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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.

Pann – treat of the real thing

pann © Adrian Cheah

Literally translated from Tamil, 'otthu kadai' – that quaint little wooden roadside shop specking the streets of George Town – means "small shop".

The 'otthu kadai' is a pretty interesting emporium – tiny, compact and mottled with a collection of different things. Each of these small convenience shops is a veritable miniature open-air mart selling an exhaustive range of items in an incredibly confined space.

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Bersama Lima - Five Together: Celebrating 50 Years and Beyond

Research and writing by Keith Hockton
Editing and indexing by Sharon Giraud
Book design and layout by Adrian Cheah


Welcome to, ‘Bersama Lima – Celebrating 50 Years and Beyond’, the story of the fifty years of multilateral cooperation between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom under the Five Power Defence Arrangements. ‘Bersama Lima – Celebrating 50 Years and Beyond’ is intended to walk you through the Five Power Defence Arrangements history interwoven with personal recollections and finishing with a view of what lies ahead. A fitting tribute to a proud history and a bright future.

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Little India of George Town

Little India, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Not many visitors and tourists to George Town's famous Little India enclave know that the area's name was adopted by the local authorities only nine years ago.

But whatever it is named, visitors hardly fail to sense the remarkable nostalgic charm and almost innocent simplicity of the area. And no wonder. Little India breathes a rich living history that spans over two centuries. The culture here throbs with antiquity and tradition.

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Coconut water – the perfect tonic for the tropics

Coconut © Adrian Cheah

On our way back from Pantai Kerachut one scorching afternoon, my friends and I were contemplating what to order to quench our thirst after an exhausting hike, aside from the obvious choices of carbonated drinks. After some deliberation, we decided to go with one of nature's wonders – fresh coconut water that is easily available in Penang. Thus, from the exit of the national park in Teluk Bahang, we made haste to the nearest nondescript roadside stall offering just that.

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Ten Thousand Prosperities: The Story of Ban Hin Lee Bank

Quah Seng Sun
Book design and layout by Adrian Cheah
Cover design by Peta Yeap Liew Shih

Ten Thousand Prosperities


A great part of my working life has been spent in the banking industry. In particular, 23 years of a total 24 were in the employment of Ban Hin Lee Bank Berhad, from 1977 till 2000.

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The floral bath (mandi bunga) ritual

floral bath © Adrian Cheah

The Russian musician Igor Stravinsky might have composed Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rites of Spring) as an exploration of nature and the rituals of renewal and sacrifice, but one could safely conjecture that the ritual and ceremony of the Malaysian floral bath was created for more personal (and less lofty) reasons. The two may be worlds apart, but both Stravinsky and the local bomoh share one thing – invoking the power and the mystery of nature and the elements in their work.

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Lies That Blind

A Novel of Late 18th Century Penang

E.S. Alexander
Book cover design by Adrian Cheah

Lies That Blind

What would you risk to avoid obscurity?

Malaya, 1788.
Aspiring journalist Jim Lloyd jeopardises his future in ways he never could have imagined. He risks his wealthy father’s wrath to ride the coat-tails of Captain Francis Light, an adventurer governing the East India Company’s new trading settlement on Penang.

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History of Little India

Little India, Penang © Adrian Cheah

This meticulously regimented network was among the earliest parts of George Town planned under the administration of Sir Francis Light, the English founder of Penang. The area is hence now referred to as the "Francis Light Grid" – a rectangular network bordered by Leith Street, Beach Street, Chulia Street and Pitt Street (now Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling).

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"Roti! Roti!", the lure of the bread man

Penang bread man © Adrian Cheah

The 'roti man' or bread vendor is quite a common sight in Penang. They are usually on their rounds in the mornings and from tea time, plying their stock-in-trade in a road contraption that resembles a hybrid between a motorcycle and a 'meat safe'.

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Designing “Just for the love of it: Popular Music in Penang, 1930s–1960s”

Imagine the process of laying out a magazine and preparing the artwork for printing without desktop publishing capabilities. Everything was not at your fingertips and the world of graphic design involved Letraset font catalogues, Pantone charts, typesetting services, bromides, set squares, Cow Gum, paste-up work and films. Those were the good olde days of graphic design before the digital era took over.

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The versatile French toast that is easy to make

French toast © Adrian Cheah

When my seven siblings and I were young, my late Dad would cook up a storm for breakfast, having many hungry mouths to feed. French toast was one of his popular breakfast dishes.

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How easy it is to make creative sandwiches in Penang!

creative sandwiches © Adrian Cheah

Let us make some creative sandwiches celebrating Penang's diverse culinary culture. Well, there are no rules here except good food between two slices of bread, bun, mantou or even puff pastry. And being in Penang, the choices of fillings available are aplenty.

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