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Travel

The 9 Must-Visit Temples in Bangkok

Finding out the exact number of temples in Bangkok is impossible. But, you can’t go to the City of Angels and not visit a temple! Check out some of these temples you should visit in Bangkok.

Wat Phra Kaew

It is commonly known in English as the Temple of Emerald Buddha and officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram. It is regarded as the most important and sacred Buddist temple in Thailand. It is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace complex. The complex consists of a number of buildings within the precincts of the Grand Palace. It houses the statue of the Emerald Buddha, which is venerated as the country’s palladium. It is one of Bangkok’s most standout attractions with a mix of golden spires, intricately designed figures and colourful buildings. 

Wat Pho

The official name of Wat Pho is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan. Meanwhile, the more commonly known name, Wat Pho, is a contraction of its older name, Wat Photaram. It is also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha as it houses the largest collection of Buddha images and a 46m long, covered in gold leaf reclining Buddha in Thailand. The recommended sites in Wat Pho include the exquisite murals, 4 chapels that contain 394 gilded Buddha images, long lines of golden statues from different parts of Thailand sitting in the lotus position. 

Wat Arun

Wat Arun, also known as Wat Chaeng by the locals. It is located on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu God Aruna, which is often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Hence, Temple of Dawn is the nickname of Wat Arun. It is absolutely stunning at sunset, especially when lit up at night. Nevertheless, the quietest time to visit is early morning, before the crowds. The prang (spire) by the Chao Phraya is one of Bangkok’s world-famous landmarks. It is beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed into intricate patterns.

Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit houses an impressive 3m-tall, 5,500kg, solid-gold statue of a seated Buddha. It is the world’s largest solid Gold Buddha image. Hence, it is also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha. The statue was covered with a layer of stucco and coloured glass to conceal its true value at one point in the history. It remained this condition for almost 200 years, ending up as what was then a pagoda of minor significance. Then, the plaster was chipped off and the gold revealed during the relocation of the statue in 1955.

Wat Saket

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan is usually shortened to Wat Saket. Also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount, it is an Ayutthaya-era shrine with a gleaming gold chedi in Bangkok. Wat Saket occupies an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. The Golden Mount is a sacred pilgrimage site during the week-long worshipping period in November. Getting to the top requires a climb up some 300 steps that encircle the chedi like a loosely coiled snake. Once you arrive at the top of Wat Saket, you will be surrounded by a wall of bells and panoramas of Bangkok Old Town.

Loha Prasat

Loha Prasat is located on the ground of Wat Ratchanatdaram in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok. Loha Prasat means iron castle or iron monastery, hence, it is also known as the “Metal Castle”.  Inspired by two similar temples in India and Sri Lanka, the temple consists of five towers, of which the outer, middle, and the center towers contain large black iron spires. Loha Prasat is supporting 37 metal spires that represent the 37 virtues toward enlightenment.

Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat Thepwararam is a royal temple of the first grade. It is one of the oldest and most impressive Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It is better known for the red Giant Swing that stands at its entrance. Wat Suthat features an elegant chapel with a sweeping roof, magnificent wall murals and hand-carved teakwood door panels. Visitors can easily combine a visit to Wat Suthat with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, The Grand Palace, and Wat Pho as these temples are all located in Bangkok’s Old Town.

Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram is also known as The Marble Temple or Wat Ben. It is one of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples. Besides, it is classified as a first class Royal temple. It is honourably named by King Rama IV meaning “the Monastery of the fifth King near Dusit Palace”. The temple is a magnificent example of the Bangkok architectural style with its multi tiered roofs, elegant chofahs (a Lao and Thai architectural decorative ornament that adorns the top at the end of wat and palace roofs, resembles a tall thin bird and looks hornlike). Furthermore, the temple’s marble ubosot was imported from Italy.  

Erawan Shrine

Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in downtown Bangkok. It houses a statue of Phra Phrom – the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation known for His kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Located in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, at the corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road, it is one of the most popular Hindu shrines where you will often see crowds paying their respects.

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Street Stories

Street Stories: Light Street

Story of the Street

Light Street or Lebuh Light is the oldest road in the city of George Town in Penang. It was named after Captain Francis Light, the Founder of Penang and first Superintendent of the colony. Light Street was created between 1786 and 1787, soon after the founding of George Town. The street is called Po-lê-khaú (玻理口) in Hokkien which meant the entrance to the Police Court (now the Legislative Assembly buildings). This is because the State Assembly Building at Light Street was once used as part of the Central Police Station. 

