companies such as Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren don't make the frames, Consumer Reports said. They just license their names to a regular frame manufacturer.

"You can eliminate the ultrahigh-cost frame by looking for a stylish frame that doesn't have a brand name attached to it," said money-saving expert Clark Howard, an Atlanta author and radio-show host.

Buying eyewear could include a trust factor that might be higher with your doctor or a neighborhood optician.

CHAIN STORES. If you're willing to pay to have glasses quickly, try a chain store, such a LensCrafters, which promises glasses in about an hour. "The advantage is you walk in and an hour later you walk out with your glasses," Howard said. "A lot of people will pay for convenience."

Be sure to receive the discounts you're eligible for. For example, a discount with AAA membership might be more valuable than using your employer vision insurance. If you're in no hurry, wait for discount specials that run during the Christmas holiday season when few people are looking to buy new eyeglasses, Howard said in his book "Clark's Big Book of Bargains: Clark Howard Teaches You How to Get the Best Deals."

WAREHOUSE CLUBS. If price is important, try a warehouse club. Costco Wholesale Corp. scored very high with Consumer Reports readers and Consumers' Checkbook findings. BJ's Optical, found in Eastern states, also scored well. For some warehouse clubs, you don't need a membership to buy glasses.

ONLINE. If price is paramount, try an Internet merchant. Howard recently bought glasses from Zenni Optical, where you can buy glasses online for $8. Howard had a few add-ons that raised the total price to $41, which is still a bargain. He wears the glasses daily. "I don't know how these people do it, but it's a steal," Howard said. "The glasses are perfect. And the feedback I've gotten from [radio] listeners is they have good customer service."

One advantage of ultracheap glasses is that even if everything goes badly with your transaction, you're not out a lot of money. Of course, you won't have an optician to adjust the frames so they're comfortable and to ensure bifocals are aligned properly with your eyes. Reviews of some online retailers are available at EyeglassRetailerReviews.com and GlassyEyes.blogspot.com.

You could also try a hybrid plan, where you buy frames online and take them to an optician to have lenses inserted. You'll have to judge whether the hassle is worth the savings.

No matter where you buy eyeglasses, view lens add-ons skeptically. You'll be offered a variety of lens materials and coatings.

For add-ons that you can test out, ask to see samples of glasses with and without the feature to determine whether it's worthwhile.
So how's it? Have you been persuaded? Go get yourself a brand new pair for a refreshing new look this holiday season! ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some MVs to share...

Beyoncé ~ Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
[She's hot as always, and the diamond ring she flashes at the end of the MV is her actual wedding ring!]

Mariah Carey ~ Bye Bye
[My favourite from her album, E=MC².]

Elton John ~ Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
[A timeless tune. Brings back all those memories from the awesome Disney animated film, The Lion King.]

Elton John ~ Candle in the Wind
[A tribute to the legendary Marilyn Monroe. Another superb hit from one of music world's greatest icons.]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Balik kampung

I'm goin' home for my semester break tomorrow. This means yummy home-cooked food, free WiFi, comfortable bed, and what else? Ah... Can't wait for it.

Have a nice weekend guys!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Treadmills Guide

How many of you have been doing your regular runs or jogs on treadmills?

If you're one health-conscious individual who exercises regularly for the sake of health and appearance, good for you. But if you're one of those who have had plans to shed those extra layers of fat, investing in a good treadmill is probably the way to go. Consumers these days are truly spoilt for choice. There are so many treadmills that come in all shapes and sizes. But the problem is, how to make a choice?

Fret not, my dear friends. With treadmills review, you can safely ditch your headaches aside. All reviews on the site are categorized according to price tags, so you can narrow down your list and look for the ones that fall into your budget. Nifty, ain't it?

So guys... Let's go joggin'!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mum's best

Campus food sux. Not to mention expensive. For 1 whole month, I've had Gardenia bread with sandwich spread for my everyday lunch. 10 pieces in one go. How I miss my mum's cookin'...

Homecooked meal

What did you guys have for lunch today?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Troika . Sandy Island

One is a state-of-the-art luxury condominium designed by world-renowned British architect, Norman Foster. The best thing is, it's located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, offering magnificent views of the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL skyline as a whole. Its beautiful internal courtyard is shielded from the eyes of outsiders, and it also has a skybridge, just like the Twin Towers!


The other is a construction project consisting of 18 beautiful waterfront villas on a man-made island in our neighbour down south, Singapore. Nestled within a lush tropical setting designed by multi-award winning Australian landscape designer Jamie Durie, you can now turn your eyes away from Dubai's overwhelming madness. And oh, I love the contemporary design of the villas. Simple and elegant, yet fit for a king. Me likes!

