Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year from Penang and may 2012 bring you health, joy and prosperity.

Night Club: Slippery Senoritas - UPR, Penang (Top Pick)

Few who stay in Penang for any length of time will not have heard of Slippery Senoritas, Penang's longest standing night club in Upper Penang Road. Set amongst the bustling bars of UPR, SS, as it is kno
wn locally, is without doubt one of the best night-spots in Penang. UPR is home to many bars, including two of my favourites, Monkey Bar and Zanzibar (photoreviews to follow), and also the clubs Voodoo and Mois. These clubs are also popular with Mois being particularly busy BUT, they cater for a different crowd. Stand outside Mois on a Friday night and you will see that it is definitely frequented by a very young clientele. So where do the '30 something' crowd in Penang head for when they want to party? Simple, SS, and it's easy to see why.

I have now been to SS numerous times on differing nights of the week and can honestly say that it's easy to see why SS is so popular. Firstly there is the layout. The main area is arranged around a large, nicely lit central bar where the bar staff pull-off some superb juggling acts with bottles while mixing cocktails for the revellers. Tables and comfortable stools are laid out on a variety of slightly different levels in this main area which opens out just in front of a large stage to an area that often doubles as a dance floor when the mood takes. On the next floor up an all round balcony with yet more seating, another bar, and a large floor area provides further space for party-goers when the club is particularly busy, like Halloween and like it most certainly will be tonight!!!!

So what else has SS got going for it that makes it so special? Well, it's really the complete package that it offers. Throughout the evening the club is cascaded in various arrays of lights from a superb light system ranging from swinging beams with all colours of the rainbow to the black and white contrasts of high speed strobes. Then there is the entertainment. A superb Philippinno band 'Elevate' play a number of sets each and every night from around 9:30 pm onwards, starting of with some outstanding ballads and set pieces to get the mood going. As the first set progresses, and certainly in the subsequent sets, the stunning singers Joan, Rose and Reema really up the tempo and belt out some outstanding rock numbers both contemporary and classical. They clearly enjoy what they do and their voices, drive and energy really get the crowd going. They are a real pleasure to watch, nice people too :-)

The DJs (Chan and Menu) and the sound system are also outstanding. One of the owners is a DJ of 25 years or so experience and it's clear that this experience, together with a lot of thought and effort, and also expense, has gong into to making the sound system in SS something to be proud of. The sound from the vast array of speakers that surround the club is monitored throughout the night by the sound and lights engineer, Mark, to ensure it's not too loud, too much base etc etc. It's a pity some other clubs don't do this. The result is well balanced sound throughut the evening and some truly exceptional music.

On the music front, you should also try SS on a Thursday night. Thursday is retro night with the Retrokillerz as guest DJs, Retrokillerz being none other than the owner / DJ I mentioned, Harry, and my good chum and manager of SS, Jack. A great night out with a difference and a change in music theme.

The range of drinks on offer at SS is also staggering and prices are very reasonable IMO. There is also an extensive menu available and many people dine just outside SS in a courtyard which is shared between SS and a few other bars that surround it. And of course, what finally makes a club is the crowd and the crowd in SS tends to be more mature, fun and friendly with many being regulars.

So there it is, SS. If you are in town either as a resident or as a visitor you should definitely give SS a try, and preferably more than once. Wednesday is ladies night with free entry for the fairer sex, Thursday for Retro and of course the weekends are very popular. But just about any night at SS will be enjoyable and for that reason alone SS gets a well earned 'Top Pick' from me. Below are a few pictures to give some idea of what SS is like. More pictures can be found here.

My chum and manager at SS, Jack, prepares for another busy night.

Hostesses Irene and Sally at reception.

The band 'Elevate' in action, features three of my fave singers in Penang......




and Reema.

As the night goes on the band ups the tempo....

and SS gets busier as it gets later....

but the crowd is always good and just out to enjoy.

And finally, two shots from Halloween. Nights like this can be very busy but luckily SS has the capacity to cope......

Friday, 30 December 2011

Looking for a Print Shop?

After being in Penang a while most people will probably acquire their own computer printer and/or scanner. However, there may well be times that you need letters printed off, papers scanned or copied, passport photos doing and such like.

I have had a fair bit of printing and design work done just lately and was recommended a printers called CNC Printing Solution by my friend and fellow blogger Watertown Wanderer. The shop is at the top of Jalan Fettes (no. 14), close to its junction with Mount Erskine in Tanjung Tokong.

Last time I went I paid only RM 15 for:
  • 6 passport photos
  • 1 letter printed from USB stick
  • 1 letter scanned to USB stick
  • 5 photocopies (2 colour)

They also do:
  • Stickers
  • Business cards
  • Laminating
  • Rubber stamps
  • Photo printing
Good value for money and good, friendly service. They open from 10am until about 7pm daily and their telephone number is 04-899-5035. Email address: cncpenang 'at'

Good Dentist

One of the services that you don't need too often but when you need one it can be a pain (literally) to have to waste time to try and find a good one. Not had call to use a dentist myself yet here but when the time does arise I plan to use a dentist in Tanjung Tokong who has now been recommended by several people.

The dentist is KK Ong (04 899 1469) and it is situated on the Tg Tokong Road at the junction with Jalan Fettes (the dentist is actually on the right hand side of the road as you travel towards Batu Ferringhi and is opposite Fettes Residence).

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Underworld 4 - In Cinemas 19 Jan

Finally go to go and see Mission Impossible (4): Ghost Protocol yesterday and I have to say I thought it was brilliant. Plenty of action and very well filmed. If you haven't seen it already and are even the slightest bit interested in action movies I'd suggest catching this before it closes.