It was the port settlement’s first street. Many of early administrative government buildings and European mansions were built along the street. After Captain Francis Light first landed on Fort Cornwallis on 17 July 1786, he ordered his crew to fire silver dollars from the ship’s cannons into the jungle. Then, the Padang at The Esplanade was created. After that, he created Light Street, which was named after himself.

Administrative and judicial buildings were built along Light Street by the British, gradually turning it into the administrative heart of Penang. For the first half of the 19th century, Light Street was occupied by East India Company soldiers, policemen and British administrators. Besides, Light and his business partner, James Scott had their residences built along Light Street too.   

Significant Buildings

Convent Light Street
Convent Light Street Penang  Street Stories: Light Street haha 1 1 1024x968

Convent Light Street is the oldest girls’ school in Southeast Asia. It was founded by French Catholic nuns of the Holy Infant Jesus Mission in 1852. There was a group of five nuns who travelled from France to Singapore to form a Catholic institution. At the request of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Boucho in George Town, three nuns from the group then sailed from Singapore to Penang. 

Convent Light Street Penang  Street Stories: Light Street pic1 1 1 1024x510

The three nuns were first settled inside an attap hut. With the increase in the number of children, they had to find a new place for their convent. Then, Mother St. Mathilde found the Government House which served as the residence of Captain Francis Light in 1786. In 1859, the nuns bought the Anglo-Indian style building and the surrounding seven-acre compound. A field of the compound was later sold to St. Xavier’s Institution, the oldest Catholic boys’ school in Malaysia. A wall separating the field from Convent Light Street was constructed. It now serves as the boundary between the Core Zone and the Buffer Zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The convent continued to expand until 1934. During the past, it was one of the most highly regarded missionary schools in Penang. Today, Convent Light Street has fully adopted the standardised Malaysian education system.

Supreme Court of Penang

The Supreme Court of Penang had been established inside Fort Cornwallis in 1808 and was subsequently relocated to its present location at Light Street in 1809. It is the oldest high court in Malaysia. Initially, the original court building was a wooden structure with an attap roof. The current Palladian-style building was built between 1901 and 1905. It continues to serve as the Supreme Court for Penang. Furthermore, its establishment also marked the introduction of a modern legal system in Malaya, which evolved to become the current judiciary of Malaysia. 

Logan Memorial
Logan Memorial Penang  Street Stories: Light Street haha 11

There is another court building constructed across Light Street opposite the Supreme Court. It houses the Sessions and Magistrates Court. The Logan Memorial is a Gothic-styled monument erected in front of the new Sessions and Magistrates Court. It was built in the memory of James Richardson Logan, a Scottish lawyer who successfully fought for the rights of Asians in colonial Penang.

Logan Memorial Penang  Street Stories: Light Street haha 6

The monument was erected in 1873 within the premises of the Supreme Court of Penang. It was moved by the Japanese during WWII. It remained within the Supreme Court until 2007 and was relocated to its present location. The monument consists of four female figures, with each facing one of the four directions: 

  • Justice, with a sword, faces northeast (overlook the Sessions and Magistrates Court)
  • Fortitude, with a club, faces northwest (up Light Street towards Convent Light Street)
  • Wisdom, with an open book, faces southwest (overlook the Supreme Court of Penang)
  • Temperance, with a chain and bit, faces southeast (down Light Street)
Dewan Sri Pinang

Dewan Sri Pinang is a multi-purpose auditorium located between Light Street and Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah. It was built in the early 1970s in the Brutalist architectural style generated from the modernist architectural movement. It is one of the most popular auditoriums in Penang that serves as a venue for conferral of state titles, funerals of public figures, live performances, international theatre productions and even wedding dinners.

Bank Negara Malaysia Building
Bank Negara Malaysia Branch in Penang  Street Stories: Light Street haha 10 1024x733

Bank Negara Malaysia Building is a modern building located on Light Street at the junction with Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). The building was built in the Brutalist architecture style in the late 1970’s. It houses the Penang branch of Malaysian central bank. 

Chung Siew Yin Building
Wisma Great Eastern (Chung Siew Yin Building)  Street Stories: Light Street haha 13 1024x600

Chung Siew Yin Building is a double-storey Art-Deco style house built in the mid-19th century. It was the residence of Chung Siew Yin, the daughter of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, who was one of the richest men on Penang Island during that period of time. An Art-Deco style wing was added to the building in the mid-20th century. It was designed to merge with the older architecture of Chung Siew Yin Building. Wisma Great Eastern now comprises the both original buildings. It is the Penang headquarters of Great Eastern Life Assurance Co. Ltd., which is currently the largest Singapore-based insurance company and the oldest insurance firm in Asia. 

Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce 槟州中华总商会
Penang Chinese Chamber Of Commerce  Street Stories: Light Street haha 15 1024x987

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) was established in 1903. It was Malaysia’s first Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It played a vital role to safeguard Penang’s Chinese commercial interests. The PCCC was founded to supervise business transactions amongst the Chinese in Penang with common business activities. It is also to form a united front for Penang’s Chinese merchants to exert pressure on the Straits Settlements government. The PCCC is currently one of the strongest commercial institutions in Malaysia.

Penang Chinese Chamber Of Commerce  Street Stories: Light Street lolo 1

The building of PCCC was constructed in 1928. The first phase was designed by a local architect, Chew Eng Eam in 1926. Then, the second phase, which is the western wing, was designed later in the Art Moderne style (combining both Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles). Both wings have been restored in 2016 and the western wing has been converted into The Chambers Hotel.

Foo Tye Sin Mansion
Hong Leong Bank (Foo Tye Sin Mansion)  Street Stories: Light Street haha 16 1024x713

It was one of the first non-European mansions to be erected along Light Street. Foo Tye Sin Mansion was built around the mid-19th century. Foo Tye Sin was a Justice of the Peace and an influential community leader during that period of time. He was a Hakka born in Penang and educated at St. Xavier’s Institution and the Penang Free School. Tye Sin Street is named after him. One of the appealing features of Foo Tye Sin Mansion is the fourth storey lookout tower at the back. However, the mansion is now converted into a branch of a local bank.

State Assembly Building
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The State Assembly Building is a public building built in the early 19th century. This Anglo-Indian classical style building was originally served as part of George Town’s Central Police Station. A block was added in 1890 to house the administrative offices of the Straits Settlements Police Force. Then, the building was converted into the current home of the State Legislative Assembly in 1959. Meanwhile, the additional block is now used separately as the Immigration Department Building. This Anglo-Indian style building contains elements of classical Greek and Palladian architecture. For instance, the massive white colonnades supporting a large pediment were inspired by ancient Greek temples.

Immigration Department Building
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Immigration Department Building is an impressive double-storey building. As mentioned above, it was built in 1890 and located within the compound of the Central Police Station. It was originally intended to house the administrative office of the police force. However, it now houses the Penang Island office of the Malaysian Immigration Department. In addition, the building has a porte cochere facing north.

Jubilee Clock Tower
Street Stories: Light Street haha 21

The Jubilee Clock Tower which is also known as the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. This famous clock tower was commissioned in 1897 by a Penang millionaire, Cheah Chen Eok. This clock tower was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Besides, it is also a testament to Penang’s royal connections. This Moorish style clock tower stands 60ft-high, with each foot representing a year of the Queen’s 60-year reign. Due to the impact from bombs being dropped around it during WWII, the Jubilee Clock Tower is slightly tilted. In fact, it is hardly noticeable.

Pinang Fountain (Light Street Roundabout)
Pinang Fountain (Light Street Roundabout)  Street Stories: Light Street haha 28

The Pinang Fountain on the Light Street Roundabout is a metal, betel nut-shaped fountain. It was designed to symbolise Penang Island as Penang Island was often referred to as the island of betel nuts. The metal structure is 4.8 metre tall and a spray of water comes up from inside the structure. 

Where to Stay

The Chambers Hotel
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The Chambers Hotel is a small independent boutique hotel located at the western wing of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The hotel features two types of rooms, which are Deluxe Room with one large double bed and Premier Room with two double beds. Besides, the hotel also features a terrace and views of the sea.  

What to Eat

Constant Gardener Coffee
Constant Gardener Coffee in the building of Penang Chinese Chamber Of Commerce  Street Stories: Light Street haha 14 1024x478

Constant Gardener Coffee is tucked within the Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce Building. It is a place that serves specialty coffees, teas, smoothies and more. Meanwhile, they also offer Chicken Mushroom Pie, Croissant, cakes and even ice cream sandwiches. Though it is quite hard to look for parking, it is a good place for gatherings or enjoy your me-time here.

Hameed Pata Mee Sotong
Hameed Pata Mee Sotong  Street Stories: Light Street haha 29 1024x672

Hameed Pata Mee Sotong is a stall located in the Padang Kota Lama food court. It could be considered as one of the best mee goreng in Penang. The addition of sweet and spicy chilli cuttlefish enhances the entire plate of mee goreng. The super-spicy cuttlefish has been stewed in a blood-red chili sauce which is the main character of the plate. On a side note, the perfect companion for this Mee Sotong is the Coconut Shake!

