Friday, 29 June 2012

Property purchase thresholds - foreign buyers.

It has now been confirmed that from 1 July 2012 the minimum property purchase threshold for foreigners wishing to buy in Penang will be RM 1m for condos and RM 2m for landed property.

There is good news for MM2H visa holders in that the minimum threshold for them is RM 500K, although visa holders will be limited to owning two properties at any one time, likely to prevent abuse of this exemption by anyone wishing to buy and sell multiple properties for profit.

Hopefully the new thresholds will curb property speculation to a degree and help reduce spiralling property costs making properties more affordable for locals.  The MM2H exemption is a great bonus and provides yet a further incentive for applying if your aim is to buy in Penang.

PC Exhibition: PISA (29 June - 2 July)

A quick one for the tech addicts.  'PC Expo' is currently running at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) until 2 July.  Numerous different exhibitors and some good deals to be had on hardware normally.  Worth a visit if you are on the hunt for some new tech.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Great Thai Cook Book

One of the things I love about Penang is the food.  I'm a great lover of Thai food also and, while there are a number of good Thai restaurants in Penang, the best place to eat Thai food is of course, Thailand.

One of my talents is that of being a qualified chef and, as such, I often like to cook, especially SE Asian cuisine as the ingredients are readily available and reasonably priced here.  I often cook Chinese and Indian food here and fancied a dabble at Thai.  While I have cooked it often, I tend to stick to tried and trusted recipes, mainly because I have found few Thai cook books that I actually rate.

I was thus very pleased when I came across 'Thai Step-By-Step Cooking' in the bookshop near the entrance to Jungceylon (Patong, Phuket) when I visited recently.  Published by 'Asia Books', it is one of their 'Confident Cooking' series.  From memory it cost around RM 50 / THB 500 and it may well be available in Malaysia / Penang bookshops (I'll check and update here next time I'm in town).

The book is 110 pages and I think it is excellent.  I have dozens of cookery books which I culled from hundreds before relocating to Penang, keeping only the best.  This book certainly rates a place among them.  Though I've not counted I guess there around 100-120 recipes covering:

  • Starters
  • Soups
  • Stir Fries
  • Noodles and Rice
  • Salads and Vegetables 
  • Sauces
  • Pastes
  • Deserts

The book has a very useful 'Glosary' section covering various ingredients and equipment together with the ubiquitous, but often handy, page of conversion tables at the back.  It is well illustrated and contains numerous step-by-step instructions, as you might expect.

I always rate a cookery book by the number of recipes it inspires me to try, often it's just a few.  In this case I fancy trying them all so it earns a place alongside the rest of my culled, but now much coveted, collection.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Hennessy Artistry - Penang 2012

Well, what can I say, other than what a fantastic night!!!  The event, hosted by Hennessy at Straits Quay, Penang on Saturday 16 June 2012 was without the best party night I have been to in the region and, judging by the atmosphere there, the 2,000 plus other invited guests felt the same.

From the moment you walked in...........

through to your arrival in the outer lounge area.....

Hennessy had gone out of their way to ensure everyone was given a warm welcome.

This was clearly a no expense spared night and guests were surely going to be in for a great time.

Guests started to get in the mood very early on......

and of course there was ample free-flow Hennessy all night.....

with many pre-mix options such as the Hennessy apple shown here.

But of course people were here mainly for the party and what a party it turned out to be.

One of my favourite acts was Andy Moor, a top UK DJ.........

who was supported by two very talented, sexy and energetic dancers.......

who performed almost for the whole set, rather than just a couple of dances that you often see.

There were multiple bars set up around around the Convention Centre which had been very tastefully transformed in to a super-nightclub for the event.

It has to be said that ALL of the staff were extremely friendly, polite and helpful.  Their jovial and engaging nature........

ensured everyone got in, and stayed in, the party mood all night.

Another of the top acts was Lollipop F who wowed the crowd with a superb performance.

In between the live performances the party was kept invigorated with some of the best sounds ever to grace a nightclub.

The DJs really did a fantastic job.

It was a really superb night and for me, also a chance to meet up with some good friends........

some who I see often............

others, not often enough.

It was also a great opportunity to meet new friends.  One of the things that is so nice about Penang, the warmth and friendliness of the people.

Coupled with a fantastic party night like this, who could ask for more. Thank you Hennessy!!!!