I was also delighted to see that my favourite actress Kate Beckinsale returns to the role of Selene in Underworld (4): The Awakening on 19 January. Really looking forward to this as the Underworld series of movies has always delivered. If I was going to get bitten by any vampire, Selene would be the number one choice ;-)

Friday, 23 December 2011

FM Radio Stations - Penang

Prompted by the need to programme the radio memory on the recently arrived car, the following is a list of what I've found to be my favourite English language FM radio stations in Penang over the last few months (good for streaming on internet too):

Fly FM: 89.9

Hitz FM: 92.8

Lite FM 104.4

Mix FM: 91.0

Red FM: 107.6

Traxx FM: 98.7

The Malaysia Central site is also useful as it lists these and the many other Malaysian radio channels transmitting with live stream so you can listen through the internet.

'Pick of Penang' Goes Mobile

Picked up the new Vios from Toyota today and have to say I'm very happy. Chin from Toyota even picked me up to go and collect it. Must say I was very impressed with the thoroughness of the handover from Toyota and was even more impressed with the bonus discount they gave me of a further RM 1,000 and RM 200 off the price of the tinting I had done (I went for the best quality CoolTint as I have seen the disastrous results of using cheap rubbish). They also threw in a large umbrella, full set of rubber mats, more fuel than they needed to and a pack-away large shopping bag.

Must admit it's really nice to have the car now, while the buses etc. are fine they are a bit inconvenient at times. Fathoming exactly where the bus-stop is can also be immensely hard in some parts of town!!!

I did drop one clanger though. Flicking through the brochures you can see that the numerous editions of the Vios include a radio/CD player which is listed as 'MP3/WMA'. Ordinarily you might be forgiven for thinking that means that the vehicle comes fitted with socket where you plug in your MP3 player of choice. Not so!!! It means the CD player can play MP3/WMA files from the CD. The system can be switched to 'Aux Input' if an adaptor is fitted 'in some units'. So, if playing music through an iPod/iPhone or whatever is important to you, check that your vehicle has an 'Aux' input. I shall be using the car rarely and even on the longer trips it's no BIG deal. I might explore the option of a retro-fit 'Aux' input but it's an assumption I'd made from the catalogue that was incorrect :-(

I'll post up some more specifics about purchase finalisation, insurance, servicing and such like in a few days but for now I'm just happy to have the car. I was also very impressed with Toyota who handled the whole MM2H tax-refund application for me as part of the purchase. Couldn't have been easier. I will be happy to provide Mr Chin's contact details to anyone interested in purchasing a Toyota, MM2H or not.

Good Taxi Driver

Mostly, while in Penang, if I have needed to take a taxi I just tend to grab one from the nearest rank and, now I have a rough idea of the going rates, I've always got a reasonable enough deal. Meters here are just for decoration. However, at the top of Penang Road in Georgetown, near the junction with UPR, there is a taxi rank (almost opposite Soho bar) where they even publish their rates to different areas.

At times though it's handy to have a number to call to book a taxi, especially if you have a lot of running around to do. Yesterday I had a lot so I used my trusted taxi driver chum Mike.

The trip yesterday involved:
  • Pick up from Tg Bungah
  • Drive to Downing Street in Georgetown and wait while I went to post office and bank
  • Drive to Bayan Lepas while I went to JPJ / RTD
  • Drive to Sungai Penang and wait at car showroom
  • Drive back to Tg Bungah
Total cost RM 80 with a total 'hired' time of about 3 hours. Very reasonable IMO. It would probably have cost the same flagging individual taxis down and there is a need to bear in mind that a couple of these locations are not near ranks.

So, if you need a taxi for some running around (he does a good price to /from the airport too at around RM 40), drop me a mail from the contact form here (or my profile) and I'll pass on Mike's details.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New Bagan

Another quick update as I have had several contacts from readers asking about the opening of the new Bagan (see previous posts), mainly about when and where.

The new Bagan (although it's name will change) will be in Mcalister Road, Georgetown. The slightly bad news is that the opening will now not likely be until March 2012. It's a shame as there are no other venues like Bagan in Penang and it is missed by a lot of people. I also hope the format of the new place doesn't change too much, but we shall see.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Catvoque Events Production

I have previously posted a few shots of some good friends of mine who are members of the very talented Catvoque Dance Troupe based in Penang. Recently I got to shoot some more pictures of them in action at the Cititel Hotel in Penang. Managed to get some nice shots of them despite the scourge of photographers everywhere, dry ice or stage smoke :-)

A link to the public album can be found here. Tags and captions to follow.

Catvoque really are superb to see in action and their full show is really something to behold. If you are planning an event and need something to wow an audience you should really consider Catvoque. They can be contacted through their Facebook Page here.

Penang Heritage Haven Event

Thought I'd give this event an a mention seeing that it combines very good black and white photography, Penang heritage and the and a charity sale all the proceeds go to a very good cause, National Autism Society of Malaysia.

The event opens at 2pm on Saturday 17 December at the E&O Hotel and features over 100 photographs by 15 photographers. It runs for a week with a heritage and photographic talk at the hotel at 2:30pm on Sunday 18 December.

Monday, 12 December 2011


Just a quick post this, merely to let people know about the small disposable dehumidifiers that can be purchased from many supermarkets and used in cupboards and wardrobes etc. They are basically plastic tubs with a reservoir at the bottom and which contain small water attracting pellets suspended above it. They draw water into the reservoir and are good for helping to keep dampness from clothes and shoes etc.

They are used extensivelyin the Middle East where they are somewhat cheaper than in Malaysia where they retail at about RM 5 each. At times they can be had on offer. One of the most popular brands is Thirsty Hippo and, used in a cupboard with the doors kept closed, they will last for up to a month. Quite useful.

Maxis and Facebook problems.

In addition to all the other problems that many people I know seem to encounter with Maxis it now seems that there is now an additional problem that is affecting large numbers of Facebook users who have the misfortune to be on Maxis. They cannot upload pictures and constantly getting error messages regardless of the browser they use.