Ah... If only I were a billionaire...

Links:
The Troika (Do watch the video presentation! It's totally breathtaking!)

I see the shore!

2 subjects down, 2 more to go. So far I've survived my finals quite well. Even better than my expectations. At least I did manage to complete all the questions despite my last-minute efforts, as always. I don't really care whether my answers were right or wrong, but this is really something that's worth celebrating. At least for me.

Next paper is on November 18th ~ Spanish. Dang! Hope I won't screw up my essay part by then. *fingers crossed*

Monday, October 27, 2008

M O V E D

My apologies for not updating this tiny space of mine in the past month.

But for now, I'm welcoming all of you to my brand new home: click

I won't be abandoning this blog, no, but it will serve me other purposes. And oh, don't forget to update your blogroll and feed!

Now you know what I've been up to lately besides my never-ending school assignments. ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yada yada bla bla bla...

So I’ve decided to take a break from my never-ending travel tales. Be warned there’s still more to come, but not for the time being. As for now, do allow me to spill out whatever that’s on my mind. You might wanna skip this entry, but do join along if you don’t mind my rants and ramblings. :P

  • Did you know that the Kingdom of Kedah (aka Kadaram), my home state, was founded by Maharaja Derbar Raja of Persia (modern-day Iran) circa AD 630? According to both the Kedah Annals (Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa) and the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu), the king was alleged to be a descendant of Alexander the Great, which could be true since the Achaemenid Persian Empire was completely destroyed by Alexander and his men centuries earlier. This probably means that the bloodline of the current Kedah royalty is descended from the legendary Macedonian conqueror. The Persian-Hindu dynasty ended with the adoption of Islam by Phra Ong Mahawangsa (who took the name Sultan Mudzafar Shah upon conversion) in the 12th century which thereafter marked the beginning of Malaysia's oldest sultanate which lasted to this day. Never mind that you didn't know all these, for I, a Kedahan, just knew about them quite recently. :P
  • I realize there are a lot of loanwords of Portuguese origin in the Malay language (a legacy of the 130-year Portuguese rule of Malacca) after I enrolled in the Spanish classes, since Spanish and Portuguese do share some similarities in pronunciation and vocabulary. Examples of these Malay words are: bendera (flag; Portuguese: bandeira; Spanish: bandera), sekolah (school; Portuguese: escola; Spanish: escuela), gereja (church; Portuguese: igreja; Spanish: iglesia), meja (table; Portuguese: mesa; Spanish: mesa), keju (cheese; Portuguese: queijo; Spanish: queso), bola (ball; Portuguese: bola; Spanish: bola), kemeja (shirt; Portuguese: camisa; Spanish: camisa), and tema (theme; Portuguese: tema; Spanish: tema).
  • And I just found out that the name Isabel is Spanish (probably Portuguese too) for Elizabeth! So the Spanish name for Queen Elizabeth II is Isabel II, or Reina Isabel II del Reino Unido (Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom) in full. :D
  • Have you guys heard about the rumours that the legendary Malay warrior, Hang Tuah, was actually not a Malay, but a Chinese? The same thing was said about his warrior mates too. It was alleged that the Government had since removed tales about them from the school curriculum. Hmm...
  • And why are there still no signs of the 916 agenda?
U hu! hu! from The Loaf, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
  • Had these wonderful U hu! hu! cup-sized cheesecakes from Tun Dr. Mahathir's The Loaf on my cuzzie's birthday. OMG... So yummy can die!
  • Watched The Other Boleyn Girl at GSC Queensbay Mall the other day to celebrate the end of my 2nd studio assignment. I first thought it was a new movie, but to find out it was shown in the West back in February and March. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which in turn helped to rekindle my interest in the history of Tudor England (Henry VIII, Katharine of Aragon, Anne & Mary Boleyn, Mary I, Elizabeth I, the English Reformation, and etc). Feel like buying the novel written by Philippa Gregory which was adapted into the film though I have yet to read the dozens of novels I bought years ago. *sweat*
Crêpe Gâteau, Paddington House of Pancakes, Queensbay Mall
  • Had my Crêpe Gâteau at Paddington House of Pancakes before the movie. My my... The portion was so big! Luckily I had a big appetite, else I wouldn't be able to finish it. It was very cheesy, and my only gripes were the stingy amount of fresh tomato sauce and the unpleasant taste of the olives. And did I mention that the restaurant menu was so freakin' thick? I was literally lost while reading it... There were so many mouth-watering choices to choose from! Definitely worth a revisit, but it'll not be so soon especially after this splurge.
  • I didn't even know the exact date of this year's Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 until someone informed me days after the celebration. Call me a Chinese... *sigh*
  • I especially love the Ramadan season. It's not that I'm gonna fast with the Muslims, but it's due to the fact that my hostel's cafeteria and sundry shop are open till 2 in the morning everyday for 1 whole month! Now I no longer need to worry about my midnight hungers. :P
  • Somebody buy me the gorgeous Nikon D90 with movie mode, please! OMG... OMG... OMG!
  • And last but not least, WHEN WILL THOSE ASSIGNMENTS EVER STOP COMIN' MY WAY? They're too much... Just simply TOO MUCH! Grrr...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

