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City Guide Travel

Iconic Architecture in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, colloquially referred to as KL, is the capital city of Malaysia. As the cultural, financial and economic centre of Malaysia, there are many iconic architecture in Kuala Lumpur. From skyscrapers with Islamic motifs to British colonial-era landmarks, you will be amazed by the architectural gems awaiting you.

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers is the world’s tallest twin structure with 88-storeys, standing at 452 metres tall. They were once the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 until they were surpassed by Taipei 101. Both towers joined at the 41st and 42nd floors by a 58 metre long, double-decker Sky Bridge. The towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs in Islamic art as a reflection of Malaysia’s Muslim religion. As one of the landmarks of Kuala Lumpur, Petronas Twin Towers primarily house the headquarters of Petronas Company, other offices & a shopping mall. Besides, it is also a host to Petronas Art Gallery and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, as well as Petrosains Science Centre.

Kuala Lumpur Tower

Constructed in 1994, Kuala Lumpur Tower stands at 421 metres with its viewing deck at 276 metres. The viewing deck is at least 100 metres higher than the Petronas Twin Towers’ Sky Bridge. Erected atop the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, this building is primarily used as a communication infrastructure. The tower’s architectural-style reflects Malaysia’s vibrant Islamic heritage with Islamic tiles, typical Islamic floral and abstract patterns. Besides, the building has ‘Muqarnas’, a form of ornamented vaulting in Islamic architecture. Moreover, KL Tower also hosts a revolving restaurant, Atmosphere 360. Hence, visitors are able to enjoy the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Sultan Abdul Samad Building is a late-nineteenth century Moorish-style building. It originally housed the offices of the British colonial administration in its early years. It once housed the superior courts of the country. And now, it is home to the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia. Built in 1897, the building is constructed entirely with brick. It features strong gothic, western and Moorish-style influences with a porch, arches, curved colonnades topped with shiny copper cupolas and a domineering 41.2m high clock tower.

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station was Kuala Lumpur’s third railway station. It is a Moorish-style building, adopting a mixture of Eastern & Western styles. It resembles a typical glass and iron Victorian-era English railway building. Standing opposite the Malaya Railway Administration Building, it used to house the offices of the Federated Malay States Railways. But, it’s now the administrative head office of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu.

Putra Mosque

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Putra Mosque in Kuala Lumpur is one of the modern mosques in the world. Its Islamic-architecture artistically blends traditional designs, local craftsmanship and the use of indigenous materials. Located next to the Perdana Putra and man-made Putrajaya Laka, Putra Mosque incorporates Malaysia, Persian & Arab-Islamic architectural designs. The mosque is constructed in rose-tinted granite which gives its desert-pink hue that offsets the cengal woodwork on doors, windows and panels.

Perdana Putra Complex

Perdana Putra Complex is a 6-storey natural stone clad office complex comprising the Prime Minister’s Office, the offices of the deputy Prime Minister and Chief Secretary to the Government. Located in Precinct 1, the complex overlooks Putrajaya Lake, Putra Mosque and Dataran Putra. The design of Perdana Putra Complex incorporates elements of Islamic-Mogul architecture. For instance, the green-pitched roof converges at the onion-shaped glazed mosaic dome, wrought iron bunga raya motifs and more.

Istana Budaya

Istana Budaya is also known as The Palace of Culture. It is Malaysia’s National Theatre – the main venue for all types of theatre including musical theatre, operetta, classical concerts and opera from local & international performances. Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, it is nestled next to the National Art Gallery. The building was designed by the local architect with the inspiration of a traditional moon kite in flight. Istana Budaya is one of the most striking structures in KL due to its turquoise-blue tiled roof. Besides, the main building takes the shape of the sirih junjung, a traditional arrangement made of betel leaves used during Malay wedding and welcoming ceremonies.

Thean Hou Temple

Also known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven, Thean Hou Temple is one of the oldest & largest temples in Southeast Asia. This six-tiered temple is dedicated to Tian Hou, the Chinese Sea Goddess Mazu. Built by KL’s Hainanese community in 1894, the temple is set on a hill and offers wonderful views of the city. Thean Hou Temple is a representation of a successful combination of modern architectural techniques and authentic traditional design. For instance, the pillars, roofs, ornate carvings and intricate embellishments.

Masjid Jamek

Masjid Jamek is also known as Friday Mosque. It is officially known as Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad. Built in 1907, Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur. Overlooking the Klang River, the design of the mosque has been described as Moorish, Indo-Saracenic or Mughal architecture. This building has the similar style as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. With its strategic location, Masjid Jamek offers spectacular photogenic scenes due to its architectural styles and flourishing surroundings.

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City Guide Travel

Cafes You Should Visit in Jakarta

Indonesia is known for its coffee culture and is the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. And, drinking coffee has become a tradition and a part of everyday lifestyle. Jakarta is a bustling city and hence, a caffeine fix is in continual demand no matter a cuppa before work, afternoon tea or a warm evening cappuccino. Let’s find out some of the cafes you should visit in Jakarta. 