Even using Blogger is absolute torture. I do find Blogger quite poor when it comes to image uploads and particularly when it comes to moving them around. Several browsers handle this very poorly and about the only one I have found effective is Firefox. I have never had the problems I have had with Blogger today before though, oh and yes, I was using Maxis. Coincidence???

Yet another reason that I am happy to say I avoid Maxis like the plague.

Restaurant: Nyonya Breeze - Straits Quay, Penang

I had seen this restaurant on the first floor several times on visiting Straits Quay and often thought about giving it a try but I'd heard mixed reports about it and was a little hesitant. Recently I called in with a friend of mine and tried the set lunch that they have at around RM 25-30 per person.

For one person you will normally get some rice, a meat or fish dish and a vegetable dish. As there were two of us we opted to try different menu choices to get a good mix for sharing. We opted for roast belly pork, prawn sambal, a fried egg based dish and a potato dish. There was also a broth style pork-based soup accompaniment.

I have to say that the meal was very disappointing. To start off with the portions were very small, much less than you'd get from a hawker with little more than 2-3 mouthfuls per person. The quality of the food was also very poor, my friend, a local, commenting that it was like home cooked food made by someone who couldn't cook. The pork was tasteless and not well cooked, the egg dish was greasy and quite sickly with only the prawns, 4 of them, being anything like enjoyable. The broth was almost completely tasteless. The peach tea was about the only thing we really enjoyed. I think the waiter sensed the disappointment as he did say that the best dishes were on the A La Carte menu in the evenings. Trouble is, these were on it too!!!

Sadly this was one of the poorest meals I have had in Malaysia. Maybe it was a bad day, maybe there are better dishes on the A La Carte but I have to say I won't be in a rush to try. Not recommended at all :-(

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Asia Model Festival Awards - Final (Northern Region)

The final for the Northern Region of AMFA was held at Voodoo in Georgetown, Penang on Friday 2 December. The winner, Jane See, will go to the finals of the event in Seoul, Korea.

Again, rather than upload numerous pictures here, which will string out to a very long post, here is a link to an album of pictures from the event. The lighting and set up was not brilliant, largely because of the restrictions of the venue, so I missed quite a few pics.

One of my friends here in Malaysia is Asia's top super-model Amber Chia and it was her Academy, in conjunction with Intrenasionale, that ran the event. Amber is pictured above (left) with two more friends, the first and second runners up, Sofia Yeng (centre) and Iyvonne Lo.

Monday, 5 December 2011

8th Penang Jazz Festival - Final Night

Managed to get to the festival and I have to say it was BRILLIANT. Jazz lovers will have loved it and even people who aren't keen on jazz would have had a great time. Trust me, modern jazz is superb, even more so as the edges between other music styles such as rock and electronica get blurred by increasingly innovative artists like 'Rusconi', an outstanding trio from Sweden.

Rather than posting images here (which can spread out over a long post and be difficult to place), I've uploaded a selection to the Facebook Page for POP here. Hope you like them :-)

For those that missed it this year I would STRONGLY suggest you remember it and look out for it in 2012. I shall certainly be making sure I am free EVERY day for the next event. Congratulations to the organisers for a brilliant event!!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Penang Jazz Festival - Has Started!!! (1st - 4th December)

For those who may heave missed this, just a reminder that the Penang Jazz Festival has started. The full programme can be viewed and downloaded here. I certainly intend to catch Primitive Leap and Shakatak, more if I have the time. Been a busy week!!!!

Penang Districts

Many people coming to, or contemplating coming to, Penang will likely be trying to get some kind of idea as to what the areas are like that they keep seeing people discuss on forums and such like. Tanjung (Tg) Tokong, Tg Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, Gurney, Georgetown, Little Inida etc etc etc. The names crop up all the time but until you actually GET here it's hard to get a feel or even a glimpse, of what they are like.

So, in an attempt to remedy this to some degree I intend over the coming weeks to take several general views of the areas in question and post them up under a separate title for each area to give people SOME idea of what these places are like. Where appropriate I will try to get in some night shots also (not really needed at Tg Tokong and Bungah as there is little to see at night, different to Gurney, Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown). In cases where a night shoot is needed I'll likely do a 'By Day' and 'By night' subject rather than cram them all under one heading. It won't be ideal but I figure it'll be better than nothing. Hopefully I shall be able to start next week with Tg Tokong and then Gurney.

Asia Model Festival Awards - Voodoo Club (Fri 2 December))

The final for the Asia Model Festival Awards (Northern Region) will be held at Voodoo Club, Penang tonight from 6:30pm. Looking forward to this event.

The 6:30 start is for guest arrival and the show is scheduled to start around 8:30, I would suspect however that it will be later than this. Previous weeks the show has started at midnight albeit the scheduled time was 10pm before, if it's midnight tonight and people have got there at 6-7, there will be some PRETTY angry people around. Anyway, let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Good luck to my friends and contestants Sofia Yeng, Melinda Lee, Fiona Tan, Jess Tan and Iyvonne Lo!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Apartment Considerations

As I spend more time here and having visited countless properties since April I have started to come up with a mental list of considerations with regard to purchasing or renting somewhere to live. Some are more important than others and, depending on your own view, these issues may or may not be important to you. The list is not exhaustive and I'll likely add to them as times goes on. The list is largely not in any order of importance:

Building and Design:
  • Renovation Noise: This will most likely be an issue if you buy, or are considering renting in, a newly completed block. Condos etc are sold basically as concrete shells and once people start to fit them out, the drilling and hammering starts. The density of units in the block and the prolific use of air-wells will greatly multiply the problem. Believe me, it is hard to describe how immensely irritating the sound of high-impact drilling is from 9am - 5pm day in, day out, for weeks on end, maybe months. I doubt very much that I would rent in a brand new build again because of this. If it's a property you've bought you'll likely put up with it more but for rental I prefer to get the living experience (including peace and quiet) that the finished article would bring.
  • Environmental Noise: Either from motor cycles (actually glorified hair dryers on two wheels but damn noisy) at all hours in some of the low cost housing areas, building site and traffic noise etc. All more of an issue if you prefer to sleep without air con (AC) and with windows open. An odd one is also frogs. Yes, frogs!!! dependant on how close you are to greenery and water you will often get a chorus of frogs croaking all night which, while interesting at first, I suspect would become quite an irritant if you are a light sleeper. All these things are worth checking out by visiting the area at various times of day and night and at the weekend. If buying near a mosque you may also want to visit at prayer times to check on noise levels.
  • Orientation: An important one. Facing east and you'll get the morning sun beating down, facing west, the afternoon sun. This can create some significant cooling problems for you if you will be in during the day and will likely add to the bills for use of AC.
  • Leasehold or Freehold? Freehold is generally considered better for re-sale.
  • Design and layout: Some are MUCH better than others and for me a building that uses less, preferably no, air-wells is better. Air-wells conduct noise very well and are great for gathering rubbish. If a building uses air-wells to provide light to some rooms you need to be very high up, otherwise the light you get will be minimal. I have seen some units at 1,100 sf that are much better designed, and make much better use of space than some at 1200 or 1300 sf. The space needs to be usable too. No great tracts of floor area that you can do nothing with or endless 'dead end' off-shoots from rooms.
  • End of block: or corner facing units are often preferable to internal units both because of the views and increased privacy (no-one walking past you door and one less immediate neighbour).
  • Natural light: How much do you get? Some units are terrible. Some also have windows of bedrooms facing on to common landings (where the lifts are) which thus get no view or natural light and little privacy.
  • Drying area: Some units have good utility areas and some don't. Drying your washing and such like can then be difficult if you have no space for the rather large drying racks here. Electric tumble dryers are an option but possibly not desirable for permanent use. Drying washing on balconies is discouraged.
  • Density: Buildings with high numbers of units per floor will likely suffer from increased noise, less privacy and an increased risk of dodgy neighbours (simply more chance at 12 units per floor than 4).
  • Security: How effective is it?? Many places have guard houses and guards but some are much more effective than others. In some cases just pipping the car horn will get the barrier raised and let you access the car park. If on foot you can often just walk in unchallenged. Try that at Miami Green and see how far you get. Not all security is equal.
  • Security: How easy is it to secure your unit completely if you are away.
  • Servicing: Some blocks are better cared for, maintained and cleaned than others. Worth checking a few times to check the state of common areas etc.
  • Car parking: how much do you need. Many units have just one slot and purchasing extra can be pricey (RM 25,000 per slot).

Fixtures and Fittings:
  • Hot Water: Not something that is the norm here, either in bathrooms or kitchens. Some look to add water heaters in kitchens etc. for washing up. If buying new, it's something you may wish to discuss with developers as an optional extra.
  • Power-points: How many and where. Some places are very poorly designed in this respect and have a dearth of power-points and often have power-points in less than useful places. In one apartment the bed in the master bedroom would be 'forced' against a certain wall because of layout. But, no power-points for bedside lamps or clocks etc??? Also long stretches of wall without power-points can be a problem if looking to place illuminated display cabinets etc. In some cases the points in kitchens are placed stupidly high, just below the bottom of cupboards rather than just above the work-surfaces (trailing and unsightly cables when plugging in appliances).
  • Shaver points: Only seen these in very few bathrooms. Something to consider.
  • Double Glazing: Rare. Great for keeping out noise and insulating from heat but I've not seen it in use here. Some people look to fit secondary double glazing and the design of your unit may make this more or less practicable.
  • Baths: Very few places have baths fitted in bathrooms, most are shower only. Some that do have baths only fit the very small ones. Larger units (2,000 sf) may have at least one bath fitted as standard (BUT, see hot water above).
  • Glazing film: Similar to what is used in cars, some look to apply this to certain windows to reduce the heat, UV and glare from the sun. I'm exploring the use of different types here and will post again with what I consider to be the best option.
  • Air-Con: Buying a new unit you may also be able to discuss fitting AC with the developer. This is generally going to be better than the hack and slash that's required for a post-fit. Not all units are equal either. Panasonic is considered to be quite a good brand. Daikin is however considered one of the best because it is almost silent. Hand held remotes a great advantage too, better than wall mounted controls.
  • Ceiling fans: I use these a lot. I never use AC. Some are better quality than others and some also come with combined light units. Better units also come with a remote control so you can vary the speed of the fan and even set a pre-designated cut-off time.
  • TV Point(s): How many and where placed. If a new or recently built unit you may wish to check that it's wired for Astro TV HD (requires two feeds per box) if that is important to you. Oddly, even some brand new units don't have HD enabled with claims that "It's coming soon". The placing of these points, along with phone points and associated power-points often leaves a lot to be desired!!
  • Drinking Water: Two options really. You can either get a free-standing or work-top water fountain and use the large 5 gallon bottles (about RM 50 for five) or fit a filter unit to your supply. These are not the cheap RM 150 particle filters but cost somewhere around RM 4,000 and you then switch between drinking and general use water. I plan to use the latter once I move somewhere permanently. You will need to replace the filters in these about once a year at a cost of about RM 300.
  • Storage: Often a problem. How much do you need and how much is there? Storing all manner of things can become quickly problematic once your seemingly spacious apartment is fitted with furniture and such like.
  • Gas: Is bottled here if you intend to use it and you will need enough space for the bottle installation (which will eat up some of your kitchen storage).
That's all for now. Not exhaustive like I say, just some issues you may overlook, when considering where to rent / buy. Some of these things can also be rectified after purchase but obviously there more there is to do, the more mess and the greater the cost.

