Tag Archives: Malaysia

Wet – Yeah, Right!

The Lone Grey Squirrel’s secret hideout is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I know I’ve kind of just given away the secret location but hey, it’s still not as if you will find the hideout on Google Map.

Now what you should know about Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia is that it is an equatorial country with a vast equatorial rainforest.  According to all geography text books, encyclopedias and even Wikipedia, this means that the place is hot and wet.  Equatorial = hot and rainforest = wet.

Well it looks like all those books and websites are defunct.

We are supposed to get about 2360 mm of wet, refreshing rain every year with February being one of the dryer months still getting  145 mm.   Most of the time in February, we can expect it to rain on 53% of the days.

So why is it that this year there has been almost no rain at all?  Many places in Malaysia have not had rain for at least 20 days and a few areas have not had rainfall for a month.  In Kuala Lumpur, we finally got a small splattering of rain these last two days.; not a lot but just enough to make the accumulated dust on my car turn into caked mud!

So now in Kuala Lumpur and the state of Selangor, we are faced with water rationing as our water reserves drop to critical levels.  I once attended an experts’ meeting on water resources about 10 years ago in which the issue of future water shortages and climate change was raised.  Despite the scientific paper presented by one of the speakers on the topic, it was clear that many of the government officials did not take it seriously.  When I spoke to some of them, they merely felt that whatever challenges would arise in the future, they would be able to use technology or engineering to resolve it.  “Just build more dams.” they said.

Well, now we are facing water rationing in what should be a water rich country.   Taps are running dry, crops are failing and the air is thick with haze from the record 7,000 forest and bush fires last month.  Currently, some 2.5 million Malaysians will receive water for two days followed by two days without water.  Some really unfortunate households only get two pails of water delivered to them each day by water tankers.  This is expected to go on for at least till the end of March when it is hoped that some rain will come.

But there really is no guarantee that the rain will come.  The authorities tried to do cloud seeding but the most we got was that little bit that was absorbed by the dust on my car.

I think they are now resorting to more traditional ways.  The bomoh.  The Malay version of a witch doctor, the bomoh is believed to be able to cast spells and influence the weather.  Bomohs are often used to help teams win soccer games but judging from Malaysia’s FIFA world soccer ranking of 150 (out of 207), doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in their abilities!

Traditional "Match-Fixing" by Bomoh
Traditional “Match-Fixing” by Bomoh

So my friends, beware of climate change and human arrogance.  A very parched and smelly un-showered squirrel signing off.  Have to go store water instead of nuts.

The State of the Realm Report

Holy Crown of Hungary (Photo by LGS)

Well, for the umpteenth time, one of my new year’s resolution is to STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!!

So doing my annual end of the year report on the state of the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel about a week into the next year isn’t so bad, is it?  What’s a week past the deadline between friends.

However, the real problem is that when I looked back on 2013, there isn’t much to report.  Been a kind of quiet year in the Realm.    I guess that the biggest single event of the year was my enforced exile for 7 months while my nest was being repaired and renovated.  Something that I am quite glad is over and I am now comfortably installed in my spanking new mad scientist laboratory.

Don’t get  me wrong, it wasn’t a bad year.   Let’s just say it wasn’t a vintage year.  Lots of things went well for which I thank God but it wasn’t a vintage year.

No major achievements like winning the Nobel Prize (Drats and curses – wasn’t my “donation enough”?!?!);  world conquest (bummer) or winning the lottery jackpot (bummer-er).

And my other great desire …….. world peace?  The world didn’t do well in that regard at all last year.

As far as blogging is concerned, it also wasn’t a hot year for me.  I took leave from blogging for 4 months and I only managed 27 posts for the year.  Not very prolific at all.  That’s just about a post every two weeks.

So what can we look forward to in 2014?

Well, sadly in Malaysia, the year has already started badly.  Just two days into the new year, Islamic religious officers raided the Bible Society of Malaysia, arrested two people and confiscated more than 300 Malay-language bibles.  Some leaders also called for protests to be held outside churches.