Tujuhari Coffee

Tujuhari Coffee is a coffee shop and multipurpose space located in the South of Jakarta. As it promotes a productive and collaborative culture, it is designed to be more than just a coffee shop but an open platform for programmes that are related to work, art and culture. Hence, with the office work setting, it is a place that is suitable to have a meeting or get work done alone. Tujuhari Coffee stands out with a striking steely facade. Furthermore, their coffee culture is a symbol of modern, progressive and productive lifestyle for urban consumers.

Kokonut & Curtains by Wakimukudo

As its name suggested, Kokonut & Curtains is a cafe with outdoor seating surrounded by lush trees, green lake and white curtains. It is an indie cafe with strong chilled and relaxing island vibes. With the combination of clean white ornaments and greenery landscape, every corner of the cafe is very instagrammable. Speaking of the menu, they are serving a wide variety of beverages along with Asian and Western food. Although the price range is a bit on a high side, the plus point of the cafe is their vibe and environment.

Kopi Manyar 

Nestled in Bintaro area, the South of Jakarta, Kopi Manyar is a place where coffee meets art exhibition. The overall interior is simple, clean yet cozy. The seating area of the cafe is separated into three sections: homey sofa in front; long communal table in the middle; and casual seating in the minimalist zen-like garden at the back. Although the exterior looks like a home office, the interior looks like it’s come out of the pages of a magazine. As for the menu, Kopi Manyar serves espresso based coffee and some light food as well as some comfort food.

Lucky Cat Coffee & Kitchen

Lucky Cat Coffee & Kitchen is a two-storey establishment with a catchy white brick facade. The cafe is designed with a homey, cozy yet modern vibe. The interior focuses on lush green plants, marble tables, wooden furniture and a glass see-through roof. The place is spacious and it’s suitable to hang out among friends and family. It is also a spot to have your caffeine and all-day breakfast craving fixed.  

JimBARan Outdoor Lounge

Located in Ayana Midplaza, JimBARan Outdoor Lounge is a semi-private lounge space. It has sophisticated digs with a lush garden that feel like entering an oasis. It is a meeting place, where business and social networks intertwine. JimBARan Lounge is one of the best places to relax and enjoy creative cocktails and eclectic global fare.

Onthree

Onthree is a cafe tucked in the Senopati Suites Building at South Jakarta. With bright accent walls, fun geometric furniture and eye-catching arts, Onthree is a trendy loft that combines both stylish and comfort. Besides indoor seatings, this cafe has an outdoor seating area with a cozy wooden patio surrounded by tall buildings. Onthree is a place that fits business meetings and casual hangouts. For the menu, they are serving espresso based beverages and some Western delights. 

Kopi Nako Tebet

Having more than 10 branches in Jakarta itself, Kopi Nako is the official brand while Tebet is Indonesian subdistrict. Kopi Nako Tebet is a cafe that displays a minimalist impression on the architecture of the building. The cafe is a light and bright steel structured combined with concrete wall architecture. With see-through windows, natural light is optimised through the skylight. It is a place where local coffee meets urban concepts.

1/15 Coffee

One Fifteenth Coffee opened in June 2012 and was one of the first coffee shops that serves specialty coffee in Jakarta. 1:15 is a well-known coffee-to-water ratio that yields an ideal cup. This cafe is a community space where good coffee and good conversation meet. It incorporates Australia coffee culture into Indonesia’s and has a lot of branches all over Jakarta but the homey vibe always takes place. Besides aiming to bring the community the best possible coffee experience, 1/15 Coffee also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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City Guide

Insta-worthy Spots in Ipoh City That is Worth Visting

Ipoh is the capital city of Perak, located in Northwestern Malaysia. It was developed into one of Malaysia’s main cities from the early 19th century due to the tin mining boom. Ipoh is known for its rustic beauty and food. And, there are plenty of places to capture gorgeous Instagrammable shots. Check out some of these Insta-worthy spots in Ipoh and plan to visit the places in your next itinerary. 

Victoria Bridge

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Victoria Bridge is a single track railway truss bridge located in Karai, a small town near Kuala Kangsar, Perak. These railway bridges were constructed between December 1897 and March 1900 by the Perak Government Railway. Victoria Bridge is one of the oldest railway bridges in Malaysia. It remained in use until 2002. Although the old bridge is closed to rail traffic, the adjoining footbridge is publicly open to pedestrians and motorcycles. This place is increasingly popular among the locals, especially photographers, because of its aesthetic and nostalgic vibes. 

Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village

Qing Xin Ling means “serene hill” in Mandarin. Located between the famous cave temples of Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Tong, it is a cultural village with mountains and lakes. Qing Xin Ling is a 20-minute drive away from Ipoh old town. The place is captivated by stunning landscapes of mountains and jungles. Besides taking photos at the village, visitors can also do jungle trekking, bicycle riding, barbeque, fish feeding, and campfire.

Kong Heng Square

Located just a stone’s throw away from Concubine Lane, Kong Heng Square is a cluster of pre-WWII buildings. It was abandoned and now it  has been restored. Kong Heng Square now combines heritage walks, boutique hotels, restaurants and a weekend artisan market. Started with humble unique craft shops, the square now is where artists and artisans promote their handiwork in Ipoh.

