Tea has been around for 5000 years. It has
nourished millions, started wars and became an art form in China and Japan.
With the advent of the tea bag and industrial production in the West it has
been overtaken by coffee as the drink of choice. However, in recent years
premium loose-leaf tea from China has staged a comeback. While vacationing in
Penang, Malaysia, I went to the Tee Ten Yea Tea Shop and sampled some Oolong
and Pu-er teas. I am amazed again and again how much people react to the
distinct taste of the classic Pu-er tea, one of the oldest teas hailing from
Yunnan province in China.
Picture: Preparting Roti Canai at an Indian streetside restaurant.
It seems to me that Malaysia is still a bit
of a backwater for most Western tourists. Thailand is much more famous for its
culinary delights. It actually goes so far that a Malaysian restaurant sells
its fare under the label “Thai”. A shame indeed as Malaysia offers a unique mix
of Malay, Chinese and Indian delicacies. On a typical day I could have Dim Sum
Chinese dumplings for breakfast, an Indian Tandoori chicken with butter naan
bread for lunch and Malaysian Roti Canai bread with gravy for dinner. Do not
expect fine dining with white table cloths but simple, fast and honest food that
is incredible savory and amazingly cheap. And yes, you can even get Thai food
in Malaysia as well as Lebanese, Japanese and Italian food.
Picture: Indian Puri bread prepared by my amazing aunt in Kuala Lumpur.
Picture: Homemade southern Indian food - the best ever!
Yes, this is a café next to famous Cheah Si
Sek Tek Tong temple in Georgetown, Penang. Unfortunately it was closed that day
I passed it (hopefully only temporarily). I was wondering what it looked like
Right next to Beach Street in old
Georgetown Old Town White Coffee is where I get my daily coffee fix while
visiting Penang. I love Old Town White Coffees relaxed and laid-back atmosphere
and its coffee range.
After 10 years in production and more than
10’000 cars sold, the Lamborghini Gallardo will go out of production. Despite
being around for that long, the car is still a head-turner and pops up in
many exotic places. Those colorful Gallardo drove from Phuket to Penang in
I have been tricycle ride all over the
world: from Switzerland to Indonesia and from Vietnam to Malaysia. And they
have many names: rickshaw, trishaw or beca in Malaysia. I courted my wife on
one. I got married with one and I took my baby around town in one. In short,
they are very dear to my heart. I have been using many means of transport but
nothing comes close to a tricycle ride (okay, maybe an elephant ride in India).
For me the main attraction lies in the slowness of the tricycle that let’s me
appreciate the sights and smells of the city. Recently I boarded a beca in
Georgetown, Malaysia, and did a twilight ride while holding my baby. She
equally liked the ride. While riding around the old town of Georgetown a very
distinctive and pungent smell caught my nose: the famed and equally despised
Durian fruit that is banned in any form of transport in Singapore because of
its strong smell. But on my beca it brought back fond memories.
Business cards have become somewhat of a
nuisance nowadays as in a professional context you get them handed out almost
in the same moment someone says hello. At least if that person is doing sales.
On the other hand, I know business people that make a point in not handing out
business cards. In a private context thanks to Facebook, cards have become
obsolete. I still use good old-fashioned cards every now and then. The
responses I get are unanimously positive. A tastefully made card handed out at
the right moment can be utterly charming, believe me. Upon wondering around UNESCO
World Heritage Georgetown, Malaysia, I came across an old printing shop that
prints business cards on old printing presses. I couldn’t resist and ordered
some new cards for personal use. I ordered gold-embossed business cards on
Conquer 280g paper, a feast for the eyes! Nothing beats the smell of good old
ink! And at about 10 cents a card they are an excellent investment. An elderly
Chinese lady attended to me. She told me that she has worked for over 50 years
in the same printing shop. How amazing is that?
Malacca in Malaysia has long spice-trading history that goes back to is founding in the 14th century by a fugitive Sumatran prince. It was invaded by the Portuguese in 1511 who were followed out by the Dutch and eventually the British. Like Georgetown, Fort Cochin and Singapore, Malacca still has a lot to show from its 450 years of colonial rule. In 2008 it was awarded UNESCO world heritage status and there are some efforts of protecting and restoring witnesses of the past. Do not miss to do a tour of the town on a ridiculously colorful rickshaw and try the local Nyonya cuisine.
Can you spot the multi-million-dollar industry in this picture? And have you ever fancied eating a bird's nest? For centuries Chinese royalty have relied on eating the salvia from swifts, collected from their nests (hence the name), for its assumed health properties. Those nests used to fetch a very high price as the collection was very cumbersome. Today the high price has remained, what has changed is the collection. Ingenious Asians have figured out how to attract swifts through electronic sounds. Nowadays they position loudspeakers in apartments with small windows. The sound proves to be irresistible for the birds and they start nesting in the apartments (shown in the picture). According to a local source in Malacca, where this picture was taken, one apartment can generate revenues of USD 150'000 a year or higher. No wonder that the apartments are heavily guarded. The booming trade in bird's nests has even led to the formation of various trade associations.