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All about Penang & more

Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. Here are stories about Penang and more.

Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant, a quaint eatery serving pho-nomenal Vietnamese food

Penang Vietnamese food © Adrian Cheah

I love criss-crossing Penang on my motorcycle because it avoids two major headaches –  traffic jams and parking problems. Thus, it is easy for me the head down to Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant (formerly Que Huong Toi Enterprise) to slurp up a bowl of delicious phở bò (Vietnamese beef koay teow soup). 

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Penang's Cina Wayang (Chinese opera) – for gods and ghosts

Chinese opera © Adrian Cheah

Growing up in Ayer Itam in the 70s was so much fun. Living near the wet market was even better since you could buy food easily any time of the day. Back then, we would bring our own tiffin carriers, even supply our own eggs to the char koay kak lady or Pak Dollah, the mee goreng uncle. Ah Heng, the rojak man, parked his cart in front of my house. He would string halved green mangoes on a lidi (coconut leaf) stick and top them with rojak sauce and crushed peanuts. Another favourite of mine was the sliced bangkwang (turnip), also topped with rojak sauce and crushed peanuts. Ah Heng eventually gave up the rojak business and sold koay teow thng. Everybody knew everybody back then. News even travelled faster than a speeding bullet. Before I could reach home, my mum would have known what I was up to. Mind you, that was when my house did not even have a telephone.

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The delicious 4-course set lunch at Le Venue

Le Venue © Adrian Cheah

My friends and I had a wonderful birthday celebration for Dorothy Wang at Le Venue. The hearty four courses in the set lunch were all elegantly plated, rendering a visual feast whetting the appetite. As always, Chef Petr Fehér's creations using quality ingredients were truly scrumptious. Let us take a closer look at each course.

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Scrumptiously healthy breakfast offerings at EMILY Darling Cafe

EMILY Darling Cafe © Adrian Cheah

EMILY Darling Cafe starts operations at 8:00 am. It was only a natural progression that the cafe added some breakfast options to its list of tempting pastries and cakes. I was there that Saturday morning, 21 May 2022, the first morning that three breakfast offerings were made available. Staying at E&O Hotel that weekend, I had a pleasant stroll along Penang Road to the cafe.

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Middle Eastern offerings at Halab in Chulia Street

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Halab, tucked in a bungalow along the bustling Chulia Street in the heart of George Town offers authentic Middle-eastern cuisine. It is no surprise that the Syrian and Arab communities in George Town frequent Halab, forming their base clientele alongside Penangites and tourists visiting the island.

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George Town World Heritage Site: The story of the Chinese in nineteenth-century Penang

By Mark Thompson and Karl Steinberg with photographs by Adrian Cheah

George Town World Heritage Site: The story of the Chinese in nineteenth-century Penang

Walk between two of George Town’s most famous landmarks with this illustrated guide. Discover the story of the Chinese in nineteenth-century Penang and explore some of the community’s fascinating characters, customs, architecture and events.

For as long as it has existed, George Town in Penang has attracted travellers and settlers from across the globe and is a true confluence of cultures. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site continues to enchant visitors with its traditional charm and its well-preserved historical townscape.

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Hungry Ghosts roam the Streets of George Town

Hungry Ghosts © Adrian Cheah

The Hungry Ghost Festival, locally known as Phor Thor, is an annual month-long celebration observed by the Chinese communities not only in Penang but also throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Phuket.

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P. Ramlee: Where lies the heart of a star

P. Ramlee © Penang House of Music

Every genius has his roots. Each marvel springs from a source.

In 1925, a young sailor from Lho' Seumawe in Acheh by the name of Teuku Nyak Puteh settled in Penang to marry a quiet lass from Butterworth, Che Mah Hussein.

As the modest couple began a new life in a village, it is unlikely they could in their wildest dreams have imagined that they would have a son who would someday become a legend.

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Capturing the opulence of bygone days – the Nyonya art of Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh embarked on a journey of discovery of identity and self-worth. It was a long road but with a lot of encouragement and moral support.

In the mid-eighties Sylvia was a member of the Arts and Craft Guild in which she held a committee member position for two years. This Guild was under the umbrella of the American Association.

In 1986, Ahmad Khalid Yusoff, the president of the Persatuan Perlukis Malaysia invited Sylvia to become a member. She was a life member of this Association.

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An irresistible dim sum encounter at Bao Teck Tea House

Bao Teck Tea House © Adrian Cheah

Dim sum ("touch the heart" in Chinese) refers to an array of dainty bite-size snacks enjoyed all over the world, especially among the Chinese communities. In Penang, dim sum is available for breakfast, lunch and even dinner from push-cart vendors, coffee shops, tea houses, restaurants and fine-dining establishments. Although the price difference can vary dramatically, there are many options for one to enjoy dim sum according to one's budget.

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The upside-down tree – Penang's very own Baobab

Penang's Baobab tree © Adrian Cheah

According to African legend, the Baobab wanted to become the most beautiful tree of all. When it realised that this was not possible, it put its head into the ground, so only the roots pointed heavenward. Another legend holds that when the Baobab was planted by God, it kept walking, so God pulled it up and replanted it upside down to stop it from moving.

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Of lanterns and mooncakes

lanterns and mooncakes © Adrian Cheah

"The Chinese people have never demanded a clear separation of the worlds of myth and reality – indeed, they are so closely bound up that it is hard to say where one begins and the other ends." – An Introduction to Oriental Mythology, Clio Whittaker et al

"The moon, along with fine wine and beautiful women, is a favourite topic for the Chinese poets." – Chinese proverb

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