Camera Fair: Gurney Plaza (Thurs 24 - Mon 28 Nov)

Found out that there is a camera fair in the main concourse area at Gurney Plaza from 24th - 28th November. How big it will be I'm not sure. More importantly, I'm not sure what there will be in terms of discounted deals, incentives and other offers. I plan to go along on 24th for a look and will post more information on the extent of offers / deals etc.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Movies: Immortals and movie for Xmas

Saw a trailer for this when I was at the cinema today to see the Immortals (which I thought was pretty damn good). It's is a film losely based on Greek mythology directed by the talented Tarsem Singh and is told in the same 'comic book' style as the '300' Those expecting a different angle and an accurate depiction of Greek / Persian confict would do better to read Herodotus. All the same, cracking couple of hours entertainment.

Anyway, back to Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. As it seems it will open around 21 December it looks like this might be my movie for Xmas. Action packed in the tradition 'Mi' way, usually with a good script and cast.

Reminder: Penang Jazz Festival (1st - 4th December)

Just a quick reminder that the much anticipated Penang Island Jazz Festival is getting closer and closer :-)

The line up of artists at the main even and the various fringe stages promises to deliver a great Festival and with the first two days of events at the main stage being on Sat 3rd and Sun 4th December, one day after the final of the Asia Model Festival Awards at Voodoo, it looks like it's going to be a GREAT weekend!!!!!

Here is the schedule for the main stage alone:

Saturday, 3rd December 2011
6.30pm – 7.10pm : Fred Cheah & The JazzHats
7.20pm – 8.00pm : Espen Eriksen Trio
8.10pm – 8.50pm : Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik Trio
9.00pm – 9.40pm : Jiyoung Lee Quartet
9.50pm – 10.30pm : Yuri Honing Wired Paradise
10.40pm – 11.30pm : SHAKATAK
Sunday, 4th December 2011
6.30pm – 7.10pm : Amir Yussof Acoustic Project
7.20pm – 8.00pm : Eva Bjerga Haugen with EET
8.10pm – 8.50pm : Ulf & Eric Wakenius – Father and Son
9.00pm – 9.40pm : Rusconi
9.50pm – 10.30pm : Rio Sidik Quartet
10.40pm – 11.30pm : Nina Van Horn
(N.B. Programme is subject to change)
Details of the event and options to purchase advance tickets can be found on the festival website.

Bar / Restaurant: 69 Mansion - Batu Ferringhi

69 Mansion in Batu Ferringhi (BF) is seen as one of the classier establishments on the island and has an innovative and somewhat unique feel to it. The bar is on the right hand side of the road as you drive into BF from the direction of Gurney, the entrance being nestled between various market stalls. It is not that far from a large restaurant called The Ship. There is a fairly large car park out front for which there is a flat rate charge of RM 5 for all day if you wish.

69 is a contemporary bar and is well decorated and furnished in a modernistic style. As you enter there is a bar / lounge area with ample seating both at the bar and in the air conditioned lounge. There is also a small internal swimming pool, linked to water features outside, of which more later.

Leaving 69 to go to its rear grounds there are several seating and eating areas to choose from. There is an area of low set comfortable sofas which run alongside one of the pools and also a raised, decked and covered area filled with tables and chairs that can be easily re-arranged and which would make a good drinking / dining choice. In addition there is a seating areas which is IN the water features / low pools where you can sit and relax with the coolong water around your feet. Shorts or similar are of course obligatory and some even sit in swimwear. Beyond that there is a further seating area out on the sand where you can really get the beachfront bar experience and even indulge in a shisha.

All things considered, I really like 69 and see it as a nice relaxing place to go if you fancy a night with a more upmarket feel. Drinks are about average prices for the island with a cocktail at around RM 25-40 and a beer at about RM 13 (from memory). A place worth visiting IMO, especially if you are already up in the BF area, may be a bit far out if you are planning a longer night and intend to end up in UPR, Georgetown. Give it a try, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Asia Model Festival Awards 2012 - Voodoo Club (Fri 18 Nov)

The semi final of the Malaysia leg of the Asia Model Festival Awards 2012, organised in Penang by the Amber Chia Academy in conjunction with Intrenasionale, will be held at the Voodoo night club, Upper Penang Road (UPR), Georgetown on Friday 18 November from around 10pm to 3am with the contestants being on stage for several sessions from about 11pm onwards up to around 2am.

It is a well run event in what is actually one of my favourite clubs in UPR. The club is well laid out with a good light and sound system and an excellent live rock band that does a number of sessions on stage, interspersed with sessions from the very good DJs.

I attended the first two qualification heats which were also very good but the semi-finas of course will ramp up the intensity and the quality. What will make this event particularly appealing for me is that a number of my friends have qualified and are through to the semi, including; Melinda Lee (Orangez), Fiona (Shapig) Tan, Jess (Shyuan) Tan, Sofia Yeng, Jane See, Ashley Choo, Iyvonne Lo and Eunice Lim. Pics of the semi-finalists can be seen here and you can also vote for the girls by clicking 'Like' below their individual photos when you open them. The contestants do a number of 'runway' walks on stage including casual wear, swim wear and evening wear.

The AMFA semi-finals promises to be an excellent event, as of course will the final on Friday 2 December, a definite date for the diary and Pick of Penang will be there to grab some pics. If you are in Penang on Friday it's definitely an event to consider.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Restaurant: Palace of India - Tg Tokong, Penang (Top Pick)

At last!!!! I seem to be getting some free time from the billion and one things I've had to do of late but, now I'm getting on top of them, I'll have the time I need to clear the blog post back-log and post more regularly (every couple of days) from here on in. So, what better way to start than with a new 'Top Pick' and a cracking Indian restaurant in Tanjung Tokong called 'Palace of India'. I have been past Palace of India countless times since I first visited here in April, even more since I've lived here full time. It always looked nice from the outside but up until now I'd never got round to calling in - big mistake. I have now been there twice in a very short space of time and will be visiting a lot more.