Birch Memorial Clock Tower

Birch Memorial Clock Tower is located in a square inside the Old Ipoh. Constructed to commemorate James W. W. Birch – the first British Resident of the State of Perak, this four-sided clock tower stands in front of Ipoh State Mosque. The four sides represent the four pillars of British administration: patience, justice, loyalty and fortitude. Birch Memorial Clock Tower consists of these four panels illustrative of the growth of civilization. On a side note, it has a mother bell and four smaller bells to strike the chimes.

Tasik Cermin

Tasik Cermin is literally translated as “Mirror Lake”. The lake probably derives its name from the water where it reflects the surrounding which makes it an Insta-worthy place. It is not recognised as a tourist attraction yet this picturesque lake is one of most photogenic places in Ipoh. Tucked in between greenery and limestone mountains that have earned the city the nickname “Guilin of Malaysia”, Tasik Cermin is located at a 20-minute drive from the heart of Ipoh.

The Concubine Lanes

According to the locals, Concubine Lane was built by mining tycoon Yao Tet Shin for his three wives. Each lane was gifted to his 3 wives respectively with the names of Wife Lane, Concubine Lane and Second Concubine Lane. Meanwhile, some locals said it was the place where rich men hide their mistresses. Concubine Lane is the most lively with its colourful little shops, stalls and a vibrant vibe. Concubine Lane has been transformed into a popular hangout spot in Ipoh among the locals and tourists.

Ipoh Town Hall

Ipoh Town Hall was completed in 1916. The building was originally used as the main administrative offices in Ipoh, while the back portion housed the former Post Office. From 1948, the Town Hall served as the District Police Headquarters for several years. The building was designed in an Edwardian Baroque architectural style. The architect, Arthur Benison Hubback also designed the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Jamek Mosque (near Merdeka Square) and more colonial buildings. Ipoh Town Hall currently serves as a function space.

Ipoh Railway Station

Ipoh Railway Station was officially opened in 1917. It was affectionately known as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh by its locals. It was initially meant to be a hospital and used before the 20th century before being turned into a station. This building is also designed by Arthur Benison Hubback (same as the architect of Ipoh Town Hall). This railway station is an impressive landmark which combines Moorish architecture with modern decorative features.

Sam Poh Tong Temple

Sam Poh Tong Temple is also known as the Three Buddhas Cave. It is a Chinese temple built within a limestone cave. Moreover, it is the oldest and the main cave temple in Ipoh. There is a stunning landscaped garden designed around a large fish pond in front of the temple. Besides, the temple also contains artwork such as a reclining Buddha figure.

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City Guide Travel

What To Do When You Visit Melaka

Melaka is a historical city. It was one of the greatest trading ports in Southeast Asia. This historical place is rich with the imprints of British, Portugese and Dutch forces left behind in forts, churches, museums and towers. Besides the European arts and cultures, Melaka is also a hotchpotch of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nyonya and other more influences. Other than having delicious Nyonya cuisine, what else to do when you visit Melaka? Check out the 8 things below.  

Visit The Stadthuys and Christ Church

The Stadthuys and Christ Church are two of the most famous landmarks of Melaka city center. The Stadthuys, meaning city hall, was built by the Dutch in 1650 as the office of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor. Located beside the Christ Church, the remaining building is now home to the History and Ethnography Museum. Christ Church Melaka is an 18th-century Anglican church and one of the oldest functioning Protestant churches in Malaysia. This red-coloured square that was built by the Dutch during the colonisation is one of the most photogenic places in Melaka.

Walk the Jonker Street (Night Market)

Jonker Street is the centre street of Chinatown. Filled with historical houses along the street, it is also a central hub of activity that serves as a heaven for antique collectors and vintage fashion enthusiasts. The best part of Jonker Street is the night market on Fri and Sat that sells everything from tasty treats to cheap keepsakes. Moreover, there are a lot of tourist attractions along and around the street, such as Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and many more.

Explore the street arts

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The murals in Melaka are mostly paintings and categorically more diversified. For instance, Lorong Seni Art House, The Orangutan House, Kiehl’s Mural and more. Besides, the Melaka River is home to a collection of various artworks. Thus, a walk along the river side would make you feel like you have entered an open-aired art gallery It is not that extraordinary but it is definitely a nice surprise to see the street arts in Melaka. Simply wandering around with no specific direction, there would be something that is able to catch your attention. 

Walk along the Melaka River

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Strolling along the river side of Melaka River especially right after the sunset is extremely beautiful with the combination of colourful buildings and artificial light. The Melaka River was once dubbed the “Venice of the East” by the European seafarers as it was a prominent part of entry for traders from Europe and Asia. It is now a popular tourist attraction with the 45-minute River Cruise. However, we would recommend you to do the Melaka River Walk on foot because there are a lot of places to explore along the way. You could find a place to sit with a nice glass of mocktail or have a delicious dinner – while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Melaka River. 