This was the latest chapter in a saga which started just over 3 years ago in which Christians were told that they were no longer allowed to use some 35 words of Arabic origin which they have used in the Malay and the indigenous languages bibles for several centuries, contending that these words are for the exclusive use of Muslims and no other religion.

Christians comprise some 10 per cent of the country’s population of 29 million and the  Malay-language Bibles are widely used by the indigenous tribes in the states of Sarawak and Sabah (Christian majority states) and by the Orang Asli (indigenous peoples)  of West Malaysia which accounts for about 66% of all the Christians.

The use of the word “Allah” (the word meaning God) by Christians led to several churches being torched and vandalised in 2010 after a high court ruling allowing the Christians the right to use the word.

Ahead of a state election in Sarawak, the government agreed to a 10 point plan which basically assured that Christians that they could continue to import, print and use the Malay bibles as long as certain conditions were met.  This recent raid, arrests and confiscation of the Malay bibles seem to fly in the face of that agreement.

Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you will join in and pray for tolerance, peace and respect between peoples of all faiths.

Here in the Realm, I have decided to focus on more achievable targets than world conquest.  I plan to post an average of 2 posts per week this year.  Wish me luck.  It’s only the first week and I am already behind on the strike rate.


And so Malaysia’s 13th General Elections came to and end on Sunday the 5th May 2013.  The day started early for LGS and many Malaysians as they went early to polling stations and queued to go in to vote.  The polling stations were open from 8 am until 5 pm.  After that, many of us stayed glued to our TVs or followed the counting of the votes and the announcements of the results on the internet news sites, social media and also from reports tweeted, sms-ed or whatsapp-ed on our smartphones.  And the results did come in slowly through the night and into the next morning.

When all the smoke had cleared, it seemed that the ruling Government Coalition (Barisan National or BN) had retained power for another time (they have ruled since independence in 1957).  They won 133 parlimentary seats as compared to 89 won by the Opposition coalition (PR).  This result would seem rather surprising if one surveys the sentiment shown and support given by the vast majority of Malaysian on the internet.

The result also did not reflect that the PR opposition had garnered 52% of the popular vote.

So how would you describe the Malaysian 13th General Election?

How would you describe an election in which………..

  • through gerrymandering the ruling party needs far less than 50% of the popular vote to form Government.?
  • little effort was made to ensure the integrity of the electoral roll?  ( a survey of the electoral roll reveals a) cases where scores of voters are registered to the same house but clearly don’t live there and never had, b) some voters are named after vegetables and fruits and c) some people who have never registered to vote already have their names on the list)
  • postal and early voting votes uniformly show support for the government candidates with a ratios like 8 to 2 even though the general voting show more support for the opposition?
  • people are openly offered between USD 15 – USD 300 to vote for the ruling party and as high as USD 500 in certain key constituencies?
  • the indelible ink meant to mark the fingers of those who have voted so that they cannot vote more than once was found to be not indelible and the Election Commission’s explanation is that the ink may not have been as strong as those used in other countries because it had to be “halal” for Muslim voters?
  • many foreign migrant workers were given special, limited period,  citizen identity cards which enabled then to vote?
  • buses of foreign migrant workers appear close to the end of the voting at key polling stations and try to get them into the polling stations….often under police escort and protection?
  • local residents caught many voters  who cannot speak our national language, cannot sing our national anthem and cannot even name our Prime Minister?
  • Election Commission staff do some strange things like trying to get independent observers to leave the polling station, illegally copying down lists of those who had already voted and not checking the identity of the voters?
  • unexplained additional ballot boxes arrive hidden in government vehicles and on one occasion in a taxi after the votes have already been counted but before any official results are announced (some were stopped by local residents but others got through with police escort)?
  • a number of vote counting stations at key constituencies all suffered power blackouts in the midst of the counting?
  • a PR victory with a majority of over 1,000 votes in a key constituency is overturned when the BN candidate asked for a recount and giving the BN candidate a majority of several hundred even though an immediate vote recount is not allowed under election regulations?
  • when the Election Commission announces that the government BN coalition had won control of one of the states even though the final total votes announced contradicts the simple addition of votes from individual polling stations which indicate the Opposition had won? (after this was pointed out, the Election Commission still has made no comment even after 4 days).
  • some constituencies won by the BN party recorded as much as 30% new voters which is so much more than the national average of 11%?
  • some constituencies won by the BN party recorded as much as 99% voter participation?


