Category Archives: Malaysia

Malaysia

Penang Food Paradise

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Penang Food Paradise

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Penang is a state in Malaysia, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis, and the eighth most populous. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite.

Name

The island was referred to as pokok pinang The name “Penang” comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means island of the areca nut palm (Areca catechu, family Palmae). The name Penang can refer either to the island of Penang or the state of Penang.

The capital of Penang state is George Town. More specifically, George Town is also called Tanjung in Malay. Penang Island is simply Pulau Pinang and Penang state is Negeri Pulau Pinang in Malay.

Penang is severally known as “The Pearl of the Orient” and “Pulau Pinang Pulau Mutiara” (Penang Island of Pearls).

Language

The common languages of Penang, depending on social classes, social circles, and ethnic backgrounds are English, Penang Hokkien, Tamil and Malay. Mandarin, which is taught in Chinese-medium schools in the state, is also increasingly spoken.

Penang Hokkien is a variant of Minnan and is widely spoken by a substantial proportion of the Penang populace who are descendants of early Chinese settlers. It bears strong resemblance to the language spoken by Chinese living in the Indonesian city of Medan and is based on the Minnan dialect of Zhangzhou prefecture in Fujian province, China.

It incorporates a large number of loanwords from Malay and English. Many Penangites who are not ethnically Chinese are also able to speak in Hokkien. Most Penang Hokkien speakers are not literate in Hokkien but instead read and write in standard (Mandarin) Chinese, English and/or Malay.

Malay is spoken locally with north-western dialect features, such as hang for “you” and depa for “they/them”.

English is a working language widely used in business and commerce, and is also the language of instruction of Science and Mathematics in schools. English used in an official or formal context is predominantly British English with some American influences. Spoken English, as in the rest of Malaysia, is often in the form of Manglish (Malaysian colloquial English).

Other languages, including Cantonese and Tamil, are also spoken in the state. Teochew is heard more in Province Wellesley than on Penang Island.

Religion

The official religion of Malaysia is Islam and the head of Islam is the Yang Dipertuan Agong, but other religions are freely practised. These are Buddhism, in the Theravada, Mahayana and increasingly also Vajrayana traditions, Taoism, Chinese folk religion, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism (the largest denominations of which are the Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptists) and Sikhism- reflecting Penang’s diverse ethnic and socio-cultural amalgamation.

There is also a small, but little-known, community of Jews in Penang, mainly along Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly Jalan Yahudi or Jewish Street)

Agriculture

Penang agriculture is mainly made up of the major export crops of rubber and oil palm and some cocoa, the food commodities comprising paddy, fruits, coconut, vegetables, livestock (which is dominated by poultry and swine), fisheries and aquaculture, and new emerging industries such as ornamental fish and floriculture.

Owing to limited land size and the highly industrialised nature of Penang’s economy, agriculture is given little emphasis. In fact, agriculture is the only sector to record negative growth in the state, contributing only 1.3% to the state GDP in 2000. The share of Penang’s paddy area to the national paddy area accounts for only 4.9%.

Food

Penang island is a paradise for food lovers who come from all over Malaysia and even Singapore to sample the island’s unique cuisine, earning Penang the nickname of the food capital of Malaysia. Penang was recognised as having the Best Street Food in Asia by TIME magazine in 2004, citing that nowhere else can such great tasting food be so cheap.

Penang’s cuisine reflects the Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, but is also strongly influenced by the cuisine of Thailand to the north. It’s especially famous “hawker food”, sold and eaten roadside, strongly features noodles and fresh seafood. Places to savour Penang’s food are Gurney Drive, Pulau Tikus, New Lane, Swatow Lane, Penang Road and Chulia Street. Local Chinese restaurants serve excellent fare too. American fast food outlets and cafés are readily found throughout the state.

Shopping

Although Penang has lost much of its shopping paradise grandeur of its past, it still boasts several modern shopping malls catering a wide range of merchandise. Among the more popular ones on Penang Island are:

  • Queensbay Mall, Penang’s largest and longest shopping centre,
  • Gurney Plaza, touted as Penang’s first lifestyle-oriented shopping mall. Opened in 2001, it is located at the famous Gurney Drive precicnt.
  • KOMTAR is Penang’s first and oldest modern shopping mall. Plans are currently underway to revive the massive complex.

Other notable shopping malls on the mainland part of Penang:

  • Sunway Carnival Mall located at Seberang Jaya.
  • Seberang Prai City Perdana Mall located at Bandar Perda.

Concerns about Penang beaches

State Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said that there were plans to clean up and landscape the beaches in Batu Ferringhi. “The cleanliness of our beaches has been neglected for more than 10 years and this is a challenge to the tourism sector,”.