Visit Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is claimed to be the oldest functioning Buddhist temple in Malaysia dated from the 17th century. This temple is the main place of worship for the local Hoklo (Hokkien) community and Buddhist Chinese community in Melaka. The temple is dedicated to Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy hence, it is also known as the ‘Merciful Cloud Temple’. All the building materials for the temple and even the artisans were brought from China. Thus, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple features very strong Chinese architectural influences such as ornate gates, gold leafing and ruby red Chinese lanterns.

Check out A Famosa Fortress

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A Famosa Fortress is another main attraction in Malacca. Built in 1511, it is one of the oldest surviving Portugese architecture in Asia. In the 16th-century, A Famosa housed the entire Portugese administration, inclusive of hospital, churches, elongated stockades and four key towers. In 1807, the British destroyed most of the fortress. The Porta de Santiago gateway, and the restored Middleburg Bastion, are the only parts of the fortress which remain until today. A Famosa is more than just quick photo stops for the tourists, it is a spot which is rich in history.

Visit St. Paul’s Church

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Built in 1521, St. Paul’s Church is considered to be the oldest church building in Southeast Asia. St. Paul’s Church is part of the Malacca Museum Complex comprising the A Famosa ruins, the Stadthuys and other historical buildings. Hence, a little walk along the path behind the Stadthuys museum will take you all the way up to the fort. As a former Portugese church, it has now turned into a lighthouse. Though it has been in ruins for more than 150 years, it is still a beautiful sanctuary set in Melaka city.

Explore Padang Pasir Klebang Melaka

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Padang Pasir Klebang is a hidden spot in Melaka. Also known as “Desert in Malaysia”, it is a photogenic place resulting from a land reclamation project in the Klebang area. Well, it does not matter if it does not look like the real desert, it is still a great place for photography. On a side note, you might need to do a lot of walking as there might be risks where your car ended up having tyres got sink into the sand.

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City Guide Food + Drinks

Industrial Style Cafes You Shouldn’t Miss in Kuala Lumpur

Finding out the exact amount of cafes in Kuala Lumpur is quite impossible as they are growing like mushrooms after the rain. However, you can still categorise them according to their specific themes. Regardless of time, industrial style cafes would simply click with everyone. Here’s a few industrial style cafes you should not miss in Kuala Lumpur!  

Wú, means the void, an empty state where idea and light could shine. Located at Kota Damansara, Wú Coffee Gallery aims to provide a space with chill good vibes where suitable for one’s own good time, coffee with friends and creative events, with delicious coffee and Japanese-inspired mains. The cafe is full of grey raw concrete and exposed brick walls, a rough trace of cement on the ground. Meanwhile, the decoration is mainly circle. Hence, there are many circular designs in the cafe.

Bean Brothers MY Sunway Damansara

Bean Brothers is a coffee brand from Korea. They first started off by supplying coffee beans online and as their fan base increased, they opened a cafe in the name of Bean Brothers in Hapjeong, Korea. Besides having a few branches across Seoul, Korea, Bean Brothers opened their first oversea outpost at Sunway Damansara, followed by a second branch at The Linc KL. The cafe at Sunway Damansara retained the original spaces of a cavernous two-level warehouse. It gives a strong urban industrial design style through its fading greyish tone, hanging light bulbs, dangling cables and dark steel pillars.

Hide and Seek Coffee

Previously located at Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, Hide and Seek Coffee was rather a hidden cafe with retro concept and vintage design. It was a place for coffee and cakes in the day time and a hidden bar during the night time named Shuang Xi. Now, they finally have their own storefront located right at PJ Taman Paramount. Designed in cement industry style, Hide and Seek Coffee has a special patio water design. It consists of a variety of different designs and colours of chairs, serving good coffee, staple food such as rice bowl, and desserts.

Dou dou bake

Speaking of good croissants, sourdough and coffee, a lot of people might recommend Dou Dou Bake at Petaling Jaya’s Taman Rasa Sayang. With the concept of the combination of industrial and plantscaping design, Dou Dou Bake focuses on neutral tones and basic forms. Besides having custom made furniture, the walls and columns are left exposed. Meanwhile, it also has an almost wild desert garden which the designers hope to create oases of calm in the city. According to one of the designers, the space is dominated by a cold palette. Hence, this will allow their pastries to shine.

Ground Coffee

Located at Damansara Utama, Ground is a cafe with minimalistic design and good ambience. The cafe has simple cement walls and ceiling, wooden flooring, and luscious greenery throughout the space. Ground serves a variety of coffee, pastries and Western mains such as Grilled Lamb Shoulder, Fish & Chips, pastas, and more. Quite a great spot to go to for some good coffee, pastries and a small catch up with your friends.

The Third Letter

The Third Letter cafe is a comfy industrial style designed cafe in Shah Alam. The decor is all about space and minimalism, greyish and original tone with a touch of greenery. This cafe is well-known for its brunch and casual dining. It could be considered as one of the best choices for brunch. The menu consists of a wide variety of selections such as salad, pasta, pizza, grill, pastries and more. Definitely an Insta-worthy place with good food and great vibes. 