O Malacca, how great thou art!

Sony Ericsson K800i

In fact, it was so great that the Portuguese came from afar to conquer it, before being ceded to the Dutch and the British in the subsequent centuries. It was not until the year 1957, when this former centre of the mighty Sultanate of Malacca was ultimately returned to the people of the newly independent nation of Malaya (now Malaysia) after 446 years of European dominion.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca/Melaka features some of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in the Far East, a legacy that it inherited from its European colonial masters since its fateful fall to the Afonso de Albuquerque-led Portuguese invaders in the year 1511. As a result of this, Malacca has always been one of Malaysia's premier tourist destinations.

Believe it or not, I've never set foot on this piece of land before. Well... Not until quite recently. I've longed to visit this place for many years now and you wouldn't know how thrilled I was when I knew I was gonna make a trip there. Actually, my purpose of having this trip was to conduct a study on the design of a selected building in Malacca for one of my never-ending assignments. Since a friend of mine had also picked a site from there, we both agreed to go together by bus. Night tickets were bought so that we would reach there in the morning. It was an 8-hour bus ride from my hometown to Malacca, and luckily the bus seat was spacious and comfortable enough for me to endure through the long journey.


Stadthuys and Christ Church, Dutch Square, Malacca


Upon arrival, we were immediately blown away by the fine state of Malacca's ultra-modern bus terminal. Thinking of the ones in Penang and back at home, I couldn't help feeling sorry for them. And from there, we took a bus ride to our 1st destination, the Dutch Square. Surrounded by the Stadthuys (the Dutch municipal town hall) and the 18th-century Christ Church, the beautiful square was the administrative heart of Malacca during the Dutch colonial era. The Stadthuys was built shortly after the Dutch captured the area from the Portuguese, while the Christ Church was erected to commemorate their centennial occupation of Malacca. Initially painted white as with other Dutch buildings in the region, both the Stadthuys and the Christ Church were given a fresh coat of salmon-red paint after it became a British colony.


Ruins of St. Paul's Church, St. Paul's Hill, Malacca


A stone's throw away from the Dutch Square is the ruins of St. Paul's Church, which perched majestically on the peak of St. Paul's Hill. Originally built as a small Roman Catholic chapel by the Portuguese, it was later enlarged by the Society of Jesus. When the Dutch came, they changed its name to the current one and used it as their primary place of worship for over a century until their own church, the Christ Church was completed in the year 1753. Under the British rule, the church was turned into a storage for gunpowder and a lighthouse was added in front of it.


Ruins of St. Paul's Church, St. Paul's Hill, Malacca


Old tombstones of Portuguese and Dutch lineage can be found leaning against the church wall inside. The rooftop of the church has now long gone, leaving the church interiors exposed to the temper tantrums of Mother Nature.


View of Malacca Town and the Strait of Malacca from the peak of St. Paul's Hill
View of Malacca Town and the Strait of Malacca from the peak of St. Paul's Hill

St. Francis Xavier, the renowned 16th-century Jesuit missionary who helped to spread Christianity to the far-flung regions of the Orient, was temporarily interred here before being exhumed and shipped to his final resting place at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in the then Portuguese-ruled city of Goa, India. An open grave at the church now marks the place of his burial. In addition to that, a statue of him was erected in front of the church to commemorate this particular event.


A Famosa, Malacca


At the foot of the hill stands the old Portuguese fortress of A Famosa ("The Famous"), possibly the most recognizable icon of Malacca. What remains today is the Porta de Santiago ("Gate of St. James"), the famous fortress gate that you see on postcards and travel brochures. The gate underwent renovation under the Dutch and it was the British who ordered the destruction of the fort in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleonic France, whose expanding empire was Britain's greatest rival at the time. The surviving gate was spared from destruction on the timely intervention of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles on his visit to Malacca in the year 1810.