The full album for this event will take some time to prepare as I took over 800 shots.  In the meantime, an interim album of just a few shots can be found here.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Food Court: Northam Cafe - Georgetown, Penang (Top Pick)

Much of the time in Penang it is cheaper to eat out than it is to cook at home, especially if you want some variety with your meal.  Buying all the ingredients to make 3-4 dishes for a tasty lunch or dinner can be both costly and time consuming, and that's without the preparation and washing up!

Many people opt for their favourite food court or hawkers when they eat out and some of places are very popular indeed.  One such place is Northam Cafe on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, mid-way between Gurney Plaza and the centre of Georgetown.  The cafe is opposite Northam Tower and is not far from Jalan Pangkor (see map below).

One of the reasons this cafe is so popular is its see front location.  Sitting down at sunset with a cold beer and range of superb local food is a great way to end the day.  Many people think the same and believe me, this place gets busy, especially at the weekends!  Go early if you want to grab a sea-front table or go after 8pm and trust to luck.

As I've said there is a massive range of food on offer here and all at very reasonable prices ranging from  RM 4-10 per dish with most being around the RM 5-6 mark.  Bottled beer is about the same as most food courts at around RM 13 for a large Tiger.  There is also a good selection of soft drinks and other hot/cold beverages on offer.

By far my favourite here though is a Thai store which has a fantastic array of dishes on offer and if you order them 'ped' (Thai for spicy), they are spicy!!!  I can particularly recommend their stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts and a superbly flavoured loh-bak (a heavily seasoned meat roll in a delicate, crispy coating similar to a [good] spring roll).

Another thing I like about here is that it has ample off-road parking, in contrast to some other popular food-courts such as Goodall, and the toilets are of a very good standard also.  Northam Cafe is a really great place for me and one of my firm favourites and for that reason it gets a 'Top Pick' award.

Location Map: Northam Cafe (Pin 'B' on map).

Event: Mean Machines 2012 - Auto City (13/14 October)

This is just an early heads up for car enthusiasts for the 2012 Mean Machines which will be held in Auto-City, Juru from 12:00 Saturday 13th to midnight on 14th October.

The event, hosted by Intrenasionale, is sure to be a crowd puller and will be packed full of cars, accessories, competitions and of course the glamorous girls.  I am hoping it will also be hosted by my chum Leng Yein.

I attended Mean Machines last year and it was one of the top Penang events for me.  I will likely go both days again and will be shooting as well as posting live coverage on 'Twitter'.

Penang Property Purchase Limits

While there is still no absolute certainty I am assured by several people I know in the property and legal profession that the minimum limit at which a foreigner can purchase property in Penang is set to rise to RM 1m for a condo and RM 2m for landed property from 1 July 2012.  This is mostly to curb the speculation market and to try and control prices to make housing more affordable by locals.  At present it seems there is no exemption for holders of MM2H visas.

This will have obvious implications for foreigners looking to buy a property after 1 July but, beyond the obvious, may also implications for owners of properties in locations which have high expat residency levels with little interest from local buyers, possibly because of location and such like, should they decide to sell.

Once confirmed, or otherwise, I will post further.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Hennessy Artistry: Top Performers

Those who have got their tickets will be eagerly awaiting the start of Hennessy Artistry at Straits Quay, Penang in just over 24 hours at 9pm on Saturday 16 June.

Viewed by many as the liveliest, biggest and most sought after event from the Penang party scene a number of top acts are billed to appear.  The artists currently lined up are:

Andy Moor is one of the UKs top clubbing DJs and has consistently ranked highly in DJ Mags top 100 for the last 6 years.  He produces some distinctive sounds including "Halcyon”, “Air For Life’, “Fight the fire”, and “Fake Awake”.

DJ Ernest C, best is commonly known on the clubbing scene as  “The Miracle Boy” and is now one of Malaysia's top DJs.  Starting his spinning career at the age of 17 his music spans the whole spectrum from 'House' to 'Techno'.  Having played at several top clubs around the world Ernest C is now based in KL and, having previously spun for Hennessy Artistry, is set to wow the crowd on Saturday.

Lollipop F is the famous Taiwanese 'Mandopop' band.  Their latest hits include 'Dance' and 'Trophy', both from the 2011 album 'Dance'.  Lollipop F will surely be a crowd pleaser at this year's Hennessy Artistry.