Greyskymorning

Tucked in a semi-industrial estate, Greyskymorning is a two-level cafe with a photogenic look and easygoing vibes. The cafe focuses more on black decoration. However, it has huge floor to ceiling glass windows with lots of natural lighting. The cafe is quite spacious and has plenty of quiet and space. Hence, it is one of the cafes that people who like to go to – simply order one or two cups of iced latte – sit around for hours to get their work done.

Cureé 

Cureé, pronounced as Ka-Ray, is a cafe near Berjaya Times Square KL. It has spacious outdoor and indoor seatings, with the former goes more on minimalism, white theme with wooden furnishing. Using a touch of popping orange and yellow to create a cheerful and warm environment, the cafe is filled with lively and vibrant vibes even with the use of industrial style decors such as raw and exposed brick walls. For their menu, Cureé serves Japanese-inspired Hokkaido style food and desserts that could surprise and impress you!

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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
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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. 

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 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.

Categories
Street Stories

Street Stories: Campbell Street

Story of the Street

Campbell Street or Lebuh Campbell is a one-way street within George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named after Sir George William Robert Campbell, who served as the Penang Inspector General and also, the Acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang between 1872 and 1873. The street is called Sin-kay (新街) in Hokkien and San-kai in Cantonese, which both also mean ‘the new street’ created between Pitt Street and Penang Road.

It was a red-light district in the mid 19th Century. Then, the both terms ‘Sin-kay’ and ‘San-kai’ came to a whole new meaning, which refers to the new arrival of the ‘new chickens (prostitutes)’. Meanwhile, Fa-kai is another Cantonese term used to refer to the street. It meant ‘flower street’, which is also a substitute for the prostitutes along the street. Furthermore, the Malays called the street Jalan Nona Baru and Jalan Makau. Jalan Nona Baru meant ‘the street of new maidens’ and Jalan Makau meant the coastal city of Macau in China, where most of the Cantonese prostitutes came from.

Campbell Street was part of George Town’s New Chinatown. The Cantonese immigrants populated the area around the street and mostly worked as tailors, coolies, goldsmiths and ironmongers. In the 1950s and 1960s, it became the most famous place to shop for shoes, bags, jewellery, watches, and textiles. Then, the businesses began to decline in the mid 1970s. Today, wholesalers, modern cafes as well as other businesses have taken over most of the retail outlets. Besides, several shops selling jewellery, bags, textiles, watches and traditional Chinese medicine are still operating along the street.

Significant Buildings

Campbell Street Market
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Campbell Street Market is a Victorian-style market built in the 1900s. The market was formerly known as Carnarvon Street Market. It is a small wet market located at the junctions between Campbell Street and Carnarvon Street. It offers a wide range of fresh vegetables, fish and meats to supply to its surrounding community. According to some locals, the land on which the market now stands was the site of a Malay cemetery. Furthermore, the cemetery at the land was provided to the Indian Muslim community for the construction of the Masjid Kapitan Keling in 1800. However, the George Town Municipal Council bought the land in the 1890s and subsequently built the Campbell Street Market.

Boon Wah Co. Textile
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Boon Wah Chow Chong Sdn. Bhd. is a textile company and has existed since 1982. This company is working in fashion, fabric, textile and building materials business activities. It is located at the corner area along Campbell Street and Rope Walk Street. In fact, this turquoise-coloured building has been an Instagram-worthy spot to check in for the locals and tourists.

Where to Stay

Campbell House Penang
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Campbell House is an Award-Winning Luxury Boutique Hotel in George Town. The owners are a husband and wife team, one of them is from Italy and another one is a mix of Malay and English. The boutique hotel occupies a unique three-storey Straits Chinese corner plot. The building was built in 1903 and underwent a major renovation when the owners bought it in 2008. It offers a total of 11 themed rooms incorporating Colonial charm and Asian heritage with an authentic but modern Italian restaurant.

Kim Haus Loft
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Kim Haus was a goldsmith jewellery shop turned into a cafe and residence lofts. This four-storey building offers a total of 40 guest rooms with something more basic and homey. In fact, it is not just a boutique hotel. There is a goldsmith museum, an event and performance space, and a cafe. Besides, it uses black as the theme colour with an industrial influence in the decor and stays true to its history as a jewellery and goldsmith shop. There is an array of vintage jewellery and goldsmith tools displaying at the cafe area.

ATTIC Hotel
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An attic is similar to a loft. It is a space or room inside or partly inside the roof of a building. Attic Hotel features a total of 17 rooms, including double rooms, triple rooms, and family rooms. Besides, the hotel also provides guests with a sun terrace.

What to See

Street Art: “Retail Paradise” Sculpture
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The “Marking of George Town” is an art challenge organised by the Penang State Government to mark George Town’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The company, Sculpture At Work won the design idea by relating the history and/ or characteristic of selected streets in George Town with metal rod caricatures of local cartoonists. 

The “Retail Paradise” Sculpture was installed in 2013. This sculpture at Campbell Street by cartoonist Reggie Lee portrays a guard arresting a burglar, who claims he has simply misplaced his keys. The sculpture celebrates a period in the history of Campbell Street when it was the main shopping area in George Town. “Campbell Street is Penang’s Fifth Avenue, a retail paradise where shoppers can stroll along the row of shophouses and feast their eyes on an array of goods.”