The Palace of India (POI) is on the Tanjung Tokong Road on the left hand side as you travel towards Batu Ferringi from the Gurney area. It is about 100 yards before Island Plaza on the opposite side of the road. If you reach the traffic likes at Jalan Fettes you've gone too far. The restaurant has a reasonably well sized car park and a sign that can be seen from the road so you shouldn't miss it. The POI is nicely decorated in a very traditional Indian style and has ample seating and tables that can be arranged to accommodate a meal for two or indeed much larger wedding and other celebration parties. There is at times some live entertainment and when there isn't there is usually a Bollywood style movie or music playing to further set the scene. The restaurant is very popular and if going at the weekend it might be advisable to call ahead and book a table. I will get and post the telephone number next time I'm there.

The restaurant has an extensive menu including a large selection of dishes prepared in a traditional tandoor oven and an equally extensive range of other dishes, breads, soft drinks, beverages and beers. When I visited the first time I was VERY hungry (having starved myself during the day - mostly by accident!!) so decided to order maybe slight more than I needed.

Not having had a good seekh kebab for a loooonnnggg time I decided to opt for that as a starter from the tandoor. This was a good sized portion and I think would easily serve two as a starter, especially if you are planning to load up on the mains!!! The kebabs were nicely spiced, moist and nicely cooked with the taste that only a tandoor oven can impart. To follow I had a butter massala chicken, plain biryani rice and a plain naan.

The butter chicken was excellent, moist, tasty and served in a rich and spicy sauce, a far cry for some of the 'excuses' for butter chicken I have tried with some too heavily loaded with fenugreek and others tasting more like chicken in tomato soup.........eeeeew. Not here, an excellent dish which I shall bear in mind for future visits. The rice was also very tasty, nicely cooked and fluffy and a portion will easily serve 2. The naan was also very light and tasty and is one of the accompaniments I can't go without (unless I swap it for a mint paratha which is also very good here). Together with a can of Tiger the whole meal came to a little over RM 50 and, if you add a vegetable dish, what I ordered again would easily feed two.

I am very glad that I finally got round to visiting the Palace of India. Nice restaurant, good staff (the manager Adnan is a top guy) and, of course, great food and atmosphere. Well worth a visit the Palace of India gets a 'Top Pick' from me, first for some time!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

More Property Ponderings

Readers may be aware that I had pretty much decided to opt for an off-plan purchase at Batu Uban and I'm largely happy to stick with. There is however one problem, it hasn't launched yet and I have no Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA). Problem with this of course is that the longer the launch takes, the longer the build will take and the more money I throw down the drain in rental. As such, I still keep my options open.

When I first came out to Penang I was ADAMANT I had to be near Gurney, Georgetown and Straits Quay but, although I do visit them still, it's FAR less than I anticipated, largely because I have rapidly developed a social circle which just does it's own thing, wherever. When I couple that then with the lack of developer (versus speculator sub-sale) units in any condos that I actually like and the lack of units 'off-plan' that appeal (for me Surin, Lattitude, Pearl Regency all have issues) I do start to ponder is a Penang island residence REALLY essential??? Condo wise I'm still considering the island of course and in particular out by E-Gate and Queensbay and plan to look at a few more projects there. I did have an option of a condo at The View when I was here in April and am kicking myself slightly that I didn't take it. But, I figure these things happen for a reason.

Of late however I have also started to consider Juru, Auto-City and Butterworth. All have existing and/or planned developments by the developers that appeal to me (Mahsing, Boon Siew and possibly IJM) AND there is the added bonus that land is cheaper and available there so we are talking about landed and in some cases detached.

Of course landed property has factors you need to consider such as pests and vermin, security, upkeep, maintenance etc. with those issues being somewhat less prevelant with condos (albeit you pay for it) but condos also have potential problems such as neighbour noise, road and area noise and how good the management company is. These are just random picks but those are some of the key things I consider. Condos do have the benefit of a 'lock it and leave it' approach but landed does have the benefit of SPACE!!!!!

I'v only just started on the research of Juru as an option and the one thing that does concern me is WILL the trip across the bridges into Penang island become a proverbial pain in the ass?? That said, I suppose it'd be quicker (or at least as quick) as getting to Batu Ferringhi where I also once considered. There is also the issue of whether there is QUITE enough out at Juru on a day to day basis, eateries and of course the lack of some facilities I do use (such as a gym, cinemas and the big malls). Decisions, decisions :-\

I plan to go out to Juru soon for a look around and to visit a view projects. There is a project called Palm Gardens that did appeal but a quick call to a friend of friend revealed that it's basically two strips of houses, ungated and in a kampung (lesser developed village) and may not be as desirable as the marketing blurb suggests. Juru Heights was however recommended, as was Cendana. There's also a property fair at Gurney next weekend over four days (Fri-Mon) so I'll likely hit that too to see if there are any projects that appeal. I'll post up here any projects that I come across and and up/downsides and whether my decisions change.

Luckily Juru is still classed as Penang so the blog title won't have to change. So the only POJ I'll have to contend with is the one I'll get if I don't keep on top of the char kway teow with frequent gym visits :D

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Penang Jazz Festival (1st - 4th December)

Quite a way off yet but I do like to get events that I like the look of into the diary ASAP so I don't accidentally double book and I do like the look of this event.

Centred on the Gardens, Bayview Beach Resort and with numerous fringe stages at various hotels (including G Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel), from their website it looks to be one not to miss. Quite a lot of information on their site and you can also purchase tickets in advance. I'm personally interested in the band Primitive Leap having heard some promising comments, but will be looking to take in some kind of performance each day I think.