He added that the state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) took water samples from beaches in Batu Ferringhi and determined numerous pollution sources including the sewage system, illegal restaurants and hawkers and car-washing activities.

State Tourism Development Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said he was informed of the matter by the management of Malaysia Airlines. “The number of tourists from these regions has been steadily declining over the past decade” and “Tourists come to the state for the surf and sand but they usually return home disappointed. We are even losing out domestically to Pangkor and Langkawi” “Rivers will be cleaned up and illegal outlets draining sewage into the sea will be connected to a treatment plant by 2009.”

Association of Tourist Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Eddy Low said “We strongly discourage food courts or stalls being set up or built near the sea to prevent the dumping of rubbish into the sea and around the area. ” He said there should also be a massive plan for a central sewerage system so that waste would not go to the sea. There is also a need to protect the outer islands such as Pulau Jerejak, Pulau Rimau and Pulau Aman. “It is important for us to maintain these islands which are still pristine and untouched by pollution.”


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Sipadan

Sipadan

Sipadan Island is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. It is well-known for its international diving fraternity as one of the world’s five best dive sites.

Rising 600 meters from the seabed, Sipadan Island is located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo. This beautiful oceanic island was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop.

Sipadan Island is located in the centre of the richest marine habitat in the world, the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin. In this ecosystem, over 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified.

In the waters around Sipadan, rare diving scenes are frequently seen such as schools of green and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda and big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. Therefore, Sipadan is popular with its unusually large numbers of green and hawksbill turtles which gather there to mate and nest. And it is not really rare for a diver to see more than seventy turtles on each dive.

Besides that, there is a mysterious turtle tomb lies underneath the column of the Sipadan Island. The turtle tomb was formed by an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles that have become lost and drown before finding the surface.

Currently, this beautiful island is in the care of Wildlife Department. The Wildlife Department has stationed several park rangers to oversee the state of nature of the island. In order to protect the world’s unique flora and fauna on the island as well as the underwater world, the Malaysian Government has made a decision that from the year 2005, no more overnight facilities shall be on the Sipadan Island itself. This implies that all dive operators on the Sipadan Island have to move and diving at Sipadan will be conducted from other destinations likes Mabul and Kapalai.

Why Not Go

You really shouldn’t go to this place for holiday unless you are a scuba diver or you like snorkeling very much. There is nothing much to do on this island except enjoy yourself on the beautiful sandy beaches and watching the coral reef with its rich marine life. Besides that, there is no resort and nothing to buy on the island.

Why Go


The name of Sipadan is a legend in the diving circles, conjuring the images of patrolling hammerhead sharks, millions of colorful reef fish and, above all, dozens of sea turtles swimming peacefully everywhere. As one of the five top diving destinations in the world, Sipadan, the small rainforest-covered tropical island rising from a 700 meter abyss in the Celebes Sea, is an ultimate diving spot that a committed diver cannot miss.

Diving at Sipadan is certainly world class, so this place has attracted many diving lovers. It is well-known that divers are able to see about 150 species of butterfly fish within a single dive in Sipadan. Utilized by marine biologists as the indicators of coral reef health, a great number and species diversity of butterfly fish implies the abundance and diversity of corals. Pristine coral reefs are also landlord to other reef dwellers such as angelfish, snappers, wrasse, sweet lips, and parrotfish as well as the larger pelagic, barracudas, mantas, whales, dolphins and schools of hammerhead sharks.

Besides that, Sipadan Island is well-known with its vast numbers of Green and Hawksbill turtles which feed and breed within its waters before the females climb ashore to lay their eggs in the white sandy beaches. Others than that, diving near the coral reefs surprises you with incredible phenomena likes thousands of schooling chevron barracuda and big-eye trevally or ‘Jacks’. Moreover, floating inside such a tornado of fish is a truly breath-taking experience that is hard to beat.

On the other hand, Sabah is becoming one of the world famous location for ‘muck diving’. ‘Muck diving’ is used by divers to describe the search for rare and exotic small marine animals. Numerous rare and newly identified gobies can be found living in the corals, sand, mud and mangroves of Sabah, along with the rarely seen mimic octopus, neon patterned blue-ringed octopus, delicate flamboyant cuttlefish, psychedelic mandarin fish and ghost pipefish.

It is really worth to have a dive at Sipadan. Generally, the rate for three dives at Sipadan is just around RM260, plus RM40 for equipment (if required). Perhaps the rates might vary slightly among different operators. Boat transfers and packed lunch are included as well. Therefore you no need to worry about the food as there is no restaurant on the island.