Ramsey Westwood is another top DJ and is the first Malaysian DJ ever to perform at the world renowned 'Ministry of Sound' since taking the 'Astro Hitz' champion 'Spinmaster' award in 2011.

Last, but by no means least, Suki achieved her first taste of fame at the age of 16 when she won Malaysia's first ever reality singing contest 'One in a Million' in 2006.  Many will know her album 'Finally | Akhirnya'.  Her latest single 'Finish Line', upon which she collaborated with another top performer Chris Willis, was released in April this year.

So there we have it, a great line-up for what I'm sure will be a top class event.  I'll be sure to let you know, but several days after ;-)

Switch: Apple Macbook - End of Line Bargains

For anyone contemplating a new MacBook the latest refresh of the Macbook Pros means there are some great bargains to be had at Switch (Gurney Plaza and also Straits Quay).

The price of entire MacBook Pro range has been slashed by several hundred RM in this 'end of line' (EOL) stock clearance as Switch gets ready for the new line to arrive.  Not only have Switch reduced the prices of existing stock but they will also throw in a voucher to be spent on certain Apple upgrades (e.g. RAM or to put towards 'Apple Care').

As an example of the deals available the i7 Quad Core MacBook Pro 15" with a 1 GB Radeon video card (GPU) and 4 GB RAM was previously RM 6,799.  It is now on sale for RM 6,199.  On top of that you will also receive a RM 600 voucher.  An 8GB RAM upgrade costs approximately RM 600 so you could end up paying just RM 6,199 for a laptop that a few weeks ago would have cost you RM 7,399!

Similar deals are to be had across the range but I doubt they will last long.  For anyone waiting for the new MacBook Pro and Air line-up, Switch anticipates stock arriving between 2-4 weeks depending on the model.

Monday, 11 June 2012

QE II Fashion Xtravaganza (26 May 2012)

I posted previously about this excellent event which featured Asia's top super-model Amber Chia.  I have now posted an album containing a small number of shots from this event on the Pick of Penang Facebook Page.  The album can be found here.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Hennessy Artistry - Straits Quay, Penang (Sat 16 June)

Yolanda Be Cool in action at
 last year’s H-Artistry. 

Nightlife in Penang is very varied and if you know where to go revellers can have a really great time.  Often, special event parties will be held at various locations and as we know, there are parties and there are PARTIES!!  Some parties around the world achieve almost iconic status, Grand Prix race parties, those held after large concerts and such like.  These parties generally have a couple of things in common; they are always in demand and they are always by invitation only.

Chris Willis delivering a phenomenal 
performance at H-Artistry 2011

Few people will not have heard of the Hennessy brand and one event that has achieved this iconic status in Penang is Hennessy Artistry.  This is a top quality party night featuring DJs, live music from some top acts, interactive experiences and, of course, the full range from Hennessy, renowned for quality the world over, as are any events hosted by the brand.

Party-goers having a great time at 
H-Artistry November 2011

The last Hennessy Artistry was held in November 2011 and was, not surprisingly, an outstanding success.  As you can see from the pictures it is VERY popular and no expense spared.

With an expected turnout of 2,000 party 
goers, H-Artistry on 16 June will be the
 largest super-clubbing event to take place 
on Penang island
As such you can understand that there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation about the next Hennessy Artistry event that will take place at the Straits Quay Convention Centre, Tanjung Tokong, Penang from 8:30pm on Saturday 16 June.  The event is as popular as ever and those who manage to secure tickets to it are overjoyed because it is strictly ' by invitation only'.  The event will feature a great line up of acts (more on this tomorrow) and I'm sure it will be the party highlight of the season.  'Pick of Penang' is happy to have been invited by Hennessy to attend the event and I plan to write a full pictorial review.

This year’s H-Artistry will feature 
an all-new Art of Mixing Zone with 
exciting and interactive activities

If you haven't got your tickets for the event already there is still chance.  Head on down to The Library at Straits Quay tonight (Saturday 9 June) and order one or more bottles of Hennessy to receive up to 5 invitations to the party of the season.  Hope to see you there!!!

Click on pictures to see full size versions.

UEFA Euro 2012: Copthorne Orchid Hotel, Tg Bungah.

I've just received details of some late night beer promotions being offered by the Copthorne Orchid Hotel in Tanjung Bungah for the duration of UEFA Euro 2012 between 9 June and 2 July 2012.  If you're a footie fan and enjoy the ambience of a big screen, company and a few beers, this could be just right for you!!!