And no, it's not read as ei Famosa as it's often mispronounced as such, but rather ah (silent h) Famosa due to its Portuguese origin.


Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum, Malacca
Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum, the modern replica of the now-defunct palace of the Malaccan sultans is home to Malacca's Cultural Museum

Luckily, we had a friend in Malacca who was more than willing to drive us to other famous sites located beyond the city's historic quarter. We went to visit some of the country's oldest and most architecturally-unique mosques...


Masjid Kampung Hulu & Masjid Kampung Keling, Malacca
Featuring pagoda-like minarets and traditional Javanese pyramidal roofs, both Masjid Kampung Hulu (top) and Masjid Kampung Keling (bottom) were built in the 1700s during the Dutch colonial era

... ascended the stairs leading to the St. John's Fort...


St. John's Fort, St. John's Hill, Malacca
Built on the site of a former Portuguese chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, this Dutch fortress was used to guard against landward attacks from the restive Malays who sought to reclaim Malacca from the European invaders

... and back to the historic quarter for more sightseeing...


Flor de la Mar Maritime Museum; view of the European colonial remnants from the Menara Taming Sari; Jonker Street's quaint little archway
Replica of the sunken Portuguese galleon of Flor de la Mar ("Flower of the Sea"), now a maritime museum; view of the European colonial remnants from the Menara Taming Sari revolving observation tower; Jonker Street's quaint little archway

I found the small alleys at the historic quarter reminiscent of the ones in George Town, Penang. Perhaps it's a colonial thing? Regrettably, we didn't get to visit the famed Portuguese Settlement where many of the Portuguese Eurasian descendants (the Kristang/Serani community) are still living. Malacca, I'll be back!

And oh, did I tell you guys that it was just a 1-day trip? :P

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Burma Lane's twin gems

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It's been well over a month since the inscription of our very own George Town and Malacca on UNESCO's World Heritage List, where these 2 former British Straits Settlements were jointly inscribed as Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca. Now as a World Heritage Site, I foresee an influx of both domestic and international tourists to George Town to savour its unique cultural blend of East and West.


George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site


In July, my parents and I visited George Town's famed Burma Lane, where 2 imposing Buddhist temples flank the narrow lane on both sides. Though sharing the same Buddhist tradition, both temples were built in completely different architectural styles. On one side of the lane stands Penang's oldest Buddhist temple, the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple 缅佛寺. On the other side of the lane is the more modest-looking Wat Chaiyamangalaram 泰佛寺, a Thai Buddhist temple that houses a 33-metre long reclining Buddha, one of the longest of its kind in the world.


Burma Lane, George Town, Penang
Left: Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple; Right: Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Our last trip here was at least a decade ago, and I could hardly remember it. Due to our confusion with the street names (we mistook Burma Road for Burma Lane), we ended up taking multiple turns along Burma Road in search of the gilded temples. It was not until we asked for directions from a local that we realized we had made this stupid mistake. And the funniest thing is that Burma Lane was just around the corner, so narrow and inconspicuous that one could easily miss it.


Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, George Town, Penang


Founded in the year 1803, the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple is a stunning piece of religious landmark. I especially love its golden stupas and façades, which are typical of the Burmese temple architecture. Hey, you don't always get to see Burmese temples in this country, do you? Despite the tourist flocks, the temple remains a peaceful and tranquil sanctuary for city folks who desire a short break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The calm and serene atmosphere is certainly ideal for those looking for some inspirations in life.


Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, George Town, Penang


The Sāsana Vaṃsa Sima Shrine Hall is possibly the centrepiece of the temple. It was built in honour of the Sāsana Vaṃsa, a work by the 19th-century Burmese monk Paññyāsāmi that dealt with the history of the Buddhist order in his country. Once inside, visitors are immediately greeted with a huge statue of Buddha, depicted in the traditional Burmese style. The head and feet of the statue were made of carved marble stones. And yes, one can spot a lot of wood carvings in and around the hall. Very impressive indeed.


Wat Chaiyamangalaram, George Town, Penang


Wat Chaiyamangalaram, located just opposite the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, is another popular tourist haven. However, this Thai Buddhist temple pales significantly in comparison to the elaborate architectural style of its Burmese counterpart across the lane. The entrance to the temple's main hall is guarded fervently by sacred beasts. Most tourists come here for only 1 reason: to see the famous giant reclining Buddha. It's interesting to note that, despite Malaysia being officially Muslim, many of the world's tallest and longest Buddha statues can be found within the country, with quite a number of them found home in the Islamist-ruled state of Kelantan. Isn't this ironic?

