Galeri Petronas: Art Oasis in Suria KLCC

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It’s unlikely that visitors to Suria KLCC go with the intention of visiting Galeri Petronas, an exhibition space for showcasing the work of up and coming artists — not because the gallery isn’t good, but because people are there to shop rather than look at art; and for that reason, it tends to fly under the radar of things to do in KL.

The first time I went was out of curiosity, since I’d seen it umpteen times before — presumably always empty — and never went in, but came away quite impressed by the gallery contents. Since that first visit, I’ve been back three times because exhibits change within two to three weeks. I’ve seen an exhibit featuring Islamic influences in art, a showcase of the decay or the rise of cities in the world, as documented by various photographers, and most recently, an exhibit of #tanahairku, a street art project in KL sponsored by Petronas themselves.

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Learn How to Make A Pewter Bowl at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre in Setapak

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With the world’s largest pewter tankard, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records.

Life is often unpredictable, often throwing curveballs and surprises at us out of thin air, but amidst the uncertainty, there’s one thing that Malaysians can count on: at some point in their lives, someone will present them with a pewter gift.

It may be in the form of a tankard, a photo frame or a tea sets. It might even be a souvenir plate with a retirement message on it, and you’ll proudly put it in your display cabinet as a talking point for when guests come to the house.

The metal alloy primarily made up of tin — known as pewter — means something to Malaysians, thanks to the popularity of Royal Selangor, a global, household Malaysian company renowned for its fine craftsmanship of pewter products.

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How to Order Drinks at a Kopitiam

You would think that ordering a coffee, tea or juice would be just that simple. It is, at a modern eatery or cafe, but in a traditional coffeeshop, also known as kopitiam in Malaysia, a novice will almost certainly need time to get used to the terms. If Starbucks wasn’t established thousands of miles away in Seattle about 40 years ago, I’d have thought they took the idea of custom-made drinks from our kopitiams, which have been around for almost twice as long as Starbucks. (You know how they are with their drinks. Care for a tall, iced, no whip cream, no sugar, half soy milk, half low-fat milk, green tea frappuccino, anyone?) Continue reading

The Ringgit: Then And Now

Bank Negara rolled out design changes to the ringgit bills back in 2012, but to me they are brand new, and I’m finding it hard not to miss the mid-nineties design.

The Agong’s bust has been reduced by a third on all new notes, which seems to diminish his royal stature. A new 20 ringgit note has been introduced, but the orange-red colour can be mistaken for the red 10 ringgit note. Three shiny, rectangular shapes have been added to the left half of both 10 and 20 notes, a feature that is inconsistent and quite frankly, looks like a misprint. On the 100 note, there are not three, but four rectangles. On the 50 note, they show up on the back, not on the front like the others! It’s because of these new features that I keep flipping the note over, thinking that I’m looking at the back of the note when it’s really the front. Continue reading

In Pictures: A Wet Market (Pasar) In Malaysia

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Morning wet markets start early and get very crowded by about 10:00 a.m., especially on Sunday mornings.

Kuala Lumpur has seen plenty of new additions to its grocery scene in recent years, and it’s wonderful to have so many overseas-style supermarkets like Jaya Grocer’s and B.I.G Ben’s Food Market cater to customers who’d like a clean and modern food shopping experience. Prices may at times be a little steep, but that’s a given if you want imported groceries and the convenience of easy access to fresh food, anytime during business hours.

Yet, it’s hard to beat the charm of early morning, outdoor produce markets known in Malaysia as pasar pagi, where you’ll find local veggies, fruits, seafood and poultry at its’ freshest.  Continue reading

The Day I Caused Traffic On Sprint Highway

IMG_4407A decade of driving on the right side of the road had my parents worried about me getting behind the wheel in Malaysia. Here, we drive on the left.

“Can still remember the roads ah? Will you be disoriented or not? Later drive on the wrong side then kena accident, then how? And do you know how to drive Dad’s old Volvo?”

Valid questions. But my pride wouldn’t let them know that. I’m a grown woman now, for goodness sake.

“I’ll be fine, I learned how to drive here in Malaysia,” I said with a tone of exasperation. “Of course I know how to handle a car, been driving for over ten years. I’ve even driven a full-size SUV in America, something none of you have ever done.”

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Ancient Taoist Rituals Of Ching Ming In Modern Malaysia

IMG_3981_zps6df4f33dTires crunched under the car as we drove slowly onto uneven parts of the worn, tar road. Riding alongside on her motorbike was Aunty, a private caretaker at the cemetery. One hand steered the bike whilst the other held a broom that she pumped upwards in acknowledgement upon seeing us. Aunty stopped when we parked on the side of the road, dismounted with broom still in hand and began chattering happily to my dad and uncle. Continue reading

Female Only Parking Zones in KL Malls

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This one’s in KLCC.

I didn’t really believe my mother when she told me that Mid Valley, one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls had sectioned off a part of their parking garage for a specific type of customer–female shoppers driving alone to Mid Valley–until I saw it for myself.

This is a well-intended move by the mall’s management, meant to tighten security for lone female shoppers after they became a prime target in a series of snatch thefts that occurred awhile back. Continue reading

The Good, The Bad & The Durian: Reflections On Being Back In Malaysia

It was exactly a month ago since I set out on this journey back to the homeland. People have asked how I’m adjusting, and as expected, there are pros and cons.

The first two weeks were spent getting over jet lag and the fact that I no longer lived in Maryland. Quite a number of mornings started out with me thinking that I had someplace in Washington D.C. to get to, only to remember that oh, right. I moved halfway around the world. Continue reading

Penn State in the Winter

I’m now at 15 days before I leave the US permanently. It’s so surreal to think that one day, I’m living here and in a couple of weeks, I’ll be elsewhere, never to return (at least not in the foreseeable future.) I still have a number of essential things I need to get done, namely papers for the cat that can’t be processed till I’m down to my last 10 days here. The procedure with bringing him over has been so nerve wracking that I’ll be saving that for a post after I’m back in Kuala Lumpur.

But none of that has anything to do with winter at Penn State, my alma mater in State College, Pennsylvania. I visited last weekend with my friend Liz, mainly because we live so far from each other and Penn State often becomes our mid point meeting. Continue reading