Saturday, 31 August 2013


Happy 56th Independence Day to all Malay(si)ans!
Malaysiaku Berdaulat, Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku

Friday, 30 August 2013

Landmarks of Selangor: Wat Thai Buddhist Chetawan

I used to live in Petaling Jaya while studying at the University of Malaya in the early 70s and I do remember a beautiful white and gilded Buddhist temple building surrounded by green trees and a lake. But I never had the time (really?) to visit it then. In my current resolve to visit/revisit Selangor landmarks, I went with M to check out the architecture of this building recently.

The Wat Thai Buddhist Chetawan (Thai Buddhist Chetawan Temple) or simply Wat Chetawan is a fine Buddhist temple constructed and decorated in the Thai style. Built in 1962, it is located in Jalan Pantai, Petaling Jaya, and driving from Shah Alam, we found it easily using the GPS. No longer a single temple building (that I remember), the complex consists of several pavilions as well (mostly built 20 years after the main temple).

'In the glittering modern style of Rattanakosin or Bangkok School, the temple is raised on a low, moulded podium reached by a broad flight of steps. Two side doors lead from the entrance porch into the single space prayer hall where the sitting image of Buddha, ... is enthroned on an alter ... The doors and windows, ... show a slight inward taper, as do the main walls of the temple. The distinguishing feature of Thai temples is the three-stepped roof with spiky up-turned finials. The main chor fah ... is the frontmost, horn-shaped finial at the apex of the roof'.

The Bell pavilion used to be in a landscaped garden but is now flanked by new buildings, including the Amulet shops.

There are several buildings added on, including a pavilion with many holy images, facing the main temple. The Goddess of Mercy/Kuan Yin has her own pavilion nearby. Other buildings in the complex include the Dhammasala (Meditation Hall), the Columbrium, the Maitreya Buddha Pagoda, etc.

Ref: Landmarks of Selangor. Jugra Publications, 2003. 
28 August 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

SA Garden Catalogue: Episcia Cupreata

The Episcia cupreata which I dub the 'red trumpet' is a trailing, free-flowering plant able to form a ground cover or droop over the edge of hanging pots. There are several varieties, distinguished by leaf colour patterns, but I only have one variety in my little garden. I would consider it an easy herbaceous plant to grow. In fact it is so easy to propagate by cuttings and grows well in partial sun or shade.

Common name: (Red trumpet)
Scientific name: Episcia cupreata
Family: African violet
Origin: Tropical America

The 'red trumpet' I have grows both on the ground and in containers. My 'starter' plant was given to me by my good neighbour some time ago and now there are these pretty red flowers and their velvety leaves to appreciate always.

Weather-wise, the late August rains seem to be very late, in fact the weather has just been very hot and balmy. It has rained very heavily just once last week and then, nothing but heat (and some pollution still from the Sumatran forest fires).

Monday, 26 August 2013

A Birthday Celebration at Marini's on 57

A very happy birthday to A from all in the family.

The birthday girl (CNB 2013)

The family (2013)

The view (CNB 2013)

(In progress)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunset 25.08.2013

A very orange sunset seen at Ampang today

(CNB 2013)

Note: Its International Women's Day today as well as A's birthday. Happy, happy ...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

TKC 64-70 at Nik Mun's & Ani's

Yesterday at Nik Mun's in Subang Jaya
The 'gang'

The food - scrumptious blue nasi kerabu + + and for dessert, kopi luwak with akok + +

Then, at Ani's in Subang Permai
The 'gang' and friends

The food - yummylicious lamb & chicken mandi + +

Thank you Nik Mun & Ani for a great get together. (I seem to be lost for words, hence more visuals!)

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Stroll in the Taman Tasik Titiwangsa

Yellow bamboo by the Lake (CNB 2013)

Taman Tasik Titiwangsa in Jalan Temerloh is an oasis of green and serenity right in the middle of the city of Kuala Lumpur. Situated just behind the Istana Budaya and National Visual Arts Gallery, the city skyline from across the lake also include the KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers. M and I were there for the first time recently (yesterday, actually) and our stroll around the lake was indeed interesting because many trees there were in bloom. So for me it was more about photography in the great outdoors (than healthy exercise!).

The fountain and the KL city skyline (CNB 2013)

M at the start of our stroll around Lake Titiwangsa (CNB 2013)

The many flowering plants and trees contributing to the colours of the Taman Tasik Titiwangsa included pink Ixoras, yellow Saraca, white Pong-pong, the Rain tree, Bunga tanjung, etc.

A beautiful pong-pong tree by the lake (CNB 2013)

An old Rain tree (CNB 2013)

The end of my stroll around the lake (MB 2013)

But wait, its not the end yet. Here are just two of the colours (other than green) that I mentioned earlier.

Yellow Saraca (CNB 2013)

Pink Ixora (CNB 2013)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Little Slice of Tokyo

Pretty pastel Mochi, Tokyo Street (CNB 2013)

Tokyo Street in the Pavilion Mall is a little slice of Tokyo in Malaysia. The family and our friend Negin walked around there for some Japanese vibes (after our TWG Tea rendezvous).