Everyone knows Burma/Myanmar and Thailand are neighbours geographically. Those who haven't been to Burma Lane would definitely be surprised to find these 2 being neighbours again in George Town, Penang!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

English pronunciation

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What would you guys do if you happened to encounter an English word that you couldn't pronounce properly? For me, I'd make sure that I turn to my dictionary for help. It's been quite a few years now since I started this habit and I'm glad to say that I can read those weird-looking phonetic signs with relative ease. Nowadays, I have an electronic dictionary installed in my mobile phone and it's so useful and convenient whenever I have problems with the pronunciation of certain English words. And when you have this seemingly geeky habit, you'd discover that a lot of words that you used to think that you're pronouncing correctly are actually terribly wrong!

In Malaysia, we have our own unique (and technically incorrect) way of pronouncing English words. And I'm not talking about Manglish, mind you. What's worse is that even those teachers specializing in the English subject can commit a big mistake in this particular area. But who the heck cares, right? Malaysian students just accept everything that their teachers feed them without even bothering to analyse whether the things they say are true or otherwise.

Here are some common English words and how most Malaysians read them:

  • their
    Malaysians generally read it as thee-ya. Yes, even your teachers taught you so! But could you please take the trouble to look into your Oxford or any English dictionary that you have and you'll be amazed to find that the phonetic signs for this word is similar to the word there. So there you have it, it's pronounced the same way as the word there, not thee-ya.
  • Wednesday
    Surprise, surprise! You never thought that this word would pop up here, did you? Now how do you read this? I'm sure over 90% of Malaysians that you met read it the way the word is spelled ~ wed-nes-day/wen-nes-day. No? It's wenz-day.
  • question
    Yet another common word that most locals here got it wrong. Some better ones will read it as ques-shen while others (like a few of my secondary school teachers) will read it as ques-tian (similar to the Chinese character 电). And the correct pronunciation? ques-chen.
  • Christian
    Same theory as above: not chris-tian, but chris-chen.
  • Protestant
    Not prou-tes (as in testimonial)-tant, but pra-tes (as in greatest)-tant
  • Reformation
    Not ri-fo(r)-mei-shen, but re (as in remedy)-fe(r)-mei-shen.
  • debt
    Pronounced as det, not debt.
  • doubt
    Silent b too, hence daut.
  • receipt
    In this case, the p is silent, hence ri-sit.
  • karaoke
    Not ka-ra-o-kay, but ca (as in carry)-ri-o-ki.
  • procedure
    An overwhelming majority of school teachers and professors (yes, especially those teaching physics/chemistry/biology) got this wrong, not to say Malaysians as a whole. It's not prou-si-dear for goodness sake, but pre (e as in water)-si-jer.
  • penis
    I can't believe I'm actually typing this word on my blog! Jokes aside, it's not read as pe (as in penalty)-nis, but pi-nes (as in harness).
  • photography, geography, geometry, democracy, biology, etc
    Malaysians tend to read these words the way they read their counterparts in the Malay language. So no... Not foe-toe-gra-fi, but fe (as in fern)-ta-gre (e as in water)-fi; not geo-gra-fi, but gia-gre-fi; not geo-me (as in member)-tri, but gia-me (as in merge)-tri; not de-mo-kra-si, but di-ma-kre-si; and bla bla bla.

So... Have you all been pronouncing these words correctly? Any more words to share? ;)

¤ ¤ ¤

Books; dinner at Winter Warmers Coffee & Tea House, Gurney Plaza


Bought some books from MPH book store during its big sale. Before somebody starts questioning me why I bought a book on Islam (since there's an unfounded paranoia of Islam among the Malaysian Chinese populace), I shall take this initiative to defend my move. While I vehemently disagree with the atrocities perpetrated by its followers in the name of God and religion (i.e. jihad in the wrong sense) throughout the course of history, I appreciate the contributions of progressive Muslims for the sake of humanity. After all, the Muslims built marvellous monuments such as the exquisite Taj Mahal and Istanbul's Blue Mosque which we all get to admire today. Even the Europeans incorporated the pointed arch designs of Islamic architecture into what would become the Gothic architectural style during the Middle Ages.

That night, I had my dinner at Gurney Plaza's Winter Warmers Coffee & Tea House. It's decorated like a traditional English tea house with floral wallpapers and frilly white window lace, making it look remarkably different from the cafés beside it. I ordered a set dinner and my, I absolutely love my Veggie Cheese Bake! Tried their lavender cheesecake and lavender milkshake too out of plain curiosity. :P

Sunday, July 20, 2008

¿Qué tal?