So how would you describe such and election?

The answer : “the Stolen Election


LGS will willingly accept commiserations for Malaysia.


Capture the Flag

I woke up last Sunday to a wonderful sight in my neighborhood.  A local traffic roundabout had been transformed into a beautiful sea of color and motion by the planting of some 18,000 little flags by local residents.  Landscape architect, Ng Sek San, came up with the idea of a “Malaysian Spring” campaign for political change.

Now Malaysia is gearing up for its 13th General Election in the first week of May.  Since independence, there has only been one ruling coalition in government, Barisan Nasional, but with increasing discontent over a spate of corruption scandals, it is believed that this election will be a close one.  There has been also a lot of concern about fairness in the electoral process which had led to a number of mass demonstrations for electoral reform in the last few years and there has been a push for polling agents to monitor the elections to prevent fraud.

And so, last Sunday, there were blue flags, white flags, red flags and yellow flags.  The blue and white colors represented one of the main partners of the Opposition coalition while red was the color of another opposition coalition member.  Finally, the yellow represented the BERSIH campaign for fair and just elections.  Together they formed a riot of color.  It was amazing.

Colorful roundabout
Colorful roundabout
The Incumbent Opposition MP with the Man with the idea for "Malaysian Spring"
The Incumbent Opposition MP with the Man with the idea for “Malaysian Spring”

However, late on Sunday evening, just before dusk, officers from City Hall came in a van and started to pull out the flags. Local residents came out and asked them what they were doing. The officers said that the flags were illegal and a danger to motorists. The residents challenged this noting that political posters were allowed legally in the run up to an election. The officer in charge then claimed that the flags were not political posters but put up illegally by an NGO.  However, the resident’s were able to furnish proof that the flag campaign was protected under the auspices of one of the opposition political parties.  All this time, the city hall officers were pulling and removing the flags.

But then, they came to take away the flags
But then, they came to take away the flags

When confronted with the fact that the flags were part of a political election campaign and therefore protected by law, the officer then tried to argue that it contravened instructions on how political posters were to be put up. He said, “Rule 1 – it cannot be on lamp posts; Rule 2 – it cannot be on trees….” Immediately the residents pointed out that the ruling government election posters were all clearly on trees and demanded that those be removed first. The residents continued to argue that the flags should not be confiscated and that if there was to be a fine for planting the flags then they would gladly pay the fine. By this time, more people have started to arrive and join the protest. At the same time, passing motorists were also blowing their horns in support.

Finally, the city hall officers relented and allowed the crowd to retrieve the confiscated flags.  The crowd then helped to replant the flags and celebrate their victory in the fight for their flags.

Taking back the flags
Taking back the flags
Coming together to replant the flags
Coming together to replant the flags
Flying high again
Flying high again
Sweet Victory
Sweet Victory

What can I say! I am so proud of my neighborhood.  I used to be disappointed by Malaysians’ apathy in the face of political and social injustice and corruption.  But it seems that time has passed.  I am proud of Malaysians again even for the small victory at the Battle of Flag Roundabout for it showed a unity and integrity that crossed race and religion and is a sense that we are one people who love our country.