Well worth a look I think :-)

Best of Mean Machines 2011

Doing things in reverse to the way they would normally happen, I have uploaded an album containing my favourite shots from the Mean Machines event at Auto City, Juru, Penang to the 'Pick of Penang' Facebook Page.

I have chosen to do it this way on this occasion as the event is past now and for me, except for motoring enthusiasts, it is an event which is best described in pictures. So rather than reams and reams of stand/vehicle descriptions I thought it better to merely an album of the two days.

Now where can I find...............?

Well, if its an Aston Martin DB5 with the original 007 spinning number plate, no idea. If however it's some obscure household, general purpose or electrical item that you might be looking for, be it for the home or whatever, I may have just the place.

For ages I have been searching for an LR44 battery in Penang to power a small travel clock that I have become quite attached to. Not that hard you might think. Think again. Scour the supermarkets and even some of the specialist electrical stores in the plazas and you will quickly find that finding any battery other than the ubiquitous 'AA' or 'AAA' is about as likely as hearing the words "Please form an orderly queue" when the 101 bus arrives at Komtar bus station.

Recently my good friend Ken from No Eyed Dear told me about a store that's actually not far from Komtar called Thye Huat. Thye Huat is one of those gold-mine general purpose hardware stores that are a joy to find and it really does does stock all manner of goodies, including, yes, LR44 batteries!!!!

Finding the shop is quite easy, it is in Jalan Pintail Tali which runs from behind Prangin Mall (the mall next to Komtar) and which eventually joins Chulia Street, quite close to its junction with Penang road. It's a large store which you can't miss and it's on the left about 100 yards from Prangin Mall as you walk down Jalan Pintail Tali towards Chulia Street. Well worth bearing in mind for those "Now where can find.......?" moments.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Happy Deepavali!!!!!!

Happy Deepavali to everyone on this slightly wet Deepavali eve :-) I shall be out celebrating tomorrow night - rain or not!!!!

This is a link to may favourite Bollywood track of all time, Chaiya Chaiya (also featured in the movie 'Inside Man'). Mandatory on the play list of anywhere celebrating IMHO, preferably at max volume!!! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Update Delays

Sincere apologies for the lack of updates for the last 10 days or so. I have been EXTREMELY busy both meeting people, going to some new places and, last but by NO means least, attending the Mean Machines event at Auto City, Juru where I met up with some good friends and made a great many more. Updates will start to come up over the next week or so and normal service will then be resumed. I hope!!!!!

Mean Machines was a really brilliant event and it was a real pleasure to see my good chum Leng Yein who was the Special Host and the event organiser Andrew Chan who, as CEO of Intrensionale, has really done a fantastic job with Mean Machines. I was also delighted to meet two lovely models there, Cecilia Black and Jenny Lim, both very professional, very attractive and very nice people. Post and pics to follow, quick sample below:

My dear friend Leng Yein who very kindly posed for a session of shots for me that were outside of the schedule.

Two of the new friends I met at Mean Machines. Jenny Lim (left) and Cecilia Black (right). Penang based models who will definitely be worth looking out for.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Mean Machines: Reminder and Schedule

Quick reminder that the Mean Machines event will be held at Auto City, Juru, Penang on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October. Looks to be a great event and the schedule has now been published. You can find it and more details here.

Pick of Penang will be there. Photos and event coverage to follow.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

MM2H Visa Collection - Putrajaya (from Penang)

Having been in Penang since 20 July I figured it was high-time to go and collect my MM2H visa. It has to be said that the new location of the MM2H office did make me view the trip with a slight sense of dread but as it turned out is was all misplaced.

The address of the MM2H unit is:

Ministry of Tourism Malaysia,
Level 10,Tower 1, Jalan P5/6,
Presint 5, 62200 W
.P. Putrajaya,

Now, as can be seen from the post dated 31 July I had managed to get all the documentation I would need prior to collecting the visa (medical report, Security Bond stamping and medical insurance) sorted in Penang so I hoped I would need little time in Putrajaya, once there, to collect the visa. On that basis I decided to save on the cost of a hotel stop in KL (I'm not a great fan of capital cities and was not desperate to stay on this occasion) and do the trip there and back in a day.

I considered flying to KL to be the only real option in this case, given my need to do a round trip in a day and that of course means either flying to KLIA or KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). In deciding, one main considerations for me was how to get from my chosen airport to Putrajaya and with the least amount of hassle and stress. From KLIA one of the two most sensible options was to take the KL Transit (please note, NOT the Ekspress which doesn't stop until KLCC) which stops at Putrajaya/Cyberjaya Sentral (P/C S), Cyberjaya being the IT based 'development area' adjacent to mainly governmental Putrajaya that is home to the Ministry of Tourism, which is about 10 minutes away by taxi. The other option is to take a taxi direct from KLIA at a cost of around RM 65. Putrajaya though is a bit of a nightmare if you don't know your way around however and I figured that a local taxi driver operating out of Putrajaya Sentral may have a better chance of not getting lost, as as happened to at least one MM2H applicant I know. KL LCCT also offers exactly the same options. Grab a taxi and go to Putrajaya direct, again at a cost of RM 65, or buy a ticket for the KL Transit and, again, take a taxi from Putrajaya Sentral. The difference is that with KL LCCT you need to take a 20 minute shuttle bus (which is free when you purchase your KL Transit ticket) to get you to the KL Transit station, Salak Tinggi, which is actually the transit station before KLIA. With KLIA the Transit terminal is on-site. The picture to the right shows (maybe poorly) the rough route to get to the MM2H offices from P/C S. If you Google Putrajaya KL Transit and then look for Presinct 6, below the station and to the left, you will see where the Ministry of Tourism is.