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First and foremost, thank you guys for the birthday greetings on my blog, Friendster, Facebook, and also through SMS and Windows Live Messenger. They were very much appreciated! :)

I've been very busy with my chores since the commencement of the new semester at my university. Being in my 2nd year now, we've got a whole new batch of fresh faces joining our school. The new academic year has seen my faculty taking a rather surprising move that was totally different from the past: we've finally got an even representation of Malay and non-Malay students for the juniors! For my batch, the ratio of Malay to Chinese and minority students is 3:1. The new batch has got slightly more non-Malays with the Chinese students forming a slight majority in popular disciplines like Architecture and Quantity Surveying.

Needless to say, I, as a Malaysian Chinese, is of course thrilled to see this. You see... It's not entirely about numbers. What concerns me most is the future of this country's young generations. At least the school has now started to make an effort in recruiting more talented and potential young Malaysians (be it Malay or non-Malay) rather than striving to keep the Malays in the majority by allocating seats for those who don't even show signs of appreciation for it.


Spanish alphabet
Spanish alphabet

I did say I was gonna take French lessons before right? Alas, with a twist of fate, I ended up taking Spanish instead due to schedule clash. But hey, I absolutely love this language! In fact, I did plan to learn it alongside French. The variant I'm being taught is Castilian Spanish, the standard form of the language as promulgated by the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy), which in turn is slightly different from its Latin American counterparts in terms of grammar and pronunciation. Hopefully I'll be able to sing those flaming hot Latin songs and understand their lyrics in no time!

By the way, do you know that Spanish is currently the world's 2nd most-spoken language by native speakers (after Mandarin Chinese but ahead of English)? It's also an official language in 20 countries around the world and is the most popular foreign language in the United States. And in case you're wondering, the title for this entry reads How are you? in Spanish. ;)

Monday is my busiest day of the week. I've got lessons running from 9AM all the way to 7PM, without any break in between! *rolls eyes* I do hope that I won't collapse by the end of the day! Haha...

¤ ¤ ¤

Buddha at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

My dear cuzzie-cum-friend gave me this lovely postcard from her all-expense paid study trip to the Indonesian island of Java in May. I absolutely love postcards! Now you know what to give me on your next trip to a faraway land. *winks*

Thursday, July 17, 2008

21

21... An age that symbolizes the renaissance of my adulthood.

21... An age that grants me the power to vote in Malaysia's General Elections.

21... An age that allows me to enter the sin-filled casino at Genting Highlands (nah... I don't really gamble).

21... An age that moulds a brand new me!


I shall end this entry by wishing myself...

H A P P Y 21 s t B I R T H D A Y
生日快乐

Friday, July 04, 2008

XX Architectural Workshop: TranXXit

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From June 8th to 13th, my university played host to the 20th Architectural Workshop, an annual architecture event where students from over 20 schools of architecture in the country would converge at the host university. As usual, both public universities as well as private institutions were here to grace the week-long event. This time around, we had TranXXit as the main theme of the architectural workshop.


XX Architectural Workshop: TranXXit


DAY 1
  • Took 1 whole month to prepare for the event, and this was the day that I'd been waiting for!
  • Couldn't really hide my excitement upon seeing the arrival of the 1st batch of participants.
  • Gave some final touches to our preparation works.
  • Ice-breaking at night. Things went a lil' bit uncontrolled due to miscommunication between the programme organizer and the emcee. Certain elements of the ice-breaking segment were messed up as a result.
  • Some unruly participants! Felt like strangling them... >.<"

Day 1: Ice-breaking


DAY 2
  • Skipped the Opening Ceremony with my pals. Too lazy to walk to the hall from our dorm in early morning. Ended up getting some extra hours of sleep in our beds.
  • Catapults in action! Had fun seeing the participants enjoying the time of their lives.


  • Day 2


  • SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME when a huge centipede suddenly crawled up my foot!
  • Scared myself for the 2nd time when I thought I was being bitten by the damn creature after realizing that my foot was in a rare purplish tone. Thank goodness it was not what I'd thought earlier.
  • SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME for the 3rd time when another centipede (albeit smaller) crawled up my foot again! Flung my sandal off my foot in the shortest time possible without a second thought. Centipedes... Don't you ever dare to approach me again!
  • Skipped the Performance Night (Part I) due to tiredness. Kinda regret now because I heard it was good! But I managed to watch it on DVD later on though...