Categories
City Guide Travel

The last journey of the Penang ferry

Every Penangites grew up fascinating about riding on the iconic Penang ferry to travel between the island and mainland. It is also one of the attraction for tourists that visit Penang. When the ferry services started about a century ago, it comes only in one type of colour and gradually it was repainted with beautiful colours.

I remember, when I was a kid, it was always exciting when my parents decided to ride on the ferry instead of using the Penang bridge. The slow ride across the channel gives us a nice view between both sides of Penang and we can enjoy a nice breeze of air with the smell of the seas.

Some Penangite travels on it almost in a daily basis, mostly for work purposes. The ferry has then been a culture, a unique feature of Penang.

However, as we bid farewell to 2020, the same goes to our Penang ferry. The Government decided to cease its operations on 1st January 2021 and change it to a faster, speedboat-type of ferry for passengers. The new ferry do not carry vehicles though, and only passengers.

The last week of 2020 was a busy one for the operators of the Penang ferry as many Penangites as well as Malaysians from other states rush over to witness and take their final ride of the iconic ferry.

In case you miss it or you have never experience the ferry, here’s some of the photos from social media.

The writer is a local Penang boy that enjoys the sea breeze during the ferry ride.

Categories
City Guide

25 Most Popular Photos of 2020 from @KualaLumpurCity Instagram

Throughout the years, we have wonderful contributors and collaborators whom we have featured their photos of Kuala Lumpur in one of our social media portfolio @KualaLumpurCity. While we love to feature so many amazing photos from 2020, but we just have to limit ourselves to select the 25 popular ones.

Let us begin with the alleys that made to the list. The alleys of Jalan Alor has proven that it is a popular site as two of our photos by Desy Wulandari and @kdkonah are among the popular ones in our feeds. These alleys at Jalan Alor used to be dark, gloomy and dangerous. You wouldn’t feel safe to walk pass through these lanes especially during the night time. But it has now changed since a couple of years ago. It has turned into a colourful, clean alleys with its colourful street arts on the buildings. The used to be lonely alleys has become an instagram-worthy spot with tourists and locals loves to spend time passing by. The good vibes that it generates brightens up the city. And if you’re feeling adventurous, walk further towards the Bukit Bintang area, and you’ll find more.

A beautiful overall view of the Federal Territory Mosque captured with a drone by Aereon Wong. The mosque, located near to the MATRADE Complex in the Segambut district was constructed between 1998 and 2000. The concept of the design is a blend of Ottoman and Malay architectural styles with 22 domes made from composite material of glass fibre fabric mixed with epoxy resin.

McDonald’s chain has come creative by localising the way we address the fast food restaurant in Malaysia, Mekdi (pronunciation for McD). It was done during the National day celebration, where we feel it is a sign that food unites everyone. This is the store front photo of the McDonald’s in Kuala Lumpur by @capture.by.a

In conjunction with the National Day celebration, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall displayed the national flag, Jalur Gemilang on the digital screen throughout the whole building. Adib Pouzi and Patrick recorded the patriotic moments in photo for us to enjoy.

For those who are visiting Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers is always a must-see sight and it is also a must-post photo for many Instagrammers. Hence, the towers are one of the favourite photos for in our Instagram feeds.

This very spot at the centre of Kuala Lumpur city has been a favourite spot for photographers. A place where we can view the bustling vibes of the city with its traffic and pedestrians walking around. The ‘Kuala Lumpur 2017’ wordings on the the street marks the 2017 Southeast Asian Games that were hosted by Malaysia. Since then, there are significant number of Instagrammers showcasing the different scenes at the same spot. This specific one is captured by @ishakmaidin_nk

The city vibes and skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur makes an exciting elements for photos. Some of the more significant tall buildings and structures such as the PNB 118, Saloma pedestrian bridge, The Exchange 106, Merdeka Stadium and Kuala Lumpur Tower have made our most popular list. These few are snapped by Adam Eusoff, Fariz Baron, Lexie, Matthew Ee, Jia Le, Alif Hakeem, Syam Huzairie, Pasquale Di Pilato, @raxyziq, Abir Abhar

If you drive further towards Gombak, there is a famous spot not only to Hindu devotees but many tourists who comes to Malaysia. The Batu Caves temple indeed is a place where you just have to visit. The staircase which is painted with rainbow colours is an amazing background for your Instagram photos. Watch the view from the top that gives you an amazing overall outlook of the steps towards the caves which is captured by Adrian. There is also another favourite photo of Batu Caves featuring the inner part by Pit Efendy.