What to Eat

Hameediyah Restaurant
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Hameediyah Restaurant has claimed the title in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) of being the nation’s oldest Nasi Kandar restaurant. It was established in 1907 and is still going strong until today. Meanwhile, it is also crowned as one of the best Nasi Kandars in Penang. The restaurant offers around 35 types of curry. For instance, their Chicken Kapitan, Ayam Bawang and Beef Rendang are among the famous choices. Besides Nasi Kandar, they also offer Murtabak and a wide range of vegetarian options. 

Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶室
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Toh Soon Cafe is a small coffee shop located at an alley along Campbell Street. It is one of the famous breakfast spots among the locals and tourists. People are willing to queue up for their signature Kaya Toast Bread with two half-boiled eggs and its Hainan-style coffee. They use a super old charcoal stove to prepare the toasts. Now, Toh Soon is opening a new branch at Bishop Street.

Island Problem
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Island Problem is Japanese-Thai fusion eatery tucked in a shophouse along Campbell Street. It is a rather tiny dining space that could only accommodate up to 10 people. This open-kitchen concept restaurant allows diners to catch the live action of the chef preparing the meals. Their specialities include Don (rice bowl dishes), Sando (Japanese sandwiches), and Men (noodle dishes). Meanwhile, the upper floor of this black interior restaurant is a fashion boutique that sells their own branded fashion apparels.     

Kim Haus
Kim Haus Cafe at Campbell Street  Street Stories: Campbell Street Kim Haus Cafe

Kim Haus is a cafe bar that serves Western cuisine. It is a casual eating and drinking spot in George Town. It is a pork free restaurant that offers a variety of dishes and desserts. In addition, there is a small bakery at the corner of the cafe that serves fresh Danish Pastries, Scottish Scones and more. Taking up the space of the entire building, Kim Haus also provides comfy stays with industrial influence of concept.

Yee Heong Restaurant 宜香茶楼饭店
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Yee Heong Restaurant is a great place for dim sum in the morning and Zhu Char dishes for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is currently managed by the 5th generation of the family. Their signature dishes include Claypot Seafood, Braised Pork Hand and Stewed Mutton in Claypot.

Tho Yuen Restaurant 桃园茶楼
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Tho Yuen Restaurant is located between the intersection of Campbell Street and Cintra Street. The restaurant serves dim sum in the morning and then a variety of noodles and chicken rice in the afternoon. Besides, they also offer one of the best egg tarts that come with a crisp and thin crust. 

L Kitchen 李月香 粥面饭
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L Kitchen serves authentic Chinese food ranging from noodle to rice and even porridge at very affordable prices. Some of their dishes are worth trying out, such as Indian Style Curry Fish Fillet, Dried Scallop & Minced Pork Porridge with Chinese Coriander Meatball, as well as Spicy & Sour Fish Head Noodles.

IL Bacaro in Campbell House
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IL Bacaro is an authentic Italian restaurant housed in Campbell House. Their menu features a wide selection of Italian cuisine such as pizzas, pasta, grilled dishes and desserts. Besides, there is also a selection of fine wines at this cozy restaurant too. 

Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee 鸿记广式竹昇云吞面
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Some people call it “Hong Kee Bamboo Noodle” as it is a restaurant that specializes in serving handmade traditional bamboo-pressed noodles. Particularly, the chef rides on a bamboo log to press the eggs, flour and other ingredients together to yield the noodles. Their Hong Kong style Wan Thun Mee that topped with shredded char siew and Wan Thun beneath the noodles is definitely their signature. Furthermore, there is an in-house pastry stall that offers freshly baked Hong Kong style pastries. Make sure to try out their Egg Tarts, Buttered Polo Bun, and Honey BBQ Pork Pastry.

Coffee Addict Cafe
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Coffee Addict was previously at Hutton Lane and now it has relocated to Campbell Street. They also expanded their menu which covers breakfast, sandwiches, pasta, snacks, coffee, and desserts. Some of their popular dishes include, Guacamole Bacon on Toast, Open Omelette Pepperoni, and Thai Basil Minced Pork Pasta. In addition, the cafe also offers comfortable seatings for diners to enjoy good food and good coffee.

Trois Canon Cafe 三炮台茶餐厅
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Trois Canon Cafe provides the feeling of classical coffee shops (茶餐厅) in Hong Kong. Without any fancy presentation of the food, this cafe serves authentic and delicious Hong Kong food at affordable prices. Their menu features breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and also dinner. Although it is very challenging to find parking, the food here is able to satisfy your tummy. 

Hanjan Eatery Soju Bar
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It is most probably the first and only Korean Soju Bar in George Town. Hanjan is a place that serves both Korean food and alcohol. Their food menu features a selection of Korean cuisines such as Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Rice Cakes, Stir Fried Korean Glass Noodles, as well as Meat Platter. On the other hand, the drinks menu offers a list of Korean-influenced Cocktails and Mocktails, Beers, Wines and Liquors. Some of the food is best paired with Soju and Beer. Additionally, the ambience and atmosphere of Hanjan is too great for gatherings too.