DAY 3
  • Attended a talk in the morning where prominent Malaysian architects were invited to give a speech on today's architecture. We were so honoured to have Architect Jimmy Lim (designer of Awana Genting) and Architect Laurence Loh (principal force behind the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion's restoration works which eventually won the project the Award of Excellence in the 2000 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation) amongst us here. Learned quite a lot from them. :)
  • Another game in the afternoon. Later, we moved indoors due to a horrendous downpour in the midst of the activity.
  • Watched a bit of the Performance Night (Part II) before heading back to the studio to get some works done.

DAY 4
  • Off to Batu Feringghi for some beach games!
  • Departed at 6 something in the morning and arrived at the beach to a cold drizzle.
  • Forced to work in the rain to get things done. *sighs*
  • The sun came out at last! And so the games began.


  • Day 4: Batu Feringghi trip


  • Sun, sea, sand. So divine!
  • Got my camera phone into action.
  • Decided to get some tan, and we ended up getting a minor sunburn. Ouch!
  • Took a short nap.
  • Packed our things up and said goodbye to the beach.

Day 4: Batu Feringghi trip


DAY 5
  • All of us gathered at the Fort Cornwallis in George Town.
  • 1st time visiting the fort interiors, and I finally got to see the statue of Penang's founder, Captain Francis Light.


  • Day 5: Penang Heritage Trail ~ Fort Cornwallis


  • And so we began the game of Heritage Tracking. It worked somewhat like the famed TV reality series, The Amazing Race.
  • Things went a bit wrong. Blame the committee members in charge of the game!
  • Visited the Sri Mariamman Temple along the way.
  • At night, we had the Grand Dinner and Closing Ceremony. Various awards were given away to the winners.
  • Disappointed that only the participants were entitled to the full course dinner prepared by Eden Catering. As for us committee members, we had economic rice. Sux!

DAY 6
  • Crossed the Penang Bridge to visit the White Horse Ceramic World Tiles Showroom in Butterworth.
  • Watched some product demonstrations.
  • To our surprise, they had prepared a buffet lunch for us. Yum!
  • Time to bid farewell to all the participants.
  • Glad that the 20th Architectural Workshop at USM was a success! :D

During that week, all participating institutions had their own exhibition booths set up in the designated rooms. Some of their works were pretty impressive and could make you go WOW!


Exhibition

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Find your love with 5 Star Dating!

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Contrary to the traditional matchmaking services, finding a lover on 5 Star Dating is simple and straightforward. You can search photo profiles to make your love connection with the one that you fall in love at first sight! Who knows he or she would end up becoming your spouse? :D And if you need some extra tips on love, you can always click on Dating Digest, which features useful articles like this and this.

In short, good luck in your quest for true love!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi

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PENANG HERITAGE TRAIL: PART V (FINALE)

If there's one place in Penang that can literally make you fall on your knees upon seeing it, then it must be Cannon Square's exquisite Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi 龙山堂邱公司.


Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, George Town, Penang


Completed in the year 1906 at the height of the Khoo clan's eminence in early Penang society, the Khoo Kongsi is widely hailed as Southeast Asia's grandest and most elaborate Straits Chinese clanhouse. Nearly everything was shipped from China: construction materials, master craftsmen, artisans, and sculptors. One of the trishaw drivers there even told us Indians were involved in the construction of the Khoo Kongsi. Being my top favourite of all the sights and sounds along the heritage trail, I'm dedicating this whole entry to this fantabulous place.


Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, George Town, Penang


Interestingly, the present building is actually a scaled-down version of the original clanhouse. The previous one was razed by fire (allegedly struck by lightning) on Chinese New Year's Eve, and legend has it that its ostentatious extravagance and resemblance to Beijing's Forbidden City imperial palace complex had provoked the wrath of the Chinese gods.


Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, George Town, Penang


I can't really find words to describe the splendour of the clanhouse. Not even pictures! In order to understand what I'm trying to convey, you must make a trip here and feel the aura yourself. The magnificence of the Khoo Kongsi is unparalleled of any heritage buildings I've seen thus far. The only thing I can say is that I was truly overwhelmed by its opulent showcase of classical Chinese architecture. Made me feel like singing Take My Breath Away...


Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, George Town, Penang


If you happen to miss the previous parts of my PENANG HERITAGE TRAIL travel series, do check these out...

PART I. : Francis Light's footsteps: Penang's colonial legacy
PART II : An island's love affair with Great Britain
PART III: Abodes where angels dwell
PART IV: Pearls of the Nanyang Dragons

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pearls of the Nanyang Dragons

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PENANG HERITAGE TRAIL: PART IV

Penang is like a twin of Singapore. You see... Both are island-states. Both are cosmopolitan and densely populated. Both were founded by the Brits. Both were former British Straits Settlements. Both boast a rich colonial and ethnic heritage. Even the Democratic Action Party (DAP) which holds the majority of seats in Penang traces its history back to the days when it was the Malaysian branch of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP). And most significant of all, Penang has a Chinese-majority population, just like Singapore.

