Batik Printing Workshop At Muzium Negara

Malaysia - National Museum

If a visitor to KL asked me to tell him about the exhibits in Muzium Negara, I wouldn’t have been able to — my last visit there was when I was still in the single-digit ages. So when an email invitation to the museum for a batik printing workshop showed up in my mailbox, it came as a welcome surprise, and a good chance to revisit the museum.

The event was organised by Tripovo, an online travel platform that offers personalised itineraries and holidays, to tie-in with creating awareness of International Museum Day on 18 May. Looking at my email, I thought that the time of the event seemed rather long — were we really going to be working on batik printing for five hours? This was a serious workshop! — but it turned out there was a reason: it was actually a museum tour and batik workshop that we were attending that day.

The only real memory of the museum from my childhood was that the lights in every room seemed so dim. That part hasn’t really changed, creating the perfect setting for a haunted museum scenario. Now there’s an idea for Halloween, or Hungry Ghost Festival…but perhaps the idea of turning a museum into a fun space might be too much for locals right now. During this visit, we were accompanied by a tour guide, the knowledgeable Mr. Yee. Continue reading

Five Things Not To Miss In Ipoh Town

Ipoh skyline

Ipoh skyline

Everyone has a hometown outside Kuala Lumpur that they usually balik kampung during festivals and holidays. I was always a little bit jealous when friends said they were going out of town to see relatives in whichever state their parents families were at. While they were having a rowdy good time with everyone in their hometown, my family and I were one of the families left in an empty town. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds really — we liked having the roads to ourselves, and my brothers and I got to practice taekwondo moves right in the middle of main roads with no one to run us down.

If anyone asked, my closest claim to a “hometown” would be Ipoh. I was born in Hospital Fatimah and spent my first year of life on earth in Ipoh. Of course I don’t remember anything — or did I? I have fuzzy memories of facing upwards, looking at fluorescent lights, a fan spinning overhead and those patterned air vents built into the walls — but if we did join the balik kampung crowd, it was usually to Ipoh to visit my parents’ friends. Continue reading

Seven Best Travel Moments of 2015

Without going too much into the details, 2015 has been quite hectic, unexpected and rewarding all at the same time. I look forward to more this year, especially with travel in the ASEAN region, and maybe even Europe. But before I close the door completely on 2015, I’ll take a quick look back at some notable and enlightening  personal moments in travel. Here’s to many more in the coming year. 🙂

1| Discovered beautiful phalaenopsis orchids in Genting Highlands for under RM30

Orchids I must have read about Waltex Biotec, an orchid farm with the largest selection of moth-shaped orchids, from another travel blog out there on the websphere, sometime in July. Use Waze to find the entrance, because it’s easy to miss when making your way down from Genting. The farm is quite kampung and you might be the only visitors there, but the orchids are such a beautiful souvenir to bring back from the highlands, and will look gorgeous in your home. Full bloom plants are very reasonable, starting at RM25 each.

Continue reading

Winning with Slot Machine

Slot Machine

I wouldn’t have imagined that a trip to Bangkok would turn me on to a really good band, but it did — local rockers called Slot Machine performed at the exclusive EDM club, DoNotDisturb and I happened to be there. At first glance, based on their preppy fashion sense, anyone would have been forgiven for thinking we were in for an hour of shoegazing tunes, but not at all. These boys are more U2-meets-Beatles meets-All American Rejects, and they sounded great! The lead singer must have lungs of a whale — his vocals were practically effortless. In melody, the Thai language sounds really lovely too.

It seems like there has been a spurt in good regional alternative sounding bands — not sure about the Bangkok scene; definitely in Kuala Lumpur — but what I really like about Slot Machine, apart from their muscular and energetic performance, Continue reading

Come to Mari Market in Bangsar

Just when I was beginning to write off new “bazaars” and “artisan markets” around town as unworthy of mentioning, a friend tags me on Facebook to the page for Mari Market. Still, it wasn’t until I saw it mentioned in TimeOut KL that it really caught my interest, and I’m glad I went to check it out!

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The problem with other markets is that there’s often a mix of vendors — some who sell original, handmade goods or edibles, whilst others could be your typical stall-in-the-mall vendor, peddling made-in-China cheapos. If you don’t already know, I’ll tell you why this is a problem: 1) It dilutes the authenticity of vendors who create their own products, to have stalls nearby selling mass-produced goods competing with them for customers; 2) because mass-produced vendors have a handy excuse to charge artisan prices for non-artisan goods — and that is an utter SHITE business practice, to both customers and genuine artisan vendors.

But there was none of that at Mari Market, or at least, a whole lot less. Every vendor was a local entrepreneur selling something they believed in and crafted from scratch. Whether it was the booth selling jars of organic belacan or the lady who could build your portrait out of coffee cup stains, everything was a joy to discover and browse. Mari Market successfully replicates the atmosphere of a European/American crafts market, but with a distinct local flavour (a coconut water stand, organic chili padi and papaya preserves are things you won’ find in an American farmer’s market.)

I’m told that Mari Market is held every four months, but this is the first one I’ve been to since coming back a year ago. I hope it runs again soon!

Scenes from the Lunar New Year Celebrations

In a snap, Chinese New Year celebrations have come and gone. This year, my family kept it so low-key at the house, I could have blinked and missed it all.

The craving for some noisy festivities sent me in search of places around town with a more festive vibe, which is how I found Thean Hou Temple on Robson Hill. It’s a Taoist temple that’s only about 30 years old and built by my Hainanese clan folk, and has become one of the most photographed Chinese temples in the country.

Plus, working in the media means getting invitations to Lunar New Year parties hosted by companies looking to keep good ties with the press so I got to “lo hei” yee sang (a Malaysian/Singaporean salad served in restaurants during the New Year) in a large and merry group. Continue reading