(Photo Credit: Ng Sek San)

Blood Has Been Spilt

In the post “The Landlord Wants Us Out“,  I reported on the invasion and occupation of a small village in eastern part of the Malaysian state of Sabah by a group of armed men pressing a land claim from the 19th century on behalf of the Sultanate of Sulu.

Sadly, as feared, the three week old confrontation has turned tragic and fatal.  As of Monday the 4th of March, 8 policemen and 19 insurgents had died in exchange of fire.  Then yesterday, the Malaysian police and security forces launched an attack on the group supported by jet planes on bombing strafes and artillery shells.  There were thankfully no more casualties on the Malaysian side but more insurgents have probably been killed.  However there is concern that many of the insurgents managed to escape the attack and the security cordon and are hiding in the surrounding area masquerading as local villagers.  Security forces are carrying out door- to – door searches and “mopping up” operations to try to contain any remaining threat.

Our national anthem has a line in it that translates as “this is the land that I would dare to shed my blood for…..” and for those 8 policemen, they have made that ultimate sacrifice and their blood has been spilt so that others may continue to live in safety and peace.  There are no words that can bring comfort to their loved ones and families but nevertheless the country honors them for their sacrifices.  It just seems that all the death and sorrow was so unnecessary.   The price of this insanely, mad adventure of those armed intruders have been paid – a heavy price in blood and tears for both sides.

The Landlord Wants Us Out

Wow. It’s been another two weeks since I last posted. Yeah, I know that with such irregular postings, I will soon have no one dropping by this blog. But I do have a good excuse! Even better than the dog ate all my draft post excuse I was going to use earlier. No, this squirrel has been to busy defending his country to be writing mere posts or the excuse that I call ….. “Invasion or Eviction” (cue dramatic music chords for effect – da da da dum).

Yes, faithful readers, my country has been invaded. About three weeks ago, some 100 – 200 (depending on which news source you read) terrorists, patriots, rightful heirs (depending on which news source you read) showed up on the beautiful sandy beaches of Sabah (a Malaysian state on the rainforest island of Borneo). Well, anyway they were heavily armed tourists at the very least. They entered a small village near the coast and made themselves at home. Apparently, most of the villagers fled but a few stayed behind. Those that stayed behind were either innocent by-standers, hostages, sympathizers or accomplices (depending on which news source you read).

To understand what is going on, one has to go back a few centuries to learn the roots of the matter. In the 17th and 18th century, there were two regional powers that vied for control of Borneo and the islands of what is today, southern Philippines. These were the Sultanates of Brunei and Sulu. They were big players in the geopolitical scene of that time and European colonial powers like England, Portugal and Netherlands as well as the Asian Superpower, China, all established diplomatic relations with these two kingdoms.

In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei ceded over part of Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu as appreciation for his help in putting down an armed rebellion. So it would seem that part of Sabah was now legally part of the Sultanate of Sulu except that there were some local tribes who never really accepted that they belonged to Brunei and hence they were not for the Sultan of Brunei to give away but that’s another story. Now in the 19th century, both kingdoms were under a lot of pressure – Brunei faced internal unrest and pressure from “friendly” British powers who were willing to help the Sultan out for a price and Sulu who were at war with imperialistic Spanish forces.

Brunei again ceded parts of Sabah, this time to the British North Borneo Company in exchange for military and administrative assistance. The British then effectively took control of Sabah. The British then signed an agreement with the Sultan of Sulu for their part of Sabah on the 22nd of January 1878. Now however, there is a legal dispute as to what was actually agreed to. The British version is that the Sultan of Sulu agreed to “grant and cede” the land in exchange for an annual payment which in recent years amounted to about RM5,000 or USD 1,630. The descendents of the Sultan of Sulu say that the agreement was to “lease” or rent the land for that amount.