According to the 2007 demographic statistics, ethnic Chinese accounted for 43.4% of Penang's total population, well over ethnic Malays (40.2%) and Indians (9.9%). This makes Penang the only state in Malaysia where ethnic Chinese forms a plurality. Indeed, you don't need more proof on this. Just walk around its vibrant capital and you'll understand why.

Despite its multicultural façade, George Town is essentially Chinese. Prosperous Chinese businesses and kopitiams (coffeeshops) flank the streets and alleyways of this city. In George Town, chances of you spotting a slitty-eyed Oriental face compared to an olive-tanned indigenous Malay are more than enough for you to strike a jackpot in lottery. Hence it's apt to call George Town the Chinatown of Penang.


Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, George Town, Penang


Born into a poor Hakka family in Tai Pu, Guangdong Province, China, Cheong Fatt Tze 张弼士 was one of the many rags-to-riches legends typical of the early Nanyang Chinese community. He migrated to the Indonesian island of Java in the mid-19th century and eventually moved his base to Penang after he prospered in his expanding trading empire. During his time in Penang, he brought in teams of master craftsmen from China to build for him this distinctive indigo-blue mansion that boasts 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases, and 220 vernacular timber louvre windows. Today, it's one of the 3 stately Chinese-style dwellings remaining outside of China, and is the only one in Southeast Asia. In the year 2000, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion won the most coveted Award of Excellence in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.


Han Jiang Ancestral Temple (aka Teochew Temple), George Town, Penang


Originally known as the Teochew Kongsi due to its affiliation with the Penang Teochew Association, the lovely 19th-century Han Jiang Ancestral Temple 韩江家庙 is the epitome of Chinese Teochew architecture. Decades of wear and tear in the past centuries finally culminated in a conservation effort to restore the temple to its former glory. In March 2005, Han Jiang Ancestral Temple reopened its doors to the public. The temple's successful haul of the Award of Merit in the 2006 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation made Penang a 2nd-time winner of the prestigious award. Being a Teochew (on my paternal side) and a Hakka (on my maternal side), I can't help but to feel proud of my heritage. It means a lot when your ancestry and heritage are recognized by a heavyweight international organization like UNESCO.


Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Penang Base, 120 Armenian Street, George Town, Penang


Hidden in a row of brightly-hued pre-war shophouses is the 120 Armenian Street. Inconspicuous at 1st sight, it was here that the Father of Modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen 孙逸仙/孙中山/孙文 and his followers planned the unsuccessful 1911 Canton Uprising against the Qing Dynasty of Imperial China. It was also here that Dr. Sun founded Malaysia's longest-running Chinese-language daily, Kwong Wah Yit Poh 光华日报, as a vehicle for spreading nationalistic propaganda among the local Chinese community. It's unbelievable that a humble place like this could give birth to a great revolutionary idea that would eventually put an abrupt end to China's 2-millenia run of successive imperial dynasties. The rest, as they say, is history.


Lum Yeong Tong Yap Temple (aka Yap Kongsi), George Town, Penang


Penang is home to a number of prominent Chinese kongsis 公司 (clan associations), most of which were founded based on a common surname or dialect group. Otherwise known as the Yap Kongsi, the Lum Yeong Tong Yap Temple 南阳堂叶氏宗祠 was built by the Yap clan who hailed from China's Fujian Province. There are 2 'Yap Temples', both internally connected. The ornamented temple building on the corner is dedicated to the clan's patron deities while the pearl-white Straits Eclectic-style building adjacent to it houses their ancestral tablets.


Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple, George Town, Penang


More famously known as the Cheah Kongsi, the Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong 谢氏世德堂 is the oldest of Penang's Straits Chinese clan associations. Completed in the year 1870, the Cheah Kongsi is a hybrid of a Chinese temple, a Chinese courtyard mansion, and a colonial bungalow. The most intriguing things about this place are its entrance and exit. Basically, there's this scarlet-red wall that runs between the kongsi's entrance and exit so that the one going in can never meet the one going out. Interesting huh?


Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong (aka Cheah Kongsi), George Town, Penang


finale's coming up next...


If you happen to miss the previous parts of my PENANG HERITAGE TRAIL travel series, do check these out...

PART I. : Francis Light's footsteps: Penang's colonial legacy
PART II : An island's love affair with Great Britain
PART III: Abodes where angels dwell