Mun Thung x Soon Huat 满堂 x 顺发
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Mun Thung is the name of the eatery while Soon Huat is a long-established brand in Penang that sells alcohols and liquors. Hence, it is a place with a crossover concept for breakfast and brunch cafe with wine and cigar shop. The interior is simple and their menu is wallet-friendly. Some of the signature dishes are Roasted Pork Dry Noodle, Rendang Chicken Rice and more. Besides, they also offer snacks, toasts and buns, as well as desserts. 

Haru Stationary Cafe
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Haru is a minimalist Muji-inspired cafe. Apart from cafe, it is also a stationary shop especially for those who like journaling. Besides the interior design, the menu is also Japanese inspired. For instance, they are serving Poke Bowls, a series of Liege waffle, cakes and a wide variety of beverages.

Categories
Street Stories

Street Stories: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling

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Story of the Street

Pitt Street or Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is one of the oldest roads in George Town. It was laid out after Light Street. It was named after William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister of Great Britain when Penang was founded in 1786. The street is called Koan-im-têng-chêng (观音亭前) in Hokkien which meant in front of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Meanwhile, some locals call it Yâh-kha-kay (椰角街) which meant the street under the coconut grove. In the past, there was a large police station in front of the temple. Thus, Toā-ba-laí is another name of the street, which meant big police station. The street has been officially renamed as Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling since the 1990s.

The nickname of Pitt Street is the Street of Harmony as there are four different places of worship located within metres of one another along the street. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in 1801. While British administrators and Europeans resided at the northern end of Pitt Street, St. George’s Church was built in 1816. Meanwhile the Chinese built the Kong Hock Keong Temple, which is also known as the Goddess of Mercy Temple in the early 18th century. Then, the Hindus also constructed the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in 1833. The nickname also reflects the harmonious coexistence of various religions and cultures that have lived here for centuries.

As the Indian Muslim part of town, there are numerous of Indian Muslim eateries around the area. Meanwhile, there is also a row of Indian Muslim jewellery shops upon crossing Chulia Street. George Town’s money changers are a close-knit Indian Muslim community with about a third of them originating from the same village in India. Hence, there are a number of money changers along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling too.

Significant Buildings

Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque is the oldest and largest mosque in George Town. The Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East Indian Company troops) built it in 1801. The Indo-Moorish structured complex is surrounded by low walls and topped with Moghul-style copper domes. The mosque was named after the ‘Kapitan’ of the Keling (a leader of the South Indian community similar to the leader of the Chinese community), Cauder Mohuddeen Merican. It was once used as Penang’s state mosque when the construction of the Penang State Mosque at Air Itam road took place in the 1970s. The mosque was originally a small single storey brick mosque. Over the years, the mosque has been expanded many times to its present scale, the largest mosque in George Town, Penang. 

St. George’s Church
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St. George’s Church is a 19th century Anglican church. It is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. Convict labour from East India Company built the church in 1817. The Church was built with a combination of Neoclassical, Georgian and English Palladian architecture styles. Furthermore, the interior is pastel blue with marble floors. Besides, there is an elegant Victorian style pavilion outside the main building on the church ground as a memorial to Sir Francis Light. Hence, the St. George’s Church is one of the most impressive colonial buildings in George Town. 

Goddess of Mercy Temple
Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng)  Street Stories: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling PittStreet 37 1024x684

The Goddess of Mercy Temple is also known as Kuan Yin Teng or Kong Hock Keong (Cantonese-Hokkien Temple). It is the oldest Chinese temple and also one of the most important temples in Penang. It was built in 1728 through the joint efforts of the early Chinese settlers, especially the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides religious purposes, the temple is also used for social functions until the establishment of the Penang Chinese Town Hall. The temple was originally dedicated to Mazu, a sea goddess worshipped by the Hokkiens. Then, the temple’s main deity was changed from Mazu to Guan Yin when the temple underwent renovation in 1824. Additionally, the temple is also one of the most magnificent Chinese architecture style structures in northern Malaysia. 

Penang Chinese Town Hall
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Penang Chinese Town Hall was established in 1881. It was originally intended to resolve the controversy between the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides, Penang’s Chinese merchants founded Penang Chinese Town Hall in order to take over the economic and social functions of the Kuan Yin Teng Temple. In the 1980s, it was rebuilt into its current 12-storey office block. Meanwhile, it also plays an active role through involvement in Chinese cultural events until today.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple

The Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple was built in 1833. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. Moreover, it is a typical example of Hindu architecture, built in the south Indian Dravidian style. It is located on Queen Street and the back entrance is on Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). In addition, it is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Sri Muthu Mariamman, which is considered a motherly power figure, a goddess of mercy and patron deity of the peasants of southern India. 

The Star Office
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The Star Office is tucked within a colonial three-storey building. It was first used as a godown and a dispensary for the distribution of opium and alcohol in 1906. The property was later owned by a millionaire from Penang, Loh Boon Siew. He then opened Malaysia’s first Honda showroom within the building. In 1971, The Star (Malaysia’s most popular English-language newspaper) was founded in George Town with the building as its headquarters. Since then, the building has been known as The Star Office. After that, The Star’s headquarters was moved to Petaling Jaya and its Penang head office to Bayan Lepas. Its reporters are still using The Star Office. The building now provides space for Areca Books, the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, a resource centre and an exhibition centre.    

Where to Stay

Broadway Budget Hotel  
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Broadway Budget Hotel is located within the Little India area and Chinatown. It is clean, tidy and includes all the necessary facilities. It offers a contemporary, quiet and comfortable place to stay. For instance, the room types cover from Standard Room to Triple Room, which could accommodate up to 5 people in a room. In addition, some of the rooms even provide views of the city or Swettenham Pier.

Red Inn Court
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Red Inn Court is a boutique eco-guesthouse located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Every stay becomes a memorable experience” characterises the hospitality one can expect from Red Inn Court. They offer two main types of rooms which are King & Queen Rooms and Two & Dormitory Rooms. However, only Queen Rooms come with an ensuite shower and toilet while other rooms come with shared showers/ toilets. 

What to See

Street Art: “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture
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The “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture was installed in 2012. This sculpture at Pitt Street is based on a cartoonist Reggie Lee for the “Marking of George Town” project. The description of the sculpture is: “In the days when your money could be “as big as a bullock cart wheel”, this was a popular rest stop for the limousines of the time.”

This “Bullock Cart Wheel” sculpture provides two different historical insights. Pitt Street was where bullock carts used to park during the early 20th century. The second insight is about the ½-cent Straits Settlement coin which is an idiom in Penang Hokkien. Bullock Cart Wheel (Gu-chia-lean) means a stingy person, whose ½-cent is the size of the bullock cart wheel.

Street Art: “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture
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The “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture is located at the junction of Pitt Street with China Street, facing the Goddess of Mercy Temple. It is captured by a cartoonist, Tang Mun Kian in the caricature for Sculpture at Work. The description of the sculpture is: “Tok tok mee is so called because hawkers would strike a ‘tok tok’ sound to signal their presence.” The sculpture tells how the itinerant hawkers of wanton mee, which is also known as tok tok mee, announce their arrival.

Gerakbudaya Bookshop
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Gerakbudaya Bookshop is a small independent bookstore located in a row of shophouses along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Founded by Gareth Richards, a researcher, writer and editor, the bookstore opened in 2014. Apart from the large chain bookstores which offer popular titles, Gerakbudaya focuses on literary fiction, poetry, translations and titles from smaller, independent publishers. The team is very passionate about books that matter. Hence, they have a collection of over 6,000 titles in stock ranging from books about Penang, current affairs, politics, to arts and culture, lifestyle and even Southeast Asian studies. In 2018, the second bookshop is opened at Beach Street. The new Gerakbudaya Bookshop concentrates more on non-fiction titles.

What to Eat

Nasi Kandar Beratur

As its name suggests, there is always a queue at the stall. But do you know that the official name for this Nasi Kandar Beratur is Restoran Liyaqatali? It is one of the most popular nasi kandar stalls in Penang. This restaurant offers an extensive selection of dishes ranging from beef kurma, fried chicken to squid curry. Meanwhile, there are actually two different managements at the same stall. Nasi Kandar Beratur starts at 10pm until early morning while another team operates during the day.

Nasi Kandar Imigresen

Besides Nasi Kandar Beratur, there are a few spots that are not so famous but serve equally great Nasi Kandar in the city centre. For instance, Nasi Kandar Imigresen located at Lorong Pasar, off Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Just like any other Nasi Kandar, it serves fried chicken, cabbage and various curries with mild spiciness. In addition, the price is considered relatively wallet-friendly too.

Fok Kee Food Centre
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Fok Kee Food Centre is a Chinese coffee shop which was previously known as Jolly Cafe. This restaurant serves Chinese cooked meals. For instance, the dishes include fish head curry, sweet & sour pork, claypot soy sauce pork and more.

Hai Beng Lor Mee
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This Hainan lor mee stall claims to have been operating since 1957. It is located in Hai Beng Coffee Shop, which is across Stewart Lane from the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Their broth is the speciality that attracts lots of patrons in the area. The broth here is less sticky compared to those we usually had. In addition, it has a tangy and nice spiced taste.   

Bean Sprout Cafe
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Bean Sprout Cafe is located right opposite of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. This two-storey cafe has a strong rustic vibe from its exterior to interior. Though the price is slightly higher, the menu offers a wide range of western cuisines and good coffee. For instance, their best sellers include Avocado Toast 3 Ways, Avocado Pesto Spaghetti top with Avocado chips, Classic Pancake and more. Moreover, it’s an Instagram-worthy cafe to chill and hang out with friends and family.

Cafe Little Angel
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This is a nice place that offers cheap local and western food. It is a small restaurant with no outside seating, no inside frills. They offer a very wide selection of Chinese dishes such as Fried Rice, Claypot Mee, Penang Laksa, Hokkien Mee, and even English Breakfast. The atmosphere is rather authentic as many Chinese locals would have their breakfast or brunch here.

Watch the video version of Street Stories below.