So, what about flights. KLIA does benefit from having slightly easier access to the KL Transit station and of course better direct connection to KL direct (e.g. KL Ekspress) which may or may not be important to you. However, you will pay a premium to fly into KLIA as you will need to use a major airline and not one of the low cost operators such as Air Asia (which flies into KL LCCT) or Firefly (which flies into Subang). Booking 5 days in advance as I was, I would have been able to get a return flight from Malaysia Airlines for RM 378 (inc taxes) and actually that's not too bad. On top of that you will of course need to add the cost of getting to the airport and your connections the other end.

I then looked at the LCCT option. Total cost of a return flight with Air Asia was RM 229, around RM 150 cheaper than the flight into KLIA. Given that the cost of the flight was considerably cheaper, the flight times suited me more and that the Putrajaya connection did not seem to daunting, KL LCCT was the option I chose.

When the big day arrived I took a taxi from my home near Tg Tokong to the airport, with a driver I use often, at a cost of RM 40. At 9am the roads are quite quiet and the trip took us about 40 minutes. Penang airport is still undergoing renovation but finding your way to the departure hall, up the escalator, is not too hard. I had checked in with Air Asia online previously and had the bar code they issue saved to my phone. They have self-service terminals at the airport which SHOULD be able to scan this code and print your boarding pass (I only had hand luggage so would not need to then check baggage also). The machine seemed to struggle with my bar code which MAY have been down to the phone screen protector, I'm not sure. Once you have checked in online however you cannot check-in again using the terminals and I had to use a 'Document Check' desk which only took a few minutes. With hindsight I probably wouldn't check-in online again and would just check-in using the booking code at the terminals leaving less margin for error. Using a bar code to do the same thing seems to just add another needless step. My flight left on time at 11:20 and an hour later, about 12:30 pm I was at KL LCCT.

The rest of the trip was really easy. Walking into arrivals at LCCT there are a number of coach and taxi desks and also the desk marked KL Ekspress. It is this desk that you get the KL Transit tickets. The cost to Putrajaya is just RM 5.50 which includes the free 20 minute coach transfer to Salak Tinggi. I also confirmed that the cost of a taxi to Putrajaya is RM 64.20. Having got my Transit ticket (they give you two, one for the coach and one for the train) I walked straight outside the terminal and across two pedestrian crossings and straight onto the KL Transit shuttle coach. There is a placard which, despite being small and low down, clearly indicates that it's the KL Transit coach stop and the drivers and crews nearby are all helpful, directing anyone unsure. After a short wait the coach set off and 20 minutes later dropped us off at Salak Tinggi (picture left), one of the very clean, tidy and well laid out Transit stations. It was 14 minutes for the next transit so I took the opportunity to grab a cold drink and a couple of savouries at the cafe as you enter the station. After that it was through the automatic barrier (you will need your train ticket to gain access) and across to the platform for the KL bound Transit. Again, helpful and friendly staff are around if you are unsure of your bearings. P/C S is the first stop the Transit train makes and the journey only takes about 5 minutes.

You could equally do this trip to P/C S from KL by taking the Transit (again, not the Ekspress!!) from KLSS towards KLIA at a cost of RM 12.50 and getting off at P/C S.

At P/C S there is an Information Desk and clear signs to the taxi and bus stands. As you will find at many of the larger transport hubs there are taxi coupon desks where you get a voucher for taxi before heading to the rank. The fares are all pre-determined. I could have taken a bus but decided, at a cost of RM 13 to take a taxi. Here is where making my own way to P/C S paid a dividend, the taxi drivers know the area and know exactly where to go. The trip took 10 minutes and the taxi dropped me off at the Ministry of Tourism offices, opposite the Pullman Hotel, at about 2pm. Spot on for the finish of lunch hour.

Total travel time from KL LCCT to Putrajaya was about an hour but it doesn't seem like it because it's so hassle free and the time just flies. Taxis can be a bit thin on the ground around Putrajaya so I did take the 24 hour call-centre number for the main taxi operator which is +60 3 888 4000.

Collecting the visa couldn't have been easier. Straight to the Immigration Desks which are next to the MM2H desks on the 10th floor, hand over the Letter of Aceptance, Security Bond form, medical report and copy of medical insurance, wait for 10 minutes, pay cashier (security Bond + RM90 for each year of your visa which will be tied to passport expiry), done!! There was no FD for me to 'prove' as I had been granted a visa under the 'Offshore' criteria. So, 20 minutes tops. In all honesty I spent much more time chatting to my friend Noor at the MM2H office!!!

After that, it was the return trip. Pointless repeating as it was just a reverse run but with one difference. As I walked out of the MoTour building to wait or call for a taxi (and I did see a couple nearby) I turned right and then right again (bringing you opposite the side of the Pullman Hotel) and saw a 601 bus at the bus stop. I asked if the bus went to Putrajaya Sentral and the driver said yes. So I boarded the bus and paid the 50 sen fare for a 10 minute trip back to the Transit station. All from there was just the same, easy and totally stress-free journey. Again, a total of an hour trip back to KL LCCT, including the waiting time for Transit etc. I got to the airport at 5pm with ample time to eat and then check in for the 6:20pm flight back to Penang.

So, that was my trip from Penang to Putrajaya and back. 11 hours door-to-door and overall a totally stress free and pleasant trip. Cost wise:

Total cost KL LCCT to Putrajaya (return): RM 24.50 (could have been RM 12 as next time I would take the bus from P/C S both ways). Total cost of my round-trip: RM 333.50

There are a few very useful resources I found while planning the options for this trip and they are:

A Wiki entry on Putrajaya which provides some detail on where it is and travelling around it.

The KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal website LCCT website which contains details on travel options from LCCT.

The taxi coupon service Mesra Indah Jayah website with details of costs from LCCT to various places.