However, just six months later, on the 22nd of July 1878, the Sultan of Sulu was forced to sign an agreement with Spain in which he relinquished all his territories in what is now the Philippines to the Spanish Empire. Some like the British looked upon that as the effective end of the Sultanate of Sulu as an entity. Nevertheless, the payment of the annual fee for Sabah territories continued to the heirs of the Sultan – even until recently, the Malaysian Government made such payments. Later on, when the British gave independence to Malaysia, Sabah would become part of the new country with no one really giving any thought to the SUltanate of Sulu.

But despite not actually having any territory or real political power, there is still a lot of respect and support amongst the Sulu people for the heirs of the Sultan. To make the story even more convoluted, there are at least two serious contenders for the title of Sultan of Sulu and a few other claimants too. The current “Sultans” of Sulu have continued to claim that they hold the rights of the old Sultanate. In the past, they have given “Datukships” -honorary titles to Malaysians which are similar to being conferred a knighthood. In Malaysia, there are certain privileges to having a “Datukship” and it garners that person a fair bit of respect from the community. However, such titles are supposed to be given only by recognised Malaysian Sultans and as such the Sulu Datukships are not recognised by the government but this does not stop many Malaysians from seeking the title from the “Sultans” of Sulu.

Well, anyway, back to what is happening now. A group of 100 to 200 (depending on which news source you read) Sulu patriots led by the brother of one of the Sultans” of Solo have returned to their “lands” to evict the Malaysian “squatters”.

There is a certain sense of romantic adventurism to the whole thing if it wasn’t for the reality of the guns and explosives and the potential for a tragic end. So far, the Malaysian authorities are trying to play the whole incident down and are carrying out negotiations while wearing them down as their food supplies begin to run out. It’s now been about three weeks. Let’s pray for a peaceful end to all this. But isn’t life stranger than fiction sometimes?Map of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu-715179


Squirrel Nit Picks the London 2012 Olympics


Well, at last the London 2012 Olympics is over -maybe now I can return to my normal sleeping schedule.  Malaysia came away with 1 silver medal from men’s single badminton and 1 bronze medal from women’s diving 10 m platform.  Many thanks to those of you who sent messages of congratulations. I am particularly proud of our women’s bronze medal won by Pandela Rinong Pamg as she was not expected to medal at all.

Many thanks also for those of you who sent messages of condolences.  It’s true. 2 medals is not much of a tally.  But in a way we have been robbed of Olympic glory by the choice of sports in the Games.  For example, Malaysia’s Nicol David rules the squash courts.  She has won 6 of the last 7 World Squash Open titles.  Unfortunately, squash is not a recognised Olympic sport.  Despite lobbying efforts, it will also not be introduced during the Rio 2016 games.  It was nudged out by the introduction of golf and Rugby 7’s.  Now I love Rugby 7’s but find it hard to believe that it has more fans than squash.

Rio 2016 is also replacing windsurfing with kite surfing.  Well, if we can replace games, I recommend  replacing floor gymnastics with parkour.  Talk about bringing the sport out to the people!  The second sport that I would recommend is competitive 100 m bungee jumping to replace  10 m diving.  In 10 m platform diving, there is only a few seconds for the competitor to entertain the audience with all kinds of twists, turns and somersaults before they hit the water where it is deemed that the less of a splash made when entering the water the better.  Well, in 100 m competitive bungee jumping, the competitor has at least 10 times more time to do his/her stunts and then gets to do even more during the rebound and subsequent bounces.  Now that is value for money!  Also, there is no splash at all unless the bungee cord snaps!

Squirrels would do very well in the sport of nut picking but again, it is not a recognised Olympic sport.  Well, if I can’t “nut pick” then by George, I’ll nit pick.

Lone Grey Squirrel’s Nit Picking Report on the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Well, the entire London 2012 Games, including the starting and closing ceremonies and even the stadiums cannot hold a candle to the visual and financial extravagance of the Beijing Olympics.  The London Stadium seemed so pedestrian compared to the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.  Still, this squirrel actually liked the more down to earth and less extravagant approach which seems like a sensible thing to do in these difficult economic times.  The stadiums and venues may not have been spectacular architectural marvels but they were comfortable, functional and did a good job of showcasing the athletes and their sports.  Maybe London 2012 has set the standard for practicality and common sense.