Central Market is not only attractive with its local handcrafted products. The huge ‘Wau’ or Malaysian traditional kite sculpture is a significant feature along the century-old market in the city. Used to be a wet market in its early beginnings, it has then subsequently converted into a building that sells Malaysian handcrafted items. @nas.hamzah’s photo of the Central Market features the beautiful Wau sculpture.

Retail stores does not only have to sell good products in this modern era, they need to have a good display and Instagram-worthy corners as well. We have a couple of amazing bookstores in the city including this photo by Timmy Lo.

We had the opportunity to feature some modern and colourful architecture such as the Spacerubix, a community centre located at Puchong. Jason Chew captured an overall outlook of the colourful building from outside.

It would be normal for us to snap and have amazing photos around the city, but there is one that not many would have the opportunity to experience. AcahStreet manage to let us witness the underground works of the MRT when it is still in progress.

That is one long list for us to curate to usher a great year ahead. We hope that more collaborators, Instagrammers and photographers will join our community to feature amazing photos of more different cities.

Categories
City Guide Food + Drinks

People’s Picks: Authentic Laksa in Penang You Should Try

Laksa in Penang, which is also known as Assam Laksa, is one of the hawker foods that you shouldn’t miss out when you visit Penang. It is a noodle dish in spicy mackerel (ikan kembung) broth topped with various shredded vegetables and sliced pineapples. The fish is poached and flaked. This dish has all combinations of flavours: sweet, sour, spicy, salty and umami. 

Not to forget, shrimp paste (hei ko) is an essential ingredient in Assam Laksa. Without any exaggeration, you literally could find Assam Laksa in every corner of the island. Check out the list of authentic laksa in Penang you should try. Just a friendly reminder, tastes are very subjective and personal so you may try them out and share with us your experience!

Kim Laksa @ Balik Pulau 

If you’re in the Balik Pulau area enjoying durians, make sure to drop by and try Kim’s Laksa. Their laksa gravy is rich, pungent and aromatic which you are able to smell from far away.

Kedai Kopi Taman Emas Laksa (Peng Hua Laksa)

Laksa at Taman Emas Kopitiam is located opposite Penang Chinese Girls’ High School. Hence, some locals call it Peng Hua Laksa. The stall also sells deep fried popiah which goes very well with the broth.

Pasar Air Itam Laksa

It is the most famous laksa in Penang and it often has a long queue. It is one of the tourists’ favourite spots for Penang Laksa probably because of its location is just a five-minute walk to Kek Lok Si Temple.

Penang Road Famous Laksa

This laksa stall has been operating at Joo Hooi Cafe for several decades. Unlike the mackerel used by most of the laksa stalls, Penang Road Famous Laksa prepares the broth from sardine and bigeye kingfish.

Tan Jetty Assam Laksa (Weld Quay Assam Laksa)

Located under a big tree opposite Chew Jetty, Tan Jetty Assam Laksa also uses sardine fish to boil the broth, hence it is less fishy compared to others. Some locals would suggest you to enjoy the laksa with a bowl of Ai Yu Bing from the stall beside it. 

Nirvana Cafeteria Assam Laksa (Phaik Laksa)

Nirvana Cafeteria is a humble kopitiam located at Anson Road, opposite BHP petrol station. Their Assam Laksa has a perfect combination of sweet, sour and spicy taste with plenty of fresh lettuce, cucumber.

Jelutong Post Office Laksa 6363
Jelutong Post Office Laksa laksa laksa in penang authentic laksa authentic laksa in penang People’s Picks: Authentic Laksa in Penang You Should Try Jelutong Post Office Laksa
Image source

This Assam Laksa is served from a food truck that is parked along Lorong Ipoh, a residential area behind the Jelutong Post Office and food court. The food truck is usually crowded during the middle or latter part of the afternoon. The tables are set up along the pavement where people could have a quick bowl of salty-sweet Laksa.

Bisu Laksa 哑巴叻沙

Located just right opposite the famous Pasar Air Itam Laksa, this stall is mostly known by the locals especially the older generation. The soup is thick and added with texture and flavours as there is a generous amount of mackerel put into the broth to cook. Some say, it is not the famous one but it tastes better and more original. 

Well, we believe there are many more places that serve great Laksa, be it traditional one or hidden gems. Throw us with your opinions. Let us share more good food and good moods together.

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