Penang’s Monkey Beach, what we thought.

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The west coast of Malaysia is not renowned for its beaches and if you were coming all the way to Penang just for the beach then you really have come to the wrong place. Penang is known more for its food and its Nyonya culture actually, the capital Georgetown is a world heritage city.
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The illusions at Penang’s 3d Trick Art

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If you are with children or you just want to have a bit of fun after exploring the world heritage sites of Georgetown then why don’t you spend some time at the Penang 3D Trick Art Museum located in a two story shophouse in King Street.

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Georgetown, Penang’s world heritage town

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As we drove from the touristy built up beach town of Batu Ferringhi towards downtown Georgetown the scenery changed from jaded beaches, palm trees to simple local warung restaurants, high rises formed in the rich suburbs of Guerney Drive where the renown night market is held.

The taxi kept driving and spotted amongst the buildings were our first signs of life under British rule pure white colonial style buildings built centuries ago now hosting restaurants, official offices and the grand E&O hotel. The taxi then came to an abrupt stop outside a long bricked wall which would be Fort Cornwallis built by the convicts in 1808-1810.

The driver gruffly said 50 Ringett, a quick glance at the meter showed 35 before we got out.

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Singapore’s hawker food

Have you ever  wondered what you were eating was safe and did it come from a reputable stall. You may sometimes think that especially the first time you travel through Asia. Street food is cheap, often tastes better than what you eat at a restaurant  and most times safe.

Some things that you should look for is if the product is fresh, you want to eat something that hasn’t been sitting. You want to see it being made,make sure it’s hot. Locals don’t want to be sick either,so if the locals are lining up for it then you know that the food should be good and hygienic.

Singapore is generally known for its cleanliness and also known for its amazing array of food from Chinese, Malay, Indian and the Middle East. Singapore is a great country to be introduced to street food especially for people who may be a bit apprehensive at first. Unlike other countries Singapore food hawkers are all given a grade of A, B,C or D. These grades are issued by a Singaporean Ministry of Health official.

The hawkers in Singapore are required to display their signs for cleanliness”C” is average and “D” below average.”A” is exceptional cleanliness. Currently the majority of more than 5,600 stall holders in food centers are rated A and B, only seven are grade D and fourteen percent C.

Most travelers will choose to eat at either A or B but Singaporeans have no problems with eating at Hawkers with a C grade as often these stands are run by  a single person who has to cook, serve, collect payment, giving them little time to clean but of course the food will still have to taste good.

During our five day stay in Singapore we ate most of our meals from a hawker centre.At first it may be a little intimidating but basically you choose which stall you want to order from and grab a seat at any of the vacant tables. If you see something on a table like paper, a packet of tissues that means someone as reserved that seat so it would be better to look for a different table. If you cannot find a vacant table you can always approach a table that has someone sitting there  but don’t forget your manners,smile and ask before sitting.

Now the hardest thing is deciding on what to order and here we will help you with 5 of our favourite hawker food.

Laksa

Laksa which would be close to Singapore’s national dish is found at any hawker stall. Its long, thick noodles covered in a coconut flavoured curry soup with either chicken or prawns mixed with bean sprouts make the perfect condiments to go along with the broth.

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Hokkien Mee

A mixture of yellow noodles and thick rice vermicelli ,first fried with eggs until fragrant and braised in rich, flavourful prawn broth, the Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee is served semi-dry and garnished with prawns, squid, sliced pork belly, chives and eaten with Sambal chilli and a squirt of lime juice.

Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng which means  “fried noodles ” is a common dish in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is made with thin yellow noodles fried in cooking oil with garlic, onion with prawn, chicken or beef sliced bakso (meatballs), chili, Chinese cabbage,cabbage, tomatoes, egg and  acar (pickles).

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Chicken rice

If Laksa isn’t Singapore’s national dish then it would have to be chicken rice. Steamed chicken is served with a bed of rice cooked in chicken stock.  This is normally eaten with chilli sauce, soy sauce and a ginger paste. This was our favourite meal.  The chicken is very tender and we loved the slight ginger flavour.

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Sugar cane juice

This may not be food but this was the most refreshing drink that I had while in Singapore. The juice is extracted from Sugar cane coming out a sweet green liquid. The drink is not uniquely Singaporean as it can easily be found in other countries in Asia as well as South and Central America but if you haven’t tried it then you should while your here.

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Visiting the Islamic mosque and museum in Kuala Lumpur

“Humm, Humm, Humm” the sounds could be heard puncturing the air. It must be prayer time at the National Mosque or otherwise known as Masjid Negara I was about to say before I was startled by the rustling sounds from the overgrowth over the footpath, most likely a rat or even worse a snake, so I wasn’t going to stay around to look. As we moved closer the sounds came louder until the pristine white building came into view

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National Mosque

I stood and watched as people made their way into the mosque, cars swarmed into the parking lot, women covered their heads with scarves while men wore casual loose fitting clothes. I looked up at the 73 metre high minaret towering over the mosque, the main roof was covered with an aqua blue colour shaped like a 16 pointed star umbrella, reflecting pools and fountains spread throughout the compound. A man dressed like a security guard approached “excuse me sir, would you like to enter the mosque” I’d love too”,I replied “Unfortunately now is prayer time sir, but if you like you can have a look around once its finished”. We thanked the man and crossed the street.

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National Mosque

Nearby was the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia, an architectural masterpiece, pure white, four domes could be seen from the outside with its fifth only to be seen inside the building. The museum opened in December of 1998 and is home to over 7000 artefacts, the largest islamic art museum in South East Asia.

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Islamic art museum of Malaysia

The elevator doors opened to display a room full of large scale model mosques including the colossal grandeur of the holiest mosque in Islam Mecca’s Masjid al Haram to the desolate beauty of Central Asian mausoleums dedicated to Timur and Amir Albukhari. Every corner of Islam is covered in miniature.

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Islamic pieces on display

The other exhibits are equally as impressive from the holiest of Quar’ans, jewelry,textiles , arms and armour to countries like India, China and Malaysia, all nationalities that live in harmony in Malaysia are covered but before you go take one last look at the sheer beauty of this building.

We wandered back over to the mosque that by now had finished prayer in our quest to learn even more about the Muslim world. The men and women have separate prayer rooms, the rooms are bare with carpeted floors and stain glass windows. The pillars beautifully decorated, chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

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Inside the National Mosque prayer room

The prayer rooms have the capacity to hold 15,000 people. We stood in silence taking this place in no words were needed. We may have a different religion, we may have a different name for our God but one thing whether it be a mosque or a church there is nothing more sacred than a place of prayer

Islamic Art Museum Malaysia

Opening Times 

Monday- Sunday  10am-6pm

Admission 

Adults RM 12

Students RM 6

Children Under 6 free

National Mosque of Malaysia

The mosque is tour friendly.

Women are required to wear a scarf.

mens proper attire is loose fitting clean clothes.

Shoes must be taken off.

You can not enter during prayer time.

There are volunteers in the prayer room to answer any questions you have.

Petrona Towers, always the center of attention

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Red laser beams stretched out the length of the floor, Catherine Zeta Jones dressed in a tight leotard showing her curvaceous body, twists, bends , taunts her body weaving in and out, under and over the beams in preparation to steal something from Petronas Towers.

Entrapment may not have been the most successful or memorable movie ever but I do thank Catherine for introducing me to these remarkable towers. Continue reading