I enjoyed the opening and closing ceremonies but then I have a certain understanding of the history of British culture.  I could not help thinking that many global viewers may not know many of the British icons feted in the two shows.  The closing ceremony also seemed a bit indulgent to the baby boomers.  Much of the music is probably a little inaccessible and even alien to many of today’s young people.  For example, I am a fan of the band,  Madness, but their heyday was over 30 years ago.  My personal favorite was Mr. Bean playing the theme from “Chariots of Fire”.

Many people have said that these have been very friendly games and this does seem to be the case.  The whole scene when China’s Liu Xiang (the favorite for gold), pulled his Archiles tendon and crashed out of the 1st heat of the 110 m hurdles competition represented everything good about good sportsmanship.  Despite the pain, Liu Xiang hopped along to complete the course long after the race was over and his fellow competitors helped him to his bench after he crossed the finish line.  Good show all around.  This is also the games in which a double amputee successfully makes it into a semi final race in competition with full abled competitors.

The saddest and most shameful scene involved the South Korean fencer Shin A Lam who appears to have been robbed of her place in the women’s epee final by what appears to be a mistake made by the timekeeping official which allowed Shin’s opponent to score a point after the time should have expired.  She was such a forlorn figure sitting on the stage by herself for close to an hour because of rules that say that she would forfeit her appeal if she left the stage.  The final decision was also unsatisfactory and the offer to give her a medal for sportsmanship very insulting.  A sad Olympic ending for an athlete who had trained hard for 4 years for a medal.  Shin, I applaud you and say shame to the FIE.


Overall, despite some early screw-ups, these have been well executed games that impressed by showcasing the sports and athletes instead of fanciful infrastructure and that is a good thing I think.  So City of London and the British people win by a unanimous decision over Mitt Romney.




The Food is Good on the Island of Rats

Pulau Tikus, Penang.  The name means “the island of rats”.  The strange thing is that it is actually not over-run by rats and it is also not an island!  Located on the island of Penang, it is actually an area consisting of affluent neighborhoods and more importantly famous for its street market and known to be a good place to try the Penang food fare at any time of the day.  I have no idea why it got its unusual moniker.  I wonder if there is any place called the island of bushy-tailed tree rats.  Ah, but I digress.

This is a great place to sample the daily lives of the locals and to taste some great food.

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Blue Mansion, Penang

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was pleasantly surprised by the extent of restoration work done to the great old buildings in historical Penang in recent years.  But the jewel in the crown must be the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.  Also called the Blue Mansion, this magnificent home was built in the 1880’s but suffered years of abuse, neglect and dereliction for almost 90 years. By the time a group of concerned individuals including a dedicated architect bought over the place in 1989, it could be called a “disaster area”.

However, what followed was a determined and loving restoration carried out using as much of the original material as possible.  Craftsmen who still had knowledge of the old techniques were recruited locally, from China and from other parts of the world to restore the intricate woodwork, floor tiles, stained glass windows and broken china pieces of the Chien Nien style mosaic sculptures.  It was a real struggle but the effort resulted in a magnificent restoration which was recognised by being given the UNESCO “Most Excellent” Heritage Conservation Award in 2000.

Cheong Fatt Tze was a penniless traveler who left China to escape poverty, looking to make his fortune in South East Asia.  He ended up being one of the richest businessmen of the period.  This colorful character was also a diplomat, representing China to many countries; an innovator – starting China’s first wineries; and ladies man – having at least 8 official wives.  It was his first wife’s father who gave him the initial monetary investment that got his business rolling.

However, it was for his 7th wife (who many claim was his favorite) that he built the Blue Mansion.  The mansion has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows. The architecture of the mansion however originates from the Su Chow Dynasty Period in China and more importantly was built according to feng sui principles.  This includes having a hill at the back, the sea to the front, the back of the house is higher than the front and is set at an angle from the road in front.