With Negin & M at Tokyo Street (BB 2013)

Giant paper cranes (CNB 2013)

A, B, M, N (Negin 2013)

18 August 2013 (In progress)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Colours of TWG Tea

Colourful TWG Tea canisters (CNB 2013)

With our friend Negin, we found ourselves at the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique at Pavillion Kuala Lumpur recently. We were hiking in the forest at Kepong in the morning, so this was kind of a reward after all the hard work to lose some calories, ha ha! Actually somebody wanted to 'belanja', so we chose to be 'belanja-d' at the TWG Tea. Fair choice, me thinks. The food was delish - all infused with tea, tea and tea. The actual tea (drinks) list was so long and included teas I never even knew existed. The desserts were pretty and the service, we all agreed, was great.

With B and A (Negin 2013)

Negin and M (CNB 2013)

A's Wagyu beef burger (CNB 2013)

Somebody's foie gras (CNB 2013)

18 August 2013 (In progress)

Monday, 19 August 2013

A Hike in the Forest

On the Rover Track (CNB 2013)

For our recent Sunday outing we wanted a back-to-nature experience, and so chose to go to Kepong. To the 74-year-old FRIM or Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, one of the leading institutions in tropical forestry research in the world. There are so many 'attractions' here in this 600 hectares of regenerated forest - six different arboreta (collections of living trees), a canopy walkway, an ethno-botanic garden, the Kepong Botanical Gardens, nature trails, etc.

We were interested in trying the canopy walkway on this outing, but at the One-stop centre, we found out that it was closed*.  We decided to check it out anyway, so we walked along the 900m Rover track (dirt road) and then hiked up the 500m Canopy walkway trail to the entrance hut. The day was rather cloudy and when it looked like rain, we decided to take the same way down. Our hike along the trail was quite easy for B and A, even M, but I found parts of it 'difficult and arduous'.

Figs galore (CNB 2013)

The flora along the track & trail included what I could identify as hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree), ferns, and figs. Of course I could not identify so many, many more other plants and trees.

Fallen leaves along the Rover track (CNB 2013)     

It being midday, the fauna was not really 'out and about'. But we did come across a gang of macaque monkeys as we were driving around the FRIM grounds. The alpha male in the group ensured that all in his 'entourage' crossed the road safely before he hurried off after them. Quite a responsible fella!

Some facts about the fragile-looking Canopy walkway: located at Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve, it was built in 1992 (with aid from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation to a US design and built by the Temuan**) for the purpose of the scientific study of flora and fauna. The walkway spans 150m and is built on tree tops 30m above the ground. This walkway system consists of a strip of chengal planks placed on an aluminium ladder suspended by polyethylene netting and ropes from steel cables. The walkway and platforms are vantage points to experience a panoramic view of the forest and Kuala Lumpur area from a distance. The number of people allowed to 'canopy walk' per day is limited to 250 people.

Since the canopy walkway is closed for now, we only posed with it in the background. We will try again next time, and for me it will be quite a challenge! And of course there are the other 'attractions' in FRIM that beckon.

* The canopy walkway closure has been extended to 30 September 2013 for the annual maintenance work.
** The Temuan, an Orang Asli tribe, used to live here but have since moved. At times they return to harvest the forest products.
Note: 1. Be mindful of the fact that 'FRIM is not a public recreational park, but a R&D institution that opens its campus door to the public to enjoy the man-made forests'.  2. The (Titian) Canopy Walkway is featured  in the book Landmarks of Selangor, published by Jugra Publictions, 2003.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Classic Building, a New Mall

'A Paragon of shopping paradise' (CNB 2013)

We checked out the newest mall in Pulau Pinang during our recent island (Eid) holiday and found it half interesting. The interesting half is the heritage building of St Joseph Novitiate, restored and now housing cafes and such. The other half is the new modern mall with some outlets yet to open. The Gurney Paragon* fronts Gurney Drive, Jalan Kelawai being the other/back approach.

The facade of the St Joseph Novitiate (CNB 2013)

The 1925 Novitiate (quarters for novices) was part of the St Joseph's Training College founded by the De  La Salle Brothers (a Roman Catholic religious teaching order). In the early 80s the site was taken over by the Uplands International School. Then in 2004 the land was bought by Hunza Properties to build a high rise retail and residential project - the Gurney Paragon.

The back of the novitiate adjoining the shopping complex 

The novitiate approach into the shopping complex

The shops/outlets in this mall are just like in any other. The H & M store had newly opened, so guess who made a beeline for it? The clue? Not me, but someone with a distinct blue handbag.

Some shops at the Gurney Paragon (BB 2013)

* model of excellence or perfection of a kind (The Free Dictionary)
7 Aug 2013

Friday, 16 August 2013

A Mausoleum in Kg Melayu

The way to the Makam (CNB 2013)
What lies in our own backyard always seems to be ignored as we list all the places and their natural/man-made attractions we'd like to see before we die.  And the Makam Sheikh Omar (Sheikh Omar Mausoleum) is one such historic building in our Pulau Pinang backyard.   

