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All about Penang & more

Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. Here are stories about Penang and more.

Jalur Gemilang – the stripes of glory

Jalur Gemilang © Adrian Cheah

Behind the simple and slightly derivative design, the Malaysian flag has, since its creation, served as a silent testament to the country's heritage and cultural mix, and upholding cherished values like freedom and justice.

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Malaysians – unique and united

Malaysians © Adrian Cheah

"The melting pot or mixing bowl images do not provide an adequate picture of Penang. The kaleidoscope, with its shifting patterns of colourful pieces, overlapping sometimes to make new shapes, some larger in one frame and smaller in others, offers a better metaphor for Penang's multi-ethnic population and its changes over time." – Sarnia Hayes Hoyt Old Penang 1991

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Penang's Cina Wayang (Chinese opera) – for gods and ghosts

Chinese opera © Adrian Cheah

Growing up in Ayer Itam in the 70s was so much fun. Living near the wet market was even better since you could buy food easily any time of the day. Back then, we would bring our own tiffin carriers, even supply our own eggs to the char koay kak lady or Pak Dollah, the mee goreng uncle. Ah Heng, the rojak man, parked his cart in front of my house. He would string halved green mangoes on a lidi (coconut leaf) stick and top them with rojak sauce and crushed peanuts. Another favourite of mine was the sliced bangkwang (turnip), also topped with rojak sauce and crushed peanuts. Ah Heng eventually gave up the rojak business and sold koay teow thng. Everybody knew everybody back then. News even travelled faster than a speeding bullet. Before I could reach home, my mum would have known what I was up to. Mind you, that was when my house did not even have a telephone.

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Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant, a quaint eatery serving pho-nomenal Vietnamese food

Penang Vietnamese food © Adrian Cheah

I love criss-crossing Penang on my motorcycle because it avoids two major headaches –  traffic jams and parking problems. Thus, it is easy for me the head down to Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant (formerly Que Huong Toi Enterprise) to slurp up a bowl of delicious phở bò (Vietnamese beef koay teow soup). 

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The delicious 4-course set lunch at Le Venue

Le Venue © Adrian Cheah

My friends and I had a wonderful birthday celebration for Dorothy Wang at Le Venue. The hearty four courses in the set lunch were all elegantly plated, rendering a visual feast whetting the appetite. As always, Chef Petr Fehér's creations using quality ingredients were truly scrumptious. Let us take a closer look at each course.

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Scrumptiously healthy breakfast offerings at EMILY Darling Cafe

EMILY Darling Cafe © Adrian Cheah

EMILY Darling Cafe starts operations at 8:00 am. It was only a natural progression that the cafe added some breakfast options to its list of tempting pastries and cakes. I was there that Saturday morning, 21 May 2022, the first morning that three breakfast offerings were made available. Staying at E&O Hotel that weekend, I had a pleasant stroll along Penang Road to the cafe.

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Our bold and beautiful red Bunga Raya

Bunga Raya © Adrian Cheah

Let us pause for a moment and look at the name of Malaysia's national flower – Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. The English word “hibiscus” derives from the Greek word “hibiskos.” The flower received its name from the renowned physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40 – 90 AD). He was the author of "De Materia Medica", a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances. Dioscorides was also a botanist.

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Merdeka – the National Day of Malaysia

Merdeka

In 1956, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj led a delegation to London to hold talks with the British Government concerning independence for Malaya.

The Malayan delegation, comprising of four representatives of the Malay Rulers and four Alliance representatives, convinced the British Government to set a date for independence: 31 August 1957.

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Hungry Ghosts roam the Streets of George Town

Hungry Ghosts © Adrian Cheah

The Hungry Ghost Festival, locally known as Phor Thor, is an annual month-long celebration observed by the Chinese communities not only in Penang but also throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Phuket.

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P. Ramlee: Where lies the heart of a star

P. Ramlee © Penang House of Music

Every genius has his roots. Each marvel springs from a source.

In 1925, a young sailor from Lho' Seumawe in Acheh by the name of Teuku Nyak Puteh settled in Penang to marry a quiet lass from Butterworth, Che Mah Hussein.

As the modest couple began a new life in a village, it is unlikely they could in their wildest dreams have imagined that they would have a son who would someday become a legend.

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Capturing the opulence of bygone days – the Nyonya art of Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh embarked on a journey of discovery of identity and self-worth. It was a long road but with a lot of encouragement and moral support.

In the mid-eighties Sylvia was a member of the Arts and Craft Guild in which she held a committee member position for two years. This Guild was under the umbrella of the American Association.

In 1986, Ahmad Khalid Yusoff, the president of the Persatuan Perlukis Malaysia invited Sylvia to become a member. She was a life member of this Association.

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An irresistible dim sum encounter at Bao Teck Tea House

Bao Teck Tea House © Adrian Cheah

Dim sum ("touch the heart" in Chinese) refers to an array of dainty bite-size snacks enjoyed all over the world, especially among the Chinese communities. In Penang, dim sum is available for breakfast, lunch and even dinner from push-cart vendors, coffee shops, tea houses, restaurants and fine-dining establishments. Although the price difference can vary dramatically, there are many options for one to enjoy dim sum according to one's budget.

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