It is vital to note that you need to have a permit from Sabah Parks in order to access the island, which will cost you RM40. Only 120 permits will be given out every day and they are typically obtained by the dive operators. You must make sure that the diver operator you choose is diving at Sipadan with permits, as some companies have been caught diving at the island without permits. You should check diver reviews of dive operators in the area before choosing as there are many have had customer complaints regarding faulty equipment.

Besides that, another tourist attraction of Sipadan is snorkeling. Eventually from the beach, the reef is easily accessible and parts of the reef further out can be reached by boat. There are a few dive tour operators bring snorkelers to the island at an all-inclusive rate of around RM170.

Best Time to Visit

You may make your way there any time all around the year but due to Sipadan is now a protected site, there is only 120 dives are allowed on Sipadan in a day. Therefore, it is highly recommended to dive as early as possible to beat the crowds and increase your chances of getting on the roster to dive.

Where to State

Previously, Sipadan Island was used to have resorts. In order to protect the environment, all the resorts were forced to close down around the year 2002. Hence, to dive on Sipadan, you have to stay somewhere nearby. There are resorts on the nearby islands likes Mabul which is 25 minutes away by boat and Kapalai which is 15 minutes away by boat.

As recommended, Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort is the best place to spend your night. It is just a few minutes by boat from the islands of Sipadan. Planned and built in full style as an airy, comfortable, sunny water village with no land in sight, Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort boasts a mile-long sandbank of powdery white sand where you can suntan at complete leisure while gazing out to the miles of brilliant turquoise stretching into the horizon offering the purest image of natural serenity. With the combination of sun and water in a unique and serene setting with friendly staff, Sipadan-Kapalai is an ideal stopover for you to have a great holiday experience.

Where & What to Eat

There are no restaurants on the island. You have to bring your own lunch and snacks there. Besides that, you are reminded to bring along your own water and drinks with you.

Nightlife

There is no nightlife on the Sipadan Island as it is not allowed to stay overnight on the island.

My to do List

– Diving
– Go to sandy beaches
– See the coral reef

-‘Muck diving’

– Snorkeling

Stay Away From

You should stay away from those companies that diving on Sipadan without permits from Sabah Parks. Make sure the diver operator you choose has diving permits from Sabah Parks.

Getting There

Getting to the Sipadan Island requires some effort. The best way for first timer is that by plane. At first, you may fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur which is about three hour’s flight or from Kota Kinabalu which is about 50 minutes flight. Then, continue your trip by minivan or taxi to the port town of Semporna which will take you about one to two hours. And from there you may go to Sipadan itself by fast boat, which only spend one hour.

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Langkawi, Malaysia Guide

3aLangkawi Sunset

Langkawi, Malaysia Guide

The island of Langkawi, Malaysia is an exotic holiday destination that offers accommodation of all kinds (from budget beach chalets to the most sybaritic five star resorts) and amenities sitting side by side with idyllic beaches, ancient rainforests and quaint villages. Langkawi Malaysia is an archipelago of 99 tropical islands (or 104, depending on tide) off the north-western coast of Peninsular Malaysia, about 30km from Kuala Perlis on the mainland. They’re accessible by boat from Penang, Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah and Satun, Thailand, or by air from Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The only island with any real settlement is the eponymous 478sq km Pulau Langkawi; the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba. The archipelago has some of the world’s most pristine rainforests, limestone and karst formations, caves with stunning stalactites and stalagmites, and among the world’s most beautiful beaches washed by clear emerald waters teeming with marine life.

3bLangkawi Fun Map

Langkawi, Malaysia is warm and sunny all-year-round. Humidity is high and the annual average temperature is 25C – 32C. The island was named after two Malay words – ‘lang’ (eagle) and ‘kawi’ (reddish brown), hence the imposing eagle statue at Dataran Lang (Eagle Square), welcoming visitors who arrive on the island through the Kuah Jetty.

There’s so much to see and to do in Langkawi; diving and snorkeling in the pristine water filled with rich marine life tops the list for most people. You can also take a cable car ride up the mountain that offers a breathtaking 360 degrees panoramic view of the islands, the rural lowlands and the seas as far as Thailand. For nature lovers, you can explore the lush forests and appreciate the unique wildlife of the islands from a different perspective.

Public transport on Pulau Langkawi is limited, so you usually need to call a cab or rent a car, motorbike or bicycle – all are readily available.

There’s a huge variety of food available on Pulau Langkawi, ranging from cheap and good hawker food to a splurge for gourmet food in the restaurants. The famous laksa is not to be missed.

Langkawi, Malaysia is a duty-free shopping destination. Other than cameras, branded items, electronic gadgets, shop for lovely silk batik, handicraft and local products, especially those from the fishing villages.

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