Sheikh Omar Basheer Al Naqhshahbandy Al Khalidi (d. 1881), originally from Hadramawt, Yemen was a famous 19th century Naqhshabandi Sufi leader in Pulau Pinang. He had introduced special tariqah* practice called suluk which emphasises on seclusion. He also mediated during the Penang riots of 1867.

During my teens in Ayer Itam, I remember seeing his grandson Haji Fathil bin Sheikh Zakaria Basheer when we were neighbours. Sheikh Omar's tomb in Kampong Melayu, Ayer Itam lies under a 35-foot white tower built by Muslim labourers from India. This mausoleum is cited as the largest and most handsome of mausoleums in Pulau Pinang. It is regularly visited by Naqshbandi followers.

The mausoleum (CNB 2013)

The mausoleum and the graveyard (CNB 2013)

During the recent Eid holidays, with my brothers MN & AW, we visited our mother's grave at the Al-Kadrie mosque. Then later we went to the Mausoleum where beside it is a graveyard where my brother's (MN) wife SMA and son WHB, also his father & mother-in-law are buried. We found the mausoleum building most neglected, where even the signboard was truly dilapidated. I guess better upkeep and a new coat of paint is certainly required.

The grave of Sheikh Omar (CNB 2013)

*Tariqah - 'way, path'; a system of rites for the spiritual training of a Sufi order; any of the Sufi orders (

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Returning to Old Haunts

Penang Road (CNB 2013)

Over the recent Raya holidays we found ourselves going back to some old haunts in Pulau Pinang. For me, some of these haunts go back to my childhood days.

Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (CNB 2013)
"They often say you should never return to the places of fondest recall because they will never be quite the same. Oftimes, it is simply because they have changed over the years but on other occasions it's because they were never in the first place quite what your mind so clearly recalls today" (Roger St Pierre).

Jalan Penang was my older siblings' and my 'playground' after school. This Penang Road was where we sometimes had our lunch (usually laksa and ... laksa) and shopped before going home. Then when B and A were children, we used to park at the Magazine Circle car park to cross Penang Road to Komtar (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak) or Macalister Road & Dato Kramat Road to Gama. Of course Komtar was the 'happening' place then, and later became pretty rundown. We have realised that in Pulau Pinang, when a new shopping centre/mall is open, an older one is usually 'abandoned'. (Bukit Jambul Complex is another sad story, now mostly frequented by foreign workers.)

On the third day of Eid, we met up with an old friend FD at the Royal Hotel coffeehouse in Jalan Larut. This hotel was previously the Sheraton and earlier the Merlin. Here was where I saw my first Rafiee Ghani oil paintings and resolved to own at least one by the artist when I retired. Now I see that the two paintings there are not placed side by side anymore and (horrors!) one of them is slightly hidden by a lighted tree decoration.

Next door to this hotel on Macalister Road is the Penang Plaza, where at the Fima Cold Storage here, we used to do our weekly grocery shopping. We 'bumped' into our Bapa Malaysia and other Kedah royalty here sometimes. I guess they also needed to shop for groceries, eh? Anyway, today the facade and the inside of the building is so different from back then. More spruced up, maybe.

A spruced up Penang Plaza (CNB 2013)

Along Jalan Magazine, B and I went into the Butik 21 to tailor some clothes. She had previously had some clothes done here before and after some disappointments with the KL and Shah Alam tailors, its back to this PP tailor. Another case of 'pi mai pi mai tang tu juga'? With M we later had tea at the Trader's Hotel (formerly Shangri-La), another old haunt along the same road.

B posing along Jalan Magazine (CNB 2013)

Traders Hotel (CNB 2013)

On one of the evenings in the island, we dined at The Ship, still serving 'the best steak in town'. I probably had steaks there before, but now I am content with fish. I wonder if they still allow people to go on deck like they used to and were the waiters really wearing 'sailor' uniforms then? And as is routine, a walk along the Batu Ferringhi night market after dinner. Only this time, my feet got the better of me and I could not venture as far as the other family members did.

The evening sun lights up The Ship (CNB 2013)

M and I went into the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) campus, for him to visit the School of Chemical Sciences where he had had a working stint before and for me to see the new extended library building. But it being a public holiday, there was not much life around so our visit was very brief.

M at the School of Chemical Sciences (CNB 2013)

Our accommodation in PP this time included the Equatorial Hotel in Bukit Jambul, where numerous USM functions were held (maybe still are). I recall the many Convocation (Chinese several course) dinners here and also the USM/Library conferences/seminars/workshops held here too. There seems to be new wings/blocks added to the hotel complex so the occupancy rate must be good.  And I'm glad they have retained/maintained their 'hanging gardens' of the Money plant.

By the 'hanging gardens' of the Equatorial (BB 2013)

If my memory serves me right, buildings in Georgetown used to look old. But now that it is a Unesco heritage site since 2008, many have been spruced up. But I am not so sure about all my memories of this enigmatic island, because quoting Roger St Pierre again, 'Probably the most compulsive liar you are ever going to meet is your own memory'.