The house is painted with indigo which is a natural dye which is used, amongst other things, to dye jeans.  Much of the roof is decorated with images which were created in the form of a mosaic from pieces of broken china.

This mansion even made Lonely Planet’s top ten “Greatest Mansion and Grand Houses” list.  Enjoy the slideshow.  Unfortunately, photography inside the house is forbidden.  To see the inside of the mansion, you will have to visit in person.  There are three guided tours each day which are worth it to hear the history and details of the house from the very passionate docent.  It is also possible to experience the mansion by renting a room to stay for the night.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the mansion was used in the filming of the 1993 Oscar-winning French film “Indochine” starring the great Catherine Deneuve.

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Penang – Food, Food, Food

Penang is one of the worst places to be on a weight-loss diet.  Temptations of the first degree abound all over the island.  In the last post I called it a foodies paradise but it probably is more accurate to refer to it as a food mecca.  Penang hold this exalted position because a) it is the historical birthplace of many of the delectable mouth-watering dishes – a result of being a crossroads of many Asian cultures; b) it simply has the best version in Malaysia of many other dishes and c) Penangites have a high expectation for food quality which ensures that the food in all the restaurants, coffee shops and street hawker stalls are uniformly good or great.

As soon as I arrived in Penang, I made my way to One Corner Cafe ( a coffee shop with a collection of individual hawker stalls) for breakfast which consisted of a plate of Char Koay Teow, a plate of Lobak, a plate of Mee Rebus and a bowl of Penang Hokkien Mee (known as Prawn Mee elsewhere).

They were all delicious but the Penang Hokkien Mee was particularly well known.  It is a dish of noodles in a rich broth made from pork bones and prawn stock and spiced up with a chilli paste. Yum yum.

Mee Rebus is of Indian origin and is one of my favorites.  It consists of noodles in a thick potato based broth flavoured with spices like cinnamon, cloves, curry powder etc.  It is also garnished with various fried Indian delicacies and a dash of squid sambal.

Penang Hokkien Mee (top) and Mee Rebus (bottom) (Photo by LGS)

Char Koay Teow is synonymous with Penang and there are many famous stalls selling this delicacy with Penangites and foodies all touting for their own favorites.  This dish consists of flat rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, bloody cockles, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in a mix of soy sauce.  The real trick is in the skillful frying in a high heat wok because the high heat actually plasticizes the noodle giving it a softer consistency.

By the end of my short three day visit to Penang, I had 6 servings of this dish; all slightly different and all good.  The picture below is of the stall operated by Madam Soon Suan Choo at Kafe Heng Huat, Lorong Selamat.  Madam Soon has been frying this dish for more than 4o years and has build up quite a reputation.  Her plate of Char Koay Teow costs RM9 (USD 2.82) which is almost double the average price in most other places but she is still very popular especially with tourists.

Char Koay Teow needs a really hot wok (Photo by LGS)

Another dish that probably originated in Penang is Assam Laksa.  This is a rice noodle dish in a sour, tamarind/chilli  flavoured, thick fish broth with a mint leaf garnish.  No photo here cause I had gulped it all down before I remembered to take any photos.

And then, there are the desserts and snacks.  Below is one award winning road side hawker stall selling apong which is a kind of thick pancake which is folded in half and is flavoured with coconut, sweetcorn and bananas.  Apong evolved from Appam which is a dish from Tamil Nadu, India.

Another street favorite is Ice Kacang.  This is basically shaved ice flavoured with palm sugar, syrup and coconut milk or condensed milk.  Often included with the shaved ice is sweetcorn, red bean, grass jelly, attap fruit and roasted peanuts.

Apong Dessert Stall (Photo by LGS)

I think I put on at least 2 kg in my short visit.  I now need to work off all that extra baggage